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Which Park Will Be The First Western Park To Go Chinese?

roomraider

Best Topic Starter
With the release of Golden Horses new GSC-20A launched coaster model (see below) and videos appearing of their LSM Half pipe style rides i am starting to ask the question who in the western world will be the first park to chance getting a Chinese built ride?

GSC-20A.PNG

There have been Chinese built loopscrews throughout the old communist countries with places like Georgia and Cuba picking up looping coasters over the years. But none ever got built in established western parks. However its gotten to the point now that Golden Horse once a byword for cheap knock off are producing decent custom layouts, using their own track design and are even inovating faster and more effectively than some western companies.

Lets just look at the GH mine trains. A few years ago all GH mine trains were clones of Vekoma rides seen throughout Europe but now they have their own track style, their own vertical freefall drops and even some rides with switch tracks that are held on robotic arms with complex multimedia shows (Sunac Harbin if you want to find a POV of the first/poor version of that.)

No one right now would argue a Golden Horse's looping model could compare to an Intamin/verkoma/B&M ride of similar design but just a few years ago GH were known as the Knock-off Kings and now they are producing some pretty good custom designs in the family market. I really would not put it past GH to be on an equal footing with some of the more minor western companies in the next few years. (Say Zierer or Geurst)

As of yet no western park has gone for a Chinese built thrill ride (I am ignoring Wonderland Eurasia Mafia Paradise who built a BSA Sky Loop and the failed super multi looper at Skyline Park in Germany) but I genuinly believe its just a matter of time until we start to see the Chinese firms start to enter the western market.

I am however intrigued as to where these rides could go. I would think there will be a slow infiltration of the european market by moving through Eastern Europe first (and Wonderland Eurasia might suggest that) but GH would really need to get a ride in a well known park first.

Could we one day soon see a MK:2 GH Invert at a small polish park which would herald the GH arrival? Im not putting it out of the relm of possibillity.
 

Howie

Giga Poster
Neat topic, gonna be interesting to see some of the replies to this one.

Something that might be worth considering here is transportation costs. Not just for 'Western parks buying Chinese', but for any park anywhere in the world that's looking to buy some hardware. Along with 'how much does the hardware cost?', a major part of the equation will be 'how much does it cost to get the hardware here?'
I don't have any numbers, but shipping 1000+ tons of steel halfway round the world is gonna be megabucks, possibly millions, and therefore could be a considerable factor in the decision making.
Compare that with cost of delivering a Raptor from the RMC factory to Silverwood, 10 miles up the road.

There will be (and have been) exceptions, obviously, plenty of Western coasters have found their way into China, and no doubt there's many Eastern coasters languishing somewhere in the Western world, but unless Golden Horse start a manufacturing plant over here then transportation costs alone will prevent them from becoming commonplace I reckon. Like you said, maybe some infiltration of the Eastern European market, but not much else.
 

Pokemaniac

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Interesting question! It's almost as if one should ask "why haven't anyone already?"

I think we can make a safe assumption that if Golden Horse tried to establish themselves in the Western market, they would sell their coasters at very competitive prices to get a foothold. That is the usual MO of manufacturers trying to get into new markets, after all. Still, it's not like every small country park could automatically order a Megalooper from the Golden Horse catalog. It's still necessary for the park to have the necessary permissions and resources to follow up a large project. There might be language barriers too. Buying large coasters from Golden Horse would be an expensive process unless you already have an established park. Then again, the expensive and difficult part of the project would be figuring out the cooperation and contracts. Once that's done, it would not be much more expensive to buy five coasters than one. Again, provided you have somewhere to place five coasters, of course. That's probably easier if you run multiple parks.

So if I were to build further upon those assumptions, I think we'd be looking at a fairly large park chain with some financial woes, but with the means to run a multi-lingual procurement process. They'd buy several coasters at the same time to spread the costs.

In other words, Six Flags and maybe Sea World stand out as likely candidates. Six Flags has even dabbled with parks in China, although their success has been fairly limited. Then again, with these parks being mostly US-based, there could be all sorts of barriers to buying coasters from China.

Large European chains could be likely instead. Merlin and Parques Reunidos come to mind almost immediately, both having parks full of aging coasters but also an extreme reluctance to spending money on new ones. Given the faff with Brexit and all that, it wouldn't surprise me if importing a coaster from China would be just as cheap for Merlin as importing one from Germany or the Netherlands. Then again, they don't have many places to put large coasters in the UK. It's Thorpe and that's it, basically. The continental European parks may find it cheaper to buy European. Parques Reunidos has a few more parks with the means to build large coasters: The two in Madrid, Mirabilandia, possibly Movie Park Germany ...

All in all, my money is either on practically all the Six Flags parks (given that importing from China wouldn't be too much of a fuss), or the larger Parques Reunidos parks.
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
Playing devil's advocate slightly here, but I wonder if parks have a fear about going for Golden Horse in case of any bad publicity that could come with going for a 'knock off manufacturer'?

Now of course, I know there's nothing wrong with Golden Horse. But I'm sure plenty of people here have seen comments from other goons expressing concerns about "Chinese-manufactured rides", or the 'jokes' about them being knock offs, or other potentially problematic comments. I'd like to think we're past the peak of those comments and thoughts, but I'm sure there's people who still think like that out there. Perhaps even some of the high ups at some parks think like that too.

So say a big Western park gets a Golden Horse, and then those comments filter through the community. And then it gets picked up somewhere else, and the whole thing just snowballs from there. All of a sudden, the wider public could have this gross, mis-conceived thought that this big new ride is being built by a dodgy Chinese manufacturer who knocks off other companies so they could save some money.

In practicality, I doubt it's a big fear that's playing on parks' mind, and obviously the scenario here is very much worst case scenario. But I do wonder if it is a hurdle that needs overcoming all the same.


A short term problem for now too could be Covid I guess. I don't know what the exact restrictions are at the moment, but I imagine that if a park representative wanted to try out some Golden Horse products, or visit them in person for whatever other reason, trying to enter country at the moment is probably much trickier than it was a couple of years back, for example. So that's just another hurdle, for the short term at least.
 

Jared

Mega Poster
Wasn’t Golden Horse blacklisted by IAAPA or did I get that wrong? There was controversy surrounding a Chinese based manufacturer copying designs from another manufacturer a few years ago if I remember rightly. I could be wrong.

Secondly, there may be some issues when it comes to safety standards. Most countries operate their own individual safety systems. Designing and building to meet those standards could be difficult for a Chinese manufacturer who potentially designs to more lax safety codes in China?

You’ve got to ask though, given that Car manufacturers have been doing a similar thing, albeit earlier than the likes of GH. Why are we not seeing an influx of Chinese made cars in the western market? Likely due to demand not being there. I can’t see the demand being there from western parks either.
 

Crazycoaster

Giga Poster
I mean, sure they’ve got their own style track and all that now, but the stuff they’re coming out with is still really poor.

I mean sure that new mine train (Snow Mountain Racer) had a swing platform, but it was also incredibly drawn out and forceless, the same goes for many of their other coasters.

The launch coaster looks to be the same, big drawn out elements, a coaster that takes up a huge amount of space for little return. (And from the looks of it, they’ve also stolen B&M’s vest restraints/seating, which would not go down well for a western company to try and install).

I have yet to see a Golden Horse or other Chinese manufacturer come up with an interesting layout. It feels like they’re 30-40 years behind the western companies when it comes to innovations. Sure they can do a loop, or a corkscrew, or potentially pushing it to do a sidewinder, but that’s literally it. Why would anyone want to invest in that when they have innovative companies much closer, that would do a better job for a similar price.
 

cookie

Hyper Poster
Wasn’t Golden Horse blacklisted by IAAPA or did I get that wrong? There was controversy surrounding a Chinese based manufacturer copying designs from another manufacturer a few years ago if I remember rightly. I could be wrong.
They were barred from IAAPA 2012 for infringing on Zamperla’s trademarks, but they’ve been back in recent years. Coaster Studios even interviewed a representative on the expo floor in 2018.

 

Thekingin64

Strata Poster
You’ve got to ask though, given that Car manufacturers have been doing a similar thing, albeit earlier than the likes of GH. Why are we not seeing an influx of Chinese made cars in the western market? Likely due to demand not being there. I can’t see the demand being there from western parks either.

The British car brand MG is owned by a Chinese firm with everything built in China. They seem relatively popular here, even if it is only for the heritage of the brand. Have seen a couple Chinese built vans around as well, likely imported through the same company.

With that said, I can't imagine there being many downfalls in a British park purchasing a Chinese coaster. As @Pokemaniac pointed out, Brexit red tape costs would likely offset most of the transportation costs. Wasn't there a (disproven) rumour a few tears back regarding Euro Coaster being a potential GH model?
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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While I really don't think any coaster manufacturers would go to the lengths involved, it would be super interesting if any U.S.-operational companies would believe they have either a patent infringement or trade dispute with Golden Horse if it were a U.S. park (again, based on more-than-is-customary-design-copying), and lodge complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission for safeguard relief (which often takes effect as outright product/component bans or added tariffs to goods and services).

For those not as familiar with U.S.-China trade relations, we've been in varying states of low-grade trade war over the last 20+ years. Some of the more recent blow-by-blow recounted in the Wiki article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China–United_States_trade_war)

ITC complaints are typically reserved for far larger industries (e.g. steel, solar panels, dishwasher appliance); I would suspect roller coaster industry to be a bit too niche to make it worth time/effort. (Recognizing many firms are actively building in China, and wouldn't want to jeopardize relations)

A few thoughts to respond to others @UC style:

The British car brand MG is owned by a Chinese firm with everything built in China. They seem relatively popular here, even if it is only for the heritage of the brand. Have seen a couple Chinese built vans around as well, likely imported through the same company.
In general agreed - noone really cares about who owns what brand (or at least it never shows up in purchasing behavior). For instance, did you also know Saab is Chinese-owned?

Secondly, there may be some issues when it comes to safety standards. Most countries operate their own individual safety systems. Designing and building to meet those standards could be difficult for a Chinese manufacturer who potentially designs to more lax safety codes in China?
Ehh, regardless of where you're building, you will always have to comply with local/national safety standards.
 

Coaster Hipster

Giga Poster
Met and interviewed David Jia, GH's Vice-President at various IAAPA events in 2019.

What strikes me is the whole scale of GH's operations. As of 2019, they employed no less than 200 engineers. That's perhaps more than all Western manufacturers combined, and certainly explains the pace at which the company is improving their output. As they sell many projects in China and other developing markets, I can also see economies of scale to viably price their rides very competitively.

The amusement industry is a small niche where everyone knows each other. I'm not sure GH has truly joined the global conversation yet. Talking to GH people made me realise they're not as fluent in English as Western manufacturers' sales rep - for understandable reasons. Perhaps GH should focus on this aspect if they really want to network with Western parks.

The language/cultural barrier is hard to ignore, especially in an industry where safety is key, and park operators need to trust their suppliers 100%. GH could use a regional office in Europe or the Americas, and certainly hire someone familiar with European/American safety norms and good connections with parks. In other words, I think they need someone to bridge that cultural gap between China and the West - someone who can make Western park managers feel he/she is on the same team with GH, as opposed to some Chinese salesperson difficult to communicate with.
 

roomraider

Best Topic Starter
I mean, sure they’ve got their own style track and all that now, but the stuff they’re coming out with is still really poor.

I mean sure that new mine train (Snow Mountain Racer) had a swing platform, but it was also incredibly drawn out and forceless, the same goes for many of their other coasters.

The launch coaster looks to be the same, big drawn out elements, a coaster that takes up a huge amount of space for little return. (And from the looks of it, they’ve also stolen B&M’s vest restraints/seating, which would not go down well for a western company to try and install).

I have yet to see a Golden Horse or other Chinese manufacturer come up with an interesting layout. It feels like they’re 30-40 years behind the western companies when it comes to innovations. Sure they can do a loop, or a corkscrew, or potentially pushing it to do a sidewinder, but that’s literally it. Why would anyone want to invest in that when they have innovative companies much closer, that would do a better job for a similar price.

I mean their mine trains already have the ability to be better than the classic Vekoma model. The one at Happy Valley Tianjin was excellent and better than any of the Vekoma models I've ridden.

The newer model Tilt Coasters also have very interesting layouts in my opinion and it seems the ride experience has improved significantly since the first ones opened at Sunac Heifei. The Super Spinning Coaster model is an excellent design as well. Rides a little slow but I'd take it over any Zamperla spinning coaster. The new junior racing coasters are a nice if simple design too. They seem to be excelling in smaller footprint rides to smaller parks (Which to be fair has always been their main market ever since their spinning mouse days)

I'd say you're right about their bigger rides like the Dive Machine and the Wing Coasters not being anywhere near western standards. but 30 or 40 years out? 40 years ago Arrow had just built Dragon Fyre at Canada Wonderland and we'd just had the first Batwing on Orient Express. Hebei Zhongye are probably at about that point now but thats being harsh on Golden Horse who are a fair way ahead. .

The rides are certainly starting to leak out of China more and more, SBL have a large new ride at Genting Sky Worlds (Which was purchased when the park was being built under the Fox guise) Golden Horse have new rides all over Asia. Golden Horse have a ride in Europe in the Czech Republic although its a junior coaster, Theres even an BJA ride in Europe in Croatia so its starting to trickle through.

What i suspect we will see happen is some smaller rides filter into the smaller parks in countries like Cyprus or Bulgaria first as we are already starting to see. And perhaps eventually one or two will pick up some bigger models like the Super Spinning Coaster or the newer Junior Inverts. And maybe then if those do well enough we might see a smaller but more well known western park go for something similar. It will take a few years but I have no doubt it will happen.
 
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Crazycoaster

Giga Poster
Are they actually a fair way ahead though? Purely from design perspective, their rides consist of dull helixes, loops, corkscrews and sidewinders. And that’s it. At least the arrows built 40 years ago had started to mix up the elements in new and interesting ways. There doesn’t seem to be that spark in any of the designs I’ve seen from Golden Horse.

They still lack any sort of creativity, or thinking outside of the box, it’s like the rides have been designed on Disney’s Ultimate Ride (now there’s an old game) from a set of premade elements stuck together. That’s why I compare them to 40 years ago. It’s like they arn’t using all of the wonderful advanced CAD software and computing systems available.

Vekoma have changed and adapted with the times, and have created themselves brand new rides that are unique and distinctly Vekoma. If GH want to make a mark on the western market they need to come up with their own unique product line.
 

solarfall

Roller Poster
I found this really jarring - I don’t think a single post in the thread has warranted that comment?
Then I don't know what to tell you, brother. People just don't talk about Chinese parks or coasters the same way they talk about western ones. Sometimes it's hard to spot
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
Staff member
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Then I don't know what to tell you, brother. People just don't talk about Chinese parks or coasters the same way they talk about western ones. Sometimes it's hard to spot
I'm sorry, I'm not seeming the spot the racism that you're accusing this thread of? We don't take that kind of accusation lightly - report or DM me if you feel like there's a specific comment.
 

roomraider

Best Topic Starter
Are they actually a fair way ahead though? Purely from design perspective, their rides consist of dull helixes, loops, corkscrews and sidewinders. And that’s it. At least the arrows built 40 years ago had started to mix up the elements in new and interesting ways. There doesn’t seem to be that spark in any of the designs I’ve seen from Golden Horse.

They still lack any sort of creativity, or thinking outside of the box, it’s like the rides have been designed on Disney’s Ultimate Ride (now there’s an old game) from a set of premade elements stuck together. That’s why I compare them to 40 years ago. It’s like they arn’t using all of the wonderful advanced CAD software and computing systems available.

Vekoma have changed and adapted with the times, and have created themselves brand new rides that are unique and distinctly Vekoma. If GH want to make a mark on the western market they need to come up with their own unique product line.

I mean for the most part you are right. but they arent just stuck on sidewinders.
GHCObra.jpg
They have rides now that do do more complex elements such as this.

And this
Harbiung Roll.jpg


Both of which just to confirm are unique layouts. And not bad ones at that.
And while this isnt an original layout you can't honestly say Arrow could have done this 40 years ago?
GHZero.JPG

GH were a full on Rip off company and they still are to this day. However I've ridden one of the Kumali style GH Mk:2 inverts and they are much better than the Vekoma models. They may be full on rip off's but they are better than the original now weirdly.

They do have engineers and ride layouts that are 100% better than Arrow in the 80s. Not all of them but at least some.
 

gavin

Administrator
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GH were a full on Rip off company and they still are to this day. However I've ridden one of the Kumali style GH Mk:2 inverts and they are much better than the Vekoma models. They may be full on rip off's but they are better than the original now weirdly.

Very much this. The older GH "Kumali" coasters are f**king dreadful, possibly the worst of any invert model I've done, including the other Chinese manufacturers.

The 2nd version with the newer track type is a MASSIVE improvement and rides better than any Vekoma SLC I've done.
 
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