Sunday, 28 July 2013

Knight Valley

A drive east out of Shenzhen towards some pretty major ports brings you to OCT East, a large resort and residential complex. OCT seem to be an organisation that play Sim City for real. They take huge plots of land and build towns on them, not just parks. All of the Happy Valley parks in China are built by these guys as are the housing around them. It's an interesting business model that allows you playing god. 

Knight Valley could have been a Happy Valley park however for some unknown reason they chose to go with the Knight moniker instead. Perhaps it was too close to Happy Valley Shenzhen to have another. Bjorn, Steve, get out of the way :)

The complex has a large number of gardens. In fact being located in a Valley abundant in greenery it made sense to make some use of the nature. 

Romantic World is another of those photo opportunity places for young couples.

As will become clear the park is built on a very steep slope so you definitely need to bring your climbing legs here. To break up the monotony of the ascent there are plenty of things to see.

There's a nice area showing off the construction of the park. I wish parks would do this more often.

A slightly more authentic phone box.

This area is full of gift shops (selling tat mostly), eating places, and cool bronze statues.

Some construction of a new giant splash ride is underway here.

For those with only Western tastes the park has a Pizza Hut although it could be easily overlooked.

Continuing the ascent in the heat, some people were actually considering dropping out, which is insane considering what was up the mountain...There were these painted fellows for a start.

Aside from the amazing view of the Eye of Sauron there were also a number of attractions up the mountain.

Yes! The parks stunt show. This was what I had come for.

Actually, not true. It was the imaginatively named "Wood Coaster" was the reason we had come to the park.

The queue line contains some background text on the rollercoaster business. It was a good attempt but not perfect e.g. a section on Megalites contained a picture of Megafobia in Wales. It's as if they just did some quick searches on Google for the material and didn't check it.

Opened in 2011, the coaster built by Great Coasters International is currently the only one by them in China. Their rides in the US include Gwazi and Apocalypse at Magic Mountain. In Europe they did Troy at Toverland and El Toro at Plohn. 

So, how was the ride? It had an amazing location, ran really well but the experience for me was let down by poor operations. Even queueing we were getting stories that people in our group ahead were being disallowed to ride due to reasons of age, height and weight and there was some arguing going on between organisers and operators in the station to get people on the ride. Whilst I had no issue getting on I was then hit with the no glasses rule, which as at Ocean Park I abided with. But as the train left the station I wasn't in a frame of mind to enjoy the coaster.

So after one go I decided to head off elsewhere. I should say that after a few rides the silly rules were dropped and the group were able to spend quite a bit of time enjoying the coaster, but by then I had gone.

Beneath the wooden coaster is a bobkart ride, and I believe this one to be longest (subsequent investigations have shown it to be the second; the outer track at Nagashima Spaland in Japan is a bit longer)

Looking up the mountain showed a number of observation platforms and a funicular railway that we'd been told was down for maintenance. A shame as it looked pretty decent!

The netted area was the park's animal enclosure.

Which contained a varied selection of reptiles, birds and dinosaurs.

Yep, dinosaurs. Celia, I don't think they were real dinosaurs.

Some of the birds eg geese aren't exactly exotic to those of us in the west. Are they rare here?

Beneath the animals is a small childrens park, similar to those seen in the cities on previous days. As ever the obligatory disk-o loomed large over most.

A rather crappy photo of the bobkart station, as I was on my own at this point. Bobkarts are great and for those that have never ridden them they're basically toboggans powered by electricity. You sit in them and push levers forward to make the car accelerate. On board software slows you down should you get too close to the car in front. Here at Knight's Valley they were enforcing a 2 persons per car rule so I had to ride with some random Chinese guy.

Noticing the time I headed over to the stunt show just before it started. It was a knock-off of other stunt shows such as Universal's Waterworld and Movieland's Rambo (although no "Bastardo" cry here). The cliched story of a stuntwoman being kidnapped by some funny stuntmen and one stuntman on fire being rescued by a stuntman was used here. But to mix it up a little they also included some teleporting bad guys and one guy on a motorbike.

The star of the show however was the deluge of water that poured down the mountain set when the gods got angry. It just kept coming and coming leading me to conclude that the mountain behind the set was one large water tank. There was simply no other explanation. The conclusion to the performance featuring a dummy switch was pretty funny too.

Having had our water stunt show fix we then went to try out another water attraction. This started out as a jellyfish walkthrough before entering a 360, 3D, cinema show which was pretty rubbish as the screen was too cloudy to see properly.

Done with the park for now it was time to head up the mountain for the view. With the funicular down the other means up is a cable car.

There's the wooden coaster looking rather good on the hillside. I wonder what logistical and construction challenges GCI faced in getting the structure up the hill.

This is some weird settlement built beneath the cable car.I tried to get the camera to zoom in as far as I could to figure out what it might be.

Spotted these guys, they didn't seem too friendly so I decided to give it a miss. 

As we approached the top the view was pretty cool. 

In the distance another large hilltop Buddha, which can be reached via a second railway.

The coaster again and behind it the water ride construction site.

There are a couple of booster rides atop the mountain which must offer an amazing view, however with a 75kg weight limit being enforced with weighing scales, and me lacking the desire to lose some limbs to reach the weight I had to let it pass.

From the top we could see the funicular running so that's where were headed next.

As if the view from the top wasn't enough the park have kindly put an observation tower up there.

and a horseshoe walkway similar to the one that goes out over the Grand Canyon.

On special occasions and if you time it right you get a close up view of Chris from the walkway.

Looking back down towards the Sauron tower. The entrance to the park is just to the right of the blue building on the left. That's the indoor waterpark. 

The park does have a number of escalators making the climb easier, however they're not everywhere and quite a few of them were down for maintenance. So if you're contemplating visiting the park and have bad knees and a hate of hot weather then you may want to rethink this.

Some views from the observation tower. Up here there's a large hotel complex and they've even managed to fit a golf course up here. 

Having reached the literal high it was time to start the descent.

A small Mayan area marks the mid-station for the funiculars. One runs down to the childrens park and the other out to the Buddha. 

The funicular was open and Chris makes an impromptu front seat, but knows that this does not count as a coaster. 

The funicular ride was quite steep and pretty cool, I preferred it to the cable car.

Time to relax in the kids area.

More randomly painted models.

The parrot gets a close up view of the humans enclosure.

With more of us at the bobkart station this time we were able to pair up and I was able to enjoy a second go without a random Chinese guy on my lap.

That's a rather cool looking water ride which wasn't running today, in fact I don't know of anyone who has gotten to ride it making me think its design wasn't fully thought through. I also think the fact they're building a new water ride indicates that this one doesn't have much of a future. With some of the mountain facade removed and a huge black trail visible I'm wondering if there was a fire here.

Translation error of the day.

Marcus decides to try to get a drink from the pitch drop experiment that the park has been running. He was never seen again and is probably still waiting for it to drop.

Making the final descent down the mountain past their outdated Happy New Year sign, a tired looking group was already waiting for the coach back to the hotel. 

This park is a test to conquer and I'd only recommend it if you were really really really wanting to ride the wooden coaster. In hindsight I didn't ride that much today but took the opportunity to enjoy the views, which is a bigger draw for me than the rides.

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