NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Taiwanese people seem obsessed with everything that’s cute. I see colourful mascots on China Airlines’ Airbus A350, on the headrests of almost every train and on many billboards in Taipei’s nightlife district. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that theme parks like to make use of these cuties as well. I notice this at E-DA Theme Park, the first Taiwanese amusement park I visit. The park’s mascot is a light blue rhino that apparently likes to dress himself in kitschy costumes. Have you always dreamed of seeing a cute rhino blowing bubbles or would you rather see him as a slightly gay sailor? Then E-DA World is your place to be.
Most Europeans and Americans probably don’t know E-DA World, but it’s popular destination for Taiwanese people. They stay at the luxurious E-DA Royal Hotel, they go to the movies at the E-DA Cinema, they enjoy a show at the E-DA Royal Theater and they spend their dollars at the E-DA Outlet Mall. This huge shopping centre is the heart of the resort and it connects all other parts. As if that wasn’t enough, a giant Ferris wheel was placed on top of the mall. E-DA World actually feels like a Taiwanese version of Lotte World in South Korea. It’s an entertainment hub that caters to a very broad audience. The main reason for our visit isn’t the mall or the cinema, but E-DA Theme Park.
Theme parks like to invent records and unique features. The king of this discipline is Phantasialand: this German amusement park features the launched roller coaster with the most intersections and the longest Junior Boomerang in the world. But there are more parks that unnecessarily magnify meaningless details. E-DA Theme Park, for example, defines itself as the only Greek Aegean Sea styled theme park in Taiwan. That isn’t a lie, but I don’t consider it as a huge achievement either. I must admit, however, that the theming is surprisingly good. The visual eye-catchers of this Greek park are a Santorini-like landscape, an impressive Trojan Horse and the colossal Trojan Castle at the back of the park.
It is already 1.30 PM when we enter E-DA Theme Park. That means that we’re able to enjoy a special admission price for late arrivals – it only costs 19 euros to get in – but this also means that our time is limited. A coaster bingo is our ultimate goal and we only have three and a half hours to achieve it. Despite the large attendance of school groups, there’s no need to worry. The park feels rather empty and there are hardly any queues. The only exception is our first ride, which has a wait of approximately 30 minutes. But hey, that’s not too bad for my first Taiwanese roller coaster, is it?
That first roller coaster is called Roof Junior Coaster, which is a pretty logical name. It is indeed a junior coaster (built by the Italian manufacturer Fabbri, to be precise) and it was indeed placed on the roof of the Trojan Castle. We take the escalator to the 4th floor and we join the queue, where we suddenly seem to be the main attraction of the park. Almost all Taiwanese school boys and girls seem to be surprised by the presence of these two western visitors. Even the operator is clearly impressed and he calls us two very handsome men before pressing the start button. It’s a kind of amusing experience and, oddly enough, the actual ride is also great. This comes unexpected: Roof Junior Coaster is a standard spinning wild mouse like the Kung Fu Panda ride at Gardaland. And those coasters just aren’t that special. However, our vehicle starts to rotate so fast that I get completely disoriented. The result is a hilarious ride that I’ll probably never forget.
If you’ve ever dated someone, you may know this: things that look good from the outside aren’t necessarily beautiful on the inside. The same can be told about the Trojan Castle. Despite its impressive exterior, the interior just isn’t that interesting. The huge building is filled with standard kiddie attractions. Those flying bicycles, the fire brigade ride and the crazy bus are fun for children, but they could use some extra theming.
Fortunately, there are a few exceptions. One of these exceptions is called Feeling Taiwan. This is a Flying Theater in which we discover the most beautiful places in Taiwan. It’s some kind of miniature version of the well-known Soarin’ attraction. The ride consists of three air gliders for five passengers, which results in a rather low capacity. That’s not an issue today, but you may encounter long queues during busier times. Is the ride worth it? I should say yes. The quality isn’t as high as it is at Disney or Europa-Park, but the film is entertaining. I recognize Lotus Pond, skyscraper Taipei 101 and the mighty Taroko National Park, 3 of the most beautiful sights we visit during this trip. And of course, the ride ends with fireworks above E-DA World. I wonder where they got that idea.
Another surprising attraction in the indoor section is called Dark Ride. Logically, you’d expect… well, a dark ride. But in fact, this is a Junior Coaster built by Vekoma. It seems as if E-DA World got inspired by Disney once again, because some decoration elements look like they’re based on Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea. It’s obviously nonsense to compare a Taiwanese family roller coaster with one of the best Disney rides ever, but Dark Ride is nevertheless an excellent experience. It’s a smooth coaster, it’s quite long and they added some nice lighting effects. Although I definitely don’t want to call it the world’s best indoor roller coaster, Dark Ride exceeded all my expectations. Don’t miss it.
The E-DA Fun Zone (the indoor part of the park) mainly consists of brightly coloured kiddie rides. Yet, things suddenly get a lot darker in the basement. On floor -1, you’ll find quite a few creepy-looking VR rides. Are these attraction as surprising as Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park? I really hope so, but I’m not able to confirm it. Employees warn us for the long queues and our interest in virtual reality is limited anyway.
Although a large part of the park is indoors, the biggest rides can be found in the outdoor section of E-DA Theme Park. And I don’t know if that’s a coincidence, but quite a few outdoor rides feature boats. Boats in all shapes and sizes, actually. You can ride a classic swinging ship…
… or water lovers may prefer a ride on the Splash Battle.
Despite hot weather, I’m not really interested in riding a soaking Splash Battle. And travelling all the way to Taiwan for a dumb swinging ship… didn’t think so. However, another attraction with boats is definitely a must-do to me. I’m talking about Flume Ride, a 30-metre tall Shoot-the-Chutes. It’s one of the top attractions at E-DA World and those school groups seem to love it. Thanks to a vague coaster part between its two lift hills, Flume Ride is actually considered a roller coaster by Coaster-Count. I admit that I usually skip these kinds of soaking rides, but the fact that it’s a roller coaster changed my mind. So just like almost every Taiwanese, I purchase a plastic poncho and I surrender to the tidal wave.
Flume Ride towers high above the park, but unfortunately it’s hardly visible. The coaster part is located on top of a roof, the splash zone is tucked away and even the 3-headed monster (a striking theming element right next to the track) can hardly be captured in a photo. That’s a shame, but how does the actual ride perform? As expected, it’s fairly basic. The coaster section is worthless and it all revolves around that one final splash. That splash is very impressive, though. I’m hidden under a large plastic bag, but I feel the water pouring down on me for seconds. That 30 TWD poncho was undoubtedly the best purchase I made today.
From the best purchase to today’s biggest disappointment. Imagine Taron being out of order during your visit to Phantasialand. Or imagine TRON getting its annual maintenance when you travel to Shanghai Disneyland. The fact that Big Air remains closed today feels very similar. Big Air is the current name of the roller coaster type that once became legendary as the Vekoma Hammerhead Stall. Several parks – including Six Flags Holland – showed their interest in this impressive shuttle coaster, but in the end most plans were cancelled. In 2010, however, E-DA Theme Park built the first (and currently only) version in the world.
A Big Air is actually a half pipe, just like RC Racer at several Disney parks. Nevertheless, the track is considerably taller at 64 metres and the vehicles are also designed to rotate. Unfortunately, that unique gimmick isn’t used anymore, so Big Air has actually become a huge swinging ship. Or at least… that’s what I’m trying to tell myself when I’m staring at this motionless ride today. Missing an amusement park’s top attraction isn’t fun and it certainly isn’t when you’re talking about a Hammerhead Stall. Painful.
Just like most amusement parks, E-DA Theme Park celebrates Halloween in October. There are cute pumpkins and banners scattered throughout the park, while a small-scale Halloween show takes place on the open-air stage. Another way to taste the Halloween vibe is by visiting Ship of Souls, a walk-through in a creepy pirate ship. There are no live actors, which is a bit of a shame. Still, the atmosphere is great and the park integrated some elaborate scare effects. The use of live actors actually doesn’t seem necessary at all: the teenage girls in front of us are already screaming like little babies while experiencing Ship of Souls. Surprisingly good haunted house, if you ask me.
The most striking flat ride at E-DA Theme Park is a 60-metre tall Booster, just like the ones you see at European funfairs. I once tried a similar ride in Antwerp and the only thing I can say is: never again. This means that we’re about to say goodbye to E-DA World. An extra ride on that soaking Flume Ride isn’t necessary and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Big Air will open any time soon. I admit that it was a bummer to find out that this legendary coaster would remain closed during our visit. Big Air is the only major coaster at E-DA World and it’s a shame that we didn’t get a coaster bingo here. Yet, I don’t regret the fact that we visited E-DA Theme Park. The park is surprisingly well themed and that celebrity experience at the Roof Junior Coaster was funny.
Will I ever come back to E-DA Theme Park? I’d love to, but only if I get a guarantee that Big Air will be open or after the addition of a large new roller coaster. Do I regret the fact that we chose E-DA World over a visit to Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village? Maybe a little. I would’ve loved to see the almost exact replica of Atlantica SuperSplash and the highly themed SLC at this park near Sun Moon Lake. On the other hand: according to weather forecasts, we would have visited Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village in the pouring rain, while we enjoyed a nice and warm afternoon here at E-DA World. That’s why I prefer not to think about the things we’ve missed, but rather about the things we’re about to see during the following days. We will be travelling to Janfusun Fancyworld (the only Taiwanese amusement park with B&Ms) and Discovery World (the park that became world-famous thanks to its Tilt Coaster) before heading to the lively capital that’s called Taipei. So goodbye, cute rhino and your colourful friends…
… and I hope to see you again soon in my next trip report. To be continued!