Any coaster enthusiast discussion of Singapore will likely center on Universal Studios, home to all five of the country's roller coasters as well as a wide variety of other attractions. Sensible readers who do not count their credits may be unaware that there are three more "ticks" and a powered coaster within easy range. During a business trip last November I travelled to Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark in Malaysia, but I'd somehow never gotten round to doing the others despite making fifteen trips to the area in less than three years. Today was a chance to rectify that omission.
My day began shortly after 10:00am at my hotel in Novena, from where I took the MRT to HarbourFront. A short walk across a mall took me to the ferry port, where I boarded a 12:15pm boat to Harbor Bay, one of three ports on the Indonesian island of Batam. I decided to take a dramamine tablet out of an abundance of caution, but I'd have been fine without it; the crossing was for the most part smooth. The different time zone at my destination meant that we arrived into port almost five minutes before we left.
Fun World Batam
14th April 2019
Fun World can be found inside Nagoya CityWalk, a shopping mall located around thirty minutes on foot from Harbor Bay. The walk is an easy one, though it does require attention as there are obstacles in and around the footpath to catch the unwary. I had to politely decline at least two dozen offers of taxi services as I exited the port area, but the sellers were not aggressive; a simple shake of the head was enough to get rid of most of them. (Readers retracing my steps would be well advised to plan their route ahead of time on Google Street View rather than relying on mapping software; I decided it was worth taking a few minutes longer to avoid a rather unsavoury area).
Despite visiting at lunch time on a weekend I found the mall to be almost completely deserted. More than half of the shops were closed, and there was a definite suggestion that this was not a temporary situation. The only area with any activity at all was the amusement center, located under a large dome in the middle of the site, and even there the staff outnumbered the guests. I confirmed that the coaster was open, then picked up the cheapest available smart card which came with 77000 IDR (~€4.84) worth of credit for 70000 IDR (~€4.40). Though almost four times what I needed it was still chump change when considered against the overall cost of my day.
Jungle Coaster (#2591) is a second generation variant of the not particularly venerable Zamperla 80STD family coaster. I was surprised to see a Holidog-themed train identical to that found on the Howler; presumably the Koch family were required to authorize the sale. The front row was the only choice today, as all the other restraints were locked, though on the positive side the experience there was unexpectedly good. The only real negative was an unusually restrictive lap bar that pressed firmly against my stomach after just one click; more corpulent readers should plan accordingly. I decided to use up some of my spare credit on a second cycle, on the basis that I'm not likely to be back any time soon (if ever).
I used Grab for the twenty minute journey to the Mega Mall Batam Centre, which has a footbridge connecting it to the island's main port. I'd pre-booked the 16:45 ferry to Stulang Laut in Malaysia, and though walk-up tickets were available for an earlier crossing I decided that I might as well use my spare time to wander the area. Readers should be aware that my online ticket did not include harbour tax of 100,000 IDR (~€6.31), which I thought very poor form on the part of the travel agency, and worse yet it had to be paid in local cash only: cards and Malaysian Ringgit were not accepted.
My ticket showed that we would depart at 16:45 and arrive at 18:45, and I used that information to book a car to pick me up on arrival. Unfortunately I completely missed the fact that both times were quoted in Indonesian time, rather than local – meaning that I was almost an hour from docking when my driver called to ask where I was. He agreed to wait for me, and was remarkably understanding given the circumstances; I gave him a substantial tip to apologize.
Danga Bay Theme Park
14th April 2019
Danga Bay Theme Park is known locally as the "night park", a reference to the fact that it only opens after dark. The entrance is marked by a full size Pirate Ship with an enormous "Zamperla" placard, a label that one suspects means very little to the average denizen of Johor Bahru. Other attractions include Flying Elephants, a Frog Hopper that makes croaking noises, a Matterhorn, Tea Cups, a selection of playground equipment, and two small roller coasters.
Family Coaster (#2592) is a gravity ride with an enormous and somewhat unsettling figurehead on its six car train that I'd describe as Donald Duck on bad acid. There have been suggestions that the hardware was manufactured by Soquet and that it may once have operated in France, though no obvious branding remains today. The rolling stock looks like it has seen better years (if not decades), though the current owners have attempted to make it look at least half decent with the addition of multicoloured running lights. Appearances aside however the ride is pleasant enough, consisting of a chain lift, a descending helix, and some turns that are negotiated well. I was given three laps, and that was enough for me.
My other hit was Black Hole Odyssey, a double helix Zamperla powered coaster enclosed within a building. The first lap was in complete darkness, though for laps two and three the operator turned on different coloured lights as the train passed. There were a few hexagonal illuminations mounted around the track, as well as two sets of static theming, one in the middle of each helix. I didn't get a clear look at what was there, though I did see humanoid figures, suggesting a rather different type of black hole to sort recently introduced to the world by Dr Katie Bouman et al.