Happy Valley Tianjin

7th October 2013

Happy Valley Tianjin is a new park that soft-opened to guests on July 27th of this year. It is quite different to the other members of the family for two reasons; first, more than half of the rides have been constructed inside an enormous dome, presumably to allow operation in all weather conditions; second, the standard of theming is excellent, far better than what I'd expected. The easiest way to get there is via bus number 663, which leaves from a platform just outside Tianjinzhan Station, the terminal for the high speed train service to Beijing. The journey to the park takes around an hour for a cost of just 4 RMB (about $0.50). There are lots of visible road signs on the route to indicate the approximate distance remaining, and the park becomes visible on the left hand side of the road about a minute before the designated stop.

Happy Valley Tianjin

As of this writing the park is still unfinished, with a number of major rides that have yet to open to the public, including three of the four roller coasters, the Christmas Tower, and Whitewater Rafting. Be that as it may, all of those can be thought of as reasons to return in the future, and as a coaster counting enthusiast I'm reasonably confident that I'll be back in China at some point. The only significant ride that is available at present is Fjord Flying Dragon (#1963), a double out and back wood coaster designed by the Gravity Group, and a fantastic ride that is absolutely loaded with airtime. The layout does not have a mid course block brake, meaning that the frenetic pacing is maintained for just over a minute from the first drop to the end of the course.

Unfortunately, there was a wait time of almost two hours today that was due almost entirely to some of the most inefficient operating policies I've seen in my career; it takes a certain amount of invention to come up with a procedure where two trains are operated on a coaster and dispatches still only average once every ten minutes. Today the following basic steps were being used every time a train arrived in the station:

  • Unlock the restraints and allow exiting passengers to disembark.
  • Take photos of them sitting in the train if they ask.
  • Wait for everyone to be clear of the exit platform.
  • Allow just enough people into the station to fill each set of air gates.
  • Listen to the clatter of the other train hitting the brake run.
  • Check that each row has exactly two people in it.
  • Call out for single riders if necessary.
  • Open the air gates. Wait while guests load all loose objects into bins.
  • Go around checking seat belts.
  • Enable lap bars, then make separate pass to check those.
  • Chat to other ride operators for a bit.
  • Hit the dispatch button.

There was an enormous cattle grid under the station which was not in use today; if it had been, the wait time would have been measurable using a calendar. Rather than brave the queue a second time, I made my way to the Haunted Castle, a particularly good walkthrough that combined some extremely high quality scenery with fun house elements (collapsing walls, a rotating tunnel, et al) and several live actors.

One of the staples of the Happy Valley chain is the dark ride where one can shoot Santa Claus. The Tianjin park has a different but equally messed up target shooting ride named Bavaria Animal Rescue. The very first target inside the gate is a tiger inside a moving shopping trolley, and things get weirder from there. Some of the animatronic animals have targets attached directly to them, implying that rescue isn't necessarily on the agenda. There were also large projection screens with animations that could be shot at; in one, a cat climbed into a washing machine and the door shut, but if you hit the correct point you could destroy the glass in said door, at which point a very wet animal would rematerialise dripping wet, albeit without any obvious injuries from flying glass.

 

Tianjin Shuishang Park

7th October 2013

Taking the bus back to Tianjin Station took considerably longer than the outbound journey thanks to much heavier traffic. Furthermore, the bus seemed to follow a very circuitous route inside the city bounds; had I better knowledge of my surroundings I could probably have disembarked sooner and walked. The traffic, coupled with an unexpectedly long queue at the subway station, meant that I arrived at Zhoudengjinianguan station almost two hours later than planned.

Tianjin Shuishang Park

Even with more time to play with I doubt I'd have bothered anything more than a hit-and-run at this park, as both the coasters were rubbish. Wang Zhong Wang (#1964) was a definite candidate for the most uncomfortable steel coaster I've ever been on, supplementing the expected headbanging with a punch in the stomach that really hurt. It was interesting to see that the train used up almost all of its potential energy on the ride circuit, coasting into the final brake run at no more than fifteen miles per hour; one wonders how much faster the ride might have been with more accurate track fabrication.

I caught a quick lap on the Spinning Coaster (#1965) before power walking across the park in the hope of catching the credit at the Tianjin Zoo. Unfortunately I arrived a few minutes too late; ticket sales had already stopped for the day.

2013


Happy Valley Tianjin

Reports from this park:

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Tianjin Shuishang Park

Reports from this park:

Links