Happy Valley Shanghai

7th September 2009

In the midst of a worldwide recession it seems more than a little risky for any company to build two massive new theme parks simultaneously. Be that as it may, the OCT team have done just that, throwing caution to the wind in order to expand both in Shanghai and in Chengdu. Some construction delays have blighted the opening of what is their largest park to date, though even in its unfinished state it was immediately obvious that the new park is a definite contender for one of the very best in the country.

Entrance

The signature attraction in the new park has been supplied by Bolliger & Mabillard, and following fine local tradition it has been given the imaginative name of Diving Coaster (#1443). The design features the now standard water splashdown towards the end of the course, but oddly this track segment has been largely hidden from view. It's hard to fathom precisely what the designers were thinking when they did this, as the massive plumes of water rising into the air present an extremely impressive visual effect for non-riders. Other than the visual niggle, though, the coaster is exactly as expected; a top notch ride, and for the moment at least the tallest roller coaster in China.

This enthusiast has a lot of trouble considering an Intamin Mega Lite (#1444) to be a supporting act, and indeed this version was running well enough to be a top ten coaster in its own right. This model seemed to be running even better than the one two days ago, perhaps due to warmer temperatures. Whatever the case, two consecutive laps in the back car pretty much hit the limit of my tolerance, showing both the intensity of the ride and also, I'm afraid to say, that I'm not getting any younger.

The obligatory Spinning Coaster (#1445) was a major surprise. This wasn't because it was particularly interesting; rather it was the fact that it was an official Zamperla model rather than a Golden Horse knock-off. With no inside information whatsoever I'm going to bet that OCT may have realised that the three Golden Horse coasters they already own may not be quite as reliable as those built in the West. My trip to China last year missed two out of the four on the itinerary, including that at Happy Valley Beijing.

As the other coasters had yet to open I left the group at this point to go for a wander around the park. With a bright sunny day at my disposal I chose to spend most of the time taking photographs, though I did the obligatory North Pole Adventure target shooter and the Haunted House, the latter being a fairly good walkthrough with fun house elements mixed in with a good collection of ghosts and skeletons. There were also a number of powerful blasts of cold air triggered by proximity sensors, and having discovered where one was I decided to stand under it for a full thirty seconds in a mostly successful attempt to cool down a bit!

Fireball

Half past twelve was the time for a thirty minute session on Fireball (#1446). The first wood coaster in China features a furious intensity that is well up there with the other four coasters built by the Gravity Group, with the back seat in particular being on the far side of insane (in a good way). The only slight worry was the presence of a few rough spots on the ride already, particularly towards the end of the course where the train makes a number of rapid direction changes very reminiscent of the Mega Lite. Given that the ride has carried passengers for less than a month this was more than a little disconcerting; it seems inevitable that major track reconstruction will be required on a regular basis, and only time will tell whether the park engineers are up to the task.

The final coaster in the park today opened shortly after our session ended. Everyone quickly caught their credit on Lele's Chariot (#1447) before we hit the road. The park has an impressive looking Intamin Mine Train under construction that should be finished within the next few weeks. Hopefully I'll be able to make a return visit at some point to give it a try.

 

Jin Jiang Action Park

7th September 2009

Jin Jiang Action Park does not present a particularly impressive appearance at first glance, thanks to a large construction site immediately in front of the main entrance. Once inside, however, things quickly pick up, with some slightly disjointed theming elements that point towards a park with a limited budget trying to do the best with what they have. A new section of the park is currently under construction with a few more rides to enhance its offerings for younger audiences.

Jin Jiang Action Park

The new ride this year is nominally the same design and layout as found at Darien Lake. However, appearances can be deceptive, as Moto Coaster (#1448) was much more aggressive, wiping out all my criticisms of its clone. The gentle curves in the track layout were taken at a speed sufficient to simulate a skidding motorcycle, and the ride seemed to get faster as we descended rather than slower. The only possible explanation is that the ride at Darien Lake has a slower launch speed than the version here, as the difference really was night and day.

It was hard to be enthusiastic about another encounter with a Meisho shuttle loop, here given the name of Roller Coaster (#1449). Every other version of this ride I've tried has hurt me, the worst offender of all being the local knock-off, and indeed it was impossible not to remember the up-stop wheel moment (see my report) as the train began to roll backwards. Much to my astonishment however there proved nothing wrong with this model at all, with barely a jolt throughout what was a highly enjoyable coaster. The over-the-shoulder restraint design didn't get in the way of enjoyment either.

Two quick laps on the powered Karst Cave Coaster (not bad) brought me to the final credit of the day, another Golden Horse Spinning Coaster (#1450). RCDB reports that there are currently twenty-two known versions of this ride in operation, almost all of which are in China. It's a pity they're really not very good...

The attraction in the park that takes up the most space is Joyland, probably best summarised as a local take on It's a Small World. The scenery found within was definitely not up to the standard of Walt Disney, but it was still a nice way to get out of the sunshine for a few minutes. A more mature dark ride can be found at the other end of the park, where a mildly pornographic Horror House looks like it might have been brought to Jin Jiang Action Park from a Dutch fairground. Beyond these two rides the only other attraction I tried was a massive ferris wheel (thankfully with air conditioning) that made for a perfect end to the day.

2009


Happy Valley Shanghai

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Jin Jiang Action Park

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