Lotte World18th September 2007
Possibly the best known coaster in South Korea for the average enthusiast is a ride called Atlantis Adventure. It is notable as the first and to date only installation of an Intamin Aqua Trax ride, which as its name suggests is a coaster that partially runs on water. While it might be reasonable in general to assume that a ride of this nature would not have a problem with precipitation, this installation is a known exception. As such, weather.com's grim prediction of a one hundred percent chance of rain was not the ideal start to the morning. Sure enough, we arrived at the park to be greeted by a sign advising that all outdoor attractions would not be operating today. Robb immediately arranged for the group to meet up a little earlier than planned so we could hit the road if everyone had had their fill of the place. As it turned out there was so much to do that we ended up staying for the full time window anyway.
The doors opened promptly at nine thirty, with the entire mob making a thoroughly dignified walk over to the only expected credit of the day. The French Revolution (#1068) train gave rise to the first bit of unintentional humour of the trip, a sign advising people to prevent from being injured, please take off your earrings while running. This advice, or at least the advice the writers intended, is generally pertinent for any eighties-vintage Vekoma product. This model was no exception, with four nasty jolts evenly spaced throughout the course. On the whole though the ride was probably a seven out of ten, with bonus points going for the not inconsiderable length and the interaction with other rides and theming.
Theming is one of the signature features of Lotte World. Considerable money has clearly been spent making the various rides look top notch. The most impressive of the lot was Pharaoh's Fury, a tracked jeep ride along the lines of Disney's Indiana Jones. The queue line passed through numerous rooms filled with replica egyptian artifacts, with even the walls and ceilings finished to a very high standard. Once on board the ride itself borrows considerably from the Disney version, which is no bad thing. It's also no harm to note that this ride is actually located on the fourth floor of the park, with one memorable moment where the car tilts suddenly sideways threatening to let passengers experience a short and final freefall. Presumably this is why the vehicles have seatbelts!
On previous trips to Asia my travels have brought me to unique amusement attractions that leave the rider wondering what controlled substance the ride designer was partaking of. It wasn't altogether surprising to find one such ride here, in the Comet Express powered coaster. The scenery can best be summarised as Space Mountain, or rather it can't; there's much more of it than the Disney rides. Think of it as a multipurpose planetarium and you have the basic idea. The train consists of thirteen free spinning two seater cars. Once the ride gets up to full speed the resulting forces are very powerful, with riders pinned into the back (and sometimes the side) of their seats. It was impossible to resist riding a second time even though I felt distinctly dizzy after round one.
We strolled past a variety of major outdoor rides, all of which were closed due to the rain, which at this stage was bordering on the torrential. Anything that was completely enclosed was safe, though, and one such attraction was the Ghost House. This turned out to be not a walkthrough like we thought but instead a 3D cinema attraction. I'm sure I've seen this particular movie before but I can't place where; a decrepit house full of randomly moving objects is shown from the perspective of a cat. There isn't a story there but there doesn't need to be; rather, it is an excuse for three dimensional effects which are convincing enough to make the average guest reach out into the space in front of them.
It seems odd that a mixed indoor and outdoor park would have two of its water rides located indoors, but Lotte World has just that with an indoor log flume and rapids. Potential visitors should be aware that the Flume Ride is not a dry flume; the writer made a last minute (correct) decision to put on his waterproof jacket. Unfortunately this only ensured my t-shirt didn't get soaked; the rest of me wasn't so lucky. On the other extreme, the Jungle Adventure rapids was hardly wet at all, but the boats built up a considerable speed as well as a powerful spinning motion.
Finally, the photographer in me was satisfied by two rides that provide a scenic tour of the park. The World Monorail normally goes inside and outside the park but there is a switch section that allows the outdoor area to be closed in bad weather. This is probably just as well given the cars are completely open, a nice change from the fully enclosed cars common in more lawsuit happy countries. The real unique ride though was the Aeronauts Balloon Ride, a fifteen minute long tracked ride suspended from the ceiling of the main arena. The cars could be lowered one at a time for loading, an altogether better plan than asking riders to climb to the thirty metre height of the ride itself!