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China - March 2018 (Day 10 – Suzhou + Summary)

gavin

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Pretty sure Meisho don't even exist anymore. There are only something like 30 of their coasters still running. SBL only ever made a handful of them, but they're still extremely active, so if it was one of theirs, I don't see why it couldn't be fixed.
 

Hixee

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Day 4 – Shanghai Tourism

No creds at all today!

First properly leisurely start of the trip took me to Shanghai Old Town – an area of the city that’s been renovated and protected to maintain the traditional architectural style of Shanghai. The whole area is fairly nice, but extremely busy and the odd Haagen Daz and Starbucks stores definitely don’t make it feel hugely authentic!

Here’s a bit of a photo dump:
















I like the contrast of old and new here.

From there I headed out towards the Maglev train line, as I wanted to take a ride on the (current) fastest commercially operating train in the world. This was mostly a case of engineering fascination.

Clocking in at 430kph (267mph), the train completes a 19 mile journey (which takes the regular tube train about 20 minutes) in only seven minutes. In being a “maglev” it has no wheels, and instead relies on magnetic repulsion to stay on the track. The train accelerates at a fairly standard rate, but it just keeps accelerating and accelerating and accelerating. It’s incredibly impressive. Not to mention the heavily banked track and huge shockwave as it encounters the train going in the other direction (also doing 430kph). Marvellous piece of engineering. I got a return ticket and went for a spin!






You get a sense of the banking here.


Bingo!

My next stop was back to the Pudong area for a trip up the Shanghai Tower. I got the train over to the area, and spent a bit of time wandering around the various elevated walkways, shopping malls and parks. I wanted to go up the tower for sunset and the views at night, so I was holding off getting up there too early. Anyone who’s been to one of these tall buildings will know – it’s much easier to pass the time at ground level! It ended up being almost perfect, as I was able to get some pictures in the changing light, and then make my way in to the tower.




The Shanghai Tower (2nd tallest building in the world) on the right.


Another great piece of architecture.



I was expecting the queue to be huge, in part due to the sheer number of tourists in Shanghai and in part due to the stature of the building, however it seems as if the more iconic Pearl Tower actually pulls the majority of visitors. It took very little time at all to go through the security check and in to the basement level exhibition (again, I’d pre-bought my ticket at the urban planning museum, so saved myself that queue).

Now as a slight forewarning here – unfortunately due to the angle of the sunset and the highly reflective glass, it’s almost impossible to get photos from the tower at this time of day without significant reflections and glare. I also don’t have time, nor inclination, to Photoshop them all out. SO yeah, some of these pictures will be spoilt a bit!


The contrast of mega-tall and mass housing.


Damn reflections!




Much quieter up here than I was expecting.




Moody…

Turns out I’d slightly misjudged the time for the sunset to happen (well, to be honest I’d misjudged how long the queue at the bottom was going to be), so I had to wait for about an hour before it was dark enough to get the night time photos. They have two levels of observatory, one of which has a small screening room showing a short (~10 min?) film about the design and construction of the tower. I wandered around, watched the film, and looked out the window for an hour or so until it was getting suitably dark for me to get some final pictures.


Getting there now.




I think this one is my “non-coaster photo of the trip”.


One more looking down on to the ‘bottle opener’

Headed back down the tower once I’d taken a suitable [read: excessive] number of photos, grabbed a bite to eat, and then took a few more of the skyscrapers at night.









I wanted to get across the river now, for some final pictures of the skyline at night (you must be sick of them by now), but didn’t fancy the somewhat out-of-the-way trip on the metro. Thankfully, the “Shanghai Sightseeing Tunnel” takes you from one bank to the other (the metro stops are a little way from the bank on both ends). You ride in a little pod car through a tunnel filled with lights, music, strangely softly spoken abstract words, sound effects, the works. Very peculiar!







Exit is right next to the water front, so it was easy to get some final pictures of the skyline.






This photo is actually several (six, I think) exposures overlaid to get the mix of boats in the foreground.

Finally, some pictures of the Bund itself (directly behind the area where I’d been taking the above photos).





So, a photo heavy update this time, and no creds, but yielded some good experiences and a number of pictures I’m pleased with. Can’t really complain about that!

Next up – leaving Shanghai and back to the creds, including the terrifying Dinoconda!
 

roomraider

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Enjoying the report Hixee :) Keep it up.
Not to derail anything but just going back to the shuttle loop at Action park

The ride is supposed to be about to undergo a full on refurb nut weather or not that happens remains to be seen.
The ride celebrated 32 years last year and there's a rather sweet article with one of the rides old ride ops about it here (its in Chinese so google translate is needed) there's also some pics of it in its opening year
http://news.sina.com.cn/o/2017-07-31/doc-ifyinryq7347726.shtml

This bit was interesting though
"According to Japanese manufacturers, the roller coaster after leaving the factory has a warranty period of nine years"
 

HeartlineCoaster

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Did you go out of your way to get the faster maglev run? Think it's based on time slots and every time I've done it, it ran slower than the regular high speed trains over there :(. Banking is fun though.
Sounds like that shuttle loop is in the same state as over a year ago. Was 'maintenance' then. Hope they do get around to it and set a good example for restoring/caring about older rides over there.
 

gavin

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The maglev is such a massive white elephant. The terminus is in an area of Shanghai that nobody needs to go to, it's expensive, and most people need to transfer to the metro anyway, so it makes more sense to just pay loads less and use the metro the whole way instead of saving 20 minutes.
 

Hixee

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Did you go out of your way to get the faster maglev run? Think it's based on time slots and every time I've done it, it ran slower than the regular high speed trains over there :(. Banking is fun though.
Sort of. I'd found a schedule online of the times it runs at various speeds, so targeted one of the faster periods. However, on the way out the train only reached 300kph. At the station at the airport they had another schedule of the speeds, different to the one online. Thankfully I was only about 20-25 minutes away from the 'fast' runs, so I just waited a bit for the return leg which then ran at 431kph.

The maglev is such a massive white elephant. The terminus is in an area of Shanghai that nobody needs to go to, it's expensive, and most people need to transfer to the metro anyway, so it makes more sense to just pay loads less and use the metro the whole way instead of saving 20 minutes.
I agree. It's clearly not popular, it wasn't very busy either way, but the metro line was full of people with suitcases both ways - suggesting you're right. Probably mostly due to the expense. That said, I commend them in running it. It's an important and impressive engineering accomplishment. I basically saw it as a tourist attraction, which I think was probably what 90% of the handful of people on the train were doing too.
 

Ben

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The Maglev is insane.

It's totally pointless like Gavin said but it's such a cool feat of engineering. I got one of the obscene 431kph runs and it's just, mental.
 

Hixee

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Day 5 – China Dinosaurs Park

Okay, time to leave Shanghai. First up, train from Shanghai to Changzhou. I’d pre-bought my tickets before the trip, and picked them up from the train station the day before, which made the start of this trip pretty straightforward. Put my mind at rest, really, there’s always some uncertainty the ‘first time’.





Once the train arrived at Changzhou, I headed for the taxi rank and was able to communicate my intention to get to the park easily enough. In part thanks to having the park address in Chinese, and in part thanks to all of the advertising for the park at the station. A mutual point to a billboard shortly after we set off made sure we both knew where we heading.

I hadn’t really appreciated quite how big the whole “Dinosaur Land” was. The initial approach feels like you’re heading to the theme park, but it’s actually just a big street with shops and restaurants. At the end, a large tee centred on a large observation tower, with the theme park off to the left. From there, it’s back to the normal theme park entrance, with ticket booths and guest services (where I was able to leave my suitcase for the day). All in all, the place had a fairly impressive entrance. Much more substantial than I was expecting.

Plus, now I could see Dinoconda.

I had significant cred anxiety at this point, so made a beeline straight for Dinoconda. On the way walking through the impressive theming of the park. Again, much more extensive than I was expecting. Really impressive.










Surely got to be one of the best coaster entrances anywhere in the world.

The operations. Oh god, the operations.

The one-train procedure goes like this:

1) Queue is held at the split (for either side of the train).
2) One train’s worth of the riders are let in to the station and made to stand in one of the air-gates.
3) Safety Lecture 1.
4) Stow all your personal belongings.
5) Safety Lecture 2.
6) Air-gates open, everyone finds their seat.
7) Staff Member A comes down the train closing the restraints.
8) Staff Member B checks all the restraints.
9) Staff Member A re-checks all the restraints.
10) Safety Lecture 2, again.
11) Train is dispatched.
-
12) Train returns to the station and restraints are unlocked.
13) All riders are let back through the air-gate to collect their belongings, but cannot leave the station.
14) Once all belongings have been collected, staff check the storage bins and then confirm they’re empty.
15) Riders are then allowed to leave the station.
16) Only once all riders have left the station – return to Step 1.

Probably sounds like I’m being dramatic, but I’ve truly never seen anything like it. They were getting somewhere around 10-12 minutes per train. It was awful.

So, queue for about 200 people took about 90 minutes. Fairly painful.


It’s also a shame that the station is pretty fab, you don’t really get to admire it with all the faff.

Okay, so on the coaster itself. Dinoconda is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden before. It’s significantly more intense than X2, and quite frankly – it’s terrifying! The positive forces, the airtime, the rotations, the flipping, the shaking, the noise, it’s a true climax of coaster intensity. My first ride was in the front row, and I rode alone, and once the train hit the brakes it felt like I was in shock! It was incredible. More on Dinoconda later!





Decided to get the other creds before riding anything else, and next up was Dinosaur Mountain – a Zamperla MotoCoaster. The entrance was nice, and the unique trains were a good touch. The ride itself was also better than I was expecting. Lift hill to start, and some good theming interactions (planets, dinosaurs, UV/neon, the works) and a decently lengthy ride, too. Not half bad.



Now, let’s find the spinner. Headed over to where I thought the coaster was, but the whole area was closed down for construction, with the coaster nowhere to be seen. Some small breaks in the fence gave a view in to the construction area, which revealed some pretty major work being done. Looks like there will be a new area, but wasn’t in any state to work out what (and I can’t read Chinese so the signs on the fences didn’t reveal anything!). Will be an interesting one to watch – I wonder if it means a new cred?

That’s okay then, I’ll try out some of the other rides and then get another lap on Dinoconda.


I rode the frisbee – good fun as always.


The theming is pretty great!


Winner for “most elaborate theming for lamest ride experience” goes to…


Pretty fab!


Didn’t ride this, just liked the name – Fantastic Spooky House.

I took a little walk round the back of Dinoconda, and as a bit of a post-lunch break I decided I’d wait around for a few trains to come by so I could get some pictures. I managed to find a couple of vantage points that allowed for multiple angles of the coaster. Just going to shove a load of pictures in now.


Any first time riders must have no idea what they’re in for.














That first drop, though…





Once I’d finished up with that I took another ride on Dinoconda. Queue was shorter this time (probably about half that from the morning), and took about 40 minutes. I went for a back row ride this time, which heightened some of the forces (specifically the first drop), but did made the ride feel markedly rougher than the front. Now of course, the operations are pretty shocking across most of the parks I went to, but this second ride did make me think that maybe China Dinosaurs Park are just so scared of this ride that they’ve implemented the insane loading/unloading procedure.

Quick lap of the park next – didn’t really ride anything until I was back in the ‘proper’ dinosaur area. Oh, and the dinosaur museum was closed (I think just general cleaning, or maintenance or something), which was a bit of a shame.


I enjoyed the themed buildings across the lake.


The kids area was actually pretty nice, but I didn’t ride anything.






Magnificent.




Didn’t bother riding the flume, but I enjoyed the rainbows!

I wrapped up the day riding the top spin thing, 4D cinema (which I don’t remember anything about), and the shot tower. All in all, pretty good really. Certainly impressive theming! Although I did get spited by a stupid woman on the top spin. She managed to lose her phone during the ride, which meant, for some reason, I couldn’t leave the ride platform. Didn’t make me search my bag, just made me stand there while she faffed. I literally have no idea why I was stood there. After 5-10 minutes, the other people were getting visibly agitated too. Eventually the idiot found her phone (she’d left it in another bin) and we were allowed to leave. So ****ing stupid.





I’d planned to have one more ride on Dinoconda, but they closed it early. Wasn’t clear if it was broken, or they just couldn’t be bothered (or they knew that if they closed the queue at 5pm they’d be there all night getting through the queue), either way it was closed well before 4:30pm (sign out front said 5pm closing). Instead I grabbed some more pictures before heading out of the park.






Can’t get enough of this entrance at dusk.

Here are some final pictures of the park on the way out.




The actual park entrance.


Big fan of the excessive dinosaurs.


The entrance to the whole Dinosaur Park area.

Dinoconda: Wow. What a coaster! Ended up at my #3 spot, pushing X2 down to #5. It’s got something unlike any other coaster I’ve ever ridden, and is totally ballistic. I can’t push it higher as it’s really violent, and isn’t actually terribly ‘nice’ to ride. It’s a true assault on the body. I simply can’t push it higher up my list. An incredible piece of hardware. I’d love to know what S&S thought when they first rode it – I wonder if they ever intended it to be that intense! I’d also love to know what the unsuspecting GP think when they get to the top of the lift hill. They must have no idea what to expect!

China Dinosaurs Park: One half(ish) of this park is lovely. The theming is great, and the rides are decent – really just about all you could ask for. The other half of the park is a little lacking in places, but with the new work being done behind Dinoconda there’s a chance they’re going to continue to improve the place. That said, if it wasn’t for Dinoconda, I don’t think the park would be on many people’s radars. I hope they manage to keep that coaster running (even if it’s woefully inefficiently) for many years to come!

Short taxi ride back to the hotel after picking up my suitcase from guest services, and a simple check-in. Hotel was really nice in the end, with a fantastic room (huge, soft bed, good breakfast and helpful staff) and well located. Really pleased I went for it in the end. I had some nice Chinese food for dinner, and then just had a reasonably early night – I’d had a few late nights recently.

Next up – Joyland!
 

Hixee

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Day 6 – Joyland

Joyland was the park I was most anxious about on this trip. It’s a long way out of Changzhou, and whilst I figured a taxi would be easy enough to get from the hotel, I was concerned about how much I’d struggle to get one on the way back. Lots of that “first time in a foreign country” feeling. Thankfully, the hotel were very helpful and arranged a taxi to pick me up and take me to the park (helped confirming that the driver was taking me to the right place). The trip took a little over an hour in total. More on the return trip later – but as you’ll probably have gathered from this report, I made it back!

The entrance to the park is impressive, and the World of Warcraft influences are clear to see. Not a franchise I’ve ever really got in to, but I recognise the general aesthetic. The detail was quite good, really.


The long approach to the park entrance.


World of Warcraft theming influences here.


Looking over the lake.



As is often the case, this park also had one stand out coaster – in this case the B&M Flying Coaster, Starry Sky Ripper. The coaster is visible from the entrance, so it the direction to head was obvious. Initially, however, I was met with an empty train doing circuits.


It was also a bit foggy this morning, making for some atmospheric shots of the first runs.




My first impression of the zero-g-roll-and-a-half was excitement, too!

Seemed better to come back, rather than wait. So I carried on round the park to the mine train – Dragon Roaring Heaven.





This was actually much better than I expected. My first one of these Golden Horse mine trains. It’s not the most exciting coaster in the world, but I reckon it sits in the “family” category really nicely. The theming is also pretty good. Sadly, only one train operations meant it was a bit of a drag in the queue, but I did have a couple of vantage points of the flyer, which was continuing to test.

Once I’d gotten off, the flyer was now running with guests. I headed back that was and joined the queue. Took about an hour in the end, but I managed to bag a front row ride.

The coaster is really good, probably the best of the flyers. The first drop is lovely, as is the first turnaround, and the zero-g-roll-and-a-half is great. The first roll is more like an inline twist (in fact, that’s what RCDB categorises it as), but the final half-roll pitches downhill very steeply creating a cool sensation as you enter the drop before the loop.

The loop suffers from the same ‘problem’ that the Pretzel Loops suffer from – the highly intense positive G-forces. It is pretty chest-crushing! It’s doubly bad as you have both the entrance and exit exhibiting the high Gs. Definitely took me by surprise the first time.

The rest of the coaster is pretty standard flyer stuff, to be honest. Good, smooth fun.

Okay, so the SkyLoop. Hadn’t seen an ounce of movement from this so far, but headed over just in case. Sign outside wasn’t promising: “down for maintenance”. Not feeling hopeful (I know these coasters can be quite spiteful – hell, I’ve never actually managed to get one), I moved on to do a lap of the park.






”The Customary Nosebleed” is an excellent mistranslation.

The rest of the park is pleasant enough. The only thing I was half interested in from the SkyLoop back to the park entrance was the eccentric ferris wheel. Guess what? It was also spiting. Oh well…






Kids area was pleasantly garish.


Spiteful.

Once I’d passed the park entrance, I gave each of the dark rides a go. Have to admit, Joyland haven’t got the best selection.

Fantasia Atlas – knock-off Soaring – ****, seats and movie were rough, low quality, and poorly synced.
Sky Fantasy – 360 dome cinema thing – ****, screen was broken.
Cosmo Hacker – don’t even know how to describe this – ****, just rubbish.

That was exciting, so here, have some more pictures:




Broken screen in Sky Fantasy.


This was when the screen was “off” at the end.

Some more dramatic theming:


Big fan of the theming here.



After all this faffing, I ended up right next to the entrance to Starry Sky Ripper. I took another ride, this time in the back row. The forces were notably different in the back row, especially the zero-g-roll, with the acceleration down through the final roll.







Final ‘non-coaster’ thing I was interested to do was climb the hill. I fancied checking out the view. All very dramatic World of Warcraft type theming, too.




Quite impressive, really. More parks should have these sort of views!


The dive out of the zero-g-roll is more obvious from this angle.


Wait, what’s that?! Testing! Better check that out.



So I walked over to the SkyLoop hoping that it might open. On closer inspection, they were testing with all the left seats filled with water dummies. Damn them for giving me some false hope! I faffed around the area for a bit, on the off chance that it would open, but alas nothing. While waiting I took some photos of the rapids, but didn’t fancy riding. It was a nice warm day, but they looked quite spiteful (the rafts were riding very low in the water), so I gave them a miss.




Theming was pretty good, though.

Back over to the flyer for a couple more laps before the end of the day. I rode twice more – once in the middle, once in the back. Really fell in love with this ride, and sits happily as my favourite B&M flyer.



Time to make a move home.





Starry Sky Ripper: Probably gushed enough about this coaster by now, but really great. Very glad that I got it!

Joyland: This park didn’t do much for me, really. Starry Sky Ripper is the only ride there that really stands out. Everything else was average at best, most of it was less than average. The theming is nice, for the most part, but wasn’t enough to elevate the park any higher. That said, it’s worth the visit for the flyer alone.

I’d had a brief look on the way in to the park, and couldn’t see anything that jumped out to me as a taxi rank. On the way out, I decided not to bother wasting any time and went straight to guest services. They were very helpful, and helped arrange a taxi for me. They said there might be a wait, which was fine, but then they got another call and said there was a driver waiting over by the hotel.

A member of staff insisted on walking me over, and when we arrived we found the taxi and he made sure the driver knew where I wanted to go. Turned out the driver was there to pick up his nephew and his nephew’s girlfriend. Suited me really, there was a car that would drive me back to Changzhou and that had put my mind at rest. Happy days.

Trip took a little longer on the way back, mostly due to the traffic. Fare was still cheap though (about £13, by my reckoning)!

All in all, a good day. Hopefully made an enjoyable read.

Some more non-coaster stuff next.
 

Pear

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Sky Ripper looks fantastic, but I think I'd like Flying Dinosaur a bit more. Who knows it'll be a long time before I get to ride either of them though.
 

Hutch

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Always loved the look of Sky Scrapper, it seems to have a pretty solid layout and pace too! Some of the flyers kind of just float around doing turns and whatnot (i.e. Superman/Air), but this one doesn't seem to waste time!
 

gavin

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Yay for the Dinoconda love. I don't keep a top ten anymore, but that would be in it for sure, and slightly above X2 as well. You made a good point about the park maybe being a bit "scared" of the ride. It's way and above anything else at that park (anywhere in China really), which are basically just stock models, so it makes a bit of sense that they'd be especially cautious. It's one of very few rides in recent years that actually scared me. At one point, I had my legs thrown up and to the side, so that they were both on one side of that seat hump in the middle.

It's still China though - the land of atrocious operations - so combine the two and you end up with what you end up with.

I don't see how Joyland is managing to cling on to be honest. I haven't a seen a single report of it being particularly busy since its opening year or two. It's right out in the middle of nowhere, so people around Changzhou will be way more inclined to go to Dino Park which is right in the city. It's only going to get worse once Wanda Wuxi opens as well. They can wave goodbye to that pocket of customers.
 

Hixee

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It's one of very few rides in recent years that actually scared me. At one point, I had my legs thrown up and to the side, so that they were both on one side of that seat hump in the middle
I remember reading your report from your visit where you talked about how your leg had moved. Not that I've ever had any reason to doubt you, really, but I have to admit I've always thought there was a bit of hyperbole in your story. I take it all back now! Not only can I completely appreciate how that could have happened, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more. Dinoconda is a strange coaster, as it does feel right on the limit of what both the mechanism and your body can withstand. It's a masterpiece! Terrifying, but glorious.

For those that have ridden them, how does Dinoconda compare to Eejanaika? It's a notable step up from X2, but I'm curious how the first S&S model compares.

I don't see how Joyland is managing to cling on to be honest. I haven't a seen a single report of it being particularly busy since its opening year or two. It's right out in the middle of nowhere, so people around Changzhou will be way more inclined to go to Dino Park which is right in the city. It's only going to get worse once Wanda Wuxi opens as well. They can wave goodbye to that pocket of customers.
Once visit, on a weekday admittedly, but I'm inclined to agree. I'd say over 90% of the guests in the park that day were school groups of varying ages. Once they all cleared off at about 3pm, the place was a ghost town. If they close, I hope that they relocate the flyer somewhere...
 

Hixee

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Day 7 – Changzhou & Nanjing Tourism

Probably a shorter report for this day.

I’d slotted in a couple of non-park days in the trip, and planned to use this one to see a few interesting sights in Changzhou and Nanjing.

I had a train from Changzhou to Nanjing around lunchtime, so started the day with a walk from the hotel over to the Tianning Temple in Changzhou. This site has a number of sizable temples, but notably has the world’s tallest wooden pagoda – standing 13 stories (505 ft) tall. The site has had religious significance for centuries, but the pagoda is quite new (completed in 2007).

It was only a short walk from the hotel, and I arrived while they were still opening up. I’d heard this place can get quite busy, and judging by the size of the souvenir tat stalls they were expecting big numbers. Thankfully, in getting there so early, it was all but empty. So much so that the guards didn’t even bother making me pay to enter (not that it was terribly expensive!).

The pagoda itself is pretty impressive. The architecture is attractive, and it really is fairly tall (being from Bristol, anything above 15 stories is reasonably rare). The morning sunlight made for some nice photographs.


The entrance.


Start with an artistic one.












Surrounding one half of the temple are some gardens, which also gave some nice perspectives of the pagoda.





I wandered round for an hour or so taking in the peace and quiet and watching the monks go about their morning routines, and then headed out of the temple and in to an adjacent park. Lots and lots of people doing tai chi in the park – some more gracefully than others. Also gave decent views of the pagoda.



From there I headed back to the hotel to pick up my bags, check out and head to the train station (hotel were very helpful again in helping me get a taxi – they seemed to just be using some sort of Uber type system).

Another train station.





My first stop in Nanjing was to the hotel to drop my bags off. Helpfully they were able to check me in early, so gave me a bit of time to chill before heading out to Happy World and on to the Zhongshan Scenic Area.

I wanted to check out Happy World – the shopping mall with the Vekoma Motorbike. It has a metro station reasonably nearby, so I got on the metro and headed that way. Came out of the metro station to find the main road (and seemingly everything within about a mile radius) completely closed and under construction. Sizable walking detour, but a pleasant enough day so I was happy to have a wander. A 10 minute walk turned in to a 25 minute walk!

Got to the mall and headed down the end that has the coasters, only to find that the whole lower half of the mall was under construction/refurbishment too! Did a bit of poking around and came to the conclusion that there was no way the coaster was operating with that level of work being done around it. Damn. Didn’t even bother to take any photos. Moving on…

Walked back to the metro station and got the train over to the bottom of the Zhongshan Scenic Area. This is a large park in Nanjing with a number of monuments, mausoleums, forest trails, etc. Wanted to check out the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum for a number of reasons – it was walkable from the lower end of the park, would (hopefully) provide some good views, and was noted to be one of the more significant and impressive sections of the park.

I started the walk up the hill through the trees, which provided some welcome shade and quiet away from the roads. Most people seemed to be getting the shuttle busses (more like those land-train things, really), so the paths themselves weren’t particularly busy. After about an hour and a half I got to the base of the mausoleum – and had a very long staircase to climb!






Lots of steps!




Southern Nanjing in the distance.



The evening was starting to draw close, so I headed back down (through the huge crowds) and back down another quiet path to the metro. Ended up (by plan) at a different station, but still easily back to central Nanjing for some dinner and bed.


Rammed!


Not-so-rammed – much better.

I think that’s pretty much all I got up to that day, so I’ll call it a day there. Next day is more creds!
 

Hixee

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Day 8 – Fantawild Dreamland & Oriental Heritage

Today was a day trip to Wuhu for a couple of Fantawild parks.

Train station in Nanjing was one of the more impressive of the ones I visited this week. It was massive, seemed reasonably new and wasn’t too busy. Train was equally easy as all the others have been, happy days.



Taxi from the station to the park was easy (it was the Oriental Heritage graphic and name that the driver got right away). I’d decided to do Fantawild Dreamland (FD) and Oriental Heritage (OH), which sit next door to each other, and the taxi dropped me off in between the two parks.

My plan was to hit FD first, then head over to OH later in the day. They sell a 2-park-1-day ticket for both parks, so I picked up one of those and headed in to FD. Bit of ticket faff here, as the staff member initially wanted to sell me two of these tickets (I think in part due to my poorly explained “2-parks today”), but managed to explain and was sorted soon enough. The entrance area was under refurbishment, so wasn’t the best park entrance (and main street) that I’ve seen.


Entrance.


Wonder what this park is imitating?

I went for a full lap of the park first, picking up the various timed and non-timed attractions as I went round. I’m going to try and be objective about the rides in this park, but it’ll be hard with some of them.



First up was Lair of the Spirens, a 4D cinema. Don’t remember a great deal about this, other than the fairly painful seat spikes (don’t really know what else to call them – they pressed up the seat with a broomstick sized rod). Nothing special, frankly.



Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the next ride – Qin Dynasty Adventure. This was actually pretty impressive – a huge (I mean, seriously, massive) jeep ride through various scenes. I think there was a story of some description, but I couldn’t really follow it, however it was perfectly enjoyable just looking at all the set pieces. Some of the rooms were truly massive, with very large pieces of theming. Shame I didn’t at least snap a picture of the outside of the building!

Next up was the looper. A bit of queue and bag faff, in part due to repeatedly trying to fill the train, but eventually the train was dispatched. Ride itself was reasonably awful, with some pretty violent jolts throughout the corkscrews. Seemed unlikely that I’d go back for a second ride.





Next up was X-Cops (or X-Co s, or -Cops, if you went off the signage). This was an odd attraction. We boarded a huge ride vehicle, with some sort of pre-show in one room, before the ride vehicle moved in to an adjacent room. From there it was some sort ‘AI robot gone wrong’ show, with a combination of live actors, screen, animatronics and stuff. In theory, a nice idea, but it was pretty crap really. Felt very rushed, not very well rehearsed, the people were too small in the sets to really see what they were doing. Not a fan.





Opposite X-Cops was Space Warrior. Simialr to Maus Au Chocolat at Phantasialand in terms of the ride vehicles and control (although that’s where it ended), this ride had potential. That said, the accuracy of the shooters was miles off and the movement of the cars was jerky. Another fairly sub-standard attraction.



Finally, I rode Wizard Academy. This dark ride stood well above the standard of everything else in FD. A ‘spiderman-type’ (what are these things actually called?!) with some great theming, quality of motion simulator and 3D screens. The story was pretty good, too!





There was only a short walk from Wizard Academy round to the park entrance. I’d actually managed to ride everything around the park that I wanted to, only missing a handful of shows that fell at highly inconvenient times. Only thing left was the kiddie cred.



Spite! They wouldn’t let me ride as an adult! Tried to negotiate with the usual tricks (“I’m not that heavy!”, “I’ve come from England”, etc), but he wasn’t having it. Boooooo.

It was just after lunchtime, and I was starting to succumb to Jungle Trailblazer cred anxiety. Decided I was content enough with leaving FD at this point. Especially to do to OH!


One last shot of the castle.


Now, on to Oriental Heritage.

A short walk across the car park and seamlessly in to OH. First impressions were good – level of theming was significantly better than FD. I’d seen the woodie running, so headed straight that way.

The coaster had no queue, and therefore I was expecting an awful wait while the train was filled, but they ushered us all to the station platform and were more than happy to get us riding with only a handful of guests in the train. I managed to bag a front row ride.






As you can see, it wasn’t that busy!

The coaster was great! The airtime on the first drop was good, and the rest of the layout provided plenty of sharp pops of airtime. It was a bit rough in a few places, but on the whole it was in pretty good shape. The inversion was also particularly impressive thanks to the amount of structure required to hold it up!

On the way to the next cred, I walked past the Small World knock-off. I don’t know why I did it really! Haha.



Walked on to the indoor coaster – Land of Lost Souls. The theming of the park was good, probably the best park-wide since Dinsey. Each of the buildings has lots of good detailing, and the greenery around the pathways compliments them nicely.




Entrance to the coaster.

Coaster was alright – similar to the other Golden Horse mine trains. This one had a combination of colourful theming elements and pitch-black section. Not bad, but didn’t expect to the be coming back for a second ride.

Next coaster in the park was Stress Express – a Vekoma Boomerang. Was expecting this to be stressful as I don’t really like Boomerangs, but in the end it was the spite! Sign out front said the coaster was closed for the month of March (as far as I could gather). Wandered up to the platform for the sake of a check to find the train in pieces.




Only half disappointed, really.

Okay, time to crack out the rest of the park.



Tale of Newa was next. Another ‘spiderman-type’ ride, this time even more impressive than Wizard Academy from earlier in the day. The physical sets were a larger and more elaborate (maybe also just a bit more brightly lit, meaning the details were clearer), and the story was a little easier to follow. The coordination of the motion and the 3D screens was also very well done. Very impressive!


Also keeps up the impressive theming externally.



Took a quick ride on Leifeng Tower, which was an enclosed drop tower. Not particularly forceful, and they weren’t using the automatically opening windows at the top (I assume they’re meant to provide a Tower of Terror style view before the drop), but not a bad one-and-done.



Devil’s Peak was closed, unfortunately, which was a bit of a shame as I was hoping I’d get to try it. Exterior was impressive though.



As I continued round the park, I got lucky with three timed attractions back to back.

First up – Marvels of Chinese Culture. This is a huge cinema, with a great quality screen, and shows a Chinese history/scenery movie. Actually reasonably enjoyable.

Second – Eternal Love. This is a proper performance show with a projection screen in front of the actors allowing them to do some nifty interactions and transitions. Again, fairly enjoyable.

Finally – Chinese Opera Express. This is another one of those massive ride vehicles attractions. The park wasn’t very busy though, so rather than ~100 people per car, it was just me and another guy. The vehicles are pretty cool really, and move through a long traditional Chinese street showing off various aspects of Chinese Opera. In the finale, the car enters a large circular room for an operatic show. The cars rotate and a 3D movie plays around the space. A little slow (boring?), but on the whole, it was pretty impressive.


The loading area had four of these huge ride vehicles.


In fairness to them, the rest of the ride was in very good condition, but one of the screens wasn’t working – and therefore had a Windows error dialogue.

Okay, that was pretty much everything in the park, so I headed back to the woodie for a few more laps.


They seemingly had no problem running the coaster barely empty.








Impressive.

I rode a couple of times in the back row (they let me just stay in my seat), then moved to the front row for another lap, then the back again, and a final one in the middle. The busiest train only had about six rows full, which is really not what I was expecting. They were really keen to dispatch the train with barely any riders, let me have multiple back-to-back rides and were fairly lax about not stapling.





Felt pretty content at this point, and the day was drawing to a close, so I grabbed a taxi back to Wuhu station and took the short train ride back to Nanjing. Happy days.

Fantawild Dreamland: Didn’t love this place, to be honest. Wizard Academy and Qin Dynasty Adventure were the only ‘good’ rides there, with the rest of the stuff ether feeling run down, poorly executed or both. Certainly the significantly worse of the two parks on this site.

Oriental Heritage: This park was much better. The level of theming and quality of rides/attractions was much better, and it felt much better looked after. The park was absolutely dead, which was a bit of a shame, but at least they were running all the rides even though often there was only a handful of people.

Next up, final park of the trip!
 

HeartlineCoaster

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Glad to hear my Joyland guest services didn't let you down.

Did you miss Jinshan Temple Showdown(alternatively known as Madam Whitesnake's Fury in Wuhu) in Dreamland and Dragon King's Tale in OH?

“I’m not that heavy!”,
Some iterations of those worms claim 50kg max. Are you sure? ;)
 

Hixee

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Did you miss Jinshan Temple Showdown(alternatively known as Madam Whitesnake's Fury in Wuhu) in Dreamland and Dragon King's Tale in OH?
I missed Temple Showdown/Whitesnake's Fury sadly. I did want to give it a shot, but when I got there at the start of the day they had a 'broken down' board up (not the show time one), and by the time I'd gotten round the rest of the park they had a time posted of something like 14:00 or 15:00, which was later than I was willing to wait in FD, with OH cred anxiety creeping in.

I don't even recall seeing Dragon King's Tale in OH... Is it theatre based? They were refurbishing one of those huge buildings.

Are you sure? ;)
I was hoping that I'd be able to convince him to let me go on it solo!
 

HeartlineCoaster

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I don't even recall seeing Dragon King's Tale in OH... Is it theatre based?
Nah, it's a decent big boat dark ride. One of my faves from them. Back to back with Devils Peak and Nuwa in the middle of the Wuhu park.
Oh well, more reason for you to try another location one day. Impossible to hit everything those parks have in one go.
 

Hixee

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Day 9 – Wanda Hefei Theme Park

Okay, let’s do the last park of this trip then!

Another train from Nanjing, this time to Hefei. I was heading all the way back to Shanghai that night, so had my suitcase too. Once I got to Hefei, it was an easy run on the metro down to the park, where I was able to leave my suitcase at guest services.




The view across the lake was exciting.

Started heading round the park clockwise, with the tilting coasters being the first notable thing I came to. Visually, quite impressive! Appeared to only be running one side, presumably due to lack of crowds, but I ended up being on the first ‘proper’ train of the day.



Only moderate faffing here – mostly waiting to fill the train rather than any particularly awful operational faff.


First ride in the back row.

So the ride experience then…

****.

I mean, the tilting is cool and builds some good suspense, but that’s just about where the good stuff ends. The over shoulder seatbelts and restraints weren’t very comfortable, the track shaping was awful (particularly in and out of the helices and corkscrews) and they seemed to lose so much speed so quickly. On the whole, pretty rubbish. At this point, I was half thinking it was a good thing the other side was shut so I didn’t have to suffer again.


Credit where it’s due – they do look pretty good.

Okay, let’s move on to the big boy – Soaring with Dragon.



Cred didn’t open until 10:30, but by 10:45 the chain was still across the entrance. I’d seen the coaster testing earlier in the day, but hadn’t seen it run with riders yet. Next thing I know, a train goes roaring down the launch track – full of riders!

After waiting for a few more minutes, a group of people walked straight down the fastpass entrance. I followed and turned out that was the bit of queue that was open. Got lucky and got a front row ride first time.



The coaster is brilliant, really. The first launch is moderately powerful, the backwards one is stronger than I expected, and the final one is very strong. The LSMs also cause an intense vibration in the train, along with the characteristic noise. The non-inverting loop is great (I rather like these), and the turnaround has some interesting forces. Speed hill and s-bends are a great finale.








The track looks particularly twisted from this perspective.

I decided I’d clear out the rest of the park, before going for some more laps on Soaring.

Walked past this – didn’t fancy getting soaked. A much colder day than previous days had been, and definitely not weather to be soaking wet in.



As I was walking past I took a quick spin on the ferris wheel (Giant Water Mill, if memory serves). Did give some good views of the park – albeit slightly misty!








Had the next coaster in my sights!

Once off the ferris wheel, I grabbed a ride on Crazy Jars, the Golden Horse spinner. Same as the one Jin Jiang really – not a bad coaster for a small clone. Again had some good spinning.






The ferris wheel from a bit further around the lake.

As I continued my way round the park I grabbed something to eat. All of the major food outlets were closed (again, I assumed low visitor numbers), so was left with one of the snack places.

I was heading back towards the tilt coasters (still hadn’t seen the other side running), and thought I’d give them another go – maybe this time in the front row. Wasn’t much better to be honest. The roughness was a bit better, but still definitely sub-par considering the ride is only 18 months old. On the way out, I also asked if the other side would open at all today, to which they said it wouldn’t. No reason to think he was lying, but thought I’d keep an eye on it anyway.





Time for another few laps of Soaring with Dragon, then. Still no queue, so had the run of it really. Think I did three laps at this point, certainly one in the back and one in the middle. I think I preferred the front, given the choice, but it’s pretty great in all seats.




I love the trains.







I tried out the dark ride tucked underneath the back of Soaring with Dragon, called Mystery of Chaohu. Rubbish. Moving on.

The big show “Feishui Battle” was scheduled for 15:00, so I had a bit of time to wander round the park again. I took another ride on the ferris wheel (wanted to have another crack at the photos), before taking another ride on the spinner and giving the shot tower a go. All pretty easy, harmless fun.


Still only running one side.


Big panorama of the whole Soaring with Dragon layout.

Still had a bit of time before the show, so spent a bit of time re-riding and photographing Soaring with Dragon.









On to the show, then.



I was really impressed by this show. It had a lot going on (lots of actors, some impressive horse riding skills, a huge water feature), was pretty well choreographed and quite dramatic in places. I was glad I’d made the time to see it (not just because it gave me somewhere to sit down for a while!).





Did a couple more laps of Soaring with Dragon, and then called it a day. They didn’t open the other side of the tilt coaster all day, so I gave up with that.

Hefei Wanda Theme Park: Mixed feelings about this park. Soaring with Dragon and the big show are excellent, but there’s not really anything else there of particular note. The theming was pretty decent, on the whole, but it maybe lacked a bit of atmosphere due to the low numbers of guests.

I picked up my suitcase from guest services and walked over to the huge Wanda Mall opposite the park entrance to get some food, before heading on to the metro. Had a ‘long’ train from Hefei to Shanghai, but went pretty quickly and was certainly comfortable.

I was familiar with the Shanghai metro by this point, so was an easy trip back to the hostel (same place I’d stayed previously), in time for bed.

Last day of the trip next – no coasters though.
 

gavin

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Hixee said:
Hefei Wanda Theme Park: Mixed feelings about this park. Soaring with Dragon and the big show are excellent, but there’s not really anything else there of particular note. The theming was pretty decent, on the whole, but it maybe lacked a bit of atmosphere due to the low numbers of guests.
Pretty much. I had a day with much nicer weather and a big enough crowd to give it an atmosphere, and would still agree with you. Got both sides of the tilt coaster, and they're both s**t after the vertical loops.

Isn't there a kiddy coaster there as well (a Big Apple?) or am I getting mixed up?

Soaring with Dragon is worth the effort alone, but as a whole park, I much preferred Wanda's effort in Nanchang.
 
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