Our morning began at the MEGA Silk Way shopping mall across the road from the Expo 2017 complex at the southern edge of Astana. Happylon Adventure Park is a themed family entertainment center located just inside the entrance that features arcade games, a ropes course, and eight amusement rides. Chief among these is Cosmic (#2480), a standard model figure eight spinner with a banner sign in Cyrillic and an illuminated queue sign in the Roman alphabet. Those who enjoy photography can get a unique angle on this installation from an escalator located adjacent to the track.
The place also has a zip line coaster that we were not aware of prior to our visit. Roll Glider has an eighty kilogram weight limit, which would have ruled me out in the not so distant past, but I'm now comfortably under that thanks to a few lifestyle changes. The track layout is a fairly simple descending figure eight, but despite its simplicity riders pick up quite a bit of speed, making the experience surprisingly thrilling. There is no braking mechanism, hence the weight limit; guests overshoot the stop point onto the lift then roll back and forth a few times before a member of staff helps with a manual stop. You even get an exceptionally fashionable complimentary hair net; what more could one want?
19th July 2018
One of the more unusual pieces of architecture in Astana is the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, a shopping center with a fabric roof designed by British firm Foster and Partners. The structure is designed to maintain an indoor temperature of between 15°C (59°F) and 30°C (86°F) all year round, which is a particular challenge in a city that gets as cold as -35°C (-31°F) in the winter months. Virtually all of FameCity can be found on the fifth floor of the building; the sole exception is a drop ride that is boarded from the ground floor.
Gold Mine Coaster (#2481) is a figure eight coaster from SBF Rides that (for once) does not have spinning cars. The track comes precariously close to the ceiling, and for that reason the individual vehicles have cages with solid tops to prevent misbehaving riders from losing limbs. These remain sufficiently open for would-be photographers, and I can report that they do not impact the ride experience in any way; none of our group had trouble fitting comfortably into the available space.
Our other hit was Hunting Ghost, a haunted dark ride with a variety of different scenes, including wolves tearing at a prone human figure, a tree with a hanging corpse, a man chewing in an exceptionally noisy way (which is unequivocally terrifying), and skeletons in open coffins. The presentation wasn't bad, but it felt a bit too homogeneous for my taste. Virtually every character had the same bright red LED eyes, and the soundtrack consisted almost entirely of manic laughter with the exception of the words "it's too late to turn back" in English. Readers should be aware that effects appear on both sides of the car simultaneously, making it difficult to know where to look; those who feel so inclined should probably ride twice to see everything.
Astana Central Park
19th July 2018
Our final stop in Kazakhstan was at Astana Central Park, where we found two coasters, lots of flat rides, and a random Turkey that just happened to be exploring. I contemplated interviewing it for this diary, on the basis that it would have almost as many intelligent things to say as the average Facebook user, but for whatever reason Google Translate has yet to add voice recognition for birds. If anyone from Alphabet Inc is reading this, please treat this as a feather feature request.
Joker Coaster (#2482) is a standard layout Zyklon that was added to the park in 2017. Its colourful cars are somewhat different to those typically seen on rides of this type, though fortunately they retain a fairly standard two person lap bar design that has no impact on the overall ride quality, which was fine if undistinguished. Action photographs are provided by a local with a SLR camera, who will print any of his pictures on demand for the bargain price of 500 tenge (-€1.18). With that done we ticked off our fourth Wacky Worm (#2483) in as many days. The train on this model looked a little subdued, with unusually short antennae, but it traversed the track at an enthusiastic pace making for a fine end to the day.
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