France 05/23 – Parc d’Olhain, Cita-Parc, Loos Parc + Ch’ti Parc

Under the last minute change of plans, the following day was purely dedicated to the pursuit of nearby creds. A number of these parks were casualties of some ferry delays last year, it’s always good to get that closure.

Day 2 – Parc d’Olhain


As such, d’Olhain was no longer gone. We arrived in the vague vicinity first; it’s a very outdoorsy place with other stuff going on, in the region of France’s weird pyramid things. It took a long walk through a forest to reach the alpine coaster on the far side.



There’s nothing remarkable about #1 Luge 4 saisons other than perhaps the deep levels of organic growth attached to the rails and the accompanying brush attachments, but a solid start to any day in the higher pursuit.


POV: you’ve just got the cred.


In the nearby city of Lille, things were cooking up a treat. Nestled within the boundaries of a moat, in the inner greenery, between zoo and castle, lies one of the many Requins in the region.



#2 Requin Express’ was on the usual French lunch break upon arrival but quickly opened up again to customers.


This donkey has no hat, but otherwise a solid performance from Cita-Parc.


Construction, get excited.


Looming over in the distance from here was a certain ride type that has been eluding me for a while now. The funfair was in town, and look what delights they had brought with them.

Wisconsin, 2021. The spite of Monster at Adventureland meant we never took in a planned visit to Little Amerricka in order to pick up one of the only known permanently operating Chance Toboggans.

Southampton, 2022. One was in town and I took the drive down, only to sit in front of it and see the whole operation closed for weather. Evil looking things, aren’t they?

Lille Funfair


Here’s a better question – why do we ride coasters that cause us pain? From someone who had landed the Southampton one, #3 Toboggan had been bigged up to be one of the worst coaster experiences ever. And so it was with trepidation that we boarded, two abreast on the operators insistence – more momentum, less room for movement.

Concerning sounds and the smell of grease fill the claustrophobic vertical lift hill, as the clunky little car inches its way up the inside of the tower. The ladder here is a novel feature, I can’t quite bring myself to picture an evacuation on one of these.


The spiral is the killer, the builder of both speed and suspense. It goes on for an age and yet is over in a flash, while you best figure out a way to brace for what’s to come. The track levels out and then immediately hits the poorly profiled drop at such a pace that bodies fly, and then come back down with a sickening crunch at the base. The landing was the worst part, but I’ve had far worse. From there it car crashes its way back to the station while you’re likely still processing the earlier parts of the circuit. Tick.

It’s rides like these that often worry me more, after the fact. Preparing for the worst and coming out relatively unscathed is a danger that can lull one into a false sense of security. Perhaps next time I will be riding alone, the car will be less padded, it may still yet be a true horror show.


#4 1001 Pattes though, can’t go wrong with those. A bonus travelling +2 was a welcome addition to the trip.

Loos Parc

Down the road is a slightly more unusual setup. Loos Parc is located within an industrial estate/retail park, round the back of an Aldi (more parts of the world need creds like this) and contains another delightful one-two punch.


#5 Requin for a dream.


And the cold steel of #6 Train de la Mine.

Both are of Turkish origin, bringing me a couple of steps closer to that highly sought out Kılıç Lunapark set. It’s their Wacky Worm with spinning cars that intrigues me the most though.

Ch’ti Parc

With the afternoon whittling on, there was just one more establishment to go. To me pronounced ‘Chitty Park’, this one is within the grounds of a larger communal green space including baseball field and canoe club (more parts of the world need creds like this).


Only a single #7 Nessi is on offer, but what a Nessi this is. The track is in invitingly good condition and it rides like the beast it so accurately portrays.


A fitting close out to a successful day. Who needs Intamin anyway?

France 05/23 – Parc Astérix

Oops. You may well know by now about the ridiculous levels of journeys to which I’ve stooped throughout Europe in the last few years. The plan here was to head into France, pick up a certain Intamin, then head into Spain and pick up another certain Intamin. Madrid and back in 3 days, the fresh (and unused) Reunidos passes we’d just picked up, the phrase ‘Intamin it to win it’, one of those silly looking maps, it was all going to write itself.
Then Batman la Fuga: Attack on Arkham Asylum didn’t open in time of course, necessitating a late swerve. Not having much luck with this so far.

Day 1 forged on as previously planned though.

Day 1 – Parc Astérix

I think coming here last year for deux Zeus was the right call, it allowed the ride enough time in the spotlight for us. This time there was only a single thing on the agenda yet again, and it most certainly took all of our attention.


And here he is, #1 Toutatis, protector of the tribe.

As a fan of pleasant surprises, I knew very little about this attraction going in. It’s been kicking around in our heads for many years that something big was going to Parc Astérix, I was there behind a camera when the ride designer explained the thinking behind the trim and we saw the spike in person last year of course. Other than that, who knows what’s going to happen here. The surprise was more than pleasant.


We begin with a little drop out of the station. I wanted this to be a Helix moment, but it wasn’t. Much more of a tease.

Within the trench, the first launch hits and immediately things get wacky. Overly banked turns, that awesome beyond sideways hangtime thing and what one would suspect are some RMC-inspired wonky hills. They all make for an endearing start.


Out of that the train audibly grates itself sideways around the, of course, under-banked piece of switch track with quite a welcome sideways lurch. An out of control entry into an out of control launch sequence. Bam.


I’ve been thinking these humpy launches are a bit gimmicky so far, but god damn have they finally nailed it on this swinger. It’s fun and zippy forwards, with a bit of float up into the failed attempt at cresting the top hat. The return run delivers some wild ejection not once, but twice. Across the hump and then hopping back out of the trench straight this time, launching further in between each. Particularly when seated further forward, this sequence is insane.


The reverse spike is alright, nothing ground breaking this time, but seemed to nearly always have a nice little interaction moment of people on the ground, in the queue for one of those stupid flat rides again, looking up and waving. Other examples of this track piece, around the world, lack this.


I’m oh so sold on the swing launch itself now as we pass it for the final time, it’s by far the best example I’ve experienced to date (hmm, which ones haven’t I experienced at the moment?). That little bit of a Taron trench feeling for extra visuals and sense of speed, combined with the mid launch out of seat moments fully justify what could otherwise be seen as faffy and suboptimal.


Talking of faffy and suboptimal, the trim. I love it. There’s some decent ejector up into the top hat and then a weird sustained moment of pause, of contemplation, just as promised. It maintains momentum of course, but if you let yourself flop a bit you’ll find yourself folding down towards the seat below in a rather satisfying manner. Good thing the cars aren’t articulating at that point. It’s at the perfect point in the layout to still do something interesting with it and not just be plain annoying. B&M.

All of this wonderful stuff has already happened, and yet the layout only starts proper now. It’s no slouch after that trim, the rest hits one after another at a very decent pace. The base of the big drop has a weird kink of a left turn that was popping air as the day went on. The stall feels like it has a slight over-correction which flips you upside-down, and then a little sideways after. This is great, because dare I say the element has otherwise become a little stale now that everyone’s doing it.

On the exit of this there’s a tree branch that they’ve just unceremoniously chunked off and it still sticks out like a lethal looking near miss.
There’s airtime in another corner.
There’s a stonkingly awesome ejector hill on the return leg, proper top-tier wild, it can’t be understated.
A twisty one after that.
All fab.


The sideways hill is potentially the most lacking moment of the whole thing. There’s too many of these in layouts now and they quite often don’t do anything. To this ones credit, it did seem to get better as the day went on, with a slight outwards pull towards the extremes of the train.

I haven’t yet mentioned the positives on this thing, you really start to notice it as you drop out of that and corner through the queue. Most sections between all the elements have a good force to them, giving you that greater contrast I always admire. That’s a plus for sure.


This final inversion is great, taken with speed and whip. It ain’t no mosasaurus but it’s different, with what felt like a bit of right to left tug and the horns of those blokes judging you.


Final overbank turn was also a weaker moment earlier in the day but grew to stick in some more positives before the hilarious and silly miniature hops into the brake run. It’s always good to end on a laugh.

Anyway, wow. This thing took me on a journey throughout the day. I loved it from the off, but only like I love a lot of other things at this point. It was clear from the first few moments alone that Toutatis is everything Pantheon isn’t. The first bit is better. The launch is better. The last bit is better. Once that was established, it became a case of how far could it climb throughout the day?

– – –

Oh, they have other rides here too, you know. But they didn’t really matter, that wasn’t what this visit was about.

Got a courtesy lap in on Pégase Express, becoming interested to learn that they’ve ripped out the bag holder system that they weren’t even using opening year. It’s such a solid family coaster, with a fantastic length to it and I love the forwards-backwards two train interaction moment.

Gave Zeus a flying visit, becoming interested to learn that it’s already a fair bit more violent than last year. Not to its detriment just yet for me, it was still a cracking ride, but if Gravity reckon Timberliners are less hard-wearing on the track then those old trains must be vicious.

Park operations still kick ass and it’s always been a very pleasant place to be, I’ve just only ever had a weird relationship with it for some reason.

– – –

Back to where it’s at though, at the end of each Toutatis lap it just felt that little bit more special. Some rides you find new things every time to appreciate, in particular I find this to be an Intamin trait. By the 3rd lap I was loving all of it. It was clear to me then that I preferred it to Velocicoaster, much more of an all killer no filler coaster.

By the 5th lap I was buzzing, thinking it’s probably just had Kondaa. The launch sequence alone just packs a punch of pacing that a -0.7G lift hill can’t.

By the 7th I was reeling. Is it better than Taiga? Then we closed the night with an 8th and I tore my rotator cuff. I think it is.

It feels like there’s going to be an ever present elephant in the room since my visit to the Point, and this marks the first time I’ve encountered it. The process of actively placing things above Steel Vengeance, because it is just too big of a legend to ignore, rather than just having casually slotted it in below other things. Putting this above Taiga did just that, and it was a huge leap, but having had my usual time to reflect on it now, I believe it’s merited.

Toutatis ticks all the boxes of my usual top ten material, just like those that came before. It’s an outstanding version of its type. It did things to me I haven’t experienced before in those backwards launches. It hurt me to hands up by the end of the day.
Most importantly it was a welcome reminder to me that I’m not on some downhill slope of this hobby just yet, having wondered about becoming so jaded for not being blown away by such big names last year. Have faith, I can still feel that spark, there’s always a special set of circumstances and a special ride out there. It just needs to be my bag, and this one is just that.

Day 2

Norway 05/23 – TusenFryd

After two fulfilling days of action, it was time to head back up to Oslo and put in our courtesy visit to TusenFryd. Sure, the new coaster wasn’t ready for us yet, but there were still 2 new creds and a new dark ride to be had, along with the need to pick up our as yet redundant season passes.

On route, it began to drizzle, putting a further dampener on proceedings. The website was checked and found to have a notice up now saying ‘due to extreme weather conditions, some attractions will be unavailable’. Huh. 10°C and drizzle passes for extreme in Norway? I thought better of them.

As the journey continued it began to snow. The temperature dropped to single figures, and then plummeted further still. Ok, I’ll give it to them now.
As such, we pulled into the car park with very little hopes of achieving anything. There was a surprising turnout of cars, given what we already knew to be the case – some dedication against the extreme weather.

Day 3 – TusenFryd


While we queued to collect the passes, an announcement was made and the gates were open. We headed up the escalator steeped in coaster track, through the OG Norwegian loop, of a closed ride.
The only ride in the entire establishment that was open was the log flume.

Already cold, wet and miserable, we opted to sit out on that delight and head towards the downhill region of the park, an area that had been cruelly closed on our last visit back in Halloween 2018. It was closed off with a sign informing us that there would be a 20 minute wait before we could proceed further.

We waited it out, with nothing better to do, and the internet already informing us of the impending disappointments lying in wait at the bottom. Sure enough a cheery staff member arrived to unleash us, and one other group towards…


#1 Supersplash. Yes, the only ride we managed on this visit was this. The dark ride was inexplicably closed (for weather?), as were all the legit coasters, leaving only the water rides in action. Somewhat more annoyingly, Spite – the Dragon was testing in the background all morning, not that it would ever operate in these conditions it seems.


Not so sure about the super, but here’s the splash. And a +1.

Thus, our visit came to a close. We camped out in the car park again for shelter, to assess the options and determine whether anything would improve. As it stood, there was still another potential +1 in HuriHuri, but the motivation was low to sit it out for potentially the rest of the day. We clearly have to come back some other time anyway, and probably this year while the passes are hot. It’s gonna be an expensive spite.

Instead we took a drive into Oslo to see some of the city and get some decent food. The weather did cheer up from here, so who knows what happened back at the park. Things got a little dicey as I trundled down some tram tracks, not 100% certain that I was supposed to, and then a policeman on a bike blocked the way and came over for a chat. Oh no.

He was very friendly and only there to inform us that the road up ahead was closed, asking where we were headed. We were then pointed in the direction of a nearby car park and continued on our merry way.


On foot, we got caught up in the midst of a Mayday parade, hence the road closure. I’ve only learnt that this was what it was after the fact, at the time just being very confused by an extended series of colourful and peaceful protests, marching bands and all, for and against just about anything you could possibly imagine.


After our sustenance was obtained, they all eventually dissipated this way, leaving a mostly unobstructed whistle-stop tour of some sights.


But I’m still waiting on a real live moose encounter.

Airport time, job done. Clearly I won’t be bothering with a map and stuff on this one.
Not the best of successes, a +2 for the weekend that was meant to be a +4 (and a dark ride), but hey, Liseberg.

I’ll be back momentarily with another, bigger weekender.

Sweden 04/23 – Liseberg

Oops. We wanted to use this sudden abundance of British bank holidays for something constructive(?), but as I’ve no doubt alluded to before now, Europe is getting a little dry for me these days. For this year, with Storm – the Dragon Legend and Luna both being confirmed in advance, we formed a warm up of a one-two punch of new builds as our first selection. One of them happened anyway.

As such we flew into Oslo on a Friday night, without incident. Logistically it didn’t really matter this time, though covid seems to have killed off direct flights to Gothenburg, which is a shame for the Liseberg fan in me. While we would have originally started with one of two separate half days at Tusenfryd, Spite – the Dragon was being spiteful, rather than a legend, and had us opting to just bypass all of Norway in order to maximise our two day Liseberg tickets. Yes please.


I’ve always had mixed results residing in Gothenburg in the past. Our usual haunt is either very reasonable and convenient, or Bruce Springsteen is in town and every hotel gets absolutely massacred in both availability and affordability.


The latter appeared to be the case on this occasion, but much to our surprise the very new on-site hotel was both available and affordable. Parking was a bit of a faff, given half the city appears to be a construction site right now. I’m sure the hotel can better communicate the options in future, for now we ended up in a big multi-storey to the south of the park, dumped some luggage, wristbanded up and headed in the new, fancy looking entrance.


What did I say in my very last trip report? I’m not big on revisits. Liseberg is one of very few exceptions to that rule for me of course, yet the same applies for the trip reporting. It just doesn’t come as natural without that all-encompassing ‘new experience’ aspect, with a strict sequence of events. Talking about rides I’ve talked about before, only I take less photos and pay less attention, and that’s probably for the better, but here goes.

Day 1 & 2 – Liseberg


Helix. Yup, still got it.


I can’t believe they’ve added even more to my favourite hill. There’s yet another ride to look out for when it comes to interaction and I’m all about that.


The flow of the layout is still second to none and it kicks all kinds of ass from start to finish. There’s an interesting race between nostalgia vs new design going on at this point in my career and I still wonder if it can ever be topped for me.


Lisebergbanan. Yup, still got it. New trains have given it a new lease of life as far as I can tell. Just that little bit smoother again, allowing you to feel all the ridiculous forces of yet another incredible terrain coaster, in all their glory. It’s the workhorse of the park, with admirably endless capacity, though it did manage to break itself for about an hour, including evac. That was a new one to witness.


#1 Luna then, the new kid in town.


Perfectly serviceable, I didn’t expect much beyond some killer visuals and it’s a pleasant little sit down that delivered for me.


I preferred it in the front for some surprising steepness in that spike and for me it’s better than any of the pedestrian junior boomerangs, perhaps only faltering in forces to the more significant of the ‘linear’ ones, namely Saven and the one with the goat.


The new area below looks fresh and polished, the queue is an adventure, and it photo bombs that signature shot of Helix. Liseberg have done it again. +1

Aerospin didn’t quite put the fear in me like it used to. It seems mostly a given that if you don’t want it to flip (which I don’t), it won’t. Adrenaline removed, it’s still good for the views, watching the rides below dancing around each other never gets old for me. Seems to have faltered in popularity for the moment, what with the other, more boring, new flats up there.

Speaking of boring flats, it’s a shame Atmosfear doesn’t deliver the same impact as others of its ilk. VR is still kicking around on it too, if you want it, even though it’s at least 40% observation tower. If this was a Scream or even a Donjon Extreme, well, it’s not like the park can go higher in my book, but it would, in theory.


The wheel nearby would be 100% observation tower, were it not a wheel. There’s only so many times I can talk about good views, but this one is best at night, when the Helix trains have their lights on.

As we transition to the lower half of the park, via the entertaining escalators that are steeped in history lesson, let’s talk about the new, free, virtual queue/fastrack system. I’d always appreciated the 3 free time-slotted fastracks you used to get when booking online tickets here and now on this occasion it was a case of gamifying the new system to try and beat what you got before. For the average, or less app-oriented guests that’s potentially not a good thing, you don’t want to end up with a Genie+ situation where anyone feels obliged to go the extra mile just to get a standard day. I don’t think Liseberg is that type of park though, it’s most likely just appreciated by most that they can skip standing in a queue for 40 minutes for the single lap they want on a star attraction, in order to have a nice sit down elsewhere. It’s not going to ruin your multi-million pound holiday, but they could have got 3 of those before, with prior planning anyway, and this system either gives more or less of it to you, on a plate, if you want to look for it.

What it boiled down to in the end was a lot of closing the app and refreshing. Slots throughout the day are released on an ongoing basis and as soon as you see one of the rides you want has some available, you smash that button, it most likely tells you there’s only 1 slot left, and then you reset again, hoping for that golden number that matches the size of your group. It’s clearly going to be a lot worse for larger groups, but we managed to equal the 3 skips on an abridged first day, and exceeded it with about 5 on a full second day.

Tl;dr it’s better than most parks, but not necessarily better than what they had before. Also it killed the Helix queueline app game, that’s a shame.


Balder. They fixed it up good, and didn’t count the cost, so here’s proof it can be done properly. It was running unnervingly smooth for what it really is, yet as powerful as ever. A real, all-round good time. I have my own personal gripes with the layout, but that never stops it from being a contender for best wood in Europe.


Valkyria. Best dive, this park is full of bests. This one just hauls like no other of the type does. Speed, pace, good inversions, even airtime. The smaller trains are more my bag, I don’t care about height records, nor the vests, just give me an action packed ride that tracks well. It does that, and looks and sounds fantastic while doing so.


Loke. Best spinning swinging thing. Tigeren may have been slightly bigger, but Loke seemed more powerful at the peaks this time. Again it’s helped by all that lovely ride stuff going on around you to look at, beyond trees, while being endlessly flung from your seat.

The rapids. There was a stranded boat full of riders near the start which we promptly overtook and may well still be there to this day. It’s exactly the sort of event that endeared me to this ride and park in the past, and it’s great to know it wasn’t an isolated incident. This ride is unhinged, it embraces chaos, as all good rapids should.


The log flume. I hear this one might be on it’s last season, so we gave it a good send off.


Love the layout, the long and slow build up the hillside, culminating in a unique and mildly terrifying drop sequence. I have faith that whatever replaces it will do this justice. Don’t let me down.


I believe all that leaves us with is dark ride time. Underlandet was also new to us here and how cute is this thing? Great theme, great queue, great signage. Love the rabbit mascots, very glad they’re embracing them even more than before, both with the ride and the whole kids area it resides in. Love the ride system, and the theming, didn’t quite get what was going on with Electric Bill in his younger years, even after multiple laps, but it looked fun.

Something was off by the end of the day. The music in the Helix station shut off half an hour early, and they seem to have adopted a new policy of closing all queues such that they will be cleared by park close. Which is a shame, as this didn’t use to be the case. I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s for ecological reasons.


The policy did get particularly concerning at the end of our first day however, upon discovering that it existed and then sprinting around in the final few minutes to see if we could catch a cheeky cycle elsewhere. We reached Uppswinget (guess I forgot this one, best Screamin’ Swing) with 7 minutes on the clock and 10-15 kids in the still open queue, ready for one more load.

The attendant came down to the turnstiles and decided to dismissively turn them (and by extension, us) away, while shiftily clutching at his forearm and never once looking them in the eye. Eventually he revealed his wristwatch to display a time of 20:01. They countered with multiple phone screens that contradicted this and we also corroborated that it was in fact 19:54. Nevertheless, he was obviously out to sour someone’s day and that was that. In the time it took to argue the point, they could have just run the ride.

I’ve never had to take issue with this park before, I suppose if you visit these places enough times there will always be some chance encounter such as this. It stings a little when it’s your favourites though. Your move, Dollywood.

As for the Hotel Grand Curiosa, it was comfortable, very nicely decorated, breakfast was huge and varied in a nicely themed restaurant with good music and a couple of robot waiters making a fool of themselves. Would recommend.


Uncommon angles from the room weren’t bad either.

Day 3

Singapore 02/23 – Universal Studios Singapore + Summary

I’m not big on revisits, even to my most favouritest places, unless there’s something new on the cards. It had been a whole 5 years since I last visited USS however, and I was just ‘here’, so it felt like a good time to get reacquainted.

It’s the simplest of journies, one which I could do in my sleep at this point. A train to Harbourfront station, up some escalators in the VivoCity mall (more well signposted here) and onto the Sentosa Express, a little monorail that takes you onto the island resort. First stop, by the big Universal globe.

Day X – Universal Studios Singapore


Today’s opening ceremony was a little less glamourous than it had been at Genting, with a staff member simply splitting the queueing masses into two halves and shouting “who’s ready?!”, judging their preparedness on their ensuing loudness.


I was sad to learn from this vantage point that my favourite restaurant outside the park was no more. The food industry is especially cutthroat in Singapore, though I suspect there were other factors at play in this particular location. In fact, the park itself is in a bit of a ‘stripped back’ state at the moment, seemingly feeling a little sorry for itself. That’s not to detract from the place, I still had a fantastic day and it’s always worth a visit as a newcomer, but they’re obviously down Madagascar right now, a fairly hefty contributor to the lineup.


Also temporarily unavailable were the Shrek/Dragon rollercoaster and the Waterworld show, along with the Shrek castle itself being under wraps. Additionally, several dedicated ride shops have been entirely cleared out, I assume as what originally started with some covid measures and the era of the digital photo pass. This had me worried initially for my dearest Mummy, was it next on the chopping block?, but it was also the case at the Battlestars too. Merch has since transitioned to solely the main street shopping area.

Revenge of the Mummy was of course initially where I headed, skirting past the attractions I knew would receive the initial influx of visitors. God Damn, this ride. Some things never change, but it’s grown into a spectator sport more than ever for me now. There’s perpetually a crowded mass of visitors directly underneath the entrance, arguing with the staff about locker rules (and the specifics of what a ‘high speed rollercoaster, with sudden drops and turns, and backwards motion’ entails).

The highlight on this visit was a man complaining to entrance staff that he’d dropped ‘$700 on fastrack for his family of 12, and there was no queue’. As such they have to keep the three queuelines roped off at all times for crowd control and you get what feels like a little VIP moment when you rock up, move past the fuss, indicate that you actually know what you’re doing with a nod of the head, and get let in.

The simple act of being let in is where this attraction instantly becomes world class. The change in atmosphere from the second you step into the first chamber is enchanting. The denial of faff, the drop in temperature, the lighting, the soundproofing (take note, Apes), the spooky soundtrack and ambient ‘tomb sounds’ hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m home.


It’s a long queueline, and there are few ways of shortening it, so it always takes a little while to navigate the corridors, like an exploration in itself. Which feels merited, you shouldn’t ‘just stumble onto’ an experience of this magnitude. As you approach the final section and ascend the stairs to the station, the scale of a statue, seemingly suspended by ropes in the midst of an excavation is rather awe-inspiring.

Themed staff costumes are always a plus and they seem to have a knack for efficiency here (thanks to that locker policy), with an almost ruthless attitude to batching. As few words as possible are used during the boarding routine, maintaining the mystery and the car pops out of the station with an excited shunt, only to abruptly pause again at the track merging point of the dual-loading station. Is there another excavation vehicle coming? No, good. Proceed. To those with a heightened sense of fear at this point, simple procedures like this can provide the first of many scares.

I’ve just this minute decided that I don’t like pre-shows. The sinister whispers echoing around the walls as you take the first turn on this ride “the booook… find the boooook…” are all you should ever need to set the scene on a ride. The subsequent first scene affirms it, with the explorer telling you why you need to find this book, to kill Imhotep, the terrifying animatronic you’re also currently facing. I found myself subconsciously mouthing along to the dialogue in the attraction on most laps, like you might well do for your favourite songs. Perhaps, if noticed, this helped to scare other guests even more, in a different way. ‘Your souls will be mine for all eternity… eternity… eternity’, bounces around the room in an increasingly demonic voice as you continue on your merry way. Well, we’ve done it now.

The treasure room brings many things to the sequence. A sense of scale, it’s so much bigger than any other visible location in the ride so that you can really feel the wow, all those riches. A jump scare, a demonstration of what can happen if we carry on defying – mummy figures will come at us with weapons, slobber on us (water effect) and burn us for good measure. Of course, it brings the first tastes of fire, the jets that pop up for intimidation factor, and a wicked flicker up front and centre. The pace quickens for the first time, it’s really time we got out of here now, as we duck under a steadily closing door.

It’s weird to say it, but best block brake in the world. In our haste to escape, we’ve hit a wall. It delivers a literal gut punch of a stopping force with the restraint, I usually find myself bracing against it on multiple laps, but it unfailingly terrifies everyone else and is entirely narrative – it’s perfect. Oh noes, creepy crawlies are coming out at us from the walls, as if it couldnt get any worse. A blast of air, more screams, a backwards launch and then drop, everything happens so quickly as we just keep on ramping up the intensity and possibilities here.

I can never usually differentiate the screams in the soundtrack from the ones in the room on the turntable, which in itself is especially cool. The guests have truly become one with the experience. As you slowly rotate to the soothing and softly spoken words of your inevitable killer, the anticipation has peaked. What more can there be? Isn’t this a high speed rollercoaster? Such a joyous upwards propulsion into the mouth of a skull, backed up by a solid twisted pop of air at the top, particularly if you aim for a rear corner seat.

It’s never been a gamechanger on the pure coaster front, there’s some reasonably forceful turns in the dark, punctuated by one more floaty hill, but all this is really about is the unknown, the not knowing what comes next. The final room comes next, at speed, with a braking force almost as potent as before, so there’s no time for anticipation and you really feel like you’ve just been thrown into the next scenario. We’ve found the book, but he’s right there with it. How will this play out? With fire of course. The ever-effective roof on fire. It cleanses the soul.

The final drop out of here was kicking out more than I recall, it was like a Eurofighter drop – bam with that steepness one more time before you waddle up to the end brakes, covered in a thick layer of fog and watching that hanging wooden casket closely. Death is only the beginning. Classic horror movie ending, it’s not really over, we can go again. A story with rerideability.

It’s no exaggeration when I say that during my first two laps on this visit, the ride actively made guests cry, which I see only as testament to how good the whole thing is. In a beautiful moment of contrast, my third lap saw an Australian man lean over at the end and cheerily ask if it was over? He thought it was ‘the outdoor one’. It probably didn’t need another play by play like that, but in case you couldn’t tell I just love talking about this attraction. It’s why I do what I do, why I’m on here in the first place.

They have other rides too, you know? Jumped on Jurassic Park River Adventure next, along with a couple of Dutch guests who exclaimed that it was just like the Pirana at the Efteling. Well then you’re in for a treat. For 90% of the runtime you could believe the sentiment, the very slow build up to things going wrong before heading through the darkness with scary noises and yet still not being in that much peril. Then the elevator happens and ol’ T-rex is the perfect distraction as everyone gazes up at his wobbling neck fat, not noticing that the doors have swung open and you’re about to drop like 60ft near vertical. More genius.


They brought out this animatronic raptor on a truck for a ‘meet and greet’. It’s an incredible bit of kit, and even more fun when they can make it react to guests in various ways.


Shrek 4D was still open, though his local castle was a state. Feels like this attraction should be past its prime now, but it still had something to give for the guests today. The host was particularly good at warming up the crowd in the preshow and then the actual seat movements in the 4D cinema felt more boisterous than ever. Second only to Ben 10 at IMG in terms of backbreaking.


I have no more words for Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase at this time, but I have a photo. It’s good.


The effects show Lights, Camera, Action! here is stil my favourite, it may not have fire on the scale of Backdraft or that VinWonders show, but it’s so well paced at dealing out the thrills and building on each ‘wow’ moment. Just when you think it’s done, something else more astonishing happens.


I’m always flip-flopping on how good Transformers really is. It’s invariably very good, but some days I can’t fault it and others I get some niggles. This visit reminded me of how the action is very plonky. As new recruits in your high-tech, all-terrain vehicle (who is also a transformer), you go from street to street – encounter a bad guy, some other guy kicks his ass, you move on. Rinse and repeat. It takes too long to learn the lesson (no more running), but the ride time would be severely hampered without that. It’s basically an extended sequence of cool effects with a kick ass motion base.


On what I correctly anticipated to be a dead day, these two intertwined contraptions were holding pretty substantial queues. This wasn’t for lack of capacity, they were running at max, there just seemed to be an overabundance of fast track users that didn’t really need it, at times taking up an entire cycle just on principle. Thus, I was only able to get to know them a little better.

Had a cracking front row ride on Battlestar Galactica: Cylon, which only served to remind me of the surprisingly intensity and lack of clunkiness compared to its forefathers. This truly was the beginning of a new generation, and a messy one at that.

Had a soaking back row ride on Battlestar Galactica: Human, which only served to remind me that it meanders far too much. Once the initial rush of launch and drop was over, in the midst of a thunderstorm that had just begun as we’ve left the station, thinking this is gonna be intense, I was simply getting stung, unpleasantly wet and waiting for it to end for most of the runtime.

And so, the day pretty much came to an end. With an hour left of operation, torrential rain and lightning shut half the park down and caused a mass exodus. I took the opportunity to basically have the Mummy to myself amongst this chaos, with mostly just my shoes suffering from the severe pathway flooding on runarounds.

We’ll finish there on soggy shoes.



New coasters – 33
New dark rides – 18
New parks – 13
Total cable cars – 9
Total flights – 8
Best new coaster – Wrath of Zeus
Best new dark ride – Tata World
Best new park – Genting SkyWorlds
Best cable car – Sun World Hon Thom

Malaysia 02/23 – Genting SkyWorlds

Part of the faffing on route the previous day had involved picking up some tickets for the main event today. Underneath the central station in Kuala Lumpur, in a bus interchange, is a small counter that sells a coach journey to and from Genting, through the tiniest of windows that doesn’t make it difficult at all…

The following morning, we returned bright and early, tickets in hand, to board our ride up into the mountains. The final destination of this is the Awana Skyway terminal, one end of the final of many cable car journeys, which was also included in the ticket.


Up and up we climb once more, with some pleasant views over the misty morning mountains.


Part of the way up is a stop off point, that they love to advertise is FREE (to get on and off the same cable car), with many attractions to be explored, including this pagoda. We were still ahead of schedule at this point so took a quick wander.


It actually overshoots quite substantially and you end up taking half a dozen escalators back down the hill, where you can find highlights such as this bloke, the founder of the Genting resort.


And our boy Sun Wukong.


It was raining a bit, so couldn’t stray too far off the path, and was soon time to head back up again anyway.


The second half of the ride takes you in straight over the top of ‘Asia’s most anticipated theme park’, which is something else they love to advertise. It’s interesting how they’re still rolling with that phrase, I wonder if the anticipation is true to the actual park or simply how long it’s taken to put it back together.

This fly by is also a tease however, as while you think you’ll be touching down just outside it, you end up in a big mall. Said mall is massive and a bit of a pain to navigate, there’s a lot more ups and downs on escalators to negotiate before you can eventually wind your way round to the entrance.

On route I picked up a brochure for an indoor theme park also in the mall that rang a bell. I hadn’t bothered to do any research on the ‘vicinity’ for this leg of the itinerary as it was all about the new stuff, so failed to figure out there was a coaster (and another coaster under construction) in this indoor bit too. The day just got rather more intense.

Day 9 – Genting SkyWorlds


This was a problem for future me to worry about though, as we made our way into the indoor entrance area. With a few more minutes until opening, we were held back with a handful of other guests at a batch point, and were then treated to a rather glamourous opening ceremony with characterful dance routines. This was fun and well put together, better than most openers I’ve seen at a park with some generic pop song or dance track, they definitely want to kick your day off with those movie vibes.


Personally I wanted to kick off with some coaster vibes, powering through the drizzle and into the Rio area to find #1 Samba Gliders, something I knew would have awful capacity, not that it mattered. Lockers were a requirement here and they do a decent enough deal over multiple hours with which you can hop around, though the park isn’t overly large enough to really worry about that.

The ride itself is a bit something and nothing, as to be expected from the type. I feel like they’ve just looked back at Universal Singapore and thought ‘we’ve got a Setpoint suspended there, we should have one here too.’ In fairness, they’ve done more with theirs. There’s an alright queueline (that you’d never want to see full), some on board speakers and it has a more significant layout, but still no real story to speak of.


Next in the anti-clockwise direction is the Epic Voyage to Moonhaven ride, from that film you’ve probably forgotten about.


The queue has some good detail, setting up/reminding about the premise of shrinking people down into the hidden forest world and all its characters.

The boat ride begins in a gloomily lit station where we were warned about wetness. Almost immediately you take quite a hefty plummet through the dark, Pirates of the Caribbean style, only much wetter, simulating your transition into their ‘verse.

There’s some decent dark ride content down there, while you’re half distracted and recovering from the soaking. The slugs get up to various antics before things turn a little more sinister and you head into the bad guy’s lair. Victory over evil is demonstrated on a big screen and then, as always, it’s party time.


While party takes place you ascend back up the lift hill to the surface and into this quaint little outdoor drift around. I assume there should be some views beyond the glass, out over the edge of the park, but once again the weather put paid to those.

A solid package all in all, nothing overly remarkable. The wetness was the main harm in rerideability for me, given the lack of opportunity to dry out in the current climate and it seemed to scare most other guests off on this occasion. Maybe it’s a popular one on a hot day, but I feel that shouldn’t be the focus of what it’s about.

Next came the biggest surprise of the visit. The park is still technically in technical rehearsals after all this time, with various signs up warning about this and attraction availability. It was patchy at best for #2 Acorn Adventure, but we managed to catch it at the right time. Cred please.


The queue is huge, has a lot of stairs and takes you deep into the fake mountainside. It contains some visual highlights such as the above.


Before a final set of stairs that set the scene – Scrat, acorn, runaway train. Got it.


All this for a Beijing Shibolai coaster though, expectations were inevitably low. Then it kicked ass.


Something about the pacing of this ride just hits the sweet spot. All you ever see is this helix of doom which looks decidedly uninteresting of course. In reality that’s just the anticipation builder, the shower-offer of nice views and the waterfall feature.

The momentum just keeps on building throughout the entire ride, as all runaway trains should, never with pause for thought. It gets more intense, more out of control, you’re ducking in and out of rockwork scenes hidden away from view. The trackwork gets a little clunky, it throws you around rather more than you’d expect, and not entirely by design, one would imagine.


It works though, I loved it. A sleeper hit for sure. It’s basically Matterhorn Bobs without worrying about capacity and blocks, though it reminded me most of the end sequence of Big Thunder Mountain in Paris for the sheer wildness of ‘we shouldn’t be going this fast in this, through this’. Also got enough scenes to qualify as a semi dark ride, so win win.


Just opposite is the second attraction of the franchise, Ice Age Expedition Thin Ice a full on dark ride. As it perhaps remains the most relevant of the IPs here, they get the double whammy.


Again there’s stairs, mountain, good queue, and this time a pre-show that wasn’t operating – not sure whether it was a technical or quietness factor.


It’s quite the ride system, being both trackless and motion based, so your seats have got a sway and tilt to them as well. Sadly, I don’t think it was executed to it’s potential, though maybe there’s more to give.

The motions themselves feel rather awkward at times, like it doesn’t know what to do with itself to match the scene. When it does have something to do, running away from an explosion say, there’s no real drive and purpose to it, just seems a little stunted.

The story is quite disjointed, as far as I can tell a very abridged retelling of that newer film I haven’t seen with the crystals and the llama. I don’t really know what the resolution to the peril was. Sets are decent again, and there’s a good use of heat when you head through some volcano, but there’s also sequences where you’re plonked in front of a big screen in an under decorated room and it wants to go all Transformers to distract from the lack of visual immersion but just can’t with that limited movement. It felt like effects (such as water) were missing in this bit too, so perhaps this is still ‘technical rehearsal’.

My final bugbear is the same as with many of these trackless systems ending up everywhere. It barely uses it to full effect. There’s no real moment of wonder, of innovation, where the vehicles do more than they could have with a track. Two set off together, you get that visual interaction between your pair of vehicles, but nothing comes of it in the end. There’s a circular room during the finale in the once again ‘adventure is over, let’s party‘ part of the story, where you take the slightest of different paths, but it’s a little awkward dead end that you retrace your steps on.

Point of novelty though, you exit the attraction via escalator.


Pay no attention to the big orange thing on the way to the next ride.


If you also ignore a couple flats, you’ll end up at the Invasion of the Planet of the Apes next (wait, that was our planet).


The queueline just past the entrance here is gorgeous, my first real, ‘wow, scenery’ moment in the park. As you’re transported into a war-torn San Francisco, I found myself only wanting for one thing – more soundproofing. For that full immersive effect they really need to block out the sounds of Frank Sinatra coming from the midway outside, aside from the geographical dissonance.


You head through to a preshow room, where 3D glasses are also collected. I’m actually quite a fan of the modern reboot trilogy from this franchise, and also partial to the originals (and Stop the Planet of the Apes) on occasion, so was interested to see how this would intertwine. The ride is set just after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and the guy who’s trying to stay mates with the apes warns us of some nasty humans who don’t want to stay mates with the apes. Our job is to warn Caesar and his apes, and help get them safely out of the city, back to their home.


We will do this in these hovercrafts! Of course we had to have a high-tech, all-terrain vehicle at some point on our day at the movies. It’s a little on the nose, but they had to start somewhere. Interestingly enough the hovercrafts are the exact same system from Ice Age again, so that’s two back to back if you take this particular route.

It’s good. One thing that was immediately noticeable is the range of movement is a little more vigorous, so it seems they can dial it up to suit the occasion. It’s not a patch on the true violence of a Transformers (or a Legend of Nuwa), which this attraction is even more trying to be, but it attempts to make up for this in a couple of other ways. There’s more physicality to the sets and scenery, which also bring some variety to the screenery.

My favourite part of the whole thing was when we were getting shot at by something, and there’s some haptics in the car that vibrate just right, you can feel the bullets and the ricochets going through the vehicle. Genius.

Elsewhere it was middling to great, there’s some goofy bits of film in there, not all the media appears to be produced to the same quality. Things get a little out of hand when you start sliding down Lombard Street on a burning bus and they try and chuck in a rehash of the golden gate bridge scene from the previous film.

Overall thoroughly enjoyed, best dark ride in the park for me at present (spoilers), with two to go.


Next up was Independence Day Defiance, of which the premise was mostly unfamiliar to me.


There’s a nice elaborate pre-show led by a live actor while you’re introduced to the ‘training program’ for Earth Space Defence. Of course we had to be welcomed as new recruits at some point on our day at the movies.

In the show, there’s this ominous container present and centre, with magic glass, which is later revealed to be a big scary alien animatronic when things go wrong of course, so pretty sweet.


From there you head into your flying theatre and have to deal with the usual extended faff of seatbelts and pre-flight checks that break the flow of the narrative much more than your average car ride. As one of these I rather appreciated it, if again only for the sake of not being a soarin’ around the world type affair. Personally I prefer to have the flying sensations react to a bit of on screen danger as opposed to just floating about. You go through some portal in a futuristic Kuala Lumpur, I’m sure the local reference is appreciated, and end up in a bit of a space battle when things go wrong, again, of course. The recruits do better than expected on their first mission, of course. Exit through the gift shop.


One final dark ride on the hit list is Night at the Museum Midnight Mayhem, continuing through the lands that are all Western cities of some description.


Queue game is still up there, starting out with some big exhibits and then heading behind the scenes where we meet our night watching mentor on various screens throughout each room. Through these we learn that we are new recruits/volunteers here to keep an eye on things that might come to life in the night.


To do this we will be equipped with high-tech, all-terrain vehicles that shoot some sort of satiation beam. Seriously though, these are pretty cool. Although it’s a Toy Story/Maus au, the cars are individual and trackless, so a bit of isolation can happen in an otherwise warehouse full of screens.

The main thing that stepped the game up for me, which was very much appreciated, was the humour and creativity in how you’re dealing with the on-screen antics. Rather than blast everything in a random mass of confusion to see who wins, the dinosaur skeletons are given bones to sit down and chew on for example, which they do. Personal favourite was the terracotta army warriors receiving a lollipop and an umbrella, only to float away on it contently with a smile on their face.

With that we had completed the loop, with a cursory glance at something something Radiator Springs also not running. All in all a highly commendable lineup we’ve just experienced, it plays on the beats of many other parks of this ilk, but has its own distinct charms as well. There is a noticeable lack of substance for now, we had blasted through it in pretty impressive time due to the distinct lack of guests and I would liked to have taken some time to relax and soak it up a bit more. With weather and it being a ghost town it wasn’t the most relax-friendly setups, the only atmosphere to soak up being moisture and of course there was still a pressing matter at hand. Bonus cred (or two?)

Headed back into the mall to see what was what. Things immediately got overcomplicated and confusing again with all the escalators and what not. The place was really hard to navigate, with signs giving directions for only part of the journey and then just vanishing without a trace.

Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park

Eventually the situation was this – the main ‘Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park’ has an assortment of rides in a big open space in the centre of the mall, somewhere, and a couple of other floors above and to the side of it, with more stuff. None of it was due to open until 2pm however, and though many people were wandering through and showing interest, it was only 1pm. The ticket counters inside the park hadn’t yet set up shop for the day either, but there was a selection of do it yourself kiosks at one of the park entrances. These were attended by a staff member who I approached with two questions.

1) Will Super Glider open at 2, with the park?
Yes, yes it will.

2) Is the Bolt open?
The what?
The Bolt.
I don’t know what that is.
The blue rollercoaster above your head (pointing), with all the flashing lights on it (I had clocked this with mild excitement earlier).
I don’t know what that is.
The Bolt.
No, we don’t do that.

It wasn’t on the machine to be fair to him, so I bought just the one ticket in anticipation and we went to grab some lunch, once again getting lost in the mall.

Food came and went, 2pm was fast upon us, so got in the queue for the Super Glider.


If you’ve been interested to find out what it is, don’t be. It’s a relocated Volare from the old Genting park. They’ve glammed it up rather nicely in it’s new home, in spite of the atrocity it commits on a regular basis.

2pm came and went, the guy was wrong. Some other guy sidled up and said come back at 3pm. Ok.

Genting SkyWorlds

With limited time and that turning into a faff, it was necessary to use this spare hour to do one final courtesy lap of the park. I wanted another crack at Acorn Adventure, obviously my preferred coaster of the two, but it was sadly back down for technical rehearsals.

Ended up on the other Ice Age ride again, against better judgment. S’alright.

Planet of the Apes washed those disappointments aside again and with that it was time to depart for real.

Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park

By 3pm, #3 Super Glider had already opened thankfully. Excruciatingly however, it had the longest queue of anything that day, at a nasty 20 minutes, single file, witnessing a torture device in action.

Someone I ended up next to on the ride clearly thought the same upon boarding the contraption. They began screaming and shouting for help and to stop the ride as it cruised through the station in the upright position, thinking something wasn’t right as they were facing forward into plastic. Concerningly, or otherwise, they were completely ignored by staff and it carried on forward off the platform. The guest turned and asked me a question to the effect of ‘was I alright with the, hideously compromised, position the ride had put me in?’ I attempted to console and explain that we were about to tilt forwards and they would have a clear sightline upwards, rather than forwards, momentarily, though this was hard to do in less than 10 words and without the ability to gesture with hand signals.

We did tilt forwards and took the spiral lift of doom. Now they were fine and happy, it was my time to get worried. There’s something to be said for not knowing a ride is going to beat you up, not doing anything about it and then not caring and enjoying it. For those who know though, brace, brace.

I managed to laugh my way through the previous one of these (Finland, I think). This was tolerable at best. +1.


To be sure, I went up for a closer look at The Bolt which they didn’t do. Under the station was another ticket window where I had it confirmed that though it looks ready, it was ‘coming soon’. So close.

And with that, it was back through the mall, back down the mountain, back on the bus, back on a train, back through the faff, back on a train, back to the airport, back on a plane, back on a bus and back on a train.

Next day

Malaysia 02/23 – Berjaya Times Square

Our final departure from Vietnam the following morning was once again uneventful and yet another short plane hop took us over to Kuala Lumpur. My experience with flying into Malaysia 7 years prior was a hideously slow immigration queue which itself wasted half a day of the two day visit, not ideal.

On this occasion the airport itself was a breeze, but the general logistics of getting from the airport to the hotel in the city, then to a destination just a couple of miles from there somehow still took a good 4 hours, due to multiple minor maladies that baffle me to this day.

As such we didn’t arrive at the first intended stop until mid afternoon, the mall that lies at the foot of the Petronas twin towers. Within these walls is a discovery centre that houses a dark ride of some description, one that I recall being particularly interested to discover back when I was researching such things – they do turn up in some unexpected places. It has since been rethemed in some way and instead of being an integral part of the overall experience, is now an optional upcharge attraction.


Unfortunately it shall remain ‘of some description’ as the entire centre was already fenced off for the day having ‘sold out’. Frustratingly under the new system, you can only get tickets for the ride on the day, in person, which are limited to around 200 people and apparently people they can be gone by as early as 8am. My dedication to dark rides knows some bounds.

I had a revisit to a certain rollercoaster only penciled in as a maybe, but at this point it seemed fitting to cut losses and at least make something significant of the day besides travel and food. We headed over to the better of the big malls in the city for some actual action.

Day 8 – Berjaya Times Square Theme Park


This still took a silly amount of time given the distance and upon arrival they were under an hour out from closing. This lead to the question ‘are you suuure you want a wristband?’ Yes.


There’s basically nothing else of note in the park anyway, even when you want to fill your time, so I just lapped the main event until they kicked me out. Never seen a queue for this indoor beast, but at least it’s still operational! (too soon?)
As an aside I love how cheap and crude that sign on the left is. I just wanna ride the roller coaster.


Supersonic Odyssey turned out to be a lot better than I remembered/had given it credit for in the past. 2016 is a long time ago in my career, four figures long, a time when the Ultimate was ‘bad because it hurt me’ rather than a national treasure, and this ride simply became relegated to ‘big old Intamin looper, not very good because this style of ride can be a little rough, cool location though!’


Many years later I’m still impressed by the mere presence of this ride and how it all fits in, but it’s a solid piece of hardware to boot and in some ways was ahead of it’s time. After you trundle out of the elevated station, you’re hit with that early wtf moment of slow, hangtime filled inversion that’s only recently been popularised by a certain manufacturer. It’s not the most comfortable of experiences in these clunky old trains, but I’ve become endeared.


The extended pre-lift section also contains some weird and wacky shaping to spice up the journey, some manoeuvres of which are surprisingly tight given the length of the train, so there’s a bit of kick to it. Where have we seen this before?


Maybe it’s better at night, or they’ve cleaned up their act a little. The ascent into the roof not being glaring sunlight and dust from two adjacent abandoned floors of the mall was a welcome advantage and those tyres make it a smooth transition.

The slight drop and high up turnaround give it some more pause for thought and a bit of spectacle, with time to appreciate how ridiculously high up you are, in a mall. There’s also that city view to be seen out the big window.


It then heads back on itself and into the more substantial main drop, which has a fun, banked curve shape to it and hits you with the vertical loop combo. Somehow this loop was riding better than the Vekoma, more force, more flop (oh and a walkway through the middle of it, sadly this is ‘ride area’ so you can’t get on it).


I always loved this near miss through the cartoon flower, but time with Maverick has helped me to appreciate the snap of a Stengel, which this also channeled and is executed rather brilliantly to be fair.


The closer interaction with surroundings in this back half of the layout is a nice contrast from the open space feel of the pre-drop.


Inversion number 3 hits quickly after, with some vigour. None of them overstay their welcome here, unlike the ones in the record breaking designs from the same era. It does just end a little too quickly after this bit for my liking, like they ran out of space. One violent lurch into the brakes and you’re done.


But you can almost forgive them for that when you look at how it’s fitted in. Wherever you go in the park you’re just in, up and around it.

Loved it, very glad I went back with fresh eyes, a grower for sure.

Day 9

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.

Day 8

Vietnam 02/23 – Sun World Hon Thom

I suppose it’s time we looked an actually notable coaster for a change, I’ve been boring you for long enough.

The following morning saw yet another internal flight over to the island of Phú Quốc. It was the most faffy of airport experiences thus far, with some fairly chaotic crowding around the check in desks. A massive tour group was being funnelled through the regular queue in order to have arguments with the staff and their own guide about luggage restrictions, one at a time, so essentially no one was going anywhere.
Once we finally made contact with the desk and should have been sorted in about 30 seconds, a strange man from foreign lands sidled over to interrupt us and directly ask the airport staff member checking us in if they had space? Apparently he was trying to book said flight right now, 90 minutes before departure and it wouldn’t let him (I wonder why). Do you have space? No, but do you have space? Do you have space? This went on for some time while I wondered how he had come to find himself in this predicament (and whether he had any manners).

Neither the tour group, nor the man, seemed to actually make it onto our plane, for which I was rather thankful, and upon arrival at our destination we were paired up with a rather sleepy grab driver to the hotel, pinching his ears and noticeably nodding off at a couple of moments (thankfully the roads were dead). Rather than follow the instructions provided to him on the app, he obviously had it in his own mind where he was going and as such took us to the wrong place (they did have kinda similar names). Rather than listen to my clear instructions provided to the app, and demonstrated on my phone, he decided to drive into the wrong place anyway and ask them for advice. The advice was obviously you’re in the wrong place, maybe use the technology available and eventually we were dropped off at the originally intended location. Amusingly he then whipped out a business card and said call me again for your next journey. We did not.

Luggage successfully deposited, we then encountered our true driver for this portion of the trip. He wasn’t quite the legend of Da Nang, but an otherwise helpful and pretty cool guy. He helped us find some park tickets on route from some stall at the side of the road. They’re the same price as on the door (no point shopping around), so why not let the agent get a cut, I guess.

Day 6 – Sun World Hon Thom


Said tickets were for the cable car, and the next in line of the Sun World establishments at the far end of it. It’s that setup again.


I wonder what’s on the other side.


Once more this cable car has many claims to fame about being the longest, fastest and meanest in the world, with specific stipulations about the number of spans, the thickness of the cable and the colour of the air-conditioning units.


God Damn Iron Gwazi was it a beast though. The pictures really don’t do justice to the sheer scale of these pillars, which are comfortably taller than Kingda Ka. The effect of this on the ‘ride’ was actually quite pronounced, with each moment it ascended and descended the interval rumbling transition at each pillar providing sustained floater airtime that wouldn’t be out of place on your average B&M hyper coaster. The resulting sensation had everyone else in our car going “wooooooooohhh-heeeeeeeeeyyy”, losing their minds each and every time.


Oh and the views were good too.

Upon exiting the station into the resort I immediately clocked two things. First, it was ridiculously hot. Second, a massive sea of a tour group had just arrived, all with bright blue hats, and I had the strangest suspicion they were about to be led straight to the woodie, with the potential to turn the queue from walk-on to 90 minutes in a single hit.


My suspicions about their intended destination were correct, as we powered past them at speed, teased by views such as this.

I wouldn’t really call this a park just yet. The cable car is a massive part of the overall appeal right now and in the resort you’ve got a water park, which has existed for a number of years now, and the new ‘exotica village’ which contains the coaster. It only contains two other rides – an observation tower and a drop tower, with all three separated by a seemingly unnecessarily large walk. It’s a bit of a pain, given the climate, in what I assume to be forward planning, but could just well be designed to extend your visit time.


Eventually laid eyes on the entrance plaza, which I was rather fond of. The sign may be a bit mystic timbers-esque, but I love the more natural use of materials here, particularly the foliage in his less angry mouth.


What makes less sense with it being about a less angry tree is that the remainder of the theming has an atlantis/sea monster vibe to it, though I’m not complaining. Good character.


Also found Roaring Timbers dog here.


Fortunately the second half of my prediction about the tour group wrecking the queue turned out to be entirely false, as 95% of them saw it as a spectator sport rather than something to do. For the duration of the afternoon, dispatches were limited to one every 15 minutes and the train was never filled.

It had a nice observation/waiting area to the side of the station and a pretty rocking soundtrack playing intermittently.


So, how was #1 Roaring Timbers then?
It’s good.
I liked this more than I had expected to, but about as much as I had hoped for. It would have been a shame to come all this way for a Wicker Man.

The first drop, which you never really see, has some pretty wild banking and steepness to it which, combined with the momentum building turnaround at the top delivers a sort of Wodan 2.0 experience. That was a surprise.

It suffers from similar issues I have with most GCIs, being a little high-turn-heavy, with not much going on in parts, but these are mostly diminished in this particular case by some other really good moments and sequences, and some significant laterals.


There was intensity where I didn’t expect to find it. In fact, after a couple laps it appeared to re-open my wound from that horrible children’s ride, the faster turns that forced me one way or the other were reproducing that dull, bruised ache in my left side. I also had a Zadra experience where it got a bug under my eyelid. Scary stuff.

Elswhere the terrain action is welcome, there’s some reasonably solid airtime moments in there, for a GCI, both bigger and smaller. Most of all it has one run of four consecutive twisty, bouncy, out of control bits towards the end that are right up my street and I unfailingly hit the brakes both buzzing (it had been a slow week), and wanting to get out of the sun as quickly as possible.

Overall its high tier GCI for me, still way off top tier (I’m not sure what comes over them when they make those). Kentucky Rumbler territory if that means anything to you. Better than Renegade if that irks you. Definitely glad I made the effort.


Especially as there’s absolutely nothing else to do here. You do wonder sometimes what the plan is. In the interim, took a spin on this mean looking bird, Mắt Đại Bàng (Eagle Eye).


It’s a little redundant, given the views coming in from the cable car, but a welcome sit down and some intermittent shade.
See if you can spot anyone in the water park, it’s tricky. Which is weird, as there were quite a few people heading in and out of the entrance for it.


The drop tower was closed, so that brought them down to two out of three attractions. And I’m fairly certain no one else did the woodie more than once this day.


And so that’s that for the day, back to civilisation and our new main man.

Day 7

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.

Day 6