Janfusun Fancy World — Hot Rides & Cool Water Fun
Text: Asher Leiss; Photos: Maggie Song
Located high on a hillside in central Taiwan’s Gukeng Township, Yunlin County, Janfusun Fancy World has been Taiwan’s number one amusement park for more than two decades. Let’s find out what makes this park so special!What most of the two million annual visitors that come to Janfusun Fancy World notice first when entering is a beautifully landscaped park, which showcases local flora from all around Yunlin and Taiwan, a celebration of local culture and bio-culture.
Opened in 1986, Janfusun Fancy World brings together the arts and traditions of Taiwan’s central-southwest region with high-tech entertainment and virtual reality, thrilling roller coasters, an exciting waterpark, a world-class family fun center, and fantastic live shows by local and international performers. With twenty-eight rides across four parks – SkyPlaza, Janfusun Kiddy Land, Vicky the Viking, and Vicky the Water Park – Janfusun is Taiwan’s biggest and busiest theme park.
There are also many restaurants serving up local and international delights, street foods, and a six-course-meal banquet hall, a live circus with acrobats, as well as a resort-hotel operation, the Janfusun Prince Hotel, which offers childcare services and a full-service spa, along with many other services/facilities.
My next favorite roller coaster is the aptly named Crazy Coaster. This floorless ride is placed much higher up and it reaches speeds of 90km per hour as it races around 360-degree corkscrews and through loops on a two-minute journey around red-color tracks. Because there are 27 more fun rides in the park, I’ve found that the roller coasters in Janfusun Fancy World are much more accessible than roller coasters in the amusement parks of my home country, the United States. Each time I’ve visited Janfusun I’ve been able to ride any selected roller coaster and waterslide as many times as I have wanted without being subjected to hour-long lines like I’m used to experiencing at parks back home. Local patrons seem more drawn to the other kinds of rides, such as the virtual-reality experiences, which are definitely also quite exciting. If you go on a weekday, especially, chances are that you won’t have to wait in line (for long) before going on the roller coasters.
The experience of going on the pirate-ship-themed ride Poseidon has recently been enhanced with virtual-reality technology. After donning your 3D Virtual Reality goggles, looking in any direction, including behind the boat, you will spot giant boat-eating sharks jumping onto the ship as it swings back and forth, devouring it almost entirely. There are stormy skies and rough waters, lighting flashes and thunder rumbles as the Poseidon rides tremendous waves that move in sync with the pendulum of the ride, carrying the passengers across an angry sea. Sharks and worse jump out to snap at you on your “doomed” ocean adventure. I don’t want to give the ending away here, but the show has a pretty spectacular finish. This was my first virtual-reality theme-park ride experience, and was much more intricate and detailed than I had expected.
While I love the roller coasters and other rides in Sky Plaza, I also always find myself drawn to Vicky the Water Park. Taiwan has hot weather most of the year, and one of the best ways to escape the heat is by playing in cooling waters. This park has a beach, Vicky Beach, a canal for tubing, Vicky River Voyage, and a wave pool, Vicky Waves. There’s also a giant water-themed jungle gym and play place, the Large Dock, and my favorite, a fast waterslide called Very Big Bowl, which shoots you around a vortex like water being drained from the bottom of a bathtub. The high speed and centrifugal forces keep you pressed along the edge of the bowl for several rotations before sending you down the drain and out the bottom.
Another great water ride is Tornado, a seven-story-high flume that sends a jumbo inflatable holding up to four people up the side of a giant horn. You can tell these two rides are going to be thrilling by the warnings on the signposts advising those with heart conditions and high blood pressure, pregnant women, and people who have suffered spinal injuries in the past not to get on. Tornado is quite a thrill, and not for the faint of heart.
Visitors to Vicky the Water Park are required to wear proper swimwear, including swimming caps, to go on the water rides. If you have not brought your own you can purchase these items from the gift shop.
Most of what I’ve described above are the more thrilling and extreme rides at Janfusun. Roller coasters and fast rides are why I go to amusement parks, but many more rides for families and visitors seeking a calmer and more casual experience are on offer here as well. You’ll find the rides that are more suitable for small children in Janfusun Kiddy Land. There is even a miniaturized version of the Sky Tower ride from the Sky Plaza section. Kiddy Land also has a 265-square-meter ball pit for kids to romp around in, complete with slides, toys, and other fun fixtures.
Another park designed for young children is Vicky the Viking. Here you can go on an educational journey, traversing a story of courage, wonder, and understanding as you travel through the park and help Vicky along her way. Attractions include Vicky’s House and Vicky’s Story House, which are interactive storybook adventures, and the Magic Mirror Maz, which takes you on a journey across a star-studded Scandinavian night sky featuring a 720-degree aurora.
Janfusun Fancy World is also a place to get in touch with and understand local culture. Yunlin, which has long been one of the agricultural centers of Taiwan, is home to a wide variety of agricultural products. The theme park’s restaurants celebrate this by serving up delicacies which feature local ingredients, such as pineapples, bananas, guavas, and bamboo shoots. Coffee is also grown in Yunlin, including on the Janfusun grounds. Visitors can learn about how coffee is made, and can roast and grind their own beans, crafting a fresh cup of coffee from start to finish.