Ride Review – Jungle Trailblazer (Zhengzhou & Nanning)
Ugh, that title. This is why I hate clones. Can we just, stop it here?
No, let’s press on. It is my third favourite ride in the world ride right now so it obviously needs a bit of love. If the topic ever arises people are often perplexed as to why I think this unassuming wooden coaster in China is better than so many well known greats. Put simply, I’d call it the most intense woodie I’ve done and it holds a really strong memory in my hobby, sitting in the back row for the first time. Let me take you back to that day.
I was recovering from a bad mood. The admissions staff to the resort were frustratingly useless and unhelpful and I had been lugging around luggage all day. We had just visited the Fantawild Adventure park next door, done some terrible rides and, for cred anxiety reasons skipped a few more terrible rides.
Not being able to stand the wait any longer (for let’s be honest, the one reason why I was out here) I powered straight to the back seat of Jungle Trailblazer where I sat for ages. There were some old Chinese people in the middle of the train who didn’t understand what the ride even was and had just wandered on (cos they’re silly folks like that). The staff were chatting with them and basically recommending not to ride it cos it was ‘that intense’.
They got off after much faff, leaving me completely alone on the ride, looking out at this perfectly framed and rather intimidating first drop from the station.
A really timid staff girl comes up to me, bowing and blushing, and mimes that I specifically have to hold on to the restraint at all times. It’s a common Chinese thing to enforce weird rules like this but I smile back and oblige, somewhat bemused, thinking in my head ‘don’t be silly, I know what I’m doing.’
There isn’t really much to hold onto on a Timberliner train, it’s just sort of resting your hands on top of the hooped restraint, but I maintained the charade up until the drop thinking I can put them up now, show them how it’s done.
The drop came up on me much faster than expected and tried to eject me both upwards and sideways in equal measure – in a way that I hadn’t really experienced before (no Intamin wings to my name). There’s not many rides in the world that instinctively force me to hold on (to whatever I could), but this was one of those moments.
With nothing else to do, the staff are all watching me from the station at this point, smiling and waving at me as it flies past them at full speed over what is essentially a 5ft hill. My mind says I want to wave back, but my body says no, I will die. The whole ride is super aggressive and exactly how I like these to be.
From there it’s just the best paced and most vicious ride from the Gravity Group that I’ve done, and they are my favourite manufacturer. The anti-social high five elements as I call them are taken at ridiculous speed and feel rather dangerous, whipping you like you’re gonna hit your head off the wood to the side of the track. There’s the signature bouncing you around through the structure, completely out of control section that you can never anticipate and it hits the brakes hot. I feel like I want to say it should go on a little longer, but it would come at the cost of any subsequent moment being less intense than the rest of the ride, so I guess it must be perfect.
Of course they’ve built another one the same now, but hey, yellow trains! I was so nervous about the potential impact of me riding this version, even slightly tempted to skip past one of the best parks in the world because of it. Clones always leave doubt in my mind and expectations are set far too high. It has to immediately ride as well as the previous installation or both are ruined forever, you were wrong – that one wasn’t as good as you remember.
Mercifully the experience was soooo close, so close, that I could let sleeping dogs lie. It didn’t have the personal setup that I’ll always prefer the Zhengzhou version for, but I can still comfortably say that this hardware gives me a consistently better experience than anything below it in my top ten.
I was then left with the conundrum I spoke about in my trip report for this day. How do I rank the second one in a list? I think it’s a fascinating subject but so far it looks like I’m entirely alone in the experience and haven’t spoken to anyone with a similar outlook.
I eventually settled on B. It’s exactly the same and option 2. Pick one that has the slightest circumstantial edge to represent and relegate the other one to just outside the numbered list – so even though I love it to pieces, you won’t see the Nanning version come up anywhere else in lists. Feels harsh, but it’s the cleaner option and it’s the industry’s fault. Bah.