Cooling Down and Having a Blast in a Local Water Park
Text: Paul Jacob Naylor
Photos: Fred Cheng
It's 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning. On an MRT train full of sleepy commuters, one young writer is wide awake — no doubt because he is the only person on his way to a water park!
I am going to Formosa Fun Coast in the Bali District of New Taipei City, one of the largest and, I hope, the most exciting water parks in Taiwan. I am not to be alone; some friends hop on as the train runs through its stops. We get off at MRT Guandu Station and transfer to bus R22 (Red 22), which has the water park as its terminal station. Mt. Guanyin comes into view as we cross Guandu Bridge over the Tamsui River, and we then follow the highway along the river’s left side to the coast. This really has the feel of a grand adventure!
We spot a large array of twisting, spaghetti-like tubes standing out against the skyline; this is the Formosa Fun Coast water park. In high season (July and August) the park attracts 3,000 people on weekdays, and up to 7,000 on weekends. We have come early to avoid the crowds, but as we pass through the turnstiles the air is already filled with the sounds of splashing, laughter, and excitement.
Changed into our swimwear, our first stop is the UFO Expedition. This year, in a poll of water-park users, UFO Expedition was voted Taiwan's best ride. We have high expectations and, climbing the 20-meter-high staircase, a few nerves. Each flying-saucer-like inflatable holds up to five people, so however scary this is going to be, we are all in it together....
We get off to a very fast start, coasting up and down the sides of the wide slide like skateboarders on a half-pipe. Thoroughly soaked by the intermittent screens of water, we enter a tunnel and the lights go out. Disoriented by the dark and the spinning of our saucer, we could well be traveling blind through outer space! We fly out of the tunnel and off the end of the slide – for a moment it is really a flying saucer! – and land in a plunge pool with a splash. Could there be a more exciting 30 seconds?!
We fly out of the tunnel and off the end of the slide and land in a plunge pool with a splash.
Invigorated by the UFO Expedition, we battle across the Seattle Floating Bridge, an American Gladiators-style assault course of floating round and cylindrical pads. A short stretch of swimming and a quick march up some stairs brings us to the Tarzan Jump, a single rope swing dangling 5 meters above a deep plunge pool.
Next we head to the Journey of Sky Pond, the longest water slide in Southeast Asia. After climbing into our pink number 8-shaped inflatable, we are propelled down a twisty-turny slide and land in the first of five “sky ponds,” all suspended above the ground. The whims of the current – and the slide attendants – dictate our crash course from one pond to the next. At 400 meters long, this is a real journey, and when we are not busy handling the buffeting against the sides of the slide or overturning in the sky ponds, we catch some glorious views of Mt. Guanyin and the ocean in the distance.
After lunch – Formosa Fun Coast has a wide array of eateries, serving everything from burgers and fries to Taiwanese, Korean, and Italian specialties – we feel it is time for something a little less active. The Amazon River Voyage sounds like a safe bet. With one rubber ring each, we drift sedately here and there, following the river's winding course.
To our left and right we see children splashing around in the Madagascar Adventure. While children under 120cm cannot go on the big slides, there are plenty of child-friendly play areas. Each space is flanked with several fun water cannons and, on top of the climbing frames and small slides, is a large bucket, which slowly fills with water and which at any given moment can overturn, soaking everyone within a 10-meter radius!
Feeling a sense of complete relaxation, my eyes are almost closed when Joanne, a friend who is usually glamorously demure, decides to start a water fight. The peace and calm of the Amazon River is broken, and a battle royale ensues....
We leave our rubber rings to continue down the river on their own, and bound off to catch some surf at the Formosa Fun Coast. The wave machine is turned on and the waves, gently lapping the sandy shore of the artificial beach, quickly turn into large swells, almost sweeping me off my feet as we walk into the water. After a short and restful sunbath on the beach, we head off to find our next thrill, Aladdin's Flying Carpet.
Laying on my belly, gripping the handholds of my foam “carpet,” I fly head-first down the steepest slide of the day. This slide is covered, but a sea of twinkling stars above – an Arabian Night? – gives off just enough light to help me see that I am traveling very fast indeed, my carpet zipping up and down the walls of the slide. Suddenly, a bright light, and a big splash.
Approaching our last slide of the day, the Bermuda Triangle, we all agree that Aladdin's Flying Carpet has been the most thrilling so far. At the stairs, we have three choices: Mount one flight for The Twister, or go right up to the top for the Extreme Free-Fall Slide. I think you can guess which one we opt for.
Plunging downwards an 80-degree angle, I can do nothing but close my eyes and, yes, scream!
“This is not very extreme,” I say to myself, getting off to a slow start. Then I look past my feet and see, with horror, that the slide is about to run out. Plunging downwards an 80-degree angle, I can do nothing but close my eyes and, yes, scream! I am deposited into the plunge pool a shaking wreck. I get out and go straight back up to the top. The feeling of sheer terror as I see the end of the slide approaching does not disappear the second time round. Five seconds of near-G force later and I am back in the plunge pool. Up to the top again; certainly, and inadvertently, we have saved the best till last!
After September, the fun does not stop at Formosa Fun Coast even though the slides are closed. Instead, the Tang Spa offers some winter warmth and relaxation. Decorated in the style of the Tang Dynasty, the 4000m2 spa-hotel-restaurant complex boasts a wide range of outdoor pools as well as saunas, water jets to treat muscle pain, and private baths. If you fancy playing at Adam and Eve pre-temptation there is also a nude spa.
To get to the Formosa Fun Coast water park, take bus no. 13 or Red No. 22 from MRT Guandu MRT Station. If self-driving, the park is easy to find, just off Highway No. 15 (Zhongshan Road) a little west of the raised Expressway No. 64. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in June and September, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in July and August, except weekends, when it closes at 10 p.m. General admission is NT$$650 (NT$$550 for children). If you arrive after 5 p.m. you pay only NT$450 (NT$360).
Other Water Parks in Taiwan
Formosa Fun Coast is not the only water park in Taiwan. Cooling water fun also awaits at Leofoo Village’s Leofoo Water Park in Hsinchu County, at Lihpao Land’s Mala Bay Water World in Taichung City, and at Janfusun Fancyworld’s Vicky the Viking water park in Yunlin County.
Leofoo Water Park is located next to Leofoo Village Theme Park and Leofoo Resort Guanshi. It has a distinct Greek style, and features a variety of water slides. There are a total of 16 water attractions, including eight water rides with unique shapes, a pool with man-made waves, a water cannon area, a fountain area, a sand area, and a family water-play area.
Mala Bay is the largest water park in Taiwan. It features a variety of water attractions, including a huge open-air artificial wave pool, a water-fun house, hydro slides, children's pools, the Lazy River, and much more.
Earlier this year, the Vicky the Viking Pirate Village opened at Janfusun Fancyworld amusement park. The village features multiple amusement facilities, such as the Magical Mirror Maze, the Vicky Lazy River, and Viking Waves. There is also a Pirate Stomp Show performed by professional Taiwanese and foreign dancers, exclusive Vicky the Viking merchandise, and pirate-themed meals.
English and Chinese
Aladdin's Flying Carpet 阿拉丁飛毯
Amazon River Voyage 漂流亞馬遜
Bali District 八里區
Bermuda Triangle 百慕達禁區
Formosa Fun Coast 歡樂海岸
Journey of Sky Pond 天池之旅
Madagascar Adventure 勇闖馬達加斯加
Mt. Guanyin 觀音山
Seattle Floating Bridge 西雅圖浮橋
Tamsui River 淡水河
Tarzan Jump 泰山跳水
UFO Expedition 幽浮迷航
Zhongshan Road 中山路
Formosa Fun Coast (八仙海岸八仙水上樂園)
Add: 1-6 Xiaguzi, Xiagu Borough, Bali District, New Taipei City (新北市八里區下罟里下罟子1-6號)
Tel: (02) 2610-5200
Website: www.formosafuncoast.com.tw (in Chinese)
Leofoo Water Park (六福水樂園)
Add: 60 Gongzigou, Ren’an Borough, Guanxi Township, Hsinchu County (新竹縣關西鎮仁安里拱子溝60號)
Tel: (03) 547-5665
Mala Bay (馬拉灣)
Add: 8, Furong Rd., Houli District, Taichung City (台中市后里區福容路8號)
Tel: (04) 2558-2459
Website: www.lihpaoland.com.tw/mala/ (Chinese)
Vicky the Viking Pirate Village (小威の海盜村水樂園)
Add: 67, Dahukou, Yongguang Village, Gukeng Township, Yunlin County (雲林縣古坑鄉永光村大湖口67號)
Tel: (05) 582-5789
Website: http://fancyworld.janfusun.com.tw/webc/html/facility/facility04.aspx (Chinese)