Dusit Zoo4th June 2012
I wrote to four different tour companies in Bangkok while in the planning stages for this trip. Of the two that replied to me, one of them advised me that they would not be able to bring me to Dusit Zoo because they did not agree with the practices for animal handling there. I'm flagging this in my trip report for two reasons; first, I've got the height of respect for organisations that turn down business due to moral positions; second, now that I've been to Dusit Zoo, it is easy for me to see why that company feels the way that they do.
The amusement rides at Dusit Zoo do not open until two hours after the zoo itself, and as such I had ample time to walk around the various enclosures. Several animals looked to be living in fairly miserable conditions; one of the bears looked actively malnourished, two hippopotami were curled up in one corner of an enclosure that was smaller than my living room, and a crocodile was lying dead still in a pond full of coins. Though there was a sign visible asking guests not to throw coins into the water, it was very obvious that the ones I could see had been there for some time, with a number of them actually resting on the animal.
In due course the Running Rat (#1751) opened. Though a standard big apple design, this model had soft padding on the inside of each car where passengers' knees might normally collide with hard fiberglass. This was probably put there to compensate for a sharp jolt in the track at the top of the drop, where the two sections of rail didn't appear to fit together exactly as they should have.
Siam Park City4th June 2012
Enthusiasts chasing after quality roller coasters might be tempted to skip Siam Park City; after all, one doesn't have to travel half way around the world to ride a Boomerang (#1752) and a SLC. Vortex (#1753) certainly looks the part, being constructed over a landscaped garden, but it rides just as one might expect. The fact that it is an extended version of the standard layout doesn't help it; once was more than enough.
There is an operational powered coaster in one corner of the park, but it's not terribly interesting. Grand Canyon Express is set about twenty feet above the ground, where it meanders around at a fairly sedate pace. It looks very strange indeed, due to the fact that many of its supports have been extended by large concrete pillars. The reason for this became evident on consulting RCDB; it originally operated at Jerudong Park in Brunei, where it likely fit its terrain perfectly. It strikes me that this ride could be much better with a bit of theming; perhaps that might be on the cards for the future?
Despite the lack of worthwhile coasters, I'm able to report that Siam Park City is actually a really nice park. Spotlessly clean and brightly coloured, the stand out attraction here is actually a Log Flume pictured across. There is also a drop tower, a huge observation tower, a variety of spin rides, and four custom attractions, all of which I tried. Two of these involved dinosaurs; a jeep ride named Jurassic Adventure and a dark walkthrough named Dinotopia. The third was a boat journey named Africa Adventure, which brought me past a variety of animatronic animals. My favourite for sheer quirkiness was Big Double Shock, a very good haunted walkthrough with one of the oddest endings I've ever seen (which I'm not going to spoil here).
Dream World4th June 2012
Dream World proved to be another surprisingly nice park, and one that I found myself very short of time in thanks to lengthy queues on some rides. I'm normally able to predict how long I'll want in a park with a high degree of accuracy, but there's no question I got it wrong in this case. I'd advise those attempting to repeat this trip to go to Dream World for opening, and to not try to fit more than the two big parks in one day. It's also worth noting that Dream World offers rides through the park on the back of an elephant, and while I didn't partake of this it was still quite interesting to see.
The three roller coasters were all excellent rides and ones that I'd have happily repeated given more time. Speedy Mouse (#1754) is what all kiddie coasters should be; lively, yet gentle enough for the whole family to enjoy. Sky Coaster (#1755) is a rare example of a Vekoma Swinging Turns ride, with inverted trains that swing from side to side while going around corners. This version originally operated with enclosed trains, but has recently been upgraded with floorless seating that take the experience to a higher level. Finally, Space Mountain (#1756) was a fairly average enclosed coaster that is taken in almost complete darkness; the only lighting is found on the lift hill and brake run.
The only other attractions I had time for were the Haunted Mansion (very good) and the Giant House. The latter consisted of a room filled with oversized furniture including a giant fast asleep in a bed that stretched about five feet off the ground. I've captured part of it in my photograph above, but it's one of these things that really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.