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Photo TR: 22 Days in China with TPR


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Handy-Dandy Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Random Thoughts and Credit Whoring (scroll down)

Chapter 2: The TPR High-Speed Tour of Beijing; or, All You Need to Know (and Will Most Likely Forget) About Chinese History in One Day

Chapter 3: How Much More "China" Can You Get?--Shijingshan and Sun Park

Chapter 4: Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'--Happy Valley Bejing

Chapter 5: Hard Rock Park China?--Victory Kingdom and Credit Whoring

Chapter 6: Epcot Meets Six Flags--Floraland and More Credit Whoring

Chapter 7: A Wetter, Happier Place than Beijing--Happy Valley Chendu

Chapter 8: Hey, Don't Bogart that Bamboo, Dude--Chendu's Panda Base

Chapter 9: A Park that's Almost There--Happy Valley Wuhan

Chapter 10: More of What You Crave: Culture (sort of) in Shanghai

Chapter 11: Whose Brilliant Idea Was This?--A Looping Toboggan and Other Shanghai Credit Whoring

Chapter 12: Still More Shanghai Credit Whoring--or How to Fix a Golden Horse Spinning Coaster with a Big Stick

Chapter 13: "Innovative" and "Delightful"--Happy Valley Shanghai with a Side of Giant Wheel Park

Chapter 14: Joyful and Jurassic Hijinks--World Joyland and China Dinosaurs Park

Chapter 15: Yes! More Crazy Mice!--Whorin' the Credits in Guongdong

Chapter 16: A Chinese Version of a Good Six Flags Park?--Chimelong Paradise

Chapter 17: The Chinese Knott's Berry Farm?--Chuanlord Holiday Manor

Chapter 18: From the Mountains to the City: Knight Valley and Window of the World

Chapter 19: One Last Fling in Mainland China--Happy Valley Shenzhen

Chapter 20: The Best Park in China? Hmm . . . Could Be: Ocean Park

Chapter 21: A Bus, a Boat, and a Tram--Hong Kong Sightseeing

Chapter 22: Disneyland Calls Him "Mini Me"--Hong Kong Disneyland

 

Chapter 1: Random Thoughts and Credit Whoring

 

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!

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Oh, the places you'll see and the accidents you'll narrowly avoid on this bus.

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"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."

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"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.)

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This is a building. In China. Just to remind you.

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First stop: Crab Island Resort. (Do not have a "sexy massage" in a place with "crab" in its name.)

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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."

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First park of the trip--woo hoo! Welcome to Crab Island Children's Amusement Park.

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"The world is a carousel of color! Wonderful, wonderful color!"

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Behold, in all it splendor, our first Chinese coaster credit: Green Worm Sliding Car.

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Oh, dear lord, those poor Chinese people in the first car never knew what hit them.

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"Aghh! The seat belts do nothing!"

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Low bridge, Jon!

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Ka-freakin'-ching!

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Next up, a cross between a Disk-O and a Wacky Worm on stilts.

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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.

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This ride is such a marvel of Chinese engineering that people can live under it.

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Look at that attention to detail. If only the Great Wall had been built with such care.

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"Yay! We are thoroughly enjoying this wonder of Chinese coaster technology!"

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Looks like we missed the Chinese September version of Oktoberfest by a few days.

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We were greeted by three bunnies--seriously drunken bunnies.

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"Hey, September Oktoberfest is over. The bunnies outside should've told you."

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Welcome to Crab Island Amusement Park.

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Ow! This fully licensed, perfectly legal version of the giant bird from "Up" just bit me.

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And just how does Crab Island Amusement Park "re-create" reality?

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By providing us with a Chinese re-creation of a Vekoma SLC . . .

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. . . with an identity crisis.

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Martin is looking a bit concerned.

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But he's gone too far to turn back now.

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This ride is like being involved in a "series of rear-end collisions," says Elissa, and I agree.

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I call this the "bone mangler."

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This train moves so slow that you wonder whether it'll complete the course.

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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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So much for Crab Island. How about a truly "Olympian" park and a look at how Beijing sees the outside world?

 

NOTE: My thanks to Larry for providing a handy list of Chinese park and coaster names.

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This rather rundown little joint was actually built for the 2008 Olympic Games: Ayoun Fuwa Park.

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But look--a mouse coaster! (Better buy yourself an extra six pack of your favorite beverage, folks--you're going to be seeing a lot of these as this report unfolds.)

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This ride is yellowjacket approved.

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Please note that this is a "Crazy" (as opposed to "Jungle") Mouse.

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What a relief!

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This ride makes Robb happy . . .

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. . . and Hanno crazy.

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"Oh crap oh crap oh crap!"

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This rather impressive, Disneyesque entrance marks Beijing World Park. It's a cross between Epcot and Lego Miniland.

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The entrance plaza is indeed rather classy looking.

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Partially nude statues = "culture."

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Then again, there are spots in the park that look like this.

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Look--it's an adorable Cheshire Cat Pig!

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And lookie--an actual, honest-to-god jet aeroplane! Is there no end to the wonders we'll find here?

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Remember--You have been warned!

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Another good name for this coaster would be "Knee Cracker" (those trains are a bit of a tight fit).

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Hmm--in other parks this would be "theming."

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But in China, it could be a legitimate warning.

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Perhaps this dog's name is "Falling Rocks," and we're supposed to "be aware" of him.

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So, that's what happened to the "Golden Gate Bridge" at Disney California Adventure.

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Welcome to Manhattan . . .

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. . . er, excuse me--"Manhafttan," which could very well have a "Will Street," as far as I know.

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All these guys are trying to hide erections.

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Dan and the camel are enjoying this way too much.

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Look, Adam--an early concept for a Stormtrooper helmet! Bet you didn't see this at your last Star Wars nerd fest!

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Oh, I remember climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during TPR's 2011 Australia Trip! What a splendid view . . ."

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Ow! Looks like he wasn't amused by my anecdote.

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Here's a picture of a Chinese courthouse, and because I work at the National Center for State Courts, I can write this trip off as a business expense! Score!

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We ended our day with a sales pitch, er, tea ceremony at an authentic Chinese tea house.

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Hmm--do alien face huggers hatch from these things?

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Phew! Apparently not! They can quarantine you at the Chinese border if you're a host to an alien chest burster. That's all for now. Next up: some culture. Get excited!

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Can't wait to see more. I'm amazed no one died on this trip considering the terrible drivers and the rusty as hell coasters. Still seemed like it was a great time though. Hope you had fun!

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Chapter 2: The TPR High-Speed Tour of Beijing; or, All You Need to Know (and Will Most Likely Forget) About Chinese History in One Day

 

I promised you a bit of "culture" today, didn't I? Well, this will be as painless as possible.

 

Who ever thought that riding roller coasters and checking out theme parks would some day get you to the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and, above all, both a jade and a silk factory? It makes perfect sense when you think about it. After all, when you talk about those famous landmarks, everybody knows about them. However, if you mention that you're planning to ride roller coasters in China, you usually get a blank stare, followed by this question: "Are there amusement parks in China?"

 

It's almost as though you have to justify your roller-coaster excursion with a nod to culture. But that's OK. I've always wanted to see the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

 

I'm not going to bore you with a lot of history that I've already mostly forgotten. Let's just have a look, shall we?

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Beijing as seen from our hotel window. It's hard to tell where the dirty window ends and the pollution begins.

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Oh boy! We're on the road to the Great Wall! But first . . .

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. . . we have to stop at a jade factory. (These tours are obligatory in China, as the government wants you to learn as much about Chinese culture as possible--and snag some of your stray yuan in the process.)

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You do have to appreciate the amount of skill it takes to . . .

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. . . carve balls within balls within balls.

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As you can see here, jade can be very thin and translucent.

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Or it can be rather fat and opaque--like some people you may know.

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All tours must end in a showroom. It's a Chinese law.

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"BUY JADE NOW, YANKEE DOG!"

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We escaped the clutches of the aggressive jade salespeople and made it to the Great Wall.

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Here is our portal to Chinese history--but first . . .

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. . . tradition demands that the leader of those who would climb the Great Wall must first defeat a mighty bear in single combat!

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Bruce, saying that "bear fighting" is outside the scope of TPR's contract with the travel company, declares that Elissa must take on the challenge.

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And she totally owned that bear! (Now there's a bear-owning grin if ever I saw one.)

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"What? A bear beaten? I shall avenge you against the woman with the flag on a stick!"

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"Ah, apple slice, my old nemesis . . . you have undone me yet again! Sweet vengeance will have to wait."

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Er, if you say so.

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"Yeah, that's nice. Why don't you come and 'coexist' with us in this smelly bear pit for a while?" (Seriously, the smell from this exhibit would knock a buzzard off a Chinese outhouse.)

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There are other ways to kill time before hiking the Great Wall, other than bear fighting, feeding, and smelling. How about some "fair-priced" shopping?

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You could sample a dainty local delicacy.

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Ever wanted a suit made from coconut skins? Well, these folks can set you up! Just call Dicker and Dicker of Gilligan's Island.

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Perhaps you could pick up a few sundries at the Great Wall Supermarket. I wonder if they have a good beer selection?

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Or maybe you'd just rather stop for a little head.

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It looks like our Imperial Chariots have arrived.

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I think this conveyance was installed during the Ming Dynasty about 600 years ago.

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I am standing on the Great Wall. Just thought I'd make that clear.

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Not even this Wonder of the World can escape the haze and smog of Beijing.

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Looks pretty busy, doesn't it? We were told this was nothing compared to the crowds on October 2 (a national holiday).

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Let's hope this sign isn't pointing to . . .

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. . . this. More to come.

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