NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Let’s talk about Douliu. Douliu is a city with approximately 110,000 inhabitants, somewhere in the middle of Taiwan. I would be surprised if you’ve ever heard of it. And believe me: you’re not missing anything. Just take a look at the photo below…
… and you will realize that Douliu is a city that doesn’t evoke a feeling of joy. Our room at the Metro Hotel is fine (it even features a cool Japanese toilet) but there’s hardly anything to do for tourists in Douliu. In fact, locals stare at us like we’re animals that have broken loose from the zoo. So honestly, why the hell am I spending my precious vacation days here, while Taiwan is full of exciting destinations? The reason is Janfusun Fancyworld, an amusement park which lies about 12 kilometres from the city centre. We board the so-called Taisi Bus next to Douliu Station. This bus brings us to the park’s main entrance in just under 40 minutes.
During the past few days, I discovered that Taiwan isn’t expensive at all. That’s once again confirmed today. The bus ride from Douliu costs 50 Taiwanese dollars (1.50 euros) and we get an unexpected foreigner discount at the Janfusun Fancyworld box office. This means that we pay approximately 21 euros per person. That doesn’t seem a bad deal for an amusement park that offers 2 B&M roller coasters. It’s even a crazy good deal when you realize that those B&Ms will be running especially for us. Because, well… there aren’t many other visitors in sight right now.
Yes, that’s me in the previous picture. That’s Glenn who rides a B&M coaster on his own, for the first time ever. I could make some predictable jokes like ‘roller coaster ride with all my friends’, but let’s just continue to the serious business: how was that ride on Diving Machine G5? The answer is: cool, but just as predictable as the joke above. Dive Coasters are anything but unique these days, which makes the thrill of such a vertical descent a little less intense than it used to be. In my view, however, these are still excellent coasters. They’re short, but to the point. Diving Machine G5 (named after the G-forces it creates) also boasts a stunning location on a tropical mountain slope, which definitely adds to the excitement. By the way… attentive coaster enthusiasts will recognize the layout. This is a mirrored version of Alton Towers’ Oblivion. However, it features a considerably shorter tunnel and a happier colour scheme.
Janfusun Fancyworld is one of those cool amusement parks which has been built on hilly terrain. This provides stunning panoramas, but steep mountain slopes can be exhausting if you’re walking through the park. Fortunately, Fancyworld’s management installed a series of escalators which makes it a lot easier to navigate the park. And to emphasize the amusement in the word ‘amusement park’, you can even use a slide. Nice touch!
Did I just arrive at Plopsaland or Plopsa Coo? It looks like I did, because I suddenly discover the world of Vicky The Viking. This animated character fits perfectly in Taiwan’s cute-madness, but it’s kind of bizarre to see Vicky here. The Viking male lends his name to the central part of Janfusun Fancyworld, which also contains a significant water park. That water park is closed during this time of the year – who the hell would like to swim with temperatures of 31°C – but it looks pretty colourful and cosy.
The Viking-themed land contains some nice facades and a whole bunch of shiny plastic figures. Yet, it’s noticeable that the entire area was actually converted with a limited budget. And unfortunately, not much attention was paid to details. The park train is still called The Texan Train, the nearby restaurant has a pirate theme and the mirror maze Mirror Mirror looks like an old-fashioned disco. Amusing, but I don’t see the link with Vikings at all.
In the E-DA World report, I already told you that Taiwanese people have a preference for everything that looks cute and kawaii. Janfusun Fancyworld confirms this fact: the park is also filled with the cutest characters you could imagine. The mascots look like they belong in a cartoon…
… and at this restaurant, you may feel discouraged to order the beef.
Janfusun Kiddie Land is an indoor themed zone filled with playgrounds, a fun house and claw machines (these seem inevitable in Taiwan). If you’re searching for a little more excitement, you can also visit the 5D Adventure Cinema here. We take a seat on a movable bench, we put on VR glasses and we then experience a predictable story. We visit an island full of dinosaurs, the dinosaurs are attacking and the planet is suddenly destroyed. Simple, yet effective.
Dinosaurs are omnipresent in the amusement park business, but they rarely provide a roller coaster credit. Luckily, the nearby KuKu Coaster does. This is a super cute powered roller coaster manufactured by Zamperla. The station is located within Kiddie Land, but the rest of the curvy layout is in the open air. Although it’s not a crazy thrill, I want to recommend bracing yourself during the ride. One of KuKu Coaster’s curves is actually so brutal that it may cause minor bruises. So don’t judge this ride by its cute look; it may hurt to get this credit.
It’s our second amusement park day in Taiwan, but I’m already able to notice some typical things. They have adorable little characters everywhere and there also seems to be a national adoration for Ferris wheels. They prefer to make them as tall as possible and the colours must be bright. Unfortunately, dirty windows also seem inevitable. Both at E-DA World and at Janfusun Fancyworld, it’s therefore quite difficult to get nice views. But if we look closely, we can already see the tracks of our next roller coaster…
That next attraction is a B&M Floorless Coaster. It could use a fresh coat of paint, but its beautiful location makes up for that. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know the name of this ride. The Roller Coaster Database and Discovery Channel talk about Insane Speed, the park plan says Crazy Coaster and at the ride entrance, I read Floorless Coaster. Luckily, it’s mainly the ride experience that matters. And just like I’d expect it from Bolliger & Mabillard, that experience is excellent. It’s not the smoothest B&M, but it’s still a very enjoyable ride. The first drop is great, the track contains 4 good inversions and the curves are intense. In combination with the heat, Floorless Coaster even gives me a short greyout. Theming is nonexistent, but this coaster just doesn’t need it.
I’ve already seen uncrowded amusement parks, but I’ve never seen a place as quiet as Janfusun Fancyworld. It may look like I’ve taken most photos in a closed park, but that’s definitely not the case. On the one hand, this emptiness isn’t favourable for the overall atmosphere. On the other hand, I prefer too quiet over too busy. The low crowds even stimulate the dark atmosphere during our visit to Horror Train. This walk-through was inspired by the queue of Platform 13 (Walibi Holland) and it also seems to be recovering some scenes from Derren Brown’s Ghost Train (Thorpe Park). The result is a successful maze with surprisingly good theming, but a few creepy actors could’ve made it even better.
A visit to the Horror Train is more convincing if you’re alone. Attending a theatre show, however, is rather uncomfortable when the audience consists of approximately 20 people. We notice this in the Rainbow Theater, where we attend a variety show at 2 PM. Can I send a virtual compliment to the actors who work here? Despite the fact that they’re performing in front of an almost empty venue, their show exudes pure cheerfulness. This Eastern European crew combines dance, music and beautiful acrobatics. And seriously, I liked it a lot.
It’s almost time to say goodbye to Janfusun Fancyworld. I know… it’s still early. But with these crowds, such a medium-sized amusement park is simply not a full-day activity. The B&Ms are awesome, but I don’t necessarily need more than 3 rides. And do I really want to ride that KuKu Coaster again? No, thanks. Yet, the park surprised me in a very pleasant way. The location is beautiful, staff are incredibly friendly, the decoration is quite okay and the park is impeccably clean. However, Janfusun Fancyworld could use an extra eye-catcher. I miss an exciting family roller coaster, a water ride and a dark ride. These rides would make the park even more complete.
We leave Douliu, but our journey has just started. We’re spending the weekend in Taipei, the country’s bustling capital. But before we head to the far north, we make a brief stop at a theme park which can’t be missed during a trip to Taiwan. I’m talking about Discovery World, a leisure resort that has become world-famous thanks to one single roller coaster. We will visit the home of Gravity Max tomorrow. And believe me… that’s quite exciting. To be continued.