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Photo TR: 22 Days in China with TPR


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

 

It seemed appropriate that we finished our stay in mainland China at the oldest park in the Happy Valley chain--Shenzhen. You could really tell that this was the "patriarch" of group because it felt more "complete," and the newer Happy Valleys seem to follow its lead when it comes to theming (for example, a "snow" area themed to Shangri-La and a "Gold Mine Town").

 

This Happy Valley had a pretty solid set of coasters, with "real" rides over Chinese clones, for the most part. (But it does lack a woodie and a Mega-Lite.) It was great to finally get a chance to ride a working S&S launched coaster--Bullet Coaster was intense, and a lot of fun. Their actual Vekoma Mine Train , with the catchy monicker of Gold Mine Train, was yet another well-themed family ride. They even had a real Vekoma SLC (Snow Mountain Flying Dragon), which was OK for what it was. But fans of Golden Horse should not despair, for Shenzhen did have one of their Spinning Coasters (Wild Elfin), and the park's Baby Coaster appeared to be a knock-off Wacky Worm.

 

But outside of the coasters, this park had plenty of attractions to keep guests busy, including two haunted walk throughs (which were next door to each other), the odd Gold Mine Audio Room (where you sit around in the dark wearing headphones and listening toe "3D" audio), and an uber cheesy ripoff of Disney's Extraterrestrial Alien Encounter (so bad that it must be experienced at least once). There was even an obstacle course.

 

But being the oldest of the chain presents some extra challenges, too. The children's section of the park, Magic Castle, was pretty rundown in parts, and the park was doing some work there. Their version of North Pole Adventure, the "shoot Santa and his elves" dark ride, was easily the most moth eaten of the entire trip--the show lighting was off, and there had been some half-hearted attempts to patch parts of it. But, hey, they did have Desperadoes. (Yay!)

 

That's a minor complaint, though, as the park looks pretty nice overall. I really enjoyed the place, and it was my favorite of the Happy Valleys, along with Chendu.

 

Let's go in. Try not to trample (or be trampled by) the roaming hordes of schoolchildren!

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It's time to make MAGIC at Happy Valley Shenzhen.

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And to make MAGIC requires discipline.

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These will help ensure that you make only MAGIC at the park.

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Oh boy! I hope we make it to "Typhoom Bay" in time for the Tuna Square show!

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"HI HELLO HI HELLO HI!" These kids really seemed happy to see us.

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Hmm--this looks rather familiar. I do believe we've encountered this sign a few times before.

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Yay for a real Vekoma--but Golden Horse does a fair job with Mine Trains, too.

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Pastel colors aside, this trains looks rather "Big Thunderesque."

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We struck here next.

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Baby Coaster's intended audience versus . . .

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. . . Baby Coaster's unintended audience.

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As you can see from this photo, the group was eagerly anticipating this, er, eagerly anticipated attraction.

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And the fist of a mighty worm shall lead them.

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"You know, they don't have any Golden Horse Spinning Coasters in Scotland. My life is now complete."

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Nice cars, at least.

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I have no idea what "spray frying" is--or why it needs a "king."

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"Oh my god! Schoolchildren AND coaster enthusiasts? It's the end times!"

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"I know man! Game over!"

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"I can't face them both! I'd rather die this way!"

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"My people come to your world in peace to share our superior turkey leg technology."

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"Snowymo Untain Flies the Dragon"? OK, who signed off on this?

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Er, is it supposed to go here?

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This was an interesting way to mount a test seat.

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The SLC wasn't open yet--but the walk throughs were. This is the entrance to Safely Back from Haunted House. At least, I think that's the name. It featured live actors whacking you with feather dusters.

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And I think this is Haunted Glacier, but it's a little hard to tell from the map.

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It did have a creepy person in a bloodied lab coat . . .

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. . . as well as dead yetis!

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Oh my god! Mad scientists dissecting yetis! Bastards!

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By the time we finished being horrified, the SLC had opened. The queue reminded me a bit of the queue for Expedition: Everest.

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Yes, it's an SLC with Tibetan trappings.

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Er . . . oops?

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There's an interesting story behind how we got "ERT" of sorts on Bullet Coaster.

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Bullet Coaster was closed during the first half of the day because Dean Gunnarson, an escape artist (fellow Canadian Jon is pointing to his picture), was attempting a death-defying stunt on the track.

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Well, Dean survived. When he discovered there was a another group who had come a long way to ride this coaster, he interceded for us with the park staff, who agreed to let us be the first "public" riders that day.

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The airtime on this hill is insane.

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Bullet Coaster is a little rough in parts, but still a very good ride.

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And as they come into the home stretch . . .

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. . . Brian looks absolutely terrified! More to come.

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Yes, there's more to see at Happy Valley Shenzhen. Care to look?

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Here's one last look at Bullet Coaster, the park's star attraction.

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Or maybe this is the park's star attraction.

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Happy Valley Shenzhen is a very nice looking park.

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Why, you can even hit the beach at Happy Valley.

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Hmm--looks like we found another star attraction . . .

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. . . and Larry found a new friend.

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Yes, there is a striking resemblance.

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You're probably all asking, "OK--where's the standard Happy Valley carnival Disk-O?" Well, here's your answer.

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Is there really a big market in China for these dolls?

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This souvenir is quite useful for channeling your inner Moe: "Pick two!"

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Divv, would you rather be alone?

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Off to the Magic Castle . . .

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. . . even though some of it is "under constriction." ("Restriction" + "Construction" = "Constriction" in China.)

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Not to worry, Mr. Giant Ant! I have no intention of approaching any "constriction" areas!

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"HI HELLO HI HELLO HI . . ."

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Another version of Desperadoes--yes!

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Oh no! Stacey has finally snapped--and she has a gun!

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Anyone up for Ghetto North Pole Adventure?

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Looks like Santa been drinking from a lit Sterno can again.

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OK, these look nothing like the "portraits" of the kids and dog at the other Happy Valleys.

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Stacey abandoned us to play steel drum for a band of Jamaican ants.

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Look! An impenetrable jungle!

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"Have no fear! This is my domain, and I protect those who come here--for I am Larry, Lord of the Jungle!"

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"I say! Those stories we heard in Mombassa about 'Larry, Lord of the Jungle' are true!"

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"Help us, Larry, Lord of the Jungle!"

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"Knoss Berry Faym"? I wonder if they have any "Boysenbessy pye," or something like that?

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I completely support this policy.

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"Hi, Piers! I see you're hanging out at Happy Valley parks, again."

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"Ya know, pardner, fer a dude in drag, you shore are one ugly woman."

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Soak the Klansman and win a kewpie doll!

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We were very pleased to wait for Gold Mine Audio Room because we all like to hear stuff.

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The Audio Room set is a big dining hall. The whole thing was in Chinese, so I have no idea what the story was about.

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Hmm--what attraction in the Magic Kingdom's "Nexus of Suck" does this remind me of?

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Now that is one well-hung alien.

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Oops! I just gave away the ending. Sorry about that.

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That's all for Happy Valley Shenzhen--it was a great day! On to Hong Kong!

 

That's all for now.

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Really loved this update! Some really hilarious stuff. I'm glad Larry found a new friend at the beach. I also loved all the "engrish." Great update!

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Is there really a big market in China for these dolls?

 

I think I bought three or four of the horribly politically incorrect toys!

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Like they said, great update. I'd love to be able to ride an S&S launched coaste someday (probably Powder Keg, but we'll see

 

What made the ride intense the most? The amount of airtime, heavy g's pulled, or the launch?

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^Tough to say, as the launch and the g-forces would be interrelated. The airtime over the first hill is crazy!

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Continuing to enjoy this report immensely. Really, that Bullet Coaster looks freakish. We have to get some of those in the States. And one more big high-five to China for all the scary dark-ride/walk-throughs!

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^It's still better than Stitch's Great Escape . . . well, that's probably going a bit too far. Each are bad in their own special way.

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Bullet Coaster is a compressed-air-launched coaster, as was Hypersonic. The former is a much better ride than the latter, although I'd say that Hypersonic's launch was more intense (but my memory may be a bit fuzzy about it).

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

 

We departed the Chinese mainland for Hong Kong after our great day at Happy Valley Shenzen. This was merely a matter of taking our bus to the border, going through customs, then boarding another bus for a ride into the former British commonwealth. But things aren't always as easy as they seem when dealing with Chinese tour guides.

 

Yes, Jack, who had started out well the first day, only to plummet to Shanghai Tom levels the next, did not prove to be a master of logistics; or, at least, his employers didn't. Our bus took us across town and parked behind another bus. We had to unload our bus and put our bags on the new bus, which then took us on a roughly, oh, three-minute drive to the border, where we had to unload our bags again for customs. Why we had to switch buses so close to the border was never explained.

 

As I've said before, "Welcome to China."

 

Oh well, I enjoyed my visit to the mainland, but at this point I was really looking forward to Hong Kong, a city I've always wanted to visit, with my two most anticipated parks of the whole trip: Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland. Both of these parks had been undergoing major capital improvements, and seem to be engaged in a very healthy competition, which is all the better for visitors.

 

I'd read nothing but good things on TPR, for the most part, about Ocean Park, and I wasn't disappointed. This is an excellent aquatic park that could teach a few things to SeaWorld Orlando, with its perfect balance of very well done animal exhibits and rides. And it's tough to beat its beautiful setting by the ocean on a mountain in Hong Kong (you have to ride a funicular or a gondola to get from the lower to the upper level).

 

The park's newest section is Thrill Mountain, and it pays homage to the classic seaside parks of the past with it's bright colors and fanciful buildings--and nice assortment of rides. This is the home of Hair Raiser, a floorless B&M looper, which looks small, but packs a punch. Now we had heard some "horror stories" about this ride: "Roughest B&M coaster ever!" "It already has the dreaded B&M rattle!" "How could B&M build something like this?" But I was pleasantly surprised. Hair Raiser is not only a damn good ride--it's the best new B&M coaster I've ridden in a few years! While, yes the "dreaded rattle" does show up a bit on the first drop, that's as far as it goes. There's even a surprising pop of ejector air--so unusual for a B&M coaster. (Never thought I'd use the words "ejector air" and "B&M" in a sentence.) Couple this ride with spectacular views of the ocean and the city, and you have one of the best B&M coasters anywhere.

 

The park's other big ride is the Wild West Mine Train--the best of its kind in China next to the Runaway Mine Cars at Hong Kong Disney. This Zamperla coaster also makes full use of its breathtaking setting on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea and is a lot of fun.

 

As for Dragon, an old Arrow with a very eccentric layout, well . . . it also offers great views, if not such a stellar ride. Not the best, but not the worst, of its kind. There's an enjoyable Mack powered coaster, too (Arctic Blast).

 

The park's animal exhibits are very well done--particularly their penguin habitat, which makes SeaWorld's old Penguin Encounter look sad (good thing they're building that new Antarctic pavilion). Penguins not only swim in front of you, but under you, as well.

 

Before we push on to Ocean Park, we have to check in to our hotel. So, we'll start with a quick look at the Hong Kong Disney Resort, then press on from there.

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Mickey says, "Hi, folks. Nice to see ya!" (Only in Chinese.)

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Yes, TPR has gone "Hollywood." Even the elevators in this joint talk to you in Mickey's voice.

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I'm a sucker for Art Deco. This was my favorite hotel of the trip.

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I wandered around the grounds for a while with Robb, Hanno, and Larry. Here's the view of Hong Kong from behind the hotel.

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This is like a "mini-version" of the Grand Floridian.

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Yep--one classy joint.

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The very dapper Mickey bade us "good evening."

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Back to Hollywood for a good night's sleep--big day tomorrow.

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"Yes, folks we're open."

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"The mutant hell beast out front shoulda told ya." (The park had a Halloween event going on, as well.)

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The funicular had a "Jules Verne" vibe to it--20,000 Leagues Under the Sea up a Mountain.

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We were there early, so the ride was in "staff mode." There's a very clever "show" for guests during the rest of the day.

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It's like a subway for Aquaman.

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Our objective is a filming session on Hair Raiser, which seems totally up for it. (Viagra should sponsor this ride.)

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"Har, har, har! I just love kids! They're delicious when smothered in hot fudge!"

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A common sight on a TPR Trip: Robb and Hanno mounting the camera.

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No, only I may press this. Others must get permission first.

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Hmm--I see only two people in this photo who could get their "hair raised" during this ride.

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It's going to be a challenge to raise the hair of this group, too.

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Late Night Hair Raiser Crotch Cam.

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B&M did themselves proud with this one.

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Yes, I think this is the best of the new B&M coasters that have been built over the last few years.

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Best view you'll find in any park. Unless Scarlett Johansson is standing in front of your camera.

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Have any of you seen one of those Hong Kong flicks about hopping vampires? Well, they make adorable plush dolls--until they suck your blood!

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We go from the "sublime" to the, well, "not so sublime."

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Is there hope for the hopeless?

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OK, how much Wild Turkey did Ron Toomer drink while he was designing this one?

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You are about to undergo pain of enormous magnitude!

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And for this, you have our gratitude!

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"Save us, Jeebus!"

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But you know what? Dragon is in a beautiful place, and that helps. Well, that and ice packs with Advil.

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The Mine Train wasn't open yet, so we took the Magic Escalator Ride back to Thrill Mountain. (Unlike Knight Valley, Ocean Park's escalators worked.)

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Here's a better look at Thrill Mountain's midway . . .

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. . and the sinister darkness that lurks therein. More to come from Ocean Park.

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Here's some more Ocean Park--whether you like it or not.

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You know, it's hard to get a feel for the "Arctic" when it's 90 degrees with 1,000% humidity out. But Ocean Park gives it a pretty good shot.

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A real "Arctic Blast," like we experienced in Virginia this week, would've been welcome.

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This is one long, freakin' train.

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It would be perfect if it went through an ice-filled tunnel.

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My god! So hot, yet here's an iceberg! How do they do it?

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Like I said, they had an excellent penguin exhibit--right down to the sea lions that try to eat you!

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This isn't as large as SeaWorld's old Penguin Encounter, but it's much better.

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"Wak, wak, wak! With Bat Brain and the Boy Blunder out of the way, Gotham City will be mine! Wak, wak, wak!"

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As I said earlier, penguins swim in front of you . . .

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. . . and under you.

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"Am I not adorable?"

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The arctic foxes had a really nice habitat. Plus, it was so wonderfully cold in there.

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The most evil drinks at Ocean Park!

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OK, U.S. parks--top this view!

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Larry stopped to ask a friendly seal for directions.

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Hmm--maybe the seal's recommended shortcut through "Psycho Valley" wasn't such a good idea.

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Divv shows us why he's the "Magic Mike" of Glasgow.

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Dave Thomas needs to cover the media day for this attraction when it opens.

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You don't want to end up in this room. Trust me.

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Hang on to them hats and glasses!

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This here's the wildest ride in Hong Kong!

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Well, "wildest ride" might be a bit of an exaggeration . . .

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. . . but it's a very good ride, indeed.

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This is one Mine Train that doesn't need an artificial mountain.

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OK, it's not quite that crazy.

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If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a two-faced sea lion. And to think he wants to be my "Facebook friend."

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Thrill Mountain from the park's observation tower.

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I can't think of a setting for a park that comes close to rivaling this one.

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Can you?

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We took the gondola down.

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Hi, Hair Raiser.

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I guess one could take the stairs.

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Or not.

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Hair Raiser has a rather unusual layout for a B&M--it's like they were paying homage to an old Arrow ride.

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Almost there--one set of photos to go.

Edited by cfc
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Nice report, Ocean Park has one of the most beautiful settings for a amusement park ever. Also I was wondering WHY the Mine Train has the dome supports for the helix, it is the ONLY coaster out there with this dome.

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One last look at Ocean Park--lots of critters in this segment.

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We're back on the ground, and not a moment too soon, according to Divv.

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Another new section of the park is actually "old."

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Old Hong Kong is largely a shopping-and-dining area, as well as a gateway to more animal exhibits.

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Just like back home, right gents?

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Ready for some more amazing animals? I thought you might be.

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It's a very nice habitat, even if it features . . .

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. . . satanic raccoons in boxes!

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"Pay no attention to that red thing in the box, folks. I'm an actual panda!"

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You see? It's a freakin' raccoon!

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I refuse to make a Jeff Johnson joke here. But you folks can knock yourselves out.

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I wonder where that fish could be?

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Oh, fishy, fishy, fishy fish!

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It is a most elusive fish!

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Oh, this is just wrong.

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Like I told you! It's not a panda! It's a satanic raccoon!

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"Soon, the world will be ours--and we'll eat this monkey!"

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"Yeah, I'm just a monkey. Stupid pandas get all the press around here."

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"I hope his highness appreciates all this bamboo we just toted up here. Pandas are so damn picky."

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"Have you brought the tribute?"

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"This bamboo is acceptable. You are dismissed!"

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

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Time to ride the funicular in "show mode."

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Aggh! Giant squid! Where's Kirk Douglas when you need him?

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Yet another well-done animal habitat (next door to the penguins).

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As I recall, there were seals here someplace . . .

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. . . oh, there they are.

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Divv was bitten by a satanic raccoon. Its venom turned him into the Devil's DJ!

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This cave went through the middle of a large aquarium.

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Roger Corman's "Attack of the Crab Monsters" comes to mind.

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Hmm--haven't shown you too many fish in this TR. So, here's a few.

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That's all for Ocean Park. Next up will be some Hong Kong sightseeing, but that's all for now.

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Really incredible update! Lot's of awesome pictures and crazy China stuff! I would definitely love to visit this park someday. Thanks for the update!

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I have been playing catch up and now following along live, but I just wanted to say thank you very much for this whole report. It has been hilarious and incredibly cool all the way through.

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^Thank you--I'm glad you've enjoyed it.

 

Beautiful park and very cool photos! Is it correct to assume that the funicular show is something related to 20,000 Leagues?

 

It definitely has that feel to it.

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