Monday, March 20, 2017

Park: IMG Worlds of Adventure

Our next park was IMG World's of Adventure which proudly proclaims to be the largest indoor amusement park in the world.

Does this look indoors? I wonder how the rule works? Regardless, the park is located close to the Global Village site

It's an impressive building none-the-less and we had gotten here early for an exclusive ride on their Spiderman coaster before being shown a presentation and indulging in some Q&A with the park managers.

A number of the parks went out of their way to welcome us visually.

Urgh! I don't know what lightbulbs they're using but they bleed too much in the infra-red spectrum causing the photos of lit items to be too white and appearing over-exposed.

Our exclusive ride session started with Spiderman Do Cocks ride (I've intentionally moved a space and dropped the apostrophe for comedic effect). This ride is great and allows some insane spinning if you get the weight balance correct. I rode it 3 times and every time I got a superb spin. This is easily my favourite rollercoaster in the park.

This park is impressive though, and the managers later told us that the attention to detail is crazy. They have representatives from the license holders signing off pretty much all the creative, detailing things like the right shade of colour to be used. They must have been happy with the Stark Tower. It looks great! The park is all licensed with nothing new of their own. This is seen as a quicker, if costlier, way to get people in rather than attempting to build a brand of their own, that could fail.

I'm not sure who signed off the Back to the Future DeLorean though ;)

The presentation was a tailored corporate presentation but gave some good insight into the IMG company and their plans for the site with a second much larger park already having been announced to sit alongside this one. It's a testament to the investment that that can happen so soon after the opening of this one. It's very clear that money isn't an object here and profits do not seem to be the main driver currently. The area is desperate to grow a tourist base and has to invest loads up front if it is to take off. There's also little or no competition between the parks currently. They need to co-exist.

We also got a welcome dance show from the park's beaming dance troupe.

The first attraction we did was within the Cartoon Network section of the park and was The Amazing Ride of Gumball, a shooting game themed around an out-of-control science experiment that allows a remote control to bring inanimate items to life. Armed with your own remote to revert the changes you find yourself passing through a number of screens where you have to frenetically shoot to earn points making sure you don't shoot things you shouldn't (this docks you points). It was pretty good! 

The second ride we tried was a spin-ride themed around the Power Puff Girls. Unfortunately I had to do the walk-of-shame on this one as the operator couldn't get the restraint down and didn't want to try pushing it in. It looked good though!

The Lost Valley is the Jurassic Park rip-off section in the park. They've done a good job here with the light theming, turning it dark and giving the impression that night has fallen.

The main attraction here is an attempt at Monster from Disney's Animal Kingdom where you ride a jeep into the forest to find some dinosaur eggs and rescue those who had previously gone out to get them. There's a dinosaur attack along the way, part animatronic part project, and the motion of the jeep bounces you along the way. It's OK but we were lucky to get this as it appeared to be down in the afternoon. We only managed to squeeze it in in the final half hour before leaving.

They also have a rollercoaster that I didn't like at all. Predator is one of those vertical lift hill coasters like Smiler and Saw that tends to give me a headache on riding; this did the same thing and riding it once was enough. They also did a naughty thing here in having paid lockers up-front but not making it clear there were boxes in the ride station that could be used for free. This sort of thing can make customers grumpy. 

Leaving my gear in the locker (so, no photos) I went and rode the main coaster in the park, Velociraptor. It was bad due in part to us being sent out into a passing sandstorm and the me fighting to keep the supplied goggles on my face. I made it back into the station with a noticeable crunch in my mouth. They've also put a pre-show film on the right-hand side of the launch. Making people turn their heads ahead of a powerful launch is a dumb idea. The ride which is a copy of Blue Fire at Europa is also running rough and is nowhere as enjoyable as that ride unfortunately.

How good does this place look?

A special mention should be made of the food in this park. It is spectacular and ought to be giving Disney and Universal some cause for concern. The park employs a 24-hour kitchen to ensure food is freshed and they pride themselves on having no frozen ingredients. They also have a wide choice of food including fine dining in the Stark Tower and great Asian food in the Chinese restaurant, which also looked good. I ate in the latter and was impressed with my Pad Thai. The service needs a little work but that'll get better I'm sure. 

The Stark Tower is just a single floor elevator away. It doesn't go to the top unfortunately. It would be good if they considered putting a viewing platform up there.

The Marvel section includes a Spiderman style ride themed around the Avengers movie where the ones that can fly get to battle Ultron in a mixture of immersive 3D screens and physical sets, much liked the web slinger attraction we're probably familiar with. The vehicle is being controlled by Hawkeye and Black Widow which is why they don't feature on screen. I guess Scarlet Witch and AntMan were at a press junket as they were sadly lacking. The start of the ride is good as the car isn't moving when you board, it's parked up and reverses out once it starts.

I did have to point out to the staff management that despite the attention to detail being put into the ride they'd managed to spell "strength" without the "r" twice during the pre-show. Hopefully that's been fixed by the time you visit.

Thor Thunder Spin is a part enclosed double-sided Top Spin attraction. I didn't ride it, but it did look to be running on an interesting program.

Epsilon Base 3D is a bizarre ride, best described as a Tagada inside a 3D 360 cinema. You're in a disk shaped vehicle that is taken on a test flight around a base that becomes under attack. It's an odd ride but did offer some re-rideability as you're unable to see all the action in a single ride. The 3D worked quite well with Iron Man appearing to hover over the ride very well. 

The park has an OK music and dance show themed around the Icelandic show Lazy Town. It went on for a little bit too long and some of the audience did walk out. 

It does give me the opportunity to repost this video. My favourite video mashups.

The single adult-only attraction in the park is their haunted walkthrough which opens after lunch and carries a pretty long queue for most of its operation. This is due in part to them only allowing a dozen or so people to enter at the same time. It's very well done with the timing of the live actor jump outs ensuring everyone in the group gets a scare, even me at the front. At the start we're split up and go down two different parts. It's not obvious if that means there are two different paths through or if it's another way of controlling how many go through at once. For reference we were sent left and spent a little time in a pretend elevator, which I suspect is the holding area. It also suffers from having no signature ending. You just pop out into the park; minor quibbles though.

The Ride of Ooo is themed around Adventure Time, a show I'm familiar with but don't get (sorry!). It's a slow moving but high up suspended monorail that circles the Cartoon Network area interspersed with a number of sets where the hero is embarking on some sort of dimension jumping, fourth wall breaking, adventure.

One of the most striking things about the park is the roof which looks to be covered in woven bin-liners. They are thousands of acoustic panels that do an excellent job ensuring the sound does not bounce around the park as usually happens. The other added bonus is that they look like the big UFO from Independence Day about to fire it's laser at us. Maybe they could put light in its centre and beam actors up.

Haribo vending machines! Nice!

and that was IMG. It's another good park but there're no Eastern brands, they've hedged their bets on all Western brands (Cartoon Network, Marvel and Lost Valley). The new park will offer a wider selection with more global brands including Nickelodeon, Ubisoft, Saban, Mattel, and more Cartoon Network. I'm particularly interested in Saban's Pokemon licence. The idea of hunting Pokemon around a theme park sounds like a great way to extend a visit to a park into a second day once all the rides have been done.

There is also room to expand within this park. They've not used all the available space. This bodes well. They have a good overall experience for its visitors; that is its stength...I mean strength.

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