Vietnam 02/23 – VinWonders Nha Trang
The following morning we took an early flight to the third city of the Vietnam leg of the trip – Nha Trang.
On paper, it wasn’t the most attractive of destinations, but it did have one thing going for it. The park had very recently opened up a new and impressive looking dark ride.
Once again, the travel side of things went remarkably without a hitch, we dumped our bags at the hotel for the day and walked over to the cable car station from which you can access the park, our second VinWonders in as many days.
Day 5 – VinWonders Nha Trang
Except there was no cable car. There should have been, but it was unavailable. To the point where the pillars remain, but the cable is missing in action. Instead the ticket desk were offering a speedboat shuttle service included in the ticket price, as the park itself is located on an island and otherwise unaccessible.
So this was a bit of fun, blasting across the water on our chartered vessel, quite the arrival at a theme park I must say. In contrast, once the boat docks, guests alight rather unceremoniously and are just ‘on resort’.
There isn’t really an entrance as such and we headed straight towards the main event, Tata World River Adventure. Still quite early, it was due to open within the next few minutes, so sat down on a bench to peruse the park map.
Made a discovery here that I’m sure set the world alight – they’re building a Flying Theatre, listed as ‘coming soon’ on the map.
Soon enough, the doors opened and we were the first to head inside. It’s a nice looking queue with some good storybook elements throughout the first switchbacks, not that it needed those with current crowd levels.
Upon reaching the first batch point, an attendant leads you into the pre-show room, in which this animatronic waffles on for a solid 5 minutes, never really changing in emotion. It reminded me of Villa Volta in that regard. The more interesting part is the projections on the book that accompany his dialogue, though they would be a little hard to take in if the room were a little more crowded. He sets the scene – introduces our protagonist Princess Tata, the Pearl
of to Happiness and her fellow sister Princesses of the forest and sea.
It seemed a bit of a shame on our first encounter that the other guests who could actually understand what was going on in this room were noticeably bored by it and, though there is a bit of spectacle with some more projections and a screen rising to reveal the next part of the queue, we were rather impatiently shepherded out of there before the final words were even spoken.
The station looks really nice and we were soon aboard our purple Interlink boat. It’s a very solid 8-minute experience, predominantly animatronic led in the first half and becoming more screen-based in the second half when the action starts to take place, which makes sense. The scenes themselves are very pretty, though the storyline, as with the pre-show, just doesn’t seem to be that engaging to the casual rider.
After the evil queen steals the pearl, you drift from place to place, collecting followers along the way without much fanfare. The first ‘drop’ wasn’t a drop at all and ruins the flow somewhat, taking place in an empty blue room. The lift clunked us up 4 feet before lowering you back into the water at exactly the same speed, no splash.
The action builds as good comes to fight evil in a fiery lava environment. There’s a good sense of scale here to counter the projected visuals and it all leads to the final lift and drop, which is far more significant. The pearl is restored, the final drop has some heft to it and some mild splashback peril as you enter the party room, with all the characters happy in another attractive forest environment. Should have a POV for you at some point.
I had been warned prior that certain aspects of the show system weren’t working at 100% yet, and this was true. On our first ride there were several noticeable issues with one of the special effects, some animatronics and a couple of screens. At some point around midday however they closed the ride down for a quick burst of maintenance (that made me nervous) and during our afternoon rides most of these elements were fixed.
It was a real grower of an attraction for me, I grew to appreciate it more with each and every encounter and overall it’s pretty fantastic. By far the most ambitious dark ride project in the country, executed very well on the whole and I hope it pays off for them, sparking further attractions like this down the line both within the chain and at rival parks around here.
There are creds here too you know. The park is built into the side of a hill and in the next ‘land’, also at the base of this hill, are a couple of Alpine Coasters. Not this again.
The queue was pretty painful, with even more faffy loading than the previous ones on the trip. Oh, and only one side was open. I estimate the throughput was around 60 pph, and we were there for about an hour. More disturbingly a sign at the entrance warns the queue from here is about 2 hours. For an #1 Alpine Coaster.
It’s a decent one to be fair. One where the scale is sufficiently huge for them to just send you up the 5-10 minute lift hill without a word, then have a separate attendant at the summit to explain what you have to do before the descent. The views were decently spectacular and it had some thrilling moments, though yet again it suffers from some fairly major issues with guests just stopping, mid-mountainside, even while being shouted at.
Did I mention only one side was open? Not bitter at all about that. It transpires that the other track has become entirely dedicated to being a transport system for a Zipline attraction at the top of the hill. Guests gather around a booth and are then led in groups to board the left hand set of cars, in which they are sent up to the top to alight at the other station. The cars are then sent back empty. I was cheeky enough to ask if I could do it anyway, but they didn’t even understand the concept.
Across this vast empty plaza, which will be used later, is a building that houses various robot arms, VR experiences and other silly nonsense.
There’s a Triotech XD theatre too, most significantly. 6 motion seats hidden behind this curtain from which you can shoot various haunted mine-based spooks on the big screen. Where have we heard that one before?
With not much else around on ground level, it was time to head up various escalators to find the rest of the rides.
#2 Mine Adventure, Vekoma mine train clone. Where have we heard that one before?
Sadly the other coaster was closed all day, even though the operating schedule on the sign suggested otherwise. Annoyingly the best response they had was based on the logic that ‘yeah, but you can ride the mine train instead’.
Not sure how you even get to this, or what it would contain, it appeared to be separated from the rest of the park by a service road. Huge though.
Even further up the top are some gardens and a big wheel, which we rode mainly to get out of the rain that started falling at this point. Views were obviously compromised.
This park also had the food voucher system, with which we dropped one half on the worst theme park ‘dining experience’ of my life as the selection was vastly poorer than the previous day. Incoming rant.
It took over half an hour to receive a drink, two portions of rice and some cold fries while having to fight for ground in the midst of a rabble. Instead of transferring your order to the, what can loosely be described as a kitchen, at the point of payment, you are given a ticket which must then be brandished in the face of a staff member who puts it under a tray on the counter for you. This is done at the expense of other ‘queuing’ guests as it’s a complete free for all.
The food is brought to this line of trays, 7-10 of them set up at a time, in a completely haphazard fashion so that no one receives their order efficiently and 20-30 people are just bumbling around awkwardly waiting, stocking up on dipping sauces and utensils. As such, most of our order (not the fries) was just sitting there while I stood there, losing the will to live, and some old woman next me was absent-mindedly touching and feeling up half the trays (including my cutlery and straws, which were promptly disposed of). The fries turned up last, completing the set, already stone cold. Was it worth the bother? No it was not.
To be honest I’m not sure how we lasted the entire day here, with such a lacklustre line-up and some intermittent bad vibes (and a 4am start). It reached a tipping point where we might as well have stayed for the night time show however, so needs must.
They have an aquarium, it’s not a very good one.
We used the other half of the food voucher on multiple ice creams at a small stall. Best way to do it here, far superior to the actual food.
Night fell, and first up was this laser/fountain show. It’s not a very good one.
On the walk to the proper show, stumbled upon a bit of a spoiler in the form of this impressive beastie.
Said show was actually the inspiration for the storyline of the dark ride, with a few notable differences. There’s an evil queen and king, one of the sisters is a man and a love interest, and of course the big dragon.
The whole thing was a mixed bag.
The projections were epic, it kept going on about how ground-breaking the technology was in the build-up and I can’t argue with the statements.
The story was too slow, lots of wafting around in spandex in between key plot points, including, but not limited to, pointless Baby Shark dance showdown with children from the audience. Mid-fairytale.
The dragon was cool.
Back on the boat then.