Vietnam 02/23 – VinWonders Phu Quoc
By saving the biggest park of all until last, it was time to end our Vietnam visit in style.
Booked the same bloke again to drive us out to one more VinWonders. Given the lineup, it’s pretty much their flagship park and these two Phú Quốc fellas were the main driving force behind the whole endeavour.
One point of interest on the drive – the ‘main road’ to the park includes driving down the length of an old wartime runway which is now a (very wide) public road, which was something.
Bright and early we were dropped off at the huge, mostly empty entrance plaza, once again with instructions to let him know when we were done. This could be a long one.
Day 7 – VinWonders Phú Quốc
Got a very Tokyo Disney vibe from the main street, which I’m still not sure is a good thing. One thing it has over that particular inspiration is a parade of convenience stores, something that was quite fun in a number of Vietnamese parks. Convenience store food and drink at convenience store prices, in a theme park. Convenient.
Headed straight round the back of the main castle to where the majority of the rides were. The dark ride Dragon Spell is actually located within said castle and seemed as good a place as any to begin proceedings. Took a long walk through the unrelenting switchbacks to arrive at an empty station and a staff member came over.
“It’s not working yet, come back later.”
Wandered into Adventure World opposite from there, chucking a left at the sight of a Junior Boomerang (and away from the Half Pipe). Though the entrance sign said it was open, there were engineers in the station and a staff member said
“It’s not working yet, come back later.”
Wrath of Zeus, my reason for being here, had a sign up front saying it would open an hour later. Given what happened in the first of these parks, this brought on some fresh nerves.
Well #1 Ipanema Skate Ride is testing, I guess that’s something. Got the first ride in on it and you know what? With lap bars, rather than a shoulder restraint punching you in the head every time it launches, these are actually half decent. Who’d have thought.
Still like a worse version of a good swinging flat ride though, but cred.
#2 Eagle Warrior. What the hell is Eagle Warrior? I kept looking at the building and wondering. It rang a bell, but I hadn’t really done any research on this place.
The queueline is insane for starters, especially given what is at the other end. Huge, detailed and containing no less than two pre-shows.
Two. For another Vekoma SFC. Neither of them were running sadly as there was no one else in the park yet (or for the rest of the day), so I’ll never know how they went down. Bit of a Fantawild situation.
To call it another Vekoma SFC is to do it a disservice however. It’s another Orkanen clone sure, the best layout, but it’s entirely enclosed, has a foreboding atmosphere in the station with rocks and lightning, an interesting lighting package and kicks some general ass. These have decent forces on the regular, but in the dark they sneak up on you even more unexpectedly. This is how you amp up repetitive hardware.
So now Vietnam has the best SLC and the best SFC. Such accolades.
No merch though, shop for rent anyone?
Do they have the best Junior Boomerang?
Over the way, #3 Spartan Race was back in action. Yes, that’s Spartan Race with a Beluga on the front. The story goes that it existed in a different spot in the park, Beluga theme and all, but it ended up here. They changed the surroundings but stuck with the train.
It was fine, it was not the best.
Do they have the best Vekoma launch coaster?
It was time to feel the #4 Wrath of Zeus. The sign up front hadn’t moved, but there were still no staff at the entrance to do anything about it, so I strolled up the queue to at least take some first pictures.
On cue, it began testing around me. Very positive signs.
Reached the station without acknowledgment and hovered at the air gates for another 10 mins or so while they cycled it once more and a man stared wistfully over to the horizon from the end of the platform (he would do this a lot today it turned out). And then it was go time.
Started with a train to myself, in the back, for maximum effect. As it rolled out onto the launch track I wasn’t sure what to expect. My most recent big boy Vekoma was incredible, perhaps the dawning of what everyone’s been banging on about for so long, but this thing dates back a few years and looks it, fading away in the hot sun.
As with Abyssus, the standing launch is clunky. I don’t like the awkward initial pulse, the gentle tap on the back of the head, it just doesn’t sit right. It’s got some good pull to it after that though, accelerating up to the fastest Vekoma have ever gone.
This is immediately diminished into the top hat, which has some good kick to it on the up, more notably in the front, then a rather hilarious trim that essentially acts as a holding brake into the insanely shaped first drop. This still has some whip in the back, or some weird forwards hang in the front, with the unorthodox almost vertical, then twist and pull out shaping. Even with all that speed sapped the first corner is very intense, near grey-out inducing for me, so it all happens for a reason.
I got worried at this point, I don’t like Lech’s focus on these moments, the balance is all wrong, but Zeus has a couple of aces up it’s sleeve when it comes to that. Just as I’m reaching the point of discomfort in this turn, a beautiful inversion comes and tips you on your head, instantly pumping all the blood back the other way in a great moment of contrast. It fixes you good.
Vertical loopings is alright, intense in, bit of a slow at the top, intense out. I’d personally prefer a Copperhead flop, but it’ll do. This also set up the second near grey-out inducing moment for me, in the pull out, but once again this is immediately followed up and rectified by some twisted airtime.
The balance here is quite something to behold.
You swoop over the launch and past the station here into the only slightly-braked airtime hill.
This still has significant airtime in the back, with a nice surprise of a steep lurch, mid-layout, though it is sadly muted and too noticeable in the front.
Another inversion happens, nicely different from the others, a bit wider and with more pause for thought, then for the third and final time I’m hit with that insane intensity through some tight turns.
Just as it’s bordering on too much, airtime and headchopper moment into the rock tunnel. This is the final moment of excellence on the ride and this trick that plays out three times in a row is so unlike anything else I’ve experienced. I kinda love it. God Damn Vekoma, this is your style, why have you been teasing me for so long?
Sadly it just runs out of all vigour in the final moments from the tunnel. Sideways airtime is attempted and fails, though it looks great offride over that brake run. Then a corner of little note happens and you’re done. Out on a whisper, not a bang.
Overall, yet again, I liked this more than I had expected to and about as much as I had hoped, so this little island of coasters delivered on both fronts. It’s on par with the best thing Vekoma have ever done for me and it’s only very recently that they topped it with Fønix, based on personal preference. The pacing and airtime moments don’t compare to that one, but it obviously has more heft and intensity in everything else it does. If that’s what you like Lech for, this one delivers it with so much more consideration to the overall experience.
Yes. The answer we were looking for was yes.
With no more creds in this area to be had it was time to see if they had fixed the dark ride. They had.
Here’s that elaborate queue for Dragon Spell again. I could never quite tell if this was supposed to be an animatronic or not, never moved.
The ride was alright, it’s an interactive job, moving from screen to screen as you shoot various mythical monsters that are taking over the castle and kingdom under said ‘Dragon Spell’. You must help the king fight them off, cos he’s just sitting around in despair, alone.
There’s a couple of interesting breaks in the usual screen to screen routine, which is good.
The media loops when action isn’t happening are a little rough around the edges and the timing of the system didn’t help to hide this, which is bad.
Some physical stuff in between looked rather impressive but you’re always whisked past it at a rate of knots in order to continue the gameplay, which is so-so.
Worth a few goes to get out of the hot sun and try and beat your score at the very least.
The next area of concern was Fantasy World.
A slightly odd hodgepodge of different themes is contained within, though there’s a distinct lack of actual attractions at this end of the park. Scenery has variety ranging from lifesize fairytale dioramas in the side streets.
Forced perspective castles in the backdrop.
And some general epic Sinbad stuff. There’s also an Egyptian area with nothing but a learning centre and soft play in it, a bamboo forest, and a tacky Wild West land.
I was interested in the bamboo forest, though the only python around was a massive slide. Instead they have Eagle Soar Spiter, a single car piece of children’s play equipment with an absolute max weight limit of 50kg. One glance at us was sufficient to be denied entry by the staff.
When one has too much time on one’s hands, one wonders how 7 other people have clocked it on coaster count (the child is fine), when until now RCDB didn’t have photos nor the additional information on weight limits I provided. At the very least it should come up with the ‘are you sure you rode this, you big dirty?’ warning when you try and register it.
How many of those have you got?
Instead we headed Down the Rabbit Hole, an inspired walkthrough attraction that had timeslots for a ‘guided tour’, but thankfully was also free roaming the rest of the time.
It was quite a fun little adventure with no one else around.
This makes me laugh the more I look at it. He’s cooked.
The only other attraction of note here was Aladdin’s Adventure, with a time-slotted standing simulator in front of a big screen. It didn’t have the hilarity of the Bon-Bon Land edition, it was far too well made for that. Quite good for what it was and a ‘crowd’ favourite for sure, better than your average flying theatre.
It got too hot to bear by this point, so was time for some indoor activities. Let us take a moment to appreciate the scale of this turtle.
Within his walls lies an aquarium and several restaurants.
Unlike the Nha Trang equivalent, this was really high quality. It had an interactive walkthrough with all sorts of different technology-based, save the planet mini games, through projectors and touch screens and the like.
This wobbly rope bridge over a shark tank.
I rather enjoyed the aquarium proper part of it too, though I’m generally a bit over them by now. It was very nicely themed, sometimes unnecessarily so, in places people would never look and I spent more time with that than I did the fish.
I see your Kugel Ball game and raise you a glass one, with Jellyfish inside it.
There was also another kids education area with various water contraptions and this cute little film about Captain Starfish saving the oceans.
Still too hot, we hot footed it over to the token ferris wheel. It’s at a weird dead end of the park, with a mile walk from everything else, which is awkward.
Just like the man said to the Orion shirt, is that Star Wars?
From the wheel you can see why it’s in such an awkward position. There’s a whole other old section of the park, and what looks like the previous entrance, that has become disused, sitting right next door. It was unusual to gaze upon that abandoned theme park vibe once more.
If you look closely you can still the now defunct other cred poking through the trees.
All is well on this side though.
Except that no one is riding anything.
One more moment to appreciate this.
Spotted this water ride from the wheel and saw boats disappearing into tunnels, wondering once more, is it a dark ride?
It is not, while it contains one long section of crystals and rocks, there are no scenes to be gleaned. Also not very wet, though everyone else was dressing up like they thought it was Bilge-Rat Barges.
And with that I had just about exhausted everything on offer. We had the same old food voucher and ended up in a Greek place that didn’t do Greek food, because it was quiet, they could serve food competently, it also had ice cream and was right near Zeus.
Saw out the remainder of the evening lapping that, once more closing out on the last, empty train in a pseudo-dusk ride. Rather magical.
All that was left was the night time show, where once again Nha Trang took another knock (Tokyo Disney too).
This kicked ass.
I didn’t follow exactly what was going on, but the overall production was astounding in places. It had a Disney Dreams-esque story about believing in yourself and whatnot, interlaced by song.
Because a man believed in himself he got magic powers, some bad dragon appeared and wreaked havoc before a big Fønix friend came to save the day.
They had a Lion King puppet style phoenix for this, as well as incredible projections of the battle scenes. As the show went on I found myself thinking things like ‘this is epic, but it could use some fire’.
Fire happened. Fire on water, magic fire on top of fountains like that weird ride in Schwaben park.
Oh, and then the biggest fire effect I have ever seen. A two-foot thick pillar of a plume that must have fired 100ft up, ending in a mushroom cloud of thick black smoke. I gasped aloud in shock. I don’t do that.
Just when I thought it could use some fireworks, fireworks happened. All in all, it was well up there.
In fact, what a great day. There’s some obvious holes in places here and some operational embuggerances, but it didn’t matter with how dead it was (on a Saturday, worrying) and there was more than enough opportunity to get a fill of the good stuff. Best VinWonders by a significant margin, not least helped by the best ride in ‘Nam.