Tuesday, 30 July 2013

China Dinosaur Park

Changzhou Dinosaur Park is a park that I'm extremely fond of as it was one of the largest parks I located as part of my Google Earth mapping project and it was added at short notice to my trip in 2010. We only spent a half day at the park but I fell in love with its theming, and I couldn't wait to get back.

However it quickly became apparent that the place had become a lot more popular since the last visit with a ridiculous crowd waiting at the entrance.

The new ride at the park was the third global installation of the S&S 4D coaster which is a ride where the seats sit to the side of the track and rotate offering forward, rear facing, and flying positions throughout its length. Most enthusiasts will have ridden the first installation at Magic Mountain in California. A smaller number would have done the one at Fuji Q in Japan. However I'm confident that its this one that is the most elite, and not just because its a new ride.

The place started out as a dinosaur museum as a number of fossils were found in the area, and as more tourists visited they decided to invest more in the area and built a theme park around it. Dinosaur tourism is so prevalent here that there are plans to theme the entire city with dinosaurs.

At the entrance to the Dinoconda 4D ride, which was where everyone was headed, just not our group but everyone that had been gathering at the entrance headed over here. The huge steel structure is definitely a crowd draw and the public have done the right thing.

So how was the ride? fair to say it split the group but most of the criticism came from the way it was being run more than the ride itself. Yes, the throughput was atrocious and it took almost 2 hours of queuing in what would be the hottest day of the trip (peaked at 41 degrees supposedly) but I'd forgotten about that once the ride was underway. None of these ride installations have benefited from good throughput so why people thought this would be any different, I don't know. Any way, I'm a fan and I came off buzzing not moaning.

The majority of the group made their way to the spinning coaster next, and having already ridden it and not wanting to be in the company of people bitching about the 4D our little group skipped it and made our way to the indoor ride, which had been installed on our last visit but was not open.

The dinosaur theming here is top notch, and unique which is perhaps why I liked this park so much. Everywhere you looked there was some intricate little touches. The live actor dinosaur, similar to those seen in the dinosaur alive touring show, were new and a nice addition.

The partly enclosed off-axis top scan ride still drawing the crowds as it did last time. Having the ride swing so close to the walls must add to the thrill.

These baby dragons were cute as they walked and flapped their wings; your's for a small monetary investment.

Dinosaur Mountain is a pterodactyl-themed variant of the bike coaster with a nice little nod to Disney's Space Mountain for it's theme with the ride enclosed in darkness and the only scenery being a huge dinosaur skull that you fly through. A really nice ride with the only downside being that the queue was slow moving and a grating, if excellently animated, advert for the ride was playing on screens with the volume turned up high for the duration.

We almost escaped Dinosaur Mountain's gift shop without making a purchase, however the security guard wasn't too happy with us doing that.

They've let the plants grow wild in this area compared to my last trip.

More crazy theming. This park is soooooo cooool

At the rear of the park and overlooked by some of the group was the King Kong installation, which despite being a terrible ride is great to watch and has the best installation of the ride with custom animatronic velociraptors gatecrashing the ride.

With the heat getting more and more testing we escaped into the 4D cinema which showed an edited version of Journey 2, starring the Rock and Michael Caine. We didn't mind that was dubbed into Chinese, in fact it made us laugh - especially when the dubbed Rock was trying to get the others to escape a collapsing cavern basically a deep voiced Chinese man shouting "pow pow pow"

It's the little often overlooked touches that make an excellent theme park and if you're ever asking "why did they do that" then you're not getting what a theme park is about.

They even dress up their real elephants, even though some people didn't believe me :)

If a park's theming is so good that you could spend a day just taking photos and not riding anything then you know they're doing it right. There are only a handful of parks that I'd say that's true of (Disney Sea, Bon Bon Land, Islands of Adventure) and I'd add this to the list.

I took so many photos in this park, and still found it hard to discard some when not writing this page.

The wonderfully named "Lover Hamburger House" was where you could find most of the club members at lunch time. Me included on this occasion, and the burger was really nice here.

This park is forever expanding and the billboards here indicating the construction of a new themed area for the park with a focus on shopping and eating rather than any rides.

More great theming. Everywhere you look the dinosaurs were owning the park.

The park's Disk-O coaster doesn't have the usual motorcyclist theming but of course as more dinosaurs. The ride also has a bump in its centre which technically makes it a coaster, although most people don't count it as such. One strange observation was that the queue line area had been used as an arena from which people were sitting to watch the ride run.

That old city area is actually called "Kookasuka", which sounds a bit rude, and I hope this wasn't some westerner taking an opportunity to prank the non-english speakers by suggesting the name "cock sucker" for their park.

In the rear left area of the park behind the musuem there's a water park section, which was very busy but perhaps not a surprise given the temperature. Since my last visit they had removed the bobkart ride and installed more water slides.

Their water splash ride was pretty cool as it had a vertical lift hill, which I don't recall having come across before.

Just how hot was this park?

One of my favourite signs from this trip. "Do not coin".

With no time to ride the 5D ride due to the queue moving even slower than the 4D coaster, I spent the last 20 minutes or so getting some shots of the huge coaster. I really did like it, and I know that some of the group went back commenting that the queue was way better than in the morning. A tip perhaps that everyone goes here first so leave it and come back later in the day, or even better visit the park in the afternoon rather than being there for opening.

On both my trips here we were only here for half a day, and that's been my biggest criticism of my visits here: I've simply not had enough time to fully enjoy it. Even second time around when I skipped stuff I'd done before I still didn't manage to get around everything, and I've still to actually go and check out the museum.

I found some more theming outside of the park.

This is a plan of some future development for the complex. The plans look very audacious.

Canadian Dave finds a temporary lounge installation just outside the park in which to escape the heat.

Richard pulls off this season's Legionnaire look. It really was a hot day.

Jeff? Well he took on plenty of water then dreamt of .... well, lets not go there.

Easily one of the best theme parks in world, not just China and a park where my opinions haven't changed and I still love it. I know that it wasn't to everybody's liking, but that was more to the operations than the park itself. The thing with bad queues is that if you've got good friends around you and are having a laugh with them then you don't really notice and time flies. But if you're in a group where everyone is moaning, you'll never come away with a good impression. Having been in a shitty mood for a few days I knew I was going to enjoy this park, and having had a great time with the buggies in Happy Valley Wuhan and a fun train journey my spirits were lifted.


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