Now don’t get me wrong here, I love drop towers, and I love thrill rides – but frequently I see the words of “Drop Tower” and “terrifying” in the same sentence and it got me wondering, what is the world’s scariest tower ride? Whether that be shot or drop, or even both. Of course, in my honest opinion there is only 1 answer there, located in the German village or Bruhl lies a world class theme park called Phantasialand, a park full of intricate theming everywhere you look, world class coasters and stunning dark rides. While no ride at the park breaks the 220ft marker, something many USA amusement parks offer, and indeed some European parks too – there lies what I believe could be the world’s most intense tower ride.
Mystery Castle is a 1 of a kind Intamin Ballistic Drop Tower which travels up to heights of 62m at speeds of 72kmph (around 44mph) the ride uses special pneumatic cylinders to literally launch the ride up and down the tower. Seating up to 48 riders per ride cycle in the riders 6, 8 across seating arrangements the ride has an excellent crowd capacity. So what makes it so intense? Not only can the ride be seen from all over the surrounding area, including the car parks and surrounding villages, but it truly dominates the skyline within Phantasialand, being easily noticeable from most locations. The ride sits perfectly on a hill side, with a long winding pathway leading up to it’s truly huge bridge leading in – this is where the rest of the experience really begins (Spoiler warning of course) – on busy days you may be asked to wait by the doors before entering the castle. It’s beautifully themed corridors immersing you into the experience you forget everything in the outside world – it is within these corridors fear lurks, with live actors on most days making an appearance in peak times, scaring those within.
Once you finally escape the darkness within the corridors, it’s a long walk down towards the ride it’s self, through another beautifully detailed scene down to the ground level. Once downstairs the huge, loud noises of Mystery Castle which can only be described as similar to a jet engine echo around the unsuspecting groups, all while another pre-show plays out throughout detailing the story of the castle, in German of course. When you finally board Mystery Castle it becomes clear just what you about to experience, with nothing but darkness above you, and 6 gondolas spread across the walls of the tower there’s certainly plenty of choice for seats. Pull down the over the shoulder restraint, and just wait.. the room plunges into darkness, with the story continuing into the ride experience it’s self. Suddenly you launch over 200ft up, in complete darkness, bouncing timidly at the top where the clear electric flow from the recent pre-show can once again be seen on the roof of the castle, before without warning plunging you to the ground. The stomach lurching sensation on mystery castle unlike any other drop ride I’ve ever experienced!
Mystery Castle features 2 different ride cycles, with a longer cycle featuring more drops and story line, or a shorter cycle which still proves just as intense! Due to the dynamics in the way the gondolas launch means you get a unique experience on each ride, enabling plenty of re-rides. With a consistent experience which starts before you even board the ride, it certainly makes Mystery Castle one of the most thrilling and intimidating, but also one of, if not the best execution of a drop ride in the world.