Leofoo Village Theme Park
“The Taiwanese alternative to Disneyland”
Leofoo Village is described as the largest theme park in Taiwan. Although that sounds like promotional nonsense, I actually believe it’s true. There’s a huge driveway at the entrance of the resort and the parking area is huge. Luckily, crowds seem to be just as light as they were at other Taiwanese amusement parks. That’s not the only good news. As a foreigner, we get a 50 percent discount at the cash register. This results in an admission fee of barely 499 Taiwanese dollars, approximately 15 euros. Not bad.
Leofoo Village looks like a Disney Magic Kingdom… a lot. Open Google Maps and you’ll immediately understand what I’m talking about: the park is built according to the hub-and-spoke concept. There is a huge circular square in the centre, with the themed lands built around it. Even the fairy tale castle – the highlight of every classic Disney theme park – wasn’t forgotten. The centerpiece of Leofoo Village Theme Park is a Middle-Eastern palace that seems to belong in Agrabah.
In most Magic Kingdoms, Frontierland is located on the left-hand side of the hub. Leofoo Village followed that example and welcomes us to The Wild West. This beautiful area is home to two of the park’s three roller coasters. The first one is called Little Rattler and it’s a standard Vekoma Junior Coaster. These rides are predictable, but they’re excellent attractions for the whole family. The first curves are quite intense and the layout isn’t bad at all. Leofoo Village added a mine train theme and a beautiful station.
Screaming Condor – the second roller coaster in this area – was also fitted with a beautiful station building. That station is half underground, which makes this Impulse Coaster even more interesting. You may recognise this roller coaster type from Dorney Park or Cedar Point, where they’re called Possessed and Wicked Twister respectively. This isn’t the best roller coaster type in the world, but it does provide an intense experience on a limited footprint. Unfortunately, operations are very poor: Leofoo Village dispatches only four trains per hour. According to information panels in the queue, this is done to prevent the ride from overheating. This doesn’t sound very realistic, but it’s not the only coaster in Taiwan that’s operated under these conditions. Last week we discovered that Gravity Max had similar operations, which forced us to stand in line for two hours. Queues aren’t nearly as bad here at Leofoo Village, but I guess wait times can be horrible during busier days.
Leofoo Village’s third coaster can be found at the opposite side of the park. We are talking about a spinning coaster named Sahara Twist. Honestly, the ride looks boring. There’s hardly any theming and it’s got a very small footprint. However, the actual experience is quite enjoyable. The vehicles are reminiscent of that of Höllenblitz, a German funfair roller coaster. And although it isn’t as intense as Höllenblitz, Sahara Twist definitely does some serious spinning. So don’t judge Sahara Twist by its size alone, because you may exit this ride a little dizzy.
One of the highlights in the Far West area is Big Canyon Rapids Ride. This simulated cruise on the Colorado River is probably one of the world’s longest rapid rivers: it’s more than 740 metres long. Although theming looks pretty decent, we decide to skip this attraction. Today is a remarkably cooler day than the previous ones, so we don’t want to risk getting soaked. And now that I’ve watched an on-ride video on YouTube, I realise that it was the right decision. The makers of that video got pretty wet.
Leofoo Village is a heavily themed park and one of the most stunning rides is the log flume. I’ve already seen many log flumes and they often look nice. Yet, the theming of Mighty Mountain Flume Adventure at Leofoo Village’s South Pacific area is unarguably better. This Polynesian-inspired zone contains everything you’d expect in such an area: there’s a Tiki cocktail bar, lots of exotic-looking buildings and an abundance of palm trees. Mighty Mountain is a must do thanks to the two steep drops and its amazing setting. Still, it might not hurt to buy a poncho if you’re riding it during a cooler day. This Polynesian boat trip can turn out to be quite soaking.
South Pacific has more to offer than a log flume. This area also features some thrilling flat rides and a free fall tower with a stunning appearance. Besides, Pagoda’s Revenge turned out to be quite intense, even despite its limited height of 50 metres. Pay particular attention to the crashed gondola at the entrance, which is a very nice decorative touch.
Unfortunately, there isn’t only good news. No matter how fabulous the park looks, our low season visit had one major disadvantage: quite a few attractions remained closed. Especially the stunning Arabian Kingdom section didn’t have much to offer. The closed attractions included a family monorail (with a dark ride section), a flying carpet, Ring of Fire (an infinite looping machine) and a dark ride called Sultan’s Adventure. When I take a look at Leofoo Village’s website, I actually notice that the latter two are definitively closed. That’s a shame, especially now that I discovered that Sultan’s Adventure was some kind of Indiana Jones Adventure ripoff. The few images I found on the internet show a dark ride with 4WD vehicles and some creepy scenes. Damn, I would’ve loved to ride Sultan’s Adventure…
Leofoo Village is easily the most Disney-like theme park in Taiwan. In fact, you can consider Leofoo Village as some kind of compact Walt Disney World Resort. The park has a castle (hello Magic Kingdom), its own hotel (hello Grand Floridian), a water park (hello Blizzard Beach) and a considerable part of the park was designed as a zoo (hello Animal Kingdom). That zoo section is called African Safari and we encountered a huge variety of animals here.
In the African zone, especially the Nairobi Express and the Carnivore Area Tour Bus are worth mentioning. Nairobi Express took us on a 20-minute train ride through a simulated savannah. We spotted rhinos, zebras and buffaloes along the way. The Carnivore Bus drove past Bengal tigers, black bears and other sweethearts. It’s not as well themed as Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but both rides are excellent for the families visiting Leofoo Village. These kinds of safari rides always make a zoo a bit more exciting, in my opinion.
WORTH A VISIT?
I’ve had a wonderful day at Leofoo Village. This isn’t just the largest, but also the most surprising theme park in Taiwan. Especially in terms of decoration, the park doesn’t fail to impress. Seriously… Leofoo Village is more Disney-like than some of Disney’s own theme parks. The park is stunning, they’ve got rides for every age group and staff are excellent. Operations are smooth (the weird dispatch policy at Screaming Condor is an exception) and the majority of the crew speaks a fair bit of English. Leofoo Village feels like an international entertainment destination in every possible way. Of course, there are a few things which could be improved. The park is currently missing a good dark ride and I would strongly encourage the addition of a new awesome roller coaster. I think that a B&M Mega Coaster or a multi-launch ride like Liseberg’s Helix would be ideal for this park.
By the way… a visit to Leofoo Village is easy to combine with a visit to Window on China Theme Park, which is located just one mile further. We managed to visit both parks in one day without rushing.
Had you ever heard of Leofoo Village? Do you agree that this is one of Asia’s hidden gems? Have you been able to experience Sultan’s Adventure before it closed? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.