Today started with a two hour drive to cover the fifty kilometres from my hotel to Beijing Xiangtang International Agricultural Sightseeing Garden, a rather long-winded name for a holiday camp located just north of the Chinese capital. The weather was glorious, with a clear blue sky and light breeze, but the gates of the amusement area were padlocked. There was a sign up in the ticket window advising that the park opens on weekends, but apparently not those in late October. I spent ten minutes taking photographs through the fencing before deciding to cut my losses.
26th October 2013
It took another hour to get to Yexian Park, a tourist area located on the side of a mountain in Miyun, about sixty kilometres north of Beijing. On arrival I found a temple complex full of people burning incense, a scenic overlook, a collection of statues, and a small amusement park. The latter was located about three hundred metres to the left of the main entrance. While everything was open today, there was an unexpected problem in that both coasters needed a minimum of two people to operate. The ticket seller refused to sell individual tickets, and when I asked for two, the answer remained no.
I decided to go stand half way up the stairs to Roller Coaster (#1982) in the hope that it'd attract a few others to follow, and sure enough it did. None of us had ride tickets, but that didn't seem to matter to the ride operator who was happy to let us on board with the appropriate payment in cash. This ride, branded a Jet Coaster by Beijing Shibaolai, looked and felt like a copy of the trains and track system pioneered by Anton Schwarzkopf, albeit with an original layout. The ride was surprisingly smooth, and punctuated by several pops of airtime and some strong laterals. In short, it was against all expectations, rather good.
Getting on the Golden Horse Spinning Coaster (#1983) proved far more problematic, as nobody else seemed to want to ride. In the end I was forced to rely on my powers of negotiation and possibly a sympathy vote from an operator who put down his book long enough to send one car around the track.
Crab Island Children's Theme Park
26th October 2013
Crab Island Resort is a large holiday camp with accommodation, two amusement parks, indoor fishing (!), and a number of restaurants. It is also home to a number of quite entertaining warning signs, the best of which advised a prohibition on cellphone use during thunderstorms. My driver let me out at the main parking area, which my GPS watch indicated was a little over a kilometre from the adult rides.
I'd planned to skip the children's area, but my walk went directly past it so I figured I'd step in there for five minutes. Spinning Yacht was closed and looked to have been so for some time. However, I was able to ride the powered Fruit Worm Coaster, which, though not countable, may possibly annoy some Mancunian somewhere.
Crab Island Resort
26th October 2013
The larger amusement area in Crab Island operates on the same pay per ride basis as the children's area, though there are also some combination tickets available. In a bizarre move, however, tickets are only sold at a booth located outside of the park, a good five minutes walk from the bigger rides. The signage was all in Chinese, forcing me to use a photograph to indicate what I wanted needed; a single ticket for the Hanging Roller Coaster (#1984).
It was obvious that this ride was going to hurt even before we left the station, as my restraint was very tight across my shoulders with no room to move at all. The lift hill and first drop were okay, but the first inversion inflicted a hard punch in my stomach, and there were still three more to go. It was a major relief when we arrived at the brake run; after all, it is traditional for those experiencing hanging to end up dead.