Farglory Ocean Park is quite a long way off the beaten track for any coaster enthusiast, even those hardy enough to venture to Taiwan. It is located in the beautiful coastal resort of Hualien on the eastern coast of the island, a good three hours by road from the nearest half decent road, and further still from any other parks. In planning our Taiwan trip my original itinerary skipped this park entirely; after all, a production model family coaster is hardly worth eight hours of driving and an extra night in a hotel. However, since we were planning to hit all the other coasters in Taiwan it seemed almost criminal not to complete the set.
The park is built on a steep hill right next to the sea, with attractions located on several levels. Guests can travel between these levels via a series of stairways not unlike those found at Tibidabo, or they can cheat completely by taking the cable car straight to the top. The latter is by far the best plan, as the views during the ascent border on the stunning; astonishing natural beauty catches the eye from one direction, while beautifully themed rides and attractions can be seen in the other.
Our first attraction was always going to be the roller coaster. I'm not entirely convinced that a ride built half way up the side of a hill should be given a name like Wally Whales Deep Sea Adventure (#1305), but then the Hill Climbing Adventure probably wouldn't have fit quite so well into a park themed around the ocean. While the layout of the coaster was very familiar the location made the experience unique and truly special. I've still got half a dozen of this coaster model to ride in other places, but it seems improbable that any will top the scenery found on this one.
The star attraction in the park, and the only other we tried today, was an exceptionally large log flume named the Pirates of El Dorado. The ride featured two major forward drops and a reasonably sized backwards drop with a coaster style bunny hop in it. It might have been a dry flume if our boat hadn't had three adults in it; as it was, the person in the front enjoyed the full effect of the forward splashes, much to my amusement.
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village
10th September 2008
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is just over sixty kilometers distance from Farglory Ocean Park as the crow flies. Unfortunately for trip planners there is a massive mountain range located between the two parks, which increases the travel distance by a factor of three. The lions share of this is along narrow and winding roads which can support a maximum speed of no more than forty kilometers per hour. I'd estimated the travel time between the two locations at three and a half hours, but the reality proved to be closer to five. None of us were in a particularly good humour as we entered our second park for the day just ninety minutes before closing. Nobody attempting to repeat this trip should try to fit both these parks into one day; they each deserve at least twice the amount of time we had for them.
There is one observation that simply has to be made when describing the main roller coaster in this park; It's amazing how well one can polish a turd.Mayan Adventure (#1306) is easily the most impressive looking SLC on this planet. One end of the ride passes through a mock pyramid, which really looks the part. The rest of the track weaves in and out of a heavily themed building, making for lots of near miss effects. The result would be absolutely stunning if the coaster didn't do its best to inflict mortal injury on all those on board. In the interests of time optimisation I made the stupid decision to ride at the back of the train; I should have known better.
The latest ride to be added to the park is also the newest coaster in Taiwan. Caribbean Splash (#1307) is a Mack-built super splash ride identical in layout to the original in Germany. As with the original, the only riders who are supposed to get wet are those in the front row and those in the edge seats. The middle of the back two rows generally remains entirely dry. I felt more than a little smug as the splash concluded with barely a spray of water in my direction, until a water cannon next to the track fired an utterly ridiculous amount of water into the air on an axis that dumped quite a lot of it directly on my head. To dry off, we went over to Space Mountain (#1308), which like its namesake in the Disney parks is an indoor coaster in the dark. It was quite a surprise to discover that the park monorail goes right through the Space Mountain structure, which makes for some singularly odd near miss effects!
With twenty minutes left before park close there was just enough time to get in two rides. The Jurassic Cruise ride was a reasonably high standard dark ride featuring animatronic dinosaurs, though the experience was more like a zoo exhibit rather than a horror ride; it would have been much more fun if our boat had been attacked by an angry tyrannosaur. Finally, the Log Flume was also a high standard attraction, albeit not quite as impressive as the one earlier in the day. Its chief point of interest was its speed; the boats took off at a rate at least double that of other flumes I've been on.
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