China 01/17 – Nanchang Wanda Theme Park
Our next destination was the city of Nanchang. I spoke of getting the lay of the land on the previous day and ended up going through a particulaly interesting bout of research to organise our stop here. The park itself is very new and several western brand ‘resort hotels’ had just begun springing up around it. As with the Guangzhou hotel, their pinpointing on the maps was somewhat misguided, though this time much less in their favour.
The one I was most interested in, though it was named after the Wanda resort, had itself positioned right in the heart of the city and nowhere near the park, which I could tell from sattelite images of mud and rollercoaster track was situated well out to the south. After several email exchanges they eventually confirmed that they were on park, which is exactly where I wanted to be of course and the maps were updated accordingly. Consider that my contribution to the world for that year.
Day 3 – Nanchang Wanda Theme Park
So it felt like I moved the earth to get to this place and it was quite the experience for it. Encountered 2 people on the way up to the entrance. 1 trying to sell us ponchos, the other trying to sell cheap tickets. That was more people than there were inside the park.
I’m no stranger to dead parks but this was in another league. Staff at each ride entrance were overly happy to see another human being and would regularly entice you to have a go on theirs.
Well, if you insist.
What an animal. I’ve always enjoyed my GCIs but have never been blown away by them. Generally I preferred the smaller ones for their pacing and layout. Well no more.
The signature relentlessness of this style of wooden coaster is cranked up to the max and the layout works ridiculously well. Other than the tall turnaround which from the size looks like it shouldn’t even work, the train feels like it just keeps finding speed out of nowhere and chucking you down another 50ft every few seconds.
Some rides try to kill you and you love them for it. Some rides try to remove your clothes and you have no choice but to oblige. Some rides have you laughing uncontrollably out of sheer joy. This snake did all of that, morning and evening, in rain and in more rain.
According to the staff, as they were getting all nervous, Mr Wanda himself (or just a park manager) rocked up at some point and rode this too while I was mid-marathon. Sadly he seemed unphased by my presence.
Highlight: Standout ride of the trip.
Lowlight: Can’t get a good picture of it.
The Intamin hyper with the very strange lift and turnaround shaping was begging for some attention next. It was another very good ride and I enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn’t quite the game changer I was hoping for. You’d think they’d be able to nail a ride like this by now, 15 years after various legendary names came into play, but the layout still has its flaws.
The air time on the first and last hill, both of which pass through the supports and try to cut your hands off, was unearthly. I found the rest of the hills were somewhat underwhelming in comparison and there was a little too much meandering about, burning speed for my liking.
I don’t wish to do this creation a disservice though, it’s still amazing. The python across the park had set my sights on perfection, so I was being particularly fussy. I only ever experienced the ride in the front row with an empty train, in cold weather. From what I’ve learnt about many Intamins, given the right conditions and sitting in the back row, that monster of a first drop has the potential to be something really special to add to the whole sequence. I still currently consider this the strongest pair of coasters in any single park on the planet.
Highlight: Who doesn’t want an Intamin hyper all to themselves?
Lowlight: First time I’ve felt my face wobble from speed and that ain’t a good sign.
The Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment attempt at an SLC was a bit crap. It’s nice to try a new layout for once, but it doesn’t solve much over the originals in terms of how poorly they ride and the mediocrity of the coaster experience.
Highlights: The station audio system was playing Kpop.
Lowlights: Not being able to take comfort in the fact that someone else on the train would be suffering more than myself.
A standard layout spinner, I believe Chinese manufactured. These things are unpleasant at best, but it is my duty to put up with them.
Highlight: Love the porcelan look of the exterior of the cars.
Lowlight: Loathe the interior of the cars with their unnecessary seatbelts.
The final Caterpillar cred – Spite! Legend tells us that it needs a full train of guests to operate. I’m so surprised I got everything else here. I really am.
The staff girl at the Roto-drop tower was particularly adorable, skipping along the queue with me and chatting away, purely from the excitement of having a customer for the day. It’s good to know that my presence brings such joy to others.
The ride itself didn’t pack as much punch as I would have expected from its type. Maybe it was 40 people short.
Haunted Kiln walkthrough attraction didn’t disappoint. Does what it says on the tin and made me laugh many times. Success.
There is something quite magical about having all these big expensive toys to play with, but as the day wears on it does start to feel like something in the atmosphere is lacking.
I’m extremely glad that (nearly) everything was all open, despite terrible weather and zero attendance and with the world class quality of the headline attractions here I look forward to experiencing what else Mr Wanda brings to the table.