NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Good afternoon from Da Nang. It’s my 4th day in Vietnam and I’m definitely enjoying my time here. I’m loving central Vietnam’s mild climate and I’m discovering loads of beautiful places. The famous Golden Bridge, for example. Or the town of Hoi An, which is illuminated by thousands of lanterns. I’ve even seen a fire-breathing dragon-shaped bridge! Da Nang is also known to be the amusement park capital of Vietnam. VinPearl Land is an hour’s drive away and I discovered a weird theme park in nearby Ba Na Hills. Today, I’m visiting another theme park in the city centre. A park with an appropriate name for this sunny Sunday afternoon, by the way: Sun World Danang Wonders.
What’s better than one Sun Group theme park? Indeed… two theme parks managed by the Sun Group. Sun World Ba Na Hills has been a big success, so this Vietnamese mega concern wanted a sequel. That sequel became Sun World Danang Wonders, an amusement park which officially opened its doors in 2015. The differences between both parks are huge. Whereas Ba Na Hills is some kind of Instagram location filled with photo opportunities, Danang Wonders rather looks like a classic theme park. The park is mostly focused on rides and attractions, including five roller coasters. Knowing that admission costs a mere 12 euros, that seems a pretty good deal to me.
My first ride of the day is the tallest attraction of the park. The eye-catcher of Sun World Danang Wonders is Sun Wheel. This wheel is 115 metres tall and it claims a prominent place in the city’s skyline. This colossal structure was built on the roof of a huge complex with food stalls, arcade games and shops. The view is quite special, by the way: from the top of the wheel, I’m able to see the South China Sea, the skyscrapers of Da Nang, the lush landscape of Marble Mountains and the Han River.
Ever heard of the great big beautiful monorail to nowhere? Although the monorail remains closed this weekend, I may officially say that this ride looks bizarre. Sun World’s monorail doesn’t only make a grand circle tour of the park, but it also crosses a huge stretch of empty land. I’m pretty sure that this will be used for future expansions, so it’ll probably make sense one day. But in its current state, the monorail is obviously one of the strangest rides at Sun World Danang Wonders.
Ferris wheels and monorails are interesting, but they don’t provide credits. So it’s about time for a roller coaster, isn’t it? The first one on my route is Paradise Fall, a launched coaster manufactured by Intamin. The quad-shaped vehicles are identical to those of Juvelen at Djurs Sommerland. Unfortunately the ride experience isn’t as legendary as the one in Denmark. Paradise Fall is relatively short and there is hardly any theming. However, it’s extremely smooth and suited for the whole family.
By the way… did you know that Paradise Fall originally wasn’t meant to be a quad coaster? In 2015, this was a family coaster built by Premier Rides. Its most striking feature was a Ferris wheel that replaced the lift hill. This ride was bought from Freestyle Music Park (many still know it as Hard Rock Park) which went bankrupt a few years earlier. During season 4 of Discovery Channel’s Mega Builders, I already noticed that this unique coaster’s technique was struggling in the United States. Similar problems might have occurred in Vietnam. The ride was built, but it never opened to the general public. Paradise Fall became a Paradise Fail, but Intamin had a solution. The current coaster has largely the same layout as version 1.0, but I’m afraid we’ll never see that uncommon Ferris wheel ever again.
Sun World Danang Wonders is also known as Asia Park, referring to the central theme of this park. Just as Europa-Park portrays the different countries of Europe, there are 10 Asian themed areas here. Those zones are Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, India, China and Korea. Decorations sometimes look rather simple, but it’s all colourful and quite nice. I’m currently walking through the Chinese area, which has a great atmosphere thanks to its dragon statues, pagodas and typical lanterns.
Painful greetings from the New Delhi Hospital. I might exaggerate, but a ride on Queen Cobra doesn’t make me happy. This isn’t entirely unexpected because I’m talking about a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster. And just like most European versions, this Vietnamese SLC is quite rough. However, there’s also good news to report. Queen Cobra uses the new generation of shoulder restraints, which makes the experience a tad more comfortable. In addition, the ride got a prime waterfront location and the Indian-style station looks wonderful. The fact that I’m riding all by myself is also quite unique.
Queen Cobra isn’t the only inverted coaster at Sun World Danang Wonders. Right across the street I encountered Highway Boat, an family ride manufactured by ABC Rides. It’s closed today, so let’s say goodbye to my coaster bingo. That’s a pity, but this family roller coaster doesn’t look interesting at all. The vertical lift seems nice, but the rest of the lay-out consists of straight pieces of track and gentle curves. FYI: this also used to be a Premier coaster imported from Freestyle Music Park. Unfortunately, Sun World didn’t manage to get it operational. That’s why the current ride was presented in 2019. Let’s hope that this version of Highway Boat lasts longer than its predecessor.
Highway Boat is located in the Thai area, a tiny themed land. The coaster is decorated with some giant coloured elephants and it’s accompanied by Golden Sky Tower, a free fall ride which looks like it belongs on a funfair. The adjacent Singaporean zone has the same cheap appearance. Still, I should praise Sun World for naming one of the rides Singapore Sling. Naming a ride after a cocktail, that’s awesome! I already had ideas for Mojitonnerre De Zeus, Nitro Negroni and Bloody Marienkäferbahn, but no amusement park ever had the courage to do something similar. Except for Sun World Danang Wonders, it seems. By the way… Singapore Sling might actually make its passengers slightly drunk. This is a Frisbee-like looping machine, so I decide not to ride.
Freestyle Music Park had a total of five roller coasters. All were taken over by the Sun Group. Four of them were rebuilt in Da Nang and the other one ended up in Dragon Park Halong. Dragon Park undoubtedly got the most interesting item: a 45-metre tall B&M with six inversions. It’s called Dragon’s Run and it’s on my to-do list in a few days. Today, however, I’m discovering the more family-friendly coasters.
Port of Sky Treasure, for example, is a Vekoma Mine Train Coaster. Theming is rather chaotic: there’s a replica of the Singaporean Merlion at the entrance, while the ride is themed with dinosaur bones and pirate props. Unusual decoration, but the ride in itself is excellent. Port of Sky Treasure is based on Vekoma’s classic Mine Train lay-out (known from Walibi Belgium), but some minor changes have been made. Unfortunately it’s difficult to capture the layout on photos, as the ride was placed in a dense palm grove.
The Indonesian themed land is the largest in terms of surface, but it caters to the youngest visitors. It’s a combination of carousels, convoy rides and a kiddie coaster. That coaster is called Garuda Valley and it’s a standard Junior Coaster by Vekoma. Compliments for the comfortable vehicles, the beautiful station and the tropical surroundings, but it’s obviously not a thrill machine. Garuda Valley does provide a credit, though.
Sun World Danang Wonders’ opening times are uncommon. The gates open at 3 PM and the park closes at 9 PM. Six hours of entertainment seems short, but it’s more than enough with these crowds. Besides, it’s a pleasure to discover the park in the evening. In terms of lighting and atmosphere, the park really delivers a perfect experience after sunset. The Ferris wheel is transformed into a colourful LED screen, Queen Cobra is beautifully lit and the area surrounding the entrance looks stunning.
The most beautiful zone at night is perhaps the Cambodian area. Unfortunately, the Angkor temple doesn’t feature an attraction. The temple facade looks stunning, but it appears to have no function or whatsoever. It’s purely decoration, although the building would be perfect to accommodate a mysterious dark ride or a highly themed water ride. That’s a shame, especially because I missed these both types of attractions while visiting Sun World.
There aren’t any water rides or dark rides at Sun World. But maybe, these rides will be added after another American theme park has been declared bankrupt? We’ll see. I’ve had a pleasant afternoon here, even without riding a Vietnamese version of Splash Mountain or Pirates of Saigon. There were less than 200 other visitors, so I did feel a little lonely sometimes, but everything else went fine. The weather was beautiful, there’s a good range of rides for every age group and staff members were friendly. The crew even spoke remarkably better English than I expected, which proves that Sun World is ready for international tourism. However, many foreign visitors seem to avoid this park. Local sights like Ba Na Hills, Marble Mountains and Hoi An are quite popular in early February, but this place isn’t. That’s a pity, because Sun World Danang Wonders really delivers a high-quality product. I can’t say that I’m bothered by empty queues, but this park deserves better. Let’s hope that more people will find their way to the park soon.
To be continued at Sun World Halong Complex!