Alexander: It’s time for us to spread our wings and travel beyond the immediate Shanghai metro and deeper into the Yangtze Delta megaopolis, (namely the Jiangsu province, which is home to the next several parks on our tour).
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Today we’ve traveled to Changzhou to visit (World) Joyland, a park famous for exactly 3 things: its unauthorized use of Blizzard Entertainment themes (particularly the World of Warcraft and Starcraft series), its unapologetic carbon-copying of scenic elements from Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and its apeshit B&M Flyer.
First impressions were nice, as they often are in Chinese parks. Behind Sean is the onsite resort hotel.
The signature Islands of Adventure elements are quick to manifest themselves.
Opening ceremony time!
It was nice of the park to put on such a great show for the 2 dozen-odd people here.
For you Warcraft/Starcraft fans out there, I’m sure there’s more to appreciate (for lack of a better word) than I can recognize as a non-gamer.
But as Orlando residents, we are quick to find the rip-off-Islands-of-Adventure reputation ring true.
Does that building remind anyone else of the Caro-Suess-Sel? More on that later.
Suess Landing, Toon Lagoon, and Marvel Superhero Island are the biggest casualties at Joyland. For example, memorable water features from Toon Lagoon, for example, can find themselves unceremoniously reconstructed here.
The Starcraft area of the park is also the Marvel Superhero Island area, complete with larger-than-life comic character cutouts and a signature B&M.
Starry Sky Ripper (also known as Sky Scrapper, because the ride needs two distinct names for some reason) was testing shortly after our arrival. With about a half hour to kill before its scheduled opening, we took some pictures of the initial dispatches.
It just wouldn’t be Marvel Starcraft Island without loose article nets and character stencils glued to steel buildings.
To be fair, there are moments of our Joyland visit that don’t feel 100% usurped from some other entity.
Dragon Roaring Heaven, a Golden Horse knock-off of Vekoma’s standard model mine train, feels fairly unique given the circumstances.
The ride’s influences are muddled enough that the attraction winds up feeling like a Joyland original. And it’s a fun coaster, too!
We promise to never complain about Toon Lagoon ever again.
It’s almost time for Starry Sky Ripper/Sky Scrapper to open!
Here Sean illustrates the park’s detailed marquee for the shorter ride name (the longer, cooler name is on the sign that guests pass under for queuing).
We were the first to enter the queue for the flyer.
There weren’t many behind us, however, so we took our time to take glamour shots of the ride.
Though Joyland struggled to fill trains on our visit, we enjoyed two rides on Sky.
Along with Tatsu and Flying Dinosaur, Starry Sky Ripper/Sky Scrapper is regarded among the highest pedigree for flying coasters.
We enjoyed our rides, but the forces on the vertical loop nearly killed us – it’s no longer lost on us why most parks opt for the pretzel loop over the brain-popping, double G-force pulverization of the unassuming vertical loop. Other elements, such as the initial horseshoe turn, 540º zero-G roll, and double corkscrew can be found in better form on other flyers (Tatsu, Flying Dinosaur, and Batwing, respectively), but are nevertheless strong moments for Sky.
Sean would have to delay his first ride on a Maurer Sky Loop – Joyland’s Clouds of Fairlyland imposes a strict 190cm heigh cap, above which we both handily find ourselves. Womp womp.
By this point is 11:30am and we’re already eager to move on to our next park, Dinosaurland (formerly China Dinosaurs Park). We decided to complete our walk-thru of Joyland and make our way into the city center.
But first, let’s not forget this unmistakable nightmare edition of Seuss Landing.
Joyland’s rendition of the High-in-the-Sky Suess Trolley Tram Ride is eerily convincing.
Alright, that’s enough of that.
Alright Sean, say goodbye to Creepy Thomas and Transformer Cutout.
Joyland was a success! Glad we went, but probably don’t need to come back any time soon.
Our tour of the Yangtze River Delta’s major theme parks is just getting started! China’s got so much more to offer! Check out these recent China reports and podcasts: