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Everything posted by azza29

  1. I've never had a problem with someone catching up to their group, although I'm sure plenty of people use that excuse just to cut the line. What I don't really agree with is when a group catches up to one person who's been waiting in line for them, that's a little unfair on everyone else. Easiest solution is to just use whatever "skip the line" option is available, always worth the money.
  2. Great pics, Jake. I'm impressed at how much you fit in to a few days! Good to see the corkscrew at Toshimaen is open too, it was closed in June.
  3. I agree with this - two Legolands I've visited in the last year had a "not quite finished" vibe, and were half-day parks at best. Merlin need to raise the quality of their existing parks first or risk diluting the brand.
  4. Mitsui Greenland For sheer volume of rides, Mitsui Greenland was one of the best days of our trip. This, huge, beautifully landscaped park just outside of Fukuoka probably has the most straight-up attractions of any park on earth. It's certaintly an ecelctic mix, with each ride basically being its own little business, but it all goes together quite well. The park has nine rollercoasters of varying appeal, for me the standouts were the Togo Standup (no seriously, it was pretty good!) and my first encounter with an Ultra Twister. I've always been intrigued by the Ultra Twisters, and this one did not disappoint. Bizzare, awkward, and with a design that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, somehow the package just works. Mitsui Greenland also featured a diverse array of walkthrough attractions - if the arctic icebox or Egyptian pyramid weren't your style, you could go for the mirror maze card game, or the cannibal jungle outdoor exhibit. Suffice to say, this park absolutely had something for everyone. The taxi convoy deposits us at Mitsui Greenland! They even made a sign for us! No dogs with headphones, and don't hold your ticket in your right hand. These Japanese parks love their rules! Giant ferris wheel? Check. Speaking of rides that eat you - this is Gao! Gao is basically the Japanese equivalent of "roar" - the sound bears, lions, dinosaurs make. Gaooooooo! Fortunately for Jeff the dinosaur was a pro at driving rollercoasters. We rode through a dinosaur! The theming on this ride was certainly not subtle. It's another (very) long jet coaster, but Gao has its moments. Including some funky transitions. There's definitely a lot of themes in play here, but they blend in an odd kind of way. A valley separates the different sides of the park. Sure you can walk around, but why not take the Chairlift of Doom instead? Jeff is very happy he didn't fall off. This weird paratrooper thing had the most awkward restraints I've ever encountered on a ride. I assume this is some kind of Japanese torture machine. Kyle didn't seem to mind his chest being crushed though. I'll be honest, Blackhole Coaster is no Space Mountain. Far from it. No selfie sticks = good damn sense. Way more excitement than a figure-eight powered coaster deserves, even one in the dark. On to better rides. Getting my first look at an Ultra Twister! It wasn't until I saw one of these things up close that I managed to figure out how the ride works. It's all very clever, but also seems like the engineers had to solve a lot of problems that probably didn't need to exist in the first place. Anyway, it's a quirky, fun ride. Kind of reminded me of a first-gen Intamin freefall, with inversions. The barrel rolls were surprisingly smooth. It'd be great to see a ride company take the Ultra Twister concept and improve on it one day, maybe S&S will have a crack. If you're standing on the happy mushroom... this sign still won't make sense. Jeff is glad that his rail pass is valid on this train. Those seats are the same size as Nolan's hand. I assume this ride is built for very tiny children. Milky Way was a good surprise. It's a racing coaster of sorts, pink track sitting, blue track standing. Awkward Togo restraints aside, AJ is right to be excited about this. The standing track was smooth, fast, and even had some pops of airtime. The sit-down side was fun also but a little boring. I think the whole group were surprised to find a decent Togo. Only in Japan! Danger might be too strong a word for it, but this escape maze was fun. Escaping was pretty easy. Find the button in the room and press it. This part of the attraction is themed to a Christmas garden wedding. Then we had to check out the gun thing. Typical Americans. Kyle embraces his inner redneck. Not far from Machinegun City was Sphinx. This terrain coaster had an impressive entrance and a top speed of five miles an hour. A look across the lake. The park's grounds were immaculately kept, which gave the odd sensation that these rides had just been dumped on someone's lawn. This contraption returns bobsleds to the start of the track, we figured out eventually. Another chairlift ride would take us to the very top of the hill, where a haunt, bobsled and kiddie flats awaited. As I mentioned, they aren't too concerned about cohesive theming here. Nolan scored the "love seat". On this week's episode of "Perfect Match"... This scary-looking tower housed a walkthrough haunt. There were a lot of stairs, that's about all I remember. There's definitely a lot going on. Kind of wish the water park had been open, that slide looks brilliant. Don't go too fast on the bobsled or you will injure a bunny. Hearing tales of past TPR trip participants losing skin on this ride I was sensibly cautious the first time down. However this also meant I didn't have enough speed to get all the way to the end, laughter ensued. Kyle has no such qualms, being a manly man who would never dream of using the brake. Spin Mouse did not. I don't get the point of these rides if they end up trimming out the spins. We tried a more Japanese place for lunch but, still being hungry, went to McDonalds. Nolan tried to order five nuggets, and ended up with five boxes of them. I think it's fair to say our command of Japanese ranged from "nonexistent" to "not great". To work off our chicken nuggets we decided to try this. You get a little figurine and run around the maze matching it to these stations, the more you do the more points you score. Bonus points are scored by furiously mashing a button at this screen. Your prize: a collectible card! Kyle just needs another 199 cards to complete his set! Legend of Salamander (possibly the best ride name ever) is a shooting dark ride. It was brief but otherwise pretty solid. Jeff is always on the lookout for bears. Flume Ride Panic Jungle is a log flume with a few garden statues thrown about. Splash! Black power gorilla says hello. Another staple of the Japanese amusement park, a giant viking ship. This haunted dark ride was a little different. You put on headphones to hear the audio. It was reasonably effective, even if I didn't understand what was being said. Kyle demonstrates the correct procedure. More random theming. The ride op had to wake up from her nap, but Kyle was determined to get his dolphin flume credit. This is the best ride in the park! Nearly lost it. Skyship is another ride that lets you do less walking around the park. This one has viking gondolas. Could see a lot from the Skyship, including some friends getting a bath on the rapids. Even remnants of a lost credit. Dragon River was a decent rapids ride, with a reasonable level of wetness. The station was very heavily themed but the rest of the ride was kind of just dug into the lawn. Taking a ride on Trackless Animal Cooking Spin! We have an all-day wristband and we're going to get the most out of it! I decided to take quasi-arty photos of the ferris wheel instead. Sadly there was no school bus for Jeff, so he picked the party truck instead. That poor panda... Nio is an SLC. No amount of golden muscles can make this ride good. Standard SLC. Fun first drop, then ow ow ow ow ow ow. This was home to one of the creepiest 4D movies I've ever seen. Basically a girl was wandering through a town full of zombies, then ghosts were after her, then fireflies, then (spoiler alert) she died. Good use of 4D effects though. Hey, it's just like Vegas! Another odd one, at the start of this walkthrough the attendant took your name and date of birth, and handed you a plastic dagger. You made choices with the dagger as you went through the attraction, and at the end got a certificate printed with your "story". A fun concept, not that we understood a word of it. Speaking of weird walkthroughs, this was an arctic display with plastic animals, inside a freezer chilled to minus 30. Celsius. The penguins looked on while Kyle complained about how cold it was. They were not sympathetic. One more random attraction to finish the day - the jungle cannibal treehouse. Here Jeff is legitimately terrified and not just being racist. The sun set on a great day at Mitsui Greenland. This place was very different from what I had expected, but definitely made for a very fun day. Next up we go well out of our way to ride a wooden coaster in Beppu!
  5. What a strange ride. I have no idea who the target for this would be - most of those kids look tall enough to want something more thrilling than the Crazy Couch.
  6. The park pulled it off really well, definitely one of the most immersive experiences I've had in a theme park. Yes. Yes it is. You're right, it is a video game - I don't really pay much attention to the horror genre. I think the risk with basing a maze off existing IPs is that if people aren't familiar with the story of characters it might not make a lot of sense. Universal Singapore did a great job last year with not one maze or scare zone using an existing IP, so it was more accessible to non-horror-fans like myself. Wait times weren't posted, but I would estimate 30 minutes for the returning mazes (Evil Dead, Wolf Creek) and up to an hour for Wyrmwood and Friday the 13th. They were moving people through pretty quickly. Even with the front-of-line passes we didn't have time to see the Friday the 13th 4D film attraction, do an (upcharge) panic room, or watch much of the live entertainment. I know of a few people who went back on multiple nights.
  7. Great report! A wet rollercoaster ride is both thrilling and painful, and always a treat.
  8. Fright Nights 2015 Last weekend I headed up to Movie World to check out Fright Nights, their take on a haunt event. This was my first Fright Nights encounter, though I think the event has been running for about five years now. As with most haunt-type events the park ran scare zones and mazes, as well as entertainment stages and upcharge escape rooms. There were four main mazes, all based on films. Wolf Creek 2 and The Evil Dead had returned from the previous year, while Wyrmwood and Friday the 13th were new additions. I've not seen any of these films, so I can't comment on how well they represented the movies, but all were of a high standard - in the set design, atmosphere and scare actors. As Movie World is only a regional park I wasn't sure where the quality would land, but they did an excellent job. I saw Universal Singapore's Horror Nights last year and the Movie World event compares favourably, although it definitely has a smaller budget. The great thing about Movie World's nighttime events is that passholders get a free ticket, which is pretty good value when an annual pass is only $100. Our group elected to do the "Ultimate Terror Tour", which included a VIP lounge and front-of-line access, and an invite to meet the cast at their pre-haunt briefing. This also included a special haunt experience, which was the highlight of the evening. The kids' area of the park had been cordoned off, and VIPs were given a private tour by an amusing old lady who introduced us to all of her freaky "children". The tour concluded with a carousel ride, reprogrammed to run a special haunt program featuring creepy organ music, fog, and flickering lights. Halfway through the ride scare actors jumped onto the ride and proceeded to get up close and personal. The whole concept worked very well, and would have made the VIP tour worthwhile on its own. On to the photos! I left my big camera at home, thinking I'd see how well just the iPhone would do. Turns out it's generally OK but doesn't handle low light all that well, so thanks to Harrison for supplying a few extra pics from the media night. Here we are at Fright Nights! What better vehicle to welcome us in than a hearse... Movie World literally roll out the red carpet for their VIPs, and we were welcomed to the lounge with jello syringes. The Dirty Harry Bar had been decked out in blood and cobwebs, just for us! VIP lanyard, a.k.a. my "must be first" pass! A giant spider watches over us, deciding which guest will make the juiciest meal tonight... First stop was the Hollywood Stunt Driver stage, for cast briefing and selfies. This part was less exciting, turns out actual briefings are a little mundane... clean up the break room, stop guests from triggering the fire alarm... the usual notes. The sun began to set on Main Street, and Fright Nights could begin! The carnival freaks started the night with a little show. Our first maze was The Evil Within, shoehorned over the bumper cars track. This was probably the weakest of the mazes, with some unmemorable sets (mostly a lot of black corridors) and an unclear plotline. Perhaps if I'd seen the film it would have made more sense. Back in the park the fog machines were plentiful, and cranked up to the highest setting. This stuff was seriously thick, which made for some good scare zone atmosphere! Fright Nights was clearly a very popular event, and all of the mazes had long lines. So hooray for front-of-line passes! Wolf Creek 2 is an Australian horror film which I think is based on backpackers being kidnapped and tortured by a redneck psycho. This was quite well done, especially the set design, the highlight of which was a truck coming out of nowhere to run over you. Fire performers might not be scary, but they aren't bad to look at! The city square part of the park housed the Freaks scare zone, including some this special offering for lonely coaster enthusiasts. A lot of the makeup and prosthetics were quite well done. The weird watercolor effect is not an artistic statement, just my phone trying to compensate for bad light. This distrubing gentleman - large, bloody, and seemingly devouring foetuses - attracted quite the crowd. The group got hungry so we headed back to the VIP lounge for some food. I wasn't too keen on the refrigerated buffet. Meat off the bone is more my style. The kids area was roped off, only available for the special VIP haunt. This was the highlight of the night for me, the ending scene on the carousel being particularly immersive. At the front of the park, the Zombieland scarezone had transformed the entrance fountain with a burning car and fire! Lots of fog, lots of zombies scaring the tweens. They all seem suitably terrified. You should always wear protection, or this could happen. (thanks Harrison for the photo!) More zombie. (thanks again, Harrison) Another pic of the car, because it's great. The two headliner mazes were located in the movie studio next door, accessed via a long, foggy walkway. First up: Wyrmwood. This is based on a recent Australian indie film about a mechanic who fights zombies. Sort of Max Max meets Dawn of the Dead. Pirates 5 has finished filming so Sound Stage 1 housed the Wyrmwood maze. The maze itself was quite good, only hampered by the ratbag teenagers behind me who thought it was a mosh pit. Stupid kids, you are the reason they have the annoying "hands on shoulders" conga rule. I ain't afraid of no zombie! (photo credit - Harrison) Both Wyrmwood and Friday the 13th had special VIP rooms where we got to control parts of the maze. For Wyrmwood, this involved some hidden cameras around the maze with various effects nearby. We could trigger alarms, horns and other noises when groups walked past. This was a lot of fun, especially if you could get the timing exactly right. Next up - Friday the 13th. This one was definitely my pick of the night. The scenes had an "open" feeling that you don't often get in a haunt maze, as we wandered through a seemingly endless forest. Camp Crystal Lake was sufficiently creepy, the whole experience was satisfyingly unsettling. This one featured a great VIP room. No button-pushing here, instead you were pulling on ropes to make parts of the set move, and squirting defenseless park guests with spray bottles. I'm not sure if this added to the story but it was definitely fun. The night was capped off with a "rave party" back in the city square. I liked that they ended the event with a show rather than letting people just drift out of the park. More fire! Hooray! This ended with the scare actors coming to dance among the crowd, very Beetlejuice. And that's the event. Overall I was quite impressed, and the group had a great time. The VIP tour was well worth it, look forward to seeing what they come up with next year!
  9. Good move by Six Flags, asking for a doctor's note isn't unreasonable. This seems to be a problem for the entire industry, especially Disney, and it's disappointing that some people have ruined the trust-based system by deciding to abuse it.
  10. Tokyo Sights With Nasu Highland behind us it was time to actually see some of the city. There's a lot to see in Tokyo, and fortunately the city is very tourist-friendly. There are plenty of signs in English so it's easy to find where you're going, and nothing is ever too far from a train station. Our first round of sightseeing took us to Sensoji Temple, the Imperial Palace, and downtown Shibuya. Space World The next stage of the trip started with a Shinkansen ride to the south-western city of Fukuoka. About an hour out of Fukuoka is Space World, a very cool park where everything was (unsurprisingly) themed to space exploration. On these trips you always just have to hope for the best with the weather, and Space World would be our only real "washout" of the trip. The day started encouragingly and thanks to some early filming time we got most of the major rides in, but this is definitely a park I'd like to return to one day, with better weather. All that said, our group still had a pretty good day. There were plenty of indoor attractions to keep us entertained, including a simulator dome that was kind of Mission Space meets Minion Mayhem. Space World had a couple of the better coasters of the trip, including a very long Space Mountain-type indoor coaster and a fun Arrow hyper. This was topped off by a very memorable lunch in the park's restaurant, where some of us even made new friends... Our evening started at Shinagawa station. Did I mention the trains in Tokyo were fantastic? Shibuya junction. Yes, from Lost in Translation. Bill Murray was here, and now I am too. It's basically Times Square without off-model Elmos posing for pictures. I'm almost certain this "Shibuya Information Center" is a porn shop. Wandering around looking for somewhere to eat, we stumbled across Japan's only Taco Bell in a side alley. Fortunately Doug spotted something a little more "authentic" two doors down, which turned out to be excellent. The staff were kind enough to give us an English menu but I was still left wondering what most of these dishes actually were. In any case, it felt decidedly un-touristy. And the food was pretty good. A partially consumed plate of octopus balls. This was our "exotic" menu choice among a selection of mostly safe dishes. The octopus was suspended in some kind of liquid that guaranteed a burnt tongue for the unsuspecting diner. So the hole-in-the-wall gamble turned out pretty well. We ended up trying out the Taco Bell afterward too. We don't have Taco Bell in Australia so I have no idea what it's supposed to taste like, but I imagine the Japanese version was pretty close. After the excitement of Shibuya we slowed the pace down with a visit to Sensoji temple. This is Tokyo's oldest temple and is lit up beautifully at night. The five-story pagoda was quite impressive. The temple itself, with the Tokyo Skytree in the background. Juxtaposition = art. We had some free time the next day too, so more exploring was planned. Some good advice from Japan Rail. Jeff was excited to see these fountains on our way to the Imperial Palace. They make for a nice city park, I guess. Part of the Imperial Palace. Not pictured: the busloads of tourists also taking this exact same photo. More palace. You were allowed to wander around parts of the grounds, although some of it is still off limits to the public. Inside the palace walls was this enormous garden. Definitely a world away from the city outside. Sadly Jeff was wearing the wrong outfit so he was not allowed to join the tour group. Inside Tokyo's art museum. Nolan decided to become part of this installation. We did some shopping at a very cool department store called Tokyu Hands. They sell pretty much everything, with a focus on creative pursuits. Here is the DIY meth lab department. And even something for the skull enthusiast, or beginner goth. Fast forward a couple of days and we made it to Space World! The park manager was excited to see us. I think our group might have doubled his attendance on this very wet day. The park mascots were on hand to greet us! Another park mascot. Please note AJ's appropriately themed shirt. Seeing this photo triggers the park's catchy theme song in my head... "Go. To. Space. Go. To. The Space World." It's a Japanese theme park, so there's the giant ferris wheel! Titan MAX is an Arrow hyper that has recently added new S&S-style trains. The trains have onboard audio and with just a lapbar, I imagine the ride is much improved compared to a standard OTSR. If you don't have a partner, please join the "loser with no friends" line. Space World was the first park we encountered that was particularly strict about loose articles. Everything, even watches, had to go in the cubby hole. Steve is ready for Titan MAX! I quite liked this ride. It was big, fast and relatively smooth, save for a weird figure-eight thing in the middle. Titan MAX might not make anyone's top ten list, but it's still a pretty good coaster, made better by the new trains. The next filming stop was Zaturn, an Intamin accelerator. Zaturn is kind of shrunk-down Kingda Ka. Big launch, top hat, camelback, brakerun. I never get tired of these launches. Always fun. As tends to be the case with these coasters, the best action is in the back row. Anyone up for Churritos? I assume this is a burrito-flavoured churro. Or possibly the other way around. The rain was holding out for a little longer, so we checked out the delightfully named Boogie-Woogie Space Coaster. Excitingly the rear two cars faced backwards. But that was about the best part of this ride, otherwise it was mostly lift hill and some helixes. Space themeing! Venus GP is a Maurer looping coaster with an impressive spaceship in the middle. Even the safety instructions are space themed! The ride had been closed due to rain, but like good coaster nerds we waited patiently to get the credit. Even in the wet, this one looked pretty good. The coaster opened and the park nervously sent one half-full train out to make sure it wouldn't overshoot the brakes. Sadly the rain started bucketing down almost right after, and the ride didn't reopen. So I have a reason to go back, at least. Wet wet wet. Time to escape to some indoor attractions. So into the Space Dome we went. Entrance is through a forest. Your guess is as good as mine. Hey we found the coaster! Black Hole Scramble is like a longer, darker version of Space Mountain. It was actually pretty good, and we rode a few times. Inside the Space Dome were a few other attractions, including a simulator ride where you went to Mars. It was OK, if a little dated. Lunch at the park's restaurant was interrupted by the mascots. Since we were the only customers, we got a lot of attention. They were particularly taken with Thad, but then again, who isn't? Thad and his new friends. The bouncy pillows would be fun on a drier day. Space World even had a scare maze - Alien Panic Evolution. The maze started with ten minutes of instructions delivered in perfect Japanese. None of us understood, but we still smiled and nodded politely. Surprisingly the park aren't cool with drunks stumbling around their alien walkthrough. I remember this being pretty good, if a little confusing. There were no actors, but a few solid jump-scares throughout. Because Space World. Even in the wet, the park's flume ride was too cool to pass up. Such rockwork! The attendants were nice enough to squeegee out the boats between each ride. This was definitely one of the more elaborate flumes I've been on, there was even a mid-ride helix inside one of the "mountains". Some of us wore ponchos. Some of us got soaked and had to dry off before we could train it back to the hotel. All up, a fun but wet day at Space World. Next up is Mitsui Greenland!
  11. Nasu Highland The first major park of the trip was Nasu Highland, an hour's bullet train ride north of Tokyo. Set on the side of a mountain with great views of rural Japan, with an intriguing mess of coaster track at the bottom end of the park. Nasu Highland was heavy on credits, with nine all up, but also featured an eclectic selection of dark rides, flat rides and other "activities". To be honest, none of the coasters were anything special (although a couple were unique), but there were quite a few interesting diversions that made for a great day. The group rose early for the first bullet train ride of the trip. I was quite excited for this, you don't really appreciate how fast they are until one flies past you at full speed! This train featured a Skymall-like in-seat catalogue. Among the many items on offer was this dog ramp, to help Frou-Frou get up onto the couch. Another selection from the catalogue. Apparently this device helps to strengthen the facial muscles. Mm-hmm. After only an hour we arrived at Nasushiobara station and loaded into a convoy of taxis to get to the park. Note the decorative seat covers, a feature of all Japanese taxis. Great weather for our day at Nasu Highland! The park mascot's name is Woopy Bird. No idea why his bow-tie is made out of an American flag though. Mandatory enormous ferris wheel. This one had a "romantic" car, complete with privacy curtains. Bow chicka bow wow. Woopy gets his own powered coaster. Sadly the wild mouse behind this was closed for our visit. Our group started with a Space Jet ride around the park. A few Japanese parks had these little single-car monorail rides, they were fun as long as you didn't smack your head on the canopy. Jeff enjoyed "driving" the car. Nasu Highland is well landscaped, and even the smaller flats have some themeing. The Space Jets moved along at a very leisurely pace, and the track was surprisingly long. This stunning mess of track sits at the bottom of the park. None of these rides were particularly good, but they did look pretty great. Viking Hell-themed walkthrough. Spooky. The staff had seen better days. This attraction was suitably quirky and weird enough to be entertaining, like a lot of similar ones we encountered in Japan. F2 Fright Flight is the park's invert. It was pretty much your standard SLC. With one notable exception. These seats had more padding than I'd ever seen on a ride! They even had little padded vests for smaller riders. Most of our group had sufficiently large frames that these weren't needed. Shinpi was a bit of a surprise. I was expecting a kiddie coaster, but this had some indoor show scenes as well, based on what I assume is a Japanese fairytale. The Space Shot was a fairly standard model, but offered great views of the landscape. These giant wooden mazes featured in a few parks we visited. They give you a little card and then you have to go find five stamps in the maze, to "complete" your card. I don't think I managed to complete a single one of these, they weren't easy and a couple of times I accidentally exited prematurely via the "chicken" door. The lower part of the park was themed to 1950s USA, an obvious choice for an amusement park in rural Japan. If you ride Spin Turn more than once, you'll need to go to this store. At this point Jeff got eaten by a plastic lion, so I had a room to myself for the rest of the trip. Camel Coaster, aka "the red one". See? Red. It's pretty big, four thousand feet long. Please do not toss your possessions from the ride. Some happy people in the queue. Like most of the big Japanese jet coasters, Camel Coaster was nice to look at but pretty tame. Big OTSRs didn't add much to the ride experience either. I guess there were one or two good moments but mostly I remember this one for not doing much at all. They are on a log flume, they are on a log flume... 20-foot high gas station attendant = themeing. This was probably the most interesting coaster in the park, a Caripro "bat flyer". I'd never seen one of these before, so was kind of intrigued by it. It's basically a swinging, inverted mouse, with a vertical lift. This is a real sign. We didn't just make it up to be funny. Steve braves the lift. These cars were a pretty snug fit, not a lot of height or legroom to speak of. The bat flyer was fun but short, with three brake runs to give the gentlemen grief. It was also Jeff's 500th coaster! Sadly nobody was not handing out prizes for this... Next up we tried Spin Turn, the park's spinning coaster. This was quite long, and also kind of painful. The seats were basically level with the floor of the car, and the restraints made sure your ears got smacked around a bit. It did both spin and turn however, so thumbs up for that. Big Boom was a sort of looping dive coaster. The initial drop was pretty steep, then you go through the loop and up a second hill. After which you go down again into the brake run, in the style of Full Throttle. At this point the weather went south, so we sought refuge in American Graffiti land. We found an arcade to pass the time. Here's Thad demonstrating the drum game. The rain passed, an the group decided to brave this impressive carousel. Not the angled photo for artistic effect. Steve does his best Japanese schoolgirl impression. Next up was this delightful "my first poaching trip" ride. No kidding, you shoot at animals and natives from the back of a safari truck. Political correctness be damned! Here is Priscilla helping rid the world of another terrifying elephant. This baby rhino didn't even see me coming. Jeff takes out an evil giraffe. The world is safe again. The paratrooper rides are quite popular in Japan, most big parks seemed to have one. Nasu Highland also has a Lover's Sanctuary, for Lovers to Love. Which dark ride will you choose, terrifying fairytales or tranquil swamp monsters? Dark Castle was tucked away in a back corner of the park, and was actually surprisingly good! As the name implies, it was a journey through a haunted castle. Featuring this guy and his friends. We were all relatively impressed by this one. But Marchen World beckoned. This was, well, awful. Thad is super excited for the kiddie dark ride. Basically it was five minutes of this. There was no story to speak of, just static scenes from fairytales. I think this might the worst dark ride I've been on to date. Garfield's Nightmare is now in second place. Jeff and Jon were really happy to get the end. The park also had a rollercoaster science exhibit, which was a fun diversion. The idea was to drop balls down different types of curves to see which was the most effective. Jon demonstrates the correct starting position. If only the park had applied some of these concepts to their actual coasters! We finished the day in the park's Scandinavian Garden. I couldn't figure out what it had to do with Scandinavia but it was nice enough. Jeff tried out the hot springs, quite soothing apparently. That's all from Nasu Highland, next up we see some things that aren't theme parks in Tokyo, and visit Space World!
  12. Tobu Zoo After riding Piraten in Denmark last year, I was excited to find out that Japan also has an Intamin Megalite - Kawasemi! Robb had arranged some filming time so we had the coaster to ourselves for an hour before the park opened (way to go Robb!). If you haven't been on one, Megalites are airtime machines. Once they warm up the ride basically does its best to eject you from your seat every two seconds. Apart from Kawasemi, Tobu Zoo is, as you'd expect, mostly a zoo with a medium-sized ride area. Apart from Regina, the Intamin woodie, most of the rides are aimed at younger children. There are also two giant ferris wheels for good measure, along with a steampunk-fish gondola ride. The zoo had a large variety of animals but some of them looked to be in rough shape - especially a few sad-looking rhinos and a lonely ostrich. I think the worst was a brown bear kept inside the kind of cage zoos used to have a hundred years ago - all concrete and iron bars. That said, a lot of the enclosures were more modern and animal-friendly, so hopefully the zoo is gradually updating. Once we were done with the zoo a few of us took the train to Tokyo DIsneyland for our own little "preview" event. This was mainly because Space Mountain would be closed for renovation when we were scheduled to visit the park, and we didn't want to miss it. This ended up working out quite well - the park was busy enough but we managed to fit in about ten attractions before heading back to the hotel. Early on an overcast, humid Sunday morning, we arrived at Tobu Zoo! Tattoos are associated with gangs in Japan, so they're typically not allowed to be visible in parks. Prior to the trip we were all given instructions to cover up our tramp stamps with bandaids. The amusement park consists of two large coasters, and some stuff for kids. On a sunny day it would be probably be quite picturesque. Some hippos welcomed us into the park. It is mandatory for all Japanese parks to have a giant ferris wheel. Tobu Zoo has two. I need 10 pieces to ride Kawasemi? Pieces of what? Huh? Good thing Robb had sorted it out ahead of time... Hey, it's a yellow megalite! Getting ready to ride. I'm pretty sure the rides ops had never had to push anyone's restraint to make it lock before. Our group gave them lots of practice. Airtime! These things are a fantastic amount of fun. If an Aussie park ever gets one I'll definitely be visiting it on the weekends. Even the brake run deserves applause. It was threatening to rain, so the next stop was Regina, an Intamin woodie. Japan only has four wooden coasters, three of which we rode on this trip. This wasn't in the same vein as Balder or El Toro, but still gave a decent ride. It's kind of old-school, out-and-back with a giant helix at one end. Wasn't too rough and kept a decent speed. Please note the approved riding method. Adopting the airline brace position on a wooden coaster... ouch! Apparently animals are OK to ride too, though that lion does not look appropriately restrained. In case you're wondering why there is a cyclops holding balloons, I am too. At this point the rain stopped threatening and just started, so we took refuge under Regina's ample structure to stay dry. Jeff looks pretty happy for a guy who's about to get eaten. Sadly the ladybird coaster was out of action, as evidenced by the lack of an actual train. A more determined enthusiast might try to walk the empty track and claim a credit, but not us. These capsule machines are everywhere in Japan. You stick 100 yen in, turn the knob and out comes a little capsule with a random toy. Some were fairly benign, but a few were quite strange. Fortunately the rain subsided and Tobu Zoo's newest (ahem) credit was opened up. Our ride consisted of three laps of shame. Lunch was at the park restaurant. These pancakes were both elaborate and delicious. In what was probably the first "culture" credit of the trip, we went to the zoo side of the park. This was quite big, with a large variety of animals. Here is a Bolivian Squirrel Monkey. Flamingo. But you probably already guessed that. One day I'll visit a zoo and see a hippopotamus out of the water, but not today. Grumpy-looking Rhesus Macaque. "The age of the goat has come. Bow before your new overlord, and you shall be treated with benevolence." This little display was in the Australia section. Innocent and racist at the same time. Kangaroo fact: Kangaroo is tasty and high and protein, but tricky to cook. For some yen you could buy food to feed to the swarming masses of fish in this lake pond. It's both relaxing and violent at the same time. More megalite pictures! Some serious hairtime in the front row there. I couldn't pick between this and Piraten, they both ran with the same amount of awesome. In the afternoon we traveled to Tokyo Disneyland to get in Space Mountain. This park is fantastic, the one next door is even better, I'll cover them in a future update. Tokyo Space Mountain was my 300th coaster. It was good, basically the same as the ones in Anaheim and Hong Kong, but without onboard sound. The lack of audio was noticeable but didn't really detract from the ride - something most people probably wouldn't even pick up on if they hadn't been to other Disney parks. Dinner was a traditional Japanese Mickey-shaped cheeseburger. Because shaping food like Mickey makes it 30% more delicious! That's all for this update, next one will be Nasu Highland!
  13. ^I was impressed by how much you packed into your short trip! It was like the highlights of everything we took three weeks to see. Bandit was a dry ride when we were there. I didn't notice any water cannons (although wasn't really looking for them) - where did they splash you?
  14. I'd always wanted to visit Japan, so when the prospect of a trip came up last year I played it cool and waited a whole five minutes before letting Elissa know I was in. Fast forward to June this year and it was time to head to Tokyo. Over the course of three weeks we explored Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka, riding the Shinkansen from across the country and back, with rollercoasters and Japanese culture mixed in together. Before the planned trip days started, we had some free time to experience Tokyo at our leisure. A few of us chose to start at two smaller parks - Yomiuriland and Toshimaen. Yomiuriland is very much an amusement park, almost like visiting a carnival with a few permanent installations. Toshimaen is more of a "garden with rides". These parks made for a fun "first day in Japan", with some unique rides and experiences. As the tunnel is not yet finished, I flew to Tokyo via Singapore... ...landing the next day at Haneda airport. I guess this is an industrial area. I'm not sure what that weird pyramid thing is though. Base camp for the first few days was a hotel across from Shinagawa station. This is the busiest train station in Tokyo, but it was easy enough to find my way around. Speaking of Japanese efficiency, from getting off the plane to arriving at the hotel took less than an hour, including customs, bags, train trip in. Too easy! Tokyo's subway system is extensive, but it's simple enough to know where to go once you figure out how it works. We made it out to Yomiuriland station without any trouble. Rollercoaster Tycoon fans will be excited to note that entrance to the park is via a gondola ride. As is common in Japan, you buy your ticket at a vending machine. Jeff is making this look harder than it was. The ride in is pretty cool, taking you across a valley and right up next to Bandit, the park's major coaster. The Wish of The Emergency is the name of my alt-punk-metal band. Here we are! At Yomiuriland! Mandatory photo with the park mascot. I hope Jeff isn't planning on counting that as a credit. More vending machine goodness, plenty of variety. These things were cheap, too! I think a bottle of Coke was around , which is half of what I'd pay back home. Hello Bandit. Awesome Japanese efficiency does not seem to extend to their ride operations, which were often slow. This coaster was a walk on, but it probably took ten minutes between each dispatch. The trains are themed to logs. This is superb. Bandit used the surrounding terrain quite well, and felt like it picked up quite a bit of speed throughout. The helix was reasonably forceful and there was the odd pop of airtime on some of the hills, but this 5100 foot ride is more about speed and pleasant views than anything else. The ride footprint is seriously huge. I liked that it wandered off into the woods halfway through. After your ride, no gift shop but there is a themed restaurant. Yomiuriland midway. Definitely an eclectic mix of themes here. Wan Wan Coaster Wandit (no, that's really the name) is a fairly standard family coaster, featuring a bubble machine on the lift hill. The Elephant of Self-Actualisation welcomes you to the vintage car ride. Having a blast. A pedal car ride sits above the vintage cars. This was a lot of effort for very little gain, although as Jere would remind us, the tiny lift hill meant it could technically count as a credit. Umm... As is common at Japanese amusement parks, birds were prohibited from most rides as the restraints could not safely accommodate them. So I guess you could call this "Japanese theme park food" - it's a katsu curry and was OK, but we had better ones later in the trip. You know, at actual restaurants. This ride is well-themed and terrifying. Momonga Standing & Loop Coaster is an interesting one. It has two trains, one standing and one seated. The station has a transfer track in it, so you line up on a different side depending on which train you want to ride in. As this is a Togo ride, the standing train was more comfortable. Sadly Twist Coaster Robin was out of action. I'd be interested to know what the story is behind this one, as the ride is definitely complete and operational (some test cars were being sent around), but still closed. I've only been on one El Loco to date (Green Lantern) but quite liked it. Those S&S trains make for a pretty comfy ride too. Super Exciting Shot was exactly that. The shot and drop towers sat on top of the hill, so they gave great views of Tokyo. The park also had a lengthy go kart ride. Japanese go karts are a little different from those you might find at, say, Fun Spot, in that you just drive around the track without any racing involved. Doug is clearly having the time of his life. Would the gentleman care for a glass of the house red? Our last stop at Yomiuriland was the haunted house. Getting in was a bit tricky, as the attendant had lost the English instructions so much pantomime and polite nodding occurred. We were supplied with a cork and sent into the maze. What happens next is up to your imagination. Go in peace, gaijin! One more gondola ride back to the train station. This is suburban Tokyo, I have no idea where the city ends. A couple more train rides and we arrived at Toshimaen. Toshimaen has a few more trees than Yomiuriland, and is sort of a city park with some rides thrown in. It reminded me a little of Tivoli Gardens, with a pleasant ambiance. The first "credit" was this powered mine train. Fans of banked turns will really enjoy this one. Mini Cyclone gave us the longest wait of the day. It was very popular, probably because it was the best coaster in the park. Like Bandit the trains are once again themed to logs. The park also had an actual log ride, themed to logs of course. Cyclone looks like an elevated railway but is less thrilling. This was our first of the Japanese "jet coasters" and it had a few strange elements, like this flattened out hill. It was, however, impressive to look at. Please note that giant pirate ship ride in the background, a staple of many Japanese parks. The keen-eyed will have noticed another set of log-like trains. These had velour seating, no less. Another Japanese haunted house. These were more creepy than outright scary, and typically had a "homemade" aesthetic. Japan's answer to the Catawampus. Tucked away in a back corner is Mystery Zone, a large dark ride. I think this was themed to aliens. Or possibly dinosaurs. In any case, let's just say that Disney probably aren't losing any sleep over this one, although it was good enough for a small park. The loading area. Everybody loves rockwork. So ends the first part of this report - next up will be Tobu Zoo and some random Tokyo sightseeing. Thanks for reading!
  15. Eleven countries so far: Australia US Hong Kong UAE Denmark Germany Sweden Norway Finland Singapore Japan
  16. Very amusing. Knoebels is lovely, but better than DisneySea? And Forbidden Journey gets best dark ride, with no mention of Mystic Manor, Indy or Pooh? Umm... Reading through the list it's kind of sad how US-centric these "awards" are. I wonder how many of the voters even own a passport.
  17. #357 was the wooden Wild Mouse at Sydney's Luna Park. Better than I was expecting, with some cool bobsled-style cars. A few pops of airtime in there along with some outward banking on the turns for a fun, short ride.
  18. Every new picture of this ride is making me more impatient to get to Europe next year. Should be stunning once it's finished!
  19. New version for me, I don't mind sacrificing a little airtime for not getting smacked around the ears. But Mack, Vekoma, S&S, heck even Kumbak have made restraints for inverting coasters that offer the rider plenty of freedom to move about without falling out of their seat. B&M's vests are still a little too lacking in that area.
  20. From the description it might be something like Tokyo Joypolis, kind of a big FEC with one or two major rides, some simulators and stage shows. Ubisoft has some decent original IPs, so I'm interested to see what they come up with.
  21. I keep track of which coasters I've been on, and maintain a "count" of the total. But this is more just for my own interest than anything else. Parks are more than just rollercoasters, I mean if you only focused on the credits DisneySea and Epcot would not look appealing at all, and they are both fantastic! Last year there was an optional add-on to the Scandi trip to a park called Sommerland Sjelland. Some people dismissed it offhand since there were only two credits - a wacky worm and a Pinfari looper. Suffice to say they missed out! This place was brilliant - basically a giant playground including a self-operated Jungle Cruise-type raft ride, some giant ziplines, go karts, a field of trampolines, and we even saw a guy shot out of a cannon! So the credit snobs missed out while the rest of us had fun. And got two credits.
  22. Thanks for the update, Neil. Legoland Malaysia is definitely one of the trickier parks to get to, how long did you end up spending there?
  23. Great update, Ryan. Space World was a fun park! Fortunately even though Venus was closed in the rain we still managed the other major rides. I didn't mind Titan V at all, the new trains were pretty decent even if the track was a bit weird in spots. I'm sure that theme song will stick around in my head for a while... Go. To. Space. Go. To The Space World...
  24. Great report, Craig. I didn't realise that Drayton Manor houses the original Thomas set - definitely brings back some memories! Look forward to your next update.
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