Hot Go Sea

28th April 2019

Hot Go Sea is an indoor park located a few kilometres away from Hot Go Park Happy Jungle World on the far side of the Shenji Expressway. We'd originally intended to do both parks on the same day, but that plan proved impossible due to a combination of terrible operations and inaccurate opening hours. The resort location almost an hour from our hotel in downtown Shenyang made returning a bit of a nuisance, but it was worth the inconvenience for the chance to enjoy a spectacular facility that is comparable with the very best indoor theme parks around the world.

Construction site

Our taxi brought us under an elaborate archway and past a series of purple and red direction signs that were visually identical to those found at Disneyworld in Florida, a truly remarkable coincidence given the millions of different colour combinations that the designers might have selected. We also passed the construction site for Hot Go Dreamworld, a third gate whose development came to an abrupt halt in late 2017. A pair of specially designed B&M coasters stand tall amid the debris, alongside a copy of Nitro and a handful of flat rides. Though nothing has been published as of this writing my guess is that the parent company plans to resume development when circumstances allow, as the hardware would likely otherwise have been sold to pay down debt.

It was shortly before the advertised 9:00am opening when we arrived at the park ticket office. The staff were a bit surprised at three western adults buying tickets for the "games", as opposed to the adjacent spa, but in due course we managed it and made our way through the entrance into an open area that was almost completely deserted. The multitudes began to pour in an hour later, though fortunately this had little impact on us as we'd already ridden everything on our shopping list at that point. Our exploration revealed a number of curiosities, including a knock-off Strike-U-Up, a three-storey seated parachute tower, and a train ride with a fuel-burning engine that really shouldn't have been permitted in an indoor park.

Our first coaster was Adventure Greenland (#2631), an elaborately themed 30x14 Family Coaster from Preston & Barbieri that is by some margin the best looking example of its type. The track has been enclosed inside blue coloured rockwork topped by artificial snow and a token polar bear, which serves both to disguise it from the midway and to muffle noise. The sixteen seat train was the first of what has since become a standard design; it features a grinning shark head on the lead car and a tail fin on the rear. We did a single two lap cycle; I ended up in the back row, from where the comfort level was absolutely fine. The ride was walk-on for us, though the queue built very quickly; I'd encourage those retracing our steps to head there first.

There was a sign in front of the entrance for Shipwreck Relic (#2632) pointing to a different location that had a barrier in front of it. After some back and forth we decided to ignore it, and sure enough we found two operators on the station waiting for guests to arrive. The ride looked and felt exactly like a Zamperla Junior Twister; it was only on disembarking that we discovered a placard crediting the hardware to the Beijing North Rongda Amusement Equipment Company. Once again the track was surrounded by elaborate theming that upgraded the experience considerably.

Shark Attack

The final coaster in the park as of this writing is Shark Attack (#2633), a locally built copy of the venerable Vekoma Boomerang that is virtually indistinguishable from the genuine article; the only slight oddity is a fifteen second stop on the second lift before the catch car engages to raise the train to the apex ahead of its reverse journey. Both lifts come very close to a pedestrian walkway, and the mechanisms are in easy reach for those who are tired of having fingers (or, for preference, those who want particularly neat photographs, as seen above). Readers should be aware that the ride operates once per hour only, and that it has a height limit of 180cm (5'9"). We were able to negotiate around the latter, though it required some persistence. The restraints had plenty of room in them, to the point that a 200cm person would probably have been fine.

 

Shenyang Botanical Garden

28th April 2019

Shenyang Botanical Garden is a public park with a large ride area close to its southern gate. At one point in time the entire facility used individual ride tickets, but no longer; in recent years it has switched to a package deal. The options available are excellent value for money for the average visitor, but a pain in the tail for coaster enthusiasts and for anyone wanting to do individual attractions more than once. As of this writing, the choices are as follows:

Type Name Price Rides Coasters
I Adult Entertainment Pass 120 RMB 28 2
II Child Entertainment Pass 120 RMB 37 3
III Parent Entertainment Pass 150 RMB 30 3

In theory an enthusiast wanting to do all the coasters will need both a Type I and a Type III ticket. In practice, we had enormous difficulty persuading the staff to sell us the latter, and even after we'd managed to buy it there were further problems trying to use it. Staff tried to argue that we were too tall for the Crazy Mouse, which was utter nonsense, as could be seen with one glance at the ride signage. Persistence won that battle in the end, but despite our best efforts we were unable to use our Type III ticket for a second lap on the Crazy Roller Coaster. The tickets were stamped with a date, and were only valid in conjunction with a wristband; presumably this was to stop enterprising individuals from selling on partially consumed tickets to others.

Roller Coaster

One notable absence from our visit was the park's largest ride, a generation one suspended looping coaster from Beijing Shibaolai. Both it and an adjacent giant splash were closed today, and it was evident that neither had operated in the recent past as the vehicles were wrapped in protective sheeting. The missed credit was no big deal, and in all honesty we probably had more fun taking photos of the closed ride than we'd have had as passengers. The three different versions of the design I've experienced over the years were all unequivocally dreadful.

Deciphering the ticketing system took longer than we'd have liked, but in due course we made our way to Flying Rabbit Block (#2634), a Guohui Machinery Scooter identical to the one that we very much enjoyed a few days earlier in Nanchang. This installation lacked the landscaping of its twin, but the ride experience otherwise was identical. I particularly enjoyed the creatively translated safety instructions; one highlight said that "when the bell rings and when the equipment is running, the passenger will do well, not to shake the body or play with each other". The mind boggles.

Our second hit was Crazy Roller Coaster (#2635). Though I have no conclusive evidence on the subject I strongly suspect the ride to be a genuine Pinfari Z40. The first clue is the word "Dream", which is embossed on placards attached to the side of the cars; there really is no reason why this non-functional decoration would be reproduced on knock-off hardware. Second, it is currently the only coaster in China with a Zyklon layout; had the machine been manufactured locally it's a safe bet that there would be a few other installations out there. The on board experience was typical of the genre; a respectable if not particularly memorable ride that I'd have gladly ridden a few times if the ticketing system had allowed me to.

With the two biggest coasters ticked off we worked our way through the three not included in the Adult Entertainment Pass. Crazy Mouse (#2636) was fine, if eminently forgettable; the track was handled smoothly but the cars never picked up much speed, resulting in a flaccid ride. The operator on Family Roller Coaster (#2637) laughed when he saw us approaching, but gave no trouble. Last and by all means least was the Fruit Worm Coaster, a powered ride that didn't feel like a coaster as the train speed hardly varied at all. There was a very slight deceleration as we climbed, but that was almost certainly due to the weight of three western adults in a train designed for local children.

Our next stop was at the Magic Castle, a two level haunted walkthrough. At the midpoint a descending staircase in almost complete darkness presents an interesting challenge for would be health and safety inspectors. Most of the scenery can be classed as generic horror, though there are a few surprises along the way, not least a room with a guitar, drum kit, and full size cello playing random notes by itself. We also tried Spectral Realm, a seated ghost train decorated with posters in English and Polish, the latter presumably an acknowledgement of the wielu mówców polskich w Chinach. The interior consists primarily of horrors illuminated by fairy lights, though there is a token falling wall effect at the end. Readers should be aware that the ride has exceptionally thick/heavy curtains between scenes; those who wear glasses should take appropriate precautions.

Magic Castle

We concluded our visit with the Mirror House and the Adventure in a Maze, a brightly lit Egyptian-themed walkthrough. Most of the scenes inside were static and missable, though we were both surprised and mildly amused when a double amputee with long black hair fell forward to reveal an angry-looking canine in his place.

 

Travel Note

28th April 2019

Our visit to the Shenyang Forest Zoological Garden was over before it began, as the access road was blocked by security staff. Signage at the entrance indicated a temporary closure for maintenance work lasting until 1st May. The primary alternative of Sinbad Happy Castle proved impossible, as our driver had never heard of the Longemont Mall. We spent several minutes trying to figure out its Chinese name on the fly, but were unable to do so; in the end we decided that the best bet was to head for Wanquan Park instead.

 

Wanquan Park

28th April 2019

Wanquan Park is an urban park that has been a fixture of downtown Shenyang for more than a century. It occupies a plot of around 450,000 square metres adjacent to one of the many tributaries of the Hun River close to the geographical center of the city. Just under ten percent of the space is devoted to a collection of amusement rides, all of which were manufactured locally.

The largest machine in the collection is Roller Coaster (#2638), a Medium 3 Ring Coaster from Hebei Zhongye Metallurgical Equipment Manufacturing and our second in less than a week. While the previous version was not good, it could have been a classic Schwarzkopf in comparison to this one. A horrific sideways slam in the middle of the loop, vicious headbanging in the turnaround, and a full on assault from the corkscrew inversions left me with a several bruises and a thumping headache. In its current state the ride represents a serious accident waiting to happen, and it should be torn down before that happens. The ticket price today was 30 RMB (~€3.87) or 50 RMB (~€6.44) for two laps; I suspect that a significant percentage of those buying two decide to abandon the second.

Crazy Mouse

Crazy Mouse (#2639) was a breath of fresh air in comparison. Though identical in appearance and vintage to the ride of the same name we'd ridden a few hours earlier this machine was in far better condition, with each turn delivering proper lateral forces. The operator saw us taking photographs after our first 15 RMB (~€1.93) lap, and opened the gate so we could take a few more pictures from within the track area. This privilege was very much appreciated, and we decided to recognise it by going back for a second round. With that done we took a 20 RMB (~€2.58) five lap ride on the Fruit Worm Pulley (#2640).

 

Sinbad Happy Castle

28th April 2019

We paid 9 RMB (~€1.16) for the short taxi from Wanquan Park to the Longemont Mall, known locally as the Cloud Nine Mall. This bargain price was made all the more ridiculous when we realised that it was less than one sixth of what we'd paid for three of us to knock off a pathetic kiddie coaster.

An enormous escalator runs directly from an outdoor car park to the mall's upper floors, but it was not in service today and a construction site at the entrance indicated that this was not a temporary situation. As such we made our way through a ground floor entrance and worked our way up to the eighth floor one level at a time. Our route took us past a cinema, a basketball court, a bowling alley, and a karaoke lounge. In due course we arrived at the theme park, which today was open from 09:30-20:00, and as ever we decided to ascertain the lay of the land before buying tickets. This decision, taken spontaneously, proved to be both fortuitous and prescient.

We arrived at the entrance to Star Express (#2641) at 16:25, and promptly discovered a sign indicating that it was scheduled to close at 16:30. We'd have been in serious trouble had it not been for the extraordinarily helpful operator, who was apparently glad at the opportunity to practice her English; she walked over to the ticket office with us, helped us acquire the appropriate smart card, then ran the ride for us before signing off for the evening. The ride is a Beijing Jiuhua copy of the ubiquitous Reverchon mouse, and as with other examples of the type it is excellent. We got the balance of our car just right, and enjoyed exceptional spinning; I'd have happily gone back for more laps given the opportunity, but that would have been pushing our luck to breaking point.

Ghost House

We were only given one lap on the Jungle Explorer (#2642), but that was perfectly adequate for a stacked oval kiddie coaster. The ride has signage claiming a four year service life dating from 2019, which seems remarkably short; the general consensus is that the hardware dates from 2011 but that the signage was replaced on its last overhaul. With that done we finished up our day with the Ghost House, a high quality haunted walkthrough with a number of unexpected moments, including a water splash and a painting of a naked female with exceptionally prominent cleavage.