VinWonders Nam Hội An

29th December 2018

The story of the third branch of the VinWonders chain dates back to early 2016, when buyers from Vinpearl acquired several unique and interesting flat rides from the AIA Great European Carnival in Hong Kong. Their purchases included the prototype ABC Rides Tourbillon, the Super Chaos and the eighty metre Swiss Tower formerly owned by Hanspeter Maier of Switzerland, and the Lighthouse Slip once owned by Stevens and Price of the United Kingdom. This eclectic collection of second hand hardware was combined with two new Vekoma coasters and an assortment of SBF machinery in a park that opened to the public on 28th April 2018.


Our morning began with dark clouds in the sky, and though the weather apps on my phone disagreed on specifics it was evident that the day would be a wet one. We were more than a little pessimistic about our prospects for ticking off the four credits, given previous experience of park operations in Asia, but I'm glad to report that we were lucky; though the coasters did indeed close temporarily when rain was falling they reopened the moment it stopped with no faffing about. It wasn't until late afternoon when the weather really went to hell, by which stage we'd done everything that we wanted to multiple times. (Operations in general were leagues ahead of those at Sun World Danang Wonders; the only very minor embuggerance was the requirement to remove glasses or wear a strap on the two kiddie coasters despite both having a top speed measured in single figures).

Our first hit was Desert Twister (#2565), the fifth worldwide installation of what is presently the largest member of the Vekoma Suspended Family Coaster family. The ride has a simple yet effective theme; the station building has been designed to look like a ruin, and the main track area has been enclosed within elaborately sculpted artificial rock work. The highlight of the layout is the superb first drop, though I'll throw in a well deserved honourable mention for the high speed fly-through of the station that I'd somehow never noticed on the equivalent machine at Energylandia despite multiple rides over several years. Over the course of our visit we managed six laps, and would have done more if the weather had been more cooperative. There were no bad seats on the train, though I found the back seat had the edge for me. (One curiosity of the design is the evacuation stairs on the lift hill, which start about ten feet up; it turns out that the lowest section is locked off to one side in normal operation as it would otherwise be in the way of one of the turns).

We followed this up with two family coasters, both of which were supplied by SBF. Speed Coaster (#2566) is an inappropriately named Big Apple that looked absolutely pristine despite a plate indicating that it was manufactured in October 2015; I suspect it was in storage prior to being installed here. Our two laps were pure vanilla until the very end, when we were brought to a halt with the back two cars still outside the station. I'd been expecting the operator to have to move us forward using brute force, but after a short pause a tyre drive motor kicked in and slowly inched the train to its parking position. Spinning Coaster (#2567) was similarly standard fare, with the highlight of our three lap cycle being a local child squeaking enthusiastically as only the very young can.

Our final credit for the day was Lost Valley (#2568), a standard model Vekoma Mine Train with a number of interesting design features. The layout was decorated with similar artificial rocks to those seen on Desert Twister, and an artificial waterfall has been constructed adjacent to the base of the parallel lift hills. The track and supports were painted in a camouflage scheme that looked rather striking; my guess is that it was applied locally rather than at the factory, as there are places where drips can clearly be seen. Last and by no means least, the station had a safety feature I've never seen before, namely pneumatic safety bars on the exit platform that prevented guests walking across the coupling between cars. These were lowered to ground level as the train dispatched.

Lost Valley

The ride looks fantastic, though the experience was somewhat variable today. I found the front car to be actively uncomfortable, almost as if I was sitting above a slightly deformed wheel. Throughout the ride a near-continuous series of mild jolts turned what should have been a fun experience into an endurance contest, and the general unpleasantness was made all the worse by the fact that a shell above the wheel cavity protruded into my leg space. A few hours later we went back for a second lap at the other end of the train that was much closer to the norm for the genre, being slightly bumpy but not unmanageable. There was nobody waiting when our train returned to the station, and as such the operator allowed us all to stay on board for another round.

The park has two multidimensional cinemas. One of these is enclosed in a themed castle that was locked today, presumably because the volume of guests in the park didn't justify operation. The second can be found inside an indoor games area, and it is delightfully haphazard; it features twelve seats mounted on a motion base located about two feet off the ground that guests have to step up to, and the effect generating equipment is plugged into ordinary electrical sockets at ground level. The list of rules projected onto the screen before the movie started were written in machine-translated English – While playing the movie, especially seats are moving, it requires nobody stand nearby the seats – we concluded that it was almost certainly of Chinese origin.

There were ten different movie choices on offer: Air Force One, Bee's Journey, Cyber Racing, Dinosaur Planet, Ghost Tunnel, Jetpack Adventure, Ocean Discovery, Prehistoric Adventures, Roller Coaster, and Snow Counterattack. Each was scheduled to run either three or four times over the course of the day. We found ourselves watching Canyon Coaster, a Triotech production described as "an exhilarating roller coaster adventure in the canyons and caves of the American south west". The performance began with the camera falling out of a plane and landing into a roller coaster car, though it improved from then on in that the physics of the imagined ride were at least somewhat realistic, unlike many similar shorts. At one point a screech of brakes was accompanied by a shower of sparks from the ceiling; I don't believe I've seen that particular effect elsewhere.

One section of the park is labelled the Land of Folk Culture. It has no rides, but instead features a collection of traditional craft exhibits, a local restaurant, and the Hill of Desire, an observation deck with a sloped walkway around its outside that looks much like a multi-level birthday cake. The apex is home to a small cinema, though enthusiasts will be more interested in the fact that you can get a clear overview photograph of Lost Valley. There is also a distant view of a water park, which features a ProSlide Tornado and a WhiteWater AquaLoop among its other attractions.

River Safari

In due course I returned to ground level and joined my friends for the River Safari, a relaxed alternative to the off-road attractions typically found in amusement parks. The boats were powered by actual engines rather than towed using guide rails, allowing a certain amount of flexibility; our captain paused in front of the more interesting exhibits so people could take all the photographs they wanted to. There was a ten minute interlude at the midpoint where we were given the opportunity to feed a pair of Asian elephants, and though we didn't partake of this it was fun to watch others doing so. Bruno had been joking earlier in the day about finding a Sấu Con hidden in this area, though sadly it wasn't to be.

Our last ride of the day was on the SBF-built Carousel, a two level model that we figured would pass a few minutes while we waited to see if the weather would clear. When it became apparent that it wouldn't we decided to make our way towards the exit, a journey that involved crossing a wide open space with no umbrellas. We were totally drenched by the time we arrived back at our car; readers retracing our steps on days when the forecast is suspect would be well advised to bring ponchos.