China 01/20 – Fantawild Resort Zhuzhou

Though I said there was more important things to come, this isn’t a particularly good example. It was a right royal clone fest for me and done more for the sake of completionism.

Although this is called the Zhuzhou resort it’s in the middle of nowhere almost equidistant between its namesake city and where I was and only a 30-40 minute drive from the high speed rail end of Changsha so I’d only ever consider doing it from Changsha as it has better transport links and other stuff as well. No one needs you, Zhuzhou.
The weird thing about this is that there’s now a Fantawild resort specifically for Changsha as well and it’s even further out from Changsha than this is, in a completely different direction. We’ll get to that later in the trip.

A familiar Fantawild setup here – 2 parks on one resort. One with the good stuff and one with the crap stuff. The 2 park 1 day ticket is offensively similar in price to a regular 1 park ticket so it’s almost rude not to try at least some of both (creds), though if you were new to all of it you may well end up missing a fair few attractions due to how they run things.
After having a particularly stressful day when I was in this situation before, I opted to start on the good stuff rather than the cred run to eliminate any unnecessary anxiety.

Fantawild Dreamland Zhuzhou

Not that it mattered in the end. Walked to the woodie to find it closed off. A friendly staff woman came over and informed us that it wasn’t ready yet, it rained earlier this week (oh here we go…) BUT, it WILL open later today, they’ve just gotta check the track.
I’d make some comment here about the fact that most parks do this before guests arrive, but it just seems normal to me now.

It was the same story at the other coaster, so dark ride time I guess.
Except half of them weren’t ready either, we were told we ‘should have gone round the park the other way’ cos when there’s like 10 guests on park (most days) they expect you to travel in a little tour group together so they can open one ride at a time for you in sequence, when they can be bothered.

Ended up in this 3D painting building, burning time for a while.

Then Qin Dynasty Adventure opened (Indiana Jones style ride themed to Terracotta Army).
I never quite absorb enough of this ride to know if they’re all exactly the same or not. It always seems a little fresh to me each time, but that’s a good thing right? It’s really good at what it does theming wise and for some reason here they said don’t bother with the seatbelts so I was almost being thrown out of the vehicle at some parts. And we had it all to ourselves so it’s super immersive.

Rumble Under the Sea/Dragon King’s Tale does feel the same every time now and the magic is starting to fade on me a bit, especially when they don’t have the preshow and water tunnel working properly. It’s a slower boat like vehicle that isn’t actually a boat with movement limited to forwards, rotation and backwards.

Found a ride I haven’t actually managed to do before called Havoc in the Heavens.

I recognised the ride system – a rotating platform with several screens around the perimeter and under a giant dome ceiling screen. This one had a different story.

It’s the prequel to the Journey to the West story found on the ride Devil’s Peak, which features the Monkey King again. That was also here, but wasn’t open.

Here’s how I’d tell the story then – some higher up guy gives our man Monkey King the task of cleaning the royal stables, which he doesn’t like. He goes to a Peach Festival and gets mocked by many beautiful women for it, so flips and wrecks the joint.
For this, his monkey home gets firebombed and all his friends and family die. Harsh right?
So he goes up to heaven and wreaks havoc there out of revenge. Gives the higher up bloke a mouthful before smashing tons of buildings and trolling the hell out of some guard who tries to stop him.
Things get out of hand and a buddha bloke gets involved saying you’ve gotta calm down mate. He doesn’t calm down (and who can blame him), so buddha kicks his ass, sends him back to earth and buries him under a ton of rock. The end.

Not the best of rides really, potentially quite an endurance test. The platform of seats just keeps rotating backwards and forwards without any gusto and you have to keep craning your neck round to see the action. Wouldn’t do it again.

White Snake Maiden’s Fury/Jinshan Temple Showdown was about to start so couldn’t say no to that one. I’ve raved about it on here before and it’s still spectacular as ever.

It has so much to look at during the ride sequence with the massive boat, aside from the live actors appearing out of nowhere.

You all get off and watch a show at the end with water effects, projection, fire and actors again and it just generally kicks ass. Proper world class theme park attraction.

Something else I’ve never managed to catch before is this show, Eternal Love.

It has a gorgeous queue. Something that’s often hard to appreciate at these parks because they’re so empty, you just blitz through them.

There’s 4 seating areas looking through transparent projection screens around a stage that interact with some dancing performances going on in the middle of it. There’s not much to the story really, just a bit of falling in love, getting spited then reuniting again. It was kinda cool. Wouldn’t do it again.

#1 Jungle Trailblazer (Zhuzhou)

With all that out of the way, the Woodie was finally open. They were doing the classic sit you under a shelter in the queue for 15 minutes at a time, waiting for a walkie talkie call to send you up to the station, but there was never even a trains worth of people so that’s as good as you can expect. For laziness sake they were also sending people up the exit stairs as they were closer than the entrance.

This Jungle Trailblazer is a clone of Fjord Flying Dragon at Happy Valley Tianjin. A ride which I love. Like top 20 love. So I was a bit nervous. I don’t like this whole clone business, aside from the fact that it detracts from the status of a ride to me personally, it always leaves you in a certain degree of doubt about your previous experiences.

I parked myself in the back seat and let it do its thing to me. I needn’t have worried. Still loved it.

I kept giving myself a ton of room with the lap bar and the amount of ejection I was getting over the first drop should be made illegal. Has a ride ever made you involuntarily laugh/scream out loud through pure fear? That feeling right there.
Air-time galore in the rest of it, of all shapes and sizes. I just love the variety in this layout – the sections of straight underneath the structure with 2, 3, 4 out of your seat moments in a row. The side by side twisted hills that brutally throw you into the cushy edges of the train. It doesn’t really have a dull moment, and that makes it a top tier Gravity Group ride for me.
It has a roughness to it, but it’s just at the perfect level for me on one of these, plenty to give you something to think about but nothing to detract from the experience. It can even get a little physically exhausting after a few goes. Personally I admire that in a ride.
Even though it was a good 30°C colder here, I’d say it easily has the potential to run the same as the original.
As much of a pain to take pictures of though.

#2 Stress Express

Managed to tear myself away from that to tick off the boomerang. Vests over OTSRs = good. Braking dead in the station over overshooting = bad. Sucks.

And then sadly I had to tear myself away from it forever to go do the other park.

Fantawild Adventure Zhuzhou

There was a time when I’d vowed to never do one of these Adventure parks again, but here I am sucking it up for the hobby.

They had this fake snow stuff out which was quite a cool effect, but a pain to walk through and it got in your shoes easily.

Literally didn’t look at the park map to see what they had because it would just give me the sense of ‘I’ve been there, done that, and it so isn’t worth it.’ The park was as dead as the other one so no issues there.

#3 Flare Meteor

Marched straight to the SLC. Worst ride of the trip. Oh it was awful. The restraints are the massively over-henched ones made out of concrete that are deeper than your head and touch your ears at all times no matter how you sit.

It’s the Kumali layout so it does the big drop into that tight corner at a speed these rides shouldn’t be travelling and that’s exactly where the pain happened. Two proper nasty punches to the side of the head. The type of stuff that’s clearly beyond acceptable roughness on a ride and make you deeply question why you even put up with it. Managed to keep it together and endure the rest of it without incident but seriously, burn it.

#4 Vesuvio Volcano

Walked even quicker to the bastard Mine Train clone. There’s soooooooo many and it’s soooooooo lazy at this stage. Every park in the bloody country has this layout. Hats off to Quancheng for breaking the mould.

Went to the shop on the way out and the shelves were basically empty, something I found a lot over the coming days. Worrying for the future of these parks yet?

Day 3

China 12/19 – Window of the World Changsha

I couldn’t come up with anywhere else to go at this time of year for a major coaster fix so I ended up caving and getting myself another Chinese visa.
Using scientific method I have previously proved that the best time to visit in order to be spited least (unless you’re going to the seasonal regions of course) is actually January.

Previous China trip spites:
January 2017 – 5/32 (15.6%)
September 2017 – 15/52 (28.8%)
January 2018 – 3/11 (27.3%)
April 2018 – 29/61 (47.5%)

But did the science hold?

The most notable area of the country I hadn’t yet covered was the South West so we flew into Changsha which is sort of in the middle and worked from there. It wasn’t the most welcoming of returns with the immigration kicking up more fuss than they ever had before about 2 weeks in this unremarkable city?! That’s unprecedented. Well no, we’re going to other places too…

Changsha has one of the world’s few operating Maglev trains running out of the airport, I’ve always thought it was a cool bit of tech and seen it as a bit of a set to complete outside of the world of coasters. The one in Shanghai is impressive but is still a bit disappointing in the fact that the regular high speed trains in China often outperform it.
The rest of them (including this one) just potter along at a measly 100km/h and it seems entirely unjustified, so it feels kinda like collecting Powered Dragons at this stage.

Window of the World Changsha

Another new year spent in another theme park. Admittedly not quite in the same league as my Universal Singapore or Magic Mountain from previous years but they gave out wearable foam red noses at the entrance here and amazingly the Lost Gravity theme was played at some point during the night (a greater achievement than Walibi Holland, the park it belongs to, managed previously).

They’re building an S&S launch here and taking forever to do so, as is the trend at the moment. I figured there was a slim possibility that it had slipped under the radar and actually been completed by now, you never know with China. Sadly it didn’t quite look ready to receive me, unless it turned out to be a shuttle coaster.
It loomed high over the park at the top of the hill, mocking me. Reminding me how much of a tease this country is.

#1 Speed Shuttle

Other creds then. This is one of those unusual Zamperla Motorbike things with a lift hill instead of a launch. There’s an indoor one at Dinoconda park that caught me off guard before, though this one is a little more obvious.

It’s alright. It had quite an exposed feeling at certain moments which I don’t remember from the other models as they’re so compact. Runs out of steam very quickly though. More comfortable than the Vekomas (and Intamin…).

#2 Spinning Coaster

Chinese Reverchon spinner was next. The layout is far less adventurous for reasons I assume to be either manufacturing limitations or laziness. Stuff like the janky double up is just a straight line and the vicious little air time bump on the final diagonal is missing, sadly.

#3 Suspended Coaster

Which left the Chinese SLC.
OCT (Happy Valley) operations were back in full force here. You get batched into the station to unload your gear and select your seat, sit down but DO NOT touch the restraints. Once everyone is seated, you all get out again and stand to the side of your seat facing out at the queue. And yes, you then have to do an exercise routine while they watch.
I just want this over with.

It’s the layout that hasn’t yet graced the western world as far as I’m aware. The one you see pictures of with hilarious transitions and awfully shaped inversions. I’ll have to dig into my archive to find an example.

There’s one.
They’re a bit more ironed out on this particular one which I’ll put down to it being newer, but it’s still rather awful.

Creds complete we took a wander up to see the spiteful S&S. I gave them every opportunity to have it ready for ‘2019’ as indicated on all the posters by being here on the very last day but they’re just soooo slow. I’m not even sure if that other one I tried to ride in April 2018 has actually opened yet.

The remaining track is just lying on some grass to the side of a path and you can walk up and touch it, which of course I did. I do love these things, when they exist.

The observation tower took forever to load, but offered some decent enough views. It was from here that it struck me how different this park is to the other Window of the World in Shenzhen.

Bad glass, bad weather, not ideal for pics

It’s much more ride focused with a large amusement section and the ‘World’ bit, being the big replicas of famous landmarks and monuments from around the world seems secondary to that.

The fact that they’ve bought this beast shows a further commitment in that direction I guess.
The other park has one indoor themed cred which is meant to fit into part of the world stuff, a Bobkart in some trees and then is 95% landmarks.
It also sits pretty much over the road from a Happy Valley though, and this one has the opportunity to combine the two.

So here’s some landmark stuff.

Tasteful as always.

Took a spin on the ferris wheel for a few more grim views.

The city ain’t much of a looker.

Called it a night after that, as we were too tired for new year parties and there was plenty more important stuff to come.

Up next – my old friend Fantawild.

Day 2