Today was the last full day of the trip but it was easily going to be one of the most memorable.
It all began with a short metro journey to Lotte World.
This was my 2nd time visiting the park, so if you want a much better write up go see my last Korean trip report. The main reason for visiting today was to re-ride Atlantis Adventure and ride Pharaoh’s Fury, which was down on our last visit.
Because we had a much more important and pressing matter to attend to later, today’s visit was going to be akin to a hit and run.
While waiting for the doors to open, we devised a plan… Sprint to Atlantis Adventure, grab a fast track, ride Atlantis Adventure, ride Pharaoh’s Fury, slither around a bit, fast track Atlantis Adventure, then leave.
I saw with my own eyes last time that Atlantis Adventure can get 3+ hour queues and that the free fast track can sell out in the first 20 minutes of the park being open, so we knew we’d have no option but to absolutely run full speed to the attraction. Our only worry was the PA outside the park repeatedly telling us that running wasn’t allowed in the park, pfft, details…
As soon as the doors opened we went for it, sprinting full speed up escalators, over bridges and through castles, all while slithering past Koreans at speed, which in turn caused them to start running too. At one point a security guard screamed “STOP RUNNING”, which caused all the Koreans to stop dead infront of me, causing me to shout “JESUS CHRIST” and almost cause an international incident. Thankfully I was able to crash between a bin and a wall and continued to give it all I had until I reached Atlantis Adventure.
We managed to get 11:15 return tickets for Altantis Adventure and then quickly joined the currently 20 minute queue. By the time we reached the ride, the tickets were completely sold out, the park was open until 11pm by the way, I told you they sell out quick.
Atlantis Adventure – I still really enjoy Atlantis Adventure, the seating and train design is awesome and very exposed, the first launch is a lot quicker than I remembered, it has 2 insane ejector moments and lots of twisty goodness. It’s just almost criminal that the coaster blocks to a complete stop, then goes up a slow lift hill mid course. I think I’ve reached my quota for moaning about pacing issues but I just really wished Atlantis had the launch mid course and the lift to start, never mind eh, it’s still pretty fantastic.
With our first ride on Atlantis done, we tried to go ride Comet Express, the park’s awesome powered Intamin spinning indoor space themed coaster of craziness but it appeared to be down today.
As you’ll hopefully remember, Lotte World is a mostly indoor theme park, with only Atlantis Adventure, Comet Express and the large flat rides living outside. So next we headed indoors and to the top floor to ride Pharaoh’s Fury.
Pharaoh’s Fury – Pharaoh’s Fury is yet again another Indiana Jones knock off and has a bit of a cult following within the enthusiast community.
Now the story goes that it used to feature insane amounts of real fire and loads of special effects with some calling it as good as the real Indiana Jones but then it was tamed down for whatever reason.
In it’s current state though I’d probably put Indy on par with Qin Dynasty Adventure and Pharaoh’s Fury a small step down from those 2 but that’s not to say I’m slagging it off because it is very good.
What really is impressive though is how they have managed to fit this monster dark ride on the top floor of a multistory building that’s part of a theme park in the middle of Seoul. I’m certain black magic was used when building Lotte World because it all defies logic and it adds another layer of enjoyment to the park in my mind.
After using our Atlantis fast track tickets that we almost died obtaining, we hit up another ride we missed last time before leaving.
Fly Venture – My 2nd ever flying theatre attraction and it was even worse than the 1st…
After leaving Lotte World, we decided for lunch to try Taco Bell and despite my hesitations it was amazing.
Now the following magnificence needs at least some explanation and I hope you find it amusing.
Gfriend, one of the best K-Pop groups to ever be etched into existence were holding a full blown concert in Seoul the day before our trip ended. From the very moment we noticed online that stars had aligned for the timing to be that perfect, we knew we had to go, no matter what. This was the perfect ending to the trip and knowing it was happening but not being able to go would have seriously tainted the trip, whether it liked it or not.
The day tickets went on sale, me and Heartline were ready. He had snuck out of an important meeting at work, got in his car, synced his laptop to his phone and was waiting 5 minutes before the timer hit 0. While I was hiding behind and under shelves at work ready to assist at any possible moment.
10 minutes passed the tickets going on sale and no response from him, now 20, 30, an hour. At lunch I phoned to be presented with, “I’ve been sitting in this car trying and trying again for over an hour now, it 99.8% sold out in 1 minute and me and many Koreans are trying and failing to buy the last 2 or 3 tickets and it keeps crashing the stupid website.”
Without thinking anything other than, “we are going, there’s no other option”, we headed to Stub Hub and purchased 2 incredibly inflated tickets. It wasn’t long however before we discovered that we had just made a terrible mistake. First I read an article on a popular K-Pop website, explaining that the industry is heavily cracking down on resold tickets, including fining those who use them… Then it became apparent that you cannot talk directly to the ticket seller on Stub Hub and that the customer service team are dreadful. The tickets wouldn’t be delivered to the seller until after we landed in Korea, so we needed it explained to them that they CANNOT mail them to England, they need to either meet us or post them to our hotel. Well the customer service team just kept repeating bulls**t like, “it’s your job to make sure you can receive them” and not answering our questions or passing anything on.
Fast forward 2 days, we went back on the official Gfriend ticket website to discover that thousands of tickets had been cancelled and were now up for purchase. Very much doubting we’d ever even get our Stub Hub tickets, let alone if they’d work, we bought 2 official tickets and decided it was time to cancel the Stub Hub ones.
I’ll take no credit for the mammoth task Heartline went through with getting the Stub Hub tickets refunded. It took nearly 3 weeks, many emails to banks and paypal and no help whatsoever from Stub Hub. In the end he beat the system but moral to the story, f**k Stub Hub.
In our understandable excitement to get to the venue we made many hilarious mistakes, with the best one being taking the wrong fork on the metro line, ending up at a dead end, then being sat on the train while the driver walked through switching ends, he took it in his stride, the thousands of Koreans outside did not.
Once at the venue I luckily made a new best friend, who helped us pick up our tickets and understand the slightly strange system of you getting let into the standing bit depending on the number on your ticket, which is ultimately pointless because nothing stops you from slithering through the crowd once inside and the Korean populous weren’t even pushing to be at the front either way. My new friend asked me about how and why I got into K-Pop and Korean culture, after explaining in detail and bigging up his country, he replied with, well you guys have got Harry Potter…
There are no words to simply describe how good the concert was.
One of the best bands ever created, a massive arena, huge impressive staging, PYROS, 2 hours long and the perfect audience. In London for Dreamcatcher we had tons of fake fans not even paying attention and spoiling it for the real fans. In Japan for Oh My Girl, because the Japanese audience are so reserved and quiet there was a slight sense of awkwardness. For Gfriend in Seoul, we were presented by thousands of people all there for 1 purpose, united, going mental at all the right moments, which combined with the perfection occurring on stage made for a magical experience.
Buzzing so hard on the way back to the hotel, we made even more metro mistakes but it didn’t matter, life was perfect.
It is the end. The end of the best trip ever and the more I look back, the more I stand by the statement that it can never be topped and even if it is one day, it will forever remain special to me.
After some last minute K-Pop shopping and a hastily eaten Quiznos, we boarded the plane back to England and back to reality.
After an early start we took the Busan metro to the Busan express bus terminal in order to catch a coach to Tongdo Fantasia.
While on the coach it stormed heavily, when we arrived it was raining hard but by the time we completed the mile or so walk to the park the skies were perfectly clear and it appeared as though they were going to stay this way.
As we entered the entrance plaza it was quite clear that we were in for disappointment. Although the theme music was playing and the fountains were jumping away on their own, the area was completely deserted and the turnstiles were unmanned.
The information centre was open though…
We walked in and were informed “the park is open until 9pm today, only 3 rides (haunted house, carousel and something pointless) will be open and it’s still the same price as normal”. When we questioned them if they plan to open the other attractions later they replied “no it RAINED that’s your lot for the whole day”, right…
We walked back to the bus terminal and caught a coach back to Busan, while on board we decided we now had time to attempt to knock off one of the +1’s in Busan.
After another lengthy metro stint, followed by an even longer walk than Pago Land (this time featuring steep hills) we arrived at Geumgang Park, a tiny amusement park located in a massive park area.
After reading terrifying warning signs that stated all manner of evil looking bugs were present at the park and all of them were going to try to kill us, we powered up yet another massive hill to get spited by yet another powered twin helix coaster.
At least this time the disappointment came clear and concise, “it rained 4 hours ago and so we can’t operate it today”, Korea you’re better than this…
We decided to just spend the rest of day looking for Kpop albums at this point, oh and finally getting to eat Quiznos.
Day 3 began very much like day 2 with us taking the metro to the bus terminal, but this time the destination was Gyeongju.
After this it was a short bus ride from the city to Gyeongju World.
Again, much like day 2 it was raining when we arrived at the front door of Gyeongju World, but this time things were looking a little more promising.
Firstly Gyeongju World is one of Korea’s top theme parks, so in theory their drive to open in the wet should be increased. Secondly, there was a large rabble hanging around outside.
We walked to the ticket window expecting everything to be fine and were then informed that “limited rides will be open due to the weather”.
“Do you think the roller coasters will open later?”, “Maybe…”
While I laughed off our spites with the twin helixs and shrugged off our loss of Tongdo Fantasia, it was going to seriously sting if things didn’t reopen at Gyeongju World. Not least because the park’s new dive coaster was the reason we came to this part of Korea but also their B&M Invert had intrigued me for years.
We decided to camp out the situation from a Starbucks over the road from the park’s entrance and for nearly 5 hours we sat and watched.
At about 2pm we spotted 3 engineers climbing Draken, then half an hour later flat rides began testing and another 15 minutes after this Phaethon started to test.
So we left Starbucks and made our way once again to the park entrance.
We asked the same woman we spoke to earlier for 3 tickets please but remembering us from earlier she replied “coasters closed, I’m sorry”. “We’ve just been watching them testing”, she stares at us not understanding what we mean and scrambles to find someone to help us. We didn’t want to hassle her anymore than we had to so we decided we’d just wait until we see people on the coasters before we worry her again.
For another 40 minutes, in which Draken began testing, we stood in the car park staring at both Draken and Phaethon, just waiting and wishing to see either crest the lift with people on and then it happened.
I literally ran to the ticket window to be greeted with the woman beaming ear to ear and informing me “coaster’s OK!”, that’s all I need to hear!
Draken – We ran straight to Draken, as this was the first coaster we saw with people on.
Draken is the park’s brand new for 2018 B&M Dive Coaster and is a clone of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Griffon.
After passing through the amazingly themed queue building, we got to the air gates, only for the ride to break down as we were about to board…
Luckily the shut down only lasted about 5 minutes and before I knew it I was about to experience my first ever large dive coaster.
At the time it was probably the best dive coaster I’d ridden, due to the fact it wasn’t over in 20 seconds but it certainly isn’t anything too special.
The drop isn’t as intense as Oblivion, in both that Draken doesn’t drop you into a hole and the drop itself is noticeably weaker in the ejection department. Also the large floaty inversions are nice but don’t really do anything for me. Finally the midcourse brakes stopping the coaster dead halfway through kills the pacing.
Draken is an impressive looking machine with an amazingly themed queue and station but as a coaster it really doesn’t do all that much for me.
Dragon 2 Loop Coaster – A twin helix that we are able to ride, madness.
Phaethon – As mentioned earlier I’d been desperate to ride this coaster for years but sadly was rather let down by it.
Much like Draken the queueline for Phaethon is stunning but unfortunately again like Draken the ride experience is lacking somewhat.
Phaethon as you’d expect from a B&M invert is very good but sadly that’s about as far as it gets.
At the time this was my second ever large B&M invert, with my only reference being Monster at Walygator. Monster to me is a coaster that can’t make up it’s mind on what it wants to do, which leads to random moments of the coaster doing nothing at all and the infamous straight. However when Monster works out what it wants to do, it does it in style, with snappy intense inversions and a helix that’s so intense it hurts.
Phaethon on the other hand suffers from the exact same moments of not knowing what it wants to do but then delivers the moments it stumbles upon in a FAR less impressive manner.
Sadly after one lap Phaethon was closed for the rest of the day due to the bad weather setting back in and maybe, just maybe with more rides my opinion would of been swayed slightly but as of right now, I like Phaethon, I just don’t love it.
With Phaethon closed for the day and the weather getting bad again, we had 2 more laps of Draken, until that too closed because of the weather. Then we rode the rapids and Ferris Wheel before making our leave.
Gyeongju World from our short time there gave me the impression of a park worth easily half a day of your time, with fantastic theming in places, friendly staff and 2 great B&Ms. It was a shame we couldn’t have had longer to enjoy the park but I’m just happy I got to experience it at all.
We accidentally booked the sexy coach back to Busan, which meant wide boy seats, mood lighting and beautiful women on the on board tvs.
After arriving back in Busan we decided we’d have a Quiznos but clearly that was pushing our luck and once again the door was closed in our faces.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 4 where we travel to Japan and ride the outstanding Pyrenees!
In August 2018, just over a year after our last trip to Korea and Japan, Heartline, his wife and myself returned.
The last trip was one I’ll never forget but this time it was even better.
Late on a Thursday me and Heartline made our way to Heathrow to board our plane to Korea.
We were going to be flying with Asiana, my first ever 5 star airline and an airline that had massively impressed us on short haul flights in the past. Sadly though not only did they not impress this time, they managed to possibly be the worst long haul carrier I’ve travelled with.
First we were delayed by an hour, then the onboard media selection was awful, then the food was terrible, then we only got offered 2 drinks in 11 hours and finally the staff didn’t seem to care. It really was a good thing Heartline got an amazing deal because if I paid the premium for a 5 star airline to be treated like that I’d be livid.
We landed in Seoul at 4pm Korean time, flew through security, screamed at a poster of Blackpink and then booked our tickets to Music Bank while waiting at the luggage carousel.
After we collected our bags, I grabbed something to eat at Lotteria and we sat and watched 6 beautiful women in traditional dress playing traditional instruments, while we waited for Heartline’s wife to arrive from Singapore.
All united now and we boarded the metro from the airport to Seoul station, a journey which feels longer every time you make it.
After we arrived at Seoul station we got spited by Quiznos, ate ice cream for dinner, bought our train tickets for tomorrow and saw a homeless man exposing himself, all before we retired to bed.
The next morning after breakfast we made our way to the station to catch a train to Daegu.
The journey flew by and I was impressed that in only 2 hours we had been able to travel from the very top to the almost bottom of Korea, it takes about that time for me to get to London these days.
After we found somewhere to ditch our luggage for the day we ventured onto the Daegu metro on route to E-World.
E-World reminded me a lot of Seoul Land from our last trip, in that neither have any attractions worth seeking out, both have been forgotten in terms of upkeep and investments, both are very popular with the locals and despite their weaknesses both parks can deliver a fun day out.
After purchasing our tickets, we entered E-World and made our way up the hill to where the rides live.
Magic Castle – We couldn’t have picked a better first coaster to reintroduce ourselves to Korean theme parks than riding a wacky looking children’s coaster while the operator sings for us.
Boomerang – Possibly the smoothest Vekoma Boomerang I’ve ever ridden.
Camel Back – The first of this trip’s quota of jet coasters and a brilliant first example. Camel back is secretly a bit of a beast, one that’s not afraid to throw you about, I even got air time.
Hurricane – A mostly rust covered looping coaster buried in a sea of trees with an unknown manufacturer, what could possibly go right?
Hurricane is that rare breed of coaster that’s so bad it’s almost good, it’s poorly designed transitions started me laughing, then Heartline got hit by a tree and I couldn’t stop.
Mega Swing 360 – A Kpop idol I’m in love with once rode this on a tv show, so of course I had to give it a go, huge mistake…
When the ride is at full pace and easily making it’s 360 rotations, it’s terrifying. While it’s warming itself up to make those rotations and leaves you hanging upside down it’s probably one of the scariest rides I’ve ever ridden.
With all the major attractions knocked off we rode the park’s log flume, it was nothing special.
After this we went for food.
E-World had both a pizza restaurant and a burger place, so for a few moments we thought we were spoiled for choice but sadly not.
The pizza place offered a whole host of pizzas we wouldn’t eat, so instead we opted for the burger place, which was pretty dire.
With that disappointment behind us we went to check out the massive observation tower located right next to E-World.
While the ride line up is poor and the lack of investments disappointing, E-World still made for an enjoyable half day out.
With a few hours left before we needed to catch our train to Busan, we decided to “dust off Daegu”, which meant visiting Pago Land.
After a lengthy journey on the metro and quite literally 2 miles of walking, we arrived.
Now Heartline had told me that Pago Land was just a collection of terrible rides at the side of a main road but even that extremely accurate description doesn’t do it justice. Picture an abandoned scrapyard at the side of the road, where the only paths are loose stones and then throw the sketchiest and most sorry looking kids rides you can ever imagine into said scrapyard and have them operated by elderly Koreans who have lost the will to live and you’ll be only halfway to picturing the mess that lay before us.
Still, there was a powered twin helix coaster up for grabs…
We walked in to see an operator at all of the rides, not another living soul other than said operators, prices displayed at each attraction, nowhere to buy tickets and a general sense of dread. After a second loop round trying to find a way to buy tickets and with every single old person running the place staring us down, we walked over to the twin helix.
The operator was sitting on the station platform in a plastic garden chair and after we gestured that we’d like to ride, he began clucking and spitting and going on a lengthy rant in Korean. Utterly confused we stood there in disbelief and yet again gestured that we’d like to ride, to the exact same reaction.
Following this we walked away to regroup and tried to think what the hell this bloke was going on about. We had gone on quite the journey to get here we thought, so let’s give it one more go.
We walk back over, he is still sitting in his chair, we point to the ride again, this time his approach is solemn and even more confusing. He muttered a slew of soft Korean words in response to any gesture we made or any sentence we spoke at him. At one point we attempted a hilarious stare down, which once again got us exactly no where.
Heartline believes his response was something along the lines of “why should I get out of my chair?” and honestly at this point I’m inclined to believe it, either way it looks like we aren’t dusting off Daegu today…
Following that experience we took a bus back to Daegu station, collected our luggage, boarded a train to Busan and there got spited by another Quiznos.
Thanks for reading, click here for the next part of this report where we visit Gyeongju World and eventually get to ride 2 quality B&M coasters.
After clearing out every CD shop in the city, we found time in the evening to go to an observation deck and have a lookaround.
The view was at the top of ’63 building’, which I knew of from a KoreanTV show. It’s an obscurer/quieter/cheaper alternative to the main touristy towers.
There was also a garbage ‘art’ exhibition up here which was comprised of pathetically mundane photographs trying to pass as something they weren’t. We had some fun giving them names such as ‘woman forgets jacket while leaving london taxi’. I’m sure they’ll stand the test of time.
Day 11 – Children’s Grand Park
With the magnificence of the trip coming to a close, it was time to spend the final day dusting off the rest of Seoul’s creds. Started at the scenic entrance of Children’s Grand Park, a massive green space and took the long walk to the small amusement section right at the other end.
Grabbed some tickets for the 2 creds and ticked them off in mere minutes.
The first was a slightly off wild mouse contraption and was mildly interesting, mainly for the struggle up the steepness of the lift hill.
The Vekoma SFC clone had a rhythmic shuffle to it and was mildly interesting.
Still managed to take some time out to revisit every CD shop in the city before heading to the final park.
After a long straight walk past many many vendors all selling exactly the same selection of fruit’n’veg and fried… things, we got to the ticket office for a road train that takes you to different entrances of the resort(?). There’s a zoo and other attractions here but we want the one with the creds of course. Another tourist discount was up for grabs at this place making it dirt cheap. Cheers again.
The Koreans were out in full force again today. After a quick scout out, we resigned to being in this park for the long haul.
First up was a 2 hour wait for this large looper of unknown origin. Half old vekoma, half jet coaster and the whole layout 100ft in the air, it was a bit something and nothing.
The other looper of known origin (Senyo Kogyo) was next with a more manageable 1 hour queue. Not sure why the popularity between these two rides was so different as they are pretty much the same beast, this one may even be slightly better with the haunted tunnel. Half old vekoma, half jet coaster and the whole layout 100ft in the air, it was a bit something and nothing.
An hour for this weird, weird mouse ride with the wrong style track and trains. Being oddly smooth and uneventful as a ride, it didn’t really do the job it was trying to sell by appearance.
An hour for #6 Tobot Train, the last of the powered dragon saga. Worth it.
An hour for #7 Tikitoc Train. A great variation on the wacky worm layout with some brutal forces. Best ride in the park, no joke.
Finished the day off with a go on the pirate themed dark ride shooter. I got the best score in Asia.
Seoul Land took some dedication to complete with those queues, but they were never unpleasant (I can think of many places where they would be). It’s a terrible line up with a great atmosphere. Everyone’s out for a good time, just how it should be.
This was a fantastic trip overall, I can’t stress enough how much I love these countries completely regardless of their theme park industry (though that’s an added bonus of course) and it took a lot of willpower to board the plane home. Of course I was already making plans to return.
Having only had the 72 hour transit period through Seoul, of course we weren’t done with Korea yet.
Day 9 – Lotte World
The park website had confirmed that their infamous Intamin Aquatrax was back in business. “Let’s hit it on the weekday” we said, “it’ll be quieter” we said… We were back in business ourselves with the tourist card. It was supposed to give us another 30% off here, but through some happy miscalculation, it made the ticket price 30%.
By the time we had sorted the tickets and moved swiftly through the indoor section of the park, the queues had already started to explode. We grabbed a Disney-style fastrack slot for already pushing 17:00 and joined the already pushing 50 minute queue for Atlantis Adventure. It must get them on a regular basis, but it isn’t built to take a big queue. They batch at the entrance gate for a short walk and a 10 minute wait by the station, the rest of the queue is made up of a roped off section of one single straight and then just masses of guests forming an orderly line throughout much of the outdoor section of the park, round shops and even other queues. At the point it had reached 200+ minutes in the early evening, it was hard to distinguish it from the scream shield gyro swing line of 100+ minutes. No thanks.
Loved the station. There’s a sign up saying 140 phones have been lost on this ride so far today, which I could have believed from the locals (it stayed the same number all day, so just for effect sadly). To save you clambering over the cars, a trolley is pushed up to the vehicle for your loose articles. The staff then clap and sing you out as the ride dispatches.
The coaster itself is a bit of a mixed bag. It has a fantastic start with the launch and vicious indoor airtime hill and there are some other really strong moments throughout but these are punctuated by some dodgy pacing issues. There are trims galore, some of which completely kill momentum, then there’s a weird middle section of slowly drifting past theming + the transfer track and a seemingly redundant slow LSM lift hill.
An hour into the day now and the other coaster in the outdoor section (though it’s an indoor coaster) had run out of fastrack already. Queued at least 90 for it, spending most of the time trying and failing to figure out where the ride fits.
This ride was a surprise hit. The confusion/mystery as to what it is and where it came from only adds to the fun. We think it’s an Intamin, we know it spins and thats all you need to know. As soon as it starts leaving the station, the crazy spinning begins and never lets up. The ride is a long blur of theming, intense dizziness and laterals and from the many brief glimpses you get of your neighbouring cars you can see everyone is absolutely loving it.
Headed back inside for a 2 hour queue at the Vekoma looper. Opted out of the Virtual Reality, why miss all the intense indoor interaction?
It had an interesting layout and rode quite well, just wasn’t particularly good because of what it is.
All the creds, which had all the big queues, were now ticked off. Time to see what else was on offer.
Dragon Wild Shooting was a great little dark ride and seems to be underappreciated. Took a second lap but failed to get the winning screen at the end on both occasions. Don’t mind losing to those cute dragons.
The Adventures of Sinbad was a really impressive story-telling dark ride in boat vehicles. I didn’t expect much from the size and indoor location, but theyve definitely worked some magic to pack so much goodness in there, particularly a seemingly huge drop.
There was even more magic afoot with a full blown rapids ride being somewhere halfway up a building. This was also great for the novelty.
Pharoah’s Fury was closed. I’ll take that as a reason to return.
Fantasy Dream was one of those classic dark rides full of slightly out there characters and sets with a love it/hate it song containing the name of the ride, sung many times. Once was enough.
By then it was finally time for the fastrack reride on Atlantis, sneaking past a good 3 hours of queue. Loved it, but it didn’t do anything to sway my earlier opinion.
That rounded off the day nicely, it was all very enjoyable in spite of the queues. Again the locals always seem to have a good time in their parks regardless, so it’s not really an issue as long as you join in with the spirit.
Some obsessive album hunting/shopping began that evening and consumed most of the following 72 hours. Life changing stuff, but I won’t go into detail.
We also went to the ‘rainbow bridge’ that night, which was meant to be one of the wonders of the world supposedly, but were hilariously underwhelmed by the spectacle. As part of a ‘show’ it played some traditional music while the fountains supposedly shot water and blinked LEDs in time. The music was bland, you couldn’t really tell what was happening and every time a song ended and we thought it was over, another one came on with exactly the same effect.
I thought I’d died and gone to hell, waking up to the intense heat in the room sometime late the next morning, but soon remembered it was actually heaven. The suitcases lying on the now searingly hot floor had some rather damaged goods inside, namely melted food and a raincoat that I would later find out had had its waterproofing destroyed. In stark contrast, the ‘fridge’ in the room had frozen a couple of our carbonated drinks. Everything was working in extremes.
So Japan was never originally on the cards for this trip. The eventual motivation behind the rushed first half of the Korea leg was twofold. 1) Upcoming Space World spite. 2) If you transit through Seoul within 72 hours you are entitled to some free tickets to go and watch the live recording of a Kpop chart TV show. Well that just had to happen.
And that happened on this day.
Passed some time with some sightseeing and a leisurely lunch nearby.
Didn’t feel like getting dressed up in traditional garb for the free entry inside the temple, but it’s a big thing for the young locals. See if you can spot them.
After overestimating the speed of the metro, we got to the TV studio with just minutes to spare and ended up accidentally joining the line of jealous fans that weren’t actually able to go inside and watch. Awkward. Eventually found our way inside and sat just a few metres from the stage and cameras to watch all the magnificence unfold. More life changing stuff, but I won’t go into detail.
Tried and failed to get an early night (seems to be impossible in Asia) and then at stupid o’clock we were off to Japan.
Landed in Fukuoka the next morning and took a little while to discover that the ‘airport car hire’ wasn’t actually at the airport. With a bit of faff and a phone call, a bloke in a minivan came to pick us up, all good. Got the car and within a couple of minutes of driving things got interesting. There are 2 types of toll road in Japan – some are robots and some are people. The first one we came across didn’t have a machine, but there was definitely no sign of a person either. There was no barrier. What do we do? “Go for it”, I hear, and do. “STOOOOOOP!” A man appears out of nowhere, slightly bemused and asks us for the cash. As if we weren’t misbehaving enough already, we passed him some Korean coins by mistake. All in good humour, he sorted us out in the end. Sorry Japan.
It was a pleasant drive down, taken at a very humble pace (Japan never lets you do more than 60Mph in a car). We were soon greeted by the sight of the first of a million ferris wheels in this part of the world. Lesson not learnt from earlier, we gave the parking attendant some Korean coins by mistake. It took him a little longer to notice as we had already parked the car before seeing the poor chap come running towards us. All in good humour, he sorted us out in the end. Sorry Japan.
Day 3 – Greenland
Got some entrance tickets and ride wristbands and headed in for what was to be a fairly hefty +1 marathon. The admissions girl came running over as we passed through the turnstiles and was deeply apologetic for having not given us the correct change. See. We’re not the only ones.
The longest coaster in the park came first and I fell in love with Japanese Jet Coasters as a concept.
They’re such a relaxing little sit down, breeze in your hair, trundling along at unknown speeds, unknown height, having a good laugh. Nothing like those boring, thrilling western coasters. Highlight: Getting front row and being able to watch the dinosaur on the front of the train as we went round. Lowlight: Honestly can’t think of one.
On to my first Togo ride. Stand-up version first. This was great fun. It had forces I didn’t expect to take direct to the legs and the design of the trains puts you in a very exposed position compared to anything I had done previously. Highlight: Restored faith in stand-up coasters Lowlight: Restored faith in stand-up coasters
The sit-down side of the ride was fairly inoffensive and forgettable in comparison. The on-board music was a little odd, playing what reminded me of Wild West chase music. It was good for a race, but not very befitting of the Milky Way name. Highlight: More pink rides for the count Lowlight: Unnecessary shoulder restraints
This Vekoma suspended coaster has a great name and great looking cars. Highlight: Much better than the last one of these I did at Bobbejaanlend. All I needed. Lowlight: Still a bit dull.
#5 Ladybird is a powered dragon nearby that isn’t a dragon. Didn’t expect to ride another one so soon…
The namesake of this website and what was to be my 300th coaster was now, unbelievably, standing right in front of me. These are weird contraptions, in a very good way. Life feels a little less natural when you’re surrounded by cages and grease, which is basically what the cars are made of. The vertical lift hill is unnerving, particularly as I didn’t know rides of this era could even do that (these were potentially the first, though they seemingly never found fame for it – justice for the Heartline Coaster!) and the resultant pitching you over the edge into the first drop and following hill is great fun. Highlight: The backwards inversions catching me off guard. Lowlight: Bit of a car crash on the transfer section.
Highlight: Middle of the road SLC on this particular day. Lowlight: Having done enough SLCs to make statements like that.
Another, larger powered coaster, mostly in the dark. It was alright I guess, mostly forgettable.
Scraping the barrel for creds a bit now. Highlight: Being handed a personal pouchie for my glasses was a nice touch. Lowlight: Done far too many of these and they never beat Brighton Pier. What’s up with that?
This smaller jet coaster is as fun as it looks. Highlight: Killer layout. Lowlight: Lack of leg room.
Having polished off all the creds in good time, we took a spin on the ferris wheel for some views.
Again, as a park, Greenland was a very nice place to be, with many interesting and quirky coasters on offer. Sadly it didn’t quite have anything amazing enough to rush back for, though I didn’t really expect it to. A good day out, that’s all you really need.
Our hotel that evening was very nice, though in a somewhat rural location It had absolutely no food options nearby, so finding something to eat was particularly troublesome.
Korea, Japan & creds. My dream holiday. At many times this trip did feel like a dream as it was very full on, in the best way, and sleep was at an all time low. Off we go then…
We had an overnight flight without sleep, landed at dawn and then jumped straight in at the deep end. Original plan was to hit Lotte World on the day of landing, but the website said Atlantis was spiting at the time, so that park was put on the back burner. Dumped our bags at the hotel and grabbed the metro to a relevant bus stop for the park. The resulting journey was about an hour of drifting in and out of consciousness while staring out the window for any sign of T Express. “It’ll be just round this corner.” “It’ll be just over this hill.” “It’ll be just past those trees.” “That hill must be where Eagle Fortress was” (with 15 minutes of driving to go as you pass under an entrance sign for the resort). The bus dumps you out at some sort of transport hub/lower car park where you have to catch another bus up another hill into the park.
Day 1 – Everland
A tourist card we had picked up earlier gave us at least 30% off our entrance tickets during Visit Korea ‘Year’ (2016-2018). That’s nice, into the park we go.
“It’ll be just round this corner.” “It’ll be just over this hill.” “It’ll be just behind that building.” “That hill must be where Eagle Fortress was” (it wasn’t). Foolishly winging our way around without the map and expecting to see 200ft of wooden magnificence somewhere, we walked round the wrong end of the park which ended up being extremely hard on the legs.
There she is. Armed with many strange stories of complicated queuing systems and mandatory time slot tickets for this beast, turns out it was just in vanilla mode with a 45 minute wait for us. Sweet. The only odd part about the park system as a whole was the need to show your entrance ticket at every attraction, which made for many wasted hours scrabbling about in pockets upon forgetting every single time.
First impressions of this huge Intamin woodie were generally great. Crazy fun in the first drop and hill, which provided some of the strongest airtime imaginable for what felt like several seconds. Some ducking, diving and a premature midcourse leads you into the second half, which uses the same layout as Balder, so it unfortunately then suffers from the same underwhelming corners and moments of waiting for something to happen. Be back later.
We hit a couple of dark rides while down the bottom of the hill:
I remember absolutely nothing about Shooting Ghost, so that must have been great.
Rotating House the mad house was themed to spells and wizards (aren’t they all?) and was reasonable fun as always. The preshow and dialogue was nothing but confusing of course.
We then mistakenly wandered into some kids’ walkthrough attraction a bit further up the hill. Put that down to a research failure.
Did the powered dragon as it might be the only one on this trip (far from it). The staff lady sings as the ride goes round, which is perfection.
Further up still is a nicely themed area with a fun family coaster. Solid stuff.
Still climbing, nearly dying, we made it back to the entrance area to buy some tickets for the Kpop hologram show. Oh yes.
Got the Arrow looper ticked off during the wait. For some reason this ride was almost dangerously funny to me. The subtle offness to the shaping of the track, the quality of the trains and the way they juddered about and then nearly folded into your face during the loops caused a bit of laughter related internal damage to me. Arrow at their finest.
As an unhealthily obsessed fan, the Kpop hologram show was life changing of course. I won’t go into detail.
Pandas next, love the variety on offer at this place. There was meant to be some crappy looking interactive preshow presented by Samsung before getting to the animal enclosures, but thankfully this was skipped. I imagine something caught fire.
That’s the life for me.
From there we moved swiftly on down to the safari jeep tour as time was pressing on. I guess I’ll compare it to Zufari (bad luck). This attraction doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It’s just a truck, with live commentary and animals. Obviously a lot better off for this, as you get right up close and personal with some very impressive creatures and ploughing through the water is deeply satisfying.
On the theme of ploughing through water, we jumped aboard the rapids next. Once again I was deeply amused by this ride. Sitting in a little pouchie of a seat with a tarpaulin over me, feeling both cosy and terrified at the same time. My favourite Hafema boys are back in action and this time there’s nothing you can do for damage limitation. It got me wet in places that weren’t physically possible from the seating arrangement. As an extra point of awesomeness, there’s a free bunch of many different styles of heat lamps at your disposal, once you manage to crawl out of the boat.
Having done a crafty loop of the park, the rapids kicked us back out at T Express, just in time to finish the evening with a couple of night rides.
Ascending the lift in the dark and looking out at the park was one of those magical moments. Moments that remind me why I’m in this hobby. I wouldn’t say the ride had physically improved in any way by this stage, but the atmosphere was amazing and made it a very standout experience. I just couldn’t believe I was in Korea.
Overall I found Everland to be one of those parks that I could just spend the day at doing pretty much nothing, because it’s just a guaranteed great time regardless. The locals definitely seemed to share that attitude as well.
That was an excessively long day though. Fell asleep a few times on the bus back and could have quite easily missed the stop, not that it felt like it mattered at that stage. Somehow made it to the hotel in one piece and then skipped over the fact that our room had under floor heating that was set to somewhere in the region of 35°C…
Today was spent shopping and sightseeing, we ended the day at some famous observation tower that featured a parody art gallery at the top.
On our last full day of the trip we decided to dust off some of the other coasters in Seoul.
Children’s Grand Park
Children’s Grand Park might be over stating it slightly because it’s just a small collection of rides placed on concrete located in a much larger, greener and hillier park.
Crazy Mouse – An Interpark Crazy Mouse that spent most of it’s life closed and is now removed, I’m glad we got to ride it but it was nothing memorable.
Family Coaster – Vekoma SFC but this time with pieces of wood attached between the seats and featuring a rhythmic jolt.
That was Children’s Grand Park then, onto the next one!
Much like the last park with it’s massive hills, Seoul Land had an interesting walk from the subway to the entrance. Street vendors were on both sides of the pathway, all selling the exact same thing but no one selling drinks, typical. Things got even more confusing when the entrance to the park was actually the entrance to a tram that among other places can take you to the amusement park.
We joked on the way to the ticket office that because of our T card discounts at Lotte World and Everland, Seoul Land was going to be the most expensive park in Korea. Almost as if we were heard the lady in the office pulled out a sheet stating the massively discounted entry price for tourists, well played Seoul Land.
While Seoul Land is a nice enough park to visit, it’s feels completely unfair to even think about mentioning it in the same league as Everland or Lotte World, everything at Seoul Land is fine and that’s enough. What was an issue though was the park was absolutely rammed with people and much like Lotte World they were prepared to queue any amount of time for anything. This meant Seoul Land wasn’t a quick one and done on all the coasters but turned into a whole day affair.
Blackhole 2000 – We queued almost 2 hours for this almost Vekoma looper knockoff and we almost got stung by a massive wasp.
Columbia Double Loop Coaster – This Senyo double loop coaster was slightly better or at the very least it didn’t take 2 hours.
Crazy Mouse – Sadly no where near as memorable as a ride that looks like this should be.
Tikitoc Train – This Interpark Wacky Worm was the best ride in the park and I’m not being ironic. There was a single moment of insane sidways ejector air that I’m almost certain wasn’t meant to be there but it was amazing.
After the shock of having to queue many minutes to ride coasters that aren’t worth it wore off, I found my time at Seoul Land to be quite entertaining, not good, but amusing.
I felt a real sense of sadness as I woke up on the last day of the trip, this was it, the ending of the first major trip of my life, the ending of the best trip of my life. Would I ever be able to do something like this again?
It was a slow and sombre journey to the airport before we boarded our flight home, where post trip blues were redefined.
Lotte World as I mentioned in my report on Everland is Korea’s other top amusement park but whereas Everland is located in the mountains, Lotte World is crammed right into the city and the way they fit everything in is insanely impressive.
Firstly from the outside you’d never assume this was an amusement park, the park’s entrance looks like just another mall but once inside things get really interesting.
The main bulk of the park is set indoors over 5 floors, with some rides located in an outdoor section. Those inside aren’t what you’d expect though because amongst them is a full size roller coaster, a full size rapids ride and several large scale dark rides.
As well as being an engineering masterpiece Lotte World is also a lovely place to visit. At first I assumed a big mostly indoor amusement park in the middle of a city was going to be chaos but there’s an incredibly relaxed atmosphere to the place. Perhaps it was present in Everland too and I missed it but at Lotte World we learnt the Korean way of how to enjoy your day out at a park. 1) Don’t worry about queue times or large ride counts, you’re there with your friends so just enjoy it. 2) Don’t rush around, breathe it all in man. 3) Get 1 member of your group to leave large queues to get snacks, so you don’t get hungry. It would never work elsewhere but here today, it was the only way.
Atlantis Adventure – The fabled and legendary Intamin Aqua Trax and it’s extremely good fun.
First things first Atlantis Adventure looks incredible, the palace the coaster dives in and out of is breathtaking and I could stare at it for hours and still find new details.
The coaster itself as mentioned is really good but could have been much better if the pacing wasn’t derailed by stopping dead followed by a slow lift hill mid course. Also not helping is the fact both sections after the first launch and after the lift hill are short. If there was a mid course 2nd launch to keep the ride flying along and things were a little longer then this could have been one of the best coasters in the World but it is what it is and it is a series of really good moments with a boring bit in the middle.
Atlantis Adventure’s launch is really intense and the air time hill directly after is insane, damn near ejecting you into the ceiling. Then you fly through and around the palace in intense fashion before the brakes and slow lift. After the drop you have 1 more ultra intense pop of ejector air then once again haul around for a while before it’s all over.
Atlantis Adventure is fantastic, just not as good as it could have been.
Comet Express – Crazy indoor Intamin spinning coaster, I started spinning (and laughing) as soon we left the station and didn’t stop until the ride was over, great fun.
FrenchRevolution – The previously mentioned full blown coaster in the indoor section. This Vekoma looping coaster outdoors wouldn’t be worth your time but indoors and with the crazy amounts of theming you interact with it’s actually quite enjoyable.
Fantasy Dream – Dark ride located outdoors and what can only be described as a drug fuelled nightmare where you slowly pass by more and more creepy singing objects.
Sinbad’s Adventure – A massive extremely well themed boat ride located in the indoors section, it shouldn’t be able to fit in here but it does.
Jungle Adventure – A full blown heavily themed rapids ride located indoors, it was really cool to experience the carnage of a rapids ride in extremely low lighting.
Dragon’s Wild Shooting – A really fun shooting dark ride in the indoor section where you take aim at all sorts of dragons and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them.
Another compliment that must be paid to Lotte World is the sheer amount of food and drinks you can buy. There’s loads and something for everyone, even really fussy people like me.
After a really pleasant day out at Lotte World we left to go shopping and to see an LED water show from the side of a bridge. Was it good, no, will it cause me to laugh out loud at how bad it was until I die, yes.
Thanks for reading, click here to join me for the final part of my trip report where we will hit up 2 Korean parks in a day!
I’ll lump the last few days in together, as there’s only one more brief jaunt in a park to keep things on topic.
The 2am flight was to get us back into Seoul and meet the strict criteria to be able to attend the filming of K-Pop chart TV show Music Bank as part of an airport ‘transit’ experience.
We landed at 5am and proceeded to camp out the desk that would later open to distribute the tickets. The grumpiest man in Korea showed up for the morning shift and very reluctantly handed over the goods after some aggressive questions, without ever looking us in the eye.
Got to the hotel some time mid-morning and went to sleep then woke up mid-afternoon and headed to the TV studio. Getting inside went a lot more smoothly than last year now we knew how things worked, but it had become even more complicated within, as they’ve started to semi-enforce a seating plan. We learnt before that the locals like to sit in groups of their own fandom to show a stronger presence of support, but in theory anyone that was automatically designated a good viewing spot could kick someone else out or ask security to do it for them. Didn’t realise this was happening at all until someone approached us and sent us on our way, and then our actual seats (which were in a terrible place) had already been taken by a huge group, so ended up in a very prime spot nervously waiting to be moved again.
Show itself was suitably spectacular, but not quite up to the standard what we had the previous year. There’s a lot of luck involved in who is going to be promoting at the time and we just happened to catch a disproportionate amount of groups that we knew and liked last time, this year slightly less so…
The quality ranged from this magnificence.
To this madness. Performed not once, but twice.
Luck was irrelavant though, considering who we found and met in Japan, along with what was going to happen to us the next day.
Not being as destroyed as we expected from that experience, we managed an extortionate amount of shopping that evening, which then led me to having one of my genius ideas in the middle of the night – Let’s go back to Lotte World tomorrow. And we did.
Day 15 – Lotte World
Basic premise of the visit was that we didn’t get Pharoah’s Fury last time and it would be rude not to pop in and ride Atlantis again, considering how close we were going to be to the place later that day anyway.
Ended up at the South Entrance somehow, which I didn’t know existed. I remember running through a mall last time and being spited by how quickly the fastpasses dried up due to how insanely busy some of the rides get here. This entrance was on an unassuming street with only a small gathering of people waiting for them to open the doors.
It was also directly under the bridge to the outdoor section of the park, so great for running to said fastpasses. Despite being specifically told not to run today, everyone did and we joined in, managing to bag a morning slot for Atlantis as well as jump in the main queue for a brief 30 minute wait.
The ride experience was mostly as I remember. An amazing station with the clapping and singing and pushing of big canvas bag trolleys for loose belongings on the offload platform.
A layout with some fantastic moments, but full of deeply questionable pacing issues. The main difference was that last visit I thought the first indoor hill after the launch was the standout airtime moment, but this time it was the one into the archway that nearly cuts your head off.
This one. Also more mist!
And a new sponsor.
Comet Express was broken sadly. Would have liked to give it another go after how ridiculously good it was. Pharoah’s Fury then.
Had a great queueline that was mostly empty, then some very efficient batching going on in the station. Cars had netted pouchies for bags but we were specifically told not to use them. On the lap bar it goes. Hope it ain’t too intense.
Riding Indy on the same trip may have hurt this slightly, it was probably all very impressive, but more of a return to the out of place jerky movements I was used to from the hardware and there’s a little ‘outside’ section here that breaks the magic somewhat. Don’t remember a particularly spectacular ending either, seem to recall asking where was the fury?
Forgot French Revolution did that, even without wearing the VR.
Don’t remember them having an ice rink before.
Went back outside to use the fastpass we picked up earlier. By this time the machine had already sold out and been covered up for the day with the standby queue, as seems to be the norm, stretching way beyond what it can physically hold and out into the various pathways around the area.
Comet Express still broken. Tried to find something else to do.
Ended up with Fly Venture, not being sure what it was. Diagrams outside would have you believe it’s a Forbidden Journey ride system, but it turned out to be a flying theatre.
It had this elaborate Steampunk theming and queueline with a preshow featuring some inventor bloke talking about a fantastic journey travelling through time and space (with poorly translated subs). Could be interesting then. Nah, the ride had absolutely nothing to do with the theme and the preshow, just your generic flying over scenery (Korean in this case) in the present day. Ugh… deception.
Without wanting to commit to any large queues for something that wasn’t new to us, our visit came to an end.
I talked about luck earlier. Some time after this trip was fully booked and planned to the nth degree, another of our absolute favourite K-Pop groups announced some concert dates. Full blown concerts in this industry aren’t common to start with, it’s just not the way they make money/gain popularity. It was happening in Seoul. We were in Seoul for 72 hours at best on this trip. It was on the only full day we had there. The only day we had free. This was fate.
The tale of what was involved in acquiring the tickets alone would probably be longer than this trip report, involving serious levels of unprofessionalism on my part, copious amounts of spending, learning that consumer laws are irrelevant, becoming best friends with Paypal, becoming mortal enemies with my bank and hopefully ruining a Korean man’s life. So it meant quite a lot.
I won’t describe the evening beyond ‘lifechanging’, as you probably got bored long ago.
Here’s some token culture to finish things off with a semblance of sanity.
Worryingly far from the first time I’ve seen Koreans playing with their old timey torture devices.
New creds – 56 Total parks – 19 Jet coasters – 7 Shooting dark rides – 8 Best coaster – Eejanaika Spites – 8/64 (12.5%)