Dragon Park Halong
Ha Long City, Vietnam
“The place to be for riding Vietnam’s only B&M”
Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s must see destinations. This natural wonder with stunning mountains and emerald green waters is world famous. The bay amazed me with its unparalleled beauty during a two night’s boat cruise. Most cruise passengers immediately head back to Hanoi after disembarkation, but I decided to stay in Ha Long City for one extra night. My main reason to stay here was Sun World Halong Complex, a huge entertainment resort at the shores of Ha Long Bay.
Sun World Halong Complex is operated by the Sun Group, Vietnam’s largest theme park brand. In Da Nang, the company is responsible for Sun World Ba Na Hills and Sun World Danang Wonders, but their biggest resort is located here in Ha Long City. This resort consists of two theme parks, a gigantic cable car, a water park and a huge shopping/dining area. During my February visit, the resort was in a low season mode. Typhoon Water Park remained closed and the theme parks didn’t open until the afternoon. It is also noteworthy that the low season admission price is ridiculously low. On weekdays, a ticket for Dragon Park costs 50,000 dong. That’s less than 2 euros. Two euros to enter an amusement park, I’m serious. I’ve visited many cheap amusement parks, but this beats everything.
That super-cheap ticket grants access to Dragon Park and all its attractions. So let’s check the park, shall we? The B&M is still running some test cycles, so I decide to start with a smaller roller coaster. Little Dragon’s Flight is already open and staff are literally waiting for passengers. This Suspended Family Coaster’s layout is identical to that of Kvasten at Gröna Lund and that’s a good thing. Kvasten is an excellent family roller coaster which runs very smoothly, and the same goes for Little Dragon’s Flight. However, I don’t like the ride’s unsubtle colours and the station wasn’t themed at all.
Considerably better theming can be found a little further in the park. One of the nicest rides is Mine Train Coaster. Despite its uninspiring name, this coaster’s loading station wouldn’t feel out of place at a Disney park. It’s sculpted as a Cambodian temple in a very elaborate way. The ride isn’t only beautiful to look at, but it’s also surprisingly fun to ride. I even think that this could be one of the world’s smoothest Vekomas. Dutch quality in Vietnam.
The Sun Group bought many attractions from Freestyle Music Park. After the park went bankrupt, loads of flat rides and five roller coasters were shipped to Vietnam. Four family roller coasters ended up at Sun World Danang Wonders, but Sun World Halong Complex got the jackpot. B&M’s Time Machine (formerly known as Led Zeppelin – The Ride) moved to Dragon Park and it’s now called Dragon’s Run. Dragon’s Run is only twelve years old, but it has already had three names and two different locations. Will its time in Vietnam be more successful than its limited run on the American east coast? I hope so.
Dragon’s Run was built next to a lovely pond, it’s got a monumental entrance and the station is beautiful as well. The actual ride is quite nice, by the way. Dragon’s Run features a solid 45-metre descent and some powerful inversions. Especially the zero-g roll is worth mentioning. This is a rather brutal element in many B&Ms, but in this case it creates the most perfect sense of weightlessness. Dragon’s Run is the best roller coaster in Vietnam, that’s for sure. However, this is mostly due to poor competition. In fact, I must admit that Dragon’s Run definitely isn’t the best B&M machine on Earth. It turns out to be a little rougher than expected, the layout is predictable and the second part lacks some power. B&M has built far better rides than this one.
Skies are grey, but it’s quite hot in Ha Long City today. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to cool off with a water ride. During the winter season, both the shoot-the-chute and Dragon Park’s rapid river remain closed. I don’t think I’m missing awesome experiences, though. Elephant Falls has a relatively simple layout and Mystic River looks like a classic rapid river. However, I’d like to compliment the park for the decoration. They built a beautiful temple for Elephant Falls and Mystic River flows through a jungle-like setting. Thanks to its animal animatronics and the tropical vegetation, this rapid river looks amazing. I would’ve loved to take a ride, but probably next time.
Mystic River is closed, but there’s an alternative. Dragon Park actually has a second boat ride with fake animals. That attraction is called Garden Cruisers and it looks like a budget version of Disney’s Jungle Cruise. The decor is less impressive and the Skipper has been cut, but the legendary joke about the back side of water didn’t entirely disappear. You could also describe this attraction as Farm Cruise, because it involves plastic cows, water buffaloes and chickens. Not bad, but may I suggest Dragon Park to increase the speed of these boats? The route isn’t exceptionally long, but the ride lasts more than 20 minutes. Yup, it goes on for Niles and Niles…
Unfortunately I can’t find any dark rides, but Dragon Park has an abundance of flat rides. There’s a nauseating ride called Rhino Swing, an elaborately decorated top spin, two (!) pirate ships and Crazy Crane. This is one of the few remaining Topple Towers on Earth. Interestingly, Crazy Crane once stood in Europe. It used to be at the French Walygator Parc where it was known as Tang’Or, until it disappeared some time ago.
WORTH A VISIT?
Dragon Park treated me to great family roller coasters, a fine B&M, numerous flat rides and excellent decoration… and it cost less than a sandwich. For the purposes of comparison, a day at Dragon Park with 67 friends costs as much as a 1-day ticket for Disneyland Anaheim. That’s what I call value for money. Don’t expect this to be the best theme park in the world, though. It’s excellent to Vietnamese standards, but that’s it.
Did you get the chance to ride Dragon’s Run yet? Might this be the most interesting coaster destination in Vietnam? Did you expect the park to be so elaborately themed? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.