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 by a Chinese company.
In 2015 Vekoma opened their first Suspended Family Coaster at Fantawild Oriental Heritage Park in Zhengzhou. The ride called Galaxy Express shares it’s layout with Orkanen at Fårup Sommerland in Denmark. It has recently been announced that another one will be built at Fantawild Oriental Heritage Park in Xiamen. That ride will open in 2016 and share the same layout again.
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. The ride has since been cloned multiple times across China.
Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment
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. The ride actually originally opened with a zero-g-roll where the bunny hop sites now. The element was removed before the ride opened suggesting it was too rough even for a Chinese SLC.
In 2013 Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment tweaked the design of their SLC coasters and introduced a modified version at Five Tigers Island. This new version features a more gradual drop a, tighter loop and reversed rolls. Quite why they did this and if it affects the ride comfort I have no idea but two more have now opened at Hotgo Park in Fushun and Gingko Lake Amusement Park in Nanjing.
In 2016 BSA have built a properly original SLC design at Wanda City in the Chinese city of Nanchang. The ride called Soaring Dragon & Dancing Phoenix features 6 inversions including the first non B&M interlocking corkscrews on an inverted coaster and the first BSA built Cobra Roll on an inverted coaster. The design looks a huge improvement on previous attempts and is set to open in May 2016.
Beijing Jiuhua Amusement Rides
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.
Hebei Zhongye Metallurgical Equipment Manufacturing Co
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. Since then they have built a second ride at Century Amusement Park in Zhengzhou which i was (un)lucky enough to ride in 2014. The ride is as expected pretty awful and even had to be reprofiled after it was built.
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.
Timeline Of Rides
- 2002 -Vekoma open first Chinese SLC at Happy Valley Shenzhen
- 2003 – Vekoma opens modified SLC layout at Suzhou Amusement Land
- 2005 – Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment open their own SLC layout at Beijing Shijingshan Park
- 2006 – Golden Horse open Flare Meteor at Fantawild Adventure copying Vekomas original layout. One Month Later Vekoma open version with an extra helix at Happy Valley Shezhen.
- 2010 – Golden Horse open a second SLC at another Fantaworld Park copying the newer Vekoma layout from Beijing. Later that same year Beijing Jiuhua Amusement Rides open Dragon Rider at Floraworld with a modified layout of the Beijing Shibaolai Amusement version built in 2005.
- 2011 – Hebei Zhongye Metallurgical Equipment Manufacturing Co build their first SLC model at Jinling Happy World using the same layout as the Beijing Shibaolai Amusement model.
- 2015 – Vekoma open a Suspended Family Coaster at Fantawild Oriental Heritage Park in Zhengzhou.
- 2016 – Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment open a new SLC design with 6 inversions at Wanda City Nanchang.