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Research and Musings around the amusement park world.
The proliferation of the Suspended Looping Coaster in China has been somewhat confusing of late with multiple companies joining the Frey and on several occasions copying other company’s layouts. This is not without precedent in China, as you can see with the countries many many Arrow Dynamics style corkscrew coasters copied during the 90s.
This short article hopes to make sense of the many different versions that have popped up in the last few years. Each version of the ride will have a Google Satellite image for comparisons where possible and links to the RCDB have been included throughout.
Vekoma built their first SLC in China in 2002 at Happy Valley Shenzhen called Snow Mountain Flying Dragon. At the time it was one of the few SLC’s to depart radically from the standard SLC layout seen everywhere else in the world. The ride layout was used again as Kumali at Flamingo Land in the UK and features a wide sweeping drop into a vertical loop, a Cobra Roll and Vekoma’s first Zero-G-Roll.
Vekoma have since followed this with a second version of the ride found at the Happy Valley parks in Bejing (2006) and Chengdu (2009). The ride is essentially the same until the very end where they have shoehorned in a second helix. Compare the Google image of the Beijing ride below with the earlier Shenzhen version above and you can see the difference.
There is another Chinese SLC at Suzhou Amusement Land built in 2003. This ride is creatively named Suspended Looping Coaster and follows a modified version of the original Vekoma SLC layout seen around the world. In this version the sidewinder goes the opposite way to the normal layout and the barrel rolls cross under the lift hill. This ride currently holds the distinction of being the only SLC in China which hasn’t had its layout ripped off.
Golden Horse were one of the the first on the scene with a copy cat SLC. Not only did they use a similar system to Vekoma they actively took their layout and rebuilt it elsewhere. The first of these was called Flare Meteor popped up at Fantawild Adventure in Wuhu, The ride took the layout from Vekomas Shenzhen ride and made it a mirror image. (see below) in 2010 they build a second version of this layout at Guiyang Happy World under the name King of Kings.
Not content with just taking the first version of Vekoma’s SLC, In 2010 Golden Horse built a second ride for the Fantawild chain also under the name Flare Meteor this time in Taishan. This ride was an exact clone of Vekoma’s Bejing ride. Extra helix and all.
Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment beat Golden Horse to the Chinese SLC market by a year and even went in with an original (If not entirely different) layout.
The first of these opened in 2005 at Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park under the name Shenzhou Coaster. The ride features a sweeping left hand drop into a vertical loop before taking a slightly modified standard SLC route of Bunny Hop, Sidewinder, Helix, Double Barrel Roll, Helix and S-Bend. These rides have proved incredibly popular with 7 installations of this layout in 6 years.
BJA are the newest company on the Chinese SLC scene, Opening their first SLC at Floraland in 2010 under the name Dragon Rider. In a quite brilliant twist to the layout copying antics of Golden Horse, BJA took the Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment layout we saw above and worked on an improved version.
Essentially the BJA version is exactly the same with the transitions smoothed out for a better ride experience. They have also removed the final helix in favour of a tight turn into the brakes. As of yet I haven’t seen a ride review of “Dragon Rider” at Floraland but the ride certainly looks the part. Below is a comparison of the same turn on the BJA (Above) and BSA (Below) rides.
In late 2011 a new manafacturer arrived on the scene. Hebei Zhongye Metallurgical Equipment Manufacturing had built a collection of small loop and corkscrew coasters but they entered the SLC market at the brand new Jinling Happy World. The layout of the HZM ride is an almost exact clone of the Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment rides. However unlike Beijing Jiuhua Amusement Rides who appear to have tried to smooth out the transitions, HZM seems to have somehow made them look worse. The ride is yet to open but I don’t hold high hopes.
Since Vekoma added the SLC to the Chinese market in 2002 the Chinese SLC market has exploded with copycat rides. Only time will tell how these rides fare. However I would love to see a Chinese park plump for a custom B&M invert in the near future just to show these parks what CAN be done.