Resort Ranking – The Fantawilds

Fantawild are my favourite theme park chain in China right now. It’s been a bumpy ride over the last 5 or 6 trips out there but my most recent visits really highlighted how much I do actually love what they do.

The definitive niche they have over all other parks in the region is that they design and build their own dark rides – even the ride systems are done in house. The end result of some of these is nothing short of incredible and when you pair a couple of attractions of this nature with a top tier coaster, a few of which they also have, I get very excitable.

Currently owning 27 properties throughout the country (with another 8 on the way), many of the locations are resorts in their own right with multiple gates and extensive hotel complexes. There have been a few generations of development so far, each one being bigger, better and more ambitious. They’re a bit harder to come by on a quick jaunt in the region, usually sitting a fair distance outside major cities with limited transport access, but a good number of them are well worth the endeavour.

With so many locations already existing, the prospect of visiting all of them is likely largely offputting to most people and because of the repetition seen throughout these parks (there’s only so many times you can listen to Chinese Opera), working out which one to visit can seem a bit overwhelming. However, if you do go to China for theme parks and don’t experience Fantawild I will consider it a crime of the highest order.

I’m missing a couple (tons) of early Adventure parks (no big loss) but by the end of my last trip (more opened since…) I had visited every Dreamland and Oriental Heritage in the country so I thought it might help to create a little overview guide as to what attractions can be found where, what those attractions are and which parks I think personally give the best of everything.

I’ve been meaning to get onto dark ride reviews on the site at some point so I’ll have to branch off with more detail on some of these incredible examples. For now we’ll have settle with this list, which will end up as a ranking (of course) of the overall contents and feel of each set of parks in a resort. I shall aim to name 5 signature attractions in each gate and give them a Tier rating from A+ (world class) to E (trash).

Wish me luck.


Space Warrior – dark ride (C)
Dino Rampage – dark ride (D)
Sky Sailor – flying theatre (D)
Mount Tanggula/Vesuvio Volcano – mine train coaster (D)
Flare Meteor – suspended looping coaster (E)

We’ll start with an example of why the first generation Adventure parks aren’t much cop on their own and not particularly worth seeking out. It feels a little unfair to have Shenyang at the bottom because I didn’t mind the place once I had my expectations set super low, but it’s the only standalone version I’ve bothered with (by accident too).
It’s a competent enough theme park in the grand scheme of things, although once you’ve done literally any other Fantawild at all, it just becomes a cred run.

Location notes – The city is half a day away from Beijing in the opposite direction of the rest of the country, so not ideal. The main draw for visiting Shenyang would be the Hotgo resort, although half of it remains unopened. Allowing some breathing room for spite on a trip could result in a visit here, but I wouldn’t go out of the way for it. I didn’t.


Jinshan Temple Showdown/Whitesnake Maiden’s Fury – dark ride & show combo (A+)
Jungle Trailblazer – Gravity Group woodie (A)
Legend of Nuwa – dark ride (A)
Devil’s Peak/The Flaming Mountains – dark ride (B)
Night Rescue – indoor mine train coaster (C)

Personal bias here because I had a really rough day at the Ningbo park. It was my first ever Fantawild experience and it couldn’t have started any worse. Terrible, nonsense weather policies meant that absolutely all of the outdoor attractions were closed for the whole day, so I haven’t actually ridden this Jungle Trailblazer. Fortunately (can’t believe I’m saying this) it has been cloned at another park in this list so my assessment is based on that one. Even the second worst woodie in this post is still an A, so you know these lineups aren’t messing around.
They’re getting a second gate and a big shiny Vekoma so I’m hoping things turn out better when I come back here for that. For now, any Oriental Heritage by it’s own right is a fantastic park and well worth a visit, but I can’t bring myself to recommend this one.

Location notes – Although named after Ningbo, this one is almost equidistant between the outskirts of Shanghai and it’s namesake, albeit over a massive stretch of water/Hangzhou Bay Bridge. The city itself is under 2 hours away from Shanghai with the right train and also contains Romon U-Park, so it’s a decent enough shout from the most commonly visited region for coasters.


Jinshan Temple Showdown/Whitesnake Maiden’s Fury – dark ride & show combo (A+)
Jungle Trailblazer – Gravity Group woodie (A)
Legend of Nuwa – dark ride (A)
Devil’s Peak/The Flaming Mountains – dark ride (B)
Night Rescue – indoor mine train coaster (C)

And the aforementioned clone lives here. It has taken me actually doing this exercise to notice how identical the Jinan and Ningbo parks are and it really pains me that this one only ends up 7th because I absolutely loved the place. If I was doing this park by park and not on resorts then it would place a lot higher.
It marked my second visit to a Fantawild establishment and was the perfect showcase as to how Ningbo should have been, sparking the honeymoon phase of my relationship with the chain. As an added bonus (since I’ve been), there’s been a mini expansion (a small family coaster) and it is now home to the most creds in any of these parks.
From the gorgeous aesthetics of the place to the cracking ride lineup, you can’t really go wrong in Jinan.

Location notes – Jinan can be as quick as 90 minutes away from Beijing by train, so a day trip from the capital would be possible. As a better alternative it’s a decent stop off point within the golden triangle, particularly if you’re doing both Beijing and Shanghai in a single trip. Quancheng Euro Park is just up the road but if you’re new to the chain then please don’t try and do them in the same day. Soak this one up first.


Oriental Heritage
Legend of Nuwa – dark ride (A)
Jungle Trailblazer – Gravity Group woodie (B)
Dragon King’s Tale/Rumble Under The Sea – dark ride (B)
Devil’s Peak/The Flaming Mountains – dark ride (B)
Galaxy Express – Vekoma suspended family coaster (C)

Dreamland
Jinshan Temple Showdown/Whitesnake Maiden’s Fury – dark ride & show combo (A+)
Qin Dynasty Adventure – dark ride (A)
Wizard Academy – dark ride (C)
Mount Tanggula/Vesuvio Volcano – mine train coaster (D)
Terror Twister – Maurer Sky Loop (E)

Things are getting tougher now because every resort I’ve done from here on in contains at least one of the A+ attractions – Jinshan Temple Showdown in some form or another, which justifies a visit all by itself.
Xiamen is the first 2 gate establishment in the list and mainly suffers from having the weakest Jungle Trailblazer in the country. Aside from that, all I can really say is the location doesn’t lend itself well to any theme park based route through China. A solid pick, but only if it works for you.

Location notes – 4 hours in the wrong direction from any other major parks, you’d have to be as desperate as me to want to add this to any itinerary. In a moment of particular insanity I even considered going by boat from Taiwan. Don’t.


Oriental Heritage
Jungle Trailblazer – Gravity Group woodie (A)
Legend of Nuwa – dark ride (A)
Dragon King’s Tale/Rumble Under The Sea – dark ride (B)
Devil’s Peak/The Flaming Mountains – dark ride (B)
Night Rescue – indoor mine train coaster (C)

Dreamland

Jinshan Temple Showdown/Whitesnake Maiden’s Fury – dark ride & show combo (A+)
Qin Dynasty Adventure – dark ride (A)
*2 major shows – did not experience (?)
Wizard Academy – dark ride (C)
Golden Whirlwind – Sameco Looping Coaster (E)

The weather spited my first attempt at this one and I tried to use that opportunity to experience more indoor attractions and do some shows, of which this resort has many. Bad weather means absolutely no one turns up and the day is a complete write off so the park don’t bother to run anything anyway. That plan failed.
On a redemption visit I only allowed a single day, starting with the good and then rushing the bad, missing the signature shows yet again. I believe they’d elevate the experience, but can’t guarantee.
If this is your first Fantawild resort then allow 2 days or you’ll likely miss too much with the time slot based attractions. If things go well there’s even some bonus creds and you can complete the hat trick in a third Adventure park in Wuhu, at the complete opposite end of the city.

Location notes – 3 hours from Shanghai, but an easy day trip from many other significant cities in the region. Under an hour from either Nanjing (a good base with nothing in it yet) or Hefei (for the Sunac park). Other than Ningbo, it’s probably the most conveniently located Fantawild resort for theme parking in and around Shanghai, but that part of China is becoming so basic – buck the trend.


Magic Gallery – dark ride (A+)
Celestial Gauntlet – Vekoma coaster (A)
Legend of Nuwa – dark ride (A)
River of Tales – dark ride (B)
Xin Zhui – show (B)

It physically hurts me to put this park in in 4th. I had tears in my eyes on the way out of the place – it was that good. It’s the newest build I’ve done to date and absolutely sealed the deal on my rejuvenated passion for Fantawild parks.
They’re stepping the theming up even now and they still have the capactity to invent new mind blowing dark rides. I didn’t think they had it in them to exceed themselves any more and then Magic Gallery happened. Things aren’t stagnating forever, there’s already infrastructure for a second gate here and I’m so excited for their future.
But, and it’s a big but, it doesn’t have a woodie and the Vekoma just can’t compete.

Location notesIf it wasn’t what felt like 500 miles from the next resort in the list, even though you can daytrip both from Changsha equally comfortably, we’d have a winner. There’s always the option of ignoring my criteria and doing that anyway. The city is a pretty big hub in itself these days, with a good little triangle between Nanchang (for the Sunac Park) and Wuhan (Happy Valley) all within a couple of hours of each other. If you’re on a particularly long trip, Changsha is very central and a good stop off for almost any cross country direction.


Dreamland
Jungle Trailblazer – Gravity Group woodie (A+)
Jinshan Temple Showdown/Whitesnake Maiden’s Fury – dark ride & show combo (A+)
Qin Dynasty Adventure – dark ride (A)
Dragon King’s Tale/Rumble Under The Sea – dark ride (B)
Devil’s Peak/The Flaming Mountains – dark ride (B)

Adventure
Space Warrior – dark ride (C)
Dino Rampage – dark ride (D)
Sky Sailor – flying theatre (D)
Mount Tanggula/Vesuvio Volcano – mine train coaster (D)
Flare Meteor – suspended looping coaster (E)

It’s not worth calling these next two a resort because the way they’re split you simply don’t need the 2nd park for anything but creds. With no Oriental Heritage to steal the spotlight, the Dreamlands end up getting it all.
The Jungle Trailblazer here is a clone of Fjord Flying Dragon at rival chain Happy Valley’s Tianjin park and that also took the edge off for me slightly even if it is one of my all time favourite rides.
Weaknesses over the below? A Boomerang instead of A Vekoma SFC and the 2nd best woodie instead of the 1st best.
For a one day visit, you can’t get a much better representation of 2nd Gen Fantawild.

Location notesForget it’s called Zhuzhou, do it from Changsha. Other than that, see above.


Dreamland
Jungle Trailblazer – Gravity Group woodie (A+)
Jinshan Temple Showdown/Whitesnake Maiden’s Fury – dark ride & show combo (A+)
Qin Dynasty Adventure – dark ride (A)
Dragon King’s Tale/Rumble Under The Sea – dark ride (B)
Devil’s Peak/The Flaming Mountains – dark ride (B)

Adventure
Space Warrior – dark ride (C)
Dino Rampage – dark ride (D)
Sky Sailor – flying theatre (D)
Mount Tanggula/Vesuvio Volcano – mine train coaster (D)
Terror Twister – Maurer Sky Loop (E)

Except for this one of course. The same, but better. We’ve already had some world class woodies in the list and words cannot describe how this one takes the cake (well, they will when I get round to writing them down).
I had issues with the logistics of this resort. Thanks to the official transport we got stranded on the wrong of a massive road, their customer service was abysmal and the place angered me. My first Adventure park angered me even more. The Dreamland park was the perfect remedy for my foul mood and in a matter of moments I fell in love again (this keeps happening).
It’s only a snapshot and likely to change at any time but they’re the only example of the 2nd Gen parks that I saw actively running preshows for their dark rides. Given how intensely themed the queue areas for these attractions are, having the excuse to stop and appreciate that with some back story only elevated things further.
Bottom line – save all the hassle, get your Didi driver to take you to the door and don’t even bother with the second gate. Trust me, you don’t need that Skyloop. I didn’t, and no doubt you’ve seen what I’m like on here.

Location notesThey call Zhengzhou the crossroads of the Chinese high speed rail system, but it’s quite far from anything else to consider doing as an in and out and much better to do it in passing. The golden triangle was bound to come up again – Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an, but I’ll add Changsha into the mix and make it a diamond. If you’re doing any 2 of those in one trip then you can easily knock off this city en route.


Jungle Trailblazer – Gravity Group woodie (A+)
Hero of Malacca – dark ride & show combo (A+)
Rama & Sita – dark ride (A)
Meeting in Ha Long Bay – dark ride (A)
Colourful Trip – dark ride (B)

We’ve made it to the top at last. If you want the most concentrated injection of what Fantawild really has to offer you then look no further than this one park. No second gate, no distractions. It’s a visual feast.
The park is a compilation, but it’s also all new stories and it shows off Fantawild at their most creative. Everything’s fresh, clean, wonderful and from what I saw they intend to keep it that way, unlike certain other places. After doing 5 things the same at all the others this park finally got me excited again and I haven’t stopped being since.
They have the best woodie, again (I hate them for cloning my fav… *bites fist* not now) and they have an awe-inspiring alternative version of their signature dark ride.
In going through ths list with all the pairings of JTs and JTSs, everything above us was lacking the complementary pinnacle of their home grown pure dark rides – they never had a Nüwa in the same gate.
Nor does this park, but it has a Sita (same tech, new story).
The boring and stupid Chinese Opera ride is no more and they’ve replaced it with a heart warming tale filled with mesmerising scenes (and smells).
I didn’t even get to try everything due to a couple of closures, but on top of all that there’s many, many more quality dark rides and shows (and a Wacky Worm) to give you one of the fullest days an empty Chinese park has to offer.

The only problem with this park being different to all the rest is that it’ll make you want to try another one.
Wait…
That’s a good thing.

Location notesDefinitely not the default go-to area for a Chinese theme park trip yet, but the region has improved significantly with just the opening of this one. Under 3 hours from Guangzhou on certain trains, it can be reasonably be incorporated into a southern trip if you stay over. There’s also a rubbish Wanda park just over a bridge.

2 thoughts on “Resort Ranking – The Fantawilds

  1. I’ve heard that a new Fantawild park has opened in Ningbo next to the Oriental Heritage, and there are a lot of new dark rides, shows, and roller coasters. I have read something about those new coasters on RCDB, but have no idea on what are the dark rides about…

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