This attraction is alternatively named Whitesnake Maiden’s Fury and can be found at either Fantawild Dreamland or Oriental Heritage parks and where do I begin? It’s off the dark ride scale.
The ride portion uses humungous boats that could easily seat 100 on its many rows of flat benches with no backs.
Because of the scale, there’s no rush to this attraction. You get to board and take in the surroundings at a leisurely pace, finally absorbing all that wonderful theming that these parks have to offer. There’s an atmosphere here that’s hard to describe, it just feels so wondrous and genuine. You’re in a Chinese water town and before you even begin the place is alive. Everywhere you look there’s little scenes on screens of ordinary people getting on with ordinary lives. It’s time for the adventure to begin.
The storyline concerns the Legend of the White Snake, one of China’s ‘four great folktales’ (all of which are represented at these parks in one form or another). The basic premise is an altercation between a jealous terrapin spirit/Buddhist monk named Fa Hai and a white snake spirit/lady called Bai Suzhen. There’s a lady green snake too. Complicated right? I can’t really do the thing justice so I’d recommend a bit of further reading if it interests you.
As you head off around the waters, the story follows, using a combination of real life actors appearing in and around the sets and major screens that draw your eye from all the hundreds of other little details going on. The monk tricks the lady into revealing the fact that she is a snake to her now husband who obviously is rather taken aback when he witnesses the transformation. Not satisfied with the revenge so far, the monk then captures him and imprisons him at the Jinshan Temple. Now there’s a setup.
Guests are encouraged to leave the boat as it comes to a stop and congregate in a standing area in front of this final scene. Why is the floor wet?
The ensuing experience is a fantastic display of the magical showdown between the main characters. The actors come back and deliver their dialogue from either side of the set, while water rains from the sky with the battle projected onto it, interacting with the whole environment – geysers, fire, the lot. Things get intense, but end with a stalemate between the two. The temple is flooded and a tsunami of water comes out from the back of the set, tipping trees and gushing over the front wall. A shielded roof comes down just in time as huge water jets spray up directly in front of the audience’s faces. A proper ‘wow’ (or locally ‘waaaaa’) moment.
And that’s it, cliffhanger ending. Always leaves me standing in shock. Did I just witness the greatest dark ride ever? It’s definitely up there, debatable as to whether it’s cheating or not with the show aspect, but one of the things I love about the experience is that it’s so unassuming. Who knew what lay beneath one of these entrance facades that all start to look the same. The locals often don’t appreciate it, they just talk over the top. Were they trying to create something this world class or was to just another folk tale to tell?
Personally I’m hoping for a sequel (Jinshan Temple Showdown 2: Vengeance of Xiaoqing/Greensnake Maiden’s Fury) to conclude the story. The narrative already exists, so why not.
Regardless of whether that comes to fruition, everyone needs this attraction in their life.
Here’s a handy list of where you can make that happen.