Ride Review – Myth

Myth is a dome theatre based dark ride attraction found at several OCT properties within China, including their Visionland brand of parks. The ride is designed and built in house by the chain owners, under the name Shenzhen OCT Vision who also produce the films and media to accompany such attractions. A queueline decorated with ancient drawings leads to this instructional video and batching room, in which we can see the hardware is essentially a Flying Theatre on steroids. Riders are mounted perpedicular to a large platform which has the ability to rotate in all directions inside a more fully encompassing 360° giant screen.

This greatly enhanced my excitement as, while the regular theatres rely on compelling and attractive visuals (sometimes smells), the accompanying movements are a little sedate – if you pause to think for a moment about the ‘ride’ part of the experience there really isn’t much going on when there perhaps should be.
In this instance, there are moments where you can be tilted right back into a face-up lying down position, perhaps even putting guests out of their comfort zone a little more and it just overall increases the dynamic of the whole package when you never quite know what your body is going to be subjected to next as the story unfolds.

The storyline focuses on Nuwa, a Goddess from Chinese mythology and obviously a popular one, as she now boasts a variety of different attractions that revolve around her character across the various theme park chains in China, from Fantawild to Wanda/Sunac. Nuwa is responsible for both creating humanity and mending the heavens when the sky fell apart, and where these tales are often portrayed as, or adapted into, a more action based sequence of scenes for other dark rides, Myth instead spends more time on the general wonder and spectacle of the events, with awe-inspiring results. The whole thing really is rather epic, as well as making a nice change from the usual fight scene frolicks – it’s rather hard to do it justice with just words, as with all dark rides it simply has to be experienced in person to be appreciated fully.

Overall this attraction is the highlight of Visionland Liuzhou for me (even with an empty Intamin Megalite to marathon just around the corner), it’s well worth the visit on its own, along with being, in my opinion, OCT’s finest in-house achievement to date. I’m really glad to see a bit of healthy competition brewing between the giants of the Chinese theme park industry and can’t wait to see where it leads.
With the world becoming steadily more saturated (even I can’t keep up) with Soarin’ inspired rides that gently hover over either local or far flung tourist destinations, Myth ups the standards by which they should all be measured, and in more ways than one.

Ride Review – Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania, located at Motiongate in the UAE, is a trackless dark ride from ETF with a storyline that is of course based on the film franchise of the same name. I knew little of this attraction on arrival (or even the park in general) and having never seen one of the movies there could be no form of IP bias going into this experience. I could even go as far as saying the opposite – as a brand it actively didn’t excite me, though of course a dark ride will always get me though the entrance. Turns out I really enjoyed this attraction and it has actually managed to increase my interest in watching the source material, so a job well done by any standards.

Vampirism seems like an appropriate topic for parks in the Dubai area as I was practicing the art myself during the daytime portion of my visits. With the sun feeling like it was searing skin almost immediately upon impact, the best tactic was always to dart around between patches of shade to avoid inevitably catching fire. It was in this rushed state, further increased by my use of some time limited lockers elsewhere in the park, that I stumbled into the entrance of Hotel Transylvania for the first time, without taking those important extra moments to slow down and absorb the atmosphere of a themed attraction such as this.

I had many moments at Motiongate of entering an area and having an almost stunned reaction at what I was seeing. While there were greater examples elsewhere in the park, the scenery here had a similar effect on me and this was perhaps driven by the sheer lack of expectation. There’s such a contrast in the transition from outside to inside and I found it to have a rather magical vibe about it. The fact it was almost entirely empty and I often had the queue and ride to myself no doubt helped as well.

The queueline was nicely detailed for the relative small size of it and though it’s a shame to not have any form of preshow or other media to set the scene, being almost immediately greeted by a cute little Mystic Mover trackless vehicle (hmm, that name sounds familiar) is always a welcome sight for me. Within the first corner, the full range of styles in scenery is on display, from large physical set pieces through holographic projections to your standard, often lamented, media screens.

After this introductory area, the cars enter the main hub of the track layout which comprises of a vast corridor and side rooms, with other vehicles criss-crossing in all directions. I like an overwhelming sense of scale in certain moments on my dark rides, rather than relying solely on tight enclosed spaces at every turn, and that delivers here, though it almost gets taken too far in the opposite direction – I feel it’s best to strike a balance with some more intimate moments too.

While the system doesn’t utilise the trackless aspect to the same degree as perhaps certain Disney attractions, the ride fan in me did always enjoy watching the simple spectacle of several cars popping in and out of view at all times and covering the same ground at all sorts of different angles. This ride would be high on the list for guest interaction if you had any other familiar parties riding at the same time as you (or if Japanese waving culture caught on).

This aspect perhaps trumps any interaction between the scenes in the side rooms and the riders themselves. It’s much more of a sit back, watch and enjoy type of experience as opposed to there being any real action, adventure or even storyline that you may or may not have expected from the franchise, I suppose more in the classical style of a haunted house attraction. Between that, the audio and the ride system itself there was more than enough to keep me entertained and coming back for more, amongst a multitude of other significant coasters and dark rides in the park, which says enough for me.

Ride Review – Mystic Manor

Mystic Manor is a trackless dark ride found at Hong Kong Disneyland that opened in 2013 along with the surrounding themed area of Mystic Point. Its closest relatives at equivalent Disney properties are the well known Haunted Mansions and Phantom Manor, though in this case the smallest park in the chain opted for an entirely fresh narrative – a highly welcome change as far as I’m concerned, I do love a unique experience.

And this ride certainly is that. The striking exterior dominates Mystic Point, particularly as it is the only attraction of note in this ‘land’. A lot of care and attention has clearly gone into making this attraction fit into its own suitable surroundings and have a real atmosphere. This is also something I greatly admire, as I believe the biggest and best highly themed rides deserve a certain presence that extends beyond the boundary of the building that contains them. Immersion doesn’t have to start at the queueline entrance, you can already be vibing off of the attraction the moment you set eyes on it.

That’s exactly how I felt as we stumbled up to this one for the first time on a miserable rainy day. Never mind the wet shoes, seeing this in person is a wow! moment to make you stop and admire the intricate details. Does that spiral staircase even function? Due to the weather it was unnervingly quiet for such a major theme park and, I don’t know if this usually happens, staff were at the queueline entrance dressed in maid outfits ready to personally escort guests from this point and into the first preshow. The extra attention was certainly welcome.

The preshow itself introduces the premise of the ride – the owner of the mansion (and his pet monkey) are inviting us to view their museum collection of artifacts obtained from extensive travels throughout the world via a design of his own invention, the clever carriages that form the basis of the ride hardware. A narrated, projected slideshow becomes extraordinary at the point in which the animatronic monkey, Albert, appears for the first time. This is classic Disney theme park magic at it’s finest, an endearing character and awe-inspiring piece of technical design all rolled into one.

Now that the scene has been set, we can be escorted once again to the carriages that await us. We’re already at the third level of wonderment for me here as I just love watching trackless ride vehicles going about their business, particularly in the station area. With sensors working overtime and no real fixed path to follow they hustle and bustle about the loading areas, pausing to let each other by as they approach in a wonderful display of artificial intelligence.
This alone continues to entertain me throughout the entire ride sequence as the cars are usually dispatched in batches of four that travel together. Each one will follow a slightly different route to the others in the group, splitting off at certain intervals to view ares from separate angles and perspectives, enhancing the rerideability factor. When they aren’t paused to observe a particular scene or following one of the more linear paths in the attraction the opportunity is often taken to dance around each other, maintaining a satisfying flow and dynamic feel to the attraction, there’s never a movement that feels out of place.

Technological distractions aside, the scenery and soundtrack on this ride is phenomenal, of course. In the first room we meet the real animatronic Henry Mystic before Albert pops up again and ends up disturbing one of the trinkets, unleashing some magic dust that begins to make all the other artifacts come to life. The automated tour begins regardless and guests become witness to several areas of the collection all animated and spiced up in any manner of inventive ways, from projection trickery to physical effects.
The deeper we travel into the exhibits, the greater the peril, particularly for our monkey friend who runs into a number of dangerous mishaps alongside us, you really do start to feel for him. It culminates in a spectacular sequence in a room surrounding a central statue who conjures up a storm. The vehicles whirl about in chaotic fashion as the walls themselves begin to tear apart all around, the music and sounds build and soar along with this and everything yet again becomes just wondrous to behold, a real ‘this is why I love this hobby’ freeze frame in time.
Luckily, the strange powder manages to end up back in its container and they all lived happily every after.

Mystic Manor took Disney dark rides to yet another level for me. Sadly it’s been a fair few years since I last visited this attraction, though it remains firmly embedded in my mind as an extremely standout experience and their greatest attraction with its own unique story conjured up specifically for the park.
From a purely selfish perspective, I did wish sometimes they would strike more of a balance between original ideas like this and the Intellectual Properties that dominate the park lineups. My personal bias lies in wanting to see all the creativity stem from the theme park itself rather than relying on other sources of media (or business sense) to do the thinking. The forming of this opinion is actually mostly owed to Mystic Manor itself, though it has been opened to deeper consideration as the years have passed – after all they did go and prove me wrong a couple of years later!

Ride Review – Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Located at Disney California Adventure, this dark ride drop tower is a retheme of what was once The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a ride still found at Disneyland Paris. The original attraction was designed for the Paris Studios park but happened to open in California first due to some French financial issues. This one then closed in January 2017 to undergo an overhaul and amazingly re-opened just 5 months later.

Of course the new theme for the ride was now based on the film franchise Guardians of the Galaxy, part of the wider Marvel cinematic universe and it was the first attraction in the USA to take advantage of the media acquisition. While I enjoy plenty of Disney’s own film releases, none of them have truly been represented that well for me across their theme parks yet and I have to admit that this one was much closer to my own heart.

In the past I have often been sceptical about rethemes of rides as they are often used as a cheaper alternative to breathe some fresh life into an attraction or even craftily advertise it as ‘brand new’. While this makes perfect business sense a lot of the time, obviously I come from a world where counting new things is part of the fun and this doesn’t really fit the bill. Beyond that though, they can often come across as forced or generally just have an air of less attention to detail and care than an original attraction design.

A perfect example of this was even reinforced to me earlier in the same park when riding Incredicoaster – a ride that previously wasn’t branded with a Disney intellectual property but is now, albeit loosely, themed to the animated films of The Incredibles. A review for another time no doubt, but the changes to the original design felt a little flat to me.

So it was with this mindset that I entered the queue for GoTG – M:B! (bit of a mouthful isn’t it). Did they have a solid plan going into this retheme? Does it have a decent and relevant reason to exist as an attraction in it’s own right? Have they gone above and beyond just assigning it with a more recognisable brand in order to interest a wider audience? The answer to all of these is: yes!

This stunning piece of architecture is home to the Tivan Collection, an extensive assortment of artifacts kept by The Collector, a side character first seen in the film Thor: The Dark World, most prominently in Guardians of the Galaxy of course and then again in Avengers: Infinity War. Somehow he has managed to capture the now famed Guardians themselves and has included them as part of the display. Where do the guests fit into this narrative? We’re here to view the collection as tourists of course.

The first indoor queue area contains a few display items and a video greeting from The Collector himself welcoming patrons to the facility, alluding to how he managed to trick the Guardians and introducing us to the tour, including an important piece of guest interaction that will get us into the first preshow room – we need to raise our hands to be scanned.

Once in this room, The Collector’s office, the next video is interrupted by escapee Rocket the Raccoon who needs our assistance in breaking out the rest of the team. Now that our hand scan gives us access to places, we’re a part of the plan. It’s such a simple idea but I do love it when guests have a reason to be part of an attraction’s narrative, it just adds an extra element beyond being casual observer or forced into an unlikely ride situation with no purpose.

The best part of this preshow is the introduction of the Rocket animatronic (not pictured sadly, that’s just the exit shop). This truly is a mindblowing spectacle, the look, movement and behaviour of the raccoon far exceeds any other piece of Disney magic I’ve come across, it’s closer to witchcraft. Beyond that, this room is just packed with interesting artifacts from the larger cinematic universe, important for a collection of course, but the attention to detail is just so overwhelming and really helps reride(view?)ability, even at the introductory stage. The perfect finish to this sequence is the subtle automated rodent hand grab of Quill’s Walkman from one of the display cases as guests make their way out.

One of a select few jaw-dropping scenery transitions within a queueline happens for me next as we head out into the main lift area. The scale and look of the place is stunning and gets the buzz going for the actual ride part that comes next. Guests are batched into lifts as per the usual process for these attractions and, once seated and strapped in (with nothing but a belt), all manner of amazing things happen.

Once again The Collector is interrupted by Rocket who hooks up the Walkman to the sound system and the signature good time musical vibe of the franchise comes to life for the first time. While he wrestles with the controls for the elevator itself, guests get launched up and down with the signature good time physical vibe of Disney’s drop tower rides. Some on screen action occurs at each pause interval of the elevator system and the combination of these three things results in simply one of the most unanimously joyous attractions I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Having not ridden the (life changing) Paris version for several years and, in the interim, trying out the now obviously weaker Tokyo edition I had been left worried that all my recent ride experience had diminished the effects of this type of hardware. Fortunately the powerful, gut punching airtime was back as fresh as ever, as the lift either transitions from upwards to freefall or lurches downwards after a standstill. It’s far beyond any other Disney attraction in terms of physical power, as well as the majority of traditional drop towers, almost unbelievably so. Dark rides can be great for their storytelling and visuals alone but throwing this raw thrill into the mix just puts this type of attraction on another level for me.

I left the buliding absolutely brimming with excitement, a spark I had sorely missed from Disney parks for a good couple of years and proceeded directly to the fastpass machine outside to guarantee another go. Yet another way in which they aid the rerideability of attractions like these is that there are six different audio, visual and physical sequences for the ride. It truly can be different every time and well worth several attempts, but even if there was only the one version I doubt that it would stop me. I could ride this thing all day, if only the resort didn’t have so many other things to offer. Damn you Disney and your well rounded park lineups. Now, if only they had a good rollercoaster along these lines…

Ride Review – KnightsRide Tower

Fantasiana? Never heard of it. Well I hadn’t until I was doing some research for a trip to Munich back in 2016. What caught my eye about this tiny Austrian park, other than their Pax rollercoaster was the bold claim on their website about having some of Europe’s best dark rides. Being a huge fan of such things, and skeptical at the same time, obviously I needed to see this for myself. And then it came true.

KnightsRide is an ABC rides drop tower that uses dark ride scenes to greatly enhance it’s experience and this is a highly sought after combination that I am particularly fond of. In terms of flat ride hardware, I find drop towers pack the most punch and are usually the non-coaster attraction you’ll most likely find me heading toward. Give one a theme, a story, an enclosure and something to look at and you’re already on another level.

The experience begins with a very short queueline around an impressive beast of an animatronic dragon, which leaves would-be riders gazing in awe, listening to the occasional narration and anxiously waiting in front of a locked door in the corner. Due to their inherently stomach churning nature I always find that drop rides are great attractions at building a bit of nervous anticipation of the unknown, no matter the size – you don’t know how good it’s going to get you.

If you’re not a fan of spiders, then looking up at the ceiling definitely won’t help matters. Without warning, the cycle ahead of us is complete, the door opens and guests are greeted with a single row of seats to clamber into.
The ride slowly and suspensefully rises through several scenes, pausing within each one as it heads up towards the maximum height.
Unlike other, more well known examples of this technology, each of these viewing points is perpetually opened out in front of riders’ feet and are made up of primarily physical sets, complimented by projections across the far wall. The dragon makes a welcome return, but the final greeting is from the knight himself, accompanied by a vicious bird. The evil invention of this final moment delivers on many levels – confusion, an unauthorised poke in the back from the seat itself and the surprisingly potent drop all come together to create a satisfying payoff.

Overall I was greatly impressed by how much atmosphere Fantasiana were able to create out of such a tiny attraction footprint. Amongst the narrowest walkways that make up the park layout, the tower itself manages to have great presence and as soon as you enter the queueline cave the mood shifts – I have a lot of respect for any attraction able to create that type of effect, particularly on a lower budget. They also have a great ear for ride soundtracks and this one is no exception.
This dark ride may be off the beaten path for your average theme park trip in the region, which in itself is off the beaten path for your average theme park trip full stop, but it’s a real highlight that also happens to be in some very good company.

Ride Review – Meeting in Ha Long Bay

There’s an attraction in all the old Oriental Heritage parks called Pear Garden Tour. It’s themed to Chinese Opera and after trying one at my very first Fantawild in Ningbo I have since avoided the building in any park like the plague. It just so happened to be full of the worst guests imaginable, the soundtrack isn’t particularly easy on the ears and it seemed to go on forever.
And it’s a shame. The dark ride aspect of it looks incredible, creating a really authentic and atmospheric feel with highly detailed sets full of bustling background imagery on screens, similar to what they pull off in other star attractions.

Enter Fantawild Asian Legend in Nanning. They finally put this ride system to good use with a fresh attempt at the attraction. Meeting in Ha Long Bay uses the same huge trackless vehicles to weave guests through a tale inspired by the Vietnam section of the park.

The whole thing looks fantastic both inside and out. I’ve mentioned before about the ‘waiting areas’ Fantawild has for certain high capacity rides that they choose not to run flat out on most of their empty days and this one was just downright amazing to be in.

My interpretation of the storyline (don’t hold me to this one) was that this guy on screen collects stamps. He was being interviewed about it as part of this preshow and the conversation moves to talking about this beautiful woman depicted on one of them.
After boarding the vehicles there’s an introductory room in which the girl from the stamp comes to life and wants to be shown around all the lovely places on these other stamps. The man, of course, enthusiastically obliges and they set off.

The bulk of the ride then consists of joining them on this first date through many wonderful scenes and so much of it looks outstanding. There’s a super immersive section that really stuck with me where the car passes through a food market, the whole vibe and everything down to the smells is just absolutely spot on. I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it right now. Quality of the highest order.

Overall it’s just a heart warming tale, a beautiful experience and a far cry from almost anything else in the theme park world. Sometimes we don’t even need thrills and this is the perfect example of why.
Here’s a handy guide on how to avoid some Chinese Opera.

Ride Review – Colourful Trip & River of Tales

Colourful Trip and River of Tales are both boat based dark rides, seemingly inspired by Disney classic ‘It’s a small world.’ There have been three iterations of this ride system at Fantawild resorts so far and these are the two newest I have come across, currently only at Fantawild Asian Legend & Oriental Heritage Changsha respectively.

They’ve switched up the themes up a bit since the widespread originals (usally named Colourful Kingdom), finally moving away from the standard summary of people from different Chinese regions.
In Colourful Trip, the country of Brunei is represented by many scenes of their national interests and tourist attractions including rainforests and mosques, each nicely decorated and detailed.
I found the results of these two much more enjoyable and quaint than the originals, though a bit of translation obviously helps to enhance the experience.

River of Tales tackles four character Chinese idioms called Chengyu, using wonderfully imaginative scenes to depict various traditional phrases of wisdom. Here’s a few examples:
To send charcoal in snowy weather = To provide help when it’s most needed.
To play the lute to a cow = Talking to an unappreciative audience.
And perhaps most famously – crouching tiger, hidden dragon = don’t underestimate someone with hidden talents.

I’ve been saying this regularly about my most recent Fantawild visits but it’s great to see that they are finally moving onto new things rather than just recycling the same old rides forever more. As well as providing fresh stories and theming, the whole aesthetic of all these types of attractions just gets better and better every time. The sets look nicer, the sound hits harder and it just feels more polished overall. Continual improvement all the way.

I wouldn’t usually get over excited about attractions like these but they really were a pleasant surprise to stumble across, particularly not even knowing one of them existed. They’re not the most mind-blowing rides around but definitely a solid addition to any true ‘theme park’ day out, to give you that real range of experiences.
Here’s a handy guide to where they both are and what else is on offer.

Ride Review – Magic Gallery

Don’t you just love it when you’re blown away by something completely unexpected? I know I do.
Magic Gallery is a dark ride found at Oriental Heritage Changsha and one of the newest creations straight out of the Fantawild factory. There’s only a single entry for this attraction in my handy guide to their various resorts, though I imagine it’ll start popping up at some of the other parks that are being opened around this time and I certainly hope I get to stumble across it again myself.

After overdosing on many other Fantawilds prior to this visit I had gotten used to browsing the relevant park websites just to confirm that I had already experienced everything they had in some form or another – just another coaster today I guess.
When it came to the Changsha park, this particular attraction caught my eye because I didn’t recognise it at all, so I wrote down the unassuming words ‘entrance with rocks and vines, dark ride?’ in my notes for the trip and left it at that – I had no idea what it really was or whether it was even a ride at all.

The queueline is an adventure in itself and gave little away as to the true nature of the attraction, winding back and forth through more rocks and vines with the odd teaser screen of some boy with magical powers.

The same character starts to appear more as we enter this secondary entrance to a more indoor section of the queue, the house of the magic pen.

I’m always taken aback by just how intense the queues are at these parks and it seems a shame that they’re likely underappreciated. The excitement of what’s around the next corner never lends itself to lingering, particularly when you’ve got a clear run ahead and I often find myself pondering how or when it could ever get busy enough for guests to actually occupy this space.

We’re not even halfway now and it’s time for some preshow antics. Can’t get over how good this looks.

The momentum of the queue area is seemingly broken by this large exhibit. Hang on a minute, you’re not telling me all of that was the build up to viewing an old scroll in a museum, are you?

Desperate at this stage for that not to be the case, the final section passed in a blur for me. An ornate bridge was crossed and behold, a trackless dark ride vehicle awaits us. I couldn’t be more excited now.

The ride takes us on a journey with the aforementioned character, who works as an apprentice for some ancient art gallery master. He has the ability to transform into a brush and by interacting with the various artworks can bring the contents to life. The primary goal in the narrative appears to be to find that massive scroll from earlier on in the queue and add it to the collection, but there’s a ton of other things going on along the way and the runtime of this attraction is simply astounding.

A blow by blow of events is beyond me at this stage and I’ve been doing enough spoilers in these reviews already, but I can safely say the whole thing is stunning from start to finish. It makes excellent use of the trackless technology with some rotating room trickery and by curtaining off of cars into their own little simulator shows at times. There’s countless gorgeous open areas of galleries coming to life and you even get to play hide and seek with a dragon inside an old, rotting ship complete with some of the most amazing smells in the business and a surprise water effect.

It has a fantastic aura of fun about the whole thing, being led by such a friendly and mischevious character who essentially befriends everyone and everything let loose from the artwork along the way and accidentally brings them back to the gallery at the end, causing chaos in the post story scenes. I found it very refreshing to not have any sort of good vs evil encounter, just a jolly romp of wonderment.

My jaw was pretty much on the floor throughout the entire first lap and by the time we reached the offload area I was physically shaking with glee. My mind was reeling with the same sort of effect as hitting the brake run on a new top 5 rollercoaster.

As if to say that’s not a strong enough reaction, the ride host handed us two cups of tea at the point of stepping out of the car. Does this simple act improve a theme park attraction beyond words? Yes, yes it does.

I haven’t yet formally created any form of ranking list for dark rides (an upcoming project for the site no doubt) but Magic Gallery is a powerful contender for #1. For me it beat out anything else Fantawild has ever done, mainly from being a much more pure ride experience as opposed to the half and half (cheating?) of Jinshan Temple Showdown or Hero of Malacca.
Better than anything Disney? I’ll have to get back to you. It’s certainly got the cogs in my head turning now.

I think the tea has a good chance of tipping it. Cheers to that.

Ride Review – Hero of Malacca

Hero of Malacca is both a dark ride and show found at Fantawild Asian Legend that follows the same format as Jinshan Temple Showdown.
Just when I thought the original could never be matched, the chain decided to make a new park themed to the countries of South East Asia. They already had the technology in place but at last they had an excuse to develop a new set of storylines and it couldn’t be more welcome.

As representative of Malaysia within the park, the narrative revolves around two pirate factions based in the port of Malacca who are at odds with each other. Luckily they wear either red or blue so it’s easy to tell them apart.

As an added bonus, the queue contains a preshow in which we are introduced to one of the groups. I guess we’ll be teaming up with these lads for now. The queueline itself is stunningly well themed and it feels almost a shame to stumble through it at the pace driven by the staff.

While boarding and waiting for the massive boat vehicle to move off, some further preshow antics take place – a bit of a pirate chase scene and some general slapstick. Again the atmosphere in the main show building is something else, cool wind blowing through the air, you could easily have been transported to a sea port at night. I can’t emphasise enough how good these places look.

The ride portion of the attraction also contains a bit more spectacle and action than JTS including some storm simulation, a battle ship scene reminiscent of Disney’s own pirate franchise and getting attacked by a massive Kraken. It’s a gripping experience that takes you out to the rival group’s base in the middle of the ocean at which point guests must leave the boat and stand in the final show area.

As if to balance things out and make my decisions tougher, this final showdown doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but it’s still spectacular. The live actors firing guns and cannons don’t deliver the same impact as magical monks and snakes and the water projection is replaced by a big screen demonstrating the man-made atoll under siege.

We end in another stalemate as while all the fighting carries on, the Kraken returns for a bit of revenge and wipes out absolutely everyone. Nature 1 – Humans 0. The signature flood effect ensues, covering the entire show area and firing a dense wall of water jets up over the heads of the audience, to their delight.

I was beyond excited to learn that another of this ride type existed and it delivered on pretty much every level. The storyline didn’t quite hit me as much but the other improvements here and there more than made up for that fact. Easily one of the best attractions of this nature in the world.

This is usually the part where I say here’s a handy guide on where you can find the many different locations in which to check this one out. Spoiler – there’s only 1 as far as I know.

Ride Review – Dino Rampage

Dino Rampage is found at Fantawild Adventure parks and is the first generation of the Spiderman at Universal Studios technology that the chain attempted. It paved the way for Wizard Academy and later Legend of Nüwa and it shows, this one wasn’t all there for me.

While the exterior looks fascinating, there isn’t really a story going on. Dinosaurs are angry and loose in some soulless slightly futuristic looking city and we witness the army? police? fighting them off. It’s just grim, to be honest.
Plant eating dinosaurs eat people whole before getting their heads blown clean off by grenades.
Pterosaurs get tangled up with helicopters and crash through skyscrapers.
Hoards of military with their machine guns stand and take aim at anything and everything.

It actually sounds quite funny in a way, and it may well be, but I was in a mood with the park when I rode it and picking up on all the negatives (what, even more so than usual?). The technology was poor – some of the screens didn’t work properly, the movements weren’t synced and the 3D hurt my eyes. Maybe I just caught it on a bad day for both of us and this is, sadly, what people come to expect from ‘Chinese knock-offs.’

So there we go. That was fun. I’m definitely not saying don’t ride it, everything needs to be experienced at least once and you may well find it charming. What I will say is don’t let this one encroach on your time on a better ride in a better park, say, next door.
Here’s a handy list of those next doors.