Enchanted Kingdom impressed me on my first visit three years ago, and if anything it has improved since. I'd like to particularly acknowledge the friendliness and efficiency of the staff. About twenty of them performed a song and dance routine in front of the gate while we were waiting for the doors to open, and it was impossible not to smile at their enthusiasm. This was followed by a prayer for safe operation of the park and the rides, and a thanks to the Lord for all his gifts. It's worth noting that the Philippines has an huge amount of signage and graffiti proclaiming thanks to God, with the majority of the population being Catholic.
Once inside the park, the first stop was Space Shuttle (#1749). Though a standard Boomerang ride, this one has been recently upgraded with a new train featuring soft restraints, and the result is brilliant. I've never found myself overly impressed with a ride of this type before, but this one was good enough for me to ride twice, in front and back, and honestly I'd happily have done a few more laps. I also repeated the Wheel of Fate and the Roller Skater. The only change I noticed from my last visit was the Ekstreme drop tower, an up-charge attraction located near the entrance. Though I didn't ride it myself, I passed a few enjoyable minutes indulging my inner sadist by watching other riders plummeting from the heights.
3rd June 2012
I'd been to the Fairview branch of Storyland on my last visit to the Philippines, but I'd been unable to ride the powered coaster there due to technical issues. As with its brother, Silver Streak is an large ride that circles above and around the entire entertainment centre, and as such it has the potential to be thrilling. However, the top speed is rather sedate given the layout, to the point that it's not a ride I'd really make the effort for again.
Circle of Fun
3rd June 2012
The last stop of the day was at Circle of Fun, a park that I'd hoped to hit yesterday evening but had to abandon due to severe weather conditions. Located in one area of the Quezon Memorial Circle, it is predominantly aimed at children, with one notable exception; Wild Wind (#1750), an extremely intense coaster with a single inversion and a helix crammed into a ridiculously small space. Though a production design, only a handful of models have been sold. Interestingly, one was built in the United States, but RCDB reports that it never opened to the public after the g-forces measured during testing were considered too extreme for park guests.
The ride is far too aggressive to be ridden more than once in a session, but it's well worth doing for the strong of stomach. I'm going to have to see about tracking down the other four known models; three are at parks in South Korea, Tunisia, and Venezuela; the fourth travels in Switzerland as XenoX.
3rd June 2012
Manila Airport charges a departure fee for all passengers, which is not included in airline ticket prices. Worse yet, this amount (currently PHP 550) has to be paid in local currency or in US Dollars; credit cards are not accepted, and the terminal building does not have an cash machine. I'd made the effort to use up my local currency, and thus found myself with no choice but to visit a money changer that proceeded to charge me almost fifty percent over market value.
This extortion at the point of departure left me very annoyed and utterly unenthusiastic about recommending the Philippines as a tourist destination. I have no problem with fees that are made clear upfront (many countries charge for a visa) but applying a fee to depart a country without including it in an airline ticket price is, in a word, disgusting. Let the reader beware.