One cannot begin a trip report about the largest amusement park in Beijing without touching briefly upon the controversy that engulfed it in the middle of last year. The state-owned park originally promoted itself using the slogan of Disneyland is too far, and borrowed a few ideas from a well known resort in Florida. The costume characters are now gone, and the castle has been repainted, but the place retains many attractions that would never be allowed in countries with stronger copyright protection. Any knowledgeable enthusiast can easily recognise the templates used for the vast majority of the rides, practically all of which were supplied by Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment.
The first ride of the morning was a local design rather than a copy, and it was actually fairly decent. Mine Coaster (#1254) consists mainly of gently sloping track with the occasional airtime bump, but no trim brakes at all meant that the ride had picked up some serious speed by the end of the course. The only negative point was an extremely noisy enclosed lift hill; other than that I'd gladly have ridden more than once if I'd had an unlimited ride ticket.
The Feng Shen Coaster (#1255) wasn't built by Meisho Amusement Machines. If it had been it might have had enough energy to survive its return trip through the vertical loop without passengers hearing the up-stop wheels clunk into the track, a serious oh jesus moment if ever there was one. I'm no engineer, but it strikes me that the wear and tear on this ride would be far less if centrifugal force was sufficient to hold the train in place.
Worm Coaster (#1256) was likely based on one of the many Big Apple coasters, but since this coasters of this type are produced by at least five manufacturers one can harly fault the Chinese for building their own. This version drops the usual stacked figure eight layout in favour of an S-shaped top level and a completely untrimmed drop through the middle of a slightly rotten looking Apple. The end result, though unlikely to make a top ten list, was nevertheless very cool.
Roller Coaster (#1257) actually was built by Senyo Kogyo Ltd, though the original train has been replaced with a new one from SBL. Though I never got to ride the original this version is almost certainly an improvement, as there was plenty of leg room and no lump at shoulder height. The end result was possibly the best coaster of this style that I've been on, and while that isn't saying a huge amount it was at least rerideable!
Space Trip (#1258) wasn't built by Zierer. Even still it proved to be one of the better coasters of the day, thanks to some slight changes to the original layout which improved the overall ride experience no end. The lack of a working blocking system meant that capacity was pretty dismal, but on the plus side this meant no loss of speed before the final brake run.
Right next to it was the Crazy Mouse (#1259), which wasn't built by Herschell. The last original Mad Mouse ride was built many years ago, and I'm still in moderate disbelief that anyone would want to clone it. The original models are not terribly comfortable, with enthusiasts only caring about them due to their historical value. Shibaolai has invested a lot of time and effort to copy a ride which was the cream of 1950s technology, and the result is even more violent and unpleasant than the original; in short, a definite useful addition to the park.
Of all the coasters in the park my favourite by far was the Jurassic Adventure (#1260). Though the coaster itself was fairly average the intricate and detailed jungle theming made this ride something special. The only thing missing was a large animatronic waiting to take a swipe at the train; perhaps that will be added after the designers make their next visit to Florida!
Spinning Batman (#1261) wasn't built by Caripro. If it had been the cars might not have bounced riders around like popcorn in a saucepan. Some of the corners were unbelievably violent, and thus the locals on the ground were able to enjoy some elementary lessons in high volume English invective. The only small saving grace for the ride was its theming, with all the track supports decorated to look like trees. Even still, however, it was definitely a coaster to be photographed rather than ridden.
The Spinning Coaster was out of commission for the day, leaving us with one remaining credit. The Shenzhou Coaster (#1262) wasn't built by Vekoma. If it had been, then it might have been possible for more of our group to fit on board; the cloned restraints being even smaller, harder, and less comfortable than the originals. It might also have had a safer layout; the camel back element pushed the cars close enough together that anyone stretching their legs could easily have hit the car in front. It might also have had smoother transitions. As it was, the ride was extremely violent, and a severe injury waiting to happen; I'm just glad it wasn't me. On a scale from one to ten, this ride definitely fell completely off the charts.
Anyone reading this trip report might have concluded at this point that Shijingshan park is only a worthwhile stop for credit whores. Nothing could be further than the truth; while the coasters are for the most part nothing to write home about the place is also home to an impressive collection of flat rides, covering both the generic and the unusual. We were quite looking forward to trying the clone of Soarin', which sadly was closed today. The staff were very friendly and did their best to help us despite not having even a modicum of Chinglish. It will be very interesting to see how this park develops over the next few years, especially now that it is no longer trying to be Disneyland; it certainly has potential to find its way into the big league.