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Pirouettes907

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  1. ^ Thanks! Funny you should make that comment today because I finally have the next part of this to share. I mean, it's only been what, a month? Goodness. Day 3: Olympics Stuff! No, there are absolutely no roller coasters featured in this portion. But if you really want to see something cool, then watch this. It's relevant. Promise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_Zt8O-99Wo After Happy Valley Beijing, we visited Beijing Olympic Park. I was ecstatic to get a little more up close and personal with the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube since the night before, I’d only seen them from afar. It took a little bit of time to maneuver past all the vendors, trying not to trip over the cheap toys they had strewn and wriggling all over the sidewalk (not mention thanking my body that I didn’t have to poop because “potent” doesn’t even begin to describe the Chinese Bathroom Smell around the PortaPotties), but I was finally standing in front of them and it was one of those dream-come-true-I-can’t-believe-I’m-actually-standing-here-omg-omg-this-is-so-cool moments. I love the Olympics. I LOVE the Olympics. I love how they bring countries together, I love all the fluff human interest stories behind them and I love being able to watch sports that aren’t televised on a normal basis, especially gymnastics. It soon became clear that our allotted time would not be enough, so we opted to stay longer and catch a cab back to the hotel later. Later turned out to be four hours later. What does one do for four hours at Beijing Olympic Park? Gosh, I’m so glad you asked! Yeah, I was far away, but seeing this in person the night before was all kinds of amazing. It just kind of appeared out of nowhere and then all of a sudden, it was one of those “thereitiszomgzTHEREITISTHEREITIS!!1!!one!!!” moments. Same with this. You’ve gotta admit, this is stunning. And I was perfectly happy with seeing just this. I could say that I saw the things I probably most wanted to see in Beijing. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect upon coming here during the day. My first observations were that the metal detectors to gain entry were completely optional, people were popping squats BEHIND the Porta Potties (just think about that for a minute) and not even a ninja could hide from those souvenir vendors. It was a little daunting. But I kept my eyes glued on this and walked towards it… …pausing for cartwheels, of course. So yeah, I do cartwheels in front of famous landmarks. It’s my thing So this was starting to look pretty cool up close. Every time I saw an image of this during the Olympics, I was impressed anew. Some people might call its uniqueness gaudy and ugly. I personally think it’s one of the most strikingly beautiful stadiums out there. Which is why when I learned you could pay to go inside of it, I was overjoyed. (Yes, I am hugging the Bird’s Nest. What?) That’s right, biatches. I AM HERE. Oh wow. Oh wow. Once inside, there is no official tour or anything like that. In fact, you are essentially paying to take a stroll. It is, however, one hell of an awesome stroll. You are pretty much free to wander wherever you please, including all the way up to the top (and yes, I reached out to touch the ceiling. I’d share that moment of supreme nerdisity with you, except the photo came out blurry. Picture someone way too short leaning over a railing and practically pulling a muscle just to touch a piece of canvas and you’ll get the idea). Hi, Olin and Lino! I just thought I’d take a moment for a public service announcement: In the Bird’s Nest public bathrooms, there is one roll of TP to service approximately 50 toilets (most of them squat toilets). You might want to plan ahead here, folks. Just sayin’. So gorgeous, right? I don’t remember so much about seeing the torch so much as being accosted by this Chinese couple there who wanted to interview us on camera for reasons no one, perhaps least of all themselves, could deduce. But the couple lived in Tianjin. That much I figured out. Which is where the 1999 World Gymnastics Championships were held, which is kind of related to some events that happened here, so…okay. See, I told you that video at the beginning was relevant. Speaking of which, you know what else happened here? This happened, in what was one of the more dramatic all around competitions in Olympic history--and thank goodness the judges actually got this one right. So I did this. It was only fitting. Then other tourists starting taking pictures of me cartwheeling, so I smiled and cartwheeled some more. One time a boy wrote to me that he loved me with all his hard. It wasn’t a typo for the word heart. He was just informing me he wanted to trample on my tender, fragrant grasses. Honesty is the best policy, after all. Is it just me, or did everything just start getting happy and magical around here? Ah. Michael Phelps did some cool stuff here. He’s an incredible athlete, but I think he looks goofy. I realize this sets me apart from the rest of the female population. As far as athletes go, Danell Leyva > Michael Phelps. Not that this mostly male readership cares, so here’s a picture of the ceiling instead. Right. I don’t dive. The prospect of going headfirst into the water scares the bejeebus out of me. After seeing the height of this in person, I have a whole new respect for the 10m platform divers. I’m also now tempted to dig out old home movies of me attempting to dive at age 8 or so and performing what can only be described as a clumsy flop instead: splashing chest first into the water, eyes squinched shut and mouth twisted into a grimace. I’m graceful and hilarious. Like the Bird’s Nest, you paid a small fee to enter the Water Cube, where you pretty much had free reign of the place except for the actual pool deck itself. It was an upcharge to swim in the warm-up pool and also to visit the place that makes this post relevant to this site… …the indoor water park, complete with giant chunks of pool bottom missing! Yes, folks, you are looking at that correctly, and if the life forms in the bathroom sinks were any indication, I do NOT want to know what was living in those pools. Can you say renegade mold colonies? Still beautiful on the outside, though. After that, there was a quick McDonald’s stop as well as some confusion in trying to get out of the area (as Beijing is in love with fences. Seriously, we actually had to ask someone how to get out of there. That’s embarrassing!). I was exhausted but was it ever worth it. What I thought would be a few minutes’ picture taking turned into four hours of swooning over things that utterly captivated me four years ago, yet seemed a world away (I mean, technically, they kind of were. Half a world, I guess. Whatever. It’s a turn of phrase. Just go with it). It sounds hokey, but to me there is something magical about the Olympics and to be able to see these places in person was the realization of a dream. Interestingly enough, I was watching the opening ceremony the night I discovered TPR and came to conclusion that I needed to do one of these trips someday. Guess I came full circle, huh? (BWA HA HA I am SO punny!) Parks and coasters return next with Victory Kingdom and some credit whoring before departing for Chengdu. Maybe this time it won’t take a month to put an update together Thanks for reading!
  2. Thank you again for the kind words and thank you also for your patience! Let’s get this rolling again: Day 3: Happy Valley Beijing I was really excited to finally see one of the Happy Valley parks. I’d heard they were beautifully themed and that I might swoon at the sight of a real Vekoma SLC, the latter of which really exemplifies the desperate nature of the coastering situation after just two days of knock-offs. And you know what? It was a beautiful park. Quite impressive, actually. Combine that with Crystal Wings and the fact that I was seeing the sun for the first time since departing the U.S. and the day was shaping up for the better. It soon became as clear as the skies, however, that like the Bolivian Flag Experience at Sun Park, beauty served as a distraction in this case. This is Happy Valley we’re talking about, and Happy Valley is the stereotypical blonde of amusement parks: pretty to look at but unbelievably clueless. It’s evident in bewildering staggered opening policies, unexplainable ride closures and lines that don’t move for hours. In short, Happy Valley operations are abysmal. They are abysmal in an everything-negative-I’ve-ever-said-about-Six-Flags-suddenly-seems-moot kind of way. With that, I present to you Happy Valley Beijing: “We’ll run rides when we feel like it. Might be in an hour. Might be next week. We don’t know. Neither should you.” I woke up, looked out the window and…wait a minute, is that…is that…a clear, blue sky? I mean, you have to look past all the dirt encrusted on the glass, but…there’s a city outside? Well golly gee whiz, who knew? Welcome to Happy Valley Beijing! And no, you can’t see the design at the top of the sign too well because of the sun glare. Isn’t it beautiful?!? Just some quick rules before we head in, folks: no smoking, no outside food/drink, no dogs and PLEASE, keep those exploding badminton birdies at home or it’s free hotel for you. Well, hello there. You are looking mighty fine. But you’re closed today. Waiting on a part or something. I know, I know—it’s not me, it’s you. Same old spiel. But that’s okay because I was looking forward to this more, anyway. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I was anticipating Crystal Wings. I have long been disappointed with Six Flags’ Superman flyers because they’re essentially a gimmick in a field. Superheroes should fly through, under and over things, not putz around a lawn. Crystal Wings, on the other hand, is situated within this mountain structure, and the result is that a layout that grew stale long ago seemed new and exciting, even after a few rides. That close of an interaction with the scenery really amplifies the sense of speed and makes it so the ride isn’t finished after the pretzel loop. We had to wait a little while they tested the ride, and with that layer of heat-trapping smog disappeared for the day, I found myself a little chilly. Sure was awfully thoughtful of the park to supply these Warm Tips, no? My first ever rider cam filming. I wasn’t nervous. I just accepted the wisdom and energy presented by Atlanteans while flying. But this? This made me nervous. Here’s that distracting imagery again. Tra la la, I’m flying through a snowfield with my gilded wings! Everything is grand!...or so they set you up to think. The reality is a far darker picture. I mean, sure, this one had no problems making it through the course like the Crab Island knock off. And no, the train did not make those unsettling noises like Shenzhou Coaster. But it still shook and it still hurt and it still is located at Happy Valley, so there’s really not much going for it, unless, of course, we take the glass half full approach and say that because it’s located at Happy Valley, it didn’t run the rest of the day for reasons no one could explain and therefore couldn’t pummel any more ears. “Three. I have ridden this three times now. I think that it enough, because I seem to be hallucinating that there is a Scotsman next to me actually enjoying this.” “Real Vekoma? Who cares? It still sucks.” (What? I’m just reading the sign at the top of the lift.) Next up was Flight of the Phoenix/Jungle Racing/whatever. I liked this. It had some pep to it and had some close encounters with the surrounding scenery, which resulted in foliage souvenirs for some of us. Not for my mere 5’3” self, though. It was impressively themed, too. I have to give credit where credit is due—there was one of these mine trains at each of the Happy Valleys I visited and each had a different theme to it. I liked this one the best, but that could simply be because the blue sky made everything look nice that day. See? Oh David, you are such a ham…burger We went searching for the Golden Horse spinner afterwards, which took us to this children’s area themed after ants. Ants and rotten food. Makes sense. I hate watermelon. I hated it even more after this trip, because apparently it’s Chinese law that watermelon be served for dessert at every meal. Also not too fond of apples, but hey, I’ll still take this over yet another Planet Snoopy. Onward to credit #4! Except I was greeted with a sign that roughly translated into “Sorry folks, ride’s closed… …the trident-wielding ants out front shoulda told ya.” A little disappointing, sure, but I got to ride a carousel of completely trashed looking ants instead, so I was still a winner. Since we were at Happy Valley, nothing else was open except for this. (And seriously, Yogi, you’re a freaking BEAR. If you really want that pic-a-nic basket that badly, you can just maul the humans in your way. This scenario would have made for a far more entertaining 4D experience, I can tell you that.) Stop teasing me. By this point, we were at the front of the park again. Apparently the flat rides up there had just opened (even though the park had been open a couple hours) and were the only rides open, as evidenced by completely full switchbacks. We all continued around, only to see the line for Crystal Wings stretching approximately six miles from the ride entrance itself. I started figuring it out then, so this next part of the TR is called The True Happy Valley Experience. Looks pretty? Check. Flying Island—closed for no apparent reason? Check. Terrible flat ride that took ten minutes to load? Check. Huge Frisbee? Check. Huge Frisbee whose queue literally did not move an inch between cycles? Check. (No, really. I’m not making this up. I watched the ride run a couple cycles and the line did not move forward AT ALL!) More flat rides closed? Check. This was a catastrophe of Mayan proportions, alright. I hear ya, guys. I was pretty disgusted with this place by this point, too. I SAID, knock it off; I am NOT in a good mood. Yet so pretty, so pretty…wait, that’s it! I’ll just take out my frustration by blasting these innocent riders with this vile water! Enjoy your cholera, everybody! And I can get roasted gristle for lunch, too?!? Everything’s coming up Megan! (Okay, so I cannot figure out for the life of me how to link to a youtube video in a picture caption (if that's even possible), so please just humor me and go here using the old fashioned copy and paste way: (Just because I can’t take credit for that line above )) The rest of the day was spent getting sunburned and finding things that were actually operating, like this. This was where I learned that Happy Valley does some pretty fine haunted walkthroughs. I remember this one contained a forest scene that had rubber cushions on the floor to emulate mud. I thought that was pretty neat. Drops of Jupiter and Hey, Soul Sister were great. 50 Ways to Say Goodbye is absolute junk, but you win some, you lose some. Oh yeah, the Happy Valley Train was fine, too. I had to make a choice between spending the last half hour on this or in the line for KFC. Remembering where I was, I decided I had a better chance of making it to the meeting point on time by riding this. I was right. After that, it was time to go. Only went 3 for 5 today, but it’s all good. Never mind, I’ll find someone like you. In the end, Happy Valley Beijing was, well, not that happy of a valley. It was pretty, yes, but it was also pretty terrible operations-wise and I really don’t have much tolerance for ineptness in that area. However! Statue-wise, they scraped up a few brownie points. No, I have no clue what this had to do with anything, but… Anything that reminds me of these guys is all right in my book Next up? We’ll be hanging out at some Olympic venues! (har har, I’m a riot, I know) Thanks for reading!
  3. ^^ It also contains renegade mold colonies in its bathroom sinks!
  4. At first glance, yes--but then I remembered I'd seen trip reports with the shooting ride and put two and two together. It was still highly entertaining. There are two guns on the car and at least on mine, they had different sound effects. Amusing, to say the least. Do you remember that Chairlift of Death, Scraggly Branches and Very Large Scary Arachnids attraction in Jamaica? Brought back some fond memories, this trip did.
  5. Wow, the front page twice now? Thank you! And thank you very much for the comments and bonus Angus McNasty photos, everyone!! I’m glad you are enjoying this, as I’m having a lot of fun making it Continuing on... Day 2, Part 2: Sun Park From Shijingshan, we inched our way (because that’s the fastest way you can get anywhere in Beijing; I am quite certain that hitching a ride on a sloth would be more efficient) to Sun Park. There we found six coasters, a pretty decent amount of flat rides and enough color to render the Crayola factory insipid and gloomy by comparison. I was also happy to see the themes of the morning continue. By themes, I of course mean catastrophes in the form of Chinese-manufactured rides, arachnid friends and some things that elicited…er, WOULD have elicited true WTF moments, but didn’t because, well, this is China. Welcome to the enormously sprawling entrance of Sun Park! Actually, I think this looks pretty neat. Definitely eye-catching, no? Now this was pretty cool. I love the Olympics (which will become clear in a later installment of this TR) and I was surprised to see we were so close to one of the sports venues. In middle school gym class, I was the only girl who could serve a volleyball over the net. Yeah, I know you’re all really impressed. I started watching The Simpsons when I was three or four because I was drawn to all the bright colors in the animation even though at that young an age, I didn’t really understand what I was watching. I felt the same way here. Lots of color, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what these Rubik’s cube things have to do with anything. There sure were a lot of them, though. Our first ride was this powered coaster, which was called The Police Lineup Experience because it began with the ride ops commanding all 30-something of us to stand in a line facing them. They stared at us. We stared back. They consulted, they debated, they whispered. We stood in suspense. They pointed fingers. And thus we were assigned seats and away we whored. If, of course, you actually count these things. Which I do not. Because I’m pretty rad like that. “Call me later, okay Megan?” If you ever wanted to poop inside a ladybug, then Sun Park is the place where dreams come true. Next up was the Bolivian Flag Experience. You might be wondering, was there a sale on Goldfinch, Grasshopper and Red Tomato? No. There was not. The Chinese just know how to distract you from the sound of your skull cracking. This… …renders this sign superfluous. I couldn’t help but notice as I walked to the next coaster that Sun Park was a nice looking place. Lots of trees… …enough color to distract from the smoggy grayness of the sky… …and it was even a Coke park. Next up was the standard Jungle Mouse, of which I have no decent photos, so you get to look at me in this silly car instead. omg, Hanno! HANNO!!! Oh, you’re sticking to the PLATFORMS today? So not the PIATFORMS? Thank goodness. Wouldn’t be able to call you maybe if you were at the free hotel tonight. Another park, another Golden Horse. Another park, another cat. Another park, another Mine Coaster. And yes, this one had its own huge ass spider, too, right before the lift. But since I don’t have a picture of that because I was too busy yelping and ducking away from it, I’ll illustrate using this huge ass spider from the spinning coaster instead. Thank goodness I have options, here. Same park, same coaster…wait…what? Oh…okay, so they have two powered coasters with the same exact layout. I mean, sure, why not. I didn’t think there were enough Sliding Dragons in this country, anyway. “Robb, I…I’m afraid I didn’t make it to the ladybug in time.” (Okay, so as I was going through these pictures, I briefly noticed this. I didn’t bat an eye and kept clicking through. Is it bad that Robb taking a picture of Ruben’s crotch doesn’t seem the slightest bit strange?) The Rainbow Children’s Coaster was next, which featured such rainbow related theming as cobras wearing lipstick… …deranged gorillas… ...and whatever this is supposed to be. Then this happened. Just look at this. Can you believe just how silly this looks? Neither can I. These people have absolutely no shame. Nope, they have no shame at all in placing the antennae in the wrong place. Come on, Sun Park, get with the entomology program. Following the coasters, we had some time to wander around, so naturally I went for the parachute tower since a) you don’t see many of these anymore and b) I figured I owed it to Coca Cola, since the calories in it essentially saved me from starvation on this trip. It was nice to get up high, closer to the smog, because I thought my lungs had been too healthy lately. Wait a minute, what is this? Why, it’s World of Warcraft Chinese style, which means it’s an outdoor shooting ride where you are supposed to shoot jungle animals. Of course, since this is the Chinese version, there is no way to tell how many points you accumulate since the score display doesn’t work, but it’s okay, kids-- You can still have a rip roarin’ good time. (Tell me this picture doesn’t make you giggle.) Pow. Shortly after that, we headed out. That night a few of us went to an acrobatics show, which was really pretty awesome (but no photos because a blinding flash is really not conducive to safe gymnastics!). Afterwards we decided to head to the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube to see them lit up at night and I have to hand it to our tour guide, Bruce, who got us all set up with the cab and got us on our way. It was absolutely pouring on the way over there, but I kid you not, it stopped the second we opened the cab door. I was on cloud 9 just being able to see this—but the best of this was yet to come! Next up is Happy Valley Beijing and later, my Olympic dreams come true! Until then, I shall educate you about China’s position on environmental awareness with this simple message… Paper, bottles, cans, plastic—Unrecycle them all, it’s fantastic!!! Thanks for reading!
  6. I am honored Angus McNasty made an appearance in my thread, so I decided the best way to thank you was to introduce Angus to Maxine. Keep up the great work, as always! She's fat, she's bad and she's totally single.
  7. HOORAY, Chuck's China TR has begun! I have been looking forward to this
  8. Day 2, Part 1: Beijing Shijingshan Park Originally I was planning on putting all of day 2 into one post, but both parks we visited that day are large enough that I decided to separate them. The day began at Shijingshan Park, which has eight coasters plus one SBNO. The reviews I read going in were that this was a place of quantity over quality and I have to admit, that actually had me looking forward to it. Today was the day to see if all the horror stories about Chinese-manufactured rides were true, and even if I walked away thinking none of the coasters were memorable, I figured at the very least, the day promised some humor. But oh, the coasters were memorable, alright. “Good morning, everyone! I am so excited for Deathtrap Day with all of its fake SLCs, Golden Horses and shuttle loops of pure, unadulterated fear!” Welcome to Beijing Shijingshan Park, which looks pretty nice from up here… …until you get a little closer. The best part about this is that there were kids peeing in here. There was this one little boy in particular who was having the time of his life running back and forth doing little squirts in the water. In China, little kids have pants with slits in them so they can just pop a squat wherever they want. I really wish I was making that up. Once inside, it was past the rainbow cats…foxes…what are these supposed to be?...creatures… ...and past this real cat, whose name was Lunchme…what? They did that one already? Oh. It is time. The story is this: The train does not have enough momentum to clear the loop on the return trip. It falls. Literally. As in, you feel yourself dropping and hear the train slam down onto its upstop wheels, which in this case aren’t really wheels so much as pads that skid and shudder through the rest of the loop with a kind of convulsion that pierces you to your core like the sound of nails on a chalkboard. I knew that going into it. The best part is that is takes about a minute and a half to reach the top of this hill, so I had plenty of time to think about it. Truly eloquent renderings of various Urban Dictionary terms resound from here. But I survived and headed over to the Mine Coaster, feeling very relieved. Until I saw this. I know it’s not the greatest picture, but that is a HUGE ASS SPIDER. I reacted the way Scottish Steve does when two Maglevs pass each other. And of course the spider had to make its web dangerously close to this section of track here. DUCK, CHUCK! So that's two major catastrophes avoided. Let’s ascend this completely non-handicap-accessible-never-in-America staircase. I wonder what lies yonder? Oh bloody hell. Cheryl's face says it all. Allow me to summarize this for you: Smack. Bang. Body slam. What are those clicking noises? Knock. Clobber. Why is my seat swinging back and forth? Thud. Whack. Seriously, there’s something wrong with this train. Thump. Crash. Hurt. Pain. No. Just…no. Tremors 5: Whack the Worms, a SyFy original movie premiere coming this fall! AWWWWW YEAH, easily the best ride so far. “Okay, this is the first Golden Horse spinning coaster of the trip,” announced Robb. “You will be riding about 7,000 of these and they all equally suck!” Well, THAT was a bold-faced lie. The most ubiquitous ride in China, and most of them would be closed. I want my money back. Lemon lime? What luck! That’s my favorite lice flavor of all! Atomic Coaster was surprisingly smooth, alarmingly overgrown and ornithologically friendly. On our way to the next coaster, we passed through Shijingshan’s children’s area, which wasn’t lacking in color… …or such lovable, cuddly friends as Handgun Hare over here. Okay, so we get to the next coaster, called Spinning Batman, which we’d heard was SBNO. Robb decides to take a peek inside the station to confirm whether or not this is true. He runs back with this amused expression on his face and declares “The station has collapsed!” Say what? Of course, we all had to see this for ourselves. Well, the crumpled tissue and actual yes-those-are-for-real bones theming is meticulously intact, so how bad could it be? Pffft, just a little bit of dust. I’m sure it’ll be open by this afternoon. Next up was the indoor Jurassic Adventure, which, if it went as blurringly fast as this extremely terrible picture suggests, would not have come to a dead halt in the middle of the course. The first group of riders got Exclusive Push Time at the hands of the ride ops. I was a little disappointed I wasn’t on that train… …because it would have put a more interesting story behind this The next stop at EPCOT today is the Crazy Mouse…wait…last time I checked, there was no Crazy Mouse at EPCOT. See, I knew I was right. No Crazy Mouse at EPCOT. The last credit at Shijingshan was Space Trip, which really was a fun little thing—very reminiscent of a Schwarzkopf in layout. Well done on the clench & squish, boys. Well done. (Contrary to what it may seem given the many updates on Facebook, Robb and Hanno are actually still stuck here. Last I heard from them was that the Rate Your Morning Dump on a Scale of 1—10 game was getting old really fast. Someone might want to help them soon.) After Space Trip, we had some time to wander around. We found this haunted walk-through, where we first encountered what would be a common theme in many Chinese walk-throughs: it is far too dark to see any of the effects. There was green rope lighting in here. That’s all I remember because that’s all I could see. Gotta give credit where credit is due, and that is a creatively themed Top Spin. Same old joke, same old joke. Looks nice, though. This was the same style ride as Desperados at the Happy Valley parks. It’s similar to a shooting dark ride, except all the seats face a screen where the targets are displayed during a short action film. Your pointer fingers will be sore after this one—that is, if your seat comes equipped with a gun (which, as you can see, most did not). Oh, and if the gun actually works (which most did not). Finally, there was the American Adventure dark ride. Well, not really. I never got the chance to do this because time was running out and I didn’t want to pull a Josh and blame being late on inanimate objects like elevators I know some of you did this. How was it? With that, it was off to the bus, where we waited to head to the next park. And waited. And waited. Shijingshan is one of those parks where each ride costs a certain amount of points. You buy points and they’re loaded onto a card that you carry and swipe at each ride. Robb and our tour guide, Bruce, had stayed behind to see about getting refunds on our unused points. Nice of them, right? Unfortunately, this turned into an epic disaster, as apparently Shijingshan lacks the super duper advanced technology necessary to read card balances. But whatever. It’s all part of the adventure! Thanks for reading; Sun Park is next!
  9. Wow, the front page of TPR?!??! Gosh, I feel so famous! Thanks And thank you also for the comments, everyone! Day 1: Beijing Area Sightseeing The first official day of the trip was spent not riding coasters, but rather visiting several of the Beijing area’s most iconic landmarks: the Great Wall (at Badaling), Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Admittedly, I’m no expert in Chinese history, so I read a bit before the trip to try and get a better appreciation of where I’d be going (and for those who are interested, I do recommend the book Wild Swans by Jung Chang, which recounts one Chinese family’s history during the twentieth century. While in no way an objective account, it’s really informative and well written). Oh, there’s also the part of my background where I was an anthropology major in college. I guess you could say I was predisposed to nerd out today, which I did happily and will now share with you. The day started with a long drive out to the Great Wall with a stop at a jade factory along the way. I took no pictures there, mostly because as soon as we were set free to look around the gift shop, I wanted out as fast as possible because the salespeople in these places have ZERO concept of personal space. To say they linger around you is an understatement. If they could jump inside of you, they would. Anyway, onto the Great Wall… ...where we’ll begin with bears, obviously. “NI HAO, HUMANS!” Here’s the thing. I love bears. Now granted, if one ever mauls me in the wild, I might rethink that statement, but if I can pay 3 yuan to feed them apples from a safe distance, then hot diggity, that wall up the hill I’ve been waiting my whole life to see can wait. The bears were part of this touristy area at the base of the Wall that consisted mostly of tacky souvenir shops. One could also find disgusting stuff like this that some people, specifically those by the name of Nick Cramer, actually eat. But the highlight was bears. Bears that stand in stagnant puddles of bear waste and bears I eventually had to walk away from because I was starting to gag (and that, ladies and gentlemen, is saying something, because I have plenty of horror stories from working in a dog kennel which I'm sure you're all dying to hear). We started up to the Wall via the rave tunnel on a contraption those under the “Sad & Pathetic” category might classify as a credit. (It was actually a pretty ingenious way to transport people!) Wow. It really is a sight to behold. I could have easily spent the entire afternoon here, just walking around, taking pictures and absorbing it all. Good thing there’s not any smog to ruin this vista! Back in the city, our next stop was Tiananmen Square. Apparently up to one million people can stuff themselves in here, which actually sounds pretty horrific, particularly if it’s a hot day. It’s neat that I can say “I’ve been there!” about one of those places most people only see in pictures. It’s imperative that I say “We did NOT plan to match!” “Okay, seriously, Karl? We talked about this; you KNEW it was tan shorts day, not plaid shorts day!” Let’s follow the disgruntled Blue Brigade to our next stop! Here is part of the Forbidden City. Actually, I could just stop right here because the place is pretty much this building repeated five or six times… …surrounded by a sea of stone (no trees or shrubs because you don’t want to provide any hiding spots for assassins! Now I bet you didn’t know that, did you?). This is my photo TR, though, and it just wouldn’t be complete without pointing out how intricate the work is on these buildings. Beautiful, right? Exquisite right to the roof edges. There is also this large stone carving, appropriately named “Large Stone Carving.” See? Concubines spent some quality time with the emperor here. They’d be made to wear some silk negligee so they couldn’t conceal any weapons. This is certainly the one and only reason for transparent fabric, of course. Finally, if you’re going to build a 980-building city, might as well ensure that the riff-raff can’t touch your stuff. After the Forbidden City, we did a silk factory tour. Again, I have no pictures, but this time it's because I was on the exhausted side thanks to waking up at 3:40 a.m. (thanks, jet lag). It was an enjoyable day overall and I’m thankful we found the time to visit these places. It’s not always about the coasters, you know In closing, I leave you with this work called “A Sunny Sky in Beijing.” Thanks for reading; the amusement parks return next with Beijing Shijingshan Park and Sun Park!
  10. The post vacation blues have set in. My suitcase is sitting on the floor and I am in no hurry to unpack it. I reached for a bottle of water to brush my teeth earlier and got kind of sad when I remembered I could use tap water again (okay, that one might have been an exaggeration). Everyone always said TPR trips were some of the best times of their lives. They were right. I’m still kind of in awe that I got to go to China. It was a little surreal to know that I was on the opposite side of the world. I’d wanted to go to China since I was a kid playing Street Fighter on Super Nintendo. Naturally, my favorite character to play was the only girl, Chun Li, who was from China. Later, I came to appreciate the cultural side of things. The last thing I read before boarding the plane was an article on the sociocultural impact of American fast food restaurants in Beijing (no, really, I read stuff like that for fun). So when TPR announced this China trip, I was all over it. And what did I learn? Well, China smells funny, its drivers make East coast drivers seem courteous and squat toilets are just horrid. Oh, and next time, I should never ever ever leave early from a TPR trip because it really sucks knowing everyone is still having fun over there and I’m in New Jersey. This really was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. The amount of work Robb and Elissa put into planning and the lengths to which they go to make sure we all get to ride as many coasters as possible is nothing short of exceptional. The friends and memories made are going to have me smiling for a long time to come, and that’s a handy thing when it comes to beating the post vacation blues. I figured a trip report might cure them, too. Here we go! Day 0: Early Arrival Day—Crab Island Resort, Fuwa Eden and Beijing World Park The first park of the trip was actually two. Crab Island Resort has a collection of kiddie rides in one area and just down the street are larger thrill rides. With the latter not opening until 10, we started with the children’s park. Here we are! It’s a nice enough looking place. (And FYI, given the water in China, it probably looks better with the pool under the bridge drained.) We started on this flat ride that some nerdbombs to my right consider a credit Here is the actual credit and my first Chinese coaster! It’s called Cool Surfing or Spinning Yacht or something. As you can see, its theming is quite impressive. It even includes free bird watching, provided you don’t mind the savory smell of chicken poop wafting up your way. Next up was the large rides section, which was a standard collection of flat rides, including this positively, 100% authentic Intamin drop tower. And this, my first knockoff SLC, is brought to you by Neil’s back. Okay, so by now I’m sure you’ve seen Robb’s video. If not, go watch it. Notice how this thing doesn’t look like it has enough momentum to make it through the course? Do you have any idea how unsettling it was to watch this from the queue? The concussion afterwards was so bad I was hallucinating that a giant bird ate Mike. That’s it for Crab Island. Of note, unless you like peeing in a trough with no privacy walls, go to the bathroom before you visit here. Next up was a park built for the Olympics called Aoyun Fuwa or Fuwa Eden; I’m not really sure which. Chinese coasters and places all seem to have a few different names. The whole place looked like this—weeds between bricks with a dilapidated ride here and there, all with pockets of sewage smell sprinkled throughout. But there was a credit to be had! Apparently it's called Happy Racing Boat. It squealed, it was rusty and it was home to many, many bees. That doesn’t look happy, nor does it look like it could win a race against anything. There’s also the part where it’s not a boat, but who am I to judge? The park is themed around the Beijing Olympic mascots, but it’s clear it hasn’t been maintained. It was actually pretty sad. This was part of a series of buildings that once housed Olympics exhibits, but a peek inside the window revealed only boxes and a mishmash of clutter. “One World, One Dream.” Um... The final park was my favorite of the day, Beijing World Park. As you can see, this is going to be WAAAAY more fun than Six Flags. Yeah, yeah, castle bigger than Disneyland’s, blah blah We are excited for our Canyon Adventure credit! This is right before the point when your knees will be smashed. It surprised me. I’m on the small side and never have knee clearance issues, so I can only imagine what you taller people felt…although I have a pretty good guess based on the collective grunts that rang out as the train hit that hill. I have about ten pictures of this waterfall, which is ten more than I know what to do with, so I’m putting one here. It was actually a big park, and certainly the nicest looking of the bunch today. Well, okay, maybe not in all places. And as it is Beijing WORLD Park, you can see places like the Sydney Opera House… Neuschwanstein Castle… Easter “Island” (get it?)… and Stonehenge. It was while at Stonehenge that the first of many encounters occurred in which giggling Chinese girls came running (literally, they were RUNNING) up to Mike asking for a photograph, after which he made sure to remind me approximately 46 times that “some guys just got it” before proceeding to do his Vince McMahon walk. We tried some of their bizarre attractions. One was this big ass plane. Of course I wanted to go in because I’d only been able to spend 13 hours in one the day before. It smelled funky. Also, there were women smoking in the back playing a serious game of cards, money on the table and everything. This was a dark ride called Arctic Adventure that featured attacking polar bears, seals that had elephant sound effects (obviously) and at the end, a shark head that jutted out far enough to practically touch the car—and all this to a background of Christmas carols (sung in English) playing through speakers that probably blasted out ten years ago. Doggie The first of many stray animals we saw in Chinese parks. There was also this. Overall, Beijing World Park was quite nice in some spots, even if it had some unconventional attractions. That’s all part of the adventure, though. The next installments will be our “Culture Day,” followed by two of the larger parks in the Beijing area that were a cultural experience unto themselves. So, in order to prepare you and put you in the right mindset: Fact: It is a highly revered ritual that naked women cuddle with deer every Chinese New Year. Thanks for reading!
  11. Get out, the Blackbeard's coaster is STILL closed? Did you notice if it still had orange tape all over the track? Apparently it needed welding in 14 places! Also, I'm disappointed you never got into Rotary Storyland--lots of charm, even if it should be renamed The Spider Web Capital Of The Universe.
  12. I am pretty sure this is the part where I wiped out horrifically and had scratches and bruises up my shin the rest of the trip! Would have been a lot worse if Joey's hand hadn't appeared out of nowhere to save me, though! Thanks again, Joey! Dunn's River Falls was one of the most fun experiences of my life
  13. I love, love, love your trip reports Joey! You always include some really amazing photos plus some pretty funny captions. Awesome job
  14. ^ For me, I don't think I'd consider lapbar-only trains to be "odd," but more along the lines of my personal hyperventilation vehicle. Vertical spikes are somewhat terrifying for me, particularly on GIBs, so I can only imagine what it would be like to ride a GIB without the seeming security of an OTSR. But my one ride on KD's FOF back in 1999 still ranks as the absolute worst coaster experience of my life, so I will gladly take my wide-eyed terror on facing straight down with just a lapbar holding me in over smashing my skull into oblivion. I'm curious to see what becomes of this.
  15. ^Well, to be fair, I didn't ride the coaster (I don't count powered ones). Mike did. But hey, I was at least there. I filmed him putzing around the track with a gigantic grin on his face because it was his THIRD visit to try and get that credit. And you thought I was bad.
  16. Best year ever! Parks Six Flags St. Louis Six Flags Over Texas Wonderland Amusement Park Joyland Amusement Park Six Flags Fiesta Texas Sea World San Antonio iT'Z Family Food and Fun, Houston, TX Zuma Fun Center, Houston, TX Kemah Boardwalk York's Wild Kingdom Canobie Lake Park Funworld Game Center, Nashua, NH Rye Playland Six Flags Great Adventure Bowcraft Playland Magic Forest Park The Great Escape Six Flags New England Kids 'N Action Adventurers Family Entertainment Center Astroland Luna Park Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park Scream Zone Victorian Gardens Amusement Park Lake Compounce Dollywood NASCAR SpeedPark Zuma Fun Center, Knoxville, TN Six Flags Over Georgia Silverwood Country Mercantile Enchanted Forest Oaks Amusement Park Wild Waves Theme Park Legoland Florida Fun Spot U.S.A. Old Town Busch Gardens Tampa Fairs and Carnivals Some super creepy in a we-were-the-only-ones-there-kind-of-way carnival near Houston, TX, with amusements from Reed Exposition Midways, Baytown, TX Meadowlands State Fair (Amusements of America) Stratham County Fair, Stratham, NH (Fiesta Shows) Barnstable County Fair, East Falmouth, MA Boonton, NJ Labor Day Carnival (Blue Sky Amusements) Puyallup Fair Central Washington State Fair (Butler Amusements, Inc.)
  17. Yay SFOG for trying this out!! Honestly, I liked Georgia Cyclone when I was at DSB. Well, by "like," I mean I was laughing out loud throughout the entire ride at how ridiculously jarring and rough it was, and that made for a great time. Having ridden the original Cyclone a few weeks before, I think I was more willing to forgive this coaster's major flaws (let's be honest, GA Cyclone is the proverbial "smooth as a baby's bottom" when compared to the current state of the original). I liked it. The guy behind me, however, started yelling about halfway through that he was seeing stars and he sounded genuinely concerned about this. So maybe it's time topper track came into play Kudos to you, SFOG, and I look forward to the end result.
  18. As always, I enjoy your reports, and I like how you picked one area of the park to cover in-depth. I really enjoyed Legoland Florida. I'd never been to a Legoland before, so I don't know how it compares to the other parks, but I was impressed with what I saw. Well, except for this. I agree with you on the food. I had a grilled cheese from one of the places towards the front of the park, and this is what I got: Even if it wasn't missing half the bread, this still wouldn't look remotely appetizing. But hey, beyond that, it was a lovely place! Looking forward to your next Oddventure.
  19. --Going on my first TPR trip! (Well, first totally coaster-oriented trip, since I did the cruise in October.). I am so excited to ride new coasters and visit new countries and meet more TPR people. --Hitting credit #300 --All of those new awesome coasters; honestly, there isn't one that has me chomping at the bit any more than another--they're all exciting! And non-coaster related, the Olympics, of course!
  20. Scott, I've very much enjoyed reading through your trip report! Your pictures are very good (including the night shots in this last segment), but what I've liked most of all is that it feels like I'm reliving the cruise (and it's giving me ideas for the future--those Mayan ruins and adjoining beach are a MUST). It was wonderful meeting you and Shannon and I especially enjoyed talking with you each night at dinner! Here's hoping we're all able to do this again someday!
  21. Win. I think the Jamaica day was my favorite. I am still amazed that I didn't break a tooth or something climbing those falls. And that I made it off the chairlift alive. And that even now, seeing pictures of those spiders still gives me the creeps. And I am also amazed that water can be that blue. I think my lasting memory of Jamaica might have come after our excursion, though. Mike and I walked through the town of Falmouth, which was a culture credit if there ever was one--it was pretty much seeing in person so many things I read about in ethnographies as an anthropology major: crowded streets, people adamantly pushing us to buy stuff, not-so-reputable-looking establishments, a grocery store that smelled like BO, stray dogs on every corner and perhaps the best, a guy leaning out of his window with a joint in his hand telling Mike "I like your baby" (and Big Mike being Big Mike of course just smiles and says "Thank you! Have a nice day!" while my face is turning beet red). What a day, can't believe all of this was almost a month ago! Enjoying your reports so far, Chuck!
  22. Nice trip report and great seeing you again! Glad we managed to ride something together, too! (last ride of the night on Goliath in the last row ain't too shabby!)
  23. It was great meeting you, Chuck! As usual, your trip reports are entertaining. Hope to see you again soon so I can hear some Angus McNasty stories!
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