We arrived at a very misty Happy Valley Chengdu a little before eight in the morning, and as we were early there was a little time to explore the local area. None of the nearby shops were open yet, not even the obligatory McDonalds, and given that we decided that the best way to pass the time was by searching for Chinglish. One of the finer examples is reproduced below, taken from a sign on the front of a lift. If anyone who reads Chinese would care to pass on a better translation I'll gladly include it in this trip report.
In due course we were escorted into the park for a private session on the three major coasters. The best of the lot was always going to be the shiny new Intamin Mega-Lite, here given the slightly odd name of Fly Over Mediterranean (#1440), and though the lift mechanism seemed to be having slight difficulties this didn't affect the overall quality of the ride. In all honesty the back seat was almost too aggressive for early in the morning, with riders being thrown from side to side (in a good way) through the various directional changes. Our local guide tried the back seat and loved it, making me wonder if China has a new coaster enthusiast in the making.
Riders were also being thrown around on the appropriately named Dragon in Clouds (#1441), but in this case the result was horrible. The park wanted plenty of footage for this ride, and as a result most of us ended up completing four circuits. The last was necessary due to an off-hand remark from one of our front seat passengers which is probably best described as not being suitable for promotional footage, and the person responsible for this was officially grumbled at! Having said that it remains to be seen how much of the rider-cam footage is useful, as it's quite difficult to surpress grimacing when a coaster is genuinely painful.
Coaster number three, the Dragon in Snowfield (#1442) is a standard layout Vekoma mine train, and it rides about the same as the one built last year at Gardaland; a bit on the bumpy side but nothing unmanageable. Some of the more recent Vekoma coasters have been fabricated in China, and it seems that the quality of the track work may not have reached the standards seen in the European facilities so far. The final credit was the obligatory Golden Horse spinning coaster, here named Madrats (#1443). Maybe some day I'll figure out why this ride was built to require a seatbelt, a lap bar, and a special chain which holds the aforementioned bar in place. Furthermore, given all the restraints, the car hardly spins at all. Go figure.
We had been reminded ahead of our visit that one of the highlights of Happy Valley Shenzhen was a target shooting dark ride called North Pole Adventure, representing an unparalleled opportunity to shoot Santa Claus. I'd missed the ride there, and thus I was particularly looking forward to the clone of it here, with my apologies to the fine people at Holiday World. The standard of presentation was a little bit limited by modern standards, with an antiquated track system and stuttered movement, but it was still well worth a giggle, far more so than Gobbler's Getaway and those ridiculous turkey callers (Sorry Paula!).
A brief interlude at a Desperados clone brought my group to the Rapids ride, which we foolishly decided to do without ponchos. This proved to be a mistake; the layout was as drenching as anything I've ever experienced, and the temperature in the park was insufficient for drying off naturally. After a few minutes of standing around shivering I'd had enough, and I left the group to go buy a dry t-shirt!
Over the rest of the day I mainly wandered the park. I did try out the Twin Towers, a pair of S&S towers. Both the shot and drop sides were fairly average in intensity, though the locals seemed to prefer the drop side for some reason. There was also time to ride both the Ferris Wheel and the Flying Island, though both were pretty pointless for photographs given the weather conditions.