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paige

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  1. Like
    paige reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, Glitz and Glamour   
    Yes I know what you're thinking, another Europa Park/Disneyland Paris trip report from Mark9. I was blown away by Europa Park in 2010 and 2013 and surely this trip can't be any different. And how could I possibly compete with the three blog wonder of Matt Creek's comprehensive Disneyland trip reports. Well... this is a report with a little bit of difference (Or at least I hope so, this is all on the fly so might just end up me complimenting every aspect of Europa Park). Nonetheless, I hope this entertains or at the least interests you.
    Scene 1 - Staying on site at Europa
    I make it a point to stay on site at Europa. Unlike other parks where it isn't essential, I feel staying on site gives such an advantage because of the sheer beauty and theme of the hotels. I've previously stayed in the Tipidorf, Hotel Colosseo and Bell Rock, and this time around was Hotel Alcatraz. Themed around a Spanish castle, this 9 floor building is the closest to the theme park.

    During check in I was hoping, praying for a view of the park. My wishes came true with an 8th floor view over the entire park. This blows away my previous favourite view of Shambhala and Dragon Khan at PortAventura.


    Hotel Alcatraz itself isn't the best of the hotels at Europa but it is certainly the most intimate, As an alcoholic I particularly enjoyed the 40th anniversary special cocktails in the bar on the 9th floor which afforded spectacular views of Wodan and the hotel area. I had a Blauer Enzian (The Mack name for their powered coasters) and a 40th Euromaus special. They were delicious.

    Staying at Europa Park is a fantastic experience and well recommended. The staff are friendly, accommodating and the attention to detail in the rooms is second to none. Next time, I'll be staying in Hotel Isabel but for first timers, Colosseo is the one I'd recommend.
    Scene 2 - 40 Years of Europa Park
    ​Something that separates Europa out from the competition is its sense of pride in its achievements. It's easy for a park owned by a coaster manufacturer to perhaps do this, investments after all are cheaper and as a showroom for the Mack products, it can afford to be perhaps more extravagant then others. I find this a cop out excuse though. The reason Europa Park is the best park in Europe (perhaps the world) is because it never rests on its laurels, it never slows down and it never stops improving. Back in 2013, massive works had been done to the rapids including a new lift hill building, animatronics and theming and a new tunnel to accommodate the rapids going over the pathway into Iceland. This time around two other rides were in the process of change. Columbus Dinghy, a simple boat carousel like Chessington's Seastorm had seen massive change with new queue line theming, a show during the ride and a simple addition of a steering wheel which allows the rider to control when the boat spins. A small change but massively changes the fun levels of the ride. And completely unnecessary as there was nothing wrong with the ride set up previously.
    The other two ride's to see a change is the rides Splash Battle, Whale Adventure. Now with the tag line 'Northern Lights'. It wasn't open unfortunately, still in construction but a massive change and I'll be interested if the water sprayers remain on the boats. Eurotower has been spruced up with new theming and a steampunk look.
    Other new additions include a new 40th anniversary parade, a new 4D show which was really fun, a travel escalator in the car park (WOO) and a new show called Fabulous Europe. This was a dud, essentially trying to imitate Disney's Soarin' but lacking any kind of cohesive flow or enjoyment.


    Scene 3 - Rides and Stuff
    Rides are Europas bread and butter. With so many, it's impossible to get them all done in a day. That being said, there has been some operational changes and it makes me slightly concerned. Firstly, Europa was always a park that wanted you in and out a seat as quickly as possible. That hasn't changed. What does seem different is that the rides weren't at full (or higher capacity). Now maybe it wasn't necessary as the park wasn't packed on our visit, but I was surprised to be hanging around for a few seconds in stations on Euro-Mir and Eurosat along with trains being deliberately stacked. Silver Star's third train never made an appearance, neither did the second Pegasus train. They also seemed pretty intent on checking bars which in previous years only happened on Wodan and Blue Fire. Now the only ride not really checked is Alpen Express, that was the only ride that ran with urgency.
    Arthur as a piece of ride hardware is sublime. It's an amazing piece of kit that train. The ride itself could be better. There's some parts of the ride show that don't live up to expectations such as the giant rat in which its pulley system is more noticeable then the rat itself or the fact the first screen on the ride is so in view of the queue that its effect is pretty much zero. I would love for a park like Phantasialand to get their hands on the hardware as they could do it absolute justice. Europa kind of dropped the ball on the ride experience on this one, even though I enjoyed the ride for what it was.

    And finally, I just wanted to show some pictures of how beautiful Europa is. Trip reports sometimes get stuck in a list of ride descriptions and misses what makes a park good or bad. This time around, I really wanted to appreciate what makes Europa special.

    Euro-Mir

    Switzerland

    Atlantica Supersplash and Portugal

    Austria

    Greece
    And with that another year of Europa Park had passed. Pleas visit this wonderful park. It deserves every accolade and every part of your attention.
    Scene 4 - Disneyland time
    I'll keep this brief. Visiting at the moment doesn't deliver the Disney experience that people probably deserve, at least if you're going primarily for the rides. With Space Mountain closed for a refurb, a lot of pressure is being put on Thunder Mountain and that seems to have terrible reliability. First day, it was closed, second day it opened at 12, third day it was on and off. With both main coasters down, rides like Indianna Jones and Phantom Manor have 45 minute queues. It's the first time I've ever used an Indy fasts or even seen it running. Beyond refurbs of Thunder and Space, another massive ride is required to spread those queues. A potential Star Tours 2 refurb in Discoveryland will only go so far. All the ride investment is in Studio Parc and even there was rammed. I'm never going to queue 55 minutes for RC Racer or 20 minutes for Slinky Dog. That's an insult.
    The park though is on the up and is a very different place from my first visit in 2013. Life seems to be returning such as a new spring time show, more meet and greets occurring regularly and the stages in Frontierland/Discoverylandcoming back into action. With Cafe Hyperion closed in Discoveryland, all the other food places on park were open. I couldn't believe my eyes to see Hakuna Matata open and actually serving food. Hopefully this isn't temporary and will continue to serve in future.



    So all in all a successful week. If you read this far, I thank you for your time. Till next time, Mark9 out.

  2. Like
    paige gave a reaction for a blog entry, Snow Leopards and Stolen Theming: Marwell Zoo.   
    So yeah, my family booked a trip to Marwell Wildlife (zoo) for my birthday. Here goes...
    It was in the middle of nowhere, but there was really bad traffic for the last mile or so (reminds me of a certain Staffordshire theme park), but we made it in.

    And here we have the main attraction: The man with a pushchair!

    Thier Penguin enclosure is a great deal bigger than Chessie's.

    'Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.'

    This animal looks like my dog.

    It's a pink chicken.

    The world's fastest animal did not move at all during our visit. Typical.

    Oh look, they seem to have stolen some theming from Zufari....

    ...And the Smiler, too.

    This cow is the best cow in the world. It's ginger.

    You could go and see the giraffes at feeding time. How sweet!

    Unfortunately all we saw of the world's rarest big cat, the Amur leopard, was this little fluffy sleeping blob.

    This zebra was actually in the middle of doing the moonwalk when I took this photo. This is also one of two subspecies of zebra at the zoo.

    Meerkats can always look cute.

    It's not just the meerkats that like sunbathing....

    See? The Amur tiger does too. (These tigers are WAY bigger than the Sumatran tiger at Chessington, but less rare)

    Grey Chicken.

    This red panda was so high up the tree that I couldn't see him much.

    Wow, they have thier own mini Towers!

    Along with their own Island Like No Other...

    Complete with chavs Macaques!

    More stolen theming, now from Wild Asia.

    Ginger Lemur is Ginger.

    Lemur hug!

    Wow, they even have rollercoasters here!

    *dies of happiness* Snow leopards are the best.
    And I shall end this blog with a picture of some rare Obese Unicorns.

  3. Like
    paige reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, 2014:- A Mark9 love affair.   
    So another year passes and it only seems right to look back on 12 months of fun, thrills and excitement, in a way that only Mark9 can. So where do we start?
    January 2014 - Disneyland Paris
    Ok, sure, this trip only featured one new ride (Peter Pans Flight fact fans) but it also marked the occasion where I somehow managed 42 hours of consciousness, the trip where I took a nap during cinemagique and where Jamie fell asleep eating food in Hyperion. Yes there was fatigue and short tempers but it was a fantastic way to start a brand new year. From what looked like a flooded ferry to getting more rides on Tower of Terror.


    February 2014
    And now the season takes a slight down turn. This month featured my only trip to the Towers and this kind of epitomised Merlins year for me. Whilst Nemesis was running well (albeit on one train) and things like Spinball had minimal queues, there was no atmosphere in the park whatsoever. Usually during February there's excitement for the upcoming full season but not this time around. This year marks the first season since 2003 that I did not ride Oblivion and the first since opening that I didn't ride Rita, The Smiler or Thirteen. And part of me didn't even care. If it wasn't for Dan9's company this trip would have been completely forgettable.
    March 2014
    And then it was Thorpe's turn. Despite multiple rides on Inferno and The Swarm there was little to no energy in the park. The same old problems were occurring such as Slammer and Samurai closed or reliable issues up and down the place. Thank god for the company of the rest of TPM or I would have really despised my day out. And luckily with this month out of the way, the season really began...
    April 2014
    I had last visited Chessington in 2012, before Tomb Blaster had its queue line incident so had reasonably high expectations. And frankly, this was the star UK park for me. The park somehow looks rejuvenated in places and run down to hell in others. Unlike others, I like Scorpion Express and do think it has breathed life into a ride that was well beyond its sell by date when it closed in 2012. Zufari was rubbish even before I compare to Kilimanjaro but getting on rides like Fury and Vampire sent me into rose tinted glasses land. I do like Chessington in spite of its many, many faults.

    May 2014
    New Rollercoasters:-
    179. Medusa - Discovery Kingdom
    180. Kong - Discovery Kingdom
    181. Cobra - Discovery Kingdom
    182. V2: Vertical Velocity - Discovery Kingdom
    183. Superman - Ultimate Flight - Discovery Kingdom
    184. Roar - Discovery Kingdom
    185. Boomerang: Coast to Coaster - Discovery Kingdom
    186. Roadrunner Express - Discovery Kingdom
    187. Tatsu - Magic Mountain
    188. Apocalypse - Magic Mountain
    189. Superman: Escape from Kryptonite - Magic Mountain
    190. Goldrusher - Magic Mountain
    191. Riddlers Revenge - Magic Mountain
    192. Green Lantern - Magic Mountain
    193. Batman: The Ride (backwards) - Magic Mountain
    194. Scream - Magic Mountain
    195. Colossus - Magic Mountain
    196. Goliath - Magic Mountain
    197. Viper - Magic Mountain
    198. Ninja - Magic Mountain
    199. Full Throttle - Magic Mountain
    200. Big Thunder Mountain - Disneyland
    201. Matterhorn Bobsled B - Disneyland
    202. Space Mountain - Disneyland
    203. California Screamin’ - California Adventure
    204. Goofys Sky School - California Adventure
    205. Gadget Go Coaster - Disneyland
    206. Silver Bullet - Knotts Berry Farm
    207. Xcelerator - Knotts Berry Farm
    208. Coast Rider - Knotts Berry Farm
    209. Boomerang - Knotts Berry Farm
    210. Pony Express - Knotts Berry Farm
    211. Montezoomas Revenge - Knotts Berry Farm
    212. Jaguar - Knotts Berry Farm
    213. Sierra Sidewinder - Knotts Berry Farm
    214. West Coaster - Pacific Pier
    215. Matterhorn Bobsled A - Disneyland
    This of course was the flagship trip of the year, a visit that was two years in the making and had a lot too live up to. I can say for sure it lived up to the hype and features some of my favourite rides ever. Starting with the city of San Francisco, everyone should make as much effort as possible to this historic, cultural, awesome city. No one can fail to be disappointed by the Golden Gate Bridge or where history was made in the Castro. To the sealions down at Pier 39 or Alcatraz this place is amazing.

    The long, long, LONG drive to Magic Mountain is worth the distance. I know its reputation is low but it has a lot of original, decent rides including my favourite flyer, my favourite suspended and my favourite stand up. With strong support rides like Apocalypse, Goliath and Scream it should be on anyones radar to visit.

    Despite my negative comments in my trip report, I really did love Disneyland and California Adventure. From California Screamin' to Haunted Mansion it's really a place filled with such variety and within a stones throw of Los Angeles. Speaking of Los Angeles, despite not spending as much time as I had wished, walking up to the Hollywood sign will be something I always remember. That view is spectacular.

    And finally 24 hour day at Disneyland which was some feat. World of Color at 3:30 in the morning. Magical.

    A classic Liner

    An event in its own right

    One too many drinks in the Castro
    June 2014
    So June didn't see any theme park visits. Instead I decided to be cultural and visit the wonders of Amsterdam. I'm sure if you use your imagination you can just guess what I got up too. From the Red Light District too a club that features people that don't fit into gender brackets. It was a most enlightening trip.


    A cultural gin museum
    July and August 2014
    Ok, so I didn't go anywhere but I did get a mortgage and move into a new flat in the old Olympic village in Stratford.

    September 2014
    216. Helix - Liseberg
    217. Kanonen - Liseberg
    218. Balder - Liseberg
    219. Lisebergbanan - Liseberg
    Set hype levels to stun. This was the month of Helix, Mack's latest and greatest roller coaster. I've always heard a lot about Liseberg and suffice to say I was very happy with my trip. Excellent rides and roller coasters and a great time was had in Gothenburg nearby where I went into a scary submarine.


    October 2014
    Rather hastily, a trip to Phantasialand was booked, paid for and done just like that. I forgot how much I adored this place and was very glad to be back. I will not be leaving eight years in-between visits next time.

    November 2014
    And finally, to bookend the trips was Disneyland Paris to come and ride Ratatouille (and to finally get on Orbitron and Autopia) In a few years time, Ratatouille will be recognised as the fantastic ride that it truly is. This is Pixars greatest work since Toy Story 3 screen wise. Go and visit and see for yourself.
    And with that, my year in a nutshell. So what is the most notable rides of 2014?
    Best Water Ride:- Chiapas
    Best Dark Ride:- Ratatouille
    Best Rollercoaster:- Tatsu
    Biggest Surprise:- California Screamin'
    Best Park:- California Adventure
    And finally, the best new ride of 2014 goes too....
    ....
    ....

    None other then the utterly sublime Radiator Spring Racers. In my mind it will take a hell of a lot to top this in 2015. But then Europa Park is just around the corner..
    Thanks for reading, in fact thanks if you even made it this far down the page. Please feel free too leave comments below.
  4. Like
    paige reacted to BenC for a blog entry, Asia Adventure: Dream World   
    This is the final instalment in a 4-part series about my travels around Asia earlier this year, and some of the decidedly different Parks I encountered whilst I was there:
     
    SuốI Tiên, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Đầm Sen, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Siam Park City, Bangkok, Thailand Dream World, Bangkok, Thailand  
    Of all the Theme Parks I visited during my Asia Adventure, the one most traditionally "themed" was undoubtedly Thailand's Dream World.
     
    Part 4: Dream World
     

     
    Not to be confused with the famous Park of the same name in Queensland, Australia, Thailand's Dream World is billed by much tourist paraphernalia as being the country's version of Disney World, Orlando. But whilst you can certainly see how the Park has been influenced by its American counterpart, the end result is a little different.
     
    As with Siam Park City, getting to Dream World is only really possible via car, especially given that the Park actually sits outside the city of Bangkok itself, in the Pathum Thani province. Getting there involves inevitably sitting in a henious Bangkok traffic jam, although my hour-long trip from my hotel (27 miles) clearly pales into significance compared to other horror stories: "...two or three weeks ago, travelling from Pathum Thani to central Bangkok, it took four and a half hours...".
     

     
    From the start it was clear that Dream World was the most developed of all the Asian Parks I had visited - the drive to the Park involves crossing a pink Dream-World-branded bridge with castles / turrets / flags aplenty on the way in. And it was also packed - clearly a popular choice for a day out for both locals and tourists alike (unlike the other Parks I visited, there was a noticeable tourist contingent in Dream World's customer base).
     
    The entrance to the Park is pretty impressive, with a colourful castle and bold signage standing amongst pretty and well maintained foliage. So far, so good!
     

     
    Surprisingly, given the clear increase in quality on offer, Dream World was not the most expensive Asian Theme Park I'd visited, at just 800 Baht (£15.58) for a "tourist" ticket, including all the rides and entry to the Snow Town (more on that later!).
     
    For comparison, Siam Park City had come in at 900 Baht (£17.25), although this also included entry to the waterpark as well. As with Siam Park City, the Park operates a two-tier entry policy, with locals paying significantly reduced rates vs. tourists...
     
    Entering the Park is a surreal but fun experience, with some of the most randomly placed themeing I've seen for a while.
     

     
    And the cutesy-Asian theme continued as you walk down the very pretty promenade to the large lake at the centre of the Park. I'm not sure whether this is supposed to be a cat / mouse / Pikachu?
     

     
    Once at the lake, a variety of mascots were there for photo opportunities including the Park's main mascot, a rotund red animal of some description, sporting a Dream World hat.
     

     
    Note the seriously impressive horticultural effort put into the Park, which far surpassed any of the other Asian Parks I had visited.
     

     
    Mr. Bean is reportedly one of the UK's biggest foreign entertainment exports, having been sold to nearly 200 TV territories worldwide, so it really should have been no surprise to find him at Dream World, complete with comedy wet umbrella. Reminded me at little of the Les Parapluies de Cherbourg umbrella effect in Walt Disney Studios at DLRP...!
     

     
    So the Park had made a very favourable impression on me so far, but what of the rides?
     
    Well, as with Siam Park City, Dream World had a pretty solid roster of original Western-made attractions, rather than anything cheaper / less reliable / less comfortable...! And the headline attraction was a rather rare Vekoma Swinging Turns ride by the name of Sky Coaster.
     
    Originally opened at World Expo Park in Queensland, Australia in 1988, and moved to Dream World in 1994, the ride is only one of three Vekoma Swinging Turns attractions ever made. I had ridden one of the other two at Bobbejaanland, Belgium, and the third is located in Mitsui Greenland, Japan. As with Dream Catcher at Bobbejaanland, this version of the ride had been retro-fitted with new Vekoma floorless swinging trains, rather than the original enclosed version - much like Vekoma did for Arrow's Vampire trains at Chessington.
     
    It also sported a fab dragon / Loch Ness Monster(?) topiary...
     

     
    As with Bobbejaanland's version, the ride was good fun, although more on the side of "pleasant" rather than "thrilling". Only towards the end of the ride and in the tighter helices did the train pick up enough speed to deliver any pops of real excitement.
     
    The experience was very smooth though and was a clear hit with the crowds - the ride had the longest queues I saw all day, at points reaching an hour! The ride also had an on-ride photography booth situated at the exit - the first I'd seen on my Asian travels.
     

     
    Alas the station wasn't particularly well themed, unless the theme was supposed to be "tin shed"...
     

     
    Next up, more Vekoma goodness in the form of Space Mountain. Now if ever the Park were inviting comparisons to Disney, they certainly were here...!
     
    Space Mountain was - as with Sky Coaster - relocated from World Expo Park in 1994, and uses Vekoma's MK-900 guage track, much like the overly-long Temple of the Night Hawk at Phantasialand and the shorter/sweeter Vogel Rok at Efteling.
     

     
    The ride was very well presented though, with solid space-based themeing throughout. And it, like Sky Coaster, was very popular with the crowds.
     
    As such, the queue was especially uncomfortable to wait in, given the large volume of people, fairly slow operations, and the fact it was still baking hot. Have I mentioned in this series of Trip Reports that Thailand in April is really quite hot?! It really is.
     
    Hallelujah for the queueline fans / misters!
     

     
    How many dark rides do you know where the track layout is stuck up on the wall by the entrance? No surprises about what was in store for us on Space Mountain then...
     

     
    Overall I liked Space Mountain - a good length family ride with some exciting turns and drops, largely because the entire ride is in pitch darkness, so riders have no idea what's coming. Alas some trademark Vekoma-roughness was present, but overall it was a lot of fun.
     

     
    Looking in the direction of the supporting attractions in the Park, visitors find a good set of Western-made flats and flumes, all presented in a very colourful way.
     
    Hurricane, the Park's Huss Top Spin for example, has to sport the most vibrant paint job that I've ever seen...!
     

     
    New for 2014 was Tornado, which stood resplendent in orange and yellow, and came sponsored by a famous Asian Green Tea company. I've not ridden many Technical Park (Italy) flat rides before, but this provided some impressive ejector airtime at the top of each swing. Strong Gs as well, which when combined with the heat, made me quite light headed indeed.
     
    The ride also had an on-ride photo offer - although the photos were taken manually, by a Park employee with a DSLR...!
     

     
    Dream World also boasts a Shoot the Chutes flume made by Hopkins, called Super Splash. This version was shorter (16m) than Tidal Wave at Thorpe (26m), although the splash just as drenching. But who's complaining in this weather?!
     

     
    Also welcome in the Bangkok heat: Snow Town. The attraction is very popular with the locals (Snow! In a tropical city!), and as such carries an extra charge on top of the usual entrance ticket. Happily, it is included as part of the tourist ticket, so I gave it a go.
     

     
    Temperatures inside Snow Town are around -5°C, a good 40°C difference between the temperatures outside Snow Town - so the Park gave out free puffa jackets and wellington boots to all those entering, in much the same way that Đầm Sen did for their Ice Palace attraction, Bằng Băng.
     

     
    Snow Town was a surreal experience, with one half of the building a heavily themed snow dome...
     

     
    ...and the other an icy speed slide! This was a lot of fun, but felt pretty precarious - lean too far backwards/forwards/sideways on the inflatable sleds and you'll topple out onto the hard, bumpy ice underneath. Thankfully I kept it together, but the runway at the bottom wasn't long enough, so I ended up careering headlong into the side of the building.
     
    I suspect the Park are aware of the potential for accidents here, choosing to station a good 4-5 employees at the bottom of the run to catch / comfort those who overshoot / have fallen out of their sled...
     

     
    If Snow Town wasn't a surreal enough experience, it's worth showing some of the other oddities in Dream World, which make the Park somewhat unique.
     
    For example, navigating the Park was more entertaining than usual, thanks to this guy.
     

     
    And the Park's toilets were often decked out with a statue of some sort, in this case of a grown man in a bath wearing a nappy...
     

     
    ...and in this case of a constipated baby on a potty.
     

     
    And this guy seems to just have that sinking feeling...!
     

     
    Anyway - back to the rides. And the last coaster of the day was Speedy Mouse, a Cavazza Diego kiddie model opened in 2006, in replacement of the Park's previous ride, Speedy Mouse! The original was a standard Big Apple ride, which ran from 2003 - 2005, but thankfully the replacement was not a like-for-like swap, but a new ride / layout altogether.
     
    The second Speedy Mouse, as seen below, was bought from a Family Entertainment Centre in Bangkok.
     

     
    The ride was surprisingly good, with a good whip-around during the first drop, and a tight helix towards the end - its bark was definitely weaker than its bite!
     
    Vastly superior to the previous Big Apple incarnation, I have no doubt.
     

     
    Other supporting rides at the Park included the Vikings pirate ship (background) and Bump Boat (foreground) - both pretty self explanatory.
     

     
    Disney-parallels abound once again with the Haunted Mansion walkthrough attraction, which featured multiple levels and all kinds of zombies / mummies / deceased people popping up / out at you.
     

     
    The Park also had a Cable Car transportation system, which seemed to require a lot of manual effort to move the cars around when in the stations...
     

     
    Alien was a similar ride in many ways to Alien Encounter: Extra Terrorestrial at, erm, Disney World (now replaced by Stitch). Clearly a newer ride at the Park, after a video-based pre-show, riders sit and watch an anamatronic alien sequence, which then turns more sinister as the attraction is plunged into complete darkness, and the "aliens" wreak havoc with riders seats etc.
     
    Pretty well done to be honest (if not a complete rip off of the Mouse), but not really my cup of tea.
     

     
    There was also a 4D Adventure attraction, but given that my knowledge of Thai is poor at best, I gave the screening a miss.
     

     
    And finally, one of the most weird and wonderful attractions at Dream World is Giant House, which is a short walk through a - you guessed it - Giant's House. Think of Honey I Shrunk the Audience, but "real"!
     

     
    This was really nicely done, with a bedroom, lounge and kitchen area for guests to walk through and investigate. Quite bizarre!
     

     
    And one final parting shot of Dream World: this was the entrance to the Fantasy Land area, where a lot of the kiddie rides were located. Great to see so much attention has gone into the presentation of this Park, with areas like this almost approaching the standards of major Western Parks.
     

     
    Dream World, then, is a great day out, and I can recommend it to anyone holidaying in Bangkok. What it lacks in thrill rides and coasters (see Siam Park City for those), it more than makes up for in presentation and theme. And it's pretty big too - there are many rides and attractions not shown in this Trip Report, including Grand Canyon rapids, Hollywood Stunt Show, and kids Water Fun play area.
     
    The Park's investment in appearance and focus on the family market is clearly paying off, as Dream World had the largest crowds of all of the Parks I visited on my Asia Adventure. The Disney model, it seems, is not a bad one to follow. And with one or two more "headline" attractions, I think the place would be a real winner.
     
    ~
     
    That's the end of my Asia Adventure Trip Reports - I hope you enjoyed the tours! Comments? Please post below!
  5. Like
    paige got a reaction from pognoi for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  6. Like
    paige got a reaction from pluk for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  7. Like
    paige got a reaction from J.S217 for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  8. Like
    paige got a reaction from Kerfuffle for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  9. Like
    paige got a reaction from coastercameron98 for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  10. Like
    paige got a reaction from Mer for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  11. Like
    paige got a reaction from Coaster for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  12. Like
    paige got a reaction from Matt Creek for a blog entry, Blackpool Pleasure Beach- An Accidental Trip Report   
    It's been a while as I've been preoccupied with a number of other things and a small write-up on BPB was at the very back of my mind, but it's finally time for a super in-depth* review or BPB. (This turned out longer than I thought because I'm bad so I have converted it into a poor blog TR, read at your peril).
    Before I start I better just throw out there that I was going on rides with my cousin, who is 9, and a huge wimp- we had to convince him Valhalla was just a little water ride in a warehouse!
    First ride of the day was the Big Dipper which I'm going to say was my first proper woodie (I did ride Colossus at Terra Mitica but disappointment is stopping me from counting that). The ride is filled with airtime and really lifts you off of your seat, when I went on for a second time I stood up twice and decided it really would be wise to hold onto the bars as it's advised, it's pretty insane backrow in particular! But I wouldn't recommend it if you suffer with back problems, the padded seats do help though, kind of.
    We then headed over to Steeplechase which was fun but the braking at the end really launches you forward and can hurt! It threw you round a surprising amount though and I had to continually tighten up my seatbelt.
    After this, I (somewhat reluctantly) headed over the Nickelodeon Land which, for what it is, is pretty good I must say. We only went on Nickelodeon Streak as that was the only ride which I wouldn't look ridiculous in or that wouldn't cripple me or make me faint *cough* Airbender *cough* and it's basically a smoother Big Dipper clone which I actually quite enjoyed in all fairness, but the fact that it is basically a bright orange (why!?!?!?!) Big Dipper clone had me scratching my head.
    I then went on to Avalanche which I enjoyed mostly due to the fact it reminded me of my trips to Germany in which I would always pay a visit to the Hassenhorn Coaster and Steinwasen Park which contained a toboggan run. Not sure whether I enjoyed the ride or the nostalgia brought with it, but it was pretty great in it's own rights, not really something I would head straight for though.
    We now enter the interlude in which my cousin and I were moaning at one another as he wouldn't go on any 'proper' rides (Revollution, PMBO, Infusion etc.) whilst I was refusing to re-ride things like Nickelodeon Streak or Steeplechase when there was much, much more to do. This cut a good 20 minutes out of our day (stubbornness is clearly a family trait) and my cousin went to re-ride Steeplechase alone.
    We then dragged ourselves to have some lunch at Coasters. I must say I was disappointed. I liked the fact that you could see the Big Dipper station and Infusion if you sat at the right place, but the food seemed a bit extortionate for what it was. I ordered a chicken burger, expecting salad etc. within the burger- it was literally a well done breaded chicken fillet in a roll! It was okay though, the wedges were nice atleast. Trying to get a sachet of sauce with no cash on you after you have gotten your food is always fun.
    I then actually went on Infusion with my Aunt's friend who kindly bought tickets so she could go on with me (she's petrified of heights so PMBO was a no-go). I started fangirling over the scale model of the ride but we kind of ended up sitting third from the back so I'll leave it at that.
    Next up was Grand National which is probably one of my favourite rides now. We got to sit at the back and it was great! I'd heard you get thrown around a lot but you really do and it is so much fun! I was actually laughing the whole way round. But I think this is the ride in which I lost my phone, lol.
    We then finally headed to Valhalla, now with all of the hype I'd heard and seen about this ride I was expecting to be underwhelmed as themed experiences- as much as I enjoy them and appreciate it- have never really made me think 'wow' so far... Until this ride! It was just so immersive and I could see the story and I love to be able to see stories within rides. I remember Peaj and Cameron discussing it and Peaj telling me 'it has a bit of everything' and I was a bit sceptical of this. But it literally has water, ice, snow, FIRE, a massive hammer (I didn't appreciate it at the time though ) and you really do get soaked- and I was training home the same day! But it is probably my favourite ride experience so far, and it has re-rideability and I'm sure you'd discover new things everytime, it's brilliant!
    The park as a whole had so much ride interaction! Queue-wise I thought it was pretty good with the longest being probably half an hour for Avalanche which was at the entrance when we joined it (low throughput?) But I think I'd definitely visit again- to actually do PMBO and to ride Grand National and Valhalla again if anything. It'd be nice to spend a whole day there with those who actually like/share and interest in theme parks and the like, ha!
    tl;dr- I like BPB, the food seemed a bit of a rip off and I'm disappointed I couldn't get on much but Valhalla etc. is great.
    *this won't be 'super' or in-depth, I'll just be aimlessly rambling, probably a bit late to be telling you this now though, sorry.
  13. Like
    paige reacted to BenC for a blog entry, Asia Adventure: Siam Park City   
    This is the third in a 4-part series about my travels around Asia earlier this year, and some of the decidedly different Parks I encountered whilst I was there:
     
    SuốI Tiên, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Đầm Sen, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Siam Park City, Bangkok, Thailand Dream World, Bangkok, Thailand  
    Having left the colourful Đầm Sen behind in Vietnam, and spent a few days in Cambodia enjoying the magnificent temples at Angkor Wat, I crossed the border into Thailand and made a beeline for my third Asian Park: Siam Park City.
     
    Part 3: Siam Park City
     

     
    Siam Park City is located to the east of Bangkok, unfortunately well out of reach of the city's 2-line metro - so getting there meant jumping in a taxi. And compared to the (pretty bustling) Ho Chi Minh City, traffic in Bangkok really is crippling, meaning the 20 mile journey from my hotel to the Park took a little over an hour... and this was using the faster toll roads!
     
    It is worth saying here that Thailand is a far more developed country than Vietnam (or Cambodia for that matter), making it far more "familiar" for the average Western tourist. It also means it is bigger, busier and more commercial; and this unfortunately means more scams to watch out for. A pretty common one exists in the taxi industry: many Thai taxi drivers approach tourists and suddenly their meter "doesn't work", so they quote a fixed price for the journey. Never accept these journeys! The "fixed price" is often up to twice as expensive as the metered fare... and that meter isn't really "broken"...
     
    To get to Siam Park City, I had to negotiate with 3 taxi drivers (all who offered me a flat fare of between 350 - 400 Baht) before I found one that would take me on the meter. Meter cost: 160 Baht.
     

     
    And much as Thailand seemed more "grown up" vs. my other Asian destinations, so seemed its Amusement industry: Siam Park City was a far more developed Park than either of the two I had visited in Vietnam. As I said - bigger, busier and more commercial, which in Siam Park City's case even meant the presence of original Western-manufactured rides, rather than any knock-off versions...!
     
    So, onto the Trip Report. And Siam Park City has one of my favourite entrances to any Theme Park I've been to, mostly due to the large portrait of "Phra Chao Yu Hua" / "The Lord Above Our Heads" hanging above the gates. Thai people absolutely revere their monarch (King Rama IX), so this was not a huge surprise: their devotion is so embedded in the culture that legally speaking, any offence against the dignity of the monarch may be (and often is) punished. For example, at the start of any movie shown in a Thai cinema, a short video is run to which all viewers must stand: failing to stand can lead to arrest...
     
    Anyway, I digress. Can you imagine Thorpe Park displaying a portrait of HM The Queen above its entrance just before the bridge...?
     

     
    Probably not.
     
    Siam Park City operates a two-tier ticketing system: one price for tourists, and another price for locals. Alas there was no way for me to get around looking like a Westerner! Tourists pay 900 Baht (£17.25) for entry and access to all rides, whereas locals pay only 500 Baht (£9.57) for the same deal. Tickets are purchased from booths just to the left of this photo of the rather grand entrance foyer:
     

     
    The Park is anchored in the centre by a large rotating Siam Park City globe atop a fountain, complete with pink cat mascots holding hands. There were many of these plastic cat statues dotted around the Park, many larger than the ones here. Not to everyone's tastes, but effort had clearly been made with the presentation of the Park...!
     

     
    Time for some rides: the Park headliner being Vortex. Your eyes don't deceive you - this is actually a legit Vekoma SLC, and a pretty long one at that!
     

     
    The Park advertising is not wrong: Vortex is one of only 2 extended Vekoma "Susperded Looping Coaster"s in the world; the second being in Suzhou Amusement Land, China. It has a track length of 765m vs. the more ubiquitous standard 689m version, although the track packs in the same number of inversions (5) - just over a rather different layout. But would this be a good thing...?
     

     
    It's also worth mentioning that the 'coaster is not remotely new: it originally opened in 1997 in Jerudong Park, Brunei, and later bought by Siam Park City second hand in 2005/6, along with a Vekoma Boomerang and a Zamperla Powered Coaster - more on both of these later.
     
    As you can see, Vortex did not garner a huge crowd when it first opened for the day...
     

     
    ...which meant that I was able to take the front row.
     
    And to be honest, the ride showed some good promise in the first half, with a good first drop and relatively smooth transition into the initial Roll Over inversion - although the standard SLC "shake rattle and roll" was ever present.
     
    However, what did me in was the transition after the Roll Over and before the train dived into the Sidewinder, on a relatively straight piece of track - the whole train just "shunted" and flung me up and forwards out of my seat, such that the bottom of the restraint ended up winding me in my manly area.
     
    I didn't enjoy the second half of the ride so much, as I was still smarting after the attack on my nether regions. Ouch.
     

     
    Arguably the Park's second headline attraction - and unusually not a rollercoaster - is the imaginitively named log flume, called, er, Log Flume. This featured some impressive rockwork as well as monster lion and tiger statues, and gained the longest queue that I saw all day. It's a long flume featuring both forwards and backwards sections, and plenty of much-needed splashing.
     
    I visited the Park during April - the hottest month of the year - where tempurates regularly hit 38°C, and it often feels even hotter due to the humidity. Bangkok in April has to be the most scorching, sticky environment that I've ever been in, and my day at Siam Park City was one such blisteringly hot day. As this website notes, "try and avoid April, unless you plan to be permanently submerged in the ocean...".
     
    Needless to say, my ride on Log Flume was much appreciated.
     

     
    The Park invested significant sums on building this attraction following a 2007 accident on their previous version of the ride (of unknown manufacturer). 1 woman died and 5 others were injured when a boat crashed off the crest of the drop. The log veered off the edge due to a sudden cut in electrical power, which caused a water pump to fail that controlled the water level of the ride. The ride vehicle fell 20m to the ground from the top of the drop.
     
    Rather than try to repair the old ride, the Park scrapped it completely and gave Mack a call, who worked their magic and produced a really cracking replacement.
     

     
    Life lesson #62: wherever you go in the world, you're never too far away from a Haystack Dryer.
     

     
    On with the tour, and the next large attraction is found close to the Park entrance: a Vekoma Boomerang called, er, Boomerang (there's a pattern here...).
     
    This is a standard Vekoma model set amongst some pretty nice landscaping: as was the case with Vortex, the Park clearly present their rides with care and attention - great to see.
     

     
    I should caveat what I'm about to say by restating that it really was a blisteringly hot day during my visit to Siam Park City... but...
     
    I greyed out on the Boomerang. This has never happened before! So either this particular Boomerang was unusually intense, or my body just really wasn't coping with the heat/Gs that day...
     

     
    There are actually 50 Boomerangs in the world - 21 called Boomerang - but this one sports fab retro silver trains with BOOM written on the side
     

     
    The third 'coaster of the day was Grand Canyon Express - alas a lot less exciting than the first two 'coasters; a Zamperla Powered model acquired again from Jerudong Park in Brunei.
     
    From the outside of the ride it looks another decent, well presented attraction, with impressive rockwork...
     

     
    ...but when you take a closer look inside you can see that the ride was clearly a terrain 'coaster in its previous life - almost all of the supports are amusingly propped up on large concrete footers. I can't help but feel that more could have been done to disguise these, as the ride looks very odd in its current state!
     
    Unfortunately, the ride experience was also pants. It gains points for being a long ride - and the tunnel section is fun - but really is very slow, and very boring.
     

     
    Time to take a look around other parts of Siam Park City, which contains plentiful palm trees and a "motorway road sign" approach to Park signage...
     
    A standard array of flat rides is on offer, including Enterprise, a Huss Enterprise, Condor, a Huss Condor, and Top Spin, a Huss Top Spin.
     
    Unfortunately the Top Spin and Aladdin Magic Carpet ride were both down during my visit, and looked as if they had been under repair for quite some time.
     

     
    There is also an indoor area containing less exciting flats, with a distinct aircraft-carrier feel to it.
     

     
    And Loop the Loop was definitely not in any fit state to operate, having been closed for at least the past 10 years. It's always a shame to see a SBNO 'coaster, but such was the lax Park security that you could have a sneaky look around the ride station, where the severely dusty - and rusty - train still sits!
     
    I later learnt that Loop the Loop is the oldest inverting roller coaster in Southeast Asia and was built shortly after the Park opened in 1980.
     

     
    My favourite flat in the Park was actually Giant Drop, which delivered a surprisingly effective punch from its 75m height. And again - no sign of any Asian knock-offs here, this was a legit Intamin model. Lots of fun, thanks to some serious airtime!
     

     
    The obligatory Haunted House, Big Double Shock, was also present, which was seemingly so scary that numerous Thai people came running back out of the entrance.
     
    I opted not to ride...
     

     
    And Siam Park City is not just a Theme Park, but also has a fairly large Water Park attached to the right of it. The tourist Theme Park ticket provides access to both the Theme and Water Park attractions.
     
    Its big selling point is the Wave Pool, which is the Guinness World Records-certified largest wave pool in the world at 13,600 sq m. So large is the pool, that the Park owners boast of it being "Bangkok’s inland sea"!
     

     
    It also has what is the most hairy water Speed Slide I've ever seen. It doesn't look much, but appearances can be deceptive - the taller red/orange/yellow/green slides are so tall, and so steep, that the average short / light Thai thrill seeker absolutely flies down it, spending more time in the air than on the slide...
     
    The splash pool was also eyebrow-raisingly short, meaning that most people nearly splashed into the far side wall of the pool upon landing.
     

     
    Serious air time. Serious pain on landing.
     

     
    The Water Park also features this collection of Super Spiral slides, noteworthy only because of an accident in 2008 where a joint in one of the slides collapsed, leaving a 1ft hole on the bottom of the final section of flume. 28 children were taken to hospital having fallen 2m down through this hole, to the rocks and plants below.
     
    Highly unfortunate, given the Log Flume accident only months earlier, although in this case the Super Spiral ride was repaired, rather than replaced. It's disappointing that Thailand still has no agreed safety standards for Amusement Park operators (unlike say, ADIPS in the UK).
     

     
    So, we're about 2/3rds of the way through this Trip Report now, and you've probably been reading for some time. Maybe it's time to take a comfort break?
     
    Well, comfort breaks are a little more difficult at Siam Park City, as none of the Park toilets come furnished with any toilet paper. Visitors can choose between either an unappetising long-drop bog or a marginally-more-appetising Western sit-down bog, but neither arrangement will furnish you with any loo roll. Or paper towels. So you are either expected to bring your own toilet paper to this Theme Park, or, well, you're on your own...
     
    Anyway - back on with the tour. And at the back of the Park sits one of the more surprisingly impressive attractions. Dinotopia stands proud as a huge building facade set amongst some very pretty plant and flower displays.
     

     
    The attraction is split into two halves: one half a semi-dark walkthrough around large motion-sensored dinosaur animatronics. This was well done, with impressive scale and pretty convincing models.
     

     
    The second half is slightly less exciting: a "museum" filled with fake dinosaur skeletons and exhibits. It reminded me of an inferior Jurassic Park Discovery Center at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
     

     
    And the dinosaur theme didn't stop there, with the Jurassic Adventure ride also a recent investment for the Park - a drive through "Dinosaur Country" in a Jeep. As you can see from the fonts / colours used, there was a fair bit of copyright infringement going on here against the Spielberg film, to the point where the queueline actually had TVs showing The Lost World for the waiting crowd.
     

     
    The animatronics and themeing used for this ride were not half as impressive as in Dinotopia, perhaps because they were all housed outdoors (and open to the harsh Thai elements) vs. being sheltered indoors. But the experience was still fun, largely due to the Jeep being "real" and not on a track. A squirty-water dinosaur model halfway round the circuit provided some laughs (and again - much needed rehydration for me...).
     

     
    Finally, the last ride of the day was Africa Adventure, also housed near Dinotopia and Jurassic Adventure. This promised a tour around the African savannah in two different ways: either via train, or via boat.
     

     
    Naturally I chose the boat which was, like the Jurassic Adventure Jeep, very real and not "tracked" in any way. It was a pretty full boat on my ride, and was unfortunately having difficulty staying afloat - the water level was quite high. I was initially glad to have been handed a life jacket, but as you can see, no-one else thought they would be necessary...
     

     
    The ride was good fun, with plenty of animal animatronics along the route. All the classic African montages were in there, including a scene of Lions engaged in an attack on a Gazelle, Elephants filling up at the watering hole...
     

     
    ...and native tribal people burning a white hunter guy on a cross. Standard fare for any African-themed ride. Oh, and King Kong also made an appearance at the end.
     

     
    I'll end with a few shots taken from the top of the Park's 100m-tall rotating observation tower, Siam Park Tower. Not only did this tower provide excellent views of the Park - and further afield into Bangkok - but it was also air conditioned, and for that reason alone easily made it into my top 3 rides at Siam Park City.
     

     
    Siam Park City is a solid option for any Theme Park tourist visiting Bangkok. More developed than either of the other two Parks I'd visited in Vietnam, it had clearly benefitted from recent investments in the excellent Log Flume and Africa Adventure, as well as the haul of rides and coasters it had purchased second hand from Brunei.
     
    The Park clearly favours established Western ride manufacturers too (Vekoma, Mack, Intamin, Huss), over the cheaper Asian alternatives, and whilst there is little in the way of themeing, the Park is generally very well presented indeed. That said, there were many areas of the Park that looked decidedly worse for wear (entire Loop the Loop area, some of the flats, most of the animatronics, the toilets...), and the Park's safety record is hardly stellar.
     
    With Bangkok beating London into 2nd place last year as the most visited tourist city, I can only hope that Siam Park City continues to build on its gate figures from both locals and travellers alike, and I look forward to seeing how it develops...
     
    ~
     
    Comments? Please post below! Next up, and last in the series: Dream World.
  14. Like
    paige reacted to BenC for a blog entry, Asia Adventure: Đầm Sen   
    This is the second in a 4-part series about my travels around Asia earlier this year, and some of the decidedly different Parks I encountered whilst I was there:
     
    SuốI Tiên, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Đầm Sen, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Siam Park City, Bangkok, Thailand Dream World, Bangkok, Thailand  
    My second Asian Park after the wonderful SuốI Tiên was also located Ho Chi Minh City: Đầm Sen.
     
    Part 2: Đầm Sen
     

     
    Đầm Sen is located much more centrally in Ho Chi Minh City vs. SuốI Tiên, and could be reached in only 25 mins via taxi from my hotel next to the Sông SàI Gòn river. And unlike SuốI Tiên, it's much more of an Amusement Park than a Theme Park: there is comparatively little in the way of style and decoration vs. its extensive Buddhist-themed brother.
     

     
    That said, the Park is far from ugly, with lily pads and flower themeing being the order of the day. This is the entrance to the Park - the Towers Street equivalent, if you will:
     

     
    And there's a very good reason for all the flora themeing - Đầm Sen is a circular Park built around a large lake, filled with lily pads, lotus flowers and other plant life. All very pretty - and this view across the lake provides some perspective on scale. Connecting the small pagodas is a walkway across the lake.
     

     
    Đầm Sen operates a pay-one-price entry model, with tickets at 130,000 Dong (£3.79). As with much of Asia, it was all exceedingly cheap for a Western tourist. I came for the afternoon and whilst not quite as low as SuốI Tiên attendance levels, the Park was pretty empty the whole time I was there. How do these places survive financially on such low gate figures, with such low entrance prices...?!
     
    As you can see, there were very few people around to enjoy the topiaries:
     

     
    And now onto the rides: the biggest of them all being Tàu Lỏn Vông Siẻu Tồc / Roller Coaster. This coaster is tucked away in dense foliage in the top-left hand side of the Park, and is quite a walk from the main entrance - I suspect some visitors don't even find it...!
     

     
    It's certainly a bigger ride than any at SuốI Tiên, and until a larger version was later built at nearby ĐạI Nam with 4 inversions, Tàu Lỏn Vông Siẻu Tồc / Roller Coaster held the record for having the most inversions in Vietnam with 3 - vertical loop, corkscrew, corkscrew. The ĐạI Nam coaster - built 10 years (2008) after the Đầm Sen version (1998) - is near identical, save for a second vertical loop after the first.
     
    Merlin take note: black / brown / grey / white are not the only colours available when painting a roller coaster! This one had green rails, red tubular spine, blue supports and yellow supporting structure.
     

     
    If you hadn't already guessed, the ride is an Arrow clone - you can see the corkscrew inversions bearing more than a passing resemblance to the classic Arrow corkscrew designs, with yellow "arch" supports holding the inversions in place. The layout is near-identical to the actual Arrow-designed Corskcrew at Cedar Point; the offending manufacturer at Đầm Sen is likely to be Hebei Zhongye Metallurgical Equipment (although RCDB doesn't know), given that HZME built the later version at ĐạI Nam...
     

     
    So how did it ride? Early impressions were not encouraging, with a lengthy wait in the station for the train to completely fill up - the ride operators refused to send the train off without it being completely full. Health and safety or cost saving? I assumed the latter. The waiting time did give me a good 10 minutes to inspect my surroundings though, where I found that the screws holding the back of the seat in front of me in place were so loose and wobbly that they were close to coming out altogether. +1 for maintenance!
     
    The ride itself wasn't bad at all - quite intense in places (especially the vertical loop) and not so rough as to be unenjoyable; serious bracing helped a fair bit.
     
    I was sat next to a guy from Cambodia - who can't have been any older than 14 - who told me on the lift hill in broken English that this was his first ever roller coaster and he was very nervous to ride. He came off grinning from ear to ear!
     

     
    Đầm Sen is also home to Tàu Xoay Cao Tồc / Spinning Coaster, which continues in the great tradition of Asian-clones by emulating the classic Maurer Söhne spinner. I am a big fan of the Maurer spinners - the excellent Tarántula at Parque de Atracciones de Madrid is one of my favourites - so was interested to see how this one would ride.
     
    It was built by the almost-ubiquitous Chinese manufacturer Golden Horse, who appear in most Asian Parks with cheaper clones of classic Vekoma, Zamperla and Maurer rides. Alas for Golden Horse, in recent years the original manufacturers have been fighting back, with trademark infringement lawsuits aplenty.
     

     
    The ride itself is a pretty standard spinner layout - there are currently 77 standard Golden Horse ZXC-24A models in existence, 76 in Asia - with flat hairpin turns in the first half, and more drops and longer curves in the second half.
     

     
    The ride wasn't bad, with a decent amount of spinning and some good drops. However, it all felt a little bit more rattly and unsteady than the Maurer originals, and special mention must be given to the car design: almost identical, save for added seatbelts and the usual Maurer "loop" handle bar having been swapped with a t-bar handle bar, akin to those on a bicycle. When seated in the car, this t-bar sits at about knee-height for your average grown adult, and proved to be very painful indeed...
     
    If you've ever ridden Dragon's Fury or Spinball, you'll know that the end of the ride features a fairly brutal "kick" from a long horizontal bar just above track-height which steadies the car and straightens it up. Tàu Xoay Cao Tồc / Spinning Coaster does likewise, although if anything in a more brutal fashion and with little warning, which resulted in both of my knees smashing into the t-bar handle in the centre. I still had brusies days later. Top tip for future riders: do try to sit with your legs as far apart as possible - pinning your knees against the side of the car may help. One go was enough!
     

     
    And I've read a few ride restriction boards in my time, but never one that informs guests that "no gamboling... is allowed while riding". Which is a shame, because I was quite keen on starting up a game of blackjack whilst on the hairpin bends.
     

     
    Walk further around the lake and you'll find Trò ChơI Rồng Bay / Flying Dragon - a standard Dragon ride much like the indoor Bí Mật Rừng Phù Thủy / Secret of Sorcerer Forest I encountered in SuốI Tiên. However, approaching the station I couldn't find an operator anywhere nearby; not wholly surprising, given the gate figure.
     
    After a minute or so of looking around, I found a staff member relaxing a short way from the ride leaning against a tree. She motioned for me to get into the dragon car. Once I was sat down - her still leaning against the nearby tree - she started the ride off using a remote control in her hand! No bar checks or anything, just a press of a button on her remote to set the train in motion. Bizarre.
     

     
    The layout itself was a standard Dragon oval, but the train did pick up some decent speed and I got a few goes around the track - pretty fun in all!
     

     
    Now time for a bit of a tour around the rest of Đầm Sen. I should say at this point that the Amusement Park is only one half of the attraction: the other half is a Water Park, with a separate gate and separate entry fee. If taking a taxi to Đầm Sen, make sure your driver knows to drop you off at the right entrance...!
     
    Whilst I didn't venture into the Water Park, it did look good fun, complete with Kamikaze drop slides, lazy river and recently-installed Boomerang ring slide. It apparently gets very popular at the weekends!
     

     
    Other notable structures on Park included this large theatre, which could seat ~300 people. No activity here during my visit, though!
     

     
    Đầm Sen also features this colourful (knock-off) Magic Carpet ride - a travelling version permanently installed in the Park...
     

     
    ...as well as the world's least-scary-looking Haunted House: Lâu ĐàI Kinh Dị / Castle of Horror. Save for the gargoyles and iron gates at the front, this looked more like Cinderella's Castle than Haunted Mansion...!
     

     
    There was also a set of marine-themed dodgems: Chính Phục ĐạI Đường / Conquer the Ocean. Alas these were not operational...
     

     
    ...as was the case with the Park's log flume.
     

     
    Onto the last coaster of the day: Vòng Xoáy TuổI Thơ / Childhood Spiral, which was operational! Points go to Đầm Sen for giving the ride a slightly more inspiring name than Roller Coaster or Spinning Coaster.
     
    Yes, it's a Big Apple, but it's a Big Apple that shuns the typical, erm, apple - for a watermelon! It was actually quite fast and enjoyable, although fairly rough even though it was just a Big Apple. Further points go to Đầm Sen for letting the foliage around the ride grow to such an extent that the bushes hanging over the base of the lift hill attack even the smallest of riders. Great entertainment.
     

     
    Colourful large grasshopper themeing was also a highlight.
     

     
    Perhaps the biggest surprise - and highlight - of the whole trip though was Bằng Băng / All Ice, which was an unexpectedly large ice-sculpture house at the top of the lake. Standing / sweating in the humid 30°C Ho Chi Minh heat, even if the sculptures turned out to be unimpressive, I figured this was a very welcome installation indeed.
     
    Given that the building had to be kept under sub-zero temperatures, and that most visitors (especially tourists) would not be wearing a great deal, the Park had the sense to provide warm puffer-jacket-style overcoats for guests to put on before entering.
     

     
    The sculptures were very impressive indeed: really quite large, nicely lit, and very detailed. This section included a lighthouse and Titanic-style cruise liner. To give some context on size, I'd say the lighthouse was at least twice the height of me - 12ft+!
     

     
    Other sculptures included the Greek Parthenon, a Roman Centurion, and a Chinese temple.
     

     
    After 10 minutes in Bằng Băng my nose and ears had decided they'd had enough of being in a freezer, so I took the cue to leave and stepped out again into the close evening air. By this time the sun was quickly going down, and the Park showed itself to be very pretty at night, with light installations such as the one below dotted around many of the walkways.
     

     
    Only at Đầm Sen: a purple pathway to love...?!
     

     
    A quick shout out to the attractive Ferris Wheel sporting a jazzy lighting package...
     

     
    ...and a final parting shot of the lotus flowers I had passed on my way in - this time lit up like a Disney parade float!
     

     
    And with that, I left Đầm Sen and grabbed a taxi to the newly-opened first McDonalds in Vietnam a few km away. Incidentally, McDonalds was absolutely heaving with locals, such that an extensive cattlepen queue had been erected outside the entrance to the restaurant and marshals were struggling to take orders from the crowds over the noise. It seems as if communist Vietnam is slowly seeing Western (capitalist) brands creep into their culture...!
     
    As I chomped down on my regional McPork™ burger, I reflected on my time at Đầm Sen: a nice little Park, if a little quiet and under-developed. With some TLC and investment it could really thrive: it has the space to expand and growing affluence in Ho Chi Minh City could provide a customer base with increasing disposable income to tap into. It has been reported recently that some of the rides from the now-defunct Freestyle Music Park in South Carolina, USA, could be heading over to Vietnam: could Đầm Sen be the lucky recipient of the goods...?! That'd do nicely.
     
    ~
     
    Comments? Please post below! Next up: Siam Park City.
  15. Like
    paige reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, Liseberg - A Mark9 perspective.   
    To break up the flow of Benin Germany trip reports ( ), I've written a little something about my trip to Liseberg. Anyone who follows me on twitter or Facebook, probably knows what's coming. Alas, this will be a more detailed account of my trip.
    So I'm just going to start with, great park. It features a good selection of flat rides, a well paced fun rapids ride and a very peculiar log flume. There's not many parks which have four very re-rideable roller coasters and Liseberg arguably has three that you can ride over and over again. Well what about the fourth? Well this is where my report begins, Kanonen, an Intamin launch coaster that I know many on here don't like. In theory I shouldn't either. It demonstrates everything I don't like about the majority of Intamin rides such as those horrible restraints, lowish throughput, an attempt at a ride that should never got off the ground. And yet after the first ride I thought it was fine. The more I rode it the more I really liked it. I can't put my finger on why either. The launch for example feels like there's a trim at the end as the train loses speed very quickly. The top hat isn't anything to write home about. I like the vertical loop which has a lot of hang time as the train pretty much struggles to get round it. The stengel turn contorts the train horrifically and ironically, the ground hugging turn kills any momentum the ride previously had. And the inline which is fitted into a tight corner, barely making it before slamming into the breaks. It shouldn't be enjoyable, in fact most don't like it I'm rather fond of its unassumingness.



    So to put into perspective, this is nowhere near a top ten ride. That's okay though, as it's never going to pretend to be one, it never had an ambition to be fighting it out with Katun and Nemesis. No this is a take it or leave it launch ride. I'll take it but I know most will ignore and never return.
    With that little bit of awkward out the way, lets now go onto the big guns, Balder a big player in the Mitch Hawker poll and the 2nd most popular (queue wise) ride at Liseberg. I want to put it out there that ironically, whilst being quite tolerant of rough rides, when it comes to woodies I expect a bit of the old shaky. These are rides that feel more organic then constructed, the wood flexing and creaking as a train rushes through its circuit, I expect a bit of activity, I'm fond of being thrown about a bit. Balder is not that ride. Balder is more concerned with treating you nicely, chucking you into forceful ejector hill at every hill but never pushing it too far. I think that's more a failing then a positive actually. Every hill chucks you into the same thrilling sensation and when it does 7/8 of the same type of hill it does get a bit predictable.

    With that being said, it is a top tier ride. There isn't another woodie that I've previously been on that delivers such constant air time as this. Even the stunning Tonnerre de Zeus does lose a bit of momentum 3/4's of the way through. Here Balder delivers a thrilling and fast ride from first drop to break run. The little humps in particular are the rides highlight. One of the better woodies in Europe certainly but as relentless and out of control as Wodan? Not a chance.
    [interestingly, my partner Chris, said Balder was boring and was so predictable that he found it hard to enjoy]
    Onto a more classic attraction and a ride whose name I can't say without adding more ananana, it's Lisebergbanan, a classic if I ever did see one. This if you like is Schwarzkopfs crowning glory, a testament to the awesomeness of their rides, a people eating machine that is much loved by all that visit the theme park. One I thing I'm a big fan of is how it utilises the natural hillside to create a pacey, well designed attraction. Whilst never truly leaving its ground hugging nature, it uses the energy of the train in neat ways and never needs an extra kick like a second lift hill or launch area to get the train going again. We could use more rides like this in the modern era, too many parks concern themselves with gimmicks or tag lines and forget that getting through people should matter more then anything else. A fond favourite and very good in the dark.

    And now, finally; Helix.

    Instead of going through a full analysis of why Helix is so awesome, I'm just going to cover a few basis. I don't want to give too much away here for those who haven't been yet.
    1. The drop out of the station into the corkscrew is a sublime way to start the ride.
    2. The two air time hills are absolutely fabulous. By the end of my two days, the tops of my legs were aching from the sheer amount of air time.
    3. The turn after the first air time hill is incredible. Think Nemesis's first helix and then add a lap bar, it's an incredible moment.
    4. The middle half of the ride is sublime, seriously sublime. I cannot think of a ride out there that is as well paced and relentless as this. A perfect combination of layout, ride train and intensity.
    5. The second launch into the largest inversion on the ride is brilliant. Look out over the park on your ride and just enjoy.\
    6. The second air time hill. So good, it deserves a second mention. Utterly deceptive and yet awesome.
    7. A fast moving queue line is always a good thing. If the queue is out the door, it's only an hour long. Worth the wait and then some.

    So the real question when it comes to it is.. is it better then Blue Fire? I'm going to be controversial and say no. Blue Fire is far more fun and likeable then Helix but don't let that be a criticism. It's like saying do you want a million pounds or a million and one pounds. Both rides are so sublime and top of the field that it becomes irrelevant. And unfortunately in this age of lists and top tens, one has to be slightly better then the other. When it comes to the criticisms of Helix being it's throughput is slightly lower or its theming isn't quite as consistent as Blue Fire, thats just picking at straws. What we are seeing with these two rides is a demonstration of Mack's perfection. Intamin hasn't a hope of catching them now, even if their new lap bar is any good, it's too late for them to catch up with the diversity and perfection of the Mack model. All I ask is that the UK gets one soon, don't let this concept get away from us. Because if we got one, I'd have no doubt that Nemesis would be toppled from the top of the roost..

  16. Like
    paige reacted to BenC for a blog entry, Asia Adventure: SuốI Tiên   
    Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be travelling around Asia for a couple of months (a mini gap-yah, if you like), and took some small detours from the standard tourist path to visit some Parks. This is the first in a 4-part blog series about my Asia Adventure, which will cover the following Parks:
     
    SuốI Tiên, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Đầm Sen, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Siam Park City, Bangkok, Thailand Dream World, Bangkok, Thailand  
    Hopefully the series will highlight some slightly different - and definitely non-Merlin! - Theme Parks that are on offer just 6,000 miles away.
     
    Part 1: SuốI Tiên
     

     
    SuốI Tiên is located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City; a 45 minute taxi ride despite being only 16 miles from the centre of town. It's the biggest Theme Park near Ho Chi Minh City and city planners are clearly invested in the Park, given that Ho Chi Minh's first metro line is having a station built right outside the entrance of the Park (a $2.8BN project, estimated completion 2017). Despite this, and having been open since 1995, my taxi driver had no idea where it was I wanted to go... so thank goodness for Google Maps and Smartphones.
     

     
    SuốI Tiên is one of the most unusual Theme Parks you are likely to visit: it is a Buddhist-themed Park where the attractions and landscaping illustrate Vietnam's history and legends. So as well as Buddhist-themed rollercoasters and dark rides, there are also plenty of Buddhist temples and statues located within the Park walls. And as you'll see in the photos below, the attention to detail in the themeing is second to none. Just take a look at the entrance...
     

     
    Entry is 50,000 Dong (£1.47) and then each attraction is at an extra cost, from 5,000 Dong (15p) to 60,000 Dong (£1.75). For 2014 the Park trialled a one-price admission for entry + all attractions at 350,000 Dong (£10.26) - quite reasonable really, but I went for the pay-per-ride option nonetheless.
     
    Before we go any further, it's worth saying at this point that the Park was absolutely dead. I counted maybe 50 guests inside it throughout my whole day, and the Park is not that small - roughly half the size of Alton Towers' sprawling grounds. There were at least 5 times as many staff visible as there were guests in the Park - so either this was an "off" day and the Park recoups the cost from much busier days, or the Park is otherwise propped up by the state... anyway, the Park felt even more deserted than my visit to Lightwater Valley on a rainy April Sunday in 2012, and that's saying something.
     
    Onwards with the tour: once through the entrance gates, the elaborate themeing continues. Move over Mickey and Pluto: this Park's mascots are the dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix:
     

     
    It's a very pretty Park, with nods to Buddhist culture at every turn. Alas I never once saw this Ferris Wheel (CốI Xoay Của Thần Gió / Rotating Wind Spirit) move during the day - highly likely due to the lack of riders...
     

     
    This elaborate entrance leads not to any attraction, but rather a large Buddhist shrine (Long Hoa Thiên Bảo).
     

     
    And here's the temple itself, Long Hoa Thiên Bảo.
     

     
    This dragon looks like it could be the centrepiece to a flat ride or similar, but is actually just another elaborate themeing setpiece for the Park (Tứ Linh HộI Tụ / 4 Sacred Animals) that guests can walk around.
     

     
    SuốI Tiên also contains a saltwater waterpark (Biển Tiên Đồng / Fairy At Sea), which includes slides and a kids area. As you can see, it wasn't open...
     

     
    OK, enough with Park overview - onto the Trip Report. I started the day by doing the Vương Quốc Cá Sấu / Crocodile United Nations, which was unashamedly a lake filled with crocodiles with a walkway positioned slightly above it. Completely safe.
     

     
    The Park advertise this as the "territory of the swamp lord", with over 100 crocs in the water. Mostly they were escaping the 30°C heat by chilling out on the sides or submerging themselves underwater.
     

     
    And as it was a Vietnamese Park, for 20,000 Dong (59p) you could dangle a piece of chicken over at the crocodiles to feed/bait them as desired. I didn't do this, but did watch the only 2 other Western tourists in the Park have a go. Needless to say the crocodiles got a little fiesty.
     

     
    Having escaped the territory of the swamp lord, I decided it was time to give the Park's signature thrill ride a go - Tàu Lượn Siêu Tốc / High Speed Roller Coaster. This was a large sit-down coaster with a non-inverting track that shuttled around the Park's main lake. I'd only seen a train complete the circuit once in my time at the Park so far, and now understood why - the ride required at least 4 people to operate. I have no idea whether this was a commercial or safety-based decision by the Park, but it meant that I needed to find 3 others willing to get on with me in order to get the train dispatched.
     
    Alas, I couldn't find anyone. Honestly. I even offered to pay the ride operator (in my best Vietnamese) for 4 tickets (60,000 Dong / £1.76 each) myself, but she insisted that I needed 3 others. Thankfully at this point the 2 guys from the Crocodile United Nations were walking past the ride, and after a quick negotiation agreed to join me. We later found a fourth rider near the Dolphin Show / Cá Heo và Sư Tử Biển (which never put on a performance due to - you guessed it - a lack of audience) and we were set for a spin on Vietnam's longest roller coaster.
     

     
    The trains for the ride were a little odd - the seats looked like they'd been taken from a second hand car, and the restraints included both an over-shoulder seat belt and a silver OTSR. Only after the train had left the station and was ascending up the lift hill did I check the OTSR to find that it didn't lock - I could both fully lift the silver harness up and unbuckle the seat belt. Excellent.
     

     
    The lift hill itself took a good 2 minutes to climb, thanks to the tyre-powered mechanism trying its best to get the train to the top. It was clear that the tyres were so worn that the train wasn't being gripped tightly enough to pull it up quickly, resulting in a lot of slippage and a very slow ascent!
     

     
    The ride itself was good fun, although I spent most of it hugging my OTSR with both arms hoping that I wouldn't fall out. It was a relatively smooth affair though, and even included a fun shuttle through an artificial mountain.
     

     
    Having disembarked, I saw that the Park were making some pretty bold claims in their advertising for the ride - a 200kmph top speed! I'm no expert, but the ride didn't feel as if it were 50% faster than Thorpe's Stealth (80mph/130kmph)... I doubt if it topped 50mph to be honest...
     

     
    Onto coaster #2 - Bí Mật Rừng Phù Thủy / Secret of Sorcerer Forest. There are few hints that this building houses a coaster - it was only because I asked around that I came to find it. The beginning part of the attraction is a short walkthrough, which was actually quite unnerving as a solo traveller. To the right of the entrance below is a long pitch-black pathway, themed around a forest. Hidden sensors trigger various noisy animatronics, which seemingly light up out of nowhere. Further on in the walkthrough is a surprising shuddering floor effect, which in the darkness made me scream involuntarily. And once you get to the station of the ride itself, you see that after all of this buildup, it's actually just a basic powered Dragon ride. Talk about anti-climax!
     

     
    The ride itself was - as the rest of the Park - themed very impressively with trees, foliage and sorcerers, which more than made up for the fact that the track layout was a standard oval.
     

     
    Other attractions around the Park included this large aircraft-hangar filled with kiddie rides.
     

     
    And larger thrill rides are hidden next to the Rotating Wind Spirit Ferris Wheel, including a Disk'O which I'm fairly sure isn't a Zamperla original...
     

     
    This facade looks innocent from the outside, but houses Kim Lân Sơn Xuất Thế / Palace of Unicorns, which is a walkthrough attraction depicting the many stages of Buddhist Hell. The two crocodile-baiting Westerners from earlier told me that the attraction is immaculately themed but really quite violent and disturbing inside, using animatronics to portray gory Buddhist punishments for various offences, including drug addiction, gambling, and adultery. Think dismembered body parts and occasional jump-scares. I gave it a miss.
     

     
    And new for 2014 was - wait for it - Lâu ĐàI Phép Thuật Harry Potter / The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, in the middle of Vietnam's authentically Buddhist Theme Park sits possibly the most incongruous new attraction they could have built. I think they just threw away the concept for this one and went for a crowd pleaser...
     

     
    Does Universal know that this exists? Do they care? Probably not. The attraction was hardly a competitor to the real Wizarding World, being just a glorified haunted house walkthrough with Daniel Radcliffe's face stuck on the front. And although the exterior was substantial, the inside was less impressive. I walked through 7 rooms in total, one for each of the books in the Harry Potter series, with standard ghost/witch/goblin statues popping out from all sides. There may have been an actor in there as well grabbing legs and shoulders as I walked past - who knows. Very little connection to the Harry Potter stories overall; the most startling moment came from a noisy dementor (possibly?) that flew overhead on a wire at great speed and nearly clocked me on the head.
     
    My overall feeling was that it was a shame that SuốI Tiên spent money on this, given how out-of-place it looks compared to the rest of the Park. Last time I checked Harry didn't have a whole lot to do with the Buddhist tradition. It may have yet saved itself if the quality was in line with the rest of the Park, but alas...
     

     
    Remember book 5? It's the Oder of the Pheonix!
     

     
    As you can see, just like the films...
     

     
    That said, it's good to see the Park continuing to invest - especially given that I have no idea where they're getting any money from. And it was clear that there was more to come both this year and next, with more construction happening by the indoor kiddie area. Notice that there is little to no protection of the public from the building work - I could just walk right on through!
     

     
    Also in the pipeline is Đĩa Bay Hành Tinh Lạ / Alien Flying Disk...
     

     
    ...and Phât Địa Mẫu / Buddha Model, another Buddhist themed set piece.
     

     
    And with that, it was nearing 6pm and the Park was shutting down for the day. I'd had a really unique experience here - nothing like any other Park I'd been to. Exquisitely themed (for the most part), strong religious themes running throughout and with some genuinely different attractions. It was just a shame there wasn't a higher gate figure; at times walking through the Park was a bit like touring an abandoned school - a bit creepy.
     

     
    So how to sum up SuốI Tiên? "Buddhist nirvana"? "Disney on acid"? "Plain strange"?
     
    SuốI Tiên is - at least in my experience - pretty incomparable as a concept. It's clearly taken a huge pot of cash to develop the Park in such an elaborate and large scale way, and I would encourage anyone visiting Ho Chi Minh City to take a trip out to District 9 to have a look around, because it's just so different. You can't help but smile at the colourful bizarreness of the place!
     
    ~
     
    Comments? Please post below! Next up: Đầm Sen.
  17. Like
    paige reacted to Luke_A for a blog entry, Spain part 1: PortAventura   
    At the end of June I spent a week in Salou. This of course meant that some trips to PortAventura would be happening! As well as a trip to Barcelona and the somewhat little known park of Tibidabo.
    First off, Salou is a lively large town situated right on the coast of the Costa Dorada, we stayed in a hotel in Salou and couldn’t fault anything about the place. Right in the centre & 5-10 mins walk to the beach. Loved it. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the stay was on the evening of the 23rd of June, the longest day of the year celebrations took place, aka Summer Solstice aka St. John’s Eve… and a bank holiday follows the day after. Fireworks are on sale at pop up shop shipping containers in the street and they’re going off until the early hours… Fabulous atmosphere all evening!
    PortAventura
    We did 2 days at PortAventura, using the Plana bus (every 10 mins from Salou, €2 pp), cheap & very efficient taking you straight to PortAventura in around 10-15 minutes. A land train also operates but takes around 20-30 minutes.
    The entrance area of the park is fantastic and you immediately have a view of the fountains in the lake with Baco rushing round and Shambhala & Hurakan Condor in the distance. Seeing as the park has staggered ride openings we opted to start at the back of the park at Dragon Khan. Khan opens at 10:00 with the park along with the rapids, Tutuki Splash, Furius Baco, and select other smaller attractions. If this was a UK park it wouldn’t be an acceptable way of operating. But when you consider that the park is open until 8PM, 9PM, 11PM, midnight or 2AM - 4AM, you still have ample time to get everything done more than once without express. I’ll probably mention this again later on…
    Mediterrania is the area you first enter. This pic was taken from the opposite side on the bridge between Mediterrania and Far West. You enter not far from where Baco's train is in this pic. One of my favourite things was how picturesque PA is.

    Queue jumping was something that we encountered at various times in our visit. The spanish seem to not care at all if someone jumps over the fence or in front of them. Anyway, except for that, I really liked the general atmosphere around the park, lots of foliage, lakes, extremely well kept garden areas and all queues are at least partially covered from sunlight. The (many) small & large shows dotted around the park also provide nice breaks from the rides for a few minutes here and there.
    One of the smaller shows...

    I would recommend purchasing express if you want to get *loads* done as a group. Naturally, most people head to Baco first and it had already racked up 1hr of queue when we passed it. Got to Khan and waited 2 trains and were on. Hurrah!
    Dragon Khan
    It's 148ft tall, yet with Shambhala overhead it really doesn't feel that way from the ground.

    Dragon Khan was operating 2 trains for the entirety of the 2 days we spent at the park. The area that the ride shares with Shambhala is impressive, I’m not usually one to care much for theming but it’s all done to a high standard, the large ‘Shambhala’ area entrance signs and singular theme items as you enter the area are nice.
    Khan starts off with the classic B&M pre-lift turn, followed by what seems to be a gentle climb to the top due to Shambhala’s domineering steepness from above. Once at the top of the lift, I found the first half of the ride to be taken at quite some speed even early in the morning at 10:30AM, the zero-G being the highlight of this half for me. The second half was ‘good’ but not amazing, I have read on other forums that the ride has new computer settings this year, and the MCBR now trims EVERY TRAIN to this pace, all day, every day:

    (Not my video)
    I very much enjoyed Dragon Khan, it isn’t anything which is personally going to go in a top 10, but it was a solid ride. It is quite a ‘generic’ / ‘american’ style layout (+1 loop), I suppose you could say. But the reason things become generic, popular, and cloned a lot is because they are good, no? Colossus still remains my favourite multi-looper, but that’s because I have much love for it’s inlines and non-stop paced ride given.
    Shambhala opens at 11:00, as does the flume. All other rides (Stampida, Hurakan Condor, El Diablo, Tomahawk, etc) open at 12:00. Templo del Fuego opens at 13:00. Again, this didn’t really bother us, if you plan and make sure you hit up attractions just as they open, you should have a good amount of rides done by mid afternoon. By the time you’ve done the rides open from 10, the 11 ones are open, then the 12… and it goes on. From a logistical side I can understand why they do this.
    *Hearts in eyes Emoji*

    Next was a wander round 1/2 the park, taking in the early atmosphere through Mexico & Far West and up to the rapids for a ride, followed by the Flume. We took the first couple of hours easy knowing that queues would die down once everything opens at 12. (we queued 40mins for the rapids), refreshing and got quite wet, surprisingly as some people were coming off quite dry! We took a look in some shops, and for some reason the park has an obsession for selling Betty Boop merch? Lol.
    The Silver River Flume at PA is built to have fantastic interaction with El Diablo, much waving occurs between boats and El Diablo. A very fun flume overall of nice length and a quickly moving queue thanks to the turntable station.
    Spinning flat ride thing called Serpiente Emplumada. Like Drayton Manor Sombrero's across between a Polyp...

    El Diablo, aka Tren de la Mina. It’s Lifthills and coathanger turns. It’s still an enjoyable ride and I prefer the Arrow Dynamics mine trains to the powered Mack ones. The queue on 3 trains moves fast once the express queue dies down. It’s interaction with the flume was a highlight, we had the back row and the drop out of the station provides a wonderful surprise pop of airtime, though when the pre-lift of a ride is one of the best bits it says a lot about the remainder of the layout!! Between lift 1, lift 2, and lift 3 the ride just does a lot of meandering around, until after lift 3 where you get the ‘big swooping drop’ and final dive through the smashed hut over the queue. Cool, but the many other Arrow 3-lift mine trains dotted around the world look to be better.
    Not bad but a bit odd!

    Shambhala. There is absolutely nothing I can criticise about this ride in B&M terms, it’s an all round crowd pleaser. My first B&M hyper coaster, it domineers over the entire park with a drop of 256ft. The ride ran 2 trains for the entire day on my first day of visiting, and had a queue of approximately 40 mins - 1hr 20 mins all day. On my second day of visiting it ran 2 trains from 11:00 til 12:00 when the 3rd train was added due to Furius Baco breaking down and Shambhala gaining a 2 hour queue. When running three trains, the single rider queue is nearly always empty. They manage it THAT well that when batching, not one seat goes unfilled. I even got a front row ride from the single rider queue one time!! In the station they have an LED screen which counts down how long they have to dispatch the train. On 3 trains they have 60 seconds from air gates opening to when it needs to be dispatched to prevent stacking. The screen then shows (what must be) the capacity number as a figure like 16:24 (was certainly not the time..!) for 1624PPH, very funky / nerdy & not bad considering it can get 1680PPH! They were running it very well on 3 trains.

    Onto the ride itself, when leaving the station, if you’re on a happy train you may get some cheering and drumming of the restraints! ha ha. The lift is speedy and if Khan is also climbing it’s lift some waving / interaction below will certainly occur! At the top of the lift the train sends you down the first drop so gracefully, put your hands up and just float down… it’s amazing! In the back seat you get the best airtime over all of the hills, anticipate the hills and you’ll get the best floaty feeling. The ampersand turnaround is a unique touch and looks cool from a distance, below is the view of the park from my hotel!

    Floaty drop airtime for everyone!!

    The mini ‘speed hill’ after the ampersand provides some slightly stronger airtime but it’s still not gonna leave you with feeling *omg ejected*. My preference is very strong thigh-pressure ejector airtime, but the B&M style is still an enjoyable feeling. If you’re in an outside seat, reach out to your side and get a refreshing spray through the splashdown, then get prepared for more airtime! The ride just does not let up and has 'floatiness' by the bucketload even in the final hills before the MCBR. (MCBR only has 1 hill after it).
    Overall, 9/10, most certainly a top 10 ride, it isn’t ‘OMG wow intense’ like I usually like, but it’s very fun and the most re-rideable coaster I have ever ridden. The train design is brilliant. Top ride!
    Hurakan Condor

    This was my 3rd Intamin drop tower. Apocalypse floorless was my favourite drop ever, until I rode Hurakan Condor! I rode it only 2 times due to lack of express pass and even a long single rider queue. Got standup both times (cue “yaaaass”). The height alone is quite terrifying (not too much off 300ft?) so when you get tilted forwards at around 20-30ft from the top, your heart rate races and you might just swear once or twice. Take advantage of the amazing view then put your hands out and prepare to drop… The falling feeling is fantastic and beats Apocalypse. My favourite flat ride on the park. 10/10.
    Stampida. One ride. Blue side. 4 trains running, 2 each side. A CCI wooden coaster which has been rehabilitated / improved by KumbaK with 'new' trains. Take the word ‘improved’ lightly here. The trains look like park benches and they also feel like them. The lap bar is hydraulic and will tighten as you go round the circuit with every jolt that you go over, I couldn’t brace myself against it because you have to take your bag on the ride with you and I didn’t want that to go flying so had to hold onto the bag… The ride could be good… But it’s flawed with track which feels like it’s washboarding so incredibly badly and trains & layout which prevent airtime because the lap bar isn’t moulded in the best of ways. Nonetheless, fun interaction times can be had when the trains separate and duel, the same with Tomahawk which shares the Stampida structure. I need to ride it again really to get a more clarified opinion.
    Tomahawk. Pretty much a kiddie wooden coaster with dinky trains. It seats one adult per row or one adult and a child. Runs 2 (old) trains and has new in 2007 KumbaK control and braking systems just like Stampida. I should imagine this is an incredibly thrilling attraction for kids as it’s actually quite violent around some corners! It’s also smoother than Stampida and has interaction with Stampida. Alright..!
    Furius Baco.
    Before reading this review, bear in mind that my favourite rides are Saw: The Ride, Speed (Oakwood), Mondial Capriolo, KMG Tango, Colossus, Slammer, Stealth and Rita. They are all rides which I enjoy because they are somewhat on the extreme end of the scale… In one aspect or another.
    First of all, check that speed... I'd love to know just how fast it actually goes thru that inline..!
    >>>>>>> https://vine.co/v/MtZq1MwKOj5 <<<<<<<
    From every aspect offride, Baco looks to be an relentless, furious (ha ha ha) ride which throws the riders around it’s speedy course like it can’t get back to the brake run quick enough. And that’s exactly what it does. And I love it.

    I had 4 rides in total on it, 3 on outside seats and 1 inside seat. The pre-show is weird. The theme is weird. Once at the pre-show, you do some shuffling back and forth as the catch car prepares to engage whilst the naughty monkey comes along and causes havoc. The launch feels INCREDIBLE, especially in the front row. Going at such a speed and having so much of yourself out in the open really enhances the feeling of acceleration. The launch ends with a hill down into the first pit which can deliver some intense airtime. Dropping down into the first pit, slammed around a corner at 80+mph before switching direction briefly and then switching direction again, you take a leap over the launch and a left turn to approach the inline twist. The feeling of speed is again, greater enhanced as you head for the inline twist. This is SO CLOSE to the ground you feel you could almost touch it, the feeling of speed is astounding and the way you don’t go through it as a heartline creates a rather cool twisty feeling...
    Final turn out of the inline and over the lake, with the final bump onto the brake run and I was totally wowed. Incredible ride. Baco gives you the wow factor in a way that most crazy Intamin creations do… I’m told that Mack mega coasters also have fantastic inline twists so can’t wait to try one out! Back to Baco - Now, there’s no other way of putting it, the ride is ROUGH. But if you can cope with intensity on the scale of Saw, Rita, to some extent Stealth, then you may enjoy Baco.
    The head banging could be reduced if they didn't have these 'elephant ear' type things on top of the restraints. Though I believe they are there after the incident with a restraint last year... Reminds me of Vekoma SLC restraints. Shame as Intamin's modern bars like on Baco are otherwise very good imo because you are pinned at the thighs.

    Overall, Baco is a ride which isn’t shy of pushing the limit and provides an intense experience which doesn’t ‘play it safe’ in the comfort department in order to limit intensity. I feel like the ride could probably make it round the circuit with a launch of around ~60mph seeing as it keeps so much speed for the entire circuit, but I’m glad Intamin pushed the boundaries when they built Baco! 9/10.
    One final thing. I can't not give this a mention. A bird opposite Tomahawk (yes the kiddie coaster) which sings Sex Bomb & an array of ~4-5 other songs all day long. (Not my video)

    So that’s it for PortAventura… Fantastic park which has a special collection of rides all in areas which have a great feeling of character. It was my first international park and I look forward to visiting the likes of Europa Park, Liseberg and all the other amazing locations on offer to us in Europe over the coming years… Can’t wait to return to PA in the future though! I had an amazing time!
    One final, signature PA pic!

    Trip report coming up from Tibidabo, Barcelona soon..!
  18. Like
    paige reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Shakespeare Visits Ye Olde Legoland   
    Yesterday we decided to take an important English man to a place of Lego. Mr Lego William Shakespeare. I'll hand him over to you for this report

    Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind. And this hand is suspicious, but I'm not guilty.

    Welcome to the very merry land of Lego. Let's not read that rubbish book though, lets read a few of my plays.

    This life, which had been the tomb of his virtue and of his honour, is but a walking shadow.

    Certainly a big walking shadow!

    Look mum it's Darth Vader!

    O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? He's right next to you! It's like they've never seen the play.

    OMG it's a train! Like a real train!

    Though shall not ask.

    Or pass.

    My hair's bad in this one

    How'd I get up here?

    I'm full of words. You don't want to eat me.

    If food be the food of food, eat on!

    Oh hi there

    I'm safe here... right? Don't want me dying for a second time!

    His colour choice is amazing.

    Do you think he's seen me? Hope not

    RUN! (Look at that blur... so much speed!)

    They'll never find me here.

    Or here.

    Definitely won't expect me here!

    I settled in to my hotel room and got it ready for my new girl.

    The course of true love never did run smooth. Especially not in Legoland.
    Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.
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