Sun World Danang Wonders
Da Nang, Vietnam
“Ever wondered where Freestyle Music Park’s roller coasters went after the bankruptcy?”
What’s better than one Sun Group theme park? Indeed… two theme parks managed by the Sun Group. Sun World Ba Na Hills has been a big success, so this Vietnamese mega concern wanted a sequel. That sequel became Sun World Danang Wonders, an amusement park which officially opened its doors in 2015. The differences between both parks are huge. Whereas Ba Na Hills is some kind of Instagram location filled with photo opportunities, Danang Wonders rather looks like a classic theme park. The park is mostly focused on rides and attractions, including five roller coasters. Knowing that admission costs a mere 12 euros, that seems a pretty good deal to me.
The first roller coaster on my route is Paradise Fall, a launched coaster manufactured by Intamin. The quad-shaped vehicles are identical to those of Juvelen at Djurs Sommerland. Unfortunately the ride experience isn’t as legendary as the one in Denmark. Paradise Fall is relatively short and there is hardly any theming. However, it’s extremely smooth and suited for the whole family. Did you know that Paradise Fall originally wasn’t meant to be a quad coaster? In 2015, this was a family coaster built by Premier Rides. Its most striking feature was a Ferris wheel that replaced the lift hill. This ride was bought from Freestyle Music Park (many still know it as Hard Rock Park) which went bankrupt a few years earlier. The ride was built, but it never opened to the general public. Intamin was then hired to create the current coaster, which has a similar layout.
Sun World’s largest thrill coaster is Queen Cobra, a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster. And just like most European versions, this Vietnamese SLC is quite rough. However, there’s also good news to report. Queen Cobra uses the new generation of shoulder restraints, which makes the experience a tad more comfortable. In addition, the ride got a prime waterfront location and the Indian-style station looks wonderful.
Queen Cobra isn’t the only inverted coaster at Sun World Danang Wonders. Right across the street is Highway Boat, an family ride manufactured by ABC Rides. It’s closed today, but it doesn’t seem as if I’m missing a first-class ride. The layout mainly consists of straight pieces of track and gentle curves. By the way… this also used to be a Premier coaster imported from Freestyle Music Park. But once again, Sun World didn’t manage to get it operational. That’s why it was replaced by the current ride in 2019. Let’s hope that this version of Highway Boat lasts longer than its predecessor.
Freestyle Music Park had a total of five roller coasters. All were taken over by the Sun Group. Four of them were rebuilt at Sun World Danang Wonders and the other one ended up at Dragon Park Halong. Dragon Park undoubtedly got the most interesting one: a 45-metre tall B&M with six inversions. Today, however, I’m discovering the more family-friendly coasters. Port of Sky Treasure, for example, is a Vekoma Mine Train Coaster. Theming is rather chaotic. There’s a replica of the Singaporean Merlion at the entrance and the ride is themed with dinosaur bones and pirate props. Unusual decoration, but the ride in itself is excellent. Port of Sky Treasure is based on Vekoma’s classic Mine Train layout (known from Walibi Belgium), but some minor changes have been made. Unfortunately it’s difficult to capture the layout on photos, as the ride was placed in a dense palm grove.
The Indonesian themed land is the largest in terms of surface, but it caters to the youngest visitors. It’s a combination of carousels, convoy rides and a kiddie coaster. That coaster is called Garuda Valley and it’s a standard Junior Coaster by Vekoma. Compliments for the comfortable vehicles, the beautiful station and the tropical surroundings, but it’s obviously not a thrill machine. Garuda Valley does provide a credit, though.
The eye-catcher of Sun World Danang Wonders is Sun Wheel. This wheel is 115 metres tall and it claims a prominent place in the city’s skyline. This colossal structure was built on the roof of a huge complex with food stalls, arcade games and shops. The view is quite special, by the way: from the top of the wheel, I’m able to see the South China Sea, the skyscrapers of Da Nang, the lush landscape of Marble Mountains and the Han River.
Sun World Danang Wonders is also known as Asia Park, referring to the central theme of this park. Just as Europa-Park portrays the different countries of Europe, there are 10 Asian themed areas here. Those zones are Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, India, China and Korea. Most decorations look rather simple, but the overall atmosphere is excellent.
The Thai area is home to some giant coloured elephants and Golden Sky Tower, a free fall ride that seems to belong on a funfair. The adjacent Singaporean zone has the same cheap appearance. Still, I should praise Sun World for naming one of the rides Singapore Sling. Naming a ride after a cocktail, that’s awesome! I already had ideas for Mojitonnerre De Zeus, Nitro Negroni and Bloody Marienkäferbahn, but no amusement park ever had the courage to do something similar. By the way… Singapore Sling might actually make its passengers slightly drunk. This is a frisbee-like looping machine, so I decided not to ride.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any water rides or dark rides at Sun World. The lack of water rides is especially sad, since central Vietnam enjoys hot temperatures year-round.
WORTH A VISIT?
I had a pleasant afternoon here at Sun World. There were less than 200 other visitors, so I did feel a little lonely sometimes, but everything else went fine. The weather was beautiful, there’s a good variety of rides for every age group and staff members were friendly. The crew even spoke remarkably better English than I expected, which proves that Sun World is ready for international tourism. However, many foreign visitors seemed to avoid this park. Local sights like Ba Na Hills, Marble Mountains and Hoi An were quite popular in early February, but this place wasn’t. That’s a pity, as Sun World Danang Wonders really delivers a high-quality product. I can’t say that I’m bothered by empty queues, but this park deserves better. Let’s hope that more people will find their way to the park soon.
Do you prefer Sun World Danang Wonders over Sun World Ba Na Hills? What do you think about the park’s theming level? Does the park deserve a dark ride inside the Angkor Wat temple? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.