China 01/17 – Oriental Heritage Ningbo
I already had a reasonable plan for getting to the next park, but decided to get some local opinions for a laugh. Not a single person knew of its existence and the best answer we got was “I believe that’s an art gallery.”
Day 5 – Oriental Heritage Ningbo
So stuck to the original plan. A couple of faffy hours on a coach and a bus later, we landed at the entrance plaza.
The staff in their infinite impracticalness were unable to confirm or deny ride openings (a common theme for the next few days), but wove a tale about the weather and the fact that outdoor attractions will open if it gets to 15°C. The bus earlier that morning had said 14°C so there was a chance, I guess. I haven’t come all this way for nothing.
The park was having a spruce up for Chinese new year, including painting the floor and making it a pain to get around the first area.
The only other guests on this day comprised of a massive, massive tour group of old people from a more ‘rural area’, let’s say. I’m pretty tolerant in foreign lands when it comes to less than ideal attitudes from others, but these were some of the most offputting you could ever come across. While walking around the park in general, with tons of open space, I had more than one occasion of them just making a beeline for me and barging shoulders for the fun of it.
In queues they would be smoking, shouting, pushing and shoving each other like an angry mob, not understanding the situation and then failing to achieve anything through this in terms of gaining time. On the rides they would just talk loudly amongst themselves, really just not caring at all about where they were and what they were doing, seemingly incapable of appreciating the day out. Pretty much all the rides that were open were running on time slots, so we couldn’t really avoid any of these encounters either.
Jungle Trailblazer – the Gravity Group woodie and main reason I came to the park, the Boomerang cred, the water rides and the flat rides never opened. With a bit of further quizzing, the ride staff impression seemed to be that the 15°C rule mentioned earlier is for park opening time and after that point they just give up for the day.
One thing that was open was the indoor cred, a Golden Horse mine train clone in the dark with the screams of the damned as ambient noise throughout. Wasn’t overly impressed.
Jinshan Temple Showdown was amazing, but I’m not sure I was fully able to appreciate it with what was going on around us.
The showdown in question is between ‘Lady Whitesnake (a lady that is cursed with the ability to turn into a white snake) and a demon hunter bloke who feels it’s his duty to hunt her down, without any willingness to learn her intentions or whether she is a threat to anyone. “A demon is a demon.” The story has a bit of a cliff hanger ending, which is rather refreshing for an attraction of this nature.
The ride consists of a huge boat that drifts around intensely mesmerising scenery of a traditional Chinese water town, interspersed with endless projections and the occasional real life actor telling the story as you go along. At the end of the boat portion, everyone alights and enters a show room with standing areas amongst railings. The show is one big impressive set piece amongst which the actors return, water projections occur and many other water (and fire) effects go off, ending in a jaw dropping spectacle of flooding and fountains.
The indoor drop tower, The Plummet, was disappointingly weak. I didn’t think much of the use of the indoor aspect, and the hardware itself has that lame controlled feeling you get when a tower does both up and down motions, but doesn’t commit to either with any real force.
Tale of Nuwa is a Spiderman technology dark ride telling another Chinese tale through 4D screens and significant vehicle motion.
There’s a hole in the sky and as the riders in the vehicle you’re helping out the creation god (Nuwa) retrieve and transport the key to fix the hole, but a big red bloke, a big blue bloke and a couple of dragons are out to stop you. Much fighting ensues.
The car itself got a bit confused between scenes and became stuck a couple of times throughout, making the whole experience a little jarring on the whole.
Did their localised version of Disney’s Small World ride, which was empty, just for a quiet sit down. It wasn’t great.
Tried the History of Chinese Opera dark ride as well and regretted it deeply, as did some of the old people who literally got out of the moving vehicle and hobbled off before it had finished, with little to no reaction from the staff. Though it contained some more impressive scenery of ‘Oriental Heritage’, everything was taken at a snail’s pace and, coupled with the opera aspect becoming rather grating, it just wasn’t very dynamic or interesting.
And that was about it.
I had high expectations for this place and ended up having little positive to say about the whole experience. The effort of getting here far outweighed the quality of the time spent at the park.
The star attraction being down didn’t help of course, but in my mind it was meant to have some killer dark rides and shows that could have easily made up for that fact. Jinshan Temple Showdown was the obvious highlight, but otherwise, eh, just didn’t feel anything for the park at all.