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Photo TR: Being Chuck's Account of TPR's 2007 Japan Tour


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Time for some more, I hope, sheezamageezaness from Japan.

 

Chapter 8: Does One Say “Kanichiwa” or “Hola” Here?—Parque Espana

 

When I’d first heard about Parque Espana, I thought, “How bizarre—a park themed to Spain in Japan? The hell?” Then I remembered that there is a park themed to California in California. The resulting wildfires of confusion in my brain clashed, flared, then burned themselves out, leaving only the blissful ashes of contentment and a feeling of calm. Thank you, Parque Espana.

 

Oh, and Espana’s an excellent park, too, with, a good mix of stuff. It also had my favorite coaster of the trip (and, like so many of the other parks, very light crowds).

 

Pyrenees—This is one excellent B&M invert. Once you top the lifthill, this forceful ride never lets up. It gets really low to the ground and has some surprising moments of airtime—best coaster of the trip.

 

Gran Montserrat—This mine-train coaster, with its mix of banked turns and helices and two lifthills, was a very big surprise. It goes like a bat out of hell! This is might be my favorite mine train outside of Disney’s Big Thunder series. It also interacts nicely with the nearby log flume.

 

Bullfight Roller Coaster—Now here’s a ride that should be sponsored by Advil. This indoor coaster is basically an exercise in pain. Your train whizzes (well, more like lurches and bucks) past random pieces of bullfight paraphernalia (such as swords and capes), and actually stops for a few moments in front of a cheering crowd. I’ll say one thing for this ride—you will feel as though you’ve been kicked around by a bull afterward.

 

Eapana had two enjoyable Disney “knockoffs.” Don Quixote’s Magical Light uses the Peter Pan Ride system, right down to the sailing ships, to tell a somewhat psychedelic, and more cheerful, version of Cervantes’s famous novel (it’s a good dark ride). Adventure Lagoon is a boat ride along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean, and even features a surprising indoor drop and trough (which the boat rolls through), along with its cheesy (but fun) animatronics.

 

There were two other dark rides and a walk through that defy description. The Shining Luminous Castle Sparkling Carnival Ride, with its long series of corridors festooned with sparkling Christmas lights, left me scratching my head. But it had nothing on the Musical Circus. Robb has described this one about as well as anybody can in his updates, but I do think you have to experience it at least once just for the cool ride system: a circular, revolving platform that rolls through an “underground” section, then emerges in the middle of various show scenes involving a heroic bunny, other woodland creatures, and monsters. All that, plus a “3D” section that really isn’t in 3D. The ride system is something you’d expect to see at Epcot (more parks should try it). In Espana’s Alice in Wonderland walk-through maze, you’re given a magic wand that you need to play various games (mainly by pointing or waving it at targets)—“curiouser and curiouser.”

 

The log flume is a soaker, and the park also has a cool “flying island” observation ride that gives you some great views of the park and nearby lake. There was even some sort of flamenco dance festival going on that day.

 

Ole, Parque Espana!

 

Next up--Japan's answer to 1980s Cedar Point?

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What? All that to watch some headless mannequin do Lambada, the Forbidden Dance? More to come.

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Aghh! I took the bad acid, man!

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OK, this is getting a bit too freaky now!

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Pass the water pipe, please.

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Even the ride vehicles are sparkly and stoned.

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Speaking of "drunken ducks on crack" . . .

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Freeze, you turkey! (I was having flashbacks to cop shows of the 1970s.)

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Ginny, Jeff, and Bob are locked and loaded for the Alice in Wonderland maze.

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It whips around like a drunken duck on crack, or something.

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But Gran Montserrat was great--more insane than any mine train has any right to be.

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This pretty much sums up the group's reaction to Bullfight Coaster.

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But this hurts a lot--Bullfight Coaster. Pretty station, though.

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Yep--gotta have one or two of these, too--and it doesn't hurt, either.

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Believe it or not, this doesn't hurt a bit.

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Actually, this ride is full of "who-o-o-o-a" moments.

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This is the "who-o-o-o-o-a" part.

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First up--videotaping on Pyrenees.

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Welcome to Parque Espana! I am el Don Quixote, Lord of La Mancha . . . sir, quit playing with my squire's donkey!

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Ole and sheezamageeza, amigos! More from Parque Espana.

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BAck up the Magic Air-Conditioned Escalator Ride to the top. One more set of pics to come.

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Uh oh! I'm having Luminous Castle flashbacks!

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Jeff and Ginny seem perplexed by Espana's bizarre fun-house- type maze.

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Aye, there'll be fresh seal meat for dinner tonight, sez I!

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Watch it, mates! It be the accursed sock-puppet seal!

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Arghh, what's this? Down near Davy Jones's Locker, we are!

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Hold still, Miguel! I'll blast that stinking bird off your butt!

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Hmm--I think this one's been at sea a bit too long, consortin' with water fowl, and all.

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Aye, that were a near miss!

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Avast! Watch them heavy guns off the starboard bow, lads!

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We be El Dorado bound, mates!

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Aye, the captain has fair quarters, sez I.

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Ye queues up in this piratical ship.

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Ahoy! Time fer adventure on the high seas!

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Come on, everybody! Here we go-o-o-o-o!

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Here's the park's version of Peter Pan.

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Our intrepid little band hiked down to the park's lower level.

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One more set of photos, then adios!

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And so, we bid a fond "adios" to Parque Espana.

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OK, what's better on a hot day than chipped ice covered in syrup? Chipped ice covered in syrup with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (or "lazy milk").

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What's Musical Circus like? Well, you get these 3D glasses you don't really need, and there are these singing critters and demons, and you have to travel through another dimension or something . . . oh, just go ride it yourself!

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Looks like a nice place to spend a few days.

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Not to mention beautiful.

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Here's a look at the surrounding area. The park's location is rather remote.

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And now, the magical flying island! Well, that is, if you tihink large hydraulic arms are some sort of magic.

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. . . and Salvador Dali?

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. . . Pablo Picasso . . .

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They even have a Disney-like parade. But where in any Disney parade would you see tributes to . . .

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Well, it was quite scenic. But this is quite a scene.

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Yes, Parque Espana is quite scenic.

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Parque Espania did indeed rock. Chuck's report pretty much covers my feelings on the place. The bullfight coaster was BRUTAL! A doctor's office should set up shop just outside the exit. They'd retire in a week just from re-aligning spines.

 

And Musical Circus was the greatest dark ride ever. I've really been trying to describe it to people, but unless you've actually seen it, you really cannot understand how bizarre, screwed up, and yet entertaining it was. I'm glad we rode it twice, as I wasn't sure that I had not just hallucinated my first experience...

 

dt

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Parque Espana was definitely in my top five of the parks we went to.

 

And yes Bullfight was jerky enough, and once was enough for me I remember as I disembarked, ouch ouch.

 

Musical Circus twice Dave? Man, I finally got to it just as we were about to leave, heh heh. But I would definitely like to repeat it. If only to NOT wear the %^(^# glasses until the screens actually show up, lol.

 

And I too discovered the joy of chipped/shaved ice with multiple flavors to swamp them up with, heh heh. No ice cream though. That would have been nice to add, from time to time. But I liked that I could buy a sno cone (yes?) then go back to the flavoring table and load it on more with icky sweet syrups, LOL!

 

The park museum there also, was actually a nice cooling walk-through, even if you couldn't read any of the descriptions of things, etc. And it was all one route in one direction if you followed it right. So easy in, easy out, LOL.

 

A very nice park. I would like to go back there, too.

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Chapter 9: The Cedar Point of the Rising Sun?—Nagashima Spaland (plus Nagoya Zoo)

 

Going into Nagashima Spaland, Robb and Elissa likened the park to Cedar Point in the 1980s. I’ve never been the Coaster Mecca of Ohio, so I bow to the opinion of the well-traveled Alveys. That being said, Spaland did have sort of a Dorney vibe to me, probably due the presence of a Morgan hyper and a Schwartzkopf looper. But that’s the not to say that Spaland doesn’t have a personality all its own. It’s a pretty good, if not great, park, with a few eccentric touches (just what you expect in old Japanese park).

 

As for the coasters, Spaland has a good mix.

 

Steel Dragon 2000—I liked this Morgan hyper quite a bit—comfy trains, a nice twisty bit at the far end, and good air on the way back to the station. Many of us liked this coaster, but quite a few found it to be a bit “meh.” I think it’s safe to say that if you like Steel Force at Dorney, you’ll like Steel Dragon.

 

Looping Star—A nice, forceful, but smooth Schwartzkopf looper. Anton scores again!

 

White Cyclone—I was expecting to hate this woodie based on past reports, but I ended up liking it. There isn’t much airtime, but the coaster makes up for this be feeling completely out of control as it rumbles through its long, twisty layout. It really wasn’t any rougher than KD’s Rebel Yell, I thought.

 

Ultra Twister—This is basically the same as Mitsui Greenland’s version, but a bit rougher (still lots of fun).

 

Shuttle Loop—Anton strikes again with this flywheel-launched looper. It’s OK, but nothing special.

 

Wild Mouse—Standard-issue, non-spinning mouse. Nothing special, either, unless you’re really into fiberglass mouse statues. It has two identical tracks, but only one side was running that day.

 

Jet Coaster—Another misnamed family coaster with mine-car trains. It meanders rather pointlessly.

 

Children Coaster—It’s just one of those ladybug things; still, I’d rather ride this again than . . .

 

Corkscrew—. . . this rough, punishing, painful pile of Arrow awfulness.

 

Perhaps the coolest attraction at Nagashima Spaland was the Bobkarts—an electric “alpine slide” with a long, twisty layout. The park also has a good, cheesy haunted house walk through (I liked their curry pork cutlet for lunch, as well).

 

A number of us went credit whoring at the Nagoya Zoo. First up was this odd set of “bobsleds” that run on rubber wheels down a series of switchbacks in a concrete trough. (I count this as a credit—hey, it’s a bobsled coaster.) There was a nonlooping Togo family coaster with very tight trains, and a powered kiddie coaster with comparatively roomy trains (go figure). It was worth going to check out the trough coaster.

 

Next up—it’s mini-DisneySea

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How very, very RCT. More to come.

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Here's a new game I just made up: Spot the Fresnonians on the Jet Coaster!

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I think the sign painter took a ride, suffered a concussion, then painted this sign.

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Yes, you can feel your temples throb just by looking at the picture, can't you?

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. . . sorry pile of crap.

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. . . then dropped to your doom! But it's fun, unlike this . . .

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. . . hoisted on high, . . .

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On Ultra Twister, you're locked into this little cylinder, . . .

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And her twisty bits will hurt thee only slightly.

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Her airtime shall bless thee.

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Her first drop shall comfort thee.

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All hail her graceful, gothic lines.

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And now, we are called to worship at Our Lady of the Steel Dragon.

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Actually, it is time to get off of the air-conditioned Ferris wheel. Sorry about that.

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Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

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Beat the hell out of Dorney's wood, anyway.

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Yeah, it looks cooler than it is, but it isn't a bad ride (at least not on that day).

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It's a nice day for a white woodie . . .

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For some reason, Nagashima Spaland is brought to you by Peter Rabbit.

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More from Spaland, which will not accept your Maxx Pass, so don't even try.

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Hello, I'm Joey! And after an exicitng spin on the Bobkarts, nothing is more refreshing than a tall, sweaty bottle of Super H2O! It does a lot for me--it'll do even more for you! (The zoo is next.)

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The Bobkarts were pretty cool.

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And my facial is to die for!

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This is doing wonders for my back.

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Now let's check out the spa itself. Here we see some relaxing group meditation.

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Hello. I'm Angus McNasty, and I wish to go on record as being very resentful of the previous caption. Thank you.

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Aghh! It's Angus McNasty in drag!

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. . . keep a cool head. (There were lots of cool ones just lying around.)

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We approach the haunted house with some trepidation, but are cautioned to . . .

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Kristen grew an oversized right hand while we were in Japan. It's considered quite fashionable there.

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But you're not allowed to be!

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Hi there! Yes, I'm a mouse and I'm pretty wild!

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All are in awe of Looping Star and Saint Anton.

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It really is pretty damn cool.

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And now Looping Star--the 1970s coaster of the future, today!

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Remember, when at Spaland, do not annoy the Viking.

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A quick credit run to the Nagoya Zoo.

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Is Chris riding a dog or a floppy-eared bunny? That's it for now.

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The zoo also had this rather odd version of a paratrooper.

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The powered coaster is also Falafel approved.

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. . . compared to the "full-size" coaster nearby. (Most of us had to ride sidesaddle.)

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The powered kiddie coaster was actually fairly roomy . . .

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They also use the patented "Flintstones Braking System."

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It's like a rapids ride without boats, rapids, or water. (OK, so it really isn't like a rapids ride, but you do get to roll around in a concrete ditch.)

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The trough coaster was pretty bizarre.

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Ladies, your train is here!

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Time to catch a train--but not this car.

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I loved Parque Espana! The Alice in Wonderland walk-through was a bit odd. I don't know about you, but I don't think Lewis Carroll wrote in wands and ghosts into the Alice story.

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I haven't been on the trip, but I can tell you, that's japan. I know this because I have a dose of Katamari Damacy.

 

I'm sorry--is there some sort of therapy for that?

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Chapter 10: Well, Enough Magical Powder and You’ll See Lobster Pinocchio, too—Lagunasia and Hamanako Pal Pal

 

I really thought that it couldn’t get much trippier than Parque Espana. I mean, how much more psychedelic can it get than the Shining Luminous Castle Sparkling Carnival Ride and Musical Circus? I’ll be damned if both Lagunasia and Hamanako Pal Pal didn’t give it their best shot.

 

The best way to sum up Lagunasia is “mini-DisneySea,” thanks to its Mediterranean architecture and mostly nautical themeing. This was, outside of Parque Espana, the most elaborately themed of the non-Disney, non-Universal parks we visited. Lagunasia’s coasters were hardly among the biggest of the tour, but one of them was among the best.

 

Aqua Wind—This strange little coaster combined the hairpin turns of a wild mouse with some airtime and twistyness. It’s a great ride that zips around both in- and outdoors, with plenty of surprises—one of my favorite coasters in Japan.

 

Pirates Blast—This dark-ride/coaster hybrid is a bit on the rough side (a kneebanger, thanks to it’s cramped cars). But it’s themeing is nice and piratical--fun stuff.

 

Stellar Coaster—Why a kiddie coaster with whale trains has the name “Stellar” is beyond me, but the ride was OK for what it was.

 

Lagunasia had the best shooting dark ride of the trip next to Buzz Lightyear at Tokyo Disneyland—Fire Fire! This ride actually gives you a grade at the end. If you’re good, your car faces a cheering crowd; if you’re bad (as I was—twice), you’re jeered and laughed at by monsters (a nice touch). There was, unfortunately, a lame simulator ride (something about space bumper cars) in the same building. Legend of Labyrinth was one soaker of a flume ride—lots of fun.

 

But everybody on this site needs to check out the Magical Powders ride—a Disney dark ride as designed by Timothy Leary and Cheech and Chong. You tour a factory where elves make “magical powders” that can make people fatter, thinner, etc., and as near as I can tell, some crazed star-shaped stoner is the “villain” of the piece. It’s all in Japanese and makes no sense at all—you just have to see it for yourselves (like Espana’s Musical Circus).

 

Hamanako Pal Pal is basically an arcade surrounded by a little amusement park. In fact, like an arcade, the park is just full of random, wacky stuff, including four coasters.

 

Mega Coaster—This looks like your standard Togo Migraine Machine, with it’s bizarre inversions and strange, eccentric transitions. But, oddly enough, it’s OK—not all that rough.

 

Batflyer—This was the first time I’ve ridden one of these mini-suspended coasters. Kind of fun, but the little cars, which you have to be some sort of yoga master to mount, are very cramped.

 

Mini Coaster—A wild mouse with “antique cars”. OK, but nothing special.

 

Jungle Mouse—This rusty, rickety-looking steel wild mouse was actually kind of scary. You really wondered if it was going to hold together (nice views, though).

 

Togo struck again with an insane, paratrooper-like ride with seats that can spin around 360 degrees! Lots of fun (and this from a guy who doesn’t care for spinners). But, for my money, the coolest ride at Pal Pal was (for lack of a better title), the Legend of Lobster Pinocchio. This dark ride apparently came from the same folks who gave us Lagunasia’s Magical Powders ride—another whacked out excursion into cutesy psychedelica.

 

There was an OK log ride (with a musical fanfare that sounded like a Japanese copy of the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” music), and a shooting dark ride.

 

All in all, a nice way to end our stay in Nagoya.

 

Up next—real DisneySea

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Aw, what the hell! Whe-e-e-e! More to come from Lagunasia, then Pal Pal.

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I can't believe that somebody took a picture of me on the kiddie coaster!

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Aye, did ye have a nice swim in the Legend of Labyrinth, mate?

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Hey, Barry wasn't with me when I boarded! My god, he's developed teleporting powers!

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Arghh! Ye be listing to port, lubber!

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Aye, we're such tough pyrates, that we tattoos the concrete!

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Ahoy! Swabs to port, skeletonized fish to starboard, if ye please!

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As I recall, that Ferris wheel isn't part of the park.

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. . . like the wind!

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Yes, we are breaking . . .

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Ah ha! This be it, sez I!

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OK, now where is this "Aqua Wind," wet-fart ride?

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. . . and hungry cats. (Angus McNasty would approve.)

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The place was full of big birds . . .

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Well, after fighting our way out of the train station, burning our overcoats, finding the bus, and watching Tom nearly kill himself in the parking lot, we made it to Lagunasia--an excellent little park.

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Oh yeah? Well, people shouldn't wear expensive coats if they don't want 'em burned.

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The Japanese are very nice and well mannered--unless they really need to catch a train!

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More Lagunasia and Hamanako Pal Pal.

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Even this incredibly funky element doesn't hurt--go figure. I mean, really, you should be hearing the howls of souls in torment here, but you don't.

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Hmm--no need to reach for the Advil yet.

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OK so far--but these parts of Togos usually don't hurt, anyway.

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The trains look like HR Giger creations (the man who designed Alien).

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And now, Mega Coaster--the ride that wants you to know just what you're getting into.

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. . . on either side.

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. . . with an amusement park . . .

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It's a big arcade . . .

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. . . Hamer . . . um . . . Hannawama . . . oh, what the banner says!

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Yep--this ride calls out for a sequel. Later, Hippie Mouse Dude! And now, off to . . .

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Wackiest, goofiest force of evil ever! His case of the munchies could destroy the world!

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OK--it looks like the powders have definitely taken effect.

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This ride vehicle looks like Captain Nemo meets the Muppets.

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You know, I really don't need any powder to make me any fatter--donuts will do.

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Told ya.

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And now, a look at just where those "magical powders" come from. Here an old stoner dude makes a toy soldier.

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Yes, we're queued up for something. For what, we have no idea.

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More from our friend friends at Pal Pal.

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That blurry bit in the middle is a bullet train. That's all for now.

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And here's what you get if you "do" your boss.

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Anything with wet balls is OK with Barry.

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There was this really nice buffet at the train station.

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Here's Officer Rich's favorite attraction at Pal Pal.

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Yeah, forget the undead hag at Yomiuri Land--I got me a new chick!

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But the old Blue Fairy babusky got them off the hook, and gave them a swift kick in the sherries for good measure!

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But bad little droogie woogs always make biggy wiggy assie wassies of themselves! Oh, yarbles!

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And off they went, making no appy polly loggies at all, to buy new horroshow maskies for their little spree.

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But he bumped into his lobster droogie, who said, "Bolshy great yarblockos to that! How about a wee bit of the ultra violence, instead? Maybe a bit of the ol' in-out-in-out for afters?"

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I think Pinocchio was supposed to go to his girlfriend's party.

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And now, Hamanako Pal Pal presents Pinocchio in "A Clockwork Lobster."

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I rode solo and stayed perfectly dry. These poor schmucks, however . . .

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But I'd take this thing over Ejanstinka at Fuji-Q any day.

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This looks like it should hurt--bad.

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Is Barry bored or ready to throw up? You make the call.

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Nice view. Nice view to die for!

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Get me offa this thing!

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Whee! Who knew that bats led such interesting lives?

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They're gonna need a crow bar and axle grease to pry me outta this thing! Sheesh!

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And now, Batflyer--the ride that gives us rare insight into the lives of nocturnal flying rodents that sleep while hanging upsidedown.

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Pete can scarcely contain his enthusiasm for the Mini Coaster.

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Excellent PTR Chuck! Always a pleasure to read your reports! Your the caption-master, as far as I'm concerned. The Captain Nemo meets the muppets one had me laughing hard!

 

Loved the last photo too, of the train. Pretty spiffy.

 

 

 

Anyway, I've been following this whole thing and look forward to more!

 

-Jahan

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i think i nearly peed myself with the re-telling of a clockwork lobster.

 

but wait, why does Chuck get MY kwanzaa gift? it's because of my awesome zing, wasn't it? it's against my religion to walk away from a set up like that. i can't help it, i stand by my actions. that's okay anyhow,in the spirit of kwanzaa, i will share. (just make sure you get Chuck the larger size of orange crocs, as he presumably has bigger feet than i do )

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^Two words: Self-control.

 

Anyway, I will give you one (and only one) Hanukkah gift this season. But another zing -- no gift for you! Well, you might get a gift, but it'll probably be some Croc knockoffs.

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