Happy Valley Beijing

3rd September 2008

There are many types of amusement park in this world, but for the ease of analogy I'm going to split them into two broad categories; the amusement park, and the theme park. Happy Valley Beijing is the first park I've been to in China that fits into the latter category, thanks to incredibly detailed and intricate theming. The place reminded me most of Islands of Adventure; there were six separate themed lands to explore, and each had their own distinctive style. No expense was spared in the construction of the park, and it shows.

Happy Valley Beijing

Unfortunately, corners have been cut in the ride operations department. For our visit one coaster was closed all day, and the other three were operating a single train with spares clearly visible on the transfer tracks. Worse yet, only two of these opened in the morning; the third didn't open until after lunch time. These facts combined to generate lengthy wait times across the board, and as a result the day wasn't as much fun as it should have been.

Two of the four coasters were built by Vekoma, and unusually for this part of the world both were the genuine article. Part of this may be the fact that the Dutch company does a lot of its fabrication in Guangzhou, but whatever the case it was good to see authentic products for a change. Jungle Racing (#1275) was the third installation of the standard mine train design to open, and though two years old now it might as well have been new. Conversely, Golden Wings in Snowfield (#1277) was not fun at all thanks to a number of oh my god that hurt moments. The awkward tracking proved a bit of a surprise given that its European cousin is smooth; perhaps this is down to maintenance?

The third coaster, however, proved positively stunning. Crystal Wings (#1276) is a B&M-built flying coaster that is the same design and layout as the three Superman rides in the United States. This version has been improved greatly by being built around an artificial mountain which emphasises the feeling of flying in a way that soaring over former car park never could. The back seat was intense, but the front was utterly out of this world, with the forces at the base of the pretzel loop leaving me seeing stars. As might be expected the layout featured no bumps at all, making this undisputedly the best coaster of the trip so far.

The only non coaster ride I tried was the Energy Collector, an interesting take on the flying island observation platforms as seen Efteling. This version used a counterweight mechanism rather than just a single arm, and as such the island was able to move around a small area while at full height. Hazy weather conditions made it tricky to get good photographs, but I did my best.

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Happy Valley Beijing

Reports from this park: