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


David H
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(seeing the pizza...)

 

Oh - my - - - damn!

 

I am immediately drooling and visualizing

the awesome PH creations we had while on

the recent China tour!

 

I luvs The Hut - but so far, ONLY in China!

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Chuck, no idea why they called it Black Hole 2000 coaster, since none of it is black, and there isn't any hole that I can remember! And it was built in 1990!

 

It's Korea. It doesn't have to make sense!

 

 

As for pizza hut, yeah, the weird creations were pretty cool. I think that the favorite at the tables I sat at with TPR during the China tour was the grilled steak one, which I believe also had corn and some other veggies in it for some reason. Some of us even had that at the knockoff pizza hut in the mall in Shanghai. I don't remember what the name of the pizza place was, but it had pretty much exactly the same menu as the Chinese Pizza Huts, but it had a different name. I'm not sure if it was a linked company or a Chinese knockoff!

 

Chinese knockoff pizza hut!

 

 

The funny thing for me is that I pretty much associate Pizza Hut with coaster trips in my mind. I live in downtown Boston, and we don't get a lot of low to middle end restaurants in the city, probably because rent is so expensive that they can't afford to operate and make a profit, while paying a franchise fee. There aren't any Pizza Huts in either Boston proper or in Cambridge. The nearest one is in Medford, which is only around 5 miles away. But when you don't have a car, that might as well be in another state. In fact, with a car, I could get to Canobie Lake amusement park in New Hampshire faster than i could get to the Pizza Hut 5 miles away from me by 2 subway lines, plus a bus or walk! The Boston subways aren't anywhere near as efficient as the ones in Korea or Japan.

 

Most of my previous Pizza Hut experiences were in Orlando, since there was one right down the street on International Drive from the hotel I used to stay at near Universal. I'd usually get a large pizza (or two, if they were running a second pizza for $5 special) and keep the leftovers in the hotel fridge for late night snacking all week when I got home. And sometimes I'd run into a Pizza Hut on the road on coaster trips. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a Pizza Hut pizza when NOT on a coaster trip!

 

But on this one trip to Asia, I easily had more PIzza Hut than I've had in the past 3-5 years combined!

 

For those who weren't on the China trip, you don't know how nice it was to have western food after day after day of Chinese food on spinning lazy susans! Not that the food was bad or anything. It was just nice to get a taste of home (even if for me, it's not really from "home") and something familiar.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey David, just want to let you know that I finally got caught up with this thread and the Park Index updates. Thanks for all the submissions and I look forward to following this thread on a regular basis once your busy season at work is over.

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Thanks, Larry! And just so you know for the index, Gyeongju World is officially spelled that way now. They've taken down any signs that I could see with the Kyungju World name. Apparently,South Korea has over the past few years made a serious effort to standardize and modernize the English spellings of various cities and landmarks and other things. Gyeongju is now the official spelling of both the city and the park.

 

Just to confirm, I haven't abandoned this PTR series. I've just been working a ton. I work in a restaurant in a mall in touristy downtown Boston, and things really die starting tomorrow for a couple of months. So, I've been working a ton, to stash some money so I can pay the bills and still have money for my next big coaster trip! (Probably Germany, though TPR Mexico is very tempting!) And the even bigger one after that. (Possibly 'round the world!)

 

I've already started working on the next update, with more to come! There's still a few more days in Korea left, including Lotte World next, followed by a quick stop at Children's Grand Park -- which turned out to be closed! -- two stops at Everland (including their Halloween celebration, very early, the first week in September), an amazing tour of the demilitarized zone between North and South Koreas, and some sightseeing. And that's just the next 4 days of the trip. After that is the three weeks of TPR China, including an extra night at Ocean Park for their amazing Halloween event, plus Macau. Then almost a week each in Taiwan and back in Japan! Stay tuned! Lotte World is almost ready!

 

 

ON another note, one thing I've been pondering. As I was writing this last update and have been thinking about it, I realized that I have absolutely no memory of the mouse at Seoul Land. Nor do I have any pictures of it. When I do these updates, I use the TPR park index and RCDB to help refresh my memory and to keep the various parks straight. But for the life of me, I can't really remember this weird mouse with the Arrow-style track and cars, which is odd enough that I should remember it. And while it's not at all like me to accidentally skip a coaster, I'm starting to wonder if I did just that here. I was pretty tired at this point, and kind of rushing around to get to Lotte World with time to ride Atlantis Adventure a bunch of times. So, it's possible that I missed it, though it would be a first for me, since I usually travel with a park and coaster list cut and pasted from RCDB in my back pocket. but it's possible that as I was bouncing around, I accidentally missed it.

 

So, since I'm not sure, should I take it off my list? The only other coaster I've probably ridden that I'm not sure about is the Galaxi that was at Paragon Park. I can't imagine that there's any way I didn't ride that back when I was a kid, but since I can't remember it for sure, I don't list it.

 

Thoughts?

 

What would you do?

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So, since I'm not sure, should I take it off my list? The only other coaster I've probably ridden that I'm not sure about is the Galaxi that was at Paragon Park. I can't imagine that there's any way I didn't ride that back when I was a kid, but since I can't remember it for sure, I don't list it.

 

Thoughts?

 

What would you do?

 

I only did ths once in recent history with the the Roller Skater formerly at SFStlL, so I don't count it

 

I made a list of about 25 coasters that I might have ridden as a kid, but couldn't remember for sure. I have since confirmed that I rode 5 of them, through old pictures or talking to family members. However, I still have a list of about 20 that I will not count until I can confirm I rode them. Some of them I have a high degree of certainty that I rode.

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Day 10, part 2: Seoul, South Korea. Lotte World

 

OK, kids, I'm back with a new update, and a pretty big one this time, featuring an amazing theme park!

 

I had hoped to try to squeeze in Children’s Grand Park today as well, but that would have required me getting up early and heading out and rushing around, none of which I really felt like doing. So, instead, I went straight from Seoul Land to Lotte World on Seoul’s efficient metro system. I'd have time to visit Children's Grand Park either tomorrow or on Saturday.

 

Lotte World is a world class theme park. In fact, it’s one of the busiest parks in the world. In 2011, they hosted over 7.5 million visitors, which is more than ANY park that’s not Disney or Universal. In fact, that’s more than double the attendance of any Cedar Fair park and more than triple that of any Six Flags Park. And with about half the rides! Or almost the same as Islands of Adventure, even with Harry Potter.

 

It’s somewhat of an odd setup for a park, with half of it inside a mall, over four levels called the Adventure section, and the other half outside in the MAgic Island. Most of the bigger thrill rides are outside, although there is a big looping coaster indoors, along with a log flume, rapids and a bunch of dark rides and flat rides. For dark ride fans, the park has an especially good collection of world class ones. They even have an ice skating rink. The indoor part of the park is considered the world's largest indoor amusement park, according to Guiness. it's part of a huge complex with a mall, sports arenas, hotels and much more that they were building while I was there -- there were a lot of buildings going up in the area.

 

You can easily get to Lotte World by subway. It’s right on the main subway lines 2 and 8, at Jamsil Station. When you get out of the subway, you’re right in the mall that Lotte owns. The term mall is a bit different from in the US, because they own the mall and pretty much all of the stores in that mall, except possibly some of the restaurants. You can almost think of the entire mall as one big department store. Inside that mall is Lotte World, which continues outside. After quite a bit of walking, I bought my ticket and headed inside.

 

I planned to head right outside for the bigger thrill rides, but ran into the Adventures of Sindbad dark ride on the way, which had no wait, so I hit that up. I’d heard that the dark rides had low capacity, so it could be a good idea to ride early, but most of the minimal crowds in the park turned out to be waiting for the thrill rides, so I never actually hit any wait for any of the dark rides. Sindbad was really well done, a lot like Pirates at the Disney parks. From there, I headed outside.

 

You cross a bridge to get outside, and in front of you is a gorgeous giant castle, similar to that at the Disney parks, complete with Disney-rip off scenes inside. I was going to head straight for Atlantis Adventure, the park’s signature Intamin coaster, but the line was pretty long (45-60 minutes or so), so I decided to walk around and hit up some of the rides with smaller waits first. But this is always a gamble, because you never know when a ride might break down. But with three more days in Seoul, if disaster struck, I could always go back to the park to ride, if necessary, although it would cost me the high admission price – but at least I’d be able to ride it. The park was relatively busy, but nothing compared to what I’ve heard it can be like. The only ride indoors that had much of a queue was the coaster, but there were some 30-45 minute waits for the coasters and thrill rides outside. None of the dark or wet rides (except for Atlantis Adventure, which wasn’t really wet) had much, if any, wait.

 

Instead I headed over to the Fantasy Dream dark ride, which was really bizarre. Think a mix of Small World, with lots of candy and toys. Then I hit up the Gyro Drop freefall ride and the well done Ghost House walkthrough.

 

I headed back inside to try to ride Pharaoh’s Fury, an Indiana Jones ride rip-off, only to find that it was closed for renovation! Then I headed to the cultural museum, only to find that it closed early! No culture for me, today! But my luck improved when I ran into the park’s excellent indoor parade, which features characters from many of the park's rides and is well lit, much like the Disney Main Street Electrical Parades. It’s kind of odd though that a park with a large outdoor section puts its parade indoors, but I guess that makes it possible to hold the parade in the winter, too. I snatched a ride On French Revolution, the park’s oddly themed indoor Vekoma looping coaster, which travels all around the indoor section, with a lift hill that hugs the wall and comes very close to it and the ceiling! It’s an ok ride with some nice helices around fountains and other nice theming, but nothing special -- and certainly not worth waiting in the queue for again. Then I hopped a ride on Jungle Adventure, the thankfully not very wet, well themed indoor rapids ride.

 

Then it was time to brave the 45-minute queue for Atlantis Adventure, the park’s signature attraction, an Intamin Aquatrax coaster with some amazing theming. Speaking of the queue, they had a weird way of dealing with the large number of people waiting for it. They kept most of the people waiting in temporary queue area outside the main entrance and queue area of the ride, and only let in groups of people at a time into the main queue, which remained mostly empty. I read online that this was to try to keep down grafitti in the queue. Atlantis Adventure ranked at #12 in the last Mitch Steel poll, and has ranked in the top 30 every year. While I personally wouldn’t rank it as high as #12, it will probably make my top 30 when I try to figure out my rankings next. However, it should be noted that the ride is supposed to have water spraying on the tracks, which may give it a speed boost that my rides didn’t get. Since it was a cooler September day, they didn’t have the water on, and most of the pools under it were drained. So, I might not have gotten the best rides on it. Still, it’s a world-class ride. The ride starts off with a launch into an indoor top hat and a bunch of twisty sections (similar to Maverick at Cedar Point) that go both indoors and out. In the middle, there’s a cave with some awesome theming, including some really weird looking creatures. Then there’s a lift, and big drop with some more twists and turns. There’s some decent airtime and laterals on the ride, too, a lot more than you’d expect from what would seem to be a themed family ride, but is actually much more of a thrill ride.

 

From there, I braved the next longest queue in the park, for Comet Express, an Intamin spinning indoor themed coaster. (Later on the trip, I’d ride another version at Leofoo Village in Taiwan.) I’m not actually sure if this qualifies as a coaster with my definition, since I THINK it is powered. Normally, I’d notice the power rails on a coaster right away, but I didn’t really consider that a coaster like this might be powered. But about two thirds of the way through the ride, I looked back, and could clearly see what looked like the power rails. By the time I got back into the station, there weren’t any power rails on the track there. So, does anyone know if Comet Express is powered or not? Even RCDB isn’t sure, saying that they’ve gotten reports of it being powered, but it’s not believed that Intamin has ever built a powered coaster. I asked Elissa about it later on the trip (since she’s the Intamin expert), but she remembered TPR having a discussion about it on the TPR Korea trip, but couldn’t remember what they’d decided. Either way, it was a great ride, with some decent space theming and a whole lot of spinning. I was sitting in the back car, and towards one side. My unbalanced car spun like crazy, to the constant amusement of the girls in the car in front of me! If it is a coaster, it’s possibly the best spinning coaster out there. Intamin does it again!

 

After that, I headed back to Atlantis Adventure, and kept riding a few times until the park closed. Luckily, the line had gotten significantly shorter! From there, I headed out, but unfortunately, most of the park’s stores were closed, so I wasn’t able to get many souvenirs. Luckily, I’d be taking the bus to Everland from the same train station the next day, and the store that had a few things I wanted was in the mall, but outside the park proper. One nice thing about Lotte World and Everland is that, unlike most parks in Asia, both are usually open later in the evening (until 10 PM on these days) -– a good thing for a night owl like me!

 

All in all, I think I timed my day pretty well. I probably could have used another hour or two for another ride on Comet Express and 2-3 more on Atlantis Adventure. But I was pretty satisfied with my day.

 

From there, I took the subway back to the Itaewon neighborhood I was staying in. I really enjoyed staying in this neighborhood, but probably for all the wrong reasons. This is not the place to go if you’re looking for a true Korean experience! It’s really sprung up as a western alternative for tourists and soldiers. There’s a US military base relatively nearby, and stores, restaurants, bars and more have sprung up here to accommodate them. Not to mention brothels, strip clubs and a whole gay street! And they say it’s the only place it Korea that fat westerners can find clothes that will fit them, since most Koreans are TINY, and so are the clothes that are made to accommodate them!

 

As a result, a large percentage of the Westerners who visit Seoul stay here, or at least visit. And the locals who visited here were more westernized and were looking for more of a western experience. And to be honest, that was exactly what I was looking for, during a 7 week trip to Asia. It was nice to have familiar food, people who spoke good English to talk to, and just to have more of a feeling of home for a few days. Well, not exactly home, since the area caters more to Europeans, particularly the British. But it was close enough.

 

I had dinner at Outback Steak House, which was actually open after midnight, which is handy when you’re at amusements parks until after 10 PM. Yeah, it was a bit weird being an American having Australian steak in a restaurant in Korea, but it was nice, too!

 

From there, I wandered the streets, checking out various stores and bars and clubs, although I didn’t really drink that night. A block from my hotel was what they call “Hooker Hill”, a long street filled with brothels, much like Amsterdam’s Red Light District, with hookers who weren’t shy in inviting you into their place. Even the bars on that street were pretty much brothels, designed to lure you in for a drink with pretty Asian ladies, who then take you out back afterwards. The side streets in this area are very hilly, which is why “hill” is part of the name. You're literally climbing up the hill as you walk down the street! In fact, if you get more than a block or two off the beaten path, the streets become a real maze, turning into back alleys and stairways, where it’s easy to get lost. In fact, I did get VERY lost one night and had to take a taxi to find my way back to my hotel, and one aggressive young lady (likely a hooker) bummed a ride with me, and tried to go back to my hotel with me! She had to settle for a free taxi ride.

 

Interestingly, the next block over from Hooker Hill is “Homo Hill”, full of many small gay bars and nightclubs – over half of the gay bars in the city, actually. Apparently, the first major celebrity in South Korea to come out of the closet as gay opened up a very successful restaurant in the area, which was followed by a bar and then more, and soon, it became a whole gay street. I only walked around for a bit, though, checking out the scene for future visits the next nights. Amusingly enough, between Hooker Hill and Homo Hill are a handful of bar/brothels featuring transsexuals, as well. They cater to all needs in this area! Or it's one stop shopping, if you're bi!

 

One funny spectacle was seeing US Military Police doing the rounds on both neighboring Hills, making sure that US troops were abiding by the very strict 1 AM curfew for soldiers in Korea that was imposed on the troops after a series of high profile rapes of local women in 2011. So, the MP’s do a few sweeps per night, hitting all of the bars and clubs on the main street, as well as those on both Hooker Hill and Homo Hill. I bet it’s awkward when they find a soldier in a club on the latter hill!

 

After a little walking around, and watching the spectacle, I headed back to the hotel for some sleep. Tomorrow was going to be one of the highlights of the trip. After a quick stop at Children’s Grand Park (quicker than expected, actually…), I would be visiting Everland, another world class theme park, to ride T-Express, one of the best wooden coasters in the world!

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The entire Jamsil station area is well-themed. Here's a little taste of Italy, before I even get to the theme park.

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The entire mall is basically the Lotte Department Store.

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Some of the neat characters near the entrance of the park.

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You can see from this picture how integrated the park is in with the mall. Under the gorgeous dome ceiling, you can see the park above many stores. Note the coaster track for French Revolution on the left and the balloon ride in the ceiling above it. You can also get a good sense of how well themed the entire park is.

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Look at how close the pirate ship ride comes to some of the hotel rooms!

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Speaking of pirates...

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... it's time for The Adventures of Sindbad!

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Sindbad is a well-themed boat dark ride that owes a lot to the Disney Pirates rides.

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Complete with wenches!

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The awesome theming continues outside in Magic Island. You can walk across this bridge, or take the monorail track overhead. On the left is part of the castle. On the right is the amazing Atlantis Adventure building.

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A closer look at the castle.

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The Fantasy Dream dark ride is really trippy -- like Small Word, but with teddy bears and candy.

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Cuteness overload!

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The castle, drop ride and Atlantis Adventure, with buildings and mountains (and a lake) all around.

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Try to tell me that's not amazing theming for a coaster! Admittedly, the skyscrapers behind it kind of kill the illusion of being in an ancient building, but that's hardly the park's fault!

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A nice view from the park of the lake, surrounded by more skyscrapers and mountains.

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One more look outside, while the sun is still out!

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Back inside, as crowds start to line up for the big parade. You can see the ice skating rink down below. One weird anomaly in the park is the plain blue walls of the park, behind all that great theming. It's especially weird on the indoor coaster's lift hill, which I didn't get a good picture of.

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It's time for Pharaoh's Fury!

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... or not! And I only missed it by a little over a week. (It was Spet 5 on this day.) Notice that the renewal was scheduled to take 3 months. I wonder if they're adding more to the ride?

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The indoor log flume. With TGI Friday's overlooking it.

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The park's excellent parade features rides and characters and other icons from the park all lit up. You could even call it an Electrical Parade!

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Some Sindbad theming in the parade.

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Dragons make everything better!

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Park mascots in the parade.

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I guess this was as close as I'd get to seeing Pharoah's Fury. If the ride was half as impressive as the float was, I missed something special.

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The French Revolution looping coaster.

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Some helices around a colorful fountain. The coaster goes all around the indoor section of the park, making it hard to get a good picture with much of the ride in it. I probably should have taken the ballon ride to get pictures, but I didn't really have the time.

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Jungle Adventure, a very themed, but thankfully not very wet, rapids ride.

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Back outside, to the nicely lit castle.

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Atlantis Adventure's awesome entrance. Nnote the queue extending outside of the entrance. The park isn't THAT busy. They apparently just keep most of the people outsode of the main queue (which is mostly empty) in an effort to keep down grafitti.

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A closeup of the entrance statues.

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While waiting in the queue, I saw this weird sign posted. I assumed that the suggestion to stretch before riding was mostly a joke, and was probably put there to keep lawyers and/or insurance companies happy. Not one was actually stratching. But later in the trip, at some of the Happy Valley Parks in China, we'd see the park require riders to stretch before riding!

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A first look at the awesome station theming.

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More theming in the station.

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Overlooking the station on the way out of the ride.

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My old camera takes really crappy night pictures, although this one came out kind of cool.

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I really like this shot, even if you can barely make out the blurry train under the castle in the back.

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So, it was cool enough that they didn't really have much water in the pools on the ride at all -- and none on the track at all. But, for some reason, they had the misters on in the outer line area? Maybe they were just trying to ruin my shots?

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The did a good job of it!

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I think this would have been a particularly nice shot, if not for the misters.

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Everyone always seems pretty excited coming back into the station. The sure sign of a great ride!

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Comet Express, a praticularly good spinning coaster.

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These trains of individually spinning cars seemed to provide for some exceptional spinning, particularly in the back car!

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Back inside, as the park is closing.

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There are still a few people skating in the rink.

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Thanks, Lotte World, for an awesome day!

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Even the escalators in the mall have Lotte World theming!

Edited by David H
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I really REALLY didn't realize how BIG Lotte World, even with

all the past TRs on it, etc. Good job of covering everything, David!

 

And may I say, I really think that shot you weren't too happy with,

is a great shot, IMhO! It looks like its snowing over them on the curve, lol.

 

And I think the only thing you'd have to photoshop out of this pic,

if you wanted to do it, is those two bits of purple above the car.

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This shot. It's actually quite good, honest!

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Lawrence Welk! LOL!

 

As for the purple bits, they're actually the arches behind the track that you can't see well in that pic, with their purple lighting. Check out three pictures back from that picture in the original post.

 

And yeah, Lotte World is bigger than I expected, too! I didn't actually cover everything, just what I rode. It's probably not clear from the pictures, unless you notice that sort of theing, but they have TWO drop towers, one older one, and a Gyro-Drop. I don't think I got any good pictures of the Gyro Swing, which I didn't ride because it had long lines the whole night. And there were another half dozen or so flat rides I didn't have time for. Not to mention a bunch of kiddie rides. I probably should have given the place another hour or two. Luckily, it wasn't too busy! But it was a Wednesday in September. I haven't been putting days or dates in my TR's, but if anyone is curious, this day was Wednesday, September 5th.

 

I smartly planned my Seoul sightseeing days for Friday and Saturday, when the parks would be busier. Plus, if I got rained out on any of my park days, I had them for leeway days for rescheduling. As it was, I ended up going back to Everland on Friday night after the DMZ tour to go through their Halloween walkthroughs and get a few extra rides on T-Express.

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^ I'm not sure how many there are, but I didn't ride it. The line seemed to be longer than for the Gyro-Drop (which I did ride, and also was taller with a better view), probably because of the higher capacity on the Gyro drop, and it was over in a section of the park I only walked by once or twice. By the time the line would have likely been short enough to be worth riding it, I was trying to get in a few more rides on Atlantis Adventure, which was on the other side of the outside section of the park, before the park closed. Next time I'm there, for sure!

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Day 11, part 1: Seoul. Children’s Grand Park (sort of.)

 

This will be a quicker than usual update (for me, at least!), for reasons that will quickly become obvious!

 

Well, every trip has an epic fail day, where things get all messed up. Last year, I overslept in Venice by only 20 minutes and missed my train for what would have already been a quick stop at Gardaland to ride their world premiere B&M wing coaster, and later that day passed out drunk in my hotel and missed almost the entire night at a nightclub in Ibiza that that whole leg of the trip was scheduled around (which I’d already paid about $50 for!). Although I guess dislocating my shoulder on a trampoline at one park on that trip and being rushed to the hospital in horrible pain should probably count as a bigger epic fail, but since I didn’t miss any credits, it says something about my priorities that I don’t count that as a bigger fail!

 

This part of this day would probably be the most epic fail of this trip, which wasn’t actually too bad. Again, I slept a bit late, and had two parks on my agenda today. The first park was Children’s Grand Park, which is an amusement park in a city park of the same name, which you can get to by taking the subway to the station of the same name! You can also take the subway to the Achasan stop, which takes you to the back end of the park, which is actually closer to where the amusement park actually is.

 

So, I entered the park and soon found a park map, which showed where the amusement park was – with a sticker over it, which said some Korean words, with the dates of “(2012.6 ~ 2014.3)”, followed by the dreaded words “Under Construction”. Oh, crap! I kind of went into denial about this, hoping that they were just referring to some construction for maybe a new ride or something, and proceeded to walk across the large park to find the amusement park section anyways. Along the walk were a bunch of statues that I took pictures of, since it would be the only real “culture” of the day. Plus, if I didn’t get to ride anything, I could console myself that I got some culture!

 

When I got to the amusement park, I discovered that it was, indeed, the entire park that was closed for renovations. There were fences up to keep people off the site. I couldn’t get any good pictures, though, to be honest, I didn’t really try, since I was kind of annoyed at the situation. Would it have been so hard for the park to put it in an obvious place on their website that they were closed? I could understand if they had just closed a week or two ago, but if the dates I mentioned above were true, they’d already been closed for three months! There definitely was no mention of it on their English website at the time, and if it was on the Korean website, it wasn’t easily obvious, at least when using Google Translate and Babylon. Admittedly, the amusement park is only a small part of the larger park, which includes a zoo area, which was open, so it’s possible that there was a big notice somewhere on the site that I didn’t see. But I managed to get the park hours on the site, even though it wasn’t open. At least hopefully some other enthusiasts can learn from my mistake, since RCDB has been updated to note that the park will be closed until at least March 2014.

 

Well, there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point. I probably should have just taken the sign’s advice and not walked all the way through the large park, but I’d have kicked myself if it had turned out that the park was indeed even partially open, or at least the coasters were open. So at this point, I decided to make the best of things, and at least see some of the zoo exhibits, were mostly the usual zoo animals, leopards and cheetahs and zebras and kangaroos (which seem to be more of a staple of Asian zoos than in the US.) Eventually, I got totally lost and ended up outside the park far from the subway entrance I needed. So, I walked all the way around the park to get to the subway, so I didn’t get even more lost.

 

Oh well, at least the animals were nice. And that counts as culture, right? Speaking of culture, after the trip, I learned from RCDB that the scene in Psy’s Gagnam Style video (a song I’m pretty sure I never actually heard while in Korea!) where he’s in front of a carousel was filmed at Children’s Grand Park – in case you’re interested in pop culture appearances of amusement parks.

 

I definitely could have used this time for more rides on T-Express later that day, but sometimes these things happen on trips especially when you go overseas, and you just have to roll with them. This was always planned as just a quick side trip anyways. Children’s Grand Park is not a major park, in any sense of the term. But it had two credits, a Meisho looping coaster and an Interpark mouse. And it was more or less on the way to Everland, with just a quick detour.

 

Once I found the subway, I made my way back to the Jamsil stop, which was familiar, since it's the stop for Lotte World. I quickly went to the park area to pick up a couple of souvenirs that I hadn't managed to get before the stores closed the previous night. And when I went outside to catch the bus to Everland, I snapped some pictures of Lotte World from outside. So, at least there are a few more amusement park-relevant pictures in this update!

 

Coming up next: Everland, with T-Express, one of the world’s best wooden coasters. Plus, some surprisingly early Halloween decorations for September 6th!

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One of the many entrances to Children's Grand Park -- the park itself, not the amusement park.

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Some cute statues and a sign.

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Just to give you some idea of how big the park itself is, the amusement park area is in the small light green area under the word "park" in the upper right area of the sign. The subway stations are on the far left and the upper right of the sign. Somehow, I eventually accidentally ended up in the lower area of the sign, exiting there, and walking around the park to find the subway.

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Note the ominous construction sticker.

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Statues. At least I could get some culture here!

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More culture.

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Hey, you're not gonna see coasters in this update (well, maybe a peek through the trees and fence), so I gotta fill this with something, right? ;-)

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This is not looking good for my chances to get some credits....

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At least I got to see some coaster track! That's the looping Meisho coaster: 88 Train.

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A nice pagoda in the park.

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I might as well look at some animals in the zoo. These elephants were pretty active.

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A restless cheetah on the hunt.

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Some horny guys.

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A nice looking building. At this point, I had absoultely no idea where I was!

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Hi, Divv! I took this picture for you! I'd have tried to save a bag for you, but I wouldn't be seeing you for another two weeks, with 4 flights in between. In my tight suitcase, they'd have never lasted! I'm not even sure what this flavor actually was. But Lotte distibutes them in Korea. Lotte is everywhere in Korea!

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Ah, I seem to have found the park again.

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A nice bridge I saw on the subway.

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Seoul really is a big, sprawling city. It's on both sides of a river. Seoul Land, Lotte World and Everland are on the south side of the river, across from the downtown area.

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The Lotte Department Store that I'd walked through the previous night. Lotte World is far behind there.

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Some funky statue.

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Lotte World's big sign. You'd think they'd prune the tree in front of the park's logo, right?

Edited by David H
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^ I'm not sure if I'm more disappointed to have missed Popeye's or the credits!

 

The funny thing is that I always forget there's a Popeye's a 10 minute walk from my house. I don't think I've been there in over a year.

 

Thanks for the consolation, though! I'd originally not even planned to bother with Children's Grand Park, but decided to add it, since it's right in the city and only one stop from the line to Jamsil for Lotte or Everland, and others had said I could easily fit that into a day with Seoul Land and Lotte World (even though I actually didn't.) And I'd only planned to stop in quickly to get the creidts and maybe see a few animals on the way. So, it wasn't any big loss. If I'd had to lose out on any solo park on my solo part of the trip, this would be have been one of the least painful losses. And surrounded by two amazing parks, it was hard to be too disappointed.

 

And I enjoyed Seoul enough -- especially Lotte World and Everland -- that I imagine I'll be back within the decade. So, I'll have the chance to go back at some point. The only question will be whether I'll bother to go back to Seoul Land to get the mouse credit, in case I forgot to ride it.

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Day 11, part 2: Seoul, South Korea. Everland, day 1!

 

Now it was time for Everland, one of the highlights of the entire trip. Like Lotte World, which I visited, Everland is a world class amusement park. Over 6.5 million people visited it in 2010, which puts it at #13 in the world, behind only some Disney and Universal Parks, its neighbor Lotte World, and Ocean Park in Hong Kong. To give you some kind of scope, more than twice as many people visit Everland as Cedar Point, Kings Island or ANY Six Flags park. What’s amazing is that it does these kinds of numbers with only TWO adult coasters operating! But it’s still a pretty huge park. There’s a whole zoo section that I would have liked to have checked out, but simply didn’t have the time for. (I knew I should have gotten out of the hotel earlier!) And the park is spread out enough with a lot of hills, that they have BOTH a cable car and a chair lift inside the park to get you from section to section. While the coaster selection is pretty meager, they’ve got a lot of flat rides, dark rides and shows to keep people busy. And tons of theming, too. In fact, I didn’t actually even see half of the park on this day. Note that if you’re a foreigner visiting Everland, they will give you a discount of about the equivalent of $8 US dollars if you print a coupon from their website or show your passport.

 

To get to Everland, you can take the subway to either the Jamsil Station (home of Lotte World) or Gagnam Station (in the area of the city made famous in Psy’s Gagnam Style video!) Then take the bus from those stations to Lotte World. There’s also a third bus between a subway stop and Everland, but do NOT take it, because it takes a long winding route and stops a ton of time! I learned this the hard way on the way back on Friday night! It literally took 30-45 minutes longer than the other busses! The park is out in the mountains, and the bus actually drives quite a bit past the sign for the park before you actually get to the park itself. The park has its own bus area. From there, you walk over to the main parking lot and take a shuttle bus to the park itself.

 

At the bus waiting area, I had my first surprise of the night, when I saw signs for the park’s Halloween event, which would be starting THE NEXT NIGHT! Damn, that was bad timing! I’d normally look for this sort of thing, since I LOVE park Halloween events, especially haunted mazes, but I wasn’t expecting the park’s Halloween event to start the FIRST weekend in September! I hadn’t even gotten onto the shuttle bus to the park, and I was already thinking that maybe I’d have to come back one of the next nights, if I could squeeze it in!

 

As soon as I got to the entrance, I could see tons of Halloween theming, which was kind of weird when you consider that it was only Sept 6th! The main street area is already well themed and impressive, but there was a ton of Halloween theming on top of that. I headed straight to the kiddy section of the park to get the kiddy coaster out of the way first. Herky and Timmy’s Racing Coaster is themed to the race of the tortoise and the hare, which is odd since it’s only one coaster, not a racing pair, as you might expect. It’s a just a Vekoma custom junior coaster, which is actually better than most kiddy coasters, but still nothing particularly special. Luckily, there wasn’t much of a line, so I rode, took a bunch of pictures as I quickly walked around the kiddy section of the park, then headed back up to the main park for the next credit. Rolling X-Train is a fairly standard Arrow double loop, double corkscrew coaster, but for some reason, they’re replaced the original trains with new sideless ones from Vekoma. Needless to say, adding Vekoma trains didn’t make it any more smooth or rideable! In fact, the most interesting thing about riding it was that from the lift hill you could see a bit of the Eagle’s Fortress Arrow suspended coaster sticking out of the woods! Yes, it’s still there, but it’s not on the map, and you can’t see it from anywhere I was in the park, other than from the lift of this coaster. The park doesn’t even acknowledge that it’s there. Which is a shame, because everyone I know who’s ridden it has said it was amazing and easily the best suspended coaster ever!

 

The second most interesting thing about Rolling X-Train is that the queue goes up stairs to the elevated station, and those stairs are a good place to get some pictures of T-Express, which is the main reason to come to the park! On the way over towards T-Express, I passed the Zamperla Dragon powered “coaster”, but didn’t really have the time to ride it, and didn’t need to since I don’t count it as a coaster, and would be riding MANY of them on this trip! I did take the time to go through the Spooky Fun House walkthough, which was a lighthearted interactive walkthrough with fin features like ghosts mooning you! Unfortunately, the Mystery Mansion shooting dark ride was closed all day. I took a few pictures of some of the rides and the Madagascar Live show arena (with statues of the characters outside) and grabbed a piece of some sort of chicken in tasty sauce on a stick and headed over to the park's main attraction: T-Express.

 

With very few exceptions (Disney and Universal parks come to mind), theming and ride selection alone don’t make for a world-class park. A world-class park has to have world-class coasters! Or at least one. While Everland has lost its first world class coaster in the now closed Eagle’s Fortress, it’s gained a world-class wooden coaster in Intamin’s T-Express. T-Express is a wild coaster with a steep first drop, several spots of ejector airtime, some great laterals and a bunch of directional changes. Since it opened, it has never ranked below #3 on Mitch’s Internet woodie poll, and has hit #1 twice (once in a tie), and it’s #2 again this year. (That's an exclusive spoiler, kids! You read it here first!) It even managed to hit the top 40 the last two years on the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards, the ONLY coaster in Asia to manage that feat on either the wood or steel poll. (Well, since Aska in Japan closed, at least.) That’s an impressive accomplishment, given how few of the people on AT’s poll have been to Asia! Personally, I ranked it at #5 (or #4, if you don’t count Aska, which is never likely to operate again and may even be torn down by now.) It’s not quite as balls to the wall intense as my very top coasters, but it’s almost there. And #5 (or #4) in the world out of 156 woodies I’ve ridden is pretty damn impressive! Also, I rode it in September, so it may be even faster and more intense in the warmer summer months.

 

So, I headed over to T-Express, hoping for a bunch of rides on a world-class woodie, only to run into my second unplanned surprise for the day: T-Express closes its queue at 8 PM, two hours before the park closes! DAMN! I wish I’d know this, or I’d have gotten there much earlier and saved the crappy coasters on the way for later! They had a sign at the ride’s entrance, but not anywhere else that I know of in the park. Apparently, they close it early for safety because of the fireworks from the park’s night show at 9PM, which is understandable with a wooden coaster. But it still sucked! This is why I usually head right to any park’s signature coasters, as soon as I get to the park, but with T-Express WAY in the back of the park, and all of the other coasters in the front, it seemed to make sense to do the park the way I did. But now all I could do is get right in the line and try to get a few rides in before it closed.

 

And that was the hard part, thanks to all of the horrible line-jumping. Seriously, the line jumping for T-Express was some of the worst I’ve ever seen at parks. Not just because so many people were doing it, but because huge groups of people were doing it. One or two people would get in line. And over the next half hour another 10-20 people would push their way through the crowd to join them! Normally, I wouldn’t allow more than one or two people to ever cut me in line, but in another country where I don’t speak the language at all, I didn’t feel comfortable making a scene, even if I was in the right. But the queue was 30-45 minutes, and in that time enough people cut me to push me back at least a train or two. And T-Express was awesome, so I didn’t want to miss any rides, thanks to selfish line cutters! And with time running out before they closed the ride, on my second time in the queue, I simply put my hands out and didn’t let anyone pass – which resulted in a lot of people trying to argue with me in a language I didn’t understand! I was able to get the point across to the few who spoke a little English that it was they who were breaking the rules and trying to cheat me (and the rest of the people in the line), not this crazy foreigner somehow taking their rights. I even managed to get this nice couple who had also tried to cut me and who spoke English on my side, when they couldn’t argue with my point that if their friends weren’t willing to wait to ride with them, then why should I? They then explained my point to the others I was blocking! Before long, there were well over a dozen kids unhappily stuck behind me. Eventually, I let the nice couple actually go ahead, since they’d been nice about it. But my strategy worked, since I made it around for a third time in the queue just before they closed the line! In the park's defence, they actually do have signs up telling people to enter the queue with their entire group, but they can't really enforce it with the queue all within the structure and no one from the park in the whole queue area. On a plus note, there was some neat explorer type theming in the queue, and they even set up a standing open casket that people could take pictures in for Halloween.

 

Like all good coasters, it left me wanting more. By this point, I’d pretty much decided that I would HAVE to come back one of the next two nights to do the two haunted mazes and to get some more rides on T-Express! Later, I’d figure out the logistics of this at guest relations.

 

From T-Express, I caught a show at the Space Tour 4-D Theater. The show at Space Tour was exactly what you’d expect: a cutesy show featuring a bunch of animated Everland characters fighting some bad guy with crystals in a fantasy show that had absolutely nothing to do with space! OK. From there, I’d wanted to try to see the night show, but they had blocked the way, for safety. So I had to settle for seeing the fireworks above the stage from a distance, but not what was on the stage itself. Oh well. But I got on the chair lift back to the front of the park just before the SWARMS of people leaving the night show got there! From there I walked around and took a bunch of pictures and did some shopping.

 

I also went to guest relations to try to find out some details about the Halloween event. I also found out that the park's shooting dark ride (which had been closed today) would be open the next day. Another good reason to come back! Apparently, they had two haunted mazes back by T-Express, which you’d have to buy upcharge tickets for. The guest relations ladies strongly suggested that I get my tickets in the morning, since with the next day being the first day of the Halloween event, the mazes were likely to sell out. The only problem with this idea was that I’d be spending most of the day on a tour of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and would not be able to get to the park before 6-7 PM! The ladies very kindly offered to walk all the way back to the mazes to get me the tickets the next morning, if I gave them the money for them, which I was happy to do! (The tickets were only something like $5 each.) They asked what time I wanted my tickets for, but when I told them, I wasn’t sure when I could be at the park, they offered to call the mazes the next day to make sure they’d honor my tickets whenever I needed to use them! How’s THAT for customer service?!? Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty!

 

On that happy note, and with plans to return to this huge park the next day, if only for a few hours, I headed back to the bus area and took the bus back to Itaewon. Tonight’s very Korean dinner was KFC! I walked around the neighborhood checking out the scene, popping into a few bars and clubs along the way and talking to random people. One American guy walked around with me for quite some time, and made a point to tell me several times that he was straight. But somehow I had the feeling that he was hoping I’d make a more overt proposition to him, a feeling that was somewhat confirmed after he’d left to supposedly go to bed (perhaps hoping I’d ask to join him), and I later saw him back on the strip between the two hills following a tranny hooker into the back of the tranny bar! He was actually a good looking guy, but I didn’t want to be that kind of gay guy who randomly propositions supposedly straight guys on the street. At least not when I’m sober!

 

Amused, I decided it was time to call it a night! I had to get up early the next day to head to a nearby US military base. That’s not somewhere you might expect to find me, but I was taking a really neat tour of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which will be in the next update. And after that, I return to Everland for more!

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The entrance to Everland. You can already see some Halloween theming! In early September!

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Yes, Halloween starts very early at Everland!

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The park's "Main Street"- type area called Global Fair.

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This pretty "Magic Tree" will look even cooler at night!

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Spooky! Oh, wait, that's the name of the ghost in the haunted walkthough "Spooky Fun House" I'd visit later.

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Pororo is apparrently some famous cartoon in Korea. But no time for that now, with credits calling!

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Let's eat at the Oriental Restaurant! In Asia.

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Herky and Timmy's Racing Coaster. Which doesn't actually race anthing at all.

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Some non-racing track.

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Some nice theming in the kiddy section. The whole park is full of hills!

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Now, that looks more interesting! Too bad it's actually a painful mess!

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Rolling X-Train. One of the best features of the ride is that you can get some good pictures of T-Express from the stairs in the queue!

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See? This is the coaster you WANT to be waiting for. Unforunately, you're actually waiting for a painful Arrow looping coasters with Vekoma trains!

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I'm not even sure where this cable car actually goes. It's not even on the park map! The hotel in the back of the park, maybe?

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Yay! I managed to catch a train!

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I'm coming, T-Express! Let me just get this painful thing out of the way first so I never need to ride it again!

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Do I REALLY want to ride this?

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I have a feeling this is gonna hurt! The things we do for credits!

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Just to give you some idea of how big the park is.

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The chairlift can come in handy for getting across the park. But I wanted to see and do some things along the way. I did take it back, though. Just be sure to beat the crowd from the night show when it ends!

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For the whores, the park has a powered Zamperla Dragon "coaster".

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Can you tell that Spooky Fun House takes its scares VERY seriously?

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See what I mean? Spooky's getting fresh!

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I'm coming. I'm coming!

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The Madagascar Live show theater is huge! You can also see this show at Gardaland in Italy this year.

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Yeah, I fit right in with this bunch, don't I?

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More Halloween theming. The two haunted mazes and the main Halloween area are actually near T-Express

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I caught that train a little early!

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T-Express' trains have some night LED lighting on them that look cool in the dark and make for some neat photo effects on crappy cameras like mine!

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But first, let's get a snack! Or maybe not! Instead I got some chicken on a stick from another counter.

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Not everything was open in the Horror Village yet, but the entrance to T-Express was inside.

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See? Time to get in line and have dozens of kids line jump in front of me!

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I love wooden coaster queues that are within the rides structure, with wood all around you!

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Theming.

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The train races by while you wait to ride.

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There's nothing like a big woodie to cheer you up after being line jumped!

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Some theming in the Horror Village.

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The fireworks from the park's nighttime show.

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Ooh! Ahh!

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The Magic Tree gets scary at night!

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That's it for Everland for tonight. But I'll be back tomorrow!

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If I ever get to visit my customers in South Korea, this is going to be a must-see before I leave.

 

Everland sure does look like a great park, but could be even better if they could somehow refurb Eagle Fortress or at least throw in a couple more decent coasters. But I guess if it's already a heavily attended park, they don't need to worry about catering to us coaster dorks!

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^ Well, it was certainly intentional!

 

^^ Yeah, Everland really is a huge park. But the one thing it's lacking is more decent steel coasters. Just having Eagle's Fortress open again would dramatically change that. But supposedly that won't happen. If not, they really do need one or two solid steel coasters to round out the park. I'm still amazed that the park manages to bring in 6.5 million people with only two adult coasters, one of which sucks!

 

That said, if everything else in the park closed, and all that was left was T-Epress sitting there by itself, it would be totally worth going around the world to ride it! And there are LOTS of other things to do and see there.

 

I didn't even see and show half of the park on this day. And even with the next night, too, I still missed at least a quarter of the park. The zoo area is pretty big and houses several rides, too. But I didn't get the chance to get over there on either day. I'll show more of the European gardens section of the park in the day 2 update, after the DMZ tour update.

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Just got caught up on your latest reports; thanks again! Lotte World and Everland will get me to Korea one of these days.

 

The mooning ghost is awesome, and T-Express' hills are just cartoonishly steep.

 

SAVE TEH EAGLES FORTRESS!

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^ Yeah, Lotte World and Everland really are world class parks with world class coasters. Honestly, each of them needs one or two more great coasters to be real "don't miss" places to visit. But what they have is already better than most other parks have. But both have a lot more to offer than coasters.

 

The dark rides at both parks are pretty neat. And if you can mange to get to Everland for their Halloween event (which starts at the beginning of September), their mazes are really good, as I'll talk about more in the next Everland update (right after the DMZ one.)

 

From everything I've heard, Eagle's Fortress would be a real great candidate for a preservation effort, since it's actually a great coaster. Unfortunately, I think it's too late and the problems are considered too bad too fix. But they really need one solid steel coaster to cement the park's place among the world's best. But T-Express is already enough to make the park worth travelling around the world for!

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^ If I had to guess, I'd say it's because the Intamin coasters are probably more expensive, and most parks that could afford one probably already have at least one wooden coaster already and may not be in the market for another. I honestly still think it was an odd choice for Six Flags Great Adventure, especially so soon after Kingda Ka. But I'm certainly glad that they did build it! And I'm hoping that the gamble paid off for them.

 

Remember, Everland gets TWICE the attendance of Cedar Point, Kings Island or ANY Six Flags park -- or any US park outside of Florida or California, for that matter. They can definitely afford one, and didn't already have a wooden coaster. In fact, it was probably even more of a draw because it became the ONLY wooden coaster in the entire country! And with Eagle's Fortress closing, they definitely needed another adult coaster.

 

I wish that more American parks would put in more wooden coasters, in general. And certainly some Intamin woodies. But I can see how the investors and owners and managers may not feel that it's a good investment right now in the US markets.

 

It will be interesting to see if the hybrids and particularly the looping woodies will change that dynamic significantly or not.

 

Look at how the wing coasters are taking off. Maybe we'll see the same thing happen with looping woodies?

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