Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Part 4: Circle of Fun, Philippines; with Wild Wind
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Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby VinTheAttendant » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:34 pm

Hi everyone. I don't normally post trip reports here on TPR because I've always had more fun reading others' than making my own. I'm a big fan of other members' reports of bizarre or hardly-known parks, and their creative ways of telling the stories of their adventures. Very recently, however, I've had the chance to visit a few parks that don't get that much coverage; and there are more trips planned this year for me that I think are worth sharing my experiences. Thus, I've created this thread in the hopes that whoever reads it can find some entertainment from my park visits, and maybe even learn something they never knew existed.

Part 1: Star City
Part 2: Enchanted Kingdom
Part 3: Universal Studios Singapore
Part 4: Circle of Fun

First up: Star City in Pasay, Manila, Philippines

Before I begin, it should be noted that amusement park visiting was not the top priority during my stay in the Philippines. My family's goals were
1. Visit family and friends I had not seen in years (in case anyone cares, all of my family and friends made it through Typhoon Yolanda okay)
2. Visit places in the country we had never been to
3. Visit amusement parks (Though not the top priority, my loving parents appreciate my passion for coasters enough to put it that high up on the list of goals)

That being said, we could only visit Star City at night; and my aging camera is not exactly in peak condition in low light. But I digress. Star City is one of the two most well-known amusement parks on the island of Luzon, and maybe even the whole country. It is an indoor/outdoor entertainment complex on the coast of Manila Bay, and is a part of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. With four roller coasters, Star City has more coasters than any other park in the country, though you may find that statistic to not be as impressive as it sounds as you read on. But enough talk, let's get to some grainy, blurry pictures (the pictures in the next update will be much better, I promise!)

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The entry sign to Star City. We visited the park on December 29th, 2013; and as you can see by the giant tree and presents, Christmas is celebrated SIGNIFICANTLY in the Philippines.

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The last time I visited Star City was in February of 2007; and since then they have made several big changes to the overall look of the park. I don't remember the entrance looking this well-crafted.

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The park was packed. Signs were placed at the all ticket counters saying to expect long waits. By the way, for those of you who don't know, Tagalog is the first language of many Filipinos on the island of Luzon. But English is a widely used second language, and is not uncommon to be used on signage and advertisements.

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The park is divided into three distinct sections: an outdoor part for the larger attractions, the first floor of the indoor section, and the second floor of the indoor section. The "Ride-All-You-Can" package allows entry into the park and unlimited rides on everything that isn't upcharge, it costs 420 pesos (US$ 9.38).

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Star City presents a show attraction every few months or so, and the production during my visit happened to be "Jurassic On Ice" ..... I really wanted to know what this was about, and if the show was as bizarre as its title and promotional art. Unfortunately, it was additional charge, and we would not have time to check it out anyway.

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When you first enter the park, the first thing you see is a long hallway with vendors selling all sorts of crap you didn't know you needed. Almost all of it is inexpensive, and it is really fun to let the child inside you gawk at all the toys you could get.

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Poor Zyklon Loop. This Pinfari looping coaster used to be one of the premier attractions of the outdoor section before being removed. It's a good thing I rode it back in 2007.

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Unfortunately for me, Star Flyer, the park's new premier outdoor coaster and only inverted coaster in the Philippines, was not operating that day. The coaster was added a few months after my 2007 visit, and I don't think I have ever been this disappointed at seeing a Pinfari coaster not running.

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Oh well, also new for me was Star Frisbee. Although not as big as MaXair, this frisbee seemed to have a faster cycle. Unfortunately, the line was way too long, so we had to skip it.

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Finally, our first ride of the day was Tornado, and ..... it's a standard Tornado ride. Nothing special, nothing awful, but we sure did get our car to spin a lot!

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At 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), the log flume also had too long a line to catch our interest. Shame too as it looked like there was some decent themeing on the ride's course.

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Yes! The one ride I am glad is still here, and the one ride I WILL wait in a ridiculous queue for is Surf Dance.

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Due to its popularity (and probably because Star Flyer was closed), Surf Dance had one of the longest wait times in the whole park. So long, in fact, that the entrance to the queue extended into the second floor of the indoor section.

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The ride is worth it, though. It's just a really fun, giddy experience.

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By all descriptive purposes, it does not sound like anything even worth considering. 'It's like a bus attached to a wonky set of Top Spin arms, and does not even go upside down.'

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You need to go ahead and do a Youtube search of this ride, because it is just crazy awesome.

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You twist, sway, slow down, speed up, rise, drop, and whip around for a very lengthy ride cycle.

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And with only lap bars, it really feels like the ride is trying to eject you into the parking lot.

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Mondial is quickly turning into one of the companies that I will be quick to cite for craziest park contraptions.

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The inside parts of the park were not quite as tightly packed as the outside section, but there were still a few long lines at various attractions.

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As we ventured further into the park, we came across the Pinfari Wacky Worm called Dragon Express, and those pagodas were NOT there the last time I visited Star City.

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This Wacky Worm model got quite the visual overhaul, getting some very nice oriental themeing, and even its own cool looking signage (albeit, missing a vowel).

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Dragon Express truly does look very nice, and probably displays the most effort anyone has ever put into making a Wacky Worm look good.

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Speaking of Wacky Worms, if you head up the stairs to the second floor and make a left, you will come across ..... another Wacky Worm ..... Yeah, if you thought having Behemoth and Leviathan in the same park was bad, this is much more brain baffling.

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Unlike Dragon Express, this Wacky Worm (appropriately called "Wacky Worm") did not get an extreme makeover since my last visit. It looks just about the same as most Wacky Worms with only a little more effort put into the themeing.

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And it's not like this coaster was added as an afterthought to Dragon Express, I actually rode this Wacky Worm back in 1996 when it was outdoors. I guess it was popular enough that the park felt it necessary to add a second one?

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Still, kids seem to love it; although I saw just as many (if not more) adults going for a ride, and screaming as if they were on Surf Dance. Maybe being on the second floor gives a more terrifying perception of being higher above sea-level than other Wacky Worms?

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Moving on, Viking, the park's pirate ship ride.

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The location for this ride is really cool. The entrance is on the second floor, but it swings right over the first floor, making the ride look much higher off the ground from a non-rider's perspective.

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Unfortunately, the ship swung very slowly, you could not see the first floor from your elevated position, and this was about the highest the ship ever swung. Also, the cycle was five very long minutes of a mediocre attraction.

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On the plus side, the themeing this ride received is one of the most ridiculously awesome things I've ever seen on a swinging ship ride. It's impossible to catch the magnitude of the awesomeness in one picture, but here's a summary. A single viking on his ship is about to decapitate a sea monster who is attacking the ship that is also being attacked by a shark that would be devouring the viking if it weren't in the clutches of a giant octopus who is also attacking the ship and is about to get one of its arms bitten off by the shark.

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The park's final coaster is Blizzard, a Top Fun coaster that really needs to reconsider putting OTSRs on a relatively small coaster. I rode it back in 2007, but even a short line may not sway me to give Blizzard another ride.

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On the plus side, Blizzard also got a surplus of themeing objects, and it looks pretty darn awesome now.

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The quality of the themeing ALMOST makes up for some of the crappiness of the coaster.

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Tucked into this part of the indoor section is this tall, inflatable climbing tower.

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Last time I was here, this boat ride attraction was themed to the Lion King, and had live actors mixed in with poorly made animatronics and creepy looking stuffed animals telling the story. The line was very long for this Pirate Adventure (and they were running only one, maybe two boats); but considering the themeing overhauls other rides in Star City have gotten over the past few years, it's entirely possible that this ride could have improved to a few "distant" steps below Pirates of the Caribbean

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These inflated "Water Balls" actually popped a number of times throughout the Philippines.

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It's one of the most pointless attractions, but I can't help but feel that I would find a lot of amusement if it were me in that ball.

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Also really common are bumper boats. I didn't ride this time around, but these were some of the higher quality bumper boats we found in the Philippines where manueverablility was still somewhat possible.

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"Jumping Star," and indoor MoseRides drop tower.

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Star City had a number of walkthrough attractions. This one, simply titled "Dungeon" contained some hydraulically activated jump scares before a few scare actors appear at the end to chase the crowd out. At one point during our visit, a fight broke out over someone trying to pick pocket a camera from another guest.

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Telecombat is a classic ride. So classic in fact that a bunch of the rides' mechanics no longer work.

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This is actually one of the few rides I remember being at the park when I visited at the mentally developed age of 4. Back then, every single car had the ability to go up and down when they pleased, and every car had a wheel that would spin the car.

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Today, the height of the car is determined by the ride instead of the rider, and only a few cars can spin manually.

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I was one of the lucky ones who got a car with a working spin control, and the nine-year old son of a family friend riding with me knew just how to spin it to make it whip really fast.

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There are some familiar looking spacecrafts up there.

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The Ferris wheel was also new for me. From what I have read about it, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in the Philippines, and the tallest ride in the park. Each gondola is air-conditioned. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we could ride it (and the others in my group find Ferris wheels to be boring).

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This area is filled with nothing but games, but it still has a magical forest theme to it.

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With lines for everything being too long and Star Flyer remaining closed, we let my nine-year old buddy start picking what rides we ride (since the smaller rides had shorter lines). He was hesitant at first, but eventually worked up the courage to pick Dragon Express to ride next.

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We wound up getting the front seat, and he absolutely loved it. He may just become a coaster enthusiast one day :)

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Once again, this is a Wacky Worm.

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We were about to ride Happy Swing next, but our little event planner suddenly found it to be too tame after tackling Dragon Express.

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Another walkthrough. This one tells Disney's tale of Peter Pan, sort of. It starts out telling the story, even having a narrow bridge pass over a miniature model of London as you head to the second star to the right, but then it divulges into a bunch of statues of the characters in trippy looking showrooms. Most of the characters' paint was faded and some had pieces of their figure missing.

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And one more look at Star Flyer. Despite employees saying that it could possibly open later that night, we never even saw maintenance work on it. Oh well, so much for getting this credit during this trip ..... or will I? (foreshadowing)


So that was Star City. It is unlike any park I've visited and further from an American-style park I've ever been to, but I love the attitude they have that no ride is too small or too crappy that they can't give it it's own special themeing. It was a little hard to fully enjoy what the park had to offer with how crowded it was, but it's not the park's fault we could only visit on a weekend. Having Star Flyer down was a bummer, but being a former ride operator I know that no ride is 100% problem free. But I had a fun day because my friends managed to have a fun day. This is one of the most unique parks I've ever been to, and perhaps I'll be returning sooner than I think? ;)

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Stay tuned for more Filipino parks and MUCH better looking pictures. I promise!
Last edited by VinTheAttendant on Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:52 pm.
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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby WFChris » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:48 pm

Great start and an enjoyable read! Thanks for posting!
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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby VinTheAttendant » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:11 pm

^Thanks for the reply, man! =)

Part 2: Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Philippines

Unlike Star City, Enchanted Kingdom has a much more "traditional American amusement park" feel to it. Nearly everything is in English from rider information signs, to menus, to ride attendants saying safety spiels. Wikipedia even says that Disney and Universal are the main influences for the park layout. I'd say that probably the least American aspect of the park is the entry price; which, excluding the small parking fee, maxes out at 600 pesos (US$ 13.33). Even though it houses the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the Philippines, Enchanted Kingdom is a relatively small park, and there has not been a coaster added since opening day. But I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the park was, considering how many times I have heard that it is a place for children.

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Enchanted Kingdom is approximately an hour south of Star City and the Metro Manilla area. At least, it's an hour if you're lucky and don't run into any traffic. Driving in the Philippines is not for the faint of heart.

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I was very excited to see that there was a Larson/ARM drop tower here. These are probably the shortest drop tower rides on the planet that still scare the crap out of me.

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My last visit to Enchanted Kingdom was in 1997, and there were a few things here and there that I remembered. But it felt like I was visiting the park for the first time upon entry, so there were plenty of surprises to come.

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The Ferris wheel is one of many rides that opened with Enchanted Kingdom in 1995, and it still is the tallest ride in the park.

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There were a lot of people out front, but the park still managed to remain empty for a good portion of the day.

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And now that we're in the park, and I've established myself as the whitest person here, the fun can begin.

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This is the first thing you see when you get into the park. I remember being completely blown away at the sight of this. I love the Philippines, but it does not exactly have the greatest looks in many rural and urban places. And this gave a better first impression than what a lot of American parks have to offer.

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This park also gets the award for most unique park maps. They come shaped like wizard hats...

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And then fold out into a circle displaying everything.

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"I have the strangest feeling that someone is watching me."

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The Ferris wheel is right in the middle of the park, meaning it is visible just about anywhere you go.

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The date is January 2nd, 2014, and Christmas decorations are still up, and Christmas songs were being played over the intercom all day. As I said before, Christmas is an extremely special time of year in the Philippines, and there is never any of the dumb drama America likes to spin on the holiday.

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Our first ride of the day and first ride of the new year.

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The group I was in saw that there was no line for the Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D ride, so we decided to give it a go (plus, it had air conditioning).

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The queue area had posters lining up ever single wall of the shows/rides the theater had featured. From what I had heard, they cycle through these shows every few weeks, giving a different experience over time.

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The actual show was a bit of a let down, though. All it did was show clips from the movie while moving the seats around to it. I was sort of expecting an original picture to accompany the ride. However, if you remember the pterodactyl chase scene from the movie (for those of you who saw it), that part was included in the ride and was actually very enjoyable.

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The midways looked really good. I kept forgetting that I was still in the Philippines.

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And there it is, the tallest, fastest, most inversion-packed coaster in the whole country.....it's a Vekoma Boomerang.

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This is Space Shuttle, and it would be my very first coaster of 2014 (and the second year in a row I start off a year with a Boomerang style coaster).

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On the plus side, this is one of the lucky Boomerang coaster to be retrofitted with the brand new Vekoma trains.

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I had ridden Carolina Cobra a few months before; and while I kind of liked the new trains, it still gave me a rather uncomfortable ride, so I was not expecting a pleasant ride.

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To my surprise, not only did the restraints feel more comfortable here than on Cobra, but this was probably also the smoothest ride I had ever had on a Boomerang.

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Aside from one quick snap going backward into the cobra roll, there was no headbanging effect anywhere in the ride. My cousin who was with me said that the old trains had beat him up on his last visit, but the ride was much better this time around.

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Who would have thought that I would have to travel halfway around the world to get a ride on what is now my favorite standard Boomerang coaster.

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And in the spirit of TPR, I've got to ask: Is that a real space shuttle?

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One more look at the sign.

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Behind Space Shuttle were a couple of tracks. One was for go karts, and the other was for Segways that looked like it used to be for go karts.

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I'm not quite sure I understand why there were giant bugs on the Segway track. Maybe they eat the tourists?

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See what I mean with how nice the park looks? Who puts this much effort into the facade of a bathroom?

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I said before that the price of admission was the least American aspect of the park, but there were also popular Filipino cuisines offered amidst traditional amusement park food.

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It was pretty darn hot this day (and record low temperatures were being reported back at home), so the log flume was certainly welcome.

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It's not pictured here, but there is a very nice course leading up to the big drop.

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The splashdown does not get you very wet, but don't worry, there's a curtain of water at the end of the ride to make sure you don't walk off dry.

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Entrance shot.

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You see that silver disk? That's actually a wheel that you can use to spin the gondola. You can't achieve crazy tea cup speeds, but you can definitely get your car to spin at speeds uncomfortable at 130 feet in the air.

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And there's the one and only Filipino Boomerang for you!

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Along with the new trains, the ride got a new paint job as well. The track used to be black.

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I actually really like Boomerang coasters, and will always try to ride one if a park offers it. It's just a shame that most of them ride awfully.

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Fun fact about me: Space Shuttle was actually the very first Boomerang I laid eyes upon. I still remember vividly looking up at Space Shuttle at the age of 5 and thinking that it was the scariest looking roller coaster in the world. So you can probably imagine how surprised I was when my home park (Riverside being Six Flags branded) got the exact same model coaster three years later.

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From the top of the wheel, you can just barely make out Metro Manilla.

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There is the park's other roller coaster, a standard Vekoma roller skater. There really aren't that many custom coasters in the Philippines.

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I remember this swinging ship. When I was five years old, I was so scared of this ride that I forced my family to sit in the middle row. My older sister was not too happy about that.

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The park really isn't that big. But for a park it's size, they managed to put in a lot of charm and a lot of fun things to do.

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Swan boats, you don't see many of those around nowadays.

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Not quite sure why I took this picture, but yeah, the path changes from green to blue.

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Always good to see parks adding Diskos to their lineup.

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In the distance is Mount Banahaw, an active volcano.

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Another look at the log flume.

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And the park's river rapids ride.

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Surprise, more bumper boats.

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After the Ferris wheel, we went on the pirate ship. To make up for not getting on the end 17 years ago, we grabbed the very first row this time around. Needless to say, it was much more fun than the swinging ship at Star City.

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Boobs.

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We were going to ride the Bumper Boats, but they require you to wear life jackets, and that made the line go very slowly.

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It was pretty cool that the boats came equipped with water guns though.

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Um.....'kay.

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No, those arches are not Intamin track, but the park does have a Roller Skater.

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Just like in Star City, there was a surprising amount of adults on the kiddie coaster, and screaming like it were one of the big rides. In fact, seeing kids on the ride was almost rare.

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By this time, the lines for all the rides were beginning to get very long, but the ride crews actually do a very good job here at loading and unloading.

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Overall, Roller Skater was fun, but I wouldn't wait in a 20 minute line for it again.

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Meet Eldar, the wizard mascot for Enchanted Kingdom. I'm a sucker for parks that come up with their own unique mascot, and Enchanted Kingdom loves him enough to have statues of him, plush dolls, many souvenir items with him, and t-shirts. He isn't just an image for the park, he's a much cherished emblem.

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Oh boy...I find Larson/ARM towers to be the scariest drop rides there is. S&S aren't that scary, and Intamin at least stops before letting you fall; but these guys torment you by giving zero warning as to when you'll plummet.

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From what I have heard, a Condor ride used to occupy this space. While I do like Condors, I think this scary-genius contraption was just the thrill this park needed.

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I think my face and the face of the girl next to me perfectly capture just how sinister these rides are.

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I don't think I have ever seen pool as a midway game before.

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The rapids ride looked very nice, and from the look of the boats, it looked like a Hopkins rapid. However, like most rapid rides I find myself on, it really is a gamble as to how wet you will get. I wound up getting thoroughly drenched.

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Earlier in the day, Space Shuttle was a one-train wait. We planned on riding it again, but the line had expanded to about 45 minutes.

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So here's what is crazy about the Disko here: as the ride cycles, it is accompanied by an original theme song for Enchanted Kingdom. It was even cornier that it was a disco song. Yes, it's cheesy, but I honestly wish that more parks would go out of their way to put some creativity on their attractions.

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Unfortunately, the line was way too long for us to get on, and we had to head out earlier due to big plans for the next day.

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I decided to snap a few pictures of the kids' areas before heading out, though. It's not the nicest I've seen, but there is still plenty for the children to enjoy.

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Even the kids get their own bumper boats.

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Maybe one day, the little ones who ride this frogger will grow up to brave the bigger drop tower.

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Bumper cars, an amusement park essential, even in the Philippines.

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My only gripe of the day was that I was unable to ride the carousel. I've recently developed a soft spot for classic carousels; and while this one was only 19 years old, it still looked like a beauty.

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I realize now how stupid I look in this picture for blocking the "to" and how it could have been remedied by taking two steps to my right.


So to the people who told me that this place was for children, they need to go Enchanted Kingdom and actually enjoy the park before giving an opinion on it. I had such a blast here, and was hardly expecting to have this much fun. The park was extremely clean to the point where it would feel like a sin to litter. The ride staff didn't act like some of the happy employees you hope to come across at most parks, but they were very efficient and got their jobs done perfectly. All the rides were operating, and there was never any downtime for any attraction. And as I've said before, the park just looks extremely nice. I think the only way I could be more happy with the park is if they were to get another big attraction, but as it is, it's still a great place to spend a day. I hope to revisit the park one day, and I hope I can have just as good a day, or even a better one when that day comes.

Hope you're enjoying these pictures, and feel free to comment. :)

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Thank you for sticking around, things are going to get bigger in the next update.
Last edited by VinTheAttendant on Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:38 pm.
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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby larrygator » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:51 pm

I love adding PTRs like this to the Park Index. Thanks for sharing
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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby Nrthwnd » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:05 pm

And in the spirit of TPR, I've got to ask: Is that a real space shuttle?


Chris will appreciate that from you. :wink:
Great TR! Thanks for sharing it all.
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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby VinTheAttendant » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:22 pm

larrygator wrote:I love adding PTRs like this to the Park Index. Thanks for sharing


Great to hear! Glad I could be of help. Thanks for reading :)
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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby screaminkid2005 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:52 am

Loving the reports so far! Great Job! =)

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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby cfc » Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:54 am

Thanks for the photos--we don't get too many reports from that part of the world.
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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby GrapesLie » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:58 am

AWESOME! I love seeing smaller parks! Now if they would just add a Intamin megalite! :p

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Re: Vince's Trips Abroad and Home

Postby mike541x » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:43 am

Awesome TR. I visited the Philippines when I was eight (I have family in Manila and Bacolod), and I remember seeing Enchanted Kingdom but it was closed. Looks like a great park, and I think it could use another decent coaster. I'll have to stop by next time I visit my family.

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