Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to visit China. Yes, to walk upon the Great Wall, tread in the footsteps of Genghis Khan, see the wonders of the Forbidden City, and ride god-only-knows how many Jungle (or Crazy) Mouse coasters, not to mention knockoff Loopscrews, SLCs, and Spinning Mouse coasters, would be splendid, indeed. I wonder if the defunct Splendid China in Orlando had its own Jungle Mouse? They do seem to be an important part of Chinese culture, along with pandas, goose-head soup, laser pointers, and "sexy" massages. (Relax--all will be explained in time. Maybe. I'm not sure I understand it all myself, yet.)
Here are some random observations about this fascinating land of one-billion-plus people:
1. Chinese people like to shout a lot, usually at close range. Now, this shouting isn't necessarily a sign that they are angry; it's just how they prefer to communicate. That being said, I did encounter plenty of nice Chinese folks who didn't resort to shouting, at least not at me.
2. Chinese persons may be perfectly rational until they get behind the wheel of a car or the handlebars of a bicycle, scooter, or motorbike-- then they become snarling, shouting maniacs with little regard for human life. Is the traffic hopelessly backed up just before your intersection? No problem! Just drive on the wrong side of the road, blast your horn, and shout at any hapless pedestrians who have the audacity to cross the street when it's their turn. I think the ultimate, unexploited video game concept would be "Chinese Bus Driver v. The Rest of China." Oh, the virtual carnage you could cause! (I'm just surprised that we neither witnessed, nor were involved in, any fatal accidents during the TPR trip.)
3. Chinese knockoff rides try to kill you by beating you to death or shaking you to pieces. Government-appointed Chinese tour guides try to kill you through sheer stubbornness. My respect for Robb and Elissa, which was already considerable before China, has only grown after seeing what they had to put up with from the, for lack of a better term, "well-meaning" guides. More on this tribe later.
That's enough "random thinking" for now--it's time for our first day of good, old-fashioned TPR credit whoring in Beijing! Yes, the capital of the Peoples Republic is quite the treasure trove of whacked-out coasters and other attractions. Opening day provided a perfect cross-section of what to expect as the trip went on: a knockoff Wacky Worm, SLC, and Mine Train and, of course, a Crazy Mouse--along with a "factory" (in this case, a tea house) tour. All that was missing was a powered Sliding Dragon coaster.
Let the credit whoring begin!
Welcome to China!
Oh, the places you'll see and the accidents you'll narrowly avoid on this bus.
"Hey, thanks for coming! I'm Howlin' Robb Alvey, and I'll be singin' some blues and blowin' a little harp for y'all for the next three weeks."
"So, let's start with a little 'Chinese Tour Guide Blues.'"
(Meet Bruce--if you need a new suit, a factory tour, a "non-sexy" massage, or instructions on how to count in Chinese, he's your guy.)
This is a building. In China. Just to remind you.
First stop: Crab Island Resort. (Do not have a "sexy massage" in a place with "crab" in its name.)
For your shopping convenience, Crab Island is proud to provide "Shop." Yes, all your shopping needs can be met at "Shop." Unless you want soup. There is no soup at "Shop."
First park of the trip--woo hoo! Welcome to Crab Island Children's Amusement Park.
"The world is a carousel of color! Wonderful, wonderful color!"
Behold, in all it splendor, our first Chinese coaster credit: Green Worm Sliding Car.
Oh, dear lord, those poor Chinese people in the first car never knew what hit them.
"Aghh! The seat belts do nothing!"
Low bridge, Jon!
Next up, a cross between a Disk-O and a Wacky Worm on stilts.
As near as we can tell, this is called Cool Surfing Coaster, but I think "Broken Washing-Machine Agitator: The Ride" would fit, as well.
This ride is such a marvel of Chinese engineering that people can live under it.
Look at that attention to detail. If only the Great Wall had been built with such care.
"Yay! We are thoroughly enjoying this wonder of Chinese coaster technology!"
Looks like we missed the Chinese September version of Oktoberfest by a few days.
We were greeted by three bunnies--seriously drunken bunnies.
"Hey, September Oktoberfest is over. The bunnies outside should've told you."
Welcome to Crab Island Amusement Park.
Ow! This fully licensed, perfectly legal version of the giant bird from "Up" just bit me.
And just how does Crab Island Amusement Park "re-create" reality?
By providing us with a Chinese re-creation of a Vekoma SLC . . .
. . . with an identity crisis.
Martin is looking a bit concerned.
But he's gone too far to turn back now.
This ride is like being involved in a "series of rear-end collisions," says Elissa, and I agree.
I call this the "bone mangler."
This train moves so slow that you wonder whether it'll complete the course.
These are some type of "sit-down Segways." We saw people rollin' and rockin' in these contrivances at a few other Chinese parks. More credit whoring to come!
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