We began our visit to our second Chinese park with a slightly surreal moment; an operator was striding towards his coaster with a spare wheel under his arm. Our guide spoke to him to determine how long the ride would be closed, and the response of fifteen minutes caused more than a few raised eyebrows. Anywhere else in the world this type of change would require a new safety inspection, but apparently not here. Rather than wait it out we elected to head to the other credit first.
Roller Coaster (#1263) was built by Togo of Japan in the years long before the locals contemplated constructing their own rides. It was hard to feel very enthusiastic about riding, given the tendency for Japanese designs of this period to be of indifferent quality. As such, it was a very pleasant surprise to discover that the first drop and loop were entirely smooth, and I'd just remarked that the ride wasn't so bad when we hit the first corkscrew element. Judging by the rest of the ride the problem was fairly simple; the train was not capable of negotiating a directional change at any speed without slamming from side to side in a most unpleasant fashion. Once was definitely enough.
The morning was rescued by the oddly named Superspeed Cool-Cool Bear (#1263). The new wheel had apparently been fitted correctly, as the train covered the course at a considerable speed with barely a jolt to be felt. There was a real burst of speed towards the end of the ride, with the final two turns producing some particularly strong lateral forces. The only caveat was one of padding; those sitting on the left hand side of the train had a seat cushion to slide into. Those on the right only had a rock hard seat divider. Let the reader beware!
As per usual for this part of the world the Big Wheel was almost completely enclosed, but it was just about possible to slide my camera through the narrow window gap giving reasonable aerial photography. The lack of air conditioning on board diminished my enthusiasm for much else beyond sitting the shade, but I did make an effort for the Surprising House haunted swing. The door on the rotating room wouldn't close today, resulting in what almost felt like a backstage tour; I spend the ride watching the action of the mechanism, which totally ruined the optical illusion!
2nd September 2008
It would be relatively easy to recycle a considerable portion of yesterday's trip report in my description of the roller coasters in Sun Park. However, I'm going to resist the temptation. Suffice it to say that cloned rides were once again widespread, and the copies were for the most part not improvements on the originals. As before though there were a few diamonds in the rough, the best coaster of the lot being one designed for those under the age of five. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Ride number one was a surprisingly enjoyable Jungle Mouse (#1265) built by Shibaolai. There isn't a huge scope for variation in a wild mouse coaster layout, but this one didn't match up with any western designs as far as I could tell, proving that people in this country can actually innovate when they want to. As an aside, it is impossible for me to understand why the builder of this ride would subsequently clone an older design, but perhaps they had their reasons.
The next two coasters were somewhere between bad and awful. Roller Coaster (#1266) was built by a local company that little is known about, and it wouldn't be a great stretch to assume that this was their first and only coaster. The train began shuddering badly as it negotiated the turnaround at the bottom of the lift hill, making me dread what it would be like once up to speed. My trepidation was well placed; the ride was appallingly rough. Oddly enough the same roughness was evident on the Spinning Coaster (#1267), a clone of the Maurer ride built a few years earlier; our car barely spun at all, while coming to an almost complete stop in each successive block section. The final nail in the coffin was the straightening mechanism in the brake run which had not been improved from the original.
The fourth credit was the Mine Coaster (#1268), a straight duplicate of yesterday's version. This model had clearly been repainted recently but otherwise it might as well have been identical. Next up came the Rainbow Children Coaster (#1269), which can be thought of as what one might end up with if a Big Apple was stretched to occupy six times as much land; the entire ride was basically one large descending helix that covered an area the size of a typical swimming pool. The other kiddie coaster went to the other extreme; the Fruit Worm Coaster (#1270) might have been four feet tall and it covered an area the size of a large family car. The group had a huge amount of fun here, not least because fitting in the train proved to be a real stretch for many of us. The locals were somewhat bemused at several successive trainloads of adults, but they got into the spirit of things after a while. Pleading foreign tourist is a wonderful excuse for doing silly things.
Having finished all the known coasters, I began to roam the park once again with my camera. The Parachute Drop was almost completely worthless for photography thanks to thick netting all round it, which rendered the No Jump sign largely unnecessary. It did however provide the best aspect for a large building in the centre of the park. At first glance this looked to contain an attraction called the Mystic Castle, a poor knock-off of the excellent Sound Fusion found at Hanayashiki Amusement Park in Tokyo. On exiting, however, word began to spread that the building also contained a coaster, and indeed it did; Space Travel (#1271) was an enclosed clone of another of yesterday's credits. In fact, having thought about it, the two largest coaster parks in Beijing contain three identical coasters, or to put it another way, 42% of the coasters in Sun Park can also be found in Shijingshan. Go figure.