Slowly but surely, the lift pulls the train backwards out of the station and towards the sky. As the journey to the foot gets steeper with every metre, your pulse slowly starts to rise, pounding in time with your adrenaline – and all the while you are still climbing higher and higher. Somewhere up there is the answer to the question “Are we there yet?”; but the end is not in sight yet. This feeling of the unknown stirs up an incredible tingling in your stomach – this isn’t just butterflies any more, this is more like a roller coaster. And then – for just the merest blink of an eye – time seems to stand still. Your breathing stops. Every centimetre of your body is tense, full of anticipation and excitement. Even the train itself seems to have stored up all of its energy for this very moment. And then...Joy, tingles, smiles, goosebumps. Like an arrow shot from the tautest of bows, it swooshes down the steep track, deep into the adventure. Welcome to the new family roller coaster: Raik, it’s an adventure. “We have always been passionate about creating an attraction for our younger roller coaster fans. However, we were never won over by any of the classic junior coasters. Plus, we didn’t have the right location in the park for turning our dreams into a reality. Now we have our new themed area Klugheim, which is the ideal spot for our family boomerang, Raik, to live up to its full potential” explains Sebastian Jonas, project developer at Phantasialand. The roller coaster manufacturer Vekoma provided the team with all the technology they needed to finally bring the Raik project to life. Summoning up their whole wealth of experience and expertise, the Dutch team worked hard on developing its extremely popular boomerang roller coaster with an added thrill factor, transforming it into a cutting-edge, family-friendly attraction. “Raik is the perfect bridge between a fully-fledged family coaster and a classic junior coaster” explains Sebastian Jonas. Which is good, because it is exactly what Klugheim was missing: A unique challenge that even the littlest adventures could conquer but that was still fun for teenagers and adults. Before this work of art could be brought to life in Klugheim, the team first had to tear down concrete walls. Erecting the roller coaster in a tight space required a lot of skill and patience from everyone involved. But their efforts paid off. They have created a full, family-friendly roller coaster, that fits perfectly into Klugheim and offers a truly fun-filled thrill ride thanks to its unique track layout.

Fly-through through the station

 The ride starts with the train being lifted backwards out of the station and up towards the lift hill. “This means that you can’t see when the lift hill ends and the ride really gets going. That really heightens the nerves” emphasises Sebastian Jonas. And they stay heightened until the train is released and starts its roar downwards. This is when a rush of pure joy takes over. Generating a fly-through effect, Raik leaves guests in the station standing astonished in its wake. “This is quite a rare element in rides” says Sebastian Jonas. “When you are standing in the station and you feel the wind from the train in your face as it races past, you experience a real whoosh.” The train then carries on gliding forwards along the anthracite-coloured tracks. “Raik has all the hallmarks of a great roller coaster. It has exciting curve combinations, turns and near-miss effects” says Sebastian Jonas, naming just some of the highlights in the family boomerang. “It gets faster than you would think” says the project developer, grinning from ear to ear as he describes the curve that will twist Raik by almost 90 degrees before then passing the canyon at top speed.

 By the time it reaches the opposite lift, the journey seems to be coming to an end. However, the train won’t stop there yet. You don’t even have the chance to catch your breath before Raik starts it return journey, where the riders get to experience all of the track’s elements all over again. However, this time they get to see it all from a different perspective – backwards.

 Fun is also guaranteed in freezing temperatures thanks to the friction wheels in the lift.  “They are designed for use in winter so that the train can get an extra push if it needs it” explains Sebastian Jonas. So, just like any other great roller coaster, Raik will stay open in the winter – along with Taron.

A clear view for young roller coaster fans

 Unfortunately, even the best journeys have to end at some point. Eddy brakes take the train gently into the station and bring the adventure and the incredible journey on Raik to an end.

 Of course, the feeling that Raik stirs up and all of its different elements are not the only things that matter – the boomerang also needs to meet high standards when it comes to the overall look and design. When designing the front car, for example, we thought a lot about how we could make the design particularly family-friendly.  “We felt that it was essential to make sure the front side of the train was not too high so that even the littlest coaster fans could enjoy a clear view. We have also used individual straps so that our younger visitors are held comfortably in place during the ride” explains Sebastian Jonas.

 Putting all of these aspects together we created a train design for the boomerang that is precisely tailored to the size of our younger rides and is also a perfect visual match for our new themed world Klugheim.

 We wanted to make sure that the train blended as naturally as possible into the backdrop of Klugheim. Even though it stands closely side-by-side with its neighbours, the water-based River Quest attraction and the multi-launch coaster Taron, the train still has to stand out as a unique element. We were therefore prepared to go as far as it took to create the ideal experience, even though it sometimes felt we were going round in circles. For example, the train underwent a complete makeover following the first acceptance process.

 “The look, feel, paint and colours did not live up to our expectations” says the project developer, looking back. Under the guidance of our designers, the whole thing was started from scratch and given a brand new look. Ultimately, we ended up with a design that not only looks completely authentic thanks to its 3D structure, it also feels exactly like it looks. As you run your hands over the rivets and contours, the character of the train comes oozing out and the Raik adventure stirs awake beneath your fingertips. 


Christian Buhl