China 01/20 – Fantawild Asian Legend

So here’s something I was properly excited for. I already miss the time when Fantawild parks were a new experience. The magic of trying out all the new rides they had to offer. (Yes I’m still going to be moaning about clones again today).

Day 8 – Fantawild Asian Legend

Rather than being themed to Chinese history and legends, this park represents the countries of South East Asia, each with their own impressive architecture and ride or experience.

First interaction I think I’ve ever had upon entering a park like this involved some blokes trying to rope you into one of those ‘take your picture, get a free key chain!’ deals that waste a lot of your time before revealing that it isn’t free, you have to buy something and you feel under the pressure of the moment you may as well go for it.

This was dismissed with a wave of the hand. No time for that – rides.

Being bored of flying theatres at that particular moment and as it appeared to break the mould of the country theme, decided to skip past the first ride on the left and start in the Phillipines.

There was time of course. First ride. Time Slot. Half an hour. Now we have to ride with other people. When you’ve had a few days worth of completely free runs of parks, this can be quite jarring.

Manila Manila is a 3D cinema with a rotating platform of seats, many screens and most interestingly some interchangeable scenery which pops up and down when you’re not looking, based on what’s going on around you at the time.

It’s generally just a good time with fun visuals and music – the singing manatee sequence really brings the party to life. Strong start.

We were very intrigued about the Singapore ride. Armed with more local knowledge than the park we were ready to pick the hell out of it. It wasn’t difficult.

Finding the Merlion was potentially the weakest ride of the day – being a small 8 person simulator in front of a screen, with an awkwardly cramped waiting room experience (other people again) that has the safety rules played 5 times over for good measure.
Once on the ride, you’re following our old Fantawild pal Boonie Bear who is parachuting into the country. Mischievous escapades and crashing through a ton of buildings follows.
Halfway through they just run out of Singapore things to show and you end up in something that looks like a game of Sugar Rush from Wreck It Ralph.
You find the Merlion. He’s better in real life.

#1 Stress Express

There’s a gap in the theme after that, with a fantasy children’s area containing a Vekoma Boomerang. Hey, at least it’s not blue.

I got stuck in the empty queue for 10 minutes not knowing if they were running or not, until my saviour appeared, something you never really see in China, a friendly park guest on his own (they’re never alone) who spoke a little English.
He was bold enough to just shout up at the station and then told me to follow him up there. I did and the staff were just milling around ignoring us basically. We sat in the front, sadly.
In a human equivalent of all these signs we keep laughing about, he turned to me and in trying to say ‘are you scared?’ it came out as “do you feel the fear?”
Which is better in my opinion.
“No, not really.” was my response.

The experience was made even better in that he said “my head hurts” when it was over.
“Yes, they’ll do that.”

While he got lost in the delights of the remaining children’s rides, my lust for creds had suddenly been reawakened, so surged through a large portion of the park and headed out to the woodie.

Of course it ain’t ready yet, come back at 11.

Ended up in Vietnam from there. Ha Long Bay in fact. Skipping past a bunch of the park had worked in our favour as well, with not another guest in sight.

There’s this ride in the Oriental Heritage parks about the history of Chinese Opera. It looks cool, has these huge trackless vehicles. But I didn’t like it. It’s immensely boring, keeps stopping, feels like it’s sucking the time out of your day and at the time of riding it was full of old guests shouting at each other, ignoring their surrounding and behaving like a pack of animals.

Meeting in Ha Long Bay fixed absolutely everything about that and was gorgeous. Nice story, great scenery. Even the smells – there’s a lively city/nightlife section and you can smell the food, it’s just spot on as a ride experience.

Went back to the Woodie at 11, it aint ready yet, come back at 11:30.

Which meant we’d just missed an 11 time slot for one of the other bigger rides. Spite.

Try Brunei then. Their Small World-boat ride system with theming based on the rainforests and Mosque (singular) of the country.

Nice theme, good scenery. Another step up from their other iterations of this thing.

Third time lucky, they’re letting me wait for the Woodie.

#2 Jungle Trailblazer (Nanning)

So here I am, sitting at the foot of a clone of my 3rd favourite ride in the whole world.
And it’s a bit of a crisis.
I should be excited right? If it was the original I would be. It’ll be amazing, I’ll rekindle my love with it.
But another one? I’m nervous.

The call comes.
It’s already not the same, there’s people smoking in the queue. They sit in the middle of the train, but they aren’t intimidated by the staff description of the ride, which doesn’t happen.
The seatbelts don’t come out of the same place!
I sit in my favourite seat at the back. I get the perfectly framed view of the drop. A slight tingle.
But I’m not timidly told to hold on to the restraint.
And at this level, that stuff matters.

Alright, it was still amazing. No, it didn’t quite live up to the original for whatever reason but it’s still clearly my perfect wooden coaster package and it only got better as the day went on.

The vicious, vicious multi-directional ejector on the non-straight first drop.
The stupidly placed, most effective speed hill on the planet. Take note RMC, Intamin, B&M, even Gravity couldn’t pull it off again in Xiamen. That’s how you do one of them.

The aggressive whip in and wrench out of the first 90 degree hill.
The perfectly contrasted flop in the second 90 degree hill. Sideways hangtime.
The most continuous and effective sequence of back to back wild, twisty, shouty, bumpy, ejecty hills on and on and on ‘til the brakes.
Everything I love about Gravity summed up in one ride.
The only sacrifice is that it’s a bit shorter than the others, but it uses it oh so well.

So part of the crisis remains. And a serious question to readers now. Have you ever ridden a clone of a ride that holds a significant standing in your top coasters list and what did you do about it?

As far as I can see, there’s three possible outcomes and two things you can do with each:

A. It’s better
1. Place it above the other one in your list – I don’t like the idea of one layout using up 2 precious slots, but objectively the original one should remain better than everything else you had below it.
2. Place it where the other one was in your list and relegate that to just outside the numbered list – feels harsh, but the cleaner option. The original one was only better than all those other rides when it was unique, now it’s a cop out ride.

B. It’s exactly the same
1. Place it the same as the other, have them joint – I don’t like the idea of rides losing identity this way, it just feels awkward to say something like ‘My top ten coasters are: Number 5 – The Megalites
I already take issue with things having the same name and having to specify which one in the world you mean, it just feels awkward to say something like ‘My top ten coasters are: Number 5 – Goliath, the one at Six Flags Great America
So put that all together and end up with ‘My top ten coasters are: Number 5 – One of the Jungle Trailblazer layouts, the one found at both Fantawild Dreamland Zhengzhou and Fantawild Asian Legend Nanning
And then you feel silly.
2. Pick one that has the slightest circumstantial edge to represent and relegate the other one to just outside the numbered list – feels harsh, but the cleaner option.

C. It’s worse
1. Place it below the other one in your list – I don’t like the idea of one layout using up 2 precious slots, with the added difficulty of saying how many other things it’s still better than, even though it’s not as good as the first one.
2. Relegate it to just outside the numbered list – feels harsh, but the cleaner option. The original remains better, this one isn’t unique, it’s just a cop out ride.

I am yet to find another opinion on this, as the answer is inevitably either ‘no’ or the conversation ends up steerting towards ‘because the people in Zhengzhou don’t go to Nanning your opinion doesn’t matter.’

Where was I?

Hero of Malacca’s next time slot had opened up. This had big shoes to fill, being a fresh version of Jinshan Temple Showdown.

The queue is even more immensely themed and has a pre-show, introducing you to one of the two pirate clans from the story.
As you take your seat on the giant boat, some action is going on screens in the surroundings, keeping it all a little more engaging.
And I found this to be true for the whole ride portion. There’s a couple more stand-out scenes including a giant ship shooting at you with geysers going off and a stormy wind tunnel section while Krake attacks you.

The end show however is a little less spectacular. You reach the other pirate clan’s base out in the middle of the sea. Without the magical powers aspect of the story – flying snakes and priests, they don’t have use for the water projection action sequence, it’s just a couple of pirate blokes shouting at each other.
Eventually Krake attacks the base, both clans die and you get the same amazing flood sequence to finish.
So I’d put them on par really. Both one of the best in the world.

Puppy Coaster was now open, in the shadows of the beast. Give the kids something to aim for.

#3 Puppy Coaster

The last of the creds here. Very cute. Watching his tail while it does the Wacky portion of the layout is amusing.

I’ll do one of my shout outs to the visuals in this place now because it really was lovely. Lots of care and attention into the upkeep was clearly visible as well, which is rare to see around parks in this country.

They were jet washing the plaza areas around certain rides.

They were actively cleaning the intricate facades of several attractions with wet rags on sticks.

They were painting all these service gates to make them blend into the areas nicer. Top marks for effort.

There was a singular show that day called Dancing Islands. I believe they had a similar thing at Wuhu under the name Bubble Ballet, but it spited me twice.

It involved a lot of fancy dancing and stunts in it. Then these magic balls on wires made all sorts of cool shapes, eventually with the performers coming out and dodging them with an amazing display of timing.

Aside from the costumes and stuff, to make it Indonesia, it had a couple of traditional songs from the region and then the remaining music kept coming back to the word Indoneeeeeeeeeesia, in comical fashion by the end.
It was cool.

Unfortunately then got followed by a herd into Pha That Luang.

The most striking thing here – it doesn’t have seats. Just awkward wooden back rest type things that were deeply uncomfortable in any position. Is this how they sit in Laos?
It was another rotating platform, multi screen 3D experience about the history/legend of it’s namesake temple. Quite interesting but even more uncomfortable than the seating was the other people again, having shouting matches across rows, letting their kids run around and watching their infinitely more fascinating than anything else in life – phones.

Rama and Sita was really good. Legend of Nuwa ride system with a fresh story.

6 armed evil demon man steals Sita – go fight him to get her back type affair.
All the pre-shows were up and running which was rare to see for this type of thing here. Making the most of the epic queuelines.
Rama is another bloke with a bow and befriends a big grey monkey man before setting off on the quest. You tag along, get into some peril and watch it all unfold with varying degrees of violence from the vehicle.
At the time I thought it surpassed the regular iteration but, you know, spoilers.

That was the last of the major stuff I wanted from the place so I got a bit hungry for more goes on the woodie. The rapids opposite looked a bit more interesting than usual so gave them a go as well.

Foolishly declined ponchos again and had a similar situation. It had a decent rapids section and a baby drop, but none of that was the issue. There were three or four of what looks like those trick water curtains that turn off just before you go through them. None of them turned off. They’re just evil things that get you good and proper, right on the head. Chuck in a couple more KABOOM geysers at the end and you’ve got yourself a wet ride.

Sadly it was time to part ways with the back end of the park and see what was left to dust up near the front in the last hour or so.

Getting headaches from too much 3D and poor time slot timings meant Angkor Wat didn’t happen on this visit.

This area never opened. I believe it contained another show.

So just that flying theatre left. It’s quite an appropriate ride to do last really. It takes you around the sights of all the countries represented in the park so it’s a nice little summary, a reminder of some of the amazing rides you’ve done that day.

I’m 100% sure I took a picture of a full sized bed in a shop on the way out of this park, but I can’t find it anywhere.
I was going to caption it ‘For those who weren’t satisfied with the merch in Chinese parks, you can now buy your bedroom furniture there’.
We bought a Boonie Bear for the collection.

Really liked this place then. Looks fantastic. Lots of high quality attractions to fill your day right up and honestly just a breath of fresh air in the Chinese theme park scene for me at this stage.

All came to an end with exactly the right amount of time to spare to pick up the bags from the hotel and catch an evening train to the next city.
Guangzhou.
Why did I just shudder?

Day 9

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