Chapter 4: Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'--Happy Valley Beijing
You may have noticed one trait that ties together most of the pictures I've posted so far--a dull, grayish cast to the sky. This is good, old-fashioned air pollution. Yes, the pollution in China is every bit as bad as you've been led to believe; it's so bad that people are restricted from driving two days per week in Beijing. They even have an appropriately bad joke about it (as related by our guide, Bruce): "There was a businessman in London who was in excellent physical condition. In fact, he used to jog every morning before work. He was the picture of health. Then he was transferred to Beijing. He continued to jog in the mornings. By the end of the year, he died of lung cancer."
Yes, in Beijing, "lung cancer" equals funny!
We didn't see our first blue sky in China until we visited Happy Valley Beijing, but that wasn't the park's doing. A timely storm late the night before actually flushed the air clean for a few days.
Happy Valley Beijing is a nice-looking park, with reasonably well-themed areas circling a lake and mountain, which contains Crystal Wing, the park's B&M flyer and best ride. Although the layout is the same as Six Flags' Superman: Ultimate Flight coasters, swooping through caves and between peaks gives Happy Valley's ride a decided edge. The park also has an actual, honest-to-god Vekoma SLC (Golden Wings in Snowfield) and Mine Train (Jungle Racing--or was that Flight of the Phoenix?).
I only wish the park's operations lived up to its appearance. The staggered-opening schedule for the park's coasters basically ensures very long lines for all of them. Fortunately, Robb had arranged some filming sessions that got us multiple rides on Crystal Wing and Golden Wings (ERT is largely unheard of in China). This was a great perk, and I'm very grateful that Robb was able to set it all up with the park and the ride manufacturers. Crystal Wing had a pretty long line the rest of the day, and Golden Wings, for some unknown reason, didn't open for the until late that afternoon! It was great to get them both out of the way so that we could hit the Mine Train and explore the rest of the park.
Unfortunately, we did have to pass on two credits that day. Extreme Rusher, the park's new S&S launched coaster, had broken down earlier in the week and never opened. The obligatory Golden Horse spinning coaster, the ant-themed Harvest Time, was down for the count, too (in fact, it looked like it had been out of commission for quite some time).
The state of Harvest Time sums up Happy Valley Beijing pretty well--nice on the outside, but problems within. (A major park can't keep a spinning mouse running?) That being said, I enjoyed our day there (especially the "ERT" on the two coasters and a very good haunted-house walk through, complete with a suspension bridge). There was also this rather odd show called "Maya Catastrophe," which was pretty uncatastrophic, when you get down to it.
Again, my thanks to Robb and Elissa for setting up the best day possible at Happy Valley Beijing. Shall we have a look around?
"Nothin' but blue skies, followin' me. . . "
Welcome to Happy Valley Beijing!
No explosive flatulence is allowed in Happy Valley.
Poor Extreme Rusher! I hope they eventually got you rushing again. (Any word on this?)
Hello there, lonely little trains.
You know, based on what I saw of this park's operations, this sign isn't far from the truth.
But we still have Crystal Wing.
Looks like we've found the Lost Continent of Atlantis, if the park map is to be believed. (It's bigger than IOA's Lost Continent now.)
So, were these meant to be "Fast Pass" machines, or just ancient Atlantean relics?
B&M goodness on the way.
"A memo to Six Flags."
"Ladies and Gentlemen: You have, no doubt, noted this ride's similarity to your Superman: Ultimate Flight rides. But to say they are the 'same ride' is to miss the point."
"Adding some tunnels, a mountain, and an 'ancient lost city' can make an average B&M Flyer much more enjoyable."
"However, I do recommend that you resist the urge to plunk down a carnival-type Disk-O in front of it." (Apparently, the Chinese just love Disk-Os.)
Cue the bad Burt Bacharach music. We're entering Shangri-La! (I was forever traumatized by sitting through the musical version of "Lost Horizon" when I was a kid.)
A Vekoma SLC! Our quest is at an end!
They took us in through a side entrance past this model.
Good to see that the park turned out better than this.
"Larry! Martin! Back here!"
God be praised!
I can understand why they won't let you get drunk while riding, but why don't they want you know what time it is?
I have never seen a group of people so happy to ride an actual Vekoma SLC.
It took a high-level conference to find the next coaster. Perhaps they should try Google Maps.
Welcome to "Identity Crisis: The Ride."
Is it this . . .
. . . or this?
"Maybe y'all should just call it 'Mine Train.' Just a suggestion."
What ever the name, it was a bit of a hike to the station.
Always mind the steps! They know better than you!
"Jungle-Racing Phoenix Flight" is a good ride though.
After all, Vekoma knows Mine Trains.
And Happy Valley knew enough to theme it up a bit (unlike a park that shall remain nameless in South Carolina).
It's coming right at us! Run!
Boy, running for your life from a Vekoma ride sure makes you work up an appetite. I could go for some roasted gristle about now.
"Save some for me!"
Sorry about that, "stary" cat, but no gristle for you! I might give some of the leftovers to a kid or an old person, though.
"Sorry, coaster enthusiasts, but this ride is closed."
"Please quit asking the warrior ants out front if it will open. They will disembowel you if provoked."
Yes, Hanno is all these things--and much, much more. And there's more to come!
Your views of Happy Valley are like mine: nice looking park, horrible operations and policies. Especially the staggered ride openings, which make zero sense. At least it was nice outside for you that day!
Always trying to keep YOU entertained! Now with more Ice Bat!
The world would be a better place if Dave programmed our iPods - Derwood
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