Over the last few years I've had a lot of practice at planning trips to foreign countries. Most present no real difficulty, thanks in part to the Internet but most of all to satellite navigation. Asian countries, however, tend to be the exception to this rule, due both to dodgy machine translation and a relatively small number of English-speaking tourists. Sometimes what little information there is turns out to be correct; other times, it is completely and utterly wrong. Our research had suggested that Formosa Wonderworld was home to two roller coasters. It was only when we got there that a helpful staff member advised us that they'd been dismantled two or three years ago. As such, we quickly reverted to our backup plan.
Leofoo Village Theme Park
9th September 2008
We arrived at Leofoo Village Theme Park shortly before lunch time to an almost eerie silence. The twin spikes of the Screaming Condor impulse coaster were clearly visible, but the only noise nearby was the wind. An enquiry at guest services revealed the sad truth; the ride was closed for its annual maintenance check, and it was not expected to reopen until October. We were more than a little intrigued at the length of this down time, but the language barrier made it impossible to glean any more information. At the end of the day rider safety must always take precedence over everything else; perhaps we will return some day.
Fortunately for all concerned the other two coasters were open. Sahara Twist (#1298) is one of just a handful of spinning coasters built by Intamin, and while it was a moderately decent ride it certainly wasn't the sort of ride one would make an eleven hour flight for. Its best attribute was the clever spring mechanism for straightening the cars at the end of the track, a vast improvement on the brutal slam we got to enjoy several times last week on the Golden Horse spinning coasters. The other ride was Little Rattler (#1299), one of two large roller skater designs in Taiwan.
Window on China Theme Park
9th September 2008
Window on China Theme Park felt to me like a three way marriage between Legoland Billund, Oakwood Theme Park, and the mid sized family entertainment centre of the readers choice. We had to pass through several sets of shops on the way into the park, reversing the usual norm, before boarding a train which brought us to the ride area. The largest single attraction is a beautifully themed giant splash called Nile Adventure which towers over everything else in the surrounding area, and though we didn't ride it ourselves it certainly looked like fun.
The larger of the two coasters in the park proved to be significantly bigger than I'd anticipated. Laser Blaster (#1300) is fully enclosed within a corner of a larger building, and thus new passengers have no idea until they board that the ride actually has two consecutive lift hills at ninety degrees to each other. There is a substantial burst of speed at the base of the first drop which continues all the way around the course, making this without question the best coaster of the day. We quickly ticked off the Mini Mine Train (#1301) before looking to see what else the park had to offer.
Initial inspections suggested that the Crazy Rapid ride wasn't too wet. We should have known better; the first hint was all the locals choosing to ride with ponchos, but we completely ignored that warning, just as we didn't pay attention to the two inches of water in the bottom of each boat. The end result was a complete soaking, and while this is funny in hindsight it certainly wasn't at the time. We also tried two dark rides. The first clearly took its naming from the Chimelong Paradise guidebook; Dark Ride featured a strange mixture of creatures from a mythical world, albeit with utterly uninspired animatronic actions and a number of blown lightbulbs. The other was the Small Europe attraction, which as the name suggests owed a considerable amount to the well known attraction in the Disney parks.