NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Welcome to this 6th and final report about my trip to Taiwan. Our journey is coming to an end and we’ll be on a plane to Europe tonight. Surprisingly, this last day will also be the busiest day of our trip. We woke up incredibly early and we won’t be visiting one, but two (!) theme parks today. After spending our morning at Window on China, we’re heading to Leofoo Village Theme Park in the afternoon.
Leofoo Village is described as the largest theme park in Taiwan. Although that sounds like promotional nonsense, I actually believe it’s true. There’s a huge driveway at the entrance of the resort and the parking area is huge. Luckily, crowds seem to be just as light as they were at other Taiwanese amusement parks. That’s not the only good news. As a foreigner, we get a 50% discount at the cash register. This results in an admission fee of barely 499 Taiwanese dollars, approximately 15 euros. Not bad.
Leofoo Village looks like a Disney Magic Kingdom… a lot. Open Google Maps and you’ll immediately understand what I’m talking about: the park is built according to the hub-and-spoke concept. There is a huge circular square in the centre, with the themed lands built around it. Even the fairy tale castle – the highlight of every classic Disney theme park – wasn’t forgotten. The centerpiece of Leofoo Village Theme Park is a Middle-Eastern palace that seems to belong in Agrabah. They even added an unsubtle reference to Disney’s Aladdin! And although that reference looks rather cheap, the palace itself is a beautiful eye-catcher.
Most Magic Kingdoms feature a Far West area left of the hub. Leofoo Village followed that example and welcomes us to The Wild West. Such a western village isn’t unique, but the park themed it very elaborately. The facades look beautiful, there are many details and the area is considerably bigger than I expected. One of the highlights in this area is Big Canyon Rapids Ride. This simulated cruise on the Colorado River is probably one of the world’s longest rapid rivers: it’s more than 740 metres long. Although theming looks pretty decent, we decide to skip this attraction. Today is a remarkably cooler day than the previous ones, so we don’t want to risk getting soaked. And now that I’ve watched an onride video on YouTube, I know that it was the right decision. The makers of that video got pretty wet.
The Wild West gives us a chance to get two new credits. The first one is called Little Rattler and it’s a Vekoma Junior Coaster. You may recognize this coaster model from Cedar Point or TusenFryd. These rides are standard and predictable, but they’re excellent attractions for the whole family. The first curves are quite intense and the lay-out isn’t bad at all. Leofoo Village added a mine train theme and a beautiful station.
Screaming Condor – the second roller coaster in this area – was also fitted with a beautiful station building. That station is half underground, which makes this Impulse Coaster even more interesting. You may recognize this roller coaster type from Dorney Park or Cedar Point, where they’re called Possessed and Wicked Twister respectively. This isn’t the best roller coaster type in the world, but it does provide an intense experience on a limited footprint. Unfortunately, we’re not able to experience Screaming Condor over and over today, as staff only dispatch 4 trains per hour. According to the information panels in the queue, this is done to prevent overheating. This doesn’t sound very realistic, but it’s not the only coaster in Taiwan which is operated under these conditions. Last week we discovered that Gravity Max had these terrible operations as well, which forced us to stand in line for two hours. Queues aren’t nearly as bad here at Leofoo Village (we can board the first departing train) but I guess wait times can be horrible during busier days.
Leofoo Village is easily the most Disney-like theme park in Taiwan. This is reflected in the layout of the park, but also in the themed areas. In fact, you can consider Leofoo Village as some kind of compact Walt Disney World Resort. The park has a castle (hello Magic Kingdom), its own hotel (hello Grand Floridian), a water park (hello Blizzard Beach) and a considerable part of the park was designed as a zoo (hello Animal Kingdom). That zoo section is called African Safari and we encounter a huge variety of animals here.
In the African zone, especially the Nairobi Express and the Carnivore Area Tour Bus are worth mentioning. With Nairobi Express, we take a 20-minute train ride through a simulated savannah. We spot rhinos, zebras and buffaloes along the way. The Carnivore Bus drives past Bengal tigers, black bears and other sweethearts. It’s not as well themed as Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but both rides are excellent for the families visiting Leofoo Village. These kinds of safari rides always make a zoo a bit more exciting, in my opinion.
Not only animal lovers should pay a visit to the African Safari: this is also a must-do for coaster lovers. The 3rd roller coaster at Leofoo Village is a spinning coaster named Sahara Twist. Admittedly, the ride looks a little dumb. There’s hardly any theming and it’s got a very small footprint. However, the actual experience is quite enjoyable. The vehicles are reminiscent of that of Höllenblitz, a German funfair roller coaster. And although it isn’t as intense as Höllenblitz, Sahara Twist definitely does some serious spinning. So don’t judge Sahara Twist by its size alone, because you may exit this ride a little dizzy.
Let’s continue at Arabian Kingdom, a crazy mix of Disney’s Adventureland and Fantasyland. This area can be found behind the walls of the Middle-Eastern palace I mentioned earlier. And honestly… it feels like I’m entering Arabian Coast at Tokyo DisneySea, because everything looks so incredibly beautiful. When it comes to theming and atmosphere, Leofoo Village is definitely one of the better theme parks in Asia.
Unfortunately, there isn’t only good news. No matter how fabulous Arabian Kingdom looks, there’s hardly anything to do. Only 3 of the area’s 7 attractions are operational today. And those operational rides aren’t that exceptional… I’m talking about a carousel, a 3D cinema and a vague laser game in which 4 teams compete against each other. Nick and I take our chance in that game called Anubis’ Judgment, but I think we missed some essential information due to the language barrier.
The closed attractions include a family monorail (with a dark ride section), a flying carpet, Ring of Fire (an infinite looping machine) and a dark ride called Sultan’s Adventure. When I take a look at Leofoo Village’s website, I actually notice that the latter two are definitively closed. That’s a shame, especially now that I discovered that Sultan’s Adventure was some kind of Indiana Jones Adventure ripoff. The few images that I found on the internet show a dark ride with 4WD vehicles and some creepy scenes. Damn, I would’ve loved to ride Sultan’s Adventure…
We won’t be riding a copy of the world’s best dark ride today. But to make up for that, we may ride one of the world’s most beautiful log flumes at Leofoo Village . I’ve already seen many log flumes and they often look nice. Yet, the theming of Mighty Mountain Flume Adventure at Leofoo Village’s South Pacific area is unarguably better. This Polynesian-inspired zone contains everything you’d expect in such an area: there’s a Tiki cocktail bar, lots of exotic-looking buildings and an abundance of palm trees. Mighty Mountain is a must-do thanks to the two steep drops and its amazing setting. Still, it might not hurt to buy a poncho if you’re riding it during a cooler day. This Polynesian boat trip can turn out to be quite soaking.
Some readers may be wondering why there’s a goddamn dinosaur in the photo above. This was a Pacific Ocean theme, right? And honestly, I don’t know the answer. It seems that Leofoo Village wanted to do something with the dinosaur hype and they thought ‘Oh well, let’s just put those creatures in the South Pacific area’. Those dinosaurs can also be seen from up-close during a walk-through. Lost World Adventure is everything but an outstanding attraction, but it does offer some great photo opportunities.
In the ‘attractions that Glenn doesn’t like unless they’re nicely themed’ list, free fall rides are number one. I hate Space Shot rides like the ones at Walibi Holland or Parque Warner, but I’ll never say no to a ride on Disney’s Tower of Terror. Leofoo Village has Pagoda’s Revenge, a free fall tower which features a pretty convincing theme as well. That’s why I gather my courage and I notice that Pagoda’s Revenge is quite intense, even despite its limited height. This ride is approximately 50 metres tall and it received a surprising Tiki theme. Pay particular attention to the crashed gondola at the entrance, which is a very nice touch in my opinion.
In terms of decoration and attention to detail, Leofoo Village is reminiscent of Disney. In terms of opening times, they seem to be just like Alton Towers. Although the park remains open until 5 PM, most attractions start to close around 4 PM. That isn’t entirely incomprehensible during the low season, but it would be preferable to use 4 PM as the official closing time for the park. In the current situation, it was rather disappointing to notice that many rides were closing a full hour earlier than the park.
Okay, I admit: the word disappointing may perhaps be a bit exaggerated. When exiting Leofoo Village, I actually realized that it was a beautiful day. People often say that you should save the best until the end. And that’s exactly what we did by planning Leofoo Village on the last day of this trip. This isn’t only the largest, but also the most surprising theme park in Taiwan. Especially in terms of decoration, the park doesn’t fail to impress. Seriously… Leofoo Village is more Disney-like than some of Disney’s own theme parks. The park is stunning, they’ve got rides for every age group and staff are excellent. Operations are smooth (the weird dispatch policy at Screaming Condor is not their choice) and the majority of the crew speaks a fair bit of English. Leofoo Village feels like an international entertainment destination in every possible way. Yes, I’m impressed.
Of course, there are a few things which could be improved. The park is currently missing a good dark ride and I would strongly encourage the construction of a new top roller coaster. I think that a B&M Mega Coaster or a Multi-Launch ride like Liseberg’s Helix would be ideal additions for this park.
So that’s it… our journey to Taiwan is coming to an end. It was the right choice to choose this country for my Autumn holidays, that much is clear. I finally rode that famous Vekoma Tilt Coaster, I saw Vekoma’s Hammerhead Stall, I enjoyed tropical heat, I felt Leofoo’s unmistakable Disney vibe and I discovered places I had never heard of before planning this trip. So thanks a lot, Taiwan… you were awesome. I’ll be back one day!