Floraland is located in Wenjiang, a three quarter hour drive from the centre of Chengdu. The local authorities are currently building a subway system in the area, and line four, scheduled for completion in the next few years, includes a special stop for the park. Until then, those who don't want to spend the money for a car and driver can use several different city bus routes that terminate in a parking area directly beside the main entrance gate.
My only target today was Dragon Rider (#1980), a coaster that was still under construction for my last visit to the park four years ago. The ride wasn't operating when I arrived, most likely due to the track being damp. The operators did their best to explain the problem by showing me an English translation on a mobile phone, but the text was almost complete gibberish. It would have been churlish to point this out, however, so I thanked them and offered them a few Welch's Fruit Snacks while we waited together. The camaraderie was apparently infectious, as one of them turned up a stool for me to sit on for the thirty minutes or so it took for whatever mystery problem to clear.
In due course, some test trains were dispatched and I was able to take my seat. It was impossible not to notice the large quantity of padding, which made me wonder whether this particular SLC knock-off was going to try to kill me. Much to my surprise, the ride really wasn't awful. The lift hill supports were covered in rust, and the train had noticeable vibration throughout its journey, but the ride didn't beat me up, and much to my surprise, it was actually fun. I couldn't believe what I'd just experienced. I did think about maybe riding a second time, just to prove the first time wasn't a fluke, but then I thought that might be tempting fate just a little.
Floraland Continent Park
20th October 2013
The second Floraland park is located about five hundred metres away from the first, on the opposite side of the road. The entrance plaza is home to an enormous giant wheel, located outside of the park grounds and charged separately. I was planning to ride this after the coasters, but it closed down early due to weather conditions, and in all honesty the smog would likely have prevented me getting any good photos anyway. The new park is home to eight rides with roller coaster in their name, though one, the Couple Roller Coaster (pictured below), is actually a spin ride. There are also several flat rides, including a Flying Circus clone, a Frisbee (with the rather odd name of Spatio-Temporal Bob!), Dodgems, a Pirate Ship, and a Double Carousel. Thrill seekers are also taken care of with a Bungee Jump located directly over a lake. Free wireless internet access is available throughout the park.
While guests are able to pay for individual ride tickets, the pricing really doesn't make sense for anyone planning to ride more than five attractions, as individual rides were all priced between 20-30 RMB. I handed over the exact 130 RMB amount for the flat rate deal, which seemed to confuse the cashier on duty today. She proceeded to summon several other members of staff, one of them tried speaking to me in slow and methodical Chinese, apparently unfazed by my expression of polite incomprehension. In due course they gave up, took my money, and handed me a card which I tried to use to get through the entrance gate. It didn't work.
After much consternation, I figured out that I'd missed a crucial step; after purchasing an unlimited card, one has to queue at a separate window to have a digital photograph associated with it. This is then checked every time you try to use the card for a new ride, neatly separating out the pay-per-ride people from the unlimited passes. Those attempting to retrace my footsteps can find this second window to the right of the main ticketing area.
With seven coasters to hit, I decided to do a brief reconnaissance effort to determine where things were and whether any had limited operating hours. It was quickly obvious that two of them, Meteor Roller Coaster and Baby Roller Coaster, were closed for maintenance today. As it turned out, this maintenance wasn't just temporary; both were removed from the park subsequently having operated for less than a year.
I decided to start with what I believed to be the only western-built ride in the entire park. Cyclone Roller Coaster (#1981) was the fifth example of the Junior Twister Coaster from Zamperla. My first ride was nothing special, being in a middle seat in car three, but my second was insane; I chose a front right seat, and this unbalanced the car to the point that the spinning left me very dizzy indeed. You can find some more thoughts on this coaster design in my trip reports from theotherfourversions.
My next stop was at Extreme Motorbike Roller Coaster (#1982), a Golden Horse copy of the Zamperla Motorbike design. The layout, vehicles, dimensions, and even the launch felt exactly the same as the original, suggesting that the engineers who built this copy had detailed blueprints to work with. While I really enjoyed the ride, and rode several times during the day, part of me was (and is) irritated at such a blatant rip off of a western design.
Ponchos were on sale in the queue line for Water Roller Coaster (#1983), complete with special elasticated covers for shoes and socks. These were very much needed, as the ride (a clone of the Mack SuperSplash, even down to the turntables and the backwards first drop) was set to the far side of drenching, a bizarre choice when the temperature today was in the low teens.
Garden Roller Coaster (#1984) appeared to be a Vekoma Roller Skater at first glance, but was actually built by Golden Horse. The copy here was arguably better than the original; I rode once in the front and once in the back, and both locations gave a smooth and enjoyable ride. Chinese coaster reality returned with my final credit, Cobra Roller Coaster (#1985). Hebei Zhongye Metallurgical Manufacturing appears to be incapable of building coasters that don't hurt; while the two loops on this one were okay, and surprisingly forceful, the less said about the corkscrew elements, the better.
The only other ride of interest to me was the fairly pointless Drifting on Wonderland, a rapids ride with seat belts and lap bars that promised (and did) almost nothing. Ponchos were on sale as on the Water Roller Coaster, though in this case they were hardly needed. A small lift hill led to a slow meandering descent through a concrete trough with no effects other than a few guest powered water cannons. A faster descent would have made the ride thrilling, but failing that, some theming would at least have helped to break the monotony.
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