China 09/17 – Hefei Wanda Theme Park

The only event of interest arriving in Hefei was in transferring from the high speed train to the metro, where the security insisted that I demonstrating drinking one of the beverages we had just purchased from a station shop, to prove that I didn’t explode or get poisoned(?). It was a slightly surreal experience being watched like this, so I turned it into a drinks commercial by sighing “ahhhh…” with a wry smile and a thumbs up.

Mr Wanda managed to steal the show on my previous trip, so I was excited to give the next one a try. It just so happened to be the one year anniversary of the opening of this park, which meant dirt cheap entrance tickets. Like, £10 each cheap. This also made it pretty busy coupled with the fact it was back to being a weekend, but the place copes well, comparatively.

Day 7 – Hefei Wanda Theme Park

Had a great lack of caring from staff upon entering. Had our bag searched, got told outside food wasn’t allowed, then shrugged and got on with our day anyway.

The whole day was filled with a bit of cred anxiety as it was constantly threatening to rain and the staff were continuously announcing on rides that if it did, it was game over.
Bit of a chicken and the egg scenario in this part of the world. Which came first? The cultural mentality being like RCT in that they don’t believe they should ride things in the rain? Or the parks convincing themselves that it is unsafe to run things with a wet track?

Due to this threat, things were done in a relative order of significance. First powered round to the headline attraction, an Intamin launch coaster. 30 minute queue. 2 trains. Good man.

#1 Soaring with Dragon

There’s a great atmosphere of tension and fear in the queue. The path dips in and out of buildings adjacent to the first parts of the layout and then the final outdoor cattle pen puts you in close proximity to the launch track. Here, the iconic Taron noise causes many a squeal of anxiety amongst the guests and the trains are being pumped out at an unprecedented rate for China.

The ride itself? What I’ve come to expect from Intamin recently. Some really, really good stuff in there, but couldn’t pull off the complete package.

Love the trains. Taron trains with a happy dragon on the front. Can’t go wrong with that.
Love the launch. Taron launch with a happy dragon on the front. Can’t go wrong with that.

Love the non-inverting loop. Wonderfully floaty and you get a really strong sense of the height at which you’re doing the element.

Same praise for whatever the inversion is. Good air time hill.
And now we’re turning… and we’re… turning some more.
Is that another air t… oh it’s the brakes.

I’m probably being a little over critical, particularly due to the nature of this trip, but for its size, it doesn’t feel any more significant of a layout than something like Star Trek. I just wish it did a little more in the second half other than uneventful corners. It feels like they’re chucked in for the visual effect around the amazing dragon statue rather than to serve the ride experience.

Still well up there in the grand scheme of things, just found myself wanting to love it more than I actually did.

Over to those duelling tilting things.

#2 Battle of Jungle King (Dragon)

More visually impressive stuff, though not sure why all the major coasters here are yellow. Unfortunately only 1 train per side, but queue again was about 30 minutes a pop.
Got the dragon side first, next to some Chinese bloke getting overly excited about his chest mounted go-pro and the fact we were front row. I feigned a bit of enthusiasm in return. Wasn’t particularly looking forward to it myself.
The ridiculously elaborate seatbelt system is actually a full on chest harness underneath the restraint. Do we not trust Golden Horse yet? Bloke is told to get rid of the go-pro of course. Off we go.

Approaching the end of the tilt track is quite cool and unnatural. The actual tilt itself didn’t really feel as interesting/scary as I expected. It didn’t trigger any additional fear beyond ‘is this going to ride terribly?’

I like that they suspend both trains together to build the suspense while a staff member in the station looks up at you and counts you down with a microphone, sometimes using the classic trick of releasing it on the wrong number. (At least they have a good sense of fun. That or the ride system is faulty).
Drop onwards it wasn’t particularly pleasant. Back to standard survival mode with a couple of dodgy bits of tracking. You can’t tell which train wins at the end unfortunately.

The laws of the hobby now dictate I must put up with the other side. Queued the same amount again. Asked the batching man for the tiger side. He lied to me and put me on the dragon side again. Took things into my own hands and went over to the tiger side anyway. It caused a little confusion as they only like to have one trains worth of people anywhere near the station and I was having to wait for the next train to fit on, but I stood my ground and it worked.

#3 Battle of Jungle King (Tiger)

Foolishly went for the back, the other side having been manageable and thinking it would enhance the tilt or something. Tiger side just enhances the roughness of the ride.
I’m seemingly immune to the ‘worst steel coasters in the world’, but one of the more dodgy bits of tracking here delivered two successive punches to my head that were much, much more severe than I have ever experienced on a ride before.
Everyone got off with visibly red ears. This helped me to laugh it off and I was fine again after 5 minutes.

Grabbed the Wacky Worm in the vicinity, rain still threatening to end the day. Love the face on this one.

#4 Worm Coaster

Wacky and proud.

Had another go on the dragon on the way past as I could lose the chance for re-rides at any second.

Then completed the set by grabbing the spinner on the other side of the park.

#5 Crazy Jars

Not crazy enough.

Ferris wheel had an hour queue. Skip.

Stumbled upon Submarine Simulator, a dark ride that I didn’t know existed.
It had a bit of a preshow, then as the name suggests a simulator about exploration of some lost relics in a submarine. Not bad, but enjoyed the Korean cartoons on the queueline TVs more.
I want to say it’s a sign of Wanda parks stepping up their dark ride game, but there’s always a ‘movie park’ in the mall next to the theme park that makes all the hardware exist in separate entities. Combine the 2, man.

Time for one final ride on the dragon, with it starting to rain mid queue. Again, they impressed me by soldiering on long enough to allow me a go in some quite painful rain. Better than Nagashima Spite Land.

FAILED to avoid a samba for the first time this year and got caught in a mass of people trying and failing to get out of the place due to the rain, just as the parade decided to rock up in the opposite direction. Couldn’t really see much over a million umbrellas, but it contained dragons, fire and attractive women, so good enough.

It was game over with the rides. They were planning to have a fountain/music/firework celebration show at about 20:00 with the possibility of any of those things being forfeited due to weather. I admire the commitment of the locals, who had already begun staking out spots in their masses with well over 3 hours of waiting ahead of them. Decided not to join them, as it was far too long a wait with nothing to do.

That and we had a room with a view…

Day 8

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