The rebirth of a park: Part 23 of our Inverted Coaster Series

The rebirth of a park: Part 23 of our Inverted Coaster Series

In 2007, the last Inverted Coaster to open before a long 5 years drought opened, in the middle of South Korea.   Sleepy Kyungju World was a small amusement park with a pool in the historic city of Gyeongju and in the mid 2000’s, a new owner took over.  The park had a great location has even though the city itself has around 265000 residents, Gyeongju and the surrounding area is very touristy and linked to Seoul and other major cities by trains.  It is also located next to the major highway that runs between Busan and Seoul.

There was a lot of potential, but it was obvious the very old Meisho Corkscrew, a wild mouse and a Zamperla Dragon powered coaster were not going to cut it.  The new management started expanding the park and replacing older facilities, such as the pool complex.  The new “X’s Zone” was built around the existing Hopkins rides River Rapids attraction and the park added a Fabbri drop tower along with a Zamperla Discovery 24. The park’s name was also changed to Gyeongju World and a new water park called Caribbean Beach planned to the left of the main entrance.

Space 2000

Space 2000 is the Meisho Corkscrew present in the park at the time of purchase.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (16)

X’s Zone promotional poster.Gyeongju World Discovery

The Tornado, a Zamperla Discovery 24.

Gyeongju World Freefall

The Freefall tower.

The crown jewel opened in 2007 and was selected to be a B&M Inverted Coaster called Phaethon.  Management had visited parks around the world and the selected theme was a Greek myth about the son of the Sun God.  He wanted reassurance about his lineage and demanded proof.  His father granted him any proof he desired and he wanted to drive the Sun Chariot around the world for a day. Unfortunately, he lost control of the fiery horses and was struck down by lightning.  Zeus himself did it to save Earth from burning.


One of the statue with the name around the attraction.  Picture appears courtesy of Richard Bannister at

So the architecture around the ride was inspired by Antique Greek architecture and a giant statue of the Sun Chariot placed at the entrance.  Once inside the Temple, guests go through various rooms such as crossing the Styx and this famous sign… clearly inspired by another Inverted Coaster.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (7)

The giant statue near the entrance sign.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (10)

The temple that houses the ride station.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (11)

Some of the details in the waiting line.


The famous sign in Phaethon’s waiting line.  Picture appears courtesy of Richard Bannister at

Once upstairs, guests reach the elaborate loading station. One unique feature is that a set of doors blocks the way to the lift.  It is both safer (guests cannot walk to the lift hill) and it allows the glowing wheel covers to work even during the day.  Interestingly, due to the park low attendance, they only purchased one 8 car train, but a transfer track was constructed in case demand ramps up and a second one needed.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (12)

The doors that block the way to the lift hill.


The ride starts with the 149 feet tall lift hill and once at the top, it exits the lift and then drops to the left in a great drop.  The train then goes around a 99 feet Vertical Loop, a Zero G Roll and a perfect Cobra Roll.  The exit path for the Rapids ride goes right in the middle and this allows guests great picture opportunities.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (23)

The lift hill.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (17)

The lift hill.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (3)

The Vertical Loop, placed near the Freefall Tower.


This great shot show the Zero-G-Roll, Cobra Roll, Spiral and first Flat Spin.  Picture appears courtesy of Richard Bannister at

Phaethon Gyeungju World (21)

The exit path of the River Rapids go through the Cobra Roll and under the Spiral.

Things get different after as the train go up in a 360° spiral similar to what Talon and Patriot do and then the train drops down into the Flat Spin, which is quite stretched out.  An elevated turn where the track banks to the right at a 90° angle follows and this leads to the last Flat Spin.  An impossibly tight 540° helix concludes the ride.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (4)

The first Flat Spin, over the Sun Chariot statue.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (1)

The second Flat Spin which leads to the very tight second Spiral.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (2)

The second Spiral.


An overview of the second Spiral.  Picture appears courtesy of Richard Bannister at

The track was painted silver/grey and the ride supports are black.  The ride single train is black with flames painted on it.  The wheel covers looked like eyes and lights installed in the station allow the eyes to glow.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (15)

Close up of the train.

Phaethon Gyeungju World (14)

The beautiful wheel covers.


Flames were painted on the side of the cars.  Picture appears courtesy of Richard Bannister at