We were greeted this morning by glorious sunshine and a somewhat strange set breakfast of frosted cornflakes, scrambled egg, salami, baby tomatoes (uncooked) and cold french fries. Having said that, anything was an improvement on the absolutely horrible porridge experienced just two days earlier while in the custody of Korean Air. For the record, the aforementioned airline has quite possibly the most comfortable economy class I've experienced in my life, with very good food in general. Unfortunately, my palate is almost completely incompatible with porridge of any shape or form, particularly rice porridge.
It was also a relief to finally acclimatise to local time, having failed to get much sleep on the plane courtesy of a small creature with newly developed and powerful vocal cords. Personally I think it should have been stowed in the cargo hold, but for some reason its parents seemed to feel otherwise. Every time this happens to me I'm reminded of a flight some years ago where the small child in front of me went to sleep before take off and didn't wake up again until landing. This minor miracle was so amazing that I had to ask the technique, which turned out to be codeine.
19th September 2007
Tongdo Fantasia opens at ten, but the attractions within open at staggered times from ten to eleven. The usual purpose of this technique in American parks is to get people to spend money in the park shops, but the reasoning was obviously different here since the shops were not open either. Korea is like Japan insofar as very little park merchandise is available, as it apparently doesn't sell to the local populace. There are occasional t-shirts and polo shirts in adult sizes, but even then the chances of getting something in anything bigger than what Europeans would call medium are pretty slim.
On the plus side, the staggered opening gave us plenty of time to wander around the park taking photographs before Fantasia Mini Special (#1069) opened at half past. We think that the word mini was only being used to describe the station air gates, which were a rather pointless eighteen inches high. Be that as it may, this family sized coaster was a good length but rather uncomfortable, with some particularly brutal corners. It was telling that nobody in the group rode it more than once even though it was the only open ride for a while.
The next ride to open was the Huss-built Flipper. This is not a machine I've come across before, but broadly can be considered to be a waltzer that tilts to a 45° angle. Unfortunately for me the restraint on my side of the car began to drip as the ride got up to speed, leaving a very unfortunate looking stain on one side of my shorts. This was water, though I'm not sure everyone believed me when I said so!
We were not expecting much out of the Fantasia Special (#1070), the only triple corkscrew coaster Arrow ever built. Being on the first train of the morning on a ride that hadn't been tested first didn't inspire a huge amount of confidence either. Surprisingly though the ride turned out to be really good, so much so that I went for a second circuit in the back car, not the most intelligent thing to do on such a coaster. It was pretty good too, though I decided not to tempt fate with a third go. Some of the group did, and were the worse for it; apparently the ride is only at its best when the train is mostly full.
The only other ride I tried was the Condor, largely for the potential of decent aerial photographs of the rest of the park. It was running very slowly even by the usual condor standard, which made it possible to get a good overview shot of the big coaster.
19th September 2007
The amusement industry press, and particularly the coaster enthusiast media, is prone to get over-enthusiastic about new roller coasters from time to time, particularly new rides from B&M. However, one new-for-2007 ride from the dynamic duo has largely escaped notice. Phaethon (#1071) features six inversions and a one kilometer length, making it a serious new ride by any definition. It is also currently the second tallest coaster in its country, so the fact that it has had barely a mention can only be put down to one thing; its location, well off the beaten track.
After the precision engineering of the new ride the parks other three coasters marked a not altogether pleasant jump back to reality. The best of the three was the powered Dragon 2 Loop Coaster, a standard Zamperla model wth two helices, though I'll forgive the malapropism in the engrish transration since most of the locals wouldn't be able to read it anyway.
The worst of the three by far was Space 2000 (#1072). One of the park engineers told us that the ride is costing an absolute fortune to maintain and it is to be removed soon; frankly, from riding it, it's hard to believe that any maintenance is happening at all. It rides like a sandpaper-lined shopping trolley with a bad missing wheel running over cobblestones. It was almost worth riding just to hear the colourful invective from the other people as they got to experience their own personal version of concussion. Many of the more choice expressions apparently came from a web site popular with this group called Buffy's Swearing Keyboard. I'm not going to link to this, but it's easy to find in Google.
The final coaster was for many years an outdoor ride by the name of Jungle Mouse. This has recently been enclosed and rethemed as Space Tour (#1073). There is an excellent strobe lighting effect on the lift hill that makes the ride seem much taller and faster than it actually is... thankfully! The layout is as wild as wild mice come, with some seriously sharp turns and bends. Since these are mostly in the dark it's difficult to brace for them, so I took the next best option and held on for dear life while the Star Wars music blasted at me in the background. Fun, yes; rerideable, no.
The park has an enlightened policy on the use of cameras on ride, and with that in mind I brought my camera on a Giant Drop for the first time in my life, eager to snap some overhead shots of Phaethon. Knowing that it was a Fabbri model I was careful to shut it off and brace it carefully before the final drop, and I was rewarded both with good pictures and a non-broken camera. I also decided to chance the Ferris Wheel, never a particularly good idea on a hot day in Asia where the cars are fully enclosed. This model had large windows though, with plenty of ventilation, so no suffering was required.