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Photo TR / Ride report: Eejanaika


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OK, here's the story:

 

I'm so far behind in TR's and Photo TR's I may just put them all off until winter and deal with it all when I don't have another coaster trip next week.

 

So, for now, here's My Fuji-Q / Eejanaika (EJ) ride report:

 

26 July, 2006

 

I woke up at 4:30 am to start my train journey early enough to arrive in time for the park's 9 am opening. (Sorry, Elissa, none of the bus options work for me from the direction I start from.) After more transfers than I care to count, I finally arrived at the park at just before 9, to see all the rides running and the park already open! I also remembered why I always drove to this park, even though I take trains everywhere else in Japan!

 

I quickly paid my entrance fee and grabbed ‘breakfast’ (okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) on a stick, not very good) in the new gift shop area built next to the EJ station. I snapped a couple pictures of the train in action as the line didn’t look very long yet, and then got in line. The station can be approached from 2 areas, and there is a good amount of switchbacks located under a retractable sunshade. After passing the pay-as-you-go ticket machine (1000 yen / ride) the line goes up a short slope, turns right and then splits to the two sides of the train. The Guiness Book plaque is here, and another framed document which I’ve already forgotten what it was. I turned right at the split, moved around a left turn, continued up the ramp, u-turned right again, and hit the end of the line about half way up this ramp. That put one more turn and ramp section before the door where they split up the people into groups of ten to wait in the four locker / waiting platform / air gates. The wait was a little over 30 minutes with an average of one dispatch every 5 minutes 30 seconds when one train was running and between 3 and four minutes with 2 trains running. They had problems with both trains all day, and kept cycling out the trains for small fixes. I believe that they operated two trains for about half the day, but just putting the trains on and pulling them off certainly wasn’t helping the queue times.

 

When I finally reached the door, I was assigned to row 5, the back row. They pulled the green train off just before I boarded, so I rode the yellow train. There was an American standing to one side of the station, and I ended up talking to him for a moment before I was dispatched. His name was Mike Smith, and he is an employee of S&S Power, and he works in the department that designs and fabricates the trains. He was part of the design team on X, and he offered to show me around the backstage areas of the coaster after my ride. As you can imagine, I took him up on that offer!

 

But first, the ride!

 

I’m pretty sure that if you’ve been following this ride at all, you’ve seen the POVs. I will give my own version, in text, here. My pictures are after this and a video will be posted shortly.

 

As the train drops out of the station, the trains rotate back until your head is below your chest, and they remain there until just before the bottom of the lift. They rotate back to vertical, but in relation to the ground, not the track, for the climb up the long lift hill.

 

At the top, as the trains transit the dip, they rotate to face you straight down for the first drop. Since they reach this position before the drop begins, everybody gets to look about 75 meters straight down to the ground, with no sight obstructions. As the drop begins, the seat rotates to maintain the orientation to the ground, and the cars in front of you seem to rotate into view. Just before the train reaches the pullout, the seats rotate forward to ‘put your butt into the g’s.’

 

After the train reaches the lowest point of the course, it ascends into the inside raven turn. As the train approaches the peak, it executes a full back-flip before dropping down to approach the full-full.

 

This maneuver is the most wild, insane, out-of-control feeling I have ever had on a coaster. The forward rotation, combined with the counterclockwise twist throws you against the incredibly comfortable OTSR’s for an extended bout of twisting airtime.

 

Following the amazing full-full, you race along the top of the first evacuation platform and climb into the massive overbanked turn. The seats don’t rotate but you change orientation from on your back to on your front during the turn. You scream past the second evacuation platform before alimbing up to the half-half which rotates you through a half backflip and you exit this element facing backwards for the first time since the lift.

 

The outside raven turn is the most gentle element of the ride, and it simply seems like the train rotates around you as you drop down for the last time. (It’s actually a forward half flip.) The half twist onto the brake run is accompanied by a half back flip, and as you brake you are facing straight down at the walkway. This puts your butt into the deceleration, and is actually a much more pleasant element than the trick before the lift.

 

When I arrived in the station, I grabbed my bag from the locker and Mike Smith brought me up onto the catwalk behind the ride operations booth. From this vantage, we watched the trains get swapped out (again) and discussed what it was like at Arrow during the final days, working for S&S, the design sequence for the 4D concept, the changes made to the trains between X and EJ, as well as numerous other topics. During this conversation, we went down into the workshop under the transfer track and he showed me the disassembled blue train and he explained how all the pieces went together as well as how it all worked. He was particularly proud of all the new suspension elements added and the various weight reduction techniques they used during the construction. They shaved off a little more than 1000 pounds per row, which considering that they ADDED things, was quite an accomplishment! We exited the workshop and wandered over to the new concessions area built for the ride. We talked for some more (yes, non-coaster topics!), and then he had to go back to work. I got back in the line again for the now one hour wait, and got a 4th row ride. After my second lap, I spent most of the day getting off-ride footage before getting my final laps on Dodonpa and Fujiyama.

 

There were more people in the park from outside Japan than I had ever seen, I met folks from Germany, Australia and Americans who weren’t in the military stationed in Japan. The park wasn’t crowded as the wait for DDP was only 45 minutes and Fujiyama’s line was only 10 minutes. Before leaving, I wanted one last ride on Eejanaika, so I queued up for the longest wait of the day, just over 90 minutes. This worked out to a third row ride, which was the wildest so far.

 

I had tried to get a front row ride by allowing people to pass me at the door, but the ops wouldn’t let me do it. When I returned to the station this time, Mike had worked it out with the ops to let me skip the line, and immediately queue up for the front row in the same waiting area I had just left. (It wasn’t actually quite that smooth.) So for my last ride of the day, I got front row, outside seat, and it was simply amazing. I only rode the inside seat on my first lap, and neither seat is rough, but the outside is definitely much more wild / out-of-control.

 

As for how it stacks up against the other 500+ coasters I’ve been on? Pretty good, actually, I’m positive it cracks into my top ten, and probably my top 5, but Eejanaika was not my number one steel coaster. It’s simply too short an experience. At 30 million for X and 35 million for EJ, I sadly don’t see anyone making a much longer model though.

 

I enjoyed tracking the construction of this ride for the past seven months, and sharing the images with everyone. After all the trips and build up for this ride, I’m not disappointed with the experience. Fuji-Q has a real winner on their hands.

 

Thanks to Fuji-Q, S&S Power, Meisho Amusement Machines and OB Steel for the excellent ride and special thanks to Mike Smith and the construction workers who allowed me a little better than average access to the ride before and after the ride opening.

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If your restraint is locked and you want to adjust it, have the op push this button!

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This is a signal amplifier. It relays that the restraints are closed, sends it to the trailer where it's radio'ed to the booth. COOL!

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These are the wheel assemblies for the control rails. Aren't they cute?

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I don't know, they look like mean fighter jets or something.

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Mighty big wheels ya got there.

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The rack gear (flat) goes up and down. The pinion gear rotates the seats. No magic. Just two big gears.

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That grey ring is hard rubber and acts as a damper / suspension to reduce roughness.

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That's a mighty big rack! (Hey, this is the trailer!)

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Everybody: Arm rotations! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!

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The blue train (#1) is currently out of service. Only two trains can be in the system at once, so they own a spare.

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This little motor moves the transfer table sideways. (Maybe they should have put a few hp from the lift over here?)

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Train 2 (green) the linkage between row 1 and 2. (Yellow is train 3)

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In the booth, it is still pretty much push the green button. (This train won't dispatch if all the restraints aren't secured properly.)

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Still moving.

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Green train, coming back online. This is what a 100 foot wide transfer table looks like.

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The yellow train returns to the station. (Can you tell where I am?)

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The green train is getting serviced. To these guys credit, two train ops were the norm throughout the day.

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The ride op booth is one of four ways to get across the tracks. Two are under, and the last is to scramble across a train!

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The symbols on the outside are the 4 directions. Pretty ceiling.

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This is what an 800 horsepower lift system looks like. X is only 400 hp.

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This photo update REALLY gets into the nuts and bolts of this ride. For coastery action stuff, check out the video! It only took about 9 hours to get enough footage!

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Hi, George! Looking good!

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The green train haulin' some serious butt.

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Ooh! Two train operations! This is NOT the 6FMM of Japan!

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It looks like the ride has found a sponsor.

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There will probably never be grease on this motor. It's too visible to the public.

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Part of the theming (?) is this coin-operated robotic dragon. Huh?

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Hey! Why is the coaster running? The website said the park doesn't open until 9!

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Junk food and souveniers. Yup, a traditional Japanese village theme.

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This guy is at Takao station. Getting there, only another hour or so.

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It's my train station! Note the lack of other people.

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I know it's early in the morning when this street vendor is just breaking down after a night of serving food to drunks!

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More pictures:

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EJ's mascot? Proving once again that Fuji-Q has a sense of humor, the underwear has the Eejanaika symbol on them.

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Kishidan is a band. I don't know why they get their name on Fujiyama's train.

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I mentioned that Fujiyama has a new paint job. (The other train is still gold.)

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Dodonpa has 4 giant air flasks. How many does Hypersonic have?

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Moving around the park, I was reminded that this place operates in the winter: Snowblowers!

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Look! Trees! EJ's not a parking lot coaster!

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There really is a tunnel effect with all the supports and the evacuation platforms.

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Apparently 40 ton coaster trains go through wheels fairly quickly.

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and a friction brake fin. Because two brake systems are better than one!

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Magnetic brake fin...

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Mike said this linkage was really important. Now I've forgotten what he said it was called!

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That orange block is another ner shock absorption element. Mmm smoother than a baby's behind!

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Hey, I have ten black thingies, but only 9 silver doodads. Is that a problem?

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Awesome report, Chris!! Glad to see that after all your coverage over the past year that you were rewarded with running into Mike Smith and a VIP tour. Something tells me a certain ride mechanic is gonna really appreciate these picks when he gets to see 'em.

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Wow, you really struck it lucky that day!

 

Excellent pictures. Definitely stuff that has never been seen before by an enthusiast... and, probably wont be again.

The rack and pinion set looks so small in comparison to the rest of the super beefy train chassis. I wonder if they had to make it like that so as to get as much spin movement as possible from one stroke of the rack. It seems to turn a lot further than X does on that full-full

 

Oh yeah, and the park really seem to know what they've let themselves in for. Looks like they've prepared and planned very carefully. Hopefully they wont get a ton of hassle from the ride to reward their efforts.

 

Great report

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Did you had to pay 1000 yen for a ride? Is Fuji-Q a park where you have to pay per ride? I had no idea...

 

Anyway I enjoyed your TR, that coaster looks so new and shiny. Glad you had fun, I bet you awaited this moment a long time

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Wrebbit, there are two options at Fuji-Q: pay as you go, or pay one price. As you might imagine, POP quickly becomes the better deal. (4800 yen without any coupons)

 

These pictures were on my video camera. I forgot them earlier:

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A teaser for the next big ride? Or just more Fuji-Q humor?

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The WHOLE brake run and grass!

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There's two sections of catwalk under the track up there.

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I'm still noticing how odd some of these supports are!

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It does look real purty, tho' don't it?

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The torii gate ended up being a little more out in the middle than I expected.

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It's like poetry in steel.

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sweet so its finally in operation. Gewd, gewd, gewd . Does X have a spare train? or is it not that special.

 

I like that they put scenery it so its doesnt look like a parking lot coaster. Thise trees around the turn to the lift look like a nice touch. Did they have little trees everywhere around the ride?

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Great, another ride at Fuji Q to wait 90 minutes for...

 

The worst part about this is it won't even make the line for the Hamster Coaster any shorter!!

 

Thanks Chris, but I'm still not overly impressed!!!

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Aww... why does Japan always get the smoother versions of rough coasters?

 

Cool report. This reminds me of how amazed I was when I saw X for the first time, with new paint and all that supportwork. I find the supports on 4D coasters to be particularly interesting. So massive and bulky and overdone (in appearance at least). Very cool!

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Nice report... Lucky you getting the behind the scenes tour! Didn't that ride just open, though? Why does the blue train need maintenance already? Must admit, that is quite smart of them to have a 'spare' train... And obviously, they have a system in place to handle the disassembled trains, unlike on X.

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I REALLY loved X on my visit to SFMM a couple months ago, so I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this improved version of the ride. The colors are awesome, I love the little details like the tori gate, the fact that it has trees around it, etc. I'm just happy they put some care into the surrounding areas.

 

Hopefully the lines for it won't be too crazy next year, must try the full-full a few times.

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Nice report... Lucky you getting the behind the scenes tour! Didn't that ride just open, though? Why does the blue train need maintenance already? Must admit, that is quite smart of them to have a 'spare' train... And obviously, they have a system in place to handle the disassembled trains, unlike on X.

 

well, EJ's system, if you read carefully can't run 3 trains, so the 1st one (Blue) waits there, in case like if Green or Yellow breaks, it can run and Yellow or Green which ever's broken can be serviced and Blue can take it's place!

 

That simple.

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^ Yeah, does that mean you need to wait 9 hours to ride so they can armor-all the seats Wally?

 

LOL @ Wally in a mall all day for nothing!

 

Anyway, "Adrian Inca" looks pretty sweet. Thanks for all of the coaster porn Chris...now where's our Qoo you're supposed to send us?!?! I promised Wally he could take a bath in it.

 

 

-Don "Waiting for Qoo, and a blindfold" Garrison

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Nice report Chris! How's it going with the video? I'm curious to see it, since everyone keeps saying how smooth the ride is, yet I haven't seen a single video that would back that up. All of the videos I've seen make the ride look very rough.

 

I have to say that nothing I've seen about this ride is making me rush back to Japan to ride it, but then again, I'm in the minority being that I'm not a fan of X either.

 

--Robb "I'm sure people will LOVE this coaster just as they do X." Alvey

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OK, now you all know that I've never been on X, so I cannot compare the two rides. Mike Smith stated that Fuji-Q told S&S what they wanted, and based on that, they ended up with a ride that is similar to X.

 

The track is very, very smooth, but because of the nature of the ride system, you do feel like you are being tossed around quite a bit. If that means it's rough to you, cool. To me, it's just an incredibly wild experience unlike anything I've ever done before. I know that R&E don't care for X, and I suspect that they might not like this one either, as I THINK it's just more of the same type of experience with more suspension effect built into the trains.

 

The park has done a pretty nice job landscaping around the ride (unlike Dodonpa) and they have added some nice touches to the station to make it less boring than it could have been. There was already a little graffiti along one part of the queue, and that really surprised me, as that's VERY rare in Japan outside of toilets in bars.

 

For a complicated ride, Fuji-Q did a wonderful job of keeping the trains up and in the cycle, in spite of several adjustments required during the day. This was only the seventh day of operation for the ride, and from what I heard, the ops have come within ten seconds of not stacking the trains for extended periods. It isn't the ops fault that there are three seat belts and two restraints to check and Fuji-Q has provided 4 seat checkers per side to speed things up. If this is anything like how the other rides are operated around Japan, those 8 people will get VERY good at that job and be there for many years to come.

 

Don, PM me with your mailing address and I'll get you your Qoo. You wanted apple, right?

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