Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea, Taiwan!

Day 25, parts 1-3: Lots MORE Shanghai CreHoing/sightseeing
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Day 22, part 1: Happy Valley Wuhan.

Postby David H » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:12 pm

Day 22, part 1: Happy Valley Wuhan.

We had one goal in Wuhan: to visit Happy Valley, mainly for their new Gravity Group high-five woodie. Anything else was a bonus. Technically, we were in Wuhan for three days and two nights, but effectively, it was only one day, since we arrived the previous night and left the following morning to give us the full day in Wuhan. Wuhan’s Happy Valley was at the time the chain’s newest park. (They’ve since opened one in Tianjin, near Beijing a little over a month ago.) Unfortunately, the park wasn’t yet complete, with 2 of its 6 coasters not yet open. We already knew this before going, so it wasn’t a surprise.

Luckily, however, the high five coasters had already opened! For those who don’t know, the high five coasters are actually called Dauling Dragons. Yes “Dauling” Dragons, as it’s misspelled on at least two different signs in the park, including the huge one by the ride’s entrance! You’d think the chain would pay someone to proofread their giant signs, at least, or even asked the manufacturers to take a look at the translation of the ride’s name. It’s gotten the moniker of “high five” because of a world premiere “high five” element, where both trains are racing side by side and turn 90 degrees on their sides facing each other so that the riders in opposite trains could almost high five each other, if the trains were just a little bit closer. Sure, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a hell of a gimmick! And it’s one that Gravity Group has promoted somewhat heavily. Unfortunately the park itself doesn’t seem aware of this feature of their rides – or at least doesn’t seem to care about it – because they almost never run both coasters at the same time, completely defeating the purpose of buying dueling coasters in the first place, as well as making the high five element pointless. It’s Happy Valley, after all. And I’ve already discussed several times in this report how poor their operations are at all of their parks. Never mind the fact that two of the major coasters at the park aren’t yet open. Let’s keep another one closed, too! The Chinese have a lot to learn about customer service and customer satisfaction, though to be fair, the operations at this park didn’t seem as bad as at their other parks.

That was why our filming session on the coasters was so crucial. We weren’t even sure if both coasters had EVER run together, except when Martin & Vleminckx was taking pictures back when it opened. But Robb was filming these coasters for Gravity Group and Martin & Vleminckx who very much wanted video of them DUELING (or is that “dauling”?), so that they could show off the high five and dueling elements to prospective buyers. Both Robb and the manufacturers had contacted the park to make sure that we would be able to film on (and ride!) both coasters while they dueled. We got to the park quite early to ensure that we would have plenty of time to film. This was, after all, one of the biggest highlights of the whole trip.

After waiting a while for the park to finish their maintenance, and watching them walk the track, we were finally given the go ahead to ride – ONE SIDE! AARGH! The park PR woman – who Robb had been talking to much of this time – seemed really confused that we actually wanted to ride both sides – as we’d repeatedly asked to! After discussing the matter with maintenance people, she told Robb that they wouldn’t be able to inspect and walk the track on the other side if the first side was running, so we might as well go ride one side now, because otherwise we would have to wait at least half an hour or more. Robb told her fine. We’ll wait. Huh? She was confused. You’ll wait? Yes. We want to ride and film on BOTH SIDES TOGETHER. Huh? Why don’t you just go ride one side now, since it’s ready? I swear, I don’t know how Robb managed to keep her cool with her and the park maintenance people!

So, we sat there while they inspected the other side, with us waiting around taking pictures of the coaster, the two smoking locomotive train cars in front of the ride, the inspectors, and some of the rest of nearby areas of the park. Eventually they got it ready for us, though it wasn’t quite as long as they said it would be. Robb set up his cameras and put the people where he wanted them for his filming, and we filled as much of the trains as we could with thirty-odd people (including two newcomers, who’d been to China previously and were joining us early for the second half of the trip, plus Wuhan for the new park) and two trains to fill. And we were off – for an extended riding/filming session, during which we all got many, many rides on both sides, switching seats often, and switching between the sides only once to save time and maximize our rides. We definitely got well over a dozen rides, which wouldn’t have really been possible without our filming time.

But how was it? Well, I thought it was awesome! The high five is definitely a gimmick – but it’s a hell of a gimmick! It just looks really cool while you’re riding or watching, if they get the timing right. And it was definitely fun reaching towards the other train, even if we’d never really come close to actually high fiving. One small problem, though: the design of the ride is slightly off so that if they get the timing of the high five just right, then the timing of the rest of the dueling moments is somewhat off, and vice versa. But I guess this isn’t a problem for the park, since they don’t generally duel them anyways! And we got enough rides to get both experiences, with either the high five or the rest of the dueling moments timed right.

They’re Gravity Group coasters. They’re crazy and violent and totally give that out of control feeling. Most of the airtime is in short, violent bursts, rather than in long sustained drops. I LOVE that in a coaster. Others don’t as much, and didn’t enjoy Dauling Dragons as much as I did. There were very differing opinions on which wide was better. I preferred the red left side a bit more, because it seemed just a bit crazier, but others preferred the right blue side as not quite as violent. Ultimately, I put them at #7 and #8 on my woodie list, just beating out Fireball as the best woodie in China, mainly due to the high five. Without it, I’d probably give Fireball the slight edge. Apparently, most people liked them, though, since they both ranked in the top 10 in Mitch’s poll.

As to the eternal enthusiast question: is it one coaster or two? I tend to count dueling coasters as two, but racing coasters as one, with some exceptions, based on how different the profiles are, but I take each pair on a case by case basis. (I count the Dueling Lightning Racer as one, for instance.) I’d say Dauling Dragons are a solid borderline case. I’m going slightly with two, mainly because the first third of the ride has a fairly different profile. Even the start is different, since the left side drops under the right side’s lift hill, while it hasn’t dropped yet.

The park let us extend our filming time into the regular park operating day (mainly due to their late start), which was great for us, but probably sucked for the general public. At this point, there was exactly one adult coaster in the park open, Hidden Anaconda, the Maurer Sohne Skyloop, and it had a pretty long line accordingly. Luckily, the park’s PR person got us onto the ride via the exit for a quick filming sesison, cutting the whole queue! You gotta love the VIP treatment!

From there, we went to Monte Carlo Racetrack, a nicely themed Golden Horse family coaster, but since there weren’t many people there, we didn’t need an exclusive filming session to get a bunch of rides. Again, the other two coasters (an S&S air-launched coaster and a Maurer Sohne launched X-car coaster) in the park were not open, though we took lots of pictures. That made zero for two with the Happy Valley S&S launched coasters on this trip so far, with only one more chance at the end of the trip in Shenzhen! One weird note: all three of the adult steel coasters in the park are painted red, which is kind of odd.

After that, we split up and explored the rest of the park. We decided to spend some time with the park’s flat rides, most of which were in the circus area of the park. I know we did the Disk-o, the adult Frog Hopper, the Top Scan, but I can’t remember which of the others we rode. We definitely did the park’s Haunted House, which was well done, but I don’t recall if we rode the “Magic Baby” shooting dark ride. Eventually, I split off to get a last ride on the Dauling Dragons before it was time to leave. Of course, one side was closed. It’s Happy Valley.

Before the meeting time, I checked out the merchandise for sale. But I was surprised to see that unlike any of the other Happy Valley parks that I’d been to, they actually had a bunch of HAPPY VALLEY merchandise, including several different t-shirts! Woo hoo! I wondered if other parks in the chain had started with them, and sold out, or if this was a mostly new addition. We’d see them again at their Shanghai park, which was their next newest park. But they really should get some more of their own chain’s merchandise at all of their parks.

At meeting time, I really wanted to stay a bit longer. After all, we had a world class Gravity Group woodie to ride, and I probably shouldn’t have spent so much time on the flat rides. But this was a group of true credit whores, and not one of them wanted to stay. To be honest, if anyone else at all had wanted to stay or if both sides of Dauling Dragons had been open, I’d definitely have stayed. Robb actually encouraged me to stay, and said he’d actually have more respect for me if I chose a woodie I loved over being a credit whore. And I seriously considered it, especially since our hotel wasn’t a very expensive cab ride away. (Cabs are cheap in China!) I’d have to find my own food for dinner, since I’d miss the group meal, but that wouldn’t be too hard in a big city. But ultimately, I didn’t want to be “that guy” who goes against the group on his own, and decided to stay with the group.

Ultimately, this Happy Valley park seemed incomplete, and not just because two of their coasters hadn’t yet opened. They needed another themed area, and at least a few more rides to really seem like a full theme park. Speaking of theming, it’s usually one of Happy Valley’s strongest points. But it didn’t seem like the theming here was quite on the same level as the other parks. It seemed closer to what you’d expect from a Six Flags or Cedar Fair Park that what we’d come to expect from Happy Valley. Maybe they’re cutting corners on their newer parks? Hopefully, this new Happy Valley park will improve over time. But ultimately, the Dauling Dragons are more than enough to be worth a visit to the park.
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The entry plaza. (These next few pics are actually from when we left the park, which is why we're walking away from the park, but they made more sense to put here, at the beginning to show what you'd see when you enter the park.)
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Another Happy Valley park doing their magic festival thingy, which we never saw any part of.
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On our way!
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There's some manmade lakes in this section to try to give it that wharf feeling.
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Yes, DAULING Dragon
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Let's see that up close....
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The steaming trains look impressive, and give us something to take pictures of while we're waiting for them to open the coasters for us.
69. ;-)
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Walking the track.
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The magic "high five" moment! Too bad I didn't get any good pictures of it in action! Luckily, Robb and Hanno got tons!
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Well, since we can't ride yet, we might as well take some pictures! You can see the not yet open Magic Express there in the background.
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And there's OCT Thrust SSC1000, also red. Also closed.
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Happy Valley's uniforms are very fashionable!
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From the station. And then, I put the camera away to actually RIDE these awesome coasters!
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Hidden Anaconda, kind of a funny name for a coaster that sticks straight up out of the midway, not at all hidden!
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It's red, but it's actually open!
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Artsy overhead shot.
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Time to try to get a few more pictures of the Dauling Dragons while they're still "dauling".
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AARGH! I had the perfect picture all set up and waiting for the trains to go through the high five. Then Brian put his hands up to take video RIGHT in my view JUST as the train was coming. This was moments after. With the slow Happy Valley operations and one train on each side, it would take forever to get the trains here again, and we had to leave the area to ride other things!
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The only actual "dauling" shot I managed to get!
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I'm not at all clear of what those white poles are supposed to be. Tent poles?
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Monte Carlo Racetrack. It's a weird mashup of theming. You've got paparazi taking pictures...
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palm trees and race car divers...
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odd-shaped race cars...
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A truck that's on fire. Or is it a fire truck?
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And a video game remote control. Or is that what a race car steering wheel is supposed to look like?!?
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That's a member of the Roller Coaster Dream coaster club of China riding with Neil.
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More of that coaster with the lovely name, OCT Thrust SSC1000.
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This is Magic Express. You can tell from the black supports. You can also see the adult frog hopper on the right.
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These guys should look familiar from yesterday's haunted house at a different Happy Valley!
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Put the theming on the hotel wall!
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It doesn't look very hidden to me! But that pier looks mighty auspicious!
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Back to the now non-Dauling Dragons. Note that there are only 4 coasters operating in the park (counting the Dragons as two), but one's already closed and the other dueler closes by 6 PM.
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Nope, no dauling.
Last edited by David H on Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:30 am.
Check out my Photo Trip Report from my Epic Asia Trip! Tons of coasters and a good helping of culture too! The first legs in Japan and Korea are done, and now we're up to the TPR China trip!
Photo TR: David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China + Japan, Korea, and Taiwan!

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby kailisun98 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:26 am

All of the Happy Valley chains seem to do stupid stuff. They buy a great racing coaster with the world's first "high-five" element and it doesn't duel????? Also I totally agree with you that Happy Valley has horrible operations. I did a Happy Valley SHanghai Photo TR last year and as I mentioned, the diving coaster had a two hour line and yet they were only running one train. In fact every coaster runs only one train even if the lines are insane!!! Rant over. Great TR David! I am really enjoying reading this.
Top 5 Steel: 1. Outlaw Run @ SDC 2. Flight Deck@CGA 3. X2@ SFMM 4. Medusa@ SFDK 5.YOLOcoaster @ SFMM
Top 3 Wooden: 1. El Toro@ SFGA 2.Gold Striker @ CGA 3. Apocolypse@ SFMM 4. "High Five"@ OCT Wuhan
Total Coaster Count: Wooden: 15 Steel: 143 Total: 158

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby 805Andrew » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:44 am

It seems like Happy Valley is the Six Flags of China. :p
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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby cfc » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:49 am

I think the Chinese are still getting the hang of the whole "how to run a theme park" thing.
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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby Nrthwnd » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:36 pm

cfc wrote:I think the Chinese are still getting the hang of the whole "how to run a theme park" thing.


That, or they've taken the operations done by
Fuji-Q Highland park in Japan, as their 'standard'.

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby David H » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:34 pm

cfc wrote:I think the Chinese are still getting the hang of the whole "how to run a theme park" thing.


Yeah, Happy Valley have only been doing it for 16 years now.

Give them time! ;-)

But you're right. And with no major competition until lately, there was really no reason for them to improve.
Check out my Photo Trip Report from my Epic Asia Trip! Tons of coasters and a good helping of culture too! The first legs in Japan and Korea are done, and now we're up to the TPR China trip!
Photo TR: David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China + Japan, Korea, and Taiwan!

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby kailisun98 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:10 pm

David H wrote:
cfc wrote:I think the Chinese are still getting the hang of the whole "how to run a theme park" thing.


Yeah, Happy Valley have only been doing it for 16 years now.

Give them time! ;-)

But you're right. And with no major competition until lately, there was really no reason for them to improve.

Also, Happy Valley does not update its rides at all. There hasn't been a new ride at Happy Valley Shanghai in 4 years.
Top 5 Steel: 1. Outlaw Run @ SDC 2. Flight Deck@CGA 3. X2@ SFMM 4. Medusa@ SFDK 5.YOLOcoaster @ SFMM
Top 3 Wooden: 1. El Toro@ SFGA 2.Gold Striker @ CGA 3. Apocolypse@ SFMM 4. "High Five"@ OCT Wuhan
Total Coaster Count: Wooden: 15 Steel: 143 Total: 158

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby David H » Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:11 am

Day 22, part 2: Wuhan Peace Park and Wuhan Zhongshan Park.

This update will be shorter than most, at least in the words department (well, for me at least!), because I probably used up my quota of words on the last update! Seriously, though, we visited two small parks in Wuhan to get a bunch of credits, and by this point in the trip, all of these small parks started to blend together. So, there aren’t that many interesting stories to tell about them. Both city parks were actually quite nice, with ponds and art and decorations. But there wasn’t anything special about the amusement parks in those city parks. Both parks seemed somewhat old and falling apart. The sad thing is that most of the rides were less than 10 years old.

First up was Wuhan Peace Park, although the tour guide seemed to think it was called Paradise Park at Heping Park. Probably the most eventful thing that happened at this part of the day was getting to our first coaster – a kiddie oval -- and finding it a rusting mess, overrun with plants! The train was sitting out on the track with giant ferns that had grown through the track and were blocking the train! We obviously didn’t get the credit (though I think some of us held out hope!), but honestly, seeing the ride like that was probably more entertaining than riding it! Eventually, we found the park’s Jungle Mouse, called Jungle Flying Squirrel, which was actually pretty decent, better than most of them on the trip. We also rode the powered Gliding Dragon, but nothing else really.

From there we headed to Wuhan Zhongshan Park. There are actually a whole bunch of parks named Zhongshan Park. In fact, we’d be visiting two more in Shanghai and Shenzhen, although this one had Wuhan in the name, while the others were just Zhongshan Park. Unlike most city amusement parks, this one actually had a full sized adult looping coaster, even if it was just a Chinese knockoff of an Arrow double loopscrew by a company we’d never heard of (Hebei Zhongye Metallurgical Equipment Manufacturing Co., according to RCDB.) Then we rode the park’s Golden Horse crazy mouse called In the Woods Flying Mouse. Finally, we rode the park’s Flying Saucer spinning mouse. Others had ridden one on the pre-trip add-on day, but I missed it. I actually thought it was a decent ride, though I may have been saying that to help justify skipping more rides on Dauling Dragons! Since the park was bigger than the other, we spent a bit of time here, though I don’t think I rode anything other than the trashy dark ride. Several of the rides here were closed and rusted and didn’t look like they’d run in years.

Ultimately, I enjoyed these parks more than I expected to, but again I may have just been thinking that to help justify my decision not to stay at Happy Valley Wuhan. If I go back some day, I’d definitely stay there and skip the credit whoring. But it was my choice, and it worked out ok.
Asia '12 - Day 22 - Wuhan 013.jpg
A bridge we crossed to get to and from Happy Valley. Wuhan isn't as big as some Chinese cities, but it has a nice skyline.
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Walking through the first park.
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Does this count as theming?
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This doesn't look good....
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Not at all....
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No, I don't htink we'll be riding this!
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Still, it made for unique, funny coaster pictures! Well, maybe not so unique in China!
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Now, THIS looks like an active amusement park!
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Hooray! An OPERATING coaster!
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Bill highlights the parks extensive safety protocols, by eating the seat belt.
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Gee, a powered dragon knockoff. We haven't seen any of these before!
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If I'd counted these, I'd have gotten a ton more credits on this trip!
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Now we're in the second park. I like this little police kart!
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There's construction everywhere in China, as people move from the farmlands and small villages into the cities.
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Culture!
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Ooh, I see ride track!
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An Arrow loopscrew knockoff is about as good as it gets for Chinese city park amusement parks!
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But it's Cheryl's #900!
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Um, you're supposed to change when you get out of the hospital. Or are these just his PJ's and he thinks the bracelet is fashionable?
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Arrow knockoff goodness!
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Damn! Missed the train going through the loop!
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If this hunk of rust were open, would you ride it?
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I appreciated their attempts at theming.
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Pay very careful attention to the safety instructions!
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More jungle mouse action.
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Robb doing his thing.
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It's a pretty neat design for a spinning mouse car.
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I'm thinking the coaster wasn't THAT exciting... ;-)
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What's up with this weird monkey on the kiddie ride?!?
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Gay monkey voguing?
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Wuhan has some neon, but not as much as Chengdu.
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Cool building.
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Our hotel.
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Our hotel.
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People in China, particularly women, often do complicated group dance routines in public places for exercise. I guess it's cheaper than the gym! I'd later join in one night in Shanghai!
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Cool building.
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Ditto.
Check out my Photo Trip Report from my Epic Asia Trip! Tons of coasters and a good helping of culture too! The first legs in Japan and Korea are done, and now we're up to the TPR China trip!
Photo TR: David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China + Japan, Korea, and Taiwan!

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby cfc » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:24 pm

As I recall, that Flying Saucer Coaster was located next to the smelliest bathroom in China; seriously, a buzzard wouldn't have roosted on that public toilet.
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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby kailisun98 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:06 am

cfc wrote:As I recall, that Flying Saucer Coaster was located next to the smelliest bathroom in China; seriously, a buzzard wouldn't have roosted on that public toilet.

You haven't smelled half of it yet. Last year, me and some friends climbed Mt.Hua and the toilets up there stink so badly that you could smell it a couple hundred feet away.
Mt.Hua.jpg
Me on Mt.Hua
Top 5 Steel: 1. Outlaw Run @ SDC 2. Flight Deck@CGA 3. X2@ SFMM 4. Medusa@ SFDK 5.YOLOcoaster @ SFMM
Top 3 Wooden: 1. El Toro@ SFGA 2.Gold Striker @ CGA 3. Apocolypse@ SFMM 4. "High Five"@ OCT Wuhan
Total Coaster Count: Wooden: 15 Steel: 143 Total: 158

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