ok, so I ran the test, and was unable to replicate the issue.
The gas station
So after playing a bit and not getting anything, I turned on creative mode and started teleporting around. Then I just put it in fly mode and went cruising around a city at high speed. Definitely exceeded what this laptop is capable of by a large margin.
And only then did I start to see it.
So then I went back to my Min Spec PC and tried to replicate it.
So I went back to the laptop, and logged back in without cheats. Low and behold everything was fine.
Went back to the Sonic replica the normal way without cheating, and it's showing up fine too.