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Everything posted by azza29

  1. Mick Doohan's Motocoaster would be my pick. Good concept, terrible execution. The ride does very little with its speed, notwithstanding the bizarre restraints.
  2. It took about two minutes, a bit like getting a fast pass. You scan your group's tickets at a machine and are told immediately if you've been successful or not. So either everyone in the group wins or everyone misses out, they won't split people up.
  3. Disneyland Time to take a look at one of the world's best parks, Disneyland Tokyo! I'm not much of "Disney person", but I'm definitely a big fan of their theme parks. Having previously been to the Disney parks in Hong Kong, Anaheim and Orlando, this one was set to be a highlight of my time in Japan. So Disneyland Tokyo is quite similar to Orlando's Magic Kingdom, with its big wide walkways and sprawling layout. Almost every ride the two parks share in common (Pirates, Jungle Cruise) has been improved in some way, while others (Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc) are different entirely. Having heard about the popularity of this park I was a little nervous about the crowds, but wait times were pretty manageable providing you used fastpass efficiently. Pooh's Hunny Hunt was my most anticipated "new" ride in this park, and it didn't disappoint. The Japanese version of this makes the equivalents in the US and Hong Kong look pretty poor by comparison. I rode Mystic Manor last year and felt that while it was a good ride, the trackless tech wasn't used to its full potential. That certainly wasn't the case on Hunny Hunt, where the vehicle paths seem genuinely unpredictable. This ride definitely represents DIsney at its best. Being theme park pros we arrived well ahead of opening, and the locals were savvy enough to do the same. This looks like a long line but everyone got in quickly. There's no train station at the front of Tokyo Disneyland, instead you enter the Main St "arcade". Also note the complete absence of electric scooters, or strollers carrying eight year olds. The whole area is covered to account for Tokyo's often wet weather. We were extremely lucky and had almost four days of clear skies this time around. First stop is fastpass (of course!). Monsters and Pooh run out the quickest, we decided Pooh would probably be worth a standby wait (it was) so went with Monsters instead. Space Mountain was in rehab mode, fortunately we'd already visited at the start of the trip, before it was closed. This version is quite similar to the Hong Kong/Disneyland Space Mountains. Star Tours is always fun, especially in Japanese. This one never had much of a wait so we rode it a few times, still never got that Death Star ending though... Don't think a dessert can qualify as "adorable"? Try these little green men dumplings! The Monsters Inc dark ride is certainly well ahead of the one in California. The deal is that you shine a flashlight at Monsters and they react, which I thought was a cool way of adding interactivity without bothering with point-scoring. The queue room is quite impressive, too! So Fantasyland is almost exactly the same as Florida, except with Disneyland's Snow White and Pinocchio rides thrown in. They might be low-tech, but I always enjoy the classic Disney dark rides. Inside the castle was an art display, followed by this room which looks like it was designed for a princess meet-and-greet. But today they were just letting you take photos on this chair. One group member likes Small World so much that we rode four times. It's not any better in Japanese, in case you're wondering. As I mentioned, Pooh's Hunny Hunt is a great ride. It uses the trackless technology really well, especially in the "dream" room. I am kind of surprised this hasn't made its way to the other Disney parks, as its far better than the dark rides found elsewhere. The queue is also impressively detailed. They were doing this 15 years before new Fantasyland arrived in Orlando! More queue. Despite this being one of the most popular rides in the park we managed to ride it a few times in a row with 5 minute waits! Jungle Cruise had recently received an upgrade, with new special effects added. The spiel was, not surprisingly, in Japanese. I wonder if the backside of water got a mention? The queue jokes were still in English though, corny as ever. Rather than running around the perimeter of the park, the railroad here does a lap of one side, with just a single station. The dinosaurs are still in there, though. Being neither a Stitch nor Tiki Room fan, I wasn't really that excited for this attraction. But it was actually quite good, and the most I've enjoyed the singing animatronic birds to date. Haven't had a picture of Jeff with a bear for a while, here's another one. Speaking of bears, the vacation version of the Country Bear Jamboree was presented here. This wasn't bad, and I would recommend solely for Trixie's Japanese rendition of "Achy Breaky Heart". Hilarious. For lunch we decided to try the Blue Bayou. This is essentially the same as the on in Anaheim, and on this occasion we scored the coveted "bayou-adjacent" seating. Selfies ensued. The food here was excellent, and it was fun to watch the ride as we dined. Pirates in Tokyo is most similar to the one at Disneyland, with a slightly shorter "caves" section. Jack Sparrow was absent from this one, which is either a plus or minus, depending on your point of view. Big Thunder Mountain is just like Orlando's version, and very popular. A look back over "Westernland", as the Japanese version of Frontierland is known. Lines were consistently long for this one, fortunately we had fastpass this time. Waiting in line in Japan, people do seem much more patient than in Western countries though - and I don't think we encountered a single instance of anyone cutting or even trying the "catch up" to their group. We took the raft over to Tom Sawyer's Island. I love these Disney islands - no queues, plenty to do, a nice break from the bustle of the "mainland". They have a riverboat too. (I could have subbed in this photo from Orlando and nobody would know...) There was plenty to explore, including the fort. The cave network on the island is extensive, and it took us a while to see everything. Haunted Mansion was once again excellent. I think this must be the best looking "mansion" of them all. Splash Mountain is based on the Magic Kingdom version. It was also very popular, and had the longest wait of all of the attractions we visited. Worth it though, this is a great ride. The park had just launched some soap dispensers that squirt a Mickey-shaped foam bubble into your hand. There was even a queue to try this out! We found a viewing spot for the parade. It's common here for the first few rows of people to sit on the ground (most people bring blankets to sit on) so those behind can see. It was great how considerate people were in this park, I didn't experience any of the "must be first" mentality here at all! The Tokyo Electrical Parade is like the one in Florida, except it's been updated since the eighties. Pete's Dragon makes an appearance, with smoke! Genie's float was particularly cool. The whole thing was like a giant video screen, changing colours to the beat. Awesome! Like a Middle Eastern airline, Prince Ali (fabulous he!) had a bling-heavy float. The park had a short fireworks show in the evening, but the main even was the castle projection show, "Once Upon a Time". This is a spectacular display, even better than at the Magic Kingdom. There is a big "reserved" seating area in front of the castle, you can enter a daily fastpass-style lottery to try and secure a spot. We were unsuccessful on our first try but won tickets on the last day. Apparently this is a big deal, some locals near us were going nuts when they found out they'd scored seats. The view from the reserved area was excellent, and the show was much better front-on. I really like how they've used lasers here to highlight the projections. That's it from Tokyo Disneyland. For such an iconic park I didn't end up taking a whole lot of pictures - probably because much of it looked so similar to other Disney parks. That will not be the case for the next (and final) update from DisneySea!
  4. Dreamworld ropes off a row on Buzzsaw (Maurer Skyloop) so they can run the ride with just one operator. Kind of poor on a ride that doesn't have great capacity to begin with.
  5. Some pointers from trips I've done: - figure out your budget (both time and money) first and then work out how many parks you can reasonably visit. If you can't squeeze everything in the one trip, don't stress. Those parks will almost certainly still be around next time. - sharing accommodation and car rental costs with someone else is an easy way to save money. - if you're visiting a few parks in the same chain a season pass could be good value, especially if parking is included. - staying onsite is awesome if it works with your budget. But if you're paying a premium to stay at the park make sure you leave yourself some time to enjoy the resort! - it should go without saying but do the obvious stuff like checking park hours before you leave. Maybe ride closures too - if Expedition GeForce is scheduled for maintenance you will probably want to visit Holiday Park on a different day. - keep some room in your itinerary in case of bad weather or other unforeseen events. Nothing wrong with having a sightseeing day in there to help break it up. Hope this helps!
  6. I haven't seen this posted anywhere yet, according to walibi.nl the ride will be called Lost Gravity. This "press release" seems to contain a weird amount of speculation, but given that it's on the park website I'm assuming it's legit (Google translated text): Teaser clip showing the logo, and possibly a train?
  7. LaQua On this trip we visited a bunch a small parks in the Tokyo area, over a few days, so I'm lumping them all together in one update. The first of these was LaQua, at Tokyo Dome City. This park is best known for Thunder Dolphin, an Intamin mega coaster. The ride is decent enough, but probably more remarkable for its location - on the top of a shopping mall. Starting out with a little sightseeing. This is the Metropolitan Government Building, one of Tokyo's tallest and with a free observation deck up the top. Tokyo's unending metropolis. I spy a ride! Judging by the giant ferris wheel, we're getting close. Thunder Dolphin runs around the perimeter of the park, like the Scenic Railway at Luna Park Melbourne. Unlike the Scenic Railway, Thunder Dolphin is not a century old woodie. In addition to the rollercoaster, LaQua has a few more flat rides across the street, a flume and a Spiderman-style motion-base dark ride in the basement. The dark ride was quite good, kind of an anime-style story about a Japanese girl saving Tokyo (I think?). Presumably the ride sign has a lightning bolt because thunder is hard to draw. So this is a good ride, but probably the least thrilling of its kind. The setting is spectacular though! It has some cool moments, like this headchopper, and "threading" the ferris wheel. And after all of the meandering jet coasters I'd been on, Thunder Dolphin's speed was very welcome. That girl in the third row is definitely enjoying this ride. Yokohama Cosmoworld Cosmoworld is about a one-hour train ride south of Tokyo, and is one of those parks where all of the rides are on top of each other. This park contains the iconic Diving Coaster: Vanish, which dramatically dives into an underwater tunnel. A unique flume ride ran through the park as well, which awarded riders points for screaming loud on the final drop. Once again, a big-ass ferris wheel gave a pretty good indication of where the park was. Here is Yokohama Cosmoworld. And yes, that is a spinning mouse on top of the building. Please enjoy this ride sign. I'm not sure what those trains are themed to but they're certainly funky. This coaster definitely looked better than it rode. I don't recall the ride being particuarly rough, but it just kind of average. This element was fun, although you don't really notice the splash effect when riding. I'm sure nobody has taken this photo before. The spinning mouse had been listed as down for maintenance, so we were pleasantly surprised to find it open. The group tried many different combinations of rider size and positioning to maximise the spin count. In the end it just came down to luck, I think. Across the river was one more credit, the hotly anticipated Family Banana Coaster. This was the first kiddie coaster I've ever been on that had seatbelt extensions for the adults! Cosmoworld also had a few indoor attractions, like this walkthrough game we'd first encountered at Mitsui Greenland. By difficult, they mean borderline impossible. Fortunately we were pros who had done this before, and still scored a trading card prize at the end. The flume ride was quite good, I always enjoy it when these things wind around buildings and other rides. Points were awarded for screaming loudly on the final drop. Most pairs made a decent effort. But Thad and Nolan gave everything. Letting out a violent roar... All the way to the end. I don't know if they ended up with the highest score, but it didn't matter. They won hearts instead. The final group stop was this walkthrough freezer, with models of animals and ice sculptures. Robb sent us in and then proceeded to lock the exit. I can't remember why were let out, but it did happen eventually. Sea Paradise Also in Yokohama, Sea Paradise is an aquarium complex that also happens to have a few rides. The chief draws here were the 350-foot Blue Fall drop tower, and Surf Coaster Leviathan, with a good chunk of its track sitting over Tokyo Bay. Here we are at Sea Paradise! Blue Fall is pretty big. That pyramid houses the park's main aquarium and amphitheatre. Blue Fall was pretty good, as far as drop towers go. It did give an excellent view of the surrounding area, always a plus when visiting foreign parks. I'm told that one group of seats has a slightly different drop sequence, but since it was raining we just took the one ride. Japanese parks don't tend to run their coasters in any sort of rain, so we were pleased to see Surf Coaster Leviathan running when we arrived. For a Togo this was pretty good, and definitely unique in the way it went out over the open water. The ride had recently received new trains without OTSRs, just lapbars. Hooray! There was definitely plenty on offer for those who are into helixes. Overall a good ride, even in the wet. Sea Paradise also had a ride where you can get into a boat and ride around with the dolphins. Definitely a "never in the west" attraction! The boats are even themed! On-ride photo! We saw a couple of dolphins swim past, but they seemed to only emerge from the water if you had brought food. Jeff gets his dolphin photo. Unsurprisingly, Sea Paradise had a sizeable aquarium. Is it just me or do all aquariums look the same? One of the rooms had a "show" using different coloured lights to make the fish school in different directions. The whole thing was like some kind of strange aquatic rave. The park's auditorium housed a number of performing animals, a maritime circus of sorts. At one time they had even managed to train a shark here! Seals were the clowns of the show. Performing beluga whales were definitely a first for me. Dolphins headlined, although this show involved far less trainer-dolphin intimacy than the one I'd seen at Sarkanniemi a year earlier. I'm always impressed that it's possible to train marine animals. I can't even get the dog to roll over. Joypolis Part of the enormous Tokyo Decks mall precinct, Joypolis is an indoor video-game theme park. Most of the park is aracde-style attractions, but even the rides had some degree of interactivity. The park's largest ride is Veil of Dark - dark ride coaster that spins, shoots and inverts. This was one of the more unique coasters I've been on, combining so many elements in one ride. Joypolis' other major ride is a sort of swinging pendulum, which involved flipping a switch with your feet to score points and spin. This required a lot of concentration, but was quite rewarding as the more accurate you were, the more intense the spinning. Tokyo Decks features some interesting architecture, including the home of Japan's Fuji TV network. They even have a Statue of Liberty, just like Vegas! This giant robot is known as a gundam. Japan are definitely ready for a Pacific Rim-type scenario I guess. Nolan is almost as big as the gundam! Joypolis occupies a few floors of the shopping mall. For a smaller coaster, Veil of Dark was actually pretty intense. There was a lot going on with all of the shooting and spinning. Most of the ride is blocked from view, but one small section runs through the main park. Another interesting ride. Each player is strapped to one side of a pendulum, as it swings, you have to flip a switch beneath your feet as you pass the white line. If both players are in sync, the ride will spin a lot and points are scored. Once the ride is in motion it looks pretty cool and it was a fun challenge. I'd love to see these show up in more parks. A Sega (remember them?) showroom comprised most of the arcade. There were quite a few of these shooting simulators, at which I am terrible. This ride was particularly cool, a racing game but with 360-degree flips. When the car on screen went upside down, so did you! A projection-mapped stage show rounded out Joypolis' offering. I wasn't familiar with the characters but it seemed quite popular. Hanayashiki Rounding out this part of the report is Hanyashiki, a very small park near the Tokyo Skytree. Jeff and I visited this one at the very end of the trip, as the park's rollercoaster had only just reopened after a lengthy rehab. The park kind of seemed like someone had added rides to a block of flats and built a garden in the middle. But a credit is a credit, so we grabbed a book of tickets and went to explore. The journey to Hanayashiki started in the Akhihabara district, a gaming and anime hub. The shops here had some very interesting stuff on offer. Anyone need a Nintendo 64? Or perhaps some decorations for your home? The weather wasn't too bad (it's almost permanently cloudy in Tokyo during June) so we decided to "get some culture" and walk from Akihabara to the park. This turned out to be a lot further than expected, but we definitely say some interesting stuff along the way. We even passed through the "restaurant supply" district, which had entire shops devoted to knives, or signage, or plastic dispay food. Thanks to the swing ride Hanayashiki is easy enough to spot. The entrance, however, was not. This might be the world's most adorable van. Finally found the park and took a picture of the garden to prove it. A few parks in Japan seemed somewhat "homemade", but Hanayashiki most of all. I don't know if this is a garden or these plants are for sale. Probably both. Ignore the charming swan ride, I spy coaster track! The aptly named "Roller Coaster" runs around the edge of the park. This is where any similarities with Thunder Dolphin end. Roller Coaster is Japan's oldest, uh, rollercoaster. It's been there for 60 years, and you can tell - definitely more of a steel scenic railway than a thrill ride. Hidden away in a corridor was an excellent haunt walkthrough. There were no live actors but this had some great jump scares and clever effects. So for this alone the park was worth visiting. Thanks for reading, next update will be from Tokyo Disney!
  8. You're welcome, Yin. I didn't even realise you guys were about to ride, just good timing I guess!
  9. Fuji-Q Highland Having heard all of the horror stories about Fuji-Q, I weighed them up against the rides on offer and decided to chance it with a visit. I went to this park expecting the worst - two hour queues, rides closing unexpectedly, painfully slow operations and overall, a lot of drama just to experience a handful of rides. In the end, we got very lucky. The weather was great, crowds were light and with some solid advice from Robb and Elissa, we even managed to get all of the credits in. That said frankly everything was still more drama than it needed to be. The park's nonsensical loose item policy (take off your watch, put it in a locker, put this key around your wrist which is looser than your watch) makes coaster dispatches few and far between. What would otherwise be a 20 minute wait at most parks takes an hour at Fuji-Q. The Japanese might be renowned for efficiency but it definitely doesn't extend to this park. Basically, we got everything done but it's not hard to see they would end up with crazy lines on an "ordinary" day. That said, the rides were, for the most part, worth going out of the way for. Takabisha is the best Eurofighter I've been on, a delightful mess of inversions and twists. Dodonpa's launch and insane top hat airtime are unlike anything else, and along with having the most inversions, Eejanaika probably has the record for the most number of "holy crap" moments of any rollercoaster. Fujiyama is 80% fun, 20% painful trick-track. Aside from the coasters we also rode the park's newest addition, Fuji-Q Airways. This is basically Soarin' Over California, but in Japan, and just different enough so as not to attract a patent infringement. Sometimes these simulators in smaller parks end up with a terrible ride film (like, say, Europe in the Air) but Fuji-Q Airways was quite well done, and wouldn't be out of place at Epcot (if they didn't already have the a very similar ride, of course!). After an early start and a long bus ride, we had arrived at the park. They're currently building some kind of French-themed entry mall/plaza, what was there so far looked quite good. The actual park entrance was less impressive, but crowds looked light. After bracing himself for these rides to close at the slightest hint of rain, James is glad to see mostly clear skies! We ran straight to Dodonpa, and luckily only had a 20 minute wait to ride. No longer the fastest coaster, but still the fastest launch. Apparently undressing while on the ride is frowned upon. I'm almost surprised they didn't make you leave your clothes in a locker too. Zero to 107mph in 1.8 seconds, 4.25Gs! It's kind of a shame the ride doesn't do more with all of that speed, but you basically launch, turn right, go up a near-vertical top hat, and back into the station. Simple but effective. This is where the ride tries to violently eject its passengers. There's more airtime on this one ride than in all of California. Arms up = coaster enthusiasts. Our next stop was Takabisha. Again, fortunately the queue wasn't too bad. By the end of the first hour we'd managed two of the park's major rides. Takabisha is a kilometre-long, enchanting mess of Eurofighter track. It currently holds the world record for the steepest drop, at 121 degrees. Takabisha has two "acts", with a launched section followed by a vertical lift and the big drop. I quite like rides that let you take a breath in between the thrills, makes them feel more substantial. With seven inversions, you spend a lot of time upside down on this ride. Even more upside down. And again. One more. I was having a lot of fun with the zoom lens at this park. Fuji-Q has denoted Fujiyama as the "King of Coasters". At three and a half minutes, it's definitely one of the longest rides out there. Not wanting to push our luck any further, we caved and shelled out for the front of line passes on this one. For it wasn't a bargain but I was pretty happy to skip the hour-long quiet-day line. Fujiyama is very big and mostly hidden behind trees and buildings. So here's a picture of the lift hill. For the most part, this is an excellent coaster. The speed combined with plenty of hills makes for a great ride. The final leg is a little painful though, finishing with a bouncy trick-track section. The gold train might be lucky but that ending is still going to hurt. Noticing there was no line, we stopped for the wild mouse. This was a pretty standard mouse, I think it might have even been a portable model? It's kind of weird to see a fairly ordinary ride like this sitting in between Fujiyama and Eejanaika. It had some good whip action on the corners, but not something I needed to re-ride. Fuji-Q Airways is a simulator where you get to fly over Mt Fuji. I suspect if Fuji-Q had to design a real airplane passengers might end up sitting on the wings too. So this is the "not quite Soarin'" ride system. Apart from that the ride was pretty similar, big room with a giant concave screen. As I said before, the ride itself was actually decent. Jeff was happy to model for this strange photo op. Great Fluffy Sky Adventure is a family invert. It reminded me of the Batflyer at Nasu Highland, only with a less awkward train. You ride in a charming cloud-shaped train. It was a credit and offered good views of the other coasters. I left happy. I think this is an ad for the flume ride. That wave is about the size of the splash it makes too. This lucky guy has the wave swinger all to himself. Kitty Power rapids ride. For all the negatives about the park, it does have a great setting. And a giant ferris wheel... ...complete with a "love capsule". This haunt attraction consisted of sitting in the dark with headphones on. I'm sure it's great if you speak Japanese, but I didn't understand a word. The park's kiddie area was themed to Thomas the Tank Engine. Having grown up with the TV show, I was interested to see this. This area of the park was quite well done, five year old me would have loved it! The dark ride, based around Thomas having a birthday party, was very good. It even had a switch track and turntable, just like a real train! For some, Rock'n'Roll Duncan is the real highlight of Fuji-Q. I'd been on X2, but Eejanaika was still a little intimidating. The inversions might be controlled, but it's still one of the more extreme coasters out there. James has the confident pose of a man who's been on the ride before. The posted wait was an hour, I think we ended up waiting about two-thirds of that. Credit where it's due, the ride ops were showing some hustle on this one. Guinness World Records says most inversions, good enough for me. It's surprising anyone is actually deemed worthy to ride this thing. Turns out Eejanaika is fantastic, deliberately aggressive right to the end! The whole ride is very disorienting, to the point where it's easy to lose track of which way is up. The park makes you take your shoes off to ride, so a lot of people just go barefoot. Not a bad way to ride! It's almost a shame there aren't more of these in the world, although given the cost and troubled history that's kind of understandable. Like X2, inversions that don't match the track layout make the ride wonderfully unpredictable. In case I haven't been clear, this is a very fun coaster. You should go ride it. Now! So these signs started popping up an hour before close, so I got some bonus photography time. Overall Fuji-Q could be an awesome park if they fixed up their operations, in the meantime it's just kind of mediocre but with a few outstanding rides. Fortunately we got lucky and a had a reasonable day there. Thanks for reading - next update will cover a few small parks around Tokyo!
  10. On my second "day" of this event now. Five more presents showed up. So it looks like you get 5/day until (I assume) some story point comes along to increase that.
  11. Universal Studios Japan Like Universal Singapore, Universal Studios Japan takes the best rides from the California and Florida parks, and makes them even better. It was one of my most anticipated parks for this trip, and I was excited to experience some "classic" Universal attractions I hadn't had the chance to see at any of the other parks - Back to the Future and Jaws. Both rides are definitely a product of their time, but neither disappointed. Harry Potter Japan is almost exactly the same as its counterpart in Orlando, minus a pair of dueling coasters. Some elements are a little improved, with a more immersive entry and 4K 3D projections on the ride. When I rode Forbidden Journey in Orlando I felt that the transitions between the physical sets and the screens were pretty poor. The upgraded screens are definitely an improvement but the best part of that attraction is still the queue. Despite us visiting on an off-peak Tuesday the place was packed, and this was particularly evident around the lockers, which were jammed full of people with a handful of poor cast members doing their best to manage the traffic flow. The park needs to sort this out pretty soon as the crowd crush is a safety concern as well as poor guest experience. Elsewhere in the park, Space Fantasy is the best ride you've probably never heard of. It's hard to describe - basically an indoor spinning coaster dark ride loosely based around the big bang. It is spectacular, no POV video can possibly do the ride justice, so I recommend just going and riding it! We checked out a couple of the shows as well - Monster Rock and Waterworld. Waterworld is exactly what you'd get in LA or Singapore, except in Japanese (not a barrier to enjoying the explosions). Monster Rock is similar to the Beetlejuice show that was (until recently) in Orlando, in a big airconditioned theatre. Both shows were great and, as seems to be standard at Asian parks, extremely popular. The day started at Japanese Citywalk, which was very similar to all the others. Hard Rock Cafe? Check. Pop culture store? Check. King Kong hanging off a building? He's there too. I think we might have arrived. They have a globe, of course. Hang out with Nolan and you'll see a lot of this. They took one look at AJ and sent us to the "Special Entry". Definitely a Universal main street! First stop was a credit - Snoopy! We're in a movie park, so this is themed to Snoopy filming a race. No amount of psychiatric treatment could help James. I blame the hat. Universal Japan has the Sesame Street license too. And Hello Kitty. I think they've just picked up everything that isn't owned by Disney already. Definitely aimed at the younger set, although that flume ride looks fun. Jeff decided to try the slide instead, and failed. James showed us all how it's done, right before the attendant suggested we should go visit some more "adult" attractions. Having never had the chance to ride Jaws, I was keen to check this one out. The cruise sounded delightful. The shark photo op was very crowded so I took this picture instead. For 400 yen, a shark-resistant poncho can be yours! The tour guides were great, I assume. Did not understand a word but it was all very enthusiastically delivered. I grabbed this just before the "no camera" announcement was made. I liked Jaws quite a bit, the ride actually does a really good job of recreating the tension from the film - certainly much more so than the equivalent section of the Studio Tour in Hollywood. Jurassic Park area was closed so they can build the new B&M flyer. I'd done the ride at three other parks so wasn't too concerned about missing this one. Space Fantasy was brilliant. Excellent ride, very well themed and because it's a spinner every time you rode you got to see different things. I can't imagine Universal ever bringing this kind of ride to the US - it's probably too abstract - but that just makes for a good reason to visit Osaka! Space Fantasy: The Fountain. Our timed entry passes to Harry Potter world were ready, so it was time to go get a dose of fan service. Unlike Islands of Adventure, in Japan Hogsmeade is completely separate from the rest of the park, so guests walk through a forest to get there. This definitely adds to the immersion. In LA you'll probably be able to see Burbank airport from the Three Broomsticks. Like most British forests, someone had dumped an old car there. We arrived to find a very busy Hogsmeade village. So just like Orlando, but everyone is Japanese. The sense of immersion is excellent, right down to the overcast skies. Lots of little details for fans of the movies and books. The bullfrog choir made for an entertaining show. It was even in English! Very impressive castle, housing a great queue and underwhelming ride. (audible gasp) Fortunately with our express passes the wait was closer to 20 minutes. They have a Hippogriff coaster too. This had a ninety minute wait, if you can believe that, although once again we had express access. Japan is humid, so air conditioning was a tempting offer. As was this show. Format was pretty simple, six monsters, each one gets a song, which they sang in English. Mercifully Beetlejuice's tedious dialogue was in Japanese. Next up was Waterworld, one of the best theme park shows anywhere! The cast did an excellent job getting the crowd pumped for the show. Japanese Waterworld is very similar to its other incarnations, and still much better than the movie. I could probably stick photos from Singapore in here and nobody would know. But this is definitely Japan. Her dialogue was dubbed, but I'm OK with that. The crowd absolutely loved Waterworld, you could tell a lot of guests were (multiple) repeat visitors, anticipating all of the big moments. The money shot. Of course. Explosions! Fire! Explosions and fire! After all of the excitement of Waterworld we calmed down by wandering the New York backlot. This is basically identical to Orlando. Although I don't know if they have the cigar store. Especially not a cigar store Indian. Jeff is saluting to show he's not racist, I guess? Mel's Drive-In makes an appearance too. Another long-lost Universal attraction - Backdraft! I hadn't seen this before either, it was great! Behind the Minion Mart lies my #1 anticipated attraction at this park. Back to the Future! I am a big Back to the Future fan, so was very excited to get the chance to ride this at least once. It's definitely a little dated, which is to be expected. I found out that the whole ride sequence was filmed on a miniature model - in my mind, that's far more impressive than just doing it with computers! Next up, the Amazing Hot Dogs ride! Oh wait, it's Spider-man. Like its Orlando counterpart, this one recent received a 4K upgrade, and is also excellent. I'm sure all of us, at one time or another, have wanted to look more gorgeous and fancy. Jon considers the possibilities of this item. And James has swapped his ridiculous hat for a classy Elmo headband. That's a wrap (sorry) from Universal, next update will be the Wonderful World of Fuji-Q!
  12. ^Hopefully their next move will be to remove Treasure Hunters entirely. That attraction makes Mr Toad's Wild Ride look like Indiana Jones.
  13. Higashiyama Zoo, Nagoya I'd like to get this report finished before Christmas so let's keep things moving. After a Shinkansen ride from Fukuoka to Nagoya, we had some free time to explore the city. Intrigued by their side-friction bobsled "coaster" I decided to visit Higashiyama Zoo. The amusement park here wasn't big, but the zoo part would have been worth the visit by itself. Plenty of animals to look at and they all seemed pretty content, in contrast to the depressing state of the collection at Tobu Zoo. The park also features the Higashiyama Sky Tower, an observation tower which gave a great view of the Nagoya metropolis. Our destination. I like how the artist has given the gorilla a few curls of chest hair on top of his fur, no doubt to portray masculinity. And here we are. Higashiyama is definitely one of the more pleasant zoos I've visited. Nolan, you look like you've lost some... height? Donkey. Because TPR. A friendly rhino. Even showed some tongue. Lion doing some vocal exercises. There are rides here somewhere... Some facts about Australia accompanied the huge koala exhibit. We send Japan dirt and food, and they give us cars and TVs. Jeff, that's not a real bear! Because koalas are slow... get it? Actual koala. I think I've seen more of these at foreign zoos than at home. They really like koalas here. The zoo had a lake with vehicles to drive. Swan is pretty standard, but I've never seen a digger one of these before? Anteater getting some lunch. Higashiyama did quite a good job of the "natural habitat" style enclosures. Time to head to the observation deck of Higashiyama Tower. Nagoya. Smaller than Tokyo, not that you'd be able to tell from this view. Tiny elephant. Amusement park found! Here's the main attraction, Slope Shooter. For some reason a lot of Japanese places have these bear photo ops. I amused myself by making Jeff pose with them. In addition to Slope Shooter, the park has two more rollercoasters. Both a hidden in the trees and difficult to photograph. Jet Coaster, the bigger one, wasn't too bad, if a little slow. And Bear Coaster, a powered ride. So Slope Shooter is pretty simple. You get into the vehicle and the ride op pushes you to the lift hill. Then gravity does the rest. Definitely a unique ride. Lift hill POV! You could even speed up the ride a little by leaning into the corners. We noticed that heavier riders would tend to stall on the final straight and need an extra "push" to get back to the station. Awkward. Nagashima Spa Land Japan's answer to Cedar Point, Nagashima Spa Land is home to two of the most impressive rollercoaster structures ever built - Steel Dragon 2000 and White Cyclone. The sheer volume of steel and wood in these rides is awe-inspring, towering over everything else in the park (except the giant ferris wheel, of course). Although the park has twelve coasters, most of them are clones and offer essentially the same experience found elsewhere. That said, the shuttle loop and ultra twister (unambiguously named Shuttle Loop and Ultra Twister) were great, and the collection of flat rides was solid. The park also had an excellent powered bobsled which offered most of the thrills of a regular bobsled without the danger of flying off a corner. Good morning Nagashima! The park was celebrating it's 50th anniversary, although fortunately none of the coasters were that old. Shuttle Loop is essentially Montezooma's Revenge with yellow paint. I am a big fan of these rides, simple yet plenty of fun. The coasters at Nagashima Spa Land had a pretty simple naming pattern, the shuttle loop was called Shuttle Loop, the looping star was called Looping Star, the wild mouse... yep. White Cyclone is definitely one of the most iconic woodies. It's quite big. As for the ride itself, there are a lot of helixes. So if you like those you're in for a treat. I think I see a coaster train through all of that wood. Two and a half minutes of helix. Essentially you're turning left for a mile. Steel Dragon has been the longest coaster for 15 years running. The ride just goes on and on and on. The ultra twister is called... you guessed it. Ultra Twister! Shiny trains! I don't know if this was better than the one at Mitsui Greenland, they're both much the same and quite fun rides. This the powered bobkart ride. It looks kind of tame but was great, and the track surprisingly lengthy. JC is having the time of his life. There were a few interesting flat rides at the park, including Rock'n'Roll. With the right technique it was possible to get some nausea-inducing 360-degree flips on this one. I'm sure nobody has taken this photo of Corkscrew ever. To help with capacity the park built two wild mouse coasters next to each other. Only one side was open so I guess there's a credit waiting for me on the next visit. Nerd shot of train and wheel assembly. The various Japanese haunt attractions were starting to blend together at this point but this one had some good moments. As always the most fun is found in taking people with you who scare easily. Another one of these. We had plenty of time and the cabins were airconditioned so decided to finally ride a giant Japanese ferris wheel. A view of the park. Note the enormous pirate ships. Looking towards Steel Dragon's 300-foot lift hill. I was glad to get another first-gen Intamin freefall ride in too, not many of those left anymore. I'd not been on a looping star before, this one was a pleasant surprise and reinforced my general admiration of Schwarzkopf coasters. This pirate ship can hold approximately 300 Japanese people, or thirty Westerners. Sadly Acrobat wouldn't open until a fortnight after our visit. Another ride to look forward to on the next trip, although I'm disappointed they didn't call it "Flying Coaster". Promo art from Manta, with superimposed faces. Creepy. Nagashima has a decent-sized kids area as well, themed to the Peter Rabbit books. With a drop of perhaps six feet, this was definitely a "kids" flume ride. All hail the flume gods! Kyle nervously embraces the splash, like a boss. That's it from Nagashima Spa Land. Coming up next will be Universal Studios Japan!
  14. My pick would be for Kozmo's Kurves, looks far tamer than it rides. Gadget's Go Coaster at Tokyo DIsney is another great kiddie coaster, standard Vekoma Junior layout but beautifully themed.
  15. ^Jupiter wasn't too bad at all, a couple of bumpy moments but mostly quite rideable. Perhaps it runs better in heavy fog?
  16. Kijima Kogen After Mistui Greenland we had a break day in the trip. Some people used this to get in some culture, but a few of us decided to travel to the resort town of Beppu for some credit whoring. Beppu is a leisurely two hour train ride from Fukuoka, and was probably as far off the (Western) tourist trail as I ventured on this trip. The main draw here was Kijima Kogen, a small park with Jupiter - one of Japan's few wooden coasters - and the infamous enclosed shoot-the-chutes ride. Kijima is set on the side of a mountain, and probably has some quite picturesque views most of the time. For our visit some very dense fog had set in, so riding Jupiter felt like a 1990s video game where everything in the distance was cloaked in haze. The ride itself was quite good, easily the best wooden coaster I rode in Japan (not that there were that many of them). The pre-lift bunny hops were great, and while it's not in the same league as Balder, there was enough airtime to justify some re-rides. Apart from the main coaster, Kijima also had a fairly stock-standard selection of rides - roller skater, corkscrew, mine train, giant ferris wheel etc. A 360-degree cinema was an interesting find, as was "Moon Parade", the monorail ride. While Kijima probably isn't a destination park by any stretch of the imagination, I liked it and thought it was well worth a visit. Before the trip to Beppu, we decided to see what Fukuoka had to offer by night. This friendly robot will show you around a shopping mall. Or lure you into its lair, along with the other unsuspecting humans. This is a pachinko parlour. Pachinko is a Japanese for "very noisy game that is definitely not gambling because that is illegal." A few of the arcades around Japan had these machines where you could win little matchbox-type cars. I ended up collecting quite a few, not that I know what to do with them now... One of the stranger capsule machines we saw was "creepy man on bench". I'm told that Fukuoka is famous for its noodles, and Ramen Stadium has plenty. Like of lot of Japanese restaurants, you order at a vending machine, and then take your meal ticket inside to give to the waiter. Mercifully these things had an English button and pictures of the food. I forget what this is, but clearly something with bacon and seaweed. I remember it being delicious. There's more to Japanese food than sushi! Wandering the streets of Fukuoka... ...we "found" red light island. Yes, they have a whole island for hookers and porn! Let's pretend we blew all of our yen in this place, which sounds a lot cooler than just heading back to the hotel because it started to rain. Fast forward to the next morning and after a scenic journey through the Japanese countryside, we arrived in Beppu. These delightful geishas greeted us. Jeff is ready in case of tsunami. Here is a photo of Marcel taking a photo of the entrance to Kijima. Park map. Kijima is definitely targeted more at families than thrillseekers. Mandatory giant ferris wheel. On a clear day this would provide a great view, I imagine. It was very foggy, but Jupiter beckoned. Robb and Elissa were off at the Hello Kitty park, but had organised some ERT for us under the guise of "filming time". Thanks guys! There are only a handful of wooden coasters in Japan, Jupiter is definitely the most thrilling of the three I rode on this trip, with a good amount of speed and airtime. Some happy riders. Sadly the stork observation tower was out of action, although this is certainly a delightful bit of theming. Yep, this is a great spot for a photo. Continuing a pattern we'd seen at a few parks, the corkscrew was closed. But the mine train was open! Gold Rush was memorable for having the smallest seats known to man, clearly designed for double amputees. That piece of track in the foreground is a four-foot long piece of theming, so I guess they had some leftover bits? Roller Skater is a Vekoma roller skater, themed to roller skates! Hooray for credits! This is probably a great ride for anyone with a shoe fetish. Last up was Dragon, a powered kiddie coaster. There were several laps to this "credit", although one would have been enough for me. Shooting Pirates was a fun but brief dark ride, which predictably involved both pirates and shooting. Poseidon is a somewhat unique flume ride, all the thrills of a regular flume, without the wetness. It's all thanks to these covered boats. They even have tinted windows, which gave the whole thing a somewhat "VIP tour" feel. Priscilla is clearly very impressed by the whole arrangement. This tent housed a 360-degree, 3D cinema. The story was a little hard to follow but it was something do with pirates and mermaids, and very Japanese. I'm counting this as a culture credit. The suggestively named Moon Parade provides a scenic tour of the park. The vehicles were perhaps a little over the top, even for Japan. We were surprised to see a 2-way radio next to the drivers seat. It turns out Moon Parade is a little unreliable, and if you get stuck you're supposed to call back to be rescued. Fortunately we made a complete circuit without any dramas. That is all from Kijima, next we head to Nagoya Zoo and Nagashima Spa Land. Thanks for reading!
  17. I check Twitter most often, few times a day. Post less often though. I use Facebook to connect with people, less so for "following" the same brands and sites I see on Twitter. Everything else is as needed, for example I only use YouTube/Instagram when it's linked from someone's Facebook or Twitter post.
  18. Well the last Hunger Games film was a bust. Maybe about twenty minutes of plot in a two-hour-plus movie. So it moved along very slowly, lots of redundant scenes to help pad out the story. Recommended only for those who want closure after seeing the first three movies.
  19. Legoland Malaysia and some touristy Singapore In what may well be the most trouble I've ever gone to to visit an amusement park, the day after Horror Nights we took the bus to visit Legoland Malaysia for the first time. All of the group had been to at least one Lego park before, but Malaysia was a first for all of us. The park is still new, having only opened in 2012, and all of the staples are there - Technic coaster, Dragon coaster, Egyptian shooting dark ride, 4D theatre, etc. But in the space of three years it's managed to achieve an "unfinished yet run-down" aesthetic. Now our group isn't exactly the target market for this park, so bearing that in mind we kept our expectations in check - hoping to be charmed rather than thrilled. Legoland Malaysia wasn't without highlights - the Ninjago stage show and Star Wars miniland were both excellent, and the park let us ride the credits despite the rain. But overall the place was a bit sad. Miniland was literally melting apart, audio was broken on multiple rides, and for the most part the place was dead, maybe 200 people in the park at most on a Sunday afternoon. Back on the other side of the border, Singapore has more to offer than just Universal Studios, notably the very unique Haw Par Villa. This place is magical and terrifying, and is literally a "themed park" just outside of the city. It was built by two brothers to depict various tales of Chinese mythology, including a memorable journey through the Ten Courts of Hell, which I understand many Singaporean children are subjected to in order to encourage them to behave. Also on our itinerary was the excellent Adventure Cove Waterpark. No photos, because that would be creepy. But while Adventure Cove might not be particularly big, it's spectacularly themed, and has an epic lazy river that actually takes you through some of the exhibits of the aquarium below. The park also had a good selection of slides, as well as a water coaster and wave pool. Definitely worth a look to get some relief from Singapore's humidity. One of Singapore's newer attractions is Gardens By The Bay. Most cities put greenhouses in their botanical gardens, Singapore built huge airconditioned domes - one housing various trees and plants from around the world, another with a huge man-made mountain housing a "cloud forest". I'm not typically one to go out of my way for plants, but I was very impressed by this place, especially as it makes for an impressive feat of engineering. will get you an air-conditioned coach ride from Singapore to Legoland Malaysia and back. The journey takes about 90 minutes each way, including stopping for the border crossings. Hooray for bonus passport stamps! And so we arrive at the (not quite finished) park gates. Apart from the bucket hat, this dude reminds me of me more than I'd care to admit. A hazy Sunday afternoon at Legoland! I always appreciate the effort that goes into making these parks look like they're built from giant Lego pieces. Merlin sure love their franchise model. I think there's one of these in every Lego park, all with the same design. Pigeon recipes or recipes for pigeons? Hmm... If this was a real Lego train, it would have fallen off the track going around a corner. The Ninjago stage show is a fairly recent addition to the park, having only opened the month before our visit. I wasn't expecting much, but went in to enjoy the air conditioning. It was actually really good! The back wall and floor were projection mapped to change from scene to scene, and the puppeteers did a great job of bringing life to the characters. The story itself was on par with your average theme park fare, but overall I was glad we bothered to check this out. Lost Kingdom Adventure is the same shooting dark ride you've been on everywhere else, right down to the unreliable sensors. Dino Island didn't offer much of either. It did, however, have a flume ride and a shop. Can't fault them on the themeing, and this drop was surprisingly wet. The outdoor section has music and animatronics, like a budget Jurassic Park. Sadly the audio cut out about 20 seconds into our ride, which made for a solemn journey through Dino Island. 4D movies are another great way to beat the humidity. Clutch Powers 4-D was, well, exactly the same as in Florida. Something a little more interesting - Star Wars miniland! This one is all indoors, so the models won't fade over time, and the guests won't fade in the heat. Mos Eisley Cantina. These models are cool but I always find the brick-built people a little weird, like the opposite of charming Lego minifigures. Epic Hoth Battle scene! And from Return of the Jedi. C-3PO looks a lot like Bender in this one. Next up - the observation tower ride. I spy some credits! Dragon Coaster is a Lego park standard, this one was dressed up for Halloween. The ride itself was very strange, with no sound in the dark ride part. Riding past the mute animatronics, we could only wonder what they wanted to say. Dragon's Apprentice is a very small coaster that we rode just as it started to pour rain. The ride ops were good enough to still give us the mandatory second lap though. Wet wet wet. Hey it's backwards Coast Rider! We had saved the best for last, with another damp ride on the Project X wild mouse. I love the random themeing you see around Lego parks, this one didn't disappoint. Mediocre rides aside, the main draw of a Lego park is usually the Miniland. Some parts were under renovation, I wonder why... Let's take a closer look at the Petronas Towers peeking out from behind the walls. Yeah, they're literally melting apart. The Malaysian sun has not been kind. No, that's not a clever stone Lego effect. Those bricks have melted. From a distance it still looks OK though. Back To The Future! Awesome! Nice little Mission Impossible homage here. Lego boobs are less alluring than I'd imagined. So because it was near Halloween, there were a few "spooky" touches around Miniland, including this Ghostbusters tribute. And a little nod to Thriller. Singapore makes an appearance too, although the geography is a bit off. The real Singapore Flyer is nowhere near anything of interest. I guess this is a traditional Malaysian village. No idea why she's walking on the roof though. About to jump? The Taj Mahal was decidedly less melty than some of the other models. I guess they're gradually replacing them. Pirate ships are the highlight of any miniland, and the best Lego models in general. This house is basically levitating on the lake. They have some water level issues I think. After a solid four hours, we were basically as tired as this dude, so it was time to catch the bus back to Singapore. To be honest I don't know if this is a park I'd come back to, at the very least it needs some time to establish itself first. On to something much more cultural, Haw Par Villa. Enter, and be terrified! The whole park is weird concrete statues like this. I am sure they all have some meaning I am too ignorant to understand. Plenty of photo opportunities all over the park. Each more disturbing than the last. The "Ten Courts of Hell" is the main draw of this place. It's quite graphic, so if you're squeamish maybe skip the next few pictures. There is one diorama for each "court", depicting wrongdoers being punished for various sins. This man-on-a-stick is being thrown into a volcanic pit for either robbery or inflicting physical injury. Tomb robbers are tied to a red hot copper pillar and grilled. Same applies to drug addicts and those who "urge people into crime and social unrest." Disobedience to one's siblings results in one being ground by a huge stone. And so it goes on. Chastened, we headed outside to this sight. I have no idea how to interpret. There was also this, possibly a statement on aged welfare. Why is there a Statue of Liberty, you ask? Because, that's why! For the animal lover, a giant monkey. Australian animals were not forgotten either. We shall end with sea-snail woman, in what looked like one of the newer exhibits. More culture. Sentosa Island is home to the enormous SEA Aquarium, which sits underneath the Adventure Cove waterpark. Normally I don't bother with photos in aquariums because they always end up looking awful, but somehow this place had the right lighting and clean enough glass to give some passable pictures. This tank was full of Finding Nemo's greatest hits. Some fish. Ooh jellyfish. More Halloween themeing here too, this fish didn't seem to mind. Next stop was the superb Gardens By The Bay, with a hazy view of the Singapore Flyer. The Supertree Garden is entirely man-made, each of these "trees" is covered in living plants. gets you an elevator ride to the viewing platforms. In true Singaporean style, the number of rules is only limited by the size of the sign. Tree maintenance is done using very big cherry picker cranes. The "skywalk" is a narrow bridge joining two of the larger trees. The trees look the same from up top, but the scale is quite impressive. All of the plants on the tree "trunks" grow on this spongey stuff. The main draw of the Gardens is the greenhouse domes. The flower dome has plants from all around the world, and is a huge space. If you're into chrysanthemums you will love this place. Some very cool sculptures are featured in the dome. Some of the plants are quite, uh, interesting. Next door is the Cloud Forest, containing a huge man-made mountain complete with waterfall. Every couple of hours the "mist" is turned on, for a stunning effect. The carnivorous plants exhibit was quite interesting. These ones lure insects into the liquid held in the base of their "leaf", where the poor unsuspecting bug is then digested. Some Lego models in the exhibit as well, not bad. You ride a lift to the top of the mountain an then take these walkways down, the whole place is extremely well done and about twenty degrees cooler than outside. Last stop was the Marina Bay harbour to see the "Wonder Full" light and water show, which is World of Color but less entertaining. The story is essentially a propaganda piece about how awesome it is to be Singaporean. Anyway that's all from Singapore and Malaysia, hope you enjoyed this trip report!
  20. Yes, they really aren't bad. It's just that most Australians have only been to Universal LA and Disneyland, which is a tough comparison for any park! Parks I consider underrated: - there's more to Djurs Sommerland than just Piraten, the park is like Knoebels with themeing! Much more to this place than just the rides too, plenty of "activities" - pellet guns, bouncy pillows, pedal boats, ropes course - to keep you occupied. - Liseberg has at least three excellent coasters, a brilliant haunted house, a great log flume, and plenty else besides. - Universal Singapore might be the smallest Universal park, but the whole park has been designed with immersiveness in mind. No facades on sound stages here, The Mummy is inside a huge Egyptian temple (and is the best version of this ride), Madagascar sits inside a full-size container ship, and Shrek's castle is simply enormous.
  21. I don't have a 4K TV, my current monitor is 1440p which is good enough for now. If I was to buy a new TV 4K would be more important than 3D.
  22. Forbidden Journey. If this ride was anything but Harry Potter people would think it was rubbish. The technology behind the ride is impressive, and the show building and queue are stunning. Beyond that the ride does a terrible job of telling a story and is nauseating rather than thrilling. The 4K 3D version in Japan is somewhat better but still rushes you through like a toddler retelling the handful of plot points they can remember from four films.
  23. I'm going to be parochial and say Dreamworld. The park has a solid collection of flats but nothing particularly outstanding in the rollercoaster department. A decent full-circuit coaster would be a very worthwhile addition.
  24. Universal Studios Singapore Horror Nights After being pleasantly surprised by Universal Singapore's Horror Nights event in 2014, it was almost a no brainer to try and get back this year. Add in the fact that three rides had opened since my last visit, and the trip was a lock. So last weekend I made my way to Singapore to see what the park had on offer for Horror Nights 5. Once again it was a great event, anchored by four completely new mazes, each with a connection to local stories or folklore. I'm not much of a horror fan, so I always like when parks use original stories for these things, as they tend to do a better job with the narrative. Some of the mazes were designed to appeal to the park's Chinese market, and I definitely appreciated the variety this added to the haunt experience. Hell House was themed to a life-size paper house, collapsing and burning up from the inside. True Singapore Ghost Stories: The MRT took victims through the pages of a horror novel and into collapsing subway cars filled with all sorts of unsavoury creatures. A very dark and disorienting maze, Tunnel People explored a strange race of people discovered by construction workers building Singapore's subway line. Siloso Gateway: Block 50 was the "hero" maze of the event, taking us through an apartment building with virus-infected inhabitants. Every single maze was very high quality, and there was no clear "best" or "worst" offering. Hell House was probably my favourite, simply because it had some very clever rooms and a theme that was not like anything I've seen before. Three scare zones were set up around the park, and this was one area where the park had definitely learnt from some of last year's issues with guest flow, so all were easy to navigate and uncrowded. Once again the immersion level was quite high, with great sets and actors who were definitely having a lot of fun with their role. A hybrid maze and scare zone, Conterminated gave us a look at a zombie-infected area of the city, seemingly caused by massive piles of trash. Hungry Ghosts, based on Chinese folklore, demonstrated the consequences of not giving enough tribute to one's ancestors. The biggest scare zone, The Invaders, was set in the park's New York street. Appropriately this was based on an alien invasion, replete with flying saucer, lasers and giant guns. The Pantages Theater didn't have a show this time around, with the park instead adding Beast Club, a smaller show/dance party in Egypt. This wasn't bad, and added some good comic relief to the evening. Given that the Waterworld arena was sitting empty during the event, it would be cool to see the park use that for a nighttime show in the future. I was very impressed by the overall quality of the event - no corners had been cut for this one. The park was extremely busy on the night we visited (I found out later it was their biggest crowd ever) and even with our express passes for the mazes and rides, we didn't have a lot of spare time. Hopefully this will encourage the park to add additional mazes in future years to help soak up the crowds. In any case it's good to see a big turnout from the locals, and was well worth the seven hour flight to visit. 1am and it's time to board the 777 to Singapore. Seven hours later, I've arrived. This city is super easy for westerners, kind of an "Asia for Beginners". Everyone speaks English, the train system makes getting around simple, and apart from the hotels it's pretty cheap. Hello Universal! Mandatory globe picture. Puss in Boots' Giant Journey is the park's newest ride. "Giant", in this instance, refers to an encounter with a giant, not the size of the ride. It's a Zamperla suspended coaster with an eggbeater lift (like a Volare) and plenty of brake runs to slow you down in the "show" scenes. Like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it's a blend of thrill and dark ride. The queue is themed to a giant's kitchen. Complete with "Royal Snot". Some giant recipes on the wall as well. So the train is a sort of flying box that sways a little. To be fair, it's definitely not the least comfortable ride Zamperla has built. Bumblebee isn't new, he's just cool. Since my last visit Battlestar Galactica had reopened, with the most obvious modification being that the trains now have two seats per row rather than four. It was great to see this ride open again, and both sides were pretty decent, even for a Vekoma. With no inversions the Human side reminded me of one of Vekoma's family coasters, just a little bigger. It wasn't bad, but kind of tame with a few decent forces in the final helix. The inverted Cylon side was much better, reasonably smooth with a great zero-g roll halfway through. We took a night ride on this a 1am, which was even more disorienting and unpredictable. On to Horror Nights! The main street of the park was absolutely packed for the opening show. The show started with a reporter warning the crowd that something was not right and we should flee for our lives! One of the Hell House ghosts appeared under the Blood Moon to start the night. Various monsters from each of the different mazes were released to terrify the crowd, and the night begins! We first checked out Hell House. The event had only just started so the posted wait was an hour, later in the night some mazes got up to 160 minutes! Fortunately we had the express passes. A model of the paper house was on display at the end of the queue, along with an invitation to peek in. There was also a bucket of these tickets. The idea was that you found the right character to give this to in the maze and something cool would happen. We didn't figure it out, but a cool feature. A paper car was parked out front. On fire. The full-size paper house. Everything in here was designed to look like it had been made of paper, including the actors. The basic story was that the house was on fire (pretty much the worst thing that can happen in a paper house) and demons were climbing out of the ashes. There was a particularly effective narrow corridor with rubber hands grabbing at you, which definitely creeped me out. Hungry Ghosts was a medium-sized scare zone in the Jurassic Park area. Like Hell House, this was based on Chinese folklore. In this case, the tradition of giving sacrifices to one's ancestors. Or the consequences of not doing so. This area worked much better than last year, where the previous scare zone had been a giant mass of human gridlock. Plenty of fog helped break up sightlines and make it seem more immersive. I have no idea what this is, but it was huge and looks very Chinese. Creepy Chinese grandmother not happy with her afterlife. Tombstones! As always, the undead were happy to pose for photographs. And my favourite piece of themeing for the night - the Jurassic Park body dryers rethemed as a pagoda. I love that the park went to this effort rather than just hiding them behind a black tarp. The monsters took turns posing under the blood moon throughout the night. This is the leader of the Tunnel People. Mel's Drive-In gets a little more sinister after dark. True Singapore Ghost Stories: The MRT had a very effective entrance, where you walked through the pages of a book to get into the maze. The story inside was pretty much as the name says - scary stuff on trains. There was a lot of walking through trains and train stations, but it was hard to get a grip on the narrative. That said, the quality of the maze was still very good. Tunnel People was particularly cool. This one was centered on the idea that Singaporean construction workers had delved too deep when building the next stage of their subway, and had encountered a strange race of subterranean inhabitants. This maze was very dark, with lots of obstacles to climb around and under. A few quite effective "smell" effects were used - think sewers and garbage. There were actually two sides to this maze, and the greeter took a lot of pleasure in splitting our group up between left and right sides. Conterminated was a combination maze and scare zone set in a back alley of New York. It followed a familiar "quarantine/virus" theme - why the authorities are letting all of these people through the quarantine area was not explained. This one had some of the creepiest actors of the night, including a dude in a kiddie pool filled with dirty diapers, and people emerging from giant piles of trash. This "infected" comes from Block 50. Which was the final maze of the night. This one got bonus points for being air conditioned (important when it's 80 degrees and 90% humidity), and was the biggest maze of the event. It was set inside an apartment block where some virus had turned everyone into zombies (because that's what viruses do I guess). This one wasn't particularly scary but I definitely appreciated the impressiveness of it. The actors (zombies and police) really sold the story, and the sets were very realistic. After all that scaring, time to take a ride on Transformers, better than any of the films. Lake + lighting package = arty nighttime reflections. Puss In Boots was definitely better at night - the show scenes were lit up and the dark ride parts were more effective, where in the day it had seemed more like random bits of theming around some coaster track. The Invaders was a very big scare zone, featuring aliens and alien-fighting soliders. The whole New York street was full of big set pieces, very impressive. You need a big gun to fight ET. Every so often a show would start, where the aliens would battle. This included a very cool effect where a rocket was fired at the UFO, missed, and exploded on the New York Library building behind. Nobody was willing to help this poor soldier. I'm assuming this UFO is a bit like the Tardis, bigger on the inside. They didn't like the soldiers but the aliens were quite patient with photographers. This is the kit you need to fight an alien invasion. Gotta get that all-important night ride on Mummy! The one in Singapore takes the best parts of the other Mummy rides, improves on them, and has a very impressive exterior. Opposite The Mummy was Beast Club. "Welcome to the dance. One rule: nobody may wear more skulls than me!" This monster had some moves. The giant ewok on his right is the titular "Beast". The whole show was basically music with some camp fun. A couple of audience members were even selected to be "sacrificed". Yes, that's a four breasted woman. Classy, Universal. Overall, this was a really good event. I look forward to seeing what the park comes up with for Horror Nights 6 next year!
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