Leofoo Village Theme Park

21st February 2016

We arrived at Leofoo Village Theme Park a few minutes after the scheduled opening and, cognisant of past failures, went to look for the list of closed rides. It was a very pleasant surprise to discover that the sign in question was completely blank, and guest services confirmed the good news; everything was supposed to be open, including the coaster that we'd failed to ride on three previous visits.

The park is open from 09:00 to 17:00, but it's worth noting that only a handful of flat rides operate throughout that window. The attractions with higher running costs begin operation up to ninety minutes later, and most also close early. Our target coaster had a sign indicating that it would open at 10:00, and given that we decided to spend the first hour exploring. The only change I could see from my last visit in 2011 was the addition of a water park; everything else was untouched and exactly as I remembered it.

Entrance

The Pagoda's Revenge giant drop opened just as we walked past it, and we figured that we might as well give it a try. From the midway the ride looked too small to bother with, but as we entered the queue it became apparent that appearances were deceptive; a significant portion of the structure had been sunk below ground level. The on board experience wasn't especially memorable, though it was mildly amusing to see a huge crack and a thick layer of dust across the lens of the on-ride photo camera, suggesting that it had been out of use for a very long time. (The park web site claims a tower height of fifty-three metres, which is broadly equivalent to many of the other towers of the same vintage, including those at Carowinds and Drayton Manor.)

The first of the three coasters to open was Sahara Twist, one of three worldwide installations of the Intamin Twist and Turn Coaster. The ride is classified as a spinning coaster, but that is a bit of a misnomer really; the train features eight cars that rotate under lateral force, but a spring mechanism causes them to reset to the centre position quite quickly. Full rotations are possible with the design but quite rare; my car only made it to about 150° as we went through the final corner.

We arrived at Screaming Condor (#2193) about twenty seconds before the operator removed the lock from the gate, and thus we were first in line. Our eyes were immediately drawn to prominent signage indicating that there would be a delay of fifteen minutes between each launch in order to complete a "reset process". It was apparently necessary to run through this process before we could board even though we had seen no test launches at all, and thus it was fifteen minutes later when we were finally in our seats. There's an eight letter word that can be succinctly used to describe this policy, but I'm going to be unusually polite by using the word poppycock instead; the reality is that Impulse Coasters are enormously expensive to run, and operating at a limited frequency therefore saves a huge amount of money. If there were a design flaw with the technology requiring an extended reset period then it would be evident on the other five operating installations too. The enormous cattle pen next to the track had enough space for at least twenty train loads, if not more, suggesting that the artificially inflated wait time on a busy day could exceed five hours.

Operational issues aside, however, the ride was very good indeed. It was being operated today with the standard programme of three forward launches and two reverse launches, but the power setting was higher than normal, and as a result the train made it all the way to the end of the U-shaped track on launches two through five. The sense of speed was amplified by the fact that much of the track was enclosed. The front seat was definitely the place to be for the view; we did try a second lap in the back seat and it just wasn't the same.

We decided to wait a cycle to capture some action photographs, and in so doing discovered a rather unique feature. The position of the ride station in an underground trench makes it difficult to see when a dispatch is about to occur, so the designers have installed a set of cleverly hidden speakers that play a recording of severe weather when the dispatch button is pressed. Moments later one can hear the vague scream of the LIMs in the distance, and about ten seconds after that a train load of riders shoots backwards out of the trench.

In the interests of completeness we did a single lap on Little Rattler, memorable only for a very informative three step sign instructing on the use of seat belts in English and Mandarin. With that out of the way we concluded our visit with Sultan's Adventure, a sixteen seat jeep ride with gloriously elaborate theming.

Ireland's Potato

 

Taipei Children's Amusement Park

21st February 2016

One of the first things I did on arrival in Taiwan last week was to make the trip out to Taipei Children's Amusement Park by public transport. It was raining quite heavily at the time, and the roller coaster was closed. A member of staff in guest services was able to tell me that the ride only works when the track is dry, rendering it quite unreliable in the damp local climate. Later that evening I checked the extended weather forecast for the area and discovered that rain was predicted for every single day of my two week trip, meaning that the credit that I wanted was far from guaranteed. Fortunately, however, the forecast changed, and I took full advantage of the one dry day to make a return visit.

The park operates on a pay-per-ride basis, but individual ride tickets are very cheap, making it difficult to run up a large bill. Payments have to be made using EasyCard, a rechargeable smart card that is used throughout Taipei for low value transactions. These can be bought from any railway station or at the entrance of the park for NTD $100 (~€2.75).

Roller Coaster (#2194) is technically a production model coaster, an IE Park JR 45, but as of this writing is the only ride of its type to have been sold. The design bears little resemblance to the smaller JR models as it eschews the chain mechanism in favour of a curved lift with twenty-five separate tyre drive motors. These seem a bit underpowered, taking the better part of a minute to raise the train to the maximum height of twelve metres, and worse yet, there is a dramatic shudder every time a car crosses a motor. However, once over the top the ride quality is actually pretty good; the layout isn't forceful in any way but the tracking is smooth and there is a pleasant sense of speed. Seating is unfortunately the luck of the draw, though we did manage the back row twice.

The park has a fully enclosed Ferris Wheel with tinted glass that renders it largely useless for photographs, but on the plus side one does get a nice overview of the park from the heights. Each car is equipped with a solar panel on the roof, though it is unclear what these are actually for; there is no internal lighting or air conditioning, or indeed anything else that might consume power.

There are a range of different food options, but there was really only one choice for me, namely Ireland's Potato, a branch of a local fast food chain that is about as Irish as Chiang Kai-shek. The shopfront looked reasonably authentic, but the menu definitely wasn't; I can't say I've ever come across any outlet in this country that sells Red Wine Spicy Beef French Fries, Beef Rib Sauce New Potatoes or for that matter Lemon Popcorn Chicken. There was also a huge billboard on the wall alluding to an apparently famous proverb that I've never come across before: "There are two things in the world that can't be joked; marriage and potato".

Ireland's Potato

2016


Leofoo Village Theme Park

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Taipei Children's Amusement Park

Reports from this park:

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