Daredevil high school student Flora Qi surveys the city’s most exciting amusement park rides
Every spring, all the ninth graders at the German Embassy School of Beijing do a two-week internship for practical experience. We all look forward to getting involved in the real working world. Imagine my surprise when I got placed at tbjkids and discovered that my main assignment would be to hit up Beijing’s amusement parks! I love roller coasters and amusement parks, so I think this part of my internship was more like experiencing the dream working world than the real one.
I remember a book I read a long time ago about a little pirate mouse that had the greatest job in the world – hammock tester! I was really jealous of this mouse and his fabulous job. But assigned with the great task of testing Beijing’s roller coasters, and with my good friends Aileen, Daniela and Anna joining me as fellow testers, I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world- even luckier then the little pirate mouse.
All in all, I visited four amusement parks and rode tons of rides. The following are my notes from my experience as tbjkids’ official roller coaster tester.
Beijing Amusement Park
Aren’t amusement parks supposed to be crowded with people and best avoided on weekends? That had been my picture of them. But arriving at the gate of Beijing Amusement Park, I discovered something entirely different. The place felt like a real outsider’s park – very few people, but lots of fun!
Lonely and unvisited, the little pink roller coaster just next to the park’s entrance looked like a mini train, and each of its cute cars was adorned with a little mouse. The Super Speed Cool Cool Bear Coaster (free with admission), as it was called, looked nice and sweet, and it was – with no loops or spirals, it didn’t make us scream, but we definitely laughed a lot. I never thought a roller coaster could be described this way, but “funny” was definitely the best adjective for this ride.
As we walked around the park, something suddenly caught our eyes: red, modern and huge, we expected the Spiral Slide Coaster (free with admission) to be wilder and crazier than the little pink one, and we were right. My friend Daniela was so intimidated she didn’t dare to ride it, so it was up to Aileen and I to be the brave ones. One loop, another loop and then one more – keeping ourselves from screaming was quite impossible. Feeling dizzy we left, only to come back and enjoy another round just a little while later! Afterwards I needed to find a mirror so I could fix my hair.
Beijing Amusement Park
RMB 120, RMB 80 (kids 1.2-1.4m), free (kids under 1.2m). Daily 9am-6pm. 19 Zuo’anmennei Dajie, Chongwen District. (6711 1155) www.bap.com.cn 北京游乐园, 崇文区左安门内大街19号
Chaoyang Amusement Park
Violet – my favorite amusement park device in my favorite color! I heard screaming coming from the violet-colored corner of the park and headed over to check out the purple Chaoyang Park Roller Coaster (RMB 30). The line went quickly and soon we were in the cars. It was a nice ride with one loop, but I could not help feeling that at RMB 30, this coaster was overpriced. After every good roller coaster ride, you should experience that special funny, dizzy and kind of gliding feeling, but the Chaoyang Park coaster let me down. And it wasn’t just me who didn’t feel the special roller coaster glow – my friend Aileen also admitted she’d expected more from this timid violet monster.
RMB 5, RMB 2.5 (students). Daily 8.30am-5pm. 1 Nongzhan Nanlu, Chaoyang District. (6506 5409) 朝阳公园, 朝阳区农展馆南路1号
I’ve been to Disneyland and Happy Valley looks like a small version of Disneyland. The most modern of all the amusement parks in Beijing, Happy Valley is also the most popular park, so we were prepared to queue up for at least half an hour for every ride.
The Crystal Wing (free with admission) was our first ride. We’d become really curious about it when we noticed a train disappearing into a big mountain. Unfortunately we were not the only people attracted by the Crystal Wing’s unusual structure, and we had to queue up for 50 minutes!
The roller coaster seemed to be built to drill its way through the mountain, and looked like it could easily smash down a wall. We sat four people to a row in each car; actually it was not really sitting, more like lying face down. Our feet dangled in the air below us and suddenly the wagon rose – we could not see what was coming up, only what was going on beneath us. What a strange feeling! Everyone was screaming, including me. I couldn’t move, which was good for safety reasons but it made me feel helpless. After the first loop, though, I was incredibly grateful for the safety precautions and was thinking that at a height of 1.40m, they were there for good reason! The wild ride impressed me, and seeing the park head over heels was amazing. Best of all, it lasted for a satisfying 1 minute and 57 seconds. All in all, this roller coaster certainly ranks as one of my top three in the whole world.
A headfirst orientation, loops, spirals, amazing speed and a height of 50m – Snow Phoenix (free with admission) is definitely a roller coaster! Standing in the impossibly long queue I became more nervous with every minute. Sure, it looked really attractive – the bright purple and yellow of the rails was a real eye-catcher – but once I was finally in my two-seater with a very nervous friend next to me, I suddenly felt like jumping out. But the car started to move, and there was no way to escape! The wagon was getting higher and higher. I could tell the others were feeling the same way. I knew the photographer was standing 50m below taking pictures, so I had to look good while I was dying from fear! This is certainly the scariest roller coaster I’ve ever been on, and that’s saying quite a lot. On this wild ride it’s impossible not to scream, and dizziness and a little nausea are also hard to avoid – best to have lunch after the ride!
Happy Valley Amusement Park
RMB 160, RMB 80 (kids 1.2-1.4m), free (kids under 1.2m). Daily 10am-5pm. Wuji Beilu, Dongsihuan Lu, Chaoyang District. (6205 0088, email@example.com) bj.happyvalley.com.cn/park/ 北京欢乐谷, 朝阳区东四环路小武基北路
Shijingshan Amusement Park
At first glance, Shijingshan looks just like the Beijing Amusement Park: calm, rather small and not too popular. But as we walked through it a little bit, the real park appeared and my first impression was proved wrong!
The Feng Shen Coaster (RMB 20, kids 14 and up only) was a little old roller coaster that confused me at first: The tracks went up but then didn’t continue. How was this supposed to work? It immediately aroused our curiosity and we grabbed a seat; the train went up, getting slower and slower until it stopped altogether. Where would it go? I’m not going to tell you because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. But I will tell you that this is definitely the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on!
When I saw that the height requirement for the Shen Zhou Coaster (RMB 50) was 1.5m I got the feeling this roller coaster might be a little bit dangerous or extra thrilling. Well, I wasn’t wrong. Sitting in the very front, I viewed the high, winding track: up and down, back again, and then a circle? I couldn’t follow it. It turned out to be scary and the spirals were a lot of fun, but the safety bars sometimes hurt my legs.
After so much excitement the slower, calmer Atomic Coaster (RMB 20) was just what we were looking for. This yellow and blue ride with red seats like little bumper cars was equipped with only one loop. It was still lots of fun, but I think in the last few days I’ve become a roller coaster oldie and was expecting a little more. Still, I can’t complain – it was a nice soothing finish to my wild roller coaster romp. Flora Qi
Shijingshan Amusement Park
RMB 10, RMB 5 (kids), free (kids under 1.2m). Daily 8.30am-5pm. 25 Shijingshan Lu, Shijingshan District. (6886 2547) www.bs-amusement-park.com 石景山游乐园, 石景山区石景山路25号