Monday, 7 December 2015

Knights Valley Shenzhen: Best View at any Theme Park

When most people think of theme parks, they think roller coasters, 3D shows and maybe the food. However, Knights Valley (大峡谷) at OCT East Resort (东部华侨城) in Shenzhen, China is much more than that. It has, by far, the most impressive views I have ever experienced at any theme park; the designers of Knights Valley really did an excellent job in showcasing the majesty of the natural landscape.

This is the view of the Hotels from Knights Valley Shenzhen!

Overview of Knights Valley

Knights Valley (大峡谷) is located within OCT East Resort (东部华侨城), a huge resort with several themed hotels, a water park, several recreational attractions, Chinese temples and, of course, the theme park. The resort is actually about 10km East of the Shenzhen city, so as of 2015 you need to take either a tour bus or taxi (taxi costs apx RMB70) to get to the place. However, in a few years time, the Shenzhen metro will be extended to the resort area, and you can enter the resort simply by taking the metro to Dameisha station!

As of 2015, the only way to get to OCT East Resort is by taxi or tour bus

The only reason why I decided to go to this theme park is the excellent Wooden Roller coaster. However, what really impressed me when I got there was the sheer beauty of the mountains, beaches and valleys. Every signature attraction there is designed to take full advantage of the height and views, and even the man-made theming is quite commendable. Knights Valley is divided into 2 main areas: the Summit area and the base area - similar to Hong Kong Ocean Park.

This majestic waterfall greets you just before entering the main park area

If you are tired of walking around such a humongous park, there are electric buggies ready to bring you around. Separate fee applies.
The Knight's Valley water park is closed during the winter. It is mostly indoors under a giant dome.

Seaside Town

Seaside town is a nice little turn of the century coastal village with multiple dining and retail options. Yes, that includes a pizza hut outlet, of all things. The level of detail of the buildings is really impressive and you will feel that you are transported into another world. Also, the paths are really wide and huge so it gives people plenty of space to spread out.

Welcome to Seaside town!

Its always great to have a shelter like this during the sunny days. The screen on the ceiling is also quite interesting

See, even the game stalls are somewhat themed and blends very well into the landscape

I thought I will never find a model with this level of detail at a Chinese theme park!

At the back of Seaside town is the park's main water ride: 激流勇进 (loosely translated as Surging down the Rapids). This is a moderate sized shoot-the-chutes ride, and you do get extremely wet on this one, more so than the ones at Ocean Park or USS.

My timing not very good. The water is still not at full blast!

If the giant splash is not wet enough, you can give them a second round of soaking!

Kiddie Land (童趣乐园)

No theme park is complete without a nice kids area. The Kiddie Land at Knights Valley has multiple kids and family rides, game stalls and an arcade area near the Funicular station. However, I do wish that they provided more seating areas for parents to rest while the kids explore, and also provide more sheltered areas for this section of the park.

Several kids rides were closed for maintenance on the day I visited.

Now that's a really interesting kids ride. And unlike Legoland, the parents can actually ride along!

I don't know why, but everytime I see this particular type of ride I think of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3

"Major" Rides

Most of the "major" rides are located near or around Discovery Plaza (发现广场). This includes shows, 3D rides and both roller coasters. I will leave the roller coasters for the end and talk about the other rides first.

The Space Shuttle is the landmark of Discovery Plaza

I personally do not like the 3+D rides at Knight's Valley. The projection quality is questionable at best and the transitions between scenes are quite clumsily done. The STAR award winner for such problems is 4000 miles to Earth's Center (地心四千里), a very poorly done knock-off of Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo Disneysea. I have to pay an additional RMB2 for 3D glasses and the 3D effects are not even working properly.

This massive amphitheater is home to the Flash Flood special effects show. Note that actors are on off on Mondays so the show will proceed but with the special effects only.

However, I do like the flight simulation theater called 深海探险 (Deep Sea Odyssey). The queue area is like a mini-aquarium and the sensation of feet dangling while gliding through the ocean is really magical. The projection quality still leaves much room for improvement, though.

There are seat belts in this theater for a reason. You will soon be suspended 10 meters in the air!

 The Summit of Knights Valley

Now, this is the reason why people come to Knight's Valley - the Summit. The views are absolutely breathtaking and the attractions there are specifically designed to make full use of the impressive height.

Firstly, there are 2 ways to get to the summit: By Funicular Railway or Cable Car. Note that in Knights' Valley, the word 缆车 (lan che) actually refers to the Funicular Railway and NOT the Cable Car. Cable Car is called 索道 (suo dao). Each offers a unique way to reach the Summit and I recommend trying both. The Funicular even has a glass roof to maximise the views.

Look at the castle at the top. We are heading there!
Once at the top, you are greeted by another beautiful mountaintop town. This town seems to have more spiritual elements compared to seaside town with many ornaments and symbols all over the place. You can also dine at one of the restaurants overlooking the beautiful mountain slope. I was surprised that many of the buildings up there are vacant, though.

Which theme park is complete without such photo ops?

Now, we have finally arrived. The very top where you find the best views. There are 2 ways you can bask in the beautiful landscape: the Sky Tower or the Pinnacle. The Sky Tower is a tower with a rotating car that sends you all the way to the top. What I like about the Knights Valley tower is that they make several revolutions at the top before coming down, allowing you to really take time to appreciate the view. 

The other, the Pinnacle, is a cantilevered glass floor observation deck that protrudes out of the mountainside. This is an excellent photo spot and, on off peak days, you can really take your time to enjoy your views on the platform. - provided you have no fear of heights.


If you are looking for something more thrilling, there is also a pair of Spin Doctors at the summit! Woe betide anyone who dares to challenge this monster. FYI I did NOT take this ride, for obvious reasons.

Hold on, is my camera upside down or are they upside down? I can't even tell which way is up!?

And what better way to end our tour of this spectacular summit than down a 1.5km long Cable Car? You can even see Dameisha Beach and Wood Coaster from the cable car! Once again, don't forget that the cable car is called 索道 and not 缆车.

Each car can take 6 people, but if you go on a non peak day, you can even go solo! Like me!

Animal Exhibits

Knights Valley also has an animal exhibition area called Flamingo Valley (don't worry, there are more than flamingos there). The entire area is one huge aviary so many of the animals can roam the entire aviary. 

There is also a parrot show. I personally felt the birds to be very funny but wished that they took away the forced donation segment. Basically, a volunteer will display 2 notes and the parrot has to identify and keep the note with the larger amount. I know it is important to raise funds for animal conservation but this is just weird. Not surprisingly, no one took part during the session I watched.

Erm. What is going on here?

The Parrots at Knights Valley are very agile and can perform quite a variety of tricks. 

Hi there? Looking for your partner?

Roller Coaster: Jungle Carts

Jungle Carts (森林穿梭) is a powered bobsled roller coaster that takes place over 880m of track. It is a great family coaster and the pace of the ride is quite good. However, the rear rider has to push his hands forward on the control lever for the entire 2 minute duration of the ride, and the lever is not very ergonomically designed. Also, with only 2 riders per car capacity is quite limited. 

Finally, the seat design is such that the legs of the rear rider must interlock with the arms of the front rider - good for couples but really awkward for single/odd number travelers. Riders must bring all their belongings onto the ride or store them into the lockers under the loading platform.

Flamingo Valley and Jungle Carts share the same entrance?

And this is the ride vehicle! 

Wood Coaster

And in stark contrast to Jungle Carts, Wood Coaster (木制过山车) is a large, fast paced and extremely intense thrill ride. I mean, this ride really kicks ass. There are airtime hills of every size, shape and type and you are out of your seat for half of the ride. The ride is also extremely long at over 1.4km and makes full use of the terrain - dropping down the slopes and rushing headlong into the valley walls.

An interesting observation; China roller coasters in generally, not just this one, generally displays the faces of the entire ride engineering team on a public noticeboard. Also, I like the fact that the loading area has ample lockers to place personal belongings. The only minor downsides are that the seats are a little small, and Knights Valley only operates 1 train at a time so queues can get really, really long.

As of December 2015, I regard Wood Coaster as the best roller coaster I have ever ridden.

A plaque of honour for the ride! Just wondering why they added the "s" at the end of Wood Coaster.

This does not look steep, but you certainly are flying out of your seat

Overall Comments

Personally, I really love Knights Valley. While the wood roller coaster is amazing, what really caught me was the views. The park is already located in a beautiful natural valley, and when combined with good quality man-made theming, the result is true escapism. The only real downside is that the distances between attractions are huge - I walked at least 8km in my trip to Knights Valley, twice that of comparable parks like Ocean Park or Universal Studios.

As good as Knights Valley is, some areas do need improvement. the parks' ride operations still need to be drastically improved, and the 3D projection should also be upgraded. I personally prefer some original soundtrack to replace the Maplestory soundtrack, and also wish that Knights Valley could provide some water coolers and sit down toilet bowls. Transportation is quite a pain, but that will change once the Shenzhen Metro expansion to Dameisha is complete.

  • Roller Coasters: ☆☆☆☆
  • Thrill Rides: ☆☆
  • Shows: ☆☆☆
  • Family Rides: ☆☆☆
  • Theming: ☆☆☆☆☆
  • Operations: ☆☆
  • Overall: ☆☆☆
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China Theme Parks - they are good!