Kittyd & Minnied

26th December 2018

Kittyd & Minnied wasn't included in the early drafts of our Vietnam itinerary due to its location, some four hours drive to the west of Ho Chi Minh City. We liked the idea of visiting somewhere new to the enthusiast community, but there were more parks and coasters in the country than we had time for, and given that it seemed like the logical place to drop – in simple terms, a solitary Golden Horse Spinning Coaster wasn't a priority.

Things changed in early November. Research revealed that Kim Dong Park had been levelled for a major renovation, and we were unable to find a reliable source of opening hours for the Wild Mouse at Vinh City Central Park. Getting to the latter required a domestic flight, and I knew from past experience that it wasn't smart to do that sort of thing without solid information. As such I proposed an alternate plan that paired Kittyd & Minnied with Phú Cưởng Land and around ten hours in the car, and that became our plan until Bruno discovered Kids Area 1 soon after. This was a much better choice for our second stop, not least because it was within a few kilometres of our planned route, enabling a return visit in the evening if it were closed (as indeed it was) during the day.

Castles

The park is quite an unusual place even by local standards. An archway over the gate reveals that it is associated with the nearby Võ Trường Toản University, and this can also be seen on the official web site, which uses the same basic design as its parent organisation. The main street features almost twenty identical buildings set on both sides of a midway, virtually all of which were completely empty today. At the near end is Coeus Castle, a European-style castle with more than 200 statues and an information board proclaiming the fact that it was built from some 360,869 distinct stones (which someone apparently took the time to count, not that I'm in any position to judge that particular eccentricity). At the far end is an enormous concrete arch that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe; we took the lift to the top and found a conference room, toilets, and a convenient observation platform from where the above photo was taken.

A collection of twelve separate mechanical rides can be found at the back of the facility, and most if not all of them are from Golden Horse. They have been installed around the edge of what was once a playing field, but which will presumably become a landscaped garden in due course; several members of staff were hard at work on it today. My favourite aspect of this area was the wonderfully mistranslated passenger notice placards, and in particular the one in front of the Jellyfish ride which advised would-be passengers that "smoking and eating is now allowed". A selection of playground equipment could be found on the northern edge of this area, adjacent to a ten thousand square metre water park with a play structure, a wave pool, and two brightly coloured slide towers of indeterminate provenance; the inner tubes had no branding that I could see.

Dragon Flight Roller Coaster (#2556) is as of this writing the only known example of the ZXC-24B, which we presume to be a redesigned version of the ubiquitous Golden Horse spinning coaster that has seen almost ninety installations worldwide since it was first copied from Maurer Rides blueprints in the late nineties. We were not able to spot any obvious differences between this installation and the 24A model so beloved of/detested by credit whores the world over; the structure looked the same, the cars looked the same, the and the restraints were (unfortunately) exactly the same. The brakes on this installation were particularly aggressive, resulting in a number of hard stops as our car trundled its way around the course with only the smallest amount of spinning, and as ever we were treated to a hard slam courtesy of the straightening device at the end. Our ride tickets cost 30,000 VND (~€1.13) apiece, and we decided against spending the money for a second lap.

With the credit ticked off we headed for Air Cycles, a pedal monorail that circumnavigated the perimeter of the ride area. This proved to be a fairly vigorous workout, albeit one well worth the effort as there were plenty of decent photo opportunities from on board. The one slight disappointment was that the path routed behind rather than in front of the Miami just as a group of local children were riding, which was a huge shame; if the sound effects were anything to go by we missed some serious entertainment. (The ride in question is called Aladdin Và Cây Đèn Thần in the local patois, which translates as Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. For whatever reason the English language signage reduces this to the rather more mundane Crazy Wave.)

Rides

We had a passable meal in the park restaurant, made considerably less random than it might otherwise have been by a thoughtful member of staff who translated the handwritten menu on our behalf. With that done we made a slow circuit of the park for extra photos and to kill time, on the basis that there was very little point in us arriving at Kids Area 1 before nightfall. Our exploration revealed a pair of seated zip lines that we'd missed the first time round, and these proved to be surprisingly good fun despite having a height differential of no more than three feet.

 

Kids Area 1

26th December 2018

It took two and a half hours to cover the 114km journey to Kids Area 1 from Kittyd & Minnied. We were on edge for the last portion of the journey, wondering if it would be for nothing, but we need not have worried; the coloured lights at the top of a drop tower were clearly visible when we arrived just after 6:00pm. Many of the attractions were still closed when we made our way into the park, but it was obvious that the place was slowly coming to life, and crowds were evidently expected: there were several vendors preparing street food near the entrance. The park looked more than a little rough around the edges, but the staff were friendly and for the most part the rides looked well cared for even if the grounds that they sat on most definitely did not. (Readers brave/insane enough to rent motorcycles should find that they can bring them right into the park; we saw quite a few guests tonight leaving theirs in front of different attractions while riding).

Our first hit was a surprise bonus credit that wasn't visible on satellite imagery due to the presence of a large tree. Squirrel Coaster (#2557) features an oval track layout whose high point (pun absolutely intended) is a small hill parallel to the station. A pair of tyre drive motors give the train just enough of a kick to get it to the apex, and gravity and momentum do the rest. The elderly operator was briefly taken aback at the sight of a group of western adults approaching his ride, but he recovered quickly and treated us to five entertaining laps for the princely sum of 7,000 VND (~€0.26). After disembarking Bruno spent several minutes talking to him with the aid of Google Translate in an entirely successful attempt to learn the ride name.

The park's largest coaster looks like a Sấu Con machine from a distance, but the track for Speeding Car (#2558) has a unique design that offers at least the suggestion of a different provenance. The train makes a quick start out of the station and up the short lift, and the double height helix that follows is negotiated with alacrity. Unfortunately the layout peters out at this point with a climb into a S-curve that is just a little bit too high for the amount of potential energy available. The train continues moving without assistance, but only just, and the remainder of the journey is taken at no more than walking pace despite a slight descent angle in the track. As ever we tried both front and back, paying 10,000 VND (~€0.38) for each two lap dispatch.

The last hit of the night was an exceptionally arthritic powered Dragon Coaster, whose drive motor was making a very unhappy noise as it struggled to accelerate fully loaded trains. The layout was a wide oval with some slight changes of elevation along the way, but any hope of airtime was eliminated by a top speed that could not have been more than ten miles per hour. The most interesting aspect of the experience was the on board view of the turn on Speeding Car; aside from that it was entirely forgettable and a waste of 7,000 VND (~€0.26). I found that I couldn't fit into the front half of a car; taller readers should plan accordingly.

Squirrel Coaster