Malaysia 02/23 – Genting SkyWorlds
Part of the faffing on route the previous day had involved picking up some tickets for the main event today. Underneath the central station in Kuala Lumpur, in a bus interchange, is a small counter that sells a coach journey to and from Genting, through the tiniest of windows that doesn’t make it difficult at all…
The following morning, we returned bright and early, tickets in hand, to board our ride up into the mountains. The final destination of this is the Awana Skyway terminal, one end of the final of many cable car journeys, which was also included in the ticket.
Up and up we climb once more, with some pleasant views over the misty morning mountains.
Part of the way up is a stop off point, that they love to advertise is FREE (to get on and off the same cable car), with many attractions to be explored, including this pagoda. We were still ahead of schedule at this point so took a quick wander.
It actually overshoots quite substantially and you end up taking half a dozen escalators back down the hill, where you can find highlights such as this bloke, the founder of the Genting resort.
And our boy Sun Wukong.
It was raining a bit, so couldn’t stray too far off the path, and was soon time to head back up again anyway.
The second half of the ride takes you in straight over the top of ‘Asia’s most anticipated theme park’, which is something else they love to advertise. It’s interesting how they’re still rolling with that phrase, I wonder if the anticipation is true to the actual park or simply how long it’s taken to put it back together.
This fly by is also a tease however, as while you think you’ll be touching down just outside it, you end up in a big mall. Said mall is massive and a bit of a pain to navigate, there’s a lot more ups and downs on escalators to negotiate before you can eventually wind your way round to the entrance.
On route I picked up a brochure for an indoor theme park also in the mall that rang a bell. I hadn’t bothered to do any research on the ‘vicinity’ for this leg of the itinerary as it was all about the new stuff, so failed to figure out there was a coaster (and another coaster under construction) in this indoor bit too. The day just got rather more intense.
Day 9 – Genting SkyWorlds
This was a problem for future me to worry about though, as we made our way into the indoor entrance area. With a few more minutes until opening, we were held back with a handful of other guests at a batch point, and were then treated to a rather glamourous opening ceremony with characterful dance routines. This was fun and well put together, better than most openers I’ve seen at a park with some generic pop song or dance track, they definitely want to kick your day off with those movie vibes.
Personally I wanted to kick off with some coaster vibes, powering through the drizzle and into the Rio area to find #1 Samba Gliders, something I knew would have awful capacity, not that it mattered. Lockers were a requirement here and they do a decent enough deal over multiple hours with which you can hop around, though the park isn’t overly large enough to really worry about that.
The ride itself is a bit something and nothing, as to be expected from the type. I feel like they’ve just looked back at Universal Singapore and thought ‘we’ve got a Setpoint suspended there, we should have one here too.’ In fairness, they’ve done more with theirs. There’s an alright queueline (that you’d never want to see full), some on board speakers and it has a more significant layout, but still no real story to speak of.
Next in the anti-clockwise direction is the Epic Voyage to Moonhaven ride, from that film you’ve probably forgotten about.
The queue has some good detail, setting up/reminding about the premise of shrinking people down into the hidden forest world and all its characters.
The boat ride begins in a gloomily lit station where we were warned about wetness. Almost immediately you take quite a hefty plummet through the dark, Pirates of the Caribbean style, only much wetter, simulating your transition into their ‘verse.
There’s some decent dark ride content down there, while you’re half distracted and recovering from the soaking. The slugs get up to various antics before things turn a little more sinister and you head into the bad guy’s lair. Victory over evil is demonstrated on a big screen and then, as always, it’s party time.
While party takes place you ascend back up the lift hill to the surface and into this quaint little outdoor drift around. I assume there should be some views beyond the glass, out over the edge of the park, but once again the weather put paid to those.
A solid package all in all, nothing overly remarkable. The wetness was the main harm in rerideability for me, given the lack of opportunity to dry out in the current climate and it seemed to scare most other guests off on this occasion. Maybe it’s a popular one on a hot day, but I feel that shouldn’t be the focus of what it’s about.
Next came the biggest surprise of the visit. The park is still technically in technical rehearsals after all this time, with various signs up warning about this and attraction availability. It was patchy at best for #2 Acorn Adventure, but we managed to catch it at the right time. Cred please.
The queue is huge, has a lot of stairs and takes you deep into the fake mountainside. It contains some visual highlights such as the above.
Before a final set of stairs that set the scene – Scrat, acorn, runaway train. Got it.
All this for a Beijing Shibolai coaster though, expectations were inevitably low. Then it kicked ass.
Something about the pacing of this ride just hits the sweet spot. All you ever see is this helix of doom which looks decidedly uninteresting of course. In reality that’s just the anticipation builder, the shower-offer of nice views and the waterfall feature.
The momentum just keeps on building throughout the entire ride, as all runaway trains should, never with pause for thought. It gets more intense, more out of control, you’re ducking in and out of rockwork scenes hidden away from view. The trackwork gets a little clunky, it throws you around rather more than you’d expect, and not entirely by design, one would imagine.
It works though, I loved it. A sleeper hit for sure. It’s basically Matterhorn Bobs without worrying about capacity and blocks, though it reminded me most of the end sequence of Big Thunder Mountain in Paris for the sheer wildness of ‘we shouldn’t be going this fast in this, through this’. Also got enough scenes to qualify as a semi dark ride, so win win.
Just opposite is the second attraction of the franchise, Ice Age Expedition Thin Ice a full on dark ride. As it perhaps remains the most relevant of the IPs here, they get the double whammy.
Again there’s stairs, mountain, good queue, and this time a pre-show that wasn’t operating – not sure whether it was a technical or quietness factor.
It’s quite the ride system, being both trackless and motion based, so your seats have got a sway and tilt to them as well. Sadly, I don’t think it was executed to it’s potential, though maybe there’s more to give.
The motions themselves feel rather awkward at times, like it doesn’t know what to do with itself to match the scene. When it does have something to do, running away from an explosion say, there’s no real drive and purpose to it, just seems a little stunted.
The story is quite disjointed, as far as I can tell a very abridged retelling of that newer film I haven’t seen with the crystals and the llama. I don’t really know what the resolution to the peril was. Sets are decent again, and there’s a good use of heat when you head through some volcano, but there’s also sequences where you’re plonked in front of a big screen in an under decorated room and it wants to go all Transformers to distract from the lack of visual immersion but just can’t with that limited movement. It felt like effects (such as water) were missing in this bit too, so perhaps this is still ‘technical rehearsal’.
My final bugbear is the same as with many of these trackless systems ending up everywhere. It barely uses it to full effect. There’s no real moment of wonder, of innovation, where the vehicles do more than they could have with a track. Two set off together, you get that visual interaction between your pair of vehicles, but nothing comes of it in the end. There’s a circular room during the finale in the once again ‘adventure is over, let’s party‘ part of the story, where you take the slightest of different paths, but it’s a little awkward dead end that you retrace your steps on.
Point of novelty though, you exit the attraction via escalator.
Pay no attention to the big orange thing on the way to the next ride.
If you also ignore a couple flats, you’ll end up at the Invasion of the Planet of the Apes next (wait, that was our planet).
The queueline just past the entrance here is gorgeous, my first real, ‘wow, scenery’ moment in the park. As you’re transported into a war-torn San Francisco, I found myself only wanting for one thing – more soundproofing. For that full immersive effect they really need to block out the sounds of Frank Sinatra coming from the midway outside, aside from the geographical dissonance.
You head through to a preshow room, where 3D glasses are also collected. I’m actually quite a fan of the modern reboot trilogy from this franchise, and also partial to the originals (and Stop the Planet of the Apes) on occasion, so was interested to see how this would intertwine. The ride is set just after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and the guy who’s trying to stay mates with the apes warns us of some nasty humans who don’t want to stay mates with the apes. Our job is to warn Caesar and his apes, and help get them safely out of the city, back to their home.
We will do this in these hovercrafts! Of course we had to have a high-tech, all-terrain vehicle at some point on our day at the movies. It’s a little on the nose, but they had to start somewhere. Interestingly enough the hovercrafts are the exact same system from Ice Age again, so that’s two back to back if you take this particular route.
It’s good. One thing that was immediately noticeable is the range of movement is a little more vigorous, so it seems they can dial it up to suit the occasion. It’s not a patch on the true violence of a Transformers (or a Legend of Nuwa), which this attraction is even more trying to be, but it attempts to make up for this in a couple of other ways. There’s more physicality to the sets and scenery, which also bring some variety to the screenery.
My favourite part of the whole thing was when we were getting shot at by something, and there’s some haptics in the car that vibrate just right, you can feel the bullets and the ricochets going through the vehicle. Genius.
Elsewhere it was middling to great, there’s some goofy bits of film in there, not all the media appears to be produced to the same quality. Things get a little out of hand when you start sliding down Lombard Street on a burning bus and they try and chuck in a rehash of the golden gate bridge scene from the previous film.
Overall thoroughly enjoyed, best dark ride in the park for me at present (spoilers), with two to go.
Next up was Independence Day Defiance, of which the premise was mostly unfamiliar to me.
There’s a nice elaborate pre-show led by a live actor while you’re introduced to the ‘training program’ for Earth Space Defence. Of course we had to be welcomed as new recruits at some point on our day at the movies.
In the show, there’s this ominous container present and centre, with magic glass, which is later revealed to be a big scary alien animatronic when things go wrong of course, so pretty sweet.
From there you head into your flying theatre and have to deal with the usual extended faff of seatbelts and pre-flight checks that break the flow of the narrative much more than your average car ride. As one of these I rather appreciated it, if again only for the sake of not being a soarin’ around the world type affair. Personally I prefer to have the flying sensations react to a bit of on screen danger as opposed to just floating about. You go through some portal in a futuristic Kuala Lumpur, I’m sure the local reference is appreciated, and end up in a bit of a space battle when things go wrong, again, of course. The recruits do better than expected on their first mission, of course. Exit through the gift shop.
One final dark ride on the hit list is Night at the Museum Midnight Mayhem, continuing through the lands that are all Western cities of some description.
Queue game is still up there, starting out with some big exhibits and then heading behind the scenes where we meet our night watching mentor on various screens throughout each room. Through these we learn that we are new recruits/volunteers here to keep an eye on things that might come to life in the night.
To do this we will be equipped with high-tech, all-terrain vehicles that shoot some sort of satiation beam. Seriously though, these are pretty cool. Although it’s a Toy Story/Maus au, the cars are individual and trackless, so a bit of isolation can happen in an otherwise warehouse full of screens.
The main thing that stepped the game up for me, which was very much appreciated, was the humour and creativity in how you’re dealing with the on-screen antics. Rather than blast everything in a random mass of confusion to see who wins, the dinosaur skeletons are given bones to sit down and chew on for example, which they do. Personal favourite was the terracotta army warriors receiving a lollipop and an umbrella, only to float away on it contently with a smile on their face.
With that we had completed the loop, with a cursory glance at something something Radiator Springs also not running. All in all a highly commendable lineup we’ve just experienced, it plays on the beats of many other parks of this ilk, but has its own distinct charms as well. There is a noticeable lack of substance for now, we had blasted through it in pretty impressive time due to the distinct lack of guests and I would liked to have taken some time to relax and soak it up a bit more. With weather and it being a ghost town it wasn’t the most relax-friendly setups, the only atmosphere to soak up being moisture and of course there was still a pressing matter at hand. Bonus cred (or two?)
Headed back into the mall to see what was what. Things immediately got overcomplicated and confusing again with all the escalators and what not. The place was really hard to navigate, with signs giving directions for only part of the journey and then just vanishing without a trace.
Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park
Eventually the situation was this – the main ‘Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park’ has an assortment of rides in a big open space in the centre of the mall, somewhere, and a couple of other floors above and to the side of it, with more stuff. None of it was due to open until 2pm however, and though many people were wandering through and showing interest, it was only 1pm. The ticket counters inside the park hadn’t yet set up shop for the day either, but there was a selection of do it yourself kiosks at one of the park entrances. These were attended by a staff member who I approached with two questions.
1) Will Super Glider open at 2, with the park?
Yes, yes it will.
2) Is the Bolt open?
I don’t know what that is.
The blue rollercoaster above your head (pointing), with all the flashing lights on it (I had clocked this with mild excitement earlier).
I don’t know what that is.
No, we don’t do that.
It wasn’t on the machine to be fair to him, so I bought just the one ticket in anticipation and we went to grab some lunch, once again getting lost in the mall.
Food came and went, 2pm was fast upon us, so got in the queue for the Super Glider.
If you’ve been interested to find out what it is, don’t be. It’s a relocated Volare from the old Genting park. They’ve glammed it up rather nicely in it’s new home, in spite of the atrocity it commits on a regular basis.
2pm came and went, the guy was wrong. Some other guy sidled up and said come back at 3pm. Ok.
With limited time and that turning into a faff, it was necessary to use this spare hour to do one final courtesy lap of the park. I wanted another crack at Acorn Adventure, obviously my preferred coaster of the two, but it was sadly back down for technical rehearsals.
Ended up on the other Ice Age ride again, against better judgment. S’alright.
Planet of the Apes washed those disappointments aside again and with that it was time to depart for real.
Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park
By 3pm, #3 Super Glider had already opened thankfully. Excruciatingly however, it had the longest queue of anything that day, at a nasty 20 minutes, single file, witnessing a torture device in action.
Someone I ended up next to on the ride clearly thought the same upon boarding the contraption. They began screaming and shouting for help and to stop the ride as it cruised through the station in the upright position, thinking something wasn’t right as they were facing forward into plastic. Concerningly, or otherwise, they were completely ignored by staff and it carried on forward off the platform. The guest turned and asked me a question to the effect of ‘was I alright with the, hideously compromised, position the ride had put me in?’ I attempted to console and explain that we were about to tilt forwards and they would have a clear sightline upwards, rather than forwards, momentarily, though this was hard to do in less than 10 words and without the ability to gesture with hand signals.
We did tilt forwards and took the spiral lift of doom. Now they were fine and happy, it was my time to get worried. There’s something to be said for not knowing a ride is going to beat you up, not doing anything about it and then not caring and enjoying it. For those who know though, brace, brace.
I managed to laugh my way through the previous one of these (Finland, I think). This was tolerable at best. +1.
To be sure, I went up for a closer look at The Bolt which they didn’t do. Under the station was another ticket window where I had it confirmed that though it looks ready, it was ‘coming soon’. So close.
And with that, it was back through the mall, back down the mountain, back on the bus, back on a train, back through the faff, back on a train, back to the airport, back on a plane, back on a bus and back on a train.