We decided to spend the antepenultimate day of our holiday in the city of Wuhu, a city of almost four million located roughly two hours drive from our overnight hotel in Hefei. It was always going to be a bit of a challenge to visit three parks on a national holiday, and so it proved; we accomplished a grand total of five rides during an exhausting fourteen hour slog, and two of those were only made possible using paid fast passes. Three operational coasters had to be skipped outright due to ridiculously long queues; perhaps we'll make it back to them some day.
Enthusiasts retracing our steps in the future should consider trying to get to the Wuhu parks using public transport instead of using a car and driver. The Wuhu Metro is scheduled to be completed in 2020, and it will have stops at both Fantawild locations as well as at Zheshan Park.
Fantawild Adventure Wuhu
2nd May 2019
Our itinerary allocated two and a half hours for the four roller coasters at Fantawild Adventure Wuhu, a tight but realistic time estimate for an ordinary day that unfortunately proved hopelessly optimistic with the crowds today. The cattle grid for Flare Meteor (#2654) wasn't full, but it was quickly obvious that joining the regular line would consume our entire time window and very likely more on its own. Fortunately for us a member of staff was selling fast passes for 50 RMB (~€6.40), and we decided it was worth investing in a set of these for efficiency.
We made our way up the exit ramp and into the ride station, where we were allowed to remain against the back wall as a fully loaded train was dispatched. When it returned, a group from a holding pen on the far side of the platform were allowed to board, and those of us with fast passes were escorted across to replace them. An operator then counted off a grand total of eight people from the regular line who were allowed to join us. The restraint checking process took the expected eternity, but in due course the train was sent on its merry way, perhaps ten minutes after the previous one had been parked. Soon after it was our turn to experience our second XGC-20A in four days. The ride was everything that we thought it would be and more; I won't be hugely upset if I have to wait four years, decades, or even centuries before catching up with my next model.
We walked across to the back of the park in search of our next tick, and after a few missteps wound up at the entrance to Vesuvio Volcano, a Golden Horse mine train. There was no sign of any activity in the vicinity, and sure enough the ride was closed for equipment maintenance, as one would expect of a signature attraction in the middle of a holiday weekend. There was nothing to be done except return to the other two coasters, located virtually side by side close to the park entrance. Unfortunately both had queues stretching across the midway, and neither had fast pass options available.
We decided to join the line for Hanging Pulley, but after fifteen minutes in place we realised that we'd have to commit at least another two hours to our mission excluding the impact of queue jumpers, of which there were many. A four seat car was going out every two minutes or so, giving an estimated capacity of around one hundred and twenty per hour. After a brief discussion we agreed to leave the coasters behind and proceed to our next park, a decision that was unequivocally the right one; it would have been both annoying and extremely embarrassing if we missed a wooden coaster because we spent too long in the queue for a Chinese knock-off.
Oriental Heritage Wuhu
2nd May 2019
When the Fantawild Group first invested in Wuhu in the early part of the millennium they built on a site located close to what was (at the time) the eastern boundary of the city. Unfortunately they neglected to allow for future expansion, and rapid development in the vicinity meant that there was no available space when they decided to add a second gate three years later. The solution was to go ten kilometres east into Jiujang, where they were able to acquire an enormous land bank that they have been building on ever since. Fantawild Dreamland Wuhu opened in 2010, Fantawild Water Park Wuhu opened in 2014, and Oriental Heritage Wuhu opened in 2015. Though nothing else has been announced as of this writing there is a large construction site on the far side of the road that may well become a hotel or another park in due time.
We began our visit with Jungle Trailblazer (#2655), a Gravity Group wooden coaster. Signage in the queue mentioned a paid fast pass programme, but we were told that it was not being offered today, and soon after we saw a staff member taking the placards down. The posted eighty minute wait was longer than we'd have liked, but the queue seemed to be moving remarkably quickly. We timed the average dispatch interval at once every three minutes, and soon after it became obvious that this was being achieved with two train operation. Though things were not quite as efficient as Shanghai Disneyland they were nevertheless several orders of magnitude better than we could have hoped for.
Sadly the maintenance on what is now a four year old ride hasn't been at the level that it should have been. From my seat in row six there were no real problems in the turns, and the inversion was negotiated effortlessly, but straight sections of the layout (and in particular the many airtime hills) were not particularly good as our train bounced its way across the track. In an ideal world we'd have gone back for a second lap closer to the front of the train, given what we'd experienced at Hot Go Park Happy Jungle World, but assigned seating was in use and in any case the wait was too long to make that an appealing option.
Instead we made our way towards Land of Lost Souls (#2656), an indoor Golden Horse mine train with haunted house theming. The queue stretched outside of the building and into a temporary holding area nearby, but despite that it moved at a reasonable rate. I ended up in the front row for some reason, as the locals appeared uninterested in it. That vantage point gave me a clear view of not very much, as the interior was almost completely dark; there were only a few places where strobe lighting was used to reveal token skeletons. With that done we invested two hours of our lives into Stress Express (#2657), a standard model Vekoma Boomerang with soft vest restraints. The ride was by some margin the best of the day, which wasn't something I'd have predicted prior to our visit.
In an ideal world we'd have gone to investigate some of the park's dark rides, but that proved impossible as queues throughout the park had already been closed for the day. As such we reluctantly made our way towards the exit.
Fantawild Dreamland Wuhu
2nd May 2019
We'd been expecting the entire Fantawild resort to have extended hours for the holiday weekend, and were somewhat surprised at the early closure of Oriental Heritage Wuhu. We considered forgetting about Fantawild Dreamland Wuhu entirely, but in the end it was decided that I should power walk the eight hundred metres to the park entrance to investigate while Bruno and Anita followed at a more sedate pace. The place was open, but absolutely rammed with people, and given that I decided it was worth doing a quick reconnaissance exercise while I waited for my friends to arrive. The three coasters were not difficult to spot, as the queues for each could have been comfortably picked out from orbit.
We joined the queue for Golden Whirlwind (#2658), a legacy name for a Sameco looping coaster that was repainted into a striking red and royal blue colour scheme at the start of the 2017 season. After a few minutes in line we found a lady selling fast passes, allowing us to bypass what was apparently a two hour wait for 100 RMB (~€12.87) per person. The ride was positively evil; the restraints were well padded, but my knees were adjacent to hard fiberglass which did bad things with every jolt (of which there were hundreds). I found myself thinking of a friend from Roller Coaster Dream, who told us that she never rides locally built attractions; this disaster was a textbook example of why.
We made our way over to Corgi Dog, but quickly decided that the queue was much too long for a themed Big Apple seating just twelve passengers at a go. Bruno asked about fast passes and were told that we could buy them for the same extortionate price, but that we had to get them at the guest services office. After some faffing about I managed to obtain the required pieces of paper, and our new friend brought us up the exit ramp to the coaster. Unfortunately it turned out that the ride wasn't included in the fast pass system, and though we argued the point for a while it got us precisely nowhere. In the end we were escorted back to the sales office, where our payment was refunded by an apologetic member of staff.