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It does offer many opportunities for injury and general mayhem--and a pretty good chance of wrecking your cell phone if you're crazy enough to bring it with you.

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

 

The next couple of days in Chendu were a bit soggy, and the whole area smelled of wet panda fur. (Well, that's an exaggeration, but we we'll see a few wet pandas in the next chapter.) But even with the gloom and the drizzly rain, Happy Valley Chendu was a more enjoyable experience than its cousin in Beijing under blue skies and bright sunshine. Why? One word:

 

Mega-Lite!

 

Or two words, if you spell it without a hyphen. I'm going with the hyphen, because that's how Intamin spells it on their Web site. (Look it up if you don't believe me.)

 

Thanks to TPR, I've now been on three of the four Mega-Lites operating today (I lack only the one in Japan). These coasters are a great way for a park to get the thrill of an Intamin Mega Coaster in a smaller footprint. Chendu's Dream of Mediterranean is yet another winner--full of airtime and intense, yet very re-rideable. Of course, the Intamin seatbelts can be a bit unforgiving for larger rides (this is my one knock against them)--but, hey, lap bars beat OTSRs any day! (Note that rcdb.com gives the name of this ride as "Fly Over Mediterranean"--well, a coaster by any other name . . .). Again, Robb and Elissa had arranged a filimg session to guarantee ERT on the Mega-Lite--thanks, again!

 

The Mega-Lite is next door to another bona fide Vekoma SLC (Dragon in Clouds). I guess that's the difference between the Happy Valleys and other, smaller Chinese parks: real vs. knock-off SLCs. The park's Mine Train (yes, I know you're amazed that they have one of these) is also a nicely themed Vekoma ride, not a Golden Horse copy (Dragon in Snowfield). But for all you Golden Horse fans, there is a Spinning Mouse (Mad Rats).

 

As I said earlier, China is Nirvana for haunted walk-through fans, and Chendu provides two (one is a bit lame to start but has a good finish, and the other is good from beginning to end). This was also our first chance at North Pole Adventure, a Sally shooting dark ride themed to Christmas as interpreted by evil, greedy children.

 

And there's another shooting surprise--we'll get to that later.

 

Let's have a look at Happy Valley Chendu. Weather has rendered the photos a bit gray and blurry, but despite the weather, we still had a great time here.

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Welcome to Paradise Plaza--Happy Valley Chendu's version of Downtown Disney or Citywalk, where dolphins frolic on wet grass (and, we hope, make it back to water before they die).

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Robb had one reason to call this place "paradise," while Elissa had two. (But like all the other Happy Valleys, once you exit the park, you have to pay for another ticket to get back in. This policy makes no sense to me at all.)

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There was some sort of magic festival going on at the Happy Valley parks while TPR was in China.

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I like the "Jules Verne" feel of the park's entrance.

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Then the park veers toward HG Wells and "Food of the Gods" with a terrifying giant ant!

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Yes, this is a real "duck," and visitors can ride in one across the park's lake.

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Here we are 'twixt Heaven and Hell. (Can you tell which is which?)

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What's interesting is that the Mega-Lite didn't pull a huge line over the course of the day. Maybe the rainy weather scared people off.

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I had no idea that I lived in the country of "NAFTA." Thanks for this valuable information, China.

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Mega-Lites deliver the thrills of Mega and Giga Coasters . . .

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. . . in a much smaller space.

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The ejector air on these rides is absolutely nuts, and Dream Over Mediterranean is no exception.

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Yep--nothing to hate about this. I'd say this was the first "world-class" coaster we'd ridden in China.

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Well, we have experienced Heaven . . .

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. . . now it's time for Hell!

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Satan often wears a smiling face.

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OK, I'm exaggerating a bit here.

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As SLCs go, this one was better than any Mind Eraser in the U.S.

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It was more "Kumali-like," but not as good as the ride at Flamingoland in the U.K.

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Everybody was now free to explore the rest of the park.

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Perhaps a few people followed this fellow in search of mozzarella-cheese-and-cranberry ice cream.

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Others sought out Mad Rats. (Oh no! Would we be denied another Spinning Mouse credit, this time due to rain? Too mortifying to contemplate!)

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There is still the Vekoma Mine Train, at least. If we can find the entrance.

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This turned out to be quite a challenge. The Nazi rocks were of no help at all.

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There are the dual lift hills, but where's the freakin' entrance?

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And so, weary as we were, we trudged on.

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Our quest is at an end! God be praised!

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Another memo to non-Disney American parks.

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Please note how a little theming can enhance an "average" family ride.

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Please give this some consideration. Thank you.

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Happy Valley pays tribute to Mil Mascaras: The Man of a 1,000 Masks. Lucha Libre!

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Like the park in Beijing, Happy Valley Chendu is very nicely themed . . .

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. . . but you still need to watch your step.

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Larry and I missed the ice house at Floraland, so we checked out this one with Elissa. It's a slight upcharge, and it has an ice slide (another additional charge of 5 yuan).

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One must be very reverential while in the ice temple.

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Looks like Buddha is freezing his butt off in here.

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Hmm--this parka is rather "slimming." Maybe I should buy one.

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Larry says, "Snow cold!"

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OK, just looking at Larry making that snow angel is making me feel chilly again. Time to move on. More to come.

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I know what you're all wondering: Did they get the Mad Rats credit? Well, you're going to find out shortly.

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Unfortunately, we missed out on the "incredible magic sound" (whatever it may have been). But it certainly was intriguing.

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We also missed the park's stunt show: "Chendu Johnson vs. the People's Army in the Temple of Maya Catastrophe." (I imagine my translation isn't entirely accurate.)

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"Arr! Thar be no copyright issues to see here, mate! Just put yer rudder to this sign, sez I."

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I've included this picture because I've never see one of these rides before. (And it looks like something I wouldn't ride, anyway.)

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And, yes, there is another CARNY DISK-O!

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And it has a big line.

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"Zombie love ducky long time!"

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Here's the park's best haunted house.

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Here's another amusing English sign; at least, some of it is meant to be funny this time.

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Who knew that the Chinese were so into masked Mexican wrestlers?

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OK, who's ready to whack some elves?

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Hmm--I think Santa has been dipping a bit too much into the egg nog.

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"Wait until the fat guy coughs up our presents--then blow his head off and take the rest of his bag!"

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Wait! What's this?

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Could it be? Could it be?

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Oh please, oh please, oh please . . . (Merry Chinese Christmas, again)!

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Yes! Desperadoes! The cheesily awesome "cult" attraction!

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High Plains Drifter II:

"WHO ARE YOU?"

"I ain't Sheriff Springtorso."

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Hi, Piers. Who's your friend?

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Hmm--unless I miss my guess, there's a "haunt" around here someplace.

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It appears that my guess was correct.

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While we were waiting (yes, Chendu has staggered openings, too), this guy walked up. He was wearing a tank top and jeans, but he unlocked the haunt and put on this bloody "strait-jacket" in front of us. I presume that Disney would call this "bad show."

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"Elissa, your technique of removing mayonnaise using a French fry as a utensil is, indeed, impressive. But even you must admit that my kung fu is superior!"

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Again, I see no copyright violation whatsoever.

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My god! It's a Satanic Raccoon! Do not look into its eyes, lest you fall under its spell!

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"Too late! We must now do the Satanic Raccoon's bidding and blast these innocents in the face with water cannons!"

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"Well, to be truthful, we would've done this without the Satanic Raccoon's orders."

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OK, did everybody get that?

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We had time for a few more Mega-Lite rides--but we had to do stretching exercises before boarding.

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I had no idea that two people equaled one "column."

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What's this? Mad Rats is testing! (My thanks for Hanno for camping out in the area and alerting everyone he could contact.)

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Ka-ching on another Spinning Mouse at last!

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And, yes, it was a "breathtaking experience"--especially to those who had to run across the park to get the credit.

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I'll leave you with this shot of a legal, fully licensed Mickey Mouse molesting a young boy. That's all for Happy Valley Chendu--a very nice park, indeed.

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No matter how cold the picture of me making snow angels makes you feel, I can assure you I was colder at that time

 

It's okay, your warm mayonnaise free sandwich from McDonalds helped warm you up afterwards.

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On a more serious note, what happens if you fail to stretch before riding?

 

You run the risk of a sore neck?

 

Moving right along . . .

 

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

 

I know what you're all thinking: "Where are the pandas? This is China! You promised us pandas? So, where are the freakin' pandas?"

 

I got your freakin' pandas right here--at the big panda preserve in Chendu. Yes, this was another "culture" day, where we had the opportunity not only to learn all about pandas, but also to have out picture taken holding one. Anyway, here are a few "fun facts" about pandas:

 

1. They are solitary animals who mate, maybe, once a year. That's why they often need a little help.

2. They eat bamboo almost exclusively, and they're damn picky about what bamboo they eat. (Sometimes, they'll eat a bit of meat--if they're lucky enough to catch something that happens to wander by while they're sitting around munching on bamboo.)

3. They also eat "panda bread." Pandas are a high-fiber animal; thus, they make great bread. (OK, I'm kidding. This is bread they make for pandas. It is NOT made from pandas. More on this later.)

4. The pandas are very lucky that their enclosures protect them from the psychotic tram drivers that take people around the preserve. (Yes, it was as bad as Beijing street traffic in there.)

 

I chose not to have my picture taken with a wet panda, but I did take a few pics of wet pandas. Let's have a look.

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Hmm--that's a rather awkward name.

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This is more succinct.

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Sheesh! Chendu sure has a lot of rules when it comes to a "civilized tour." They even advise you to "avoid pornography."

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Here, in the preserve's museum, we see an example of a panda who has become crazed due to watching too much porn.

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But where to find actual pandas? This place is huge! Perhaps if we follow the smell of wet fur.

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"I am the Great Golden Panda God! So, you seek pandas . . . WATCH OUT FOR THAT TRAM, YOU FOOLS!"

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Where there's bamboo, there's pandas.

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Pandas have it tough.

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The very act of getting up and turning around was so physically draining that this poor guy had to go right back to sleep.

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That is the loudest "please be quiet" sign I've ever seen.

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Unless, I miss my guess, there may be some more pandas in the vicinity.

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Eureka!

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"Oh, munch, I gotta tell ya, folks, chomp, this is the best frickin' bamboo I've ever had! Crunch! I mean, it's always good here, nom nom, but this time they've outdone themselves . . . bra-a-a-a-p! Oh, beg your pardon . . ."

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My god! Someone's killed that poor panda and strung him up in a tree!

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"I did it! I did it, and I'm glad! I loathed him! I despised him!"

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Let us turn away from psychotic pandas and consider this person's rather practical headgear.

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OK, this place is worth visiting just for the free sewing kits.

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Now, how about that panda bread?

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"Larry, can you provide some insight into the digestive system of the typical panda?"

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"Why, yes, Chuck, I do believe I can."

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"Sorry, folks. The bakery is closed today, so no samples."

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"But here's the recipe so you can make your own."

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"Of course, if you do make and eat your own panda bread, your bowel movements will look like this."

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One last shot of pandas doing what they do best (besides sleeping). That's all for now.

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On a more serious note, what happens if you fail to stretch before riding?

 

You run the risk of a sore neck?

 

Ok good...I was worried that if one couldn't touch their feet that at best you couldn't ride and at worst, you'd be the Premier's muse for a day

 

Fantastic pics! Who doesn't love Panadas? Our city managed to negotiate with China back in the 90s for two newborn panadas at the time to be loaned to the zoo. They're still building the enclosures and prepping the very specific food and supplies needed for China's approval prior to releasing them. It's great that they are well protected it seems.

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Still upset that we missed free samples of Panda Bread.

 

I was curious about that stuff, too. At least I have a picture of the recipe (the ingredients seemed reasonably "normal" for bread).

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

Have you had enough "culture" for now? Are you ready for another Chinese theme park, along with a wee bit of credit whoring? Very well. Let's move on.

 

We left Chendu that night for Wuhan and exchanged Sammi the guide for Erik--or was that Eric?--the guide (Never got the spelling straight.) And, like a good Chinese guide, Erik filled us in on the culture of Wuhan. Well, I don't remember any of that stuff, so let's get to the park, shall we?

 

Happy Valley Wuhan reminded me a bit of Victory Kingdom, thanks to its lack of shade and "unfinished" quality. That is, two of the park's major rides--a launched S&S coaster and a launched X-Car--weren't ready (this is the newest park in the Happy Valley chain). Theming wasn't as elaborate as the other Happy Valleys, either, but this chain tends to fill in as they go. Their observation tower didn't run that day, either; in fact, I think they were still working on the queue area.

 

That being said, Happy Valley was much better than Victory Kingdom and has potential. It also has "Dauling" Dragon, a damn good Gravity Group dueling coaster. At least the blue side is damn good; the red side is a wee bit brutal. The filming session on this ride was great fun; there's a good mix of airtime and crazy laterals; and, of course, there's the insane "High Five" element. Robb captured all this perfectly in his video. Again, my thanks to Robb and Elissa for another excellent ERT/filming session. If only the park would duel (or "daul") the dragons consistently.

 

Robb and Elissa also arranged for us to be "backdoored" on Hidden Anaconda, the park's Skyloop. I was dreading this ride a bit, thanks to the problems Magic Springs had with their version and the rather uncomfortable ride I'd had on the "inverted" lift hill of Drayton Manor's G Force (another Maurer Sohne X-Car coaster). But this was a pleasant surprise! Although it is pretty freaky when you top that lift and turn over, the ride itself was excellent (even when "rocking" back and forth at the end). My thanks to TPR and the park for setting this up.

 

There was the inevitable "Mine Train" ride, this one courtesy of Golden Horse (not Vekoma)--Monte Carlo Raceway. It was OK, but a bit odd (as you'll see in the photos later). The park also had a good haunted walk through, as well as a 4D movie--yes, my first time sitting through Yogi Bear. (I think--the sign outside and the theming in the theatre suggested pirates.) The park also has a rather well hidden Midway Mania knock off, but I missed out on it. (Word is that the ride was, at best, blurry.)

 

Overall, Happy Valley Wuhan is a fairly solid, enjoyable park. Let's have a look around

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Hmm--something tells me that we might be near a theme park. Or maybe a casino.

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Happy Valley is in a "No Bugle Zone."

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We went in through a side entrance before the park opened to the public.

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Looming up through the haze were our two objectives.

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We made it! High Five, bro!

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You see? "Dauling." And the "dragon" is actually two trains. Based on the engine number, I assume the one on the left is the "party train."

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Here's what we were getting ourselves into. The ride is actually much crazier than this map suggests.

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I think Barry White would find this ride much sexier than the knock-off SLC at his "pleasure" park in Victory Kingdom.

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Apparently, Soviet-era Russian car = "theming."

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Every now and then, the trains let off some steam--nice touch.

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We had some time to kill while the staff finished testing the ride; so, we took a little walking tour of the empty (well, except for the staff, of course) park.

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This is the S&S "Not Ready for Prime Time" Coaster.

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Like Chendu, Happy Valley Wuhan has a circus-themed area.

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Here's the "Still Working Out the Kinks" Coaster (aka, Magic Express, the launched X-Car).

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One last look at the S&S before we head back to "daul."

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OK--time to ride and film!

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I think the sign is Chinese for "Mind Thy Head."

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Here's just a hint of how insane this ride really is.

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Robb and Hanno set up the rider cam.

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"Robb? What's my motivation?"

"Your motivation is that you're some guy who really wants to ride a roller coaster--a lot!"

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The blue side has an insane beginning--see how it drops under the red side's track?

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"Save me Jeebus! High Five!"

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The ""dauling" on this ride is the best I've seen since Lightning Racer--if only the park would run it that way consistently.

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Speaking of "Save me Jeebus" . . .

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It is rather ominous looking.

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You know, I think I'll watch you folks as you ride first.

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So far, so good.

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Pray that it doesn't pull a "Magic Springs" on you here!

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Yay for gravity and momentum!

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Yes, a surprisingly good ride! Maurer, you've redeemed yourselves greatly since G Force! More to come.

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Still more Wuhan to come!

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Time to snag the park's remaining credit. Cool--it's themed to racing!

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Go, Speed Racer, Go! I bet the trains look like Formula 1 cars or Ferraris or . . .

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. . . semi-trucks?

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"Yay! We've always wanted to be in a semi race! Let's jam some gears!"

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As you can see, classic Mine Train double lift ala Golden Horse. I did find the giant, dismembered hands a bit disturbing.

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"Now put your hands on your face! And cover up your eyes!"

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"Don't look until I signal!"

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"Peek-a-Boo! Haw, haw, haw haw!"

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This is a very "military" sounding name for an S&S ride.

This is my OCT Thrust SSC 1000!

This is my gun!

One is for work!

The other's for fun!

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Yes! Another haunted walk through! China rules!

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"This is how much longer you have to live, mortal!"

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Even the queue is full of scary dudes!

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Good to know.

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"I just want a piece of your mind!"

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Yes, they do, indeed, have a CARNY DISK-O. I knew you were wondering about this. (At least it makes sense in a circus-themed area.)

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There are two interesting aspects to the park's rapids ride. First, it has nude cave people.

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Second, it has water cannons pointed right at people's heads!

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Yes, it's pretty much impossible to miss at this range.

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Oh, crap--it's not that Leslie Nielsen flick, is it?

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"Who cares? There's seats and air conditioning!"

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Larry is doing it wrong.

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As I recall, it was Yogi Bear--slightly better than the Leslie Nielsen movie, I guess. At least I'd never seen it before.

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I think Larry went in here to play blackjack--but found a Midway Mania knock off, instead (it was somewhere underneath). Probably just as well.

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Well, that's certainly very nice of your colleague.

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After all, you never know when someone will want to purchase, er, whatever this disturbing thing is.

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I call this "The Three Faces of the Coaster Enthusiast."

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That's all from Happy Valley Wuhan--a park that's coming along. Next--some more credit whoring! Stay tuned!

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We hit two little parks after Happy Valley Wuhan--Peace Park and Zhongshan Park.

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Welcome to Peace Park.

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Now where's that credit?

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Not here, it would seem.

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I think a few determined enthusiasts with some machetes and weed whackers could have this ride going in no time.

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"The coaster is closed! I, angry Chinese guy, have told you so!"

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Well, there was a credit around here someplace. So, we took a nice walk.

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Eureka! A little kiddie park!

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What? A Jungle Mouse called "Jungle Flying Squirrel"? Why, I never get tired of these!

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This might've been the roughest Jungle Mouse of the trip. You really had to brace yourself to avoid cracking a rib. (Or I could have it confused with another one. It's a bit difficult to tell.)

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"I'll swallow your soul!"

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Yet another unique attraction! A powered Sliding Dragon--with rock-wall theming!

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Er, better you than me, sir.

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We ended the day at Zhongshan Park.

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Oh, dearie dear--another knock-off loopscrew!

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Now that inspires confidence.

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"Your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding."

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"Foreboding, hell--we're just plain scared of this thing!"

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OK, brace yourselves. It's another Jungle Mouse, only it's called "Flying Mouse."

 

Unexpected!

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In China, it's common to see squirrels singing to bananas--just before they kill them!

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Hey, Larry--here's a sign for you!

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Hanno is either contemplating his place in the universe or deciding about whether he needs another Coke.

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"All my life, I've dreamed of riding a pink mouse! My life is complete at last!"

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OK, here's something that's a bit more unusual--and it's right next to the smelliest toilet in China (which is saying a lot).

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This "Flying Saucer" is the weirdest spinning coaster yet.

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It's like that ride at Crab Island and a Jungle Mouse had a baby.

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"Help! The random Chinese person next to me has died!"

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Look, Scott--another state-of-the-art monorail!

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And we'll end this chapter with one last look at the "High Five," just because it's so cool! That's all for now.

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You are correct, that mouse was the most brutal of the trip. I think it killed Hanno and that's why he looked like that in anticipation of yet another Jungle Mouse that day.

 

I didn't put all the Vegas theming together until your TR. That sign is totally 80's Vegas, plus they had a Caesar's Palace!?!? Too funny.

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