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A New Chapter in China #2 - Part 10: Shanghai & Summary

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
Ah, China. The bane of my life, but I can't get enough. It's been three-and-a-half long months since I could visit and they've built and closed a hundred more things I want to try in that time.

Fun facts and scary statistics:

Total parks: 37
Total creds: 104
Total mine train clones: 11
Total woodies: 10
Total Fantawilds: 9

Total train distance: 11615 km/7259 Miles
Total train time: 64 hours 21 minutes

Spites:
January 2017 - 5/32 (15.6%)
September 2017 - 15/52 (28.8%)
January 2018 - 3/11 (27.3%)
April 2018 - 29/61 (47.5%)

So what have we learnt?
January is the best time to go apparently... and the more you do it, the worse it gets.
Previous analyses have shown that statistically speaking I've had more success in China in January than at any other time of year, so let's see if the trend can continue. A clue - no.

Nothing fancy, landed in basic old Shanghai to kick proceedings off with some new dark ride newness. Mercifully all the health declarations have gone out the window by now and being such a major airport there was minimal fuss getting in and getting going, for a change.

To kick proceedings off with some faffness however, the hotel didn't have room to store our bags for the day, instead offering to just put them out in the open, in a busy lobby, unlabelled, where someone would 'keep an eye on them'. That wasn't happening, so we argued the point and were eventually given a room early in order to avoid that disaster waiting to happen.

Day 1 - Shanghai Disneyland

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As with all Disney visits I've done around the world, there was no planning involved beyond pre-booking a ticket online for an 'offpeak' visit. The technique has yet to fail us and from previous experience in Shanghai the park was totally manageable. Not today. Arrival on resort resulted in several miles more walking than I recall from before, all for the benefit of easing traffic, batching queues and lining you up for some slow security checks, followed by some even slower ticket checks.

I should have known from the website warnings back at Christmas time stating that guests were not allowed to queue overnight to get into the park that something was amiss. It was naive to think that the initial rush would have died down by now. Alas, on this 'offpeak' day it took 2 hours to first lay eyes on the castle I didn't even bother to take another picture of.

Things went from bad to worse as we headed to the new Zootopia area, which had opened about a month prior. A sign outside of a rabble of guests no doubt arguing with staff about how their day was about to be ruined declared that there would be a 2 hour queue to get into the new land, followed by another 2 hour queue should you wish to ride the new ride.

Well, that's what we came for. Cattlepen for days currently fills out the extensive pathway that leads up to the area in question, of which you get a teasing glimpse into before chucking a hard right through a service gate and into a highly temporary looking marquee.

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Thousands and thousands of bodies all lined up and miserable in this queue that's crudely styled as waiting in line for the Gazelle concert marked the next couple of hours of our lives. It moved with a degree of pace to be fair to it, just the scale of the operation was ridiculous. I wasn't sure exactly how it worked, whether they were counting people out of the area before letting more in, or using simple guesswork and pacing the numbers every few minutes. A more worrying thought struck me that perhaps once you had finished the ride, you were booted straight out with no opportunity to explore or reride, but this wasnt the case, fortunately, I guess.

Eventually we were batched in. Whether the wait or the mood affected things in any way I can't vouch for, but it lacked the 'wow, I've arrived' moment of the more spectacular Disney locations out there. I'm a fan of the film and it's cool that this is a thing now, plus the detail is there in spades for sure if you take the time to look hard enough, but I suppose having queued just to exist in this part of the park, there was no real striking visual akin to say Pandora.

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The station window had silhouettes and trains to give it some bustle.

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This giraffe is gymming it up.

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Why is this one icy?

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These tubes contain moving hamsters. That I like.

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The perfect commentary on Chinese life.

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See.

Impatience to just get on the ride at this point, along with the fact that it's still rather crowded and hard to move around, with nothing else to do but look and take pictures of people getting in the way of other people's pictures, we dived into the next queue pretty quickly. This starts out pleasant enough, with winding outdoor pathway and the same Gazelle concert posters repeated a few more hundred times. Spoiler averse, I was guessing this was the setup to the plot, but it's not.

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Around halfway through the wait you enter into the lobby of the police department, where things get a lot more fun. The Clawhauser animatronic at the desk has a few different sequences and tales to tell as you zigzag in front of him for a bit, then head into the depths of the police station.

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Posters on the wall, bulletin boards, officer's offices, there's good detail again here - they pay particular attention to the scale of things a lot, so doors and equipment being different sizes for different species, but it doesn't quite feel lived in. I get the feeling of this inherent disconnect between the world in which animals are people and this theme park world where you can't actually see or interact with the animals as people, so it's not quite all there, somehow. Overthinking? Probably.

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The corridors lead further into a tour of the prison cells. All vacant, but full of various artifacts.

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The story almost plays out in real time as you continue on to see Bellwether's cell (villain of the film, with the events of the ride being set after it), with obsessed drawings on the walls, past that to a ventilation shaft through which he has supposedly escaped. Sirens begin to blare and announcements are made and finally you get rushed into a briefing room with the legendary Chief Bogo.

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He gives you the lowdown - don't tell me, we're new recruits and we're being put on a high-tech all-terrain vehicle in order to help with this latest mission.

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Well yes, of course.

Excitement builds as you move through to the station and finally see vehicles in motion, there is a ride at the end of the tunnel. PPE is available on the walls in all shapes and sizes and repetetive safety announcements are played as you get batched.

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And then it ceases operation.

Don't worry, it's a new ride, it'll happen a lot, I'm sure it's only temporary.

No, we're being evacuated.


Well God damn.

Had this been Cedar Point, this would have been game over, but thankfully it's Disney, so we immediately received a fast track for both the land and the ride, tied to our ticket.

Nevertheless it was now approximately halfway through the operating day and we hadn't experienced a single attraction. Best check on some queue times.


Well God damn.

The park was gone. Nothing but the stupid Flying Theatre got over an hour when I was here last, at pretty much the same time of year. They've also added other areas and attractions since then, in a somewhat poor attempt (the worst of Toy Story Land) to ease the load.
Today saw 3 hours for Tron and the Dwarves. 3 hours for the stupid Flying Theatre. Glad I didn't need or care about those.

I only had 4 things on the hit list and we'd just failed the first.

RC Racer would be a spurious +1. 2 hours. Not happening.

The rapids which was closed before. Closed again. Guess I'm never seeing that dinosaur up close.

Voyage to the Crystal Grotto - is it a dark ride? Well it's 'only' 30 minutes so I guess we'll find out.

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There's a few versions of these things around. Paris for example, the boat ride with the various fairytale dioramas. This one is the same concept, with some of them dialled up a bit, a bit larger. You waft around and see a few effects, hear a few songs before heading into a cave. I was hoping it would be a bit more Jungle Cruisey and actor led with some spectacle, but alas no.

The flight schedule had not been kind to us and sitting down for the first time in half a day suddenly got the better of me. I was essentially drifting in and out of consciousness for the indoor portion of the ride and honestly couldn't tell you what went on in there. We answered the question though. Yes.

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By the time that was done and dusted, Zootopia was back in operation. We skipped past two even more vast queues than they had been before and got put straight into the Bogo preshow section. Given the scale of the evacuation and how many people must have been compensated, I'm surprised it was so smooth. Guess they were all stuck in some other ridiculous queue for the time being.

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20 years service life on a dark ride too? Maybe it's not just coasters.

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So, the ride then. Is good. Perhaps I had expectations set a little too high, what with the ride system being what it is and what's been done with it in a galaxy far, far away. I went in knowing nothing for that reason and thought maybe there'd be another new trick up their sleeve, but at best it does the same beats, and less with them.

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What it does do very well is the noticeable changes in environments. They make full use of all the different climates and locations from the film to take you from arctic to desert (with good use of temperature differences), from city to rainforest.

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The sequence in the middle with the nudist llama guy and his fellow animals is great fun with the lighting setup and 'scares'. There's quite a significant emphasis on screen based action, high speed chases and the like, unusually for Disney, but the styling feels rather fresh. I'm not so sold on the cable car bit because the range of movement inside doesn't go full simulator enough to do it justice.

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Flash, Flash, 100 yard dash. Delivers some pun-based comedy in the local tongue.

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This screen looks great.

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The animatronics when used are amazing of course and it all ends with an uplifting rendition of Try Everything, straight into the gift shop. Four and a half thumbs up or thereabouts.

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The queue situation remained just as dire, if not worse, as darkness descended on the park. The single one we could bear to stomach was a posted 50 mins for Pirates, which moved very well and went even quicker because it's a beast. It remains my favourite dark ride on park, this thing is next level with the scaling on some of the sets. It just floats from wow moment to wow moment and I love a dark and brooding atmosphere, a lack of preshow, a lack of needing to be recruited, a lack of high tech all terrain vehicles. Gorgeous.

And with that being the best queue on park for the best attraction, it was decided to call it a day. 3 attractions experienced. 13 hours of operation. A new low for Disney. It's a good thing I'm pretty immune to bad park visits these days. Yay.

Up next - spite
 

gavin

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I'm juggling with the idea of a Shanghai Disney revisit sometime before the summer, but the only options are a weekend, which is really not appealing, or a Monday where I'd have to fly back to Hong Kong that night, which would end up being a very late one if I wanted to hang around for fireworks etc.

I think hotel guests get early entry, so that might be a way forward to hit Zootopia first thing.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
I think hotel guests get early entry, so that might be a way forward to hit Zootopia first thing.
Won't help with the rest of it though, just have to hope it all calms down a lot after CNY!


It's been bugging me for a while now that the most anticipated coaster of last trip was out of action for no good reason, in typical Chinese fashion. To be honest I'm running pretty thin on the ground these days when it comes to creds left on the planet that have the potential to be world beaters and it's no real exaggeration to say that Beyond the Cloud is the 'operating' ride I want more than any other, as of right now.

As such we took a train straight back to Suzhou the following morning. Checked in. Phoned the park. Is it running?
Of course not.
Neither of their major coasters were. On a weekend. On a crisp, dry morning. While they've got a seasonal festival running. Again.
Why? 'Maintenance'

I hate this city.

Wanting to achieve at least something for the day, I had to turn my attention to a couple of towns over for some backup plans. Changzhou is less than an hour away and home to Dinoconda park, who have changed their spinner since I last visited and added some sort of dark ride thing that I was intrigued by, so I guess that will have to do.

Jumped on another train and a short Didi ride later found myself in familiar territory.

Day 2 - China Dinosaurs Park

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This again. There was nothing in the way of signage to say what was going on inside and hadn't bothered phoning because they lied to me on the door 7 years ago.

Didn't take long however to find that both outdoor coasters were closed for 'weather', so no +1 for me today.
Too cold apparently. It was 9°C. I rode Dinoconda in about 4°C, 7 years ago, so even more wussing out it seems.

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Meh.

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The other thing I came for was alive and kicking at least. Dino Tour is an immersive tunnel job, but to call it that is a disservice really. It's huge, elaborate and rather impressive all up until the point that it becomes an immersive tunnel, at which point it becomes pretty trash. Sound familiar?

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The queue goes on for some time, it's a dinosaur resarch base, DNA technology, brought them back to life for people to view. Ok cool.

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You board your all-terrain vehicle to discover at least one of the USPs here - it's an actor led experience of sorts in that you get a live staff member on board as a tour guide.

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Lots of mist and animatronics follow before, inevitably, things start to go wrong. Signs of escape, some tvs onboard the vehicles have the scientist and a woman with a gun butting in on the conversation and letting you know that things are about to go down.

The best part of the whole experience is a waterside scene just before you enter the cave, which involves geysers and pyros as an escapee dino moves through the water and damages some hazardous materials of some description.

Once inside the cave, after a few pretty crystals, the momentum comes grinding to a halt. It's a little odd that the actor just has to stop talking at this point as you crawl onto the motion base in the dark and silence beyond a bit of whirring, and wait for the screens to fire up and the film to start. Completely detaches it from the rest of the experience.

Some big dino gets out, some transformers-style emergency response robot from the base has a tussle with it and saves you from falling off a cliff. Then you drive out of the cave and the actor welcomes you back to base. Hooray.

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Elsewhere in the park is the massive dinosaur museum building, I spent a while inside trying to track down an old interactive theatre from before, in which you rode dinosaurs and shot dinosaurs with medicine. Seems its gone, likely because there was a huge construction site sticking out the side of the building and beyond.

So, construction, get excited, I guess.

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Rerode the indoor cred through relative despair. Don't remember this guy.

It's one of those relatively rare Zamperla motocoasters with a lift hill and not very good.

And that was that.

Up next - something super
 

roomraider

Best Topic Starter
Won't help with the rest of it though, just have to hope it all calms down a lot after CNY!


It's been bugging me for a while now that the most anticipated coaster of last trip was out of action for no good reason, in typical Chinese fashion. To be honest I'm running pretty thin on the ground these days when it comes to creds left on the planet that have the potential to be world beaters and it's no real exaggeration to say that Beyond the Cloud is the 'operating' ride I want more than any other, as of right now.

As such we took a train straight back to Suzhou the following morning. Checked in. Phoned the park. Is it running?
Of course not.
Neither of their major coasters were. On a weekend. On a crisp, dry morning. While they've got a seasonal festival running. Again.
Why? 'Maintenance'

I hate this city.

Wanting to achieve at least something for the day, I had to turn my attention to a couple of towns over for some backup plans. Changzhou is less than an hour away and home to Dinoconda park, who have changed their spinner since I last visited and added some sort of dark ride thing that I was intrigued by, so I guess that will have to do.

Jumped on another train and a short Didi ride later found myself in familiar territory.

Day 2 - China Dinosaurs Park

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This again. There was nothing in the way of signage to say what was going on inside and hadn't bothered phoning because they lied to me on the door 7 years ago.

Didn't take long however to find that both outdoor coasters were closed for 'weather', so no +1 for me today.
Too cold apparently. It was 9°C. I rode Dinoconda in about 4°C, 7 years ago, so even more wussing out it seems.

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Meh.

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The other thing I came for was alive and kicking at least. Dino Tour is an immersive tunnel job, but to call it that is a disservice really. It's huge, elaborate and rather impressive all up until the point that it becomes an immersive tunnel, at which point it becomes pretty trash. Sound familiar?

53511528179_5a8646eb93_k.jpg

The queue goes on for some time, it's a dinosaur resarch base, DNA technology, brought them back to life for people to view. Ok cool.

53511211941_80c90c8d6b_k.jpg

You board your all-terrain vehicle to discover at least one of the USPs here - it's an actor led experience of sorts in that you get a live staff member on board as a tour guide.

53511203956_0e4dfa780e_k.jpg

Lots of mist and animatronics follow before, inevitably, things start to go wrong. Signs of escape, some tvs onboard the vehicles have the scientist and a woman with a gun butting in on the conversation and letting you know that things are about to go down.

The best part of the whole experience is a waterside scene just before you enter the cave, which involves geysers and pyros as an escapee dino moves through the water and damages some hazardous materials of some description.

Once inside the cave, after a few pretty crystals, the momentum comes grinding to a halt. It's a little odd that the actor just has to stop talking at this point as you crawl onto the motion base in the dark and silence beyond a bit of whirring, and wait for the screens to fire up and the film to start. Completely detaches it from the rest of the experience.

Some big dino gets out, some transformers-style emergency response robot from the base has a tussle with it and saves you from falling off a cliff. Then you drive out of the cave and the actor welcomes you back to base. Hooray.

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Elsewhere in the park is the massive dinosaur museum building, I spent a while inside trying to track down an old interactive theatre from before, in which you rode dinosaurs and shot dinosaurs with medicine. Seems its gone, likely because there was a huge construction site sticking out the side of the building and beyond.

So, construction, get excited, I guess.

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Rerode the indoor cred through relative despair. Don't remember this guy.

It's one of those relatively rare Zamperla motocoasters with a lift hill and not very good.

And that was that.

Up next - something super
They've just started moving forwards with a 2nd gate for this park. It's a little way down from this one at the end of a housing development but it seems to be coming.

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Existing park is top left and new park bottom right

They've also started building 3 other parks with the Dinosaur Park brand in other cities (Nanyang, Haiyuang and Taizhou).

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Concept art on the hoardings for the Nanyan park

They're suddenly expanding for some reason.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
From Suzhou to Xuzhou, another train took us bright and early to our next destination the following morning. Understandably I had already become rather paranoid about nothing opening at this point, and now the weather had turned from borderline 'mild' to downright cold. Sure enough the website for the park in question suddenly changed their opening hours on the website from 10:00 - 17:00 to 'TBC' since I had last checked.
Nah.
Nah...
Fantawild won't let me down.

Day 3 - Fantawild Wonderland

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Aside from the driver getting lost and nearly losing the bottom of the car on a poorly tracked reroute, we arrived without hitch into the cold embrace of yet another fresh-faced Fantawild establishment. I'm home.

Most likely known here as 'the one with the rollercoaster Six Flags are getting', this was the most significant park to be dropped from my last itinerary and is another uniquely branded establishment. For now.

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And it excites me. They've got this. Wizard's Academy is an old school Fantawild dark ride by now, it generally opened with the Dreamland parks and the last one was in 2015 - quite literally an entire lifetime of these establishments ago. The old one was good, not great, as only the second generation of clones of their 4D motion based car rides.

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What I really wanted to know was is this version new and/or different? Are they building on past experiences? Do they have a creative team with a semblance of thought and care?

Yes.

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The wizard himself has changed to begin with. A bit less Dumbledalf and he can turn into an owl now. The same premise ensues, you go on a bit of an adventure through a realm of castles, magic and dangerous creatures. It was never clear if the guy is good or evil before and the ambiguity remains, opening with some straight up murder of other virtual guests. He gets you out of a few tight spots though and you end up in a treasure room - I guess money was the end goal.

Nope. That huge octopus over the entrance was obviously a clue to something and boom, he kicks the wizard's ass all over the shop amongst the pile of gold. You narrowly escape and then team up against a big rock bloke and then earn some riches somehow anyway to finish. And no diploma of magic school this time. We weren't here to learn.

It was a lot of fun, definitely of superior quality these days and I personally loved going on that journey from old to new, mainly because I obsess over this stuff.

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Next up we had what on the surface appears to be related to another legacy dark ride - Dragon King's Tale, but this is called Adventures in Dragon Palace or words to that effect. Should have looked closer at the low res pictures online though, because that's clearly not Nezha, the protagonist of that old attraction, riding a fish. I still don't know who he is exactly, some playful caretaker bloke, also of magical descent.

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Him. This was quite the journey of discovery, half expecting some tracked dark ride again. We got a preshow - a rare treat as they often don't bother to run them due to the conflicting schedules of the park either being dead, or stupidly busy. The former, it was the former.

The preshow gave away nothing other than a hall full of magic doors, and Chengyu - a name for four-word Chinese phrases that teach life lessons. They've come up on other Fantawild rides in the past, namely the evolution of the 'small world' boat rides in many parks. There's some sort of edutainment aspect to it, the nuances of which are lost on me but the gist of it is that each magic door is tied to a phrase and leads somewhere, and you can only travel between them by using the last word of the current one as the first word of the next one. Often times during the ride he encourages the spelling out of these words and you get a simulated on-board audio of some children replying back.

Oh, the ride. I didn't know what it was, the preshow ended and then we were heading up these long ramps back and forth just like their flying theatres. Hang on a minute. They have a flying theatre here. And it isn't this. At the top of various ramps you enter some side rooms to discover that it's little 8-person simulator pods - the ones that rise up into a big communal screen à la the obnoxious Simpsons ride.

Not the most thrilling of hardware but dare I say the best iteration of this type of attraction that I've come across out there. It was just really nice, pleasant, I don't think there are better words for it. A colourful, creative, imaginative romp through these phrases and worlds. You get spooked by the big dragon, you break the moon, you come into some money (again) and the phrase that brings it full circle and gets you home(?) involves riding the fish, just like the ride exterior.

As a break from dark rides for a second, there was a burning question in the back of my mind. Are the rollercoasters running?

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Yes, yes they are.

Let us take a moment to appreciate here that it was 1°C. 1°C. There's a sign outside the ride that says it MAY not operate in temperatures below 2°C (and sandstorms, Xuzhou sounds violent). There were at best 50 guests on park. Instead of using all of those factors and more to not bother running one of your star attractions, like so many other stupid places, Fantawild have got your back. Except in Ningbo.

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Super Boomerang then, or Cloud Shuttle. There's a bit of an identity crisis, I'm not sure what the theme is, if anything. No park narrative that I can tell, it's loosely styled to racing but who are you racing? And why are you going backwards? Details. I guarantee it still looks better than the Flash one will. Why is he going backwards?

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Mmm, vests. Or rather, Mmm, LSMs. I will first point out how much I appreciated the use of the technology here, as it launches through the station on these it also uses them to re-enter and park in the most satisfying manner ever. There's the crawl of braking as you come back in at the end of the sequence, a sudden realisation of 'hang on a minute, we can use this to our advantage', a burst of acceleration to the end of the platform and then stops perfectly on a pin. So the literal opposite of those GCIs when they playfully pinch a million times while parking.

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The initial triple launch is fine, bit of a non event for me. It begins with a tap of the head again, sad to see that's back after I thought they had fixed it for good on the Top Gun model. Train size maybe, or I'm getting my timelines crossed.

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The element it leads into though is a bit of a mind blower. The hang. The stall. (The left). It's unprecedented as far as I can tell. It shouldn't go on that long. It's unnatural, unnerving. It looks weird and it is. It feels like you're upside down for as long as the crest of a Sky Loop, maybe more so, but entirely without the associated unpleasantness. As a man who has become immune to even the greatest of RMC stalls, this is nothing short of masterful.

Out of that you get the double up, airtime portion of the ride. It kicks really well in the front, I was wearing a ton of winter gear including woolly hat and immediately felt that start to come off in this sequence and had to grab on for safety. Don't Klotten me now.
In the back it's a bit of a dud, so front row 4 life.

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This inversion happens unceremoniously and you get a weird tiny burst of LSM boost again in the valley, to ensure satisfactory completion of the sequence. It's a new thing I'm noticing and I don't like it. Mandrill Mayhem did it. The new Manta did it. This did it. Short, faffy bursts of unsatisfying acceleration to meet a particular threshold. For someone who likes their coasters to feel out of control, it's too controlling, too calculated, too soulless, too suboptimal. Like an inverse trim. Just design the coaster to do what it needs to do using old mate gravity, without interference. That's the dream.

Anyway, I didn't find the vertical spikes all that and it's likely due to a lack of openness in the train/restraint setup. The second one just kinda happened to me and then you start the whole thing in reverse. Inversion, zing, inversion, good airtime, ridiculous stall, brakes, cool park job.

Sooo, it's alright. Mid-tier modern Vekoma. It does things I like, but it doesn't quite get me going. I wasn't running back for more, nor was I dissatisfied with the experience. I had fun and was glad I got to try it. And now no doubt it will be a sufferance stateside, not least in that I won't be getting a train to myself. Mmm, clones.

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Suddenly back in the mood for creds we moved round and ticked off the obligatory Puppy Coaster. Now we're talking.

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And shortly after, every park has to have a Vekoma junior by the name of Pine Tree Rockets these days.

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More exclusivity though, I noticed something was a little different on board and sure enough this is a new layout, dubbed the Kalypso, currently only at Tayto Park and taking longer to build than Hyperion and Zadra combined at Energylandia, so stay tuned for that one.

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This is Boonie Bear Adventure, another of their shooting dark rides, using trains with buzz lightyear stick swivel, with different theming. I'm yet to come across two the same so far.

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Most notable feature of this one was that you could shoot some screens as well as targets, which helped against my previous comments on another about every shot being worth the same amount of points being a bit un-competetive. To the point that ALL the points came from the screens however, there was one with a spider that was massively MVP.

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Had to do just one of these generic Flying Theatres this trip to remind myself about the annoyingly repetetive music and lack of care I have for them. To be fair they're not so bad, the last one just put me in a right mood, or rather the other guests did.

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Also knuffelbeers.

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Confession, I've always taken the words 'Boonie Bear Theatre' literally and assumed it was some costumed stage show for kids. There's at least 15 installations of the things at this point and I've walked past a ton of them, never on my radar.

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The only version I have done was Manila Manila, famed for its singing manatee, at the ASEAN themed park and it's one of those, a revolving theatre system set within a combination of scenery and screenery that tells a story.

On today's menu was a heart wrenching story from the Boonie Bears collection. One of them gets stranded back in the Jurassic period due to time travel shenanigans, where he ends up saving this annoying baby bird from certain death.

I'm struggling here.

The bird continues to follow him from this moment on, despite being instructed not to and they end up becoming the best of friends over a few more adventures together, through a montage in which much time passes. The bird is all big and grown up now and the roles become reversed.
The other bear and the lumberjack bloke who invented the time machine eventually manage to travel back and find him to bring him back, but they get attacked and lose the device. The bird returns the favour at long last and saves them all. And then they have to leave him behind to go back to the future and it's devastating.

I cried. And am trying very hard not to again now while writing about it at work. God damn Fantawild.
You don't get this from high tech all terrain vehicles.

Weird tangent, but this is something I first clocked at the National Space Centre in Leicester when experiencing their excellent, multi-faceted themed experience including simulator, details here. It ends with a moment of self-sacrifice from one of the featured characters and I specifically remember being very taken aback by that being in the narrative. The emotional beats of say, a good Pixar film, aren't something you find much in a theme park, if at all. And I'm totally here for it. Maybe that's because people don't want to be reminded about death and friendship in theme parks, much like I don't want to be informed about the Chinese going to war with the Japanese last century, ride after ride. The majority of experiences are incessantly good beats evil, or entirely inconsequential.
Overthinking? Probably.

I now own the baby bird anyway.

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Two for one on Fantawild cats. Should have a POV for you at some point.

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I've lost track of where the day went at this point, err, River of Tales. I said this earlier.
Chengyu - a name for four-word Chinese phrases that teach life lessons. They've come up on other Fantawild rides in the past, namely the evolution of the small world boat rides in many parks.
This is that.

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See.
They've become a lot more than small world rides to be fair to them, projections and other styles of scenery for the storytelling are all in the mix too.

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This is Origin of Life, another legacy attraction that's always been a 3D film about, well, the origin of life. I don't remember it being particularly good though, I think they've improved the storytelling, or at very least the visuals and screen/projector technology because it looked great here. There was this one gorgeous shot of a T-rex stumbling through an apocalyptic landscape, looking up and seeing that it was seconds away from asteroid-based destruction and simply uttering the most desperate and primal roar back up at the asteroid in response, through lack of other options. That's really stuck with me.

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This was a show about ancient times, in which some old general bloke goes off to fight in wars, then comes back and is distressed about how the times have changed in his home village, along with the dynamic amongst his friends and relatives. He's worried about how his legacy won't live on.

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Once again there's a lot of these, but they're all different and tailored to more local themes and legends. There's two projections, one with a magic mirror trick and actors/dancers/performers in between the two. This is probably the best one of them I've seen so far, the most engaging and I think well performed. It had a cracking soundtrack, have since found the title track on youtube and will be rocking it for the foreseeable.

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Think that's just about it for this park. We have swinging ships at home.

I adored this visit, if you can't tell. First couple of days of the trip were pretty trash and as ever had me thinking why do I put up with this nonsense? Leave it to these parks to bring me right back to why I do it. In the absence of world beating rollercoasters to ride, this is my jam and I don't want these types of experiences to end.

Up next - an absence of world beating rollercoasters to ride
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
Another day, another city. The train next morning took us over to Wuhan where I had some unfinished business.
When I said I had ridden every woodie in China, I later realised that that's not technically true. I'm still missing one side of the duelling one at the Happy Valley here.

But, alas, though I'd been following their website religiously for about a month, upon arrival at the hotel for the day, one quick phonecall was enough to confirm that no rollercoasters would be running in the cold weather. So the park was a write off.
Chinese Formule X had mysteriously changed from operating to 'temporarily unavailable' overnight, OCT Thrust has remained closed since the Bullet Coaster incident (and is now painted exactly like Bullet Coaster, which was rather trippy to see out the window of a car, when I rode it red).
No wood.

Oh well, backup plan. RCDB had a listing elsewhere in the city with no pictures. All the information we had to go on was a mall, and a suspended, spinning Jinma with multiple launches and dark ride sections. I'm in.

Day 4 - Wushang Dream Park

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So here we are, in uncharted territory. The park is called Wushang Dream Park and occupies 3 floors in the corner of the Wushang Dream Mall. It's a brand, there's a few of these malls now in what they call 'second tier' cities in China. More on that later.

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The park looks quite good, in places, and was rather more significant than I had perhaps expected from 'rollercoaster in a mall'. Some corners were a little hollow, as they often are with these indoor spaces. It's hard to fill every nook without a bit of landscaping, beyond painting some walls.

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I see cred. The entrance to 'Reversed City' was a pain to find though. In the usual 'build it and they will come' fashion it had a large queueline that was entirely unused and instead you headed straight up some nondescript stairs and into the station.

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Exercises! They're back! Though in video form only, didn't get the joys of having it live.
I thought this was a family coaster though, is it gonna get intense?

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Maybe. It has an interesting ride system. The original inspiration was surely the mack powered suspended things. It pulls forward out of the station and you rotate towards some projections on a wall. The park mascot witch lady says she can see into your soul or something and then invites you to be whisked away into a world which she created.

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Key difference - this ain't powered. You pull forward onto the first launch track within a tunnel and the cars lock back into a forwards position for the coaster portion. A countdown begins. A decent burst of acceleration. An awful upwards transition into the layout.

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These on the left. Some swooping follows and it gets moderately intense in places as the speed builds and the banking becomes wilder. The rest of it rides pretty well, with a slightly off edge to it that makes it a little more out of control.

It winds up screaming into some brakes below the station, seemingly unplanned as this is the most significant of the 'dark rides sections' and you basically miss the first third at least. This world she created is rather pretty, with trees and whales and such. You rotate once more on the corner to watch some screens. Ok, seen enough? Time for you to go home.

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Another loud clunk, another launch. Another rough exit. It's a shame it's hard to notice the sideways (reversed?) city from onboard and you do some lesser swooping this time back to the station where some final projections greet your return.

S'alright. You know me, I like a bit of quirk.

Elsewhere in the park there were more discoveries to be made. They appeared to be claiming that they had a flying theatre. Everyone has a flying theatre.

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They don't, it was another 'Wild' Jinma simulator. Yay.

I couldn't figure out what Decisive Bottle Centre was either, but it looked intriguing.

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This. Rising and rotating on a small tower and shooting some screens. No helmets required - I couldn't help but remember that stupid thing at HB World. This was much more engaging at least.

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This may well be the worst 3D cinema I've done. It was decked out pretty nice but the film was so poor.
It had 3 'screens' with pillars in between, but the action was clearly just made for a single screen, so characters would sit obscured half the time.
The sound was barely audible in many sections, to the point that I laughed out loud.
The media itself was just knock-off central. I spent the time counting out how many franchises I could see as inspiration, most memorably the fat dragons from How to Train your Dragon and the crabs from Fantawild's Conch Bay.

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Rerode the coaster cos it was kinda cool, and with that it was time to go to the next stop with a dream.

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The original dream for the next day was to day trip another OCT property from Wuhan, but the weather hadn't changed and I assumed the operating policies of the park chain hadn't either.

Who will satiate my needs in such a climate I wondered... It's got to be Fantawild hasn't it.

A mere 3 hours away by high speed train was the newest of the Oriental Heritage parks, never originally on the game plan but I like a cheeky bonus. A train was booked, or rather two trains. It involved a change, and I'd never done that before. Slightly worryingly, while going through the booking process, other trains were mysteriously vanishing from the app. I thought nothing of it.

Day 5 - Oh

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Wuhan station looks pretty cool. You usually never see the trains from the building until you're batched onto the platform a couple minutes before they arrive.

The first couple of hours on board passed as uneventfully as any other, but there was a smattering of snow-covered landscapes to see in the more mountainous regions. Pretty.

On approach to the next stop, a member of train staff approached and had on their tablet that we were changing trains. Just to let us know, we'll be arriving about 20 minutes late. This never happens. Well once, it's happened to me once.
Not to worry though, our connecting train is delayed too! Thanks for the heads up.

It was now a nervous wait as we pulled in. Perfectly aligned with the stairs to run up, through the barriers, and over to the check in for the other train.

Missed it by seconds. I saw the screen go from green boarding to red closed as we approached and at that point they just won't let you through the ticket barriers, even though the train is still down there, and everything was delayed anyway so they're not protecting their precious timetable.

Damn.

I've always been such a fan of the system, but nothing is sacred any more. I guess like the usually unanimously praised Japan when it goes wrong, it goes wrong. They wouldn't refund the second leg of the journey even though it's the fault of the delay that we missed the train. The next alternative was a good 3 hours away and would result in a poor and rushed park visit at best, plus the risk of not even making it back through further mishaps.

Well, guess we're in Nanchang for the day then. At least I know what they have.

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Booked a didi to the sunac mall because I knew at least we could have some dark rides for the day. You can still see the extent of snow on the ground. Hardly life-altering.

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7 years ago I visited the Sunac, then Wanda, park here and commented that it was dumb for them to have a separate 'movie park' next door, with dark rides in. Just put them in the main park to flesh out the day there.

Well this place is gone. You wanna ride some go-karts? Teenagers kept asking us that while I'm trying and failing to have a little abandoned theme park moment of my own. They didn't understand the concept of what was here before and why someone would show interest in that because, well, go-karts.

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Further inside it's still decked out the same. This is the entrance to the flying theatre. The original ticket desks were in complete darkness, covered with dust and with leaflets strewn everywhere. They had a shooting dark ride called Wedding Rescue too. Not any more.

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Outside I managed to lay eyes on a glimpse of my favourite wooden coaster on the planet.
The park was closed for the weather. Looks nice though.

I'm not getting on anything today am I.

Despair set in as we settled on a strawberry tart from KFC and I began some research. Wushang dream mall eh? Turns out there's one in Nanchang too. Much like Sunac himself, websites are useless or non-existent but some news article also contained the words dream park along with another false claim of 'world's biggest'. Maybe we'll discover something.

Took a didi to another mall then. Excitement built as the literal words 'amusement park' were on a sign next to an escalator, saying go to floor 3. It weren't no amusement park. Just some elaborately themed ball pit for kids.

Damn.

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Had a pizza and watched this roundabout being negotiated poorly, then called it a day.

Up next - Fantawild saves the day, again
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
Left Wuhan 90% unsatisfied with how things panned out, guess I'll be going there again at some point, and took a train over to Jingzhou.

I've had my eye on this one for many a year now, through investigating dark rides and such. At a time when Fantawild was much more incestuous with its rides, spotting a single unique attraction here and there was a big deal and a simple promo image of one, with fire, was enough to get me going.

This was the first and last leg of the trip for which we didn't have a hotel to dump stuff at, which often ends up being a right pain, but Fantawild have got your back, except Zhengzhou. The tourist centre here took em for free, no questions asked.

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Where they had this little model set up. How nice.

Day 6 - Oriental Heritage Jingzhou

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It was still damn cold. Detailed signs outside listing attractions delivered news to the effect of biggest rollercoasters were down, all dark rides open. The star coaster here is an SLC, in what appears to be a weird lull between ditching Gravity woodies and striking up a deal for a million big Vekomas, I guess Jingzhou wasn't deemed deserving of any better investment in that department. So I didn't care. I'm here for the dark ride.

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These parks definitely still have the best aesthetic.

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What I don't quite get is moving from that to generic ass flying theatre building. Skipped it this time, but the song remains in my head to this day.

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Also never found the time to reride this due to awkward time slots, it's been a while.
It's a rotating, telescopic cinema thing that tells an old love story.

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Spitey bastard. Had a generous weight limit that I could have got away with, but a max age and height.

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See we were breaking the Fantawild rules. It was another dead day of course and they kinda expect you to hit up attractions in order. Things don't often just operate as you rock up to them. I was headed straight to the back of the park to get the singular ride I came for, only to find it closed, with a sign saying it was closed. Then I got mad.

So we walked all the way back to the entrance past another bunch of closed stuff to find guest services. The staff member was confused.
The ride in question will open at 12.
Put a sign up then.
They did, eventually, they're just slow and dont anticipate anyone to walk past so many other things without experiencing them first.

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Let's try again.

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This did all lead to a suboptimal Fantawild experience however. Everything was time slotted, and really, really awkwardly. It was no quieter than the last visit really, but this park is getting on for five years old now and maybe they're already in the wind down process. it's scary.

The next thing I wanted to ride, Magic Gallery, because it's my fave, was only scheduled to operate 5 'times' in the day. With all that faff said and done, we arrived 1-2 minutes late and were denied entry. This was dumb, and we would later find out that it was even dumber.

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So, old mate Legend of Nuwa then. I swear the entrances to these get more impressive every time. This one's had decent coverage before because it's a main staple of all these parks. 4D motion based dark ride, protect the magic stone so that she can fix the sky, while big blokes punch each other.
It's great.

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I did the drop tower thing to see if they could be any better in other locations. It wasn't, but they change up a few skeletons and book cases here and there.

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The closed SLC. What a pity, never mind.

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Helicopter?

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The time was soon upon us. The new to me dark ride I was here to experience operated just twice throughout the entire day and marked the beginning of a complicated sequence where we had to constantly sprint to opposite ends of the park after each and every attraction to be able to get everything done that we wanted.

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Anyway, Battle of Red Cliffs. Wasn't quite what I expected. This is the ride system they use on a rather boring Chinese Opera ride, the one in Ningbo where half the guests just got out of a moving ride system and walked off, a classic.

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The huge trackless vehicle takes you through a story of, a battle obviously. There's that evil dude in purple with his massive army, against a few 'heroes'. It's all done with a combination of physical sets and screens, and all in this rather cool art style.

It goes on for an age like the opera one, but that's not such a bad thing here, though it didn't quite have the level of spectacle I was gunning for. In particular, no fire. It's possible they've toned it down over the years, or just specifically for quieter days, which happens with their other extravagent attractions around the country.

It all ends when the vehicle moves onto a rotating platform surrounded by a 360° screen. The music swells and you get the big final battle. It's a tale told in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and basically the underdogs find a way to outsmart the big guys. Something to do with straw men, stealing arrows, and then fire ships. Lots and lots of fire ships. Bad guy explodes. We win.

It's got this great vibe to it though, it's not 'we win'. We're being told a story. As you pull back into the station it all comes back full circle with the same little tune I can only describe as being like a Chinese Western, and the narrator who introduced the ride in the station before we moved off, dips back in to close out.

As you exit the ride there's a ton of posters and details giving you further info and back story and profiles on a hundred different characters.

It's great.

Now things get speedy.

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Puppy Coaster had just opened. Tick.

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Boonie Bears Theater was receiving guests. The sign said it was a different film, made doubly sure by asking and subsequently confusing the staff member. There are more of these? They confirmed the story on the sign. Good, I wasn't going to sit through the other one again for multiple reasons.

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This was one of the more OG stories from what little I know about discovering they were a thing. One of the main characters of the franchise, the lumberjack bloke, is more of a villain still, he sorta becomes a good guy/friends with the bears later on but it's a weird dynamic that changes to suit the narrative it seems.

He's out to be a lumberjack anyway, and comes up with this crazy robot he can ride in, with saws for arms and goes out into the forest to break up animals partying and bully them. There's an animatronic of it somewhere in the rotation of the theatre, along with tons of little physical moving creatures hidden in the undergrowth of the scenery.

They plead with him and try to stop him, eventually getting him out of the robot. Then his lumberjack boss remote desktops in to the robot and begins to carry on the evil deeds himself. Now united, the animals and the bloke stop the robot for good and then restart the party. Cue music and lots of dancing creatures around the room.

It's great.

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I dunno what they've done to this Magic Gallery. This used to be the main entrance, but they've put leaves over the name and you now enter through a side cave. We had turned up in time for the next time slot anyway, to discover inside that the timings created a 15-minute queue.
So what was the issue with letting us in 2 minutes late before?

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Gorgeous queue anyway, leading up to the quaint little trackless vehicles. The station layout was slightly different here to the version I remember. Didn't get to cross a bridge. I loved this thing.

But it wasn't quite all there, here. The vehicle movements were a little off and had a bit of a squeak to them, almost like it was limping along. The timing of the scenes was off, moreso than before because that was its only flaw before. You're dispatched in twos but the sequences have to be timed in between the two of you. A couple videos didn't play at all.

Still beautiful though, it's such a journey as the boy with magic brush takes you places and brings things to life. Sights, smells, huge water effects.

It's great.

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What wasn't great was the fact that that 15 minute queue meant we missed the single opportunity to see this... show? One timeslot has to be a show.
I dunno, cogs and floods, this looked pretty epic.

Bah, maybe one day I'll have to return for this (the SLC).

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Tune Tour then.

I said this before.
Chengyu - a name for four-word Chinese phrases that teach life lessons. They've come up on other Fantawild rides in the past, namely the evolution of the small world boat rides in many parks.
This is that, but an evolution prior. It's not Chengyu. It's ethnic groups.

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See?

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Oh yeah, in the midst of all this, they said the other +1 was closed at the entrance.

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As we passed it there was ACTUAL MAINTENANCE going on. I thought it was just a myth.

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And then they opened it. Bonus cred! I like the basket of fruits on the front.

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The other show we did manage to catch was Palace of Chu.

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Fantawild are famous for their shows that create spectacles with objects on wires and this one had bells, which seem to be a thing in this region.

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They also had these wooden doors that get wheeled around into various visuals. And an emperor character who was a bit of a fat shamer.

It was alright.

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I think that's just about everything. Though lacking a good headline coaster, it's quite the lineup on the dark ride front. Rerode the single other timeslot on Battle of Red Cliffs, along with Magic Gallery and Nuwa because they kick ass.

Then hopped on just another 5 hour train for the night.

Up next - Wicked Twister
 

Howie

Donkey in a hat
Always a fascinating read. I look at the pictures of these huge, lavish parks with no people in 'em and think 'Aw, that looks awesome', then I read about the faff involved in getting there and think 'Ugh, that sounds awful'.
And by the way, balls of steel for going anywhere near Wuhan. Where next? Chernobyl? You might become an actual superhero, instead of just a theme park one. 😉
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
And by the way, balls of steel for going anywhere near Wuhan. Where next? Chernobyl? You might become an actual superhero, instead of just a theme park one. 😉
You know if they put something semi-decent in Chernobyl then I'll be there.


The train that night took us to Chongqing, a city I last visited in 2018. It rained a lot back then, but Happy Valley was a success at least.
This place wasn't however, so let's give it another go

Day 7 - Shengming Universal City

Nothing exciting going on, just some creds under a flyover, but at least things were open.

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Sadly that included this. You wouldn't know it to look at it, but it's their newest attraction. As far as I can tell it's my first coaster from Wuhan Fute Amusement Rides. They built Millennium Force didn't you know?

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There's some sort of deal you can get near one of the entrances for multiple rides, but it looked complicated and I couldn't tell what was available. Alternatively you could pay for all the major stuff in situ. Arrival at the ticket window for this one led to a fun encounter as no one was around to operate the thing. The staff member who took the cash made a call and soon someone rocked up on a motorbike to perform the deed.

Headed up the stairs with trepidation where I was promptly presented with a musty old neck pillow to wear in between myself and the restraint. This does not bode well.

Headed up the lift hill with trepidation while running through an internal monologue to the effect of what a stupid hobby, why do i do this, i don't care any more.

It was fine.
No ridiculous forces in the undersized loops, no general brain rattle, the neck pillow did a servicable job of keeping any bruises at bay. I've had much worse.

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This may be the greatest attraction of all time.

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The one I was most interested in was this Jinma spinner with the inversion. There's a bunch around, but never managed to catch one (including the failed attempt at the dinosaur park just a few days prior).

Closed. For maintenance. So much so that they've translated the dedicated sign for this into French and Korean as well.

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Is it a dark ride? We may never know.

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Only other cred in this part of the establishment was another spinner, non-inverting. It happened.

A piece of information popped into my head from RCDB at this point. There's more here, but it's the other side of the road. Sure enough, headed under the big flyover and past a circus into another area with amusements.

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Tank ride?

Happy Town Parent-Child Park

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Things got a little more complicated as this all led around the perimeter of another, gated, park. As the name would suggest it's very much a 'children's park', but the remaining creds appeared to live inside and we had a long conversation with the staff about the situation.

They were fine with it, there was a deal on, we paid admission and popped in. You get a little ticket that's good for a single go on the three 'major attractions' and everything else is unlimited.

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Only 'major attraction' of interest was this. A fine beast of a rollercoaster if ever I've seen one, with a single vicious lateral kick to it.

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RCDB had another junior type thing listed, but it's gone. Instead there's now a spitey one of these. From what we gathered of the conversation earlier, adults of a certain size can legitimately ride this one. Problem was it was broken. This man with a spanner was tinkering and scratching his head and it remained off limits for the foreseeable.

Damn.

Well, though it could have been a momentous occasion, wasn't gonna wait around for it. Places to be.

Chongqing Sunac Land

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Sunac are growing on me again. Can't recall the exact beef I had with them before, beyond being disappointed with the coaster lineups they've been going for since, say, massive custom GCI and Intamin. Never got that wild again.

That and not running both sides of this
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Even the odd creative splurge became wasted potential.

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Anyway, Jinan and Wuxi were pretty great as of late. They run a reasonably tight ship for China, haven't spited a whole bunch, have definitely taken my words to heart about putting dark rides IN the main park and provided a more well rounded experience. There's a decent vibe to them.

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The Chongqing park is relatively small. Things began on the Osprey Mine Train - a fairly hefty and either custom, or at least new to me, Jinma mine train. RCDB says it's a double lift clone. RCDB is wrong.

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It's got a good face, is enhanced by the rock work and there's some decent forces thrown in there. A solid centrepiece.

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All these creds had been leading up to a milestone of some description. It could have ended up pretty bad on this trip, but as ever I only work to within the bounds of the already established plan and landed this for a sweet 1600. The modern Impulse coaster.

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It ain't great though. New Intamin invert lap bars are a nice touch, as is yet another dragon themed train, but as I find with many of these types of experiences it's just a glorified flat ride.

Slight embuggarance in that they couldn't be bothered to open the restraints for the back half of the train. It only ran once every 15 minutes and never had more than a handful of guests on it at any one time. Towards the front at least you get no sense of scale from the visuals provided on ride. You wouldn't know you were travelling 200+ ft up.

The build up in each stage of launch was the most fun, as it often is with any multi-launch experience. More. More! I asked for it, but it never delivered much in the way of anything for me. At least the days of the Twist and Twist version punching people in the head are behind us.

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Elsewhere they had a flying theatre. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Sunac ones are good. There's always a custom pre-show and narrative reason for the exploration - this one being some futuristic pods in the city of Chongqing taking you on a journey around local scenery, past and present.

And that's the other nice thing about them. It isn't just 'here's some things you could go see yourself now, if you can put up with the hassle of tourism'. You get dinosaurs, ancient armies, other timelines sprinkled within the sights you could go see yourself now, to give it a unique edge.

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Saw a few variations on whatever these things are on this trip and remain confused. Some sort of sheltered, square, water slide. Shoulda been an alpine coaster.

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Not much else going on at the park really, back at the top end it's set into a hillside with escalators, good views and the ferris wheel.

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Did the wheel, cos why not.

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I guess they're expanding. Construction, get excited.

Satisfied, called it a day. Back on another train to the final city of the journey.

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Saw one of these on the way out. Drive-thru car batter changer. This is the future.

Up next - the past
 
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Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
Excellent read as always, but can't help but feel like the good old jungle mouses have been a little elusive lately... wondering where & when the next will pop up, but it's easy to see why these larger parks are taking priority!
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
Excellent read as always, but can't help but feel like the good old jungle mouses have been a little elusive lately... wondering where & when the next will pop up, but it's easy to see why these larger parks are taking priority!
Don't forget it took me about 7 trips to China to even bag a single jungle mouse. Plus they're all of an age where they're dying out. A terrible loss.


After a night in Chengdu it was time to start hitting up some parks not in Chengdu. First up was a train out to Jiangyou. Where?

Day 8 - Oriental Heritage Mianyang

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Though named after the larger city Mianyang, the station there isn't actually the closest to this park. A piece of information I'm sure you'll all need at some point.

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Gotta catch 'em all.

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It's that vibe again.

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First up was River of Tales. I said this before

Chengyu - a name for four-word Chinese phrases that teach life lessons. They've come up on other Fantawild rides in the past, namely the evolution of the small world boat rides in many parks.

This is that, but an evolution prior. It's not Chengyu. It's ethnic groups.

This is that.

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See?

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Another Puppy Coaster? Don't mind if I do.

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Hang on though, this Puppy has an identity crisis. It's got the newer purple discount Bugatti trains instead.

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Ok this time that definitely is Nezha, riding a dragon. A fairly old ride by Fantawild standards by now, Dragon King's Tale/Rumble under the Sea (the latter here) has received quite the entrance package at this park. Lots of TLC going on with it too, they had a ton of workers hosing it down and keeping it squeaky clean.

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To the point that we were directed through the exit and got to board the vehicles at the offload station, then ride the short corner round to onload. Excluse.

No notable upgrades to the inside of the attraction, but it was always a bit of a banger anyway. Mean old Mr. Dragon has flooded the city and we follow the kid with the rings and the stick and the sometimes three heads in their successful attempt to kick his ass.

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Rawr.

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Quite the dark ride game here it turns out. Jinshan Temple Showdown/White Snake's Fury (the latter here) is pretty peak Fantawild.

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It's had decent coverage before, but here it is again. Lady white snake turns into, well, a white snake. Monk bloke thinks she's bad. Steals her husband.

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Here he is, whether you get live actors or not seems to vary from park to park, but we got the monk bloke on ride for this one, smashing this bell a few times, bald cap and all.

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After leaving the boat ride you get to watch the main event. The showdown. More actors, water projections, geysers, fire.

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It doesn't end well for anyone.

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I told you these were everywhere. Got confirmation again that the story was different and headed in.

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This time the lumberjack bloke had invented a shrink ray, bear based shenanigans ensued and they got shrunk, spending the majority of the film miniaturied, in danger, running away from a chicken. There's a shot where they get drowned in noodles and soup, with a slow mo of one them sucking up a giant strand amongst the chaos - definitely the most laugh out loud funny of the versions so far. They've got all the emotions.

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Creds! This was just mud and the wrong name on RCDB. Guess what though, it's another Pine Tree Rockets.

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With clown cars.

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I swear the entrance for Legend of Nuwa gets more impressive every time. This one's had coverage already this trip.

It's great.

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Hmm, seems familiar.

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And yet somehow different. Magic Gallery here has also had an entrance facelift.

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But there was more to discover.

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It ain't the Magic Gallery I know and love. Instead of brush boy, we're introduced to belly buddha.

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And everything from that moment on was quite the surprise. Different ride system with these cool canopies and built in speakers.

Different ride itself, it starts off a lot more focused on the 'gallery' aspect. Similar concept in that the guy can bring things to life, which plays out in a very different set of scenes and effects, many of which are clever and effective.

Later on he introduces the same old painting that is the 'destination' of both versions and you slowly back onto a full-blown motion platform before spinning round to face the projection, turning the exploration of said painting into full on flying theatre sequence.

This is exactly the stuff I love. Going in expecting your favourite ride and then getting something completely different and equally mind-blowing.

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But what I'd love more is to ride one of these. Look at the intense layout on this one.

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'Star coaster' here is an SLC again. It was closed for the morning, but maybe opening later.

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It did.

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The overwhelming elation of yes, +1, outweighed the trepidation that it's a Chinese SLC and I caught myself having a moment here, starting to skip down the queue with joy. Wait, stop, what are you doing?
This is what Fantawild does to me.

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After coming back down to earth and preparing for the fact that it was probably going to be awful, it was fine. Manageable. Car crash of an airtime hill, but that's just funny.

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*Tune plays*
Skip.

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Worse than an SLC was my sudden realisation of what this was. An undocumented 'water coaster' had caught my eye on RCDB for this place at some point.

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Well here it is. It sucks so bad, why must we count these. I got the awkward station encounter you often get here, while every other guest spends a good 20 minutes psyching themselves up, purchasing a million ponchos and making a meal out of intricately preparing for what should just be a bit of fun.

You should buy a poncho.
Nah I'm good.
You'll get wet.
Probably.
We've got ponchos over there.
Nah I'm good.
What about your clothes?
I'm already wearing a raincoat, not much different to your poncho.

A nervous laugh, then a radio call to pen the air gates.
Operator radios back.
You should buy a poncho.
Nah I'm good.

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I wasn't good, but there's literally nothing you can do about it. Some rides are just so stupidly wet that your day is over regardless of what piece of plastic you put on. Probably a top 5 soaking for me. Tidal Wave levels of splashdown, the two tiered body, then legs. Then a million geysers go off as you slowly drift around in misery waiting for the awful experience to end, each one like 30 seconds in the shower.

In freezing cold weather.

But hey, they opened it.

Think that's just about it for this park. Spent the rest of the day drying off and reriding the good stuff. Bad creds, everything else is amazing.

Bonus Cred

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Earlier that morning we awoke to find this, right outside the hotel door. I swear it wasn't planned.

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Later that night I got my first ever Chinese travelling coaster as we hopped aboard.

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Themed and everything, it even had a soundtrack. Just look at the terror on their faces.

You can buy one for yourself on Taobao for just 10 grand. That's the dream right there.

Up next - the dream
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
Next up was another day trip out of Chengdu to the city of Zigong. What's there I wonder.

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More Fantawild? Don't mind if I do.

Day 9 - Fantawild Dino Kingdom

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This one has excited me ever since opening of course.

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Another unique theme, some new dark rides I knew very little about. A Vekoma Junior. Everything you could ask for.

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The unique vibes continue through the main street, just hoping not to turn a corner and see Let's Fly with a plane outside.

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Heading towards some exciting looking show buldings from the map, first thing we came across was a cred.

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What's not to love?

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Excitement continued to build, wondering what wonders lay inside here.

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Deep Down. Dinosaurs. Got it.

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Just before heading in I spun round and clocked this. My inner fan screamed. They haven't done an 'Indiana Jones' vehicle ride since 2016 as far as I know. Been waiting on a 2nd generation one because the first already kicks ass.

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After some cavey stuff is a preshow. We're going on a journey to the centre of the earth with this miner bloke. Might be trouble on the way.

And trouble there was. Really, really loved this thing. It's very much Dinosaur, but also very much their own thing and it does stuff I've never experienced on a dark ride before.

You start out in some pretty crystals and end up getting lost in the jungle where regular Mr. scary dino pops out at you a few times. Eventually you find a big old fossil/skeleton which then magically comes to live and unleashes something much more scary than your average T-rex.

You stop in the dark trees again for a bit and get jump scared again, before heading backwards in the pitch black for ages, with feely things hanging down and hitting the back of your head. Eek.

The next sequence is my favourite. You just stop, can't see anything at all. Relying purely on audio and the motion base in the vehicle you get sniffed up and roared at by the dinosaur as he moves around the car. The tension it manages to create is insane, pure horror stuff that then doesn't end in a jump scare for a change. You've lost him for now.

Things are kicking off though, it's time to get out of here now, the ride starts gunning it through some lava and some rocks, eventually culminating in the 'drop below something scary' bit of the sequence which is the only full glimpse of animatronic big scary more than a dino thing.

Like an American on an average rollercoaster, I gave a round of applause as we returned.

That was something special.

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It's a shame their star coaster isn't something special. Just another Orkanen - they've become the SLCs of the world, but pleasant.

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We'd already had re-imagined Wizard Academy on the trip. Dino Rampage is their absolute OG 4D dark ride. It's been kicking around since 2006, in their very first park which is now long gone.
I never much cared for the crudeness of it - the graphics were quite gory, lots of gratuitous violence with and against regular dinosaurs basically. As a child who never wanted to watch Jurassic Park because they hurt a dinosaur in it, not my cup of tea.

It's got a new pre-show which is very by the book of course. Trouble is afoot, but don't worry civilian, I'm a military man and I've got a high-tech all-terrain vehicle in which you can make your escape. Oh and it's equipped with guns and missiles. Not this again.

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There's two sizes of these newest generation vehicles now, both of which are in use at the 'World War Japan' themed parks. This is the smaller one that can kick more ass in its range of movement.

They've basically fixed everything I didn't like about the ride and it's now a ton of fun. It opens with its most gruesome moment as you get the simple silhouette of a t-rex eating a cat. Sad face.

From there you get soldiers zapping, not machine-gunning, some velociraptors that attack you. Then a chase sequence through a city from a T-rex which ends with you both falling into a subway tunnel and at the last second he gets hit by a train. Which is quite funny to be fair.

Worth mentioning there's a great deal of physical scenery complimenting the transitions between screens, and that all the city based media is full of both real world details and Fantawild easter eggs. There's known high street brands as well as like Boonie Bear shops or the lumberjack guys face on a pizza store.

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Things get scary as you move into this room. The temperature is slowly ticking up as soldiers try to keep whatever's frozen in here dormant. They fail of course but all you get before you leave the room is a massive claw smashing through a gantry in another good horror-based beat - don't reveal all just yet.

Well he's on the entrance sign, but basically it's Godzilla. You round things out with some wider and wilder scenes of city based destruction as he stomps around, fire blasts you through a building etc. Again the movements give you a lot to think about and it all ends when we shoot a missile down his throat and he comes flopping down.

Cue the obligatory: Your bravery saved the planet. You can ride with me any time.

Exit through the gift shop.

It's great.

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Official announcement - Fantawild Dinosaur is back and he's selling burgers. The character hasn't featured in parks for ages but I guess they figured he's related to this place. Not selling him in the shops though!

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Only speculation at this point and I should have learnt from this trip to never assume things are the same any more. But I have to assume that this is the same 3D cinema about, well, the origin of life.

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Not speculation, we had this one confirmed that though it's not called a Boonie Bear Theatre, this is a Boonie Bear Theatre with the traumatising story about the bird. Massive show building though, weirdly, I almost didn't believe them.

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Mystic River. I haven't said this before
Big boat ride with lots of dinosaurs.
This is that.

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See?

Was really good in general, lots of pretty sights in impressive physical sets, very much of the quality of their newest boat rides. Most unfortunate of the whole thing is a stonkingly massive Langnek animatronic that was too ambitious and needed a visibly thick black cable holding it up.

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Shout out to Fantawild's painted service gate game again.

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As well as some other things going on in this park, like this guy shaking a tree.

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And these ones you can ride and then they'll respond to you with movement. Plus crash mats.

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Another show ride that originated here, their Let's Fly flying theatre looks and is great. I speculated that the one we did in Taizhou would have roots in this park and was correct. It's the one where you ride pterodactyls through some fantasy dinosaur landscapes and it's all very pleasant.

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No listing for this and I wasn't going to put myself through the ordeal again to find out myself. Hope it's not a cred, or a dark ride.

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This is though, interactive train ride, shooting bugs.

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Another solid and different entry with the mix of targets and screens to shoot.

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Last cred is just another junior boomerang.

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Feat. triceratops.

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Trees.

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This show was also at the Taizhou park, but didn't run for the six people in attendance.

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They were making a killing flogging these eggs for kids to smash and get prizes while everyone faffed their way into the building. Rides were never busy but managed a full house here, it's quite magic when guests come out of the woodwork.

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Another variation of the things on strings shows, but it's even more impressive and effective in '3D' with these circular theatres I think. Last one I saw kept singing about Indoneeeeesia, but this started out a bit like Origin of Life, with performers in dinosaur suits. Then some ancient men-folk stole this bird-man's eggs (that's a costumed character centre frame) and it goes all sad and lament-atious while the 'eggs' dance around him.

Eventually he gets the eggs back and everyone's happy. I guess the moral of the story is don't eat animals. And now you feel like a dick for paying to smash those eggs don't you.

Think that's just about it for this park. Spent some time reriding the good stuff.

And god damn is it good.

Up next - the bull
 

gavin

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
That final show is also at one of their Wuhu parks - Dreamland I think - going by the name Bubble Ballet.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
Next up was a day trip out to Dujiangyan, because it turns out Sunac Land Chengdu isn't in Chengdu, but a good 40 miles out.

The city in question is somewhat of a tourist gateway. Panda themed taxis line the streets, you can take various tours to see them out here, along with trips up the nearby mountains that border the Tibetanous region.

Or you can ride Taron.

Day 10 - Sunac Land Chengdu

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Once again Sunac were doing us a solid, confirming that everything would be up and running. Not hard really, is it.

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Shortly after, we laid eyes on this. Seem familiar?

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It wasn't due to open for another hour or so however, so moved swiftly onwards to see what else was around.

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Not the brightest of days, but a nice enough looking place.

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Next cred along was ready to receive. A dual lift mine train clone, yay.

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Much more exciting was this thing opposite it. In the back of my mind the name rang a bell. It's dark ride time.

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Sure enough, a long and empty queue led to a fully indoor immersive tunnel job.

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I know there's stiff competition out there, what with Fast n Furious n all, but I think this might well be the best in the world. It actually does things other than drive you to a tunnel, and there's also a coherent story and ending.

You begin in a pretty woodland area, physical theming on one side of the room and a screen on the other showing a tranquil setting, deer and the like. Some mountain lion thing appears and scares them off and as you move away, a bear animatronic scares you off in amusing fashion.

Next you drive onto a rickety bridge over a ravine and pause. Again, there's stormy weather and river on a screen one side, washing towards you, with a scene on the other side. The bridge swings and shakes the vehicle around a bit and a big tree is supposed to fall down alongside as you set off again. Sadly this was broken.

More, different, movement based antics happen in the next room. A big scary face in the rock comes to life and gets projected on. He ain't happy about something and summons up some magic which causes the whole tram to rotate on a turntable, pivoting at one end. On another screen, another vehicle encourages you to head out a tunnel exit but it becomes blocked in the commotion. Guess we'll have to find another way out.

The angry face shouts at you some more while you head into the actual tunnel scene, which manages to fit into the narrative a bit more smoothly. Some scary looking stone cat statues in some jungley temple ruins come to life and make chase, before you get attacked by some bigger cats. The yeti from the sign outside appears. Thought he was the scary one, but turns out he's a good guy. Looking like a white-haired Caesar he fights off the cats for you and then saves you from falling off a cliff into some vines. Seem familiar?

As the film ends we progress further into the cave to find some spookily-lit artifacts and an animatronic of one of the scary cats from earlier. And then, for all our struggles, we have found Nirvana. A picturesque screen of an ancient city hidden up in the mountains is cue for a victorious return to the offload platform.

Quality wasn't the greatest admittedly, but I loved some of the ideas in there and had a blast with it.

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Chinese Taron was almost ready to receive, so I started a trend by waiting just outside the queueline, attracting about 3 other guests to follow suit. Here I clocked a plaque on the wall stating it was a stock model. Whatever lads, chuck an Intamin Double Launch Coaster in there.

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One uncilivized queue later, it was time for a back row inauguration.

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And thankfully it didn't have these restraints. Imagining the creative process in which these design/marketing people come up with these images always amuses me.

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So, the ride then. Eh.
It's not poorly themed by any means, though parts like that evac platform look a little goofier than we're otherwise used to, but the experience just highlighted how it's hard for me to see Taron as a world beater any more. Remove just a sprinkle of what makes that attraction so special and the hardware simply doesn't hold up.

Corners, a few positive forces, a singular moment of alright airtime and a smattering of slightly snappy direction changes over a very lengthy ride time which, to be fair to the Chinese had them screaming the entire way round, unrelentingly. To them it works, and more power to 'em. It's what, 70 seconds of 'I'm on a rollercoaster and the very sensation of translational movement is terrifying to me'. To the jaded enthusiast it's 'I'm on a rollercoaster and I want it to kick my ass, but it isn't'.

The theming has its own charm, it's all built within a walled city that's under attack and you can follow the entire perimeter for the views.

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Ranging from fight scenes carved out of rock

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to monkeys caught in nets.

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Hey look, that one airtime hill looks great from this angle. I swear we were up to a count of two, on my last laps with the original, but it seems the other has gone again.

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Hey look, a train in motion, in China.

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A side-on view makes a hell of a difference to that profiling, but I think we've spotted the other hill. It's after the trim isn't it, so it's silly.

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Just over the way, the flying theatre was ready to commence.

I said this before
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Sunac ones are good. There's always a custom pre-show and narrative reason for the exploration - this one being some futuristic pods in the city of Chongqing taking you on a journey around local scenery, past and present.

And that's the other nice thing about them. It isn't just 'here's some things you could go see yourself now, if you can put up with the hassle of tourism'. You get dinosaurs, ancient armies, other timelines sprinkled within the sights you could go see yourself now, to give it a unique edge.
this is that, but Chengdu, with magic golden birds.

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And ends with a very philosophical question.

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Just over the way, a show was ready to commence.

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This one I can just about get my head around.

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What a weird show. It must have been the low budget version as it was such a quiet day (again). The big dragon over there was never a part of it, and there was a big bird rigged up at the opposite end ready to do something but never did.

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What we did get was some horsey action in a generic two clans battling it out story. The fight sequences were hilariously underperformed, couldn't tell whether this was intentional or not but it was comedy gold.
Someone won anyway.

Didn't know what else was on offer at this point so went on an exploratory wander.

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Hoped to stumble upon a bonus cred in this indoor section but alas, mini coster this is not.

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Hoped to stroke a cat, but alas, there weren't any.

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Eww.

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This content looking fellow housed a 3D cinema. It was showing a dubbed and crudely cut together highlight reel of what I've just found out to be the Canadian animated film Racetime. A new one to me at least.

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More importantly though, this area contained the final cred.

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And Charizard Y.

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An attraction of the highest caliber.

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Saw one of those weird water slide contraptions again and managed to make a bit more sense of how this one worked.

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Not that I wanted to try or anything.

Think that's about it for this park. Had another lap on Taron just as it began to rain. It was a tense and nervous station wait as they were visibly on the fence about just packing it in for the day, with many animated discussions between staff members. Credit to them, they sent it out one last time as the heavens opened, and my face was sufficiently stung.

S'alright.

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Maybe there was a cat to stroke after all.

Up next - not much
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
Things were going wrong in this trip before it even began. On the day of departure, the airline broke the news that our return flight had been 'delayed' by 24 hours, by which they meant that our booked flight had been cancelled (I suspect because they weren't making enough money, they never gave a reason). An inconvenience for sure, but at least generally in our favour. An extra day to find a hotel and make some plans at the cost of no recovery time when returning home.

The most unfortunate thing about all this was how specifically I'd arranged the internal flight back to Shanghai. There's two airports at opposite ends of the massive city, and you couldn't get to the one we wanted from Chengdu. So that night we took a train all the way back to Chongqing, then got up again at something stupid like 2am in order to fly to the right end of Shanghai, only to be stuck there for another 36 hours anyway.

Day 11 - Not much

The original plan on arrival was to hit up Steel Dolphin in its geographically convenient location, and then fly home. Instead we had to head to a hotel and dump stuff one final time before phoning Steel Dolphin.
Steel Dolphin was closed of course.

Never mind, maybe all the additional faff could lead to a fairytale ending as there was nothing to stop me daytripping back over to Beyond the Clouds yet again. Phoned Beyond the Clouds.
Beyond the Clouds was closed of course.
There is no happy ending to this story.

Fine, powered dragons it is.

Yangpu Park

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I've already done a decent amount of cred whoring in Shanghai, so options were still thin on the ground. First up was one of these pleasant green spaces in Chinese cities with tacky amusements at one end. A real staple.

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The coaster of course was a real gem, as well as open. Imagine that.

Huangxing Park

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Next up was one of these pleasant green spaces in Chinese cities with tacky amusements at one end. A real staple.

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The coaster of course was a real gem, as well as open. Imagine that.

We were on a roll, but then it rained.

The end.

Day 12 - Not much

Another day, another chance. Would it be squandered? Yes.

Phoned Steel Dolphin. Steel Dolphin was closed of course.

Phoned Beyond the Clouds. Beyond the Clouds was closed of course.

Then it rained.

Fine, dark rides it is.

There were a few options. Legoland Discovery centre, but they won't let you in. Some Smurfs park but it was expensive and already documented.

An unknown car ride in one of these pleasant green spaces in Chinese cities with tacky amusements at one end? Deal.

Heping Park

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It's gone. The tacky amusements are no more, instead they've put in a posh looking children's play park and some exercise equipment for the elders. Lots of signs up measuring the ambient noise level, so I guess there's no room for tacky amusements in a pleasant green space any more. The future?

Shanghai Dungeon

Not what I expected, but I got the opportunity to get annoyed at Merlin. The next moderately interesting idea was the Shanghai Dungeon, but the website was plastered with warnings about having to prebook a time slot and how it was cheaper to do so online. The link to do so? Went to some front page of a technology company. Broken.

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Rocked up at the door anyway to find that it was far cheaper in person, and that the very next time slot was available. Deal.

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They also wanted to flog us Madame Tussauds tickets, which goes some way towards explaining why Jackie Chan is here. No deal.

Before long that time was upon us and the experience began as many do with an elevator. Trickery afoot though, this one is in a mall and you go up, not down, somehow. No photos allowed, so bad luck.

We were then parked at the entrance to a themed street of old Shanghai. Some scare effect was going off and riling up the crowd a little, biggest point of note however for the Chinese crowd was that it contained far younger children than you're likely to get at a UK one. This worked against the experience somewhat as they're all rather bold and keen to heckle/harrass the actors who don't really have a good way to shut them up.

Eventually we were instructed to head through the town, which looked decent while not much happened. We then got an introductory chat with some ringmaster guy who talked about history and lay the groundwork for a 'shadow killer' that was on the loose as a plot point. Then we got into yet another lift with him, which had lightning effects and screens that gave our first glimpse of the shadow killer.

Next up was something about pirates. It had the dumb looking projected face on a mannequin on a stick effect and a bell. If you see a pirate, ring the bell. Chaos ensued as the kids just wanted to ring the bell, the guy couldn't complete his lines properly, someone bumped the mannequin so that the projection didn't line up and thankfully it was all over rather quickly.

It got better from here. Either the stories were more engaging in presentation or the actors could hold a crowd a bit more. Or there was less interactivity. As with all dungeons, it's all variations on the same beats.

The assistant to a British doctor did a spiel next to the silhouette of a doctor behind a curtain scene, performing various gruesome procedures and then handing through the bits being removed. The seats did a bit of violating when some rats escaped.

The daughter of an actress who was beaten to death outside a theatre for being 'posessed' gave us a talking to in a room, before the lights went out and we got ghosted.

A woman in a tavern shouted at us and eventually sold us off to be slaves. Feat. a mechanical rat race through the rafters.

A fortune teller shouted at us in a room full of chairs. Then the shadow killer came in the room and Sweeney Todded us.

Then the plot was lost on us as we prepared for the 'standing drop tower'. We'd already been killed, but now it was time for the final illusion.

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Hardware of this one was very interesting to be fair, though the stat they claim sounds rather underwhelming (2.4m in 0.97s). This is for a reason as there's no restraint at all, you just get locked inside a door, free standing. It does the sequence twice - up to some writing on a wall and then drop. As a fan of anything drop related I liked it, different and definitely gave you a good lurch to think about as your feet gently caressed the air millimetres above the floor.

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And then we were in a mall. Home time.

Summary

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New creds - 24
New dark rides - 31
New parks - 10
New Fantawilds – 4
Best new coaster – Cloud Shuttle
Best new dark ride – Deep Down
Best new park – Fantawild Wonderland
Planes - 3
Trains - 17
Automobiles - 26
Spites – 11/35 (31.4%)

Ta for now.
 
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