Theme Park in One Hour

“You know, we can actually die on this ride. It can go off the rails and we have no seatbelts,” I say.
Purple, white as a sheet, looks like she wants to punch me if she wasn’t holding on to her seat for dear life.
Dufan, Ancol, Jakarta. 01.20.11

There are two things you need to know if you want to enjoy Jakarta’s infamous theme park in Ancol, a massive entertainment complex near the coast: (1) you must come early and (2) some of the rides suck. On a rare break from copy-editing at the Globe, my friend and I traipsed off at 4 in the afternoon to Dufan, about a 40 minute cab ride from South Jakarta, to blow off some steam. We got lost mainly because we couldn’t see any Ferris wheels or roller coasters in the distance. Turns out they’re obscured by trees and aren’t that tall to begin with.

The tickets cost Rp 150.000 and the attendant cheerfully informed us that we only had about an hour before closing time at 6 p.m. Purple was railing against this policy (What kind of theme park closes in the afternoon??!!) but we decided to sprint to the gate and manically try as many rides as possible. Here are some of them:

It’s basically like Anchor’s Away in Enchanted Kingdom (Philippines) though smaller. We sat near the edge, in front of the tranny-esque mermaid nailed to the mast and hence got a good view of the entire park during the upswings.

The look of speechless discomfort.

Desperate for a “decent water ride,” Purple and I hop on this boat ride thinking it would be something like kayaking in the rapids. What we found instead was a creepy United Nations tour where you float along tiny canals flanked by dioramas of each country, starring costumed, moving Chuckie dolls and lusty-looking farm animals.

While all this is happening, there is a Bahasa version of “It’s a Small World After All” blaring from the speakers. In a loop. Some of the installations were actually kind of racist. A word of warning: DO NOT look into the dolls’ dead eyes.

This was actually fun even if Purple didn’t want to go on the ride with me. She took some really good photos of me strapped to that metal stick, being tossed back and forth or whipped around like a hotdog in a washing machine. The girl next to me kept crying for her mommy and yelped when her shoes fell off. If you close your eyes, it feels far less frightening, like a gentle plane crash.

An upside-down upside-down photo of me on the Tornado.

We also tried another baby ride (caterpillar roller coaster) before we realized we were running out of time and Purple wanted to squeeze in a ride on Niagara, which to her was the REAL water ride. So we ran to the edge of the park, past a huge pyramid featuring a 3D show, across some snack stalls and over a bridge only to find that the ride was closed. So we contented ourselves by merely taking pictures with the park attraction.

Fuck you, ride.

When the park started closing down, we were shooed out by the security guards. The exits are conveniently located at the far end of a souvenir shop, where Purple bought us T-shirts which declared in silvery script what she thought of the entire experience: “The FUN is OVER.” (She missed the word “not” in the middle.)

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