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Ongoing Photo TR: Rastus goes to Korea and Japan


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The station of this ride was just crazy. Playing K-pop music and one operator was basically just a singer/dancer. He kept singing “molly, hey molly, blah blah blah” over and over. I guess he was saying something, but damn it was annoying. This rapids ride has the weird rafts with 6 separate seats that all move independently. In addition, they have plastic covers that cover you up to your neck basically. What’s the point? And there weren’t any serious water dangers. No waterfalls, no massive waves. The theming was pretty darn good, and it had some nice drops in it. A good ride, really. I was amazed that at the end they started getting people out of the rafts when they were still on a pretty steep, totally soaked incline. Never in America.


I checked out the safari ride, but it had 50 minute wait, so I skipped it. The map shows it as being pretty small, but I don’t know if that was accurate.


So, I headed up the hill to the animal area. The first section was a baby animal section that had lots of signs about a 1 in 10,000,000 birth of a white lion to non white lion parents in May I think. And, of course, White Lion was the best 80’s hair metal band ever, so that was nice. He was asleep in a crib when I got there, but he soon woke up. I was filming some tiny little marmosets when I noticed the keeper had brought out the baby lion and was letting folks pet it. WOW, I was amazed, and excited. My wife and I paid $30 a piece for a photo op with a lion at MGM Vegas, and the keeper there was a total ass who didn’t care if you enjoyed yourself.


This guy was letting everyone come up and pet as much as they wanted. I got two photos taken petting it, and was very happy. Of course I knew my wife would be extremely jealous. I went to see some other cute little critters and came back to see he had a tiny little baby tiger that was probably only a month old. AND HE WAS LETTING PEOPLE HOLD IT! Oh my God! I’ve always wanted to hold a baby tiger or lion, and the opportunity came out of nowhere. A nice Korean girl took my picture right as he let out this adorable little meow/growl. It was awesome, and something that would NEVER happen in the US. I love Everland!


I caught the tail end of a bird show with a bald eagle catching arrows in the air, and a few other neat things. They also had a lot of monkeys. A bunch of them got quite talkative and were swinging around for us. Very cool.


I also went into the nocturnal building that had bats, raccoons, and a few other animals. Some in cages way too small for them.


I was ready for some more rides, so headed back to the lower area to a Haunted Swing themed to a red and blue wizard battle. It was pretty neat with animated statues in the preshow, and a decent show room. I don’t know if it was a Vekoma madhouse or not. It was my first modern Haunted Swing ride, and didn’t cause too much vertigo.


It was almost time for their big Summer Splash show, which intrigued me, so I got some dippin dots for 2000 Won and got a seat to wait. That brings up the price issue. Food and stuff was insanely cheap in the park. Half liters of Evian - $1.50. Great foot long hot dog - $2.50. Small Dippin Dots - $2. I even got an onride photo WITH custom ride frame for $11.


Back to the Summer Splash. They were handing out water guns to kids in the crowd, and selling water shooters and ponchos. Pretty slick idea. Have a show that the crowd both helps make, and then scare them into buying protection from that same thing. I had my poncho ready, and put my cameras in the ziplocks they were handing out. First, it was 3 entertainers doing a warmup for the crowd, then after about 10 minutes, 5 floats came into the area, spraying water out everywhere. One float had the main characters from the park, Laciun and Laila, two strange animals. There was some story involving robots coming out of two floats, and the kids were shooting at them to kill them. They were defeated, and in celebration, water shot from everywhere. They had water canons lining the sides and the tops of the buildings. I was getting up to beat the crowd out and a girl working was frantically ducking down and pointing at me. I figured it out just in time as some heavy duty lawn sprinklers popped up behind me and sprayed the crowd from behind. Water was frickin’ everywhere. It was different, and mildly entertaining. If Korean women were well endowed at all, it could have become a wet T-shirt contest.


I took a look at their garden area. It was pretty big, and there were a lot of shops on the other side, and a big water fountain show there too. I headed up to Spooky Fun House. This was a pretty good walkthrough funhouse starring a small ghost. There were lots of buttons to push to activate various pictures and air jets. The highlight was easily the final gag, when Spooky showed you a little pressed ham under glass.


It was now time to head up the insane hill. It was hot, the sun was out for the first time since I landed, and I had a 200 plus foot hill to climb. My heart was already racing. Korea’s idea of air conditioning is little more than a fan blowing air 3 degrees lower than ambient. I passed on the log flume, even though I didn’t want to. The wait was pretty long. I headed inside for their small ride ripoff called Global Village. It was NOT cool inside in temperature or contents. The song was quite annoying, and it included not only countries from the world, but space too, although there were no aliens, which would have been cool, actually.


I then headed to the Aesop’s Village area which looked fairly new. It had great theming, including a walkthrough area with various fairy tales, some familiar to us, some not. This is also where the Racing Coaster is, a custom large Vekoma Roller Skater. It was quite good. I got some of the pressed medallions they had, and decided that the Vekoma death machine looper was not going to be added to my credit list. I was exhausted, I’m not a serious credit whore, and I’ve definitely ridden enough 80s vintage Arrow/Vekoma loopers. And it has a corkscrew, which is a really bad sign, and the reviews for it sound quite bad.


So, I went to check Eagle’s Fortress, but it was longer than I wanted to wait. So, I threw in the towel and hit the Emporium for some souvenirs, novelty’s, and party tricks. The merch was very reasonable, especially plush, which they had a LOT of. They did have an Everland polo shirt, but the logo was tiny, and I don’t think that a Korean XL is the same as a US XL. There were very few shirts for adults. Does anyone know if the Mang Mang cat they have in all their shops is just an Everland animal? I didn’t see her anywhere, but all the merch had Everland tags sowed on.


I had a long journey back, so even though I didn’t want to miss the night time show or fireworks, I had to call it a day. I walked down to the bus stop, and got one of the last seats of the next bus that showed up.


Me and my cute little friend


Because you demanded, Peanut Butter Roast Squid, a low fat alternative to Peanut BUtter Fried Squid


Fairy Tale walkthrough


Aesop's Village kids area


The USA section of It's a Kimchi World


That's one ugle woman. Nice that a naked woman showing boobs is adorning the wall of the kiddie boat ride.


Not only did Spooky drop his pants at the end, the little poop flap dropped down too, showing a little extra crack.


Kid's fun house


Final water insanity


Summer Splash

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Eagle's Fortress is one of my most lusted after rides (as in, I think I'll really like it, if I ever get on it). I understand it's hard to get pictures of...but do you have any more? :O)


Great report, by the way.

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Well, after years and years of wanting to get to Tokyo, I finally made it. My meetings in Korea got over early, so I headed to Narita on Tuesday. I took the looooong bus ride to the Shinjuku Washinton (thanks R&E), and passed such things as Disneyland’s castle, space mountain, the new Disneyland hotel, signs to Akihabara, tons of golf ranges, and buildings fricking everywhere. I’m in Japan!!!


Sadly, it was raining in Japan, so my plans to hit La Qua were vanquished. So, after hauling my shit to the hotel, getting my reservations fixed up (which ended in me getting an upgraded room, although I’d be afraid to see the smaller rooms, but it is very clean, has everything I need, and has no smoke smell), and grabbing my camera and umbrella, I was off. First, I asked the front desk if a 7-11 was nearby. There is one a few blocks in the opposite direction of the train station. 7-11 is your friend in Japan. They just recently installed ATMs that take US cards and have English prompts. I got 10,000 Yen ($100), and took off. I did notice that the magazine rack was full of porn. Comics, and magazines with DVDs, all of some sort of porn. Curiosity got the best of me, and it’s all women and the best parts are blurred out. You don’t even hardly see the guys. But the comic stuff, now that’s weird, and tomorrow is real weird.


I took my stuff back to the hotel fridge, and headed to Shinjuku station. WOW!!!!!! This is fucking insane!!!! It’s just a sea of people going everywhere. If you want to go somewhere against them, good luck. I was trying to get my bearings, and get a Passmo card, a debit card for train/subway usage. I couldn’t find a machine selling them, so I opted into a long line to talk to someone. The girl spoke enough English to let me know where a machine is to buy one, and it wasn’t obvious. I then found that Japan is a cash based place for sure. No convenience stores take it. And even the machines at the subway don’t take it. So I had to put $20 bucks in to get my Passmo charged up for tomorrow. Damn, I’m going to have to hit 7-11 again soon. The Japanese subway system is orders of magnitude more crazy than Seoul’s, and I was a bit scared. But, Robb and Elissa’s notes were an absolute Godsend. I seriously owe them a dinner (at a moderately priced place) for the unbelievable help their 2004 trip notes have given me. I don’t know where I’d be without them.


I’d had enough of the sea of people, so I headed to this 4 by 4 block area between the hotel and the station. This area is Pure Insanity ®. Chock full of restaurants, arcades, Goshapon machines, and Pachinko. Oh, My, God!!!! Pachinko!!!! There is a huge parlor at the hotel that is actually the best I saw. When you first go up to the door, they open, and the roar of the machines practically knocks you down, you can’t help but laugh. And then take a breath and realize you just smoked a pack of cigarettes. Seriously, I think I’m addicted to nicotine now, and my headache today is probably from it. The machines are very high tech, I’m sure they are progressive, and totally in Japanese, so my playing was not really an option. And it seemed you couldn’t just plunk down $5 for a quick play. And no one there spoke English. Not that you could talk to anyone with that drone anyway. But they sure can bow, and are dressed very nice. The big players have stacks of bins full of balls on the floor next to them. I can’t imagine what sort of chaos ensues when some dumbass comes by and trips over them. I avoided the fate totally and wouldn’t even walk through an aisle with the bins there. I did see one place near one later that I believe rebought the crap you redeemed your balls for, for cash. Basically a loophole making it pure gambling.


There were also tons of arcades. High tech arcades. I was amazed. All the games are sitdown and feature 30” HD screen. And they are all networked. Most games were against someone else. They have Street Fighter 4, and a few other newer fighting games, all in HD. They also have these cool games that have a big sensing play board. You buy packs of cards somewhere (I guess in the arcade), and use them on the board and play the game. They all seemed to be army type battle games, and they sensed what the cards were, and where you moved them in the game. Again, I’d love to play, but there was no way. The newest game was Lord of Vermillon. I now realize that US arcades suck. They also had lots of pusher games, high tech of course, featuring Mario and other characters. I saw Mario Kart arcade 2, tons of crane games, and more Pachinko. Oh, and tons of Goshapons. I’ve spent way too much on them for me and my son on this trip. The arcades were smoky as hell too. I’m not sure if kids are allowed at any of them.


I was hungry too, and off my expense account, so I chose McDonalds. I got a new spicey chicken that was about half fat and sucked. Again, no credit cards. Although they do take some Japan debit cards. But they have machines there where you can take cash and put it on the debit card, and then pay at the counter with the debit card. WTF???


I also saw a Wendy’s and KFC. I’d kill for a Taco Bell.


I was asked to come in a massage parlor, but I wasn’t sure if a happy ending was part of the deal, so I passed. But, man-o-man, do the Japanese women totally blow away the skinny slutty looking Korean women. And there are late teen and 20 something year old girls in schoolgirl outfits everywhere. God love ‘em.


The whole place was surreal. Just total sensory overload. I felt like a little kid. I LOVE TOKYO!!!!


I’ll try to get some pics up sometime.

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Tokyo trip 2008 - Day 5 - Tobu Zoo


Yeah, this is out of order, but I figured this is a coaster with very little coverage so far, so I’ll post this since I have some down time tonight.


I’ve already hit Yomiuriland, Disney Seas, Hanayashiki, Tokyo Dome City, Cosmoworld, Harajuku, and Akihabara. I’m loving it for sure.


Today, I got up reasonably early, but was dragging a bit. Once I got out of the hotel, I ate my granola on the way to the station. I had some trouble following Hyperdia’s directions for the #1 choice, so I ended up following #4 I believe, which took me around the outer loop train to a short subway ride to the Tobu line. This is where it got tough. This line takes you from Tokyo basically, and isn’t served by normal trains it seems. There was a local, which I should have taken, but I waited 15 minutes for the express, which cost $5 extra and probably didn’t get me there any earlier, plus I had to figure out how the hell to buy a reserved pass. Patience pays off though, since most signs do show English some, and machines have English buttons. But, it was daunting to make sure I paid for the right train. I then had to ask to figure out where my seat was. Luckily, the guy I asked understood some English. The train was very nice, though.


So, I end up at the Tobudobutsukoen station around noon. It was cloudy, but didn’t look too bad. I sure hoped I’d get to ride, because I wouldn’t make this trek again this trip. My round trip probably cost $30 in various fares. I had my GPS ready to find the park, but there is a nice sidewalk that basically leads you there from the station. You can see the park as you approach the station, and just follow the families.


On the way, I ran across a big Cosplay get together. I was planning on going to Harajuku this afternoon to see the craziness there on Sundays, but this was a nice backup plan, and it was pretty impressive. A big park like area full of cosplayers. I took some video and pics until a girl started bitching at me about taking pictures. She said I didn’t have a ticket. How did she know? It’s not like I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb or anything. And I simply walked into the area from the sidewalk, via a sidewalk, so I thought I was alright. Not wanting to scorn a bunch of people with weapons, I took a few more pics while I walked out. Just another “only in Japan” moment.


The park was maybe a quarter mile from the station. Luckily, they have two gates, one near the station. I paid the rather exhorbatant $48 entry, but luckily they took VISA. I always get nervous at parks like this. Obviously, there was one reason I was there, and I had yet to see a train on the small bit of Kawasemi’s track I could see. I zig zag around up towards it, seeing trains on Regina and the kiddie coaster. Finally, I see a train zip around the bright yellow track. I rush up and get it line, and get on the next train. You can’t pick seats, so I was forced to ride near the middle, although this is a baby Intamin, so there are only 4 cars anyway.


So, how is Kawasemi? Well, I gotta admit, I always hate those people who talk about how awesome coaster X is that is 300 miles from a small village in India. How it’s the best coaster anywhere, by far, even though it’s a rusty Herschell kiddie oval. Now, Tobu Zoo is in Tokyo, sure, but really a suburb, and getting there is tough, and there sure ain’t nothin’ else to do in the area. But, I gotta say, this coasters kicks all kind of serious ass. First up, yes, it’s small. And yes, there is no theming, save for the water below most of the ride. I guess Kawasemis are fast little birds that eat flies off of the surfaces of water. But, those are really the only bad things about this masterpiece. You start with the steep cable lift that is over really quickly. The first drop is standard Intamin goodness from Megacoasters. Plenty of great airtime near the back. You then immediately go into a 270 degree helix right on the ground, pulling some serious g’s getting me to grey out almost every ride. Then up into the first twist hill, followed by a great standard hill, both with some serious air. The air goes from extreme floater to ejector as you go back in the train. Then you do a low sweeping left turnaround into perhaps my favorite steel track anywhere. Three of those fabulous twist hills, one to the right, a low one to the left, and another one to the right. You then take two straight ahead bunnies and into the final curve. The last five hills are like a damn bucking bronco. There are short enough to not be painful to your thighs like Superman SFNE, but they offer serious air.


Seriously, this is a fantastic coaster. It’s easily in my top 5, very likely at the top. Yeah, I wish it had a few big hills, but that makes it different. It’s got all the air pops you could want. If you want extended, extreme airtime, it can’t deliver, but if you want one hell of a wild ride, this is it.


SO, I’m one of those guys. Ask me what the best rides are, and I can mention this great “little” steel coaster in a tiny little zoo amusement park an hour out of Tokyo.


After taking 3 spins, and learning to count people before joining the line to get front and back seat rides, I was getting hungry. I hadn’t eaten much, and it had been a few hours ago. Food options were sparse, but one place had hot dogs and fries. So, I opted for those. One thing about Japan that I don’t understand is the premium put on fountain soft drinks. At the Hard Rock in Yokohama yesterday, one Coke cost almost $6!!!! And it listed it as one coke, not the 3 refills I had. Yesterday I bought a Pepsi at a joint at Harajuku since I hadn’t had Pepsi since being in Japan. It was 250 Yen for a small glass, and if you ask for no ice, they don’t fill the cup. Even the drinks at McDonald’s are smaller, and don’t get filled. Yet, pop out of the vending machines is reasonable. I got a half liter bottle/can of Pepsi twist for 150 Yen, but a cup with probably 300 ml was 250 Yen. The hot dog was below average, but the “mustard” was horrendous. VERY bitter, I question if it was bad, and wiped it off.


I then decided that the clouds still were a bit ominous, so I should do a credit run. The kiddie was a standard lady bug. Then was Regina. This thing is huge, but just does nothing. The hills are all very rampy and shallow, and it doesn’t track worth a shit. Last up was their Crazy Mouse. A unique mouse with a tiny loop that I feared would be just brutal. Surprisingly, it wasn’t. There is a weird feature where after the loop, you level off, take a turn, and hit a second little lift. I have a fealing the plans showed the cars easily getting to this height after the loop. D’oh! The rest was fairly standard mouse fare, but it was very original, and had a cat mouth you went through near the end. Looking at this and Regina, however, I get the feeling that Tobu Zoo has no maintenance folks. So, I wonder how Kawasemi will hold up.


They also had tons of movies and walkthroughs. They had 3 3/4/5(?)-D movies that I skipped. There was a walkthrough that mentioned questions, which seem to be quite popular here in Japan. Since I can’t read the questions, these seem rather pointless after I tried one at Tokyo Dome City. They also had a unique pyramid maze, and a scary walkthrough called Strange Street. It was decent, with triggered scenes, and one section where you had a choice of 5 doors, and 4 had grisly scenes behind them. One had a girl with a hammer in her eye. Nice!


I didn’t go to the animal section. I figured the animals probably aren’t kept too well here, since the park wasn’t very well kept, especially for Japanese standards. I did have some little teddy bears though. They sell little teddy bear shaped fried dough things. You can act like you’re a big teddy bear killer, popping them one by one. Not too sweet, and a great way to get the hotdog taste out of my mouth.


They had one bizarre bathroom near the arcade. As I walked in, I thought, hey, there are the urinals, but I wasn’t even in yet. Sure enough, as I walked up to one, I could see right outside, and saw people on benches. I was afraid some Japanese babe would shriek in terror if she saw my large American junk, so I stood at an angle. I did notice all the toilets here are trough style.


I ended up getting I think 7 rides on Kawasemi. I like the back the best, but it’s all good. After my last ride, the line had gotten long enough it was going to be a 3 train wait, which is 15-20 minutes since the loading procedure is tedious. It’s weird, they have 2 trains, but no way they can use them at the same time. They load and unload from the right side. Even the crap storage bins are on the right side. So, they bring in a load of riders, with no seat selection, then load. Check restraints, with no stapling, and then send you off. As you get out, you take your stuff, and leave the load station, and then they let on the next group. And there is no ramp on the other side that could be used to offload, only a maintenance staircase to the storage shed.


I’ve read all the hate for Fuji-Q, but I really think it’s not a Fuji-Q thing, it’s just Japan. Thunder Dolphin, Kawasemi, Bandit, and Vanish Coaster have all had similar horrendous load procedures. It’s just that there haven’t been big enough crowds to get bad. I’d guess Kawasemi dispatches 10 trains an hour, with an average of 14 riders. That’s 140 pph for a killer coaster. If Tobu Zoo got lots of serious riders, it’d have huge lines too.


I got a souvenir coin from their vending machine, and headed back to the train, noting the cosplayers were still out taking pictures of one another, and playing some ominous music in the building there. After taking a look, it is some sort of apartment complex or something, with a large courtyard right on the corner.


I was confused coming back, but finally got on a train after paying 500 Yen to get on a limited express train again. I then hit Harajuku, but it was too late, not too many cosplayers were left. And half of them looked like crossdressers. NO throngs of schoolgirls that I was hoping for. I headed on into Meiji Shrine, which was a long haul back in the woods for a less impressive shrine than the one near Hanayashiki, although it did have the big Pi shaped archways (Tori?).



Getting back to Shinjuku, I was in a totally new place. I swear, that station is gi-fricken-normous. I had to fire up the GPS to figure out where I was. But, Tokyo does seem to have maps everywhere, perhaps covering the entire city. It’d be tough to truly get lost here.


Hopefully I can drag my wretched body out of bed early tomorrow to hit Disneyland.




A big drum, but Purdue's is still the World's Largest, it says so right on it.


Now that's a big Pi


Some crazies at Harajuku. You know, they aren't normal and spend lots of money traveling the world to ride roller-coasters.


That had to hurt


Crazy Mouse. It looks scary, but it isn't.


another angle


The one normal hill


Most of the layout


THe lift and station. Very minimal.


I'm about to get bitched at in broken English

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I love the way you describe things in detail. Having been in Japan last year, I can actually see the situations you're experiencing better thru the words than in the pics. Now I'm really looking forward to Kawasemi next month!!


Getting back to Shinjuku, I was in a totally new place. I swear, that station is gi-fricken-normous.


Yes, the Shinjuku station is huge, but just wait until you go to the TDR! I'm assuming that you'll be taking a train (Yamanote line?) to the Tokyo main station, then connecting to the line out to Disney.


It is SERIOUSLY over a mile walk (and down 3-4 levels) from the outer line drop off to connect with the train to Disney. All inside the station!


The Tokyo main train station is mindblowing!!


Keep up the reports! Loving them all!




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Thanks, JJ!


I'm trying to add lots of details as a personal travel log.


Yes, Tokyo station is huge too, as I've made that trek, the second time today. But, it seems that the trek over to the line to Disney is jsut sort of a outlier. Shinjuku just seems to have tracks everywhere, plus the subways. No doubt, they're both huge.


I'm interested to see how the TPR group receives Kawasemi. I think it will be an enormous hit, but the wait will be long with 100 folks there.



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Well, I'm back to reality and America. I miss TOkyo, A LOT, but am glad to be home with my family. I must return to TOkyo, and who knows, I may get to real soon if I get another work trip to KOrea.


So, I"m back to chronological order. I hope you all enjoy.




Japan 2008 day 1 – Yomiuriland


My first full day in Japan began with clouds. I was a bit afraid of being rained out, and past reports said Yomiuriland wasn’t anal about rain. Plus, they were a fairly simply train ride away for my first attempt at the maze that is JR rail and Tokyo subway. So, I head out around noon. I realized I was already about out of cash, and needed a bunch since I’d probably have to pay entrance with cash. So, I head to 7-11 again, get $200 bucks this time, and a cold coffee drink, and I’m off.


Since I had my Passmo, it was not too bad. I followed Elissa’s and Hyperdia.com’s directions to get on my rail line. One thing is that almost all JR lines have a multitude of types of service including rapid, communter, local, Limited Express, and I think Commuter Rapid. You should be able to find a map in the station showing which stations each one stops at. Luckily, I got a Limited Express, and it stopped at Yomiuriland’s station! You can see a skyway at the station, a bit up the hill. You can either hoof it over a big hill to the park, or ride the skyway for 200 Yen. A no brainer. Of course, the skyway pods were frickin ovens, but I could see on my ride that all the coasters were running. Yay! But dark clouds were on the horizon. Boo!


I paid the 4000 Yen entry (Yeouch, that’s almost what Disney charges), got asked a few questions by placards in English about if I was hitting the water park, and got an English map. You walk down a ton of steps to get to the main Midway.


Obviously, Bandit is the main attraction here. But, since it’s line was emptying out, and maintenance guys were in the station, that wasn’t an option. So, I hoofed it back to their big woodie, White Canyon. This thing resembled Cyclone, but not exactly. With it’s Morgan trains with coffin enclosures, and the pretty poor shape of it in general, I was reminded of Texas Cyclone a bit. Not good during the coffin era. And that’s pretty much what it delivered. The track looked like it hadn’t been oiled since the Nixon administration, and the thing was pretty rough. Not brutal, but not fun. Add in the death metal blaring in the station, and this is a ride for hardcore folks.


Still no sign of Bandit trains, so I hoped for the best and got in line for Standing and Looping coaster. The loading platform was neat. I chose sitdown, for self preservation reasons, and hoped I’d get on before the rain started. I did, and I was amazed it was pretty smooth. Although, the track was clearly designed to keep things smooth. Really only one high speed transition, and it was done over a lot of track.


Still no Bandit action, so I got on the Wan Wan Coaster Wandit. This is a kiddie coaster with the park mascot Land Dog on the front. Fun, with some kickass theming at the lift hill, and 2 circuits. But, about that dog. It’s on EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING. They really overdo it. And you realize why they overdo it. They sell stuff with the dog on it, of course, and stuffed versions. After all, you see the damn dog all day, what kid doesn’t want one. And DAMN do you pay for that dog. A really, REALLY cheap looking one that was the size of a beanie baby was $20. I was going to get one, but they were just too much of a gouging item. I did get a small pen with him on it.


That left Bandit and one other coaster, the SL Coaster, which was next. This is an old Jet Coaster at the bottom of the valley. And it was damn fun. You have a great drop out of the station, then are stopped before entering a loop around a pond, then enter the ultra slow lift. At the top, you do one unnecessary circle, and end. I wonder if this thing ever took that pond circle without a brake. If so, that had to be one crazy ass coaster section.


Plus, as I was going up the slow lift, I saw that Bandit was running trains. So, I head up and quickly get in line. This had to be the craziest loading I’ve seen. They were running 2 trains. But, would load one and send it out, then let the other one roll up to the load section. Once the train returned, they’d unload and THEN load the front train. What the hell? Plus, they have two queue lines, I think one was for the splash version ,which was not much. Squirt guns at the lift approach, one set of spray nozzles at one point, and an employee with a hose near the end. Just weird.


But, Bandit is damn fun. Really a great ride. If it got rid of the damn OTSR’s, it’d be a kickass ride. With them, you get a couple of neck punches in the early helix. But the rest of the ride is very Beast like, and just fun. Some good floater air in some places. I was prepared to be brought to a screeching hault at the second midcourse, but we weren’t, and you get a nice airtime pop coming out of it.


I had skipped a jungle themed dark ride down by SL Coaster, so went back. This ride was fun. Goofy totally non-PC jungle scenes, a harem scene, some animation, and a great cheesy volcano ending. Total low budget, and perfect for a cheesy dark ride. And the surprise shaking was great. I liked it enough for a reride. And did the same for SL Coaster.


There was also a walkthrough down here. I wasn’t sure what it was until I saw one banner in blood script, so I was pretty sure it was a haunt. The line was ridiculously slow, and you could hear some screams here and there. I finally got to be next, and could tell everyone was talking about me. I went in to a preshow area with 3 jiggers that were probably rap stars taunting me. Then a door opened, and I went through. This was on caliber with Knott’s really, theming wise. Decent theming, with some scenes obviously taken from J horror films that I knew nothing about. At one point I heard someone behind me, and turned to see a schoolgirl saying something to me. I wipped out my camera to get a shot as she said “no picture”. I think I scared her more than she scared me. She was the only actor. Not much else happened, except a knock near the end. It was a total WTF moment.


I then headed up to another walkthrough I had seen. It was a kid friendly one, but really wasn’t. It was pretty darn good, and would have been better with no light leak. It had lots of triggered gags and scenes.


I decided to hit Bandit one more time. I got there and noticed they had just loaded from the line that was also the longest. I realized later it was the wet line. I got in the dry side and got on the next train. A little more rough in the helix, and the restraints tighten on you, but still fun. Damn, they need lapbars on this. But, as we got to the brakes, almost instantly the crew come out with something that looked like a batter charger and talked a bunch of gibberish. It was clear we were stuck, and they wasted no time in getting all riders out of the train. This was my first evacuation!!! They must do it a lot, because they were quite proficient. I’m sure glad I got on this train because they emptied the queues afterward.


It was brutally hot, so I threw in the towel. I got some Goshapons, cold water, and a return gondola ticket. The view was awesome of the park and Tokyo as the clouds were gone. I noticed that at the train station there were probably 1000 bikes, commuters I guess. I can’t imagine finding your bike at the end of the day.


Back at Shinjuku, I found a big grocery store type place at the station. It was packed to the gills, and immaculately clean. There were people constantly cleaning the glass counters. I did get a couple of baked goods, from one of probably 50 different counters. And each counter had 2 or 3 folks working in it. Customer service is top notch.


I then hit the crazy area between the station and the hotel again. I hit McDonald’s for the 2nd day in a row for a Mega value meal. Basically a double meat Big Mac. Damn it was good, and I like the extra pepper. The fries were the same as the US too. But they sure are skimpy on the Coke. You get essentially a small US drink with their biggest sandwich. Plus, there’s smoking everywhere. I noticed in Korea that you really didn’t smell smoke in restaurants or stores. But you sure do in Japan. It’s frickin everywhere. But, the popularity of McDonald’s proves that even Japanese are sick of eating nasty raw fish and shellfish.


I hit some of the arcades again. I saw this one game that was essentially a very advanced Battletech. You sat in these big pods with a screen that was your entire field of vision. It was basically a 6 foot hemisphere. You played a 3-D shooter that you had guns and melee weapons for. An arcade worker noticed that I was very interested, and he spoke pretty good English. He explained it all to me and stepped me through buying a players card, setting up my name “HwgGnrly”, based on my Xbox Gamertag (Damn I miss my Xbox), and choosing a team. Once you do that, for $3, you then pay $5 for a game that consisted of 2 - 3 and a half minute matches. Apparently against other noobs because I kicked serious ass. I had scores almost 10 times that of everyone else on both matches. Afterwards, the guy showed me a replay of the game on a big HD screen over the setup machine. A really cool game, and only in Japan. I felt like I’d had my cigarettes for the day, so I left after thanking the guy, whom without his help, I’d never had figured out how to play. I sure wish I could have played Lord of Vermillon and Pachinko, but I think that would have taken more time to learn.


I noticed that there was about a 20 by 20 foot hole at one corner where a building had been. They’ll probably put up a 6 story building cram packed with more insanity. Stuff is jammed in like you wouldn’t believe. At least they like air conditioning here.


I retired to the room exhausted, and still loving Tokyo.




Battle review. I kicked everyone's ass. Yay for me!


Cool pod based robot battle game. Second-hand smoke included for free!


Pachinko madness




Now where did I put my bike.


Bandit is quite the terrain coaster, and a lot of fun. If they'd just get rid of the damn OTSRs.


Bandit evacuation. At least it was after the ride was over, and we didn't broil in the heat too long.


A-ha, the tables are turned. I scare you.


Kick-ass lift hill theming!


Land Dog is stalking me.


THe main drag of the park. Not very crowded today, thankfully. The waterpark was packed, even though it was little more than a wave pool. Tokyo really needs a massive water park.


You get some close ups of Bandit on the way to the park.

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Day 2 – Tokyo Disney Sea


I can’t believe I finally hit the Tokyo Disney resort today. Ever since the “new” Disneyland opened here, and then when Disney Sea got huge props when it opened, I really put it at the top of my desire list. When I saw the first sign in Tokyo station that said “Disneyland Resort”, I got pretty giddy. My first view of the Disneyland sign in LA was also on my honeymoon, so I was a bit more giddy then. But, still, this was a big deal. I was thinking we were just walking to Disney after hitting the forth moving sidewalk. Finally, I got on a train to Maihama. I got off, and was off to the races.


Until I made a mistake. I saw that the large sign to the right said Tokyo Disneyland Resort, and signs only pointed to Disneyland. I get down and see the castle, and realize I’m a bit off. I look for signs to Disney Sea, and see none. I ask a cast member, and am told to get on the monorail, and get off at the second stop. Hmmmm, OK. First, I have to buy a monorail ticket. Huh? 250 Yen to ride the monorail? I later realize that to get to Disney Seas, you damn near have to ride the monorail. That’s a racket!


I get off, and see that in Tokyo, nobody gets in until the park opens. I get in line for a ticket and realize that I will have to buy two single day tickets since my old body won’t be able to take two days in a row. That sucks. But, $58 is still a bargain for a one day Disney ticket. I get in the line and get inside. I hadn’t been this excited since going to IOA for the first time. And it didn’t disappoint. When you see Mount Promethius for the first time, it’s awesome. Having to walk up and around the big lake is not. My plan was to grab a fastpass for Journey to the Center of the Earth, and get in line. Good idea, and I basically walked on.


Journey begins with the Terravator, not a terrorvator, unfortunately. The smells really do it right, it really makes you think you’re in a volcano, although the added heat was an unwelcome feature today. I quickly get in my vehicle, and we’re off. The theming on this ride is about the best in the world. Simply stunning. I think it was about one room short. Having just seen the movie, maybe a dinosaur room? It just seemed a bit short. But the lightning room is great for first riders, and the final monster is a brilliant animatron. The speeding out of the mountain is good fun too. The perfect thrill ride that is just exciting enough to make me happy and my wife would love too. Oh, by the way, her and my son were left on the subway for the day. At least it was cool.


I passed by a cart selling the Gyoza sausage rolls. I wasn’t sure if this was THE cart (I later realized it was), but the line wasn’t moving, and I was too antsy to get more rides, so I bailed.


My plan was to now hit Indy, and get a FP afterwards. Then I see Mermaid Lagoon, and remember the coaster there, and think this is my time to get the credit quick. Good plan, and I get a quick, fun ride. Too bad this wasn’t inside and heavily themed. Then on to find the Crystal Skull. Well, that didn’t work. Apparently, even though Journey is first, Indy is the big draw at Disney Sea. Perhaps it’s that Crystal Skull thing. So, I instead hit the lesser Indiana Jones ride, Raging Spirits. It was about 15 minutes wait, and the sun was already beating down. Japanese bring towels, umbrellas, and fans. I should have embraced the whole towel thing, but I instead just tried to maximize my use of shade in lines. I did love the girls all dolled up with their fancy umbrellas, short skirts, and thigh highs. Thank you, Harajuku.


I had heard many bad things about this and its twin in Paris, but it really wasn’t that bad. Plenty of padding, and only a couple of rough curve transitions. But, it really is a crap ride with tons of theming, but all the lipstick doesn’t fix this pig. It was obviously a quick and simple people eater to plop down. This is not a Disney Seas caliber coaster, and the park really needs a doozy steel of some sort. Maybe Disney could finally do a dragon coaster?


I then went and got an Indy FP with a scary future time for so early in the morning.. Japanese sure know how to use Fastpass better than Americans. Some rides have pretty extensive Fastpass areas just to GET the Fastpass. 20,000 leagues seems to be the biggest, yet it was one of the least popular rides there. I have time to kill, so I head over to Sinbad. I realize that this park seems to have some big chunks of land to expand, but I’d have to check the satellite pics to see if it is really just Roger Rabbit behind the trees.


Sinbad had a great start, lots of air conditioning. Also, no line. This was a really neat ride. Sort of Small Worldish, but it had some great scenes, and I knew by the second room that I’d have to get a plush of the baby tiger for my wife. Hmm, I wonder if that was their plan all along. Damn them! The impressive thing is that everything works at Disney Sea. No dead animatronics, great sound, perfect lighting, just perfection.


I was amazed we weren’t dumped into a shop. I come to realize that very few Tokyo rides dump you into a gift show. Indy sorta did, and of course Tower, but that was it. It actually took me a bit to find the plush that I knew had to exist. And they were just on one small area. I’d guess they sell a crapload of these things, though. And he is cute.


The Arabian area is nice, and again impeccably themed. A lot of empty space though. I decided to give the Aladdin’s magic show a try. Even though I understood nothing. The preshow snake was very cool, but the show was a bit light in wow. A neat idea, but the Arabian area needs a marquee ride. Perhaps that big coaster can be themed to camel racing!


I was starting to get hungry, so I made it back to Mysterious Island (and again, this area just rocks), and get a Gyoza roll with a short wait. Maybe the ridiculous hour long lines were just a fad? It was OK, but sorta bland. A bargain at 399 Yen though. I notice that the restaurant in MI sells a good sounding beef and rice, so I take note for later. Standard park fare just ain’t available at Tokyo Disney. I saw no burgers or pepperoni Pizza at all. The pizza always had nasty stuff on it, and chicken fingers were pretty scarce too. What I would have given for some chicken tenders from the place across from Haunted Mansion at Disney World. At least bottled drinks are reasonable at only $2 each. I got another Journey Fastpass for later.


I went into the Little Mermaid area for a bit. Nothing to ride, but WOW, just wow! Such a neat area, and it was full of Glorious Air Conditioning! A calzone caught my eye, even though it had sausage, egg, and tomato. It was decent, but a calzone doesn’t have thin crispy crust! My small coke (they called it large) wasn’t enough, so I had to get a water too. I also looked at the Medallion machine there. They don’t squish 1 Yen coins, you just pay 100 Yen for a copper ingot that is nice and super shiny to get squished. So, you don’t have to search for those pre 1983 pennies and clean them before coming to Tokyo.


It was time for Indy. I love the original, and knew this was a bit better. The fastpass joined up the normals right before the safety speil. At least it isn’t as bad as Disneyland, where even with FP, you can have a 30 minute wait. The line theming was just as kickass as the original, minus the pole room. This ride definitely one-ups the original. There is a bit more sense of doom as the crystal skull fires eye bolts at you throughout the ride. But, it’s not THAT Crystal Skull. The fireball effect is neat, and the added theming is good. I was surprised that Indy looks a bit Asian. I don’t know if it’s true the DL one’s actually look like Harrison Ford, but are distorted a bit by netting.


It was time to head over to other side of the park. I notice another big dead area by Indy. They need to announce a new ride. But, I guess Tower is fairly new. I had some time before I could get a tower Fastpass, so I decided to get in standby for Stormriders. This are was nice, and had a lot of little things to it. First, the railroad staion, the electric sounds coming from the ride, and the neat little bit where there is a huge wall, seemingly holding the bay at bay behind it, complete with water squirting through. Of course, behind that wall is a monorail line, perhaps the only place where a monorail rides on the ground? But you can’t see that from this vantage point. The wait was brutal. Beating sun, I decided to get out my rain poncho as a makeshift sun protector. It worked fairly well, and still let me enjoy the nice breeze that was starting to come in off the bay. The wait was about 30 minutes. I finally got to the preshow, which again has glorious air conditioning. They had an English translation that got totally covered up by the big gun when it came down. I was surprised there is only one show room, but it is fairly large.


This ride is basically the mother of all simulators. A huge platform, big screen, and some serious in theater effects, including an errant missle, and a storm. It was pretty darn cool, but these simulators just don’t do it for me much anymore, but this is a good one.


The line for Aquatopia was just too long, especially to ride in the sun. If it got you wet, I may have done it. This area needs something. I don’t know what, perhaps a coaster over the water, but then you’d see over the gate, so that wouldn’t work. I could now get another fastpass, so I got on the electric railroad which had a train coming in almost constantly. Good job, OLC! The walk to the American Waterfront is uphill a bit, and fairly long, so I was glad to get a ride there. I got a Tower fastpass, took in the amazing sights to behold, and left the area. Again, this area is lacking. What was the point before Tower? Sure it looks good, but this area was rideless, and took a lot of real estate. I and it’s so themed, that I can’t see it ever being redone. I mean, I love theming as much as the next guy, but this section is enormous and has nothing but shops and restaurants. It needs a Titanic ride of some sort.


I decided to hit some shops during the insane heat afternoon. I realized the Tokyo Disney simply doesn’t cater to adults for shirts. I thought at least they would, but unless you weigh about 150 pounds or less, tough luck. Yeah, they have size LL, but it’s equal to about an M in the US. But, they sure do loves their cookie tins! Damn! I swear Disney must have close to 100 different tins for sale at the two parks. They have nice little samples showing exactly what you get, but I’m just not a tin guy. I’ve got too much crap already. And plush is insanely expensive. They do have some 25th anniversary collector cards, which I love, so I got all of those. But the prices are random. Plush is insanely expensive, but the tins are a good deal compared to the US. Then they have some of the little metal Disney Racers that are about twice what they are in the US parks. But food is very reasonable. I guess they make their money on plush and kids shirts, which were almost $30 for normal and almost 40 for fancy ones. All in all, they have just tons of little things for sale, hundreds of different items.


I went to Information to see if they have Disney Dollars, or some equivelant, and they don’t. I was a bit surprised at how poorly the info lady spoke English. I’ve seen in the US parks where they seem to have folks fluent in MANY languages. Since English is pretty much the second language in Japan, I was shocked I had such a hard time with guest relations. I also got a good pic in front of the globe. They don’t have Photopass in Tokyo, but instead just hawk photos you pick up, which I was confused about. They were 1200 or 1500 Yen, and they always showed you 3 pics, and I wasn’t clear if you got three pics for that price or not. And again, you’d think people that are hawking pure profit pictures would be able to speak pretty good English, but nope. So, I never did buy one (or three).


And what the hell is the deal with Japanese giving the peace sign in pictures? The same happened in Korea too, now that I think about it, but I didn’t see a single Japanese photo being taken that didn’t have someone giving the peace sign.


The afternoon lagoon show was going on. It was strange hearing Mickey speak Japanese the first time. I made it up to Mysterious Island for some food now. I went to the place I saw before and got the stir fry beef with rice, and it was pretty good. Of course, I’m a fat American, so I also got the Burnt Sui over rice. After many questions, I found out the Sui is pork. I felt a bit hoggish, but I paid about the same that I’d pay for one dish at a US Disney park, so oh well. And rice is fat free, so there. I even ate most of it with chop sticks. I also drank lots of water as it was getting damn hot, and they did have a water spigot.


I had a 20,000 Leagues pass from earlier (wow, talk about a serious setup for GETTING fastpasses). They have a huge queue inside the mountain. And for the ride that had probably the least amount of fastpass usage, well behind Sinbad probably. This ride was neat, but had two problems. First, the viewing domes are too low, so you had to hunch down to get a good view, and second, the ending makes no sense. Well, maybe in Japanese it does, but I have no idea what happened. The underwater trick is well done, especially the initial drop into the water. Like Journey, it could have been a bit longer.


It was still damn hot, so I headed to Mermaid Lagoon just to relax for a bit, and I saw plenty of other folks doing it too. After a bit I figured I was up for another Indy ride, even by standby. The wait wasn’t too bad, about 30 minutes, again, I’ve waited almost that long for DL’s using Fastpass. The “fireball” seemed better this time. I was also amazed at how many Japanese take pics of the onride picture monitors. In the US, they have big signs saying not to do it, and gripe at you if you do. Although, the picture quality is always pretty poor in those monitors.


I wanted to do Journey again, but really wanted to save my Fastpass for after dark. I went up and thought about it a while, and this girl came up and gave me another FP!!!! Excellent! That decision was made, and I headed into the cave with air-conditioning pouring out of it. Another fine ride.


I looked around the little fort area. They had a little treasure hunt attraction that is apparently new. I’d love to have done it with my son. You get a map with clues and go around looking at various DaVinci era science things and figure out things. I don’t know what the ending is, as I only found the map after the attraction was closed, so I don’t think I could get to everything.


I was contemplating when I was going to camp out for the evening lagoon show, BraviSEAmo. I asked the info lady and she claimed they didn’t allow camping until 1 hour before show, and she was surprised when I told her tales of DL Fantasmic waits starting before 2 hours. I saw there was a nice flat area on the edge of the water, and sure enough, some folks were already there, about 2 hours early. I went and did some shopping, and decided to join them. On the way to the bathroom before sitting down, I went into a room that had a nice model of the whole park. I took some pictures before being told not too. It’s a neat layout. There is a major road going behind Mount Promethius going to a large backstage area behind the Mermaid Lagoon façade. If you look at the map, you can see that this area can serve quite a few of the large restaurants in the middle of the park, and you’d never know it was there.


MY GOD, do they have some annoying women working crowd control. These women would constantly spout out long lines of something. Basically bitching about people taking up two stairs, when there was going to be a bigger crowd, so we couldn’t have that much space. Not that there was anyone there yet. Me and the old Japanese guy next to me couldn’t speak to each other, but we both realized that the woman was a bitch, and we shared a laugh about it. They ended up stuffing LOTS of people in that area. Once they stopped letting folks in, I ran to the bathroom, and the guy watched my seat, after pointing at a toilet symbol on the map.


The show was pretty good, but they said afterwards that it was a weather adjusted, which would explain the absolute lack of any air reporting fireworks. The fire guy was pretty cool, as was Mickey on his seahorse. I was really hoping Mount Promethius was going to be more prominent in the show, but it wasn’t. A real bummer, but it would probably require shutting down Journey.


After the show, I finally rode Tower. Now, I love the original, it’s fabulous, but Disneyland’s is just lame. Cost cutting to the bone. Sadly, this one is also lacking the 5th dimension room, but the awesome tiki guy makes up for it! Of course, the line Nazis refused to let you take ANY photos of the preshow sign, or in the actual preshow room, or even the queue, although I did get a few in the queue before realize it was also a no picture zone. Not sure why, but whatever. The tiki guy is cool as hell, and the whole bit of him coming to life and disappearing is just awesome. Plus, he reappears in the ride itself.


I really wanted to get the bank they have for the ride with Mickey falling and the tiki there too, but it was pretty big, and I had too much crap already. Maybe next time. It was time for my final Journey ride. This is a great ride for sure, and a great finale to my dream come true visit to Tokyo Disney Sea. This is a top notch park for sure. I highly recommend visiting, if you have the means, or luck out and get a free trip via work.


The only bad part is that I now want to go back. I’m sure they’ll get some more awesome rides, although I sure hope the rumors of a Soarin clone are wrong. They deserve better than that.


Another 250 Yen monorail ride, and a packed subway ride followed. I was exhausted, but had a great time. It could have only been better with my wife and son along with me. But, since I doubt my wife will ever fly overseas, that might not happen for a while. I sure hope to be back some day.






Creepy head in Tower queue


Fire dragon guy in BraviSEAmo. It's a bit of a wierd show.


It looks fantastic at night too.


Model of TDS


Mermaid Lagoon. No rides, but it's still just amazing to see.


Awesome Triton statue


The awesome fountain


Gyoza sausage. A bit too oniony, and really sorta bland, but hey it's the thing to do at TDS.


OK, that's just awesome.


I can't believe I'm actually here.

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Creepy head in Tower queue


Did you see the beady little green eyes in the mouth? They only flash them for a few seconds.


I acutally got busted for taking a picture of the same head--a CM crossed his arms over his chest and said, "No camera!"

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I later realize that to get to Disney Seas, you damn near have to ride the monorail. That’s a racket!


I must be cheap (!), its about a 15 min walk thru the not-Downtown-Disney area, past the new Cirque-theatre and round the corner!


Stormriders I was surprised there is only one show room, but it is fairly large.


Pretty sure theres 2 rooms, just configured a bit differently (its not a symmetrical building) - the pre-show is shared and you either stand up on the left or right of it as you walk in (screens drop down to hide the other pre-show area)?




Great (ongoing) TR BTW.... brings back my memories of just over 2 months ago ( http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=44428 )


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Hmm, maybe there are two Stormrider show rooms. BUt, they sure weren't loading fast enough to be using two. They were only letting in a group every 15 minutes or so. The movie didin't seem to be too long, less than 10 minutes.



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Tokyo trip day 3 – Hanayashiki Akihabara, and Tokyo Dome City


I took a late start, since I had a bit of a headache after the long day at Disney Seas, and was exhausted. I finally got going around 2, and was greeted by another brutal hot day. However, the humidity is much lower in Tokyo than Houston, and that coupled with a very early sunset at around 6:30 kept the days from being too brutal overall.


Hanayashiki is labeled as Japan’s first amusement park. Not sure if it’s true but the signs in the park had pics form the 1800s. I was surprised to find that the subway stop nearby, Asakusa, was at a big tourist area that included a huge outdoor shopping mall selling tons of tourist crap, and led to a big Shrine. They had a big gate out front with a huge lantern hanging under it. I decided to visit it after the park. A very helpful rikshaw driver gave me directions, plus there was the obligatory street map there, plus my GPS, and I easily found the park, although went a bit of the long way around. The best way is just to go through the shopping mall, into the shrine, and all the way to the back. By then, you’ll see the park to the left probably. I was watching a Tivo’d episode of How to Survive a Japanese Gameshow, and they showed a helicopter shot of Tokyo, and I spotted a familiar temple building, and sure enough, saw Hanayashiki. How I miss Japan.


This is a nice little park, packed to the gills with rides, old and new. The main attraction of course was Roller Coaster, the oldest coaster in Japan, and one of the oldest steel in the world. And really, while there are some Herschell Big Dippers out there older than this, this is no kiddie ride, and just craps all over any steel coaster older than it. It is definitely the oldest full size steel coaster in the world. I decided to buy just tickets, since I was just going to do the coaster once, and maybe some dark stuff. The load station is a bit hidden, and I sure got some looks from the locals. People who whine about being treated weird in the US because of racism, sexism, whatever, should go to Japan. You’re looked at like a friggin alien in many places, especially if you’re the only white person around, and I’m sure many of them were talking about me. It was pretty obvious. I would assume most all the white people to ever come to this park are all reading this on TPR.


I had read that this ride can be brutal on the knees, so I rode accordingly. Man, this is a pretty good damn ride! The last two drops are VERY good, and very wild. Add in the crazy woman smashed against the wall, and this is a great little ride. I was lucky to not get injured too! I took that as being very lucky, and didn’t tempt fate with a reride. This sure kicks the hell out of any of the rides older than it. They also have a coin vending machine at the exit for a nice shiney silver dollar sized gold coin.


I walked around the park looking at other rides. There was a dark ride that included outside tunnels with a few spots where onlookers can see in. There was a haunted swing, and a walkthrough. I decided to just do the dark ride. I guess I missed the other two attractions, a sound based one, and a fun house of sorts. Nothing major though.


The dark ride was great, however. It’s probably been there quite a while, and just rides on concrete on the ground. It doesn’t smell the best, but it’s good and dark inside, and full of stunts. The best was easily the one near the end where a guy throws a barrel at you, and gets pretty close. I’ve never seen a stunt like this. It was brilliant. There were tons of things going on all through the ride. Don’t miss this one!


I walked around a bit, got some gashapon, and decided to head out. I looked around the shrine, which appeared to be an authentic pretty old shrine, a little research afterwards shows that this is a genuine old shrine from the 1600s that survived WWII. They had some nice features, a very old looking bridge, and nice garden area, and general cool stuff. I always love how when you go to these places, the tourists are all quick to do all the things, such as washing their hands with the water, and lighting candles. Now, perhaps none of these folks are Christian, but I highly doubt it, since many were white. But, if you are Christian, praying to a false god isn’t exactly the right thing to be doing. I love seeing the temples, but that’s it.


I got back on the subway, and headed to Akihabara, Electric Town. This area is not to be missed by heterosexual males. The main draw here is the electronics stores. Honestly, I didn’t look around much. It’s not like I could buy anything. Their phones destroy ours. I wonder how much monthly plans are. I noticed NOBODY carries around cameras in Japan, they just use their phones. Same for video. They just use their phone. Now, some of this is from the teens of today that think i-tunes mp3s and i-pod video is top quality. But, their phones are equipped with lights, 4+ megapixel cameras, the works. And I believe the cell phone companies actually let you have access to the pictures you take with your phone, without trying to gouge you to put them on your computer. Although, I heard VERY few cell phone ringers go off. They’re actually pretty good about following the no cell phones rules on the trains and subways. Imagine that, a culture that respects rules! I love Japan!


But, the main thing at Akihabara, that I wasn’t even aware of, is the maids. All up and down the streets, the babes in maid outfits are handing out flyers for something. They wouldn’t offer them to foreigners, so I never got to see one. They would even shy away if you got your camera out, which is weird. You’re standing on the street, dolled up, handing out free flyers for something. You’re going to get your photo taken, especially in 2008.


I had another Mega at McDonalds. I never saw a Burger King, and the McDonald’s Happy Meal toys were lame video games, so I never did get any toys for my son. On the way back to the station, I went into a store called Don Quixote. They had lots of pictures of schoolgirls, and apparently sold the outfits here. Don Quixote, thank you for what you’ve done for society! I kept going up each floor. One was toys, one was electronics. Then things go weird. The 4th floor was cosplay central. Tons and tons of sexy outfits, many involving skirts and thigh-highs. The fifth floor a weird café at it with guys waiting in line to get in. I wasn’t sure if the real café was not visible, or what, but the servers were all dolled up, and it seemed a bit sexual for sure. I later found out this is what the maids are handing out flyers for, Maid Cafes. Babes all dolled up, serving you, and treating you like their “master”. Damn, I should have eaten there. Then there were two levels of arcade stuff. THEN, it got mega weird!!!


I take the final escalator up to the 8th floor and am greeted by a smoky room full of 20-30 something looking Japanese guys. All guys. I look around to see if an exit is nearby, and no. I was trapped, at the top of the escalator, OBVIOUSLY sticking out like a sore thumb. At first I though this was some sort of strip joint, or hell, maybe even more than that. It was all dudes, at the top floor of a place that seemed be ground zero for schoolgirl outfits for adult women. Had I stumbled into Utopia?! I was forced to walk through the entire crowd to get over to the down escalator. There were probably 200 guys there, and every damn one of them looked at me. Like I was the only guy who didn’t know there was no second password! I see a few large signs covered with names of folks who’d visited 100 times. OK, this can’t be a brothel or anything, no one would want their name advertised like that. This was easily the most surreal moment of the trip, and perhaps my life. I so wanted to just say, “so, what are you guys here for?”, but had seen way too many Hong Kong action movies to tempt fate like that. Perhaps this was the Tang headquarters, who knows. What was this place? I got to the escalator, and walked down, quickly, with a huge grin on my face. Oh my God, what a strange situation. I so wanted to whip out my camera, but figured I would wake up naked on the sidewalk if I did. I kept going down escalators until I got to the bottom, and left. W! T! F!!!!


Sooo, I walked back to the station, and headed on to Tokyo Dome City. This is another place that I had my GPS ready, but you can easily see it once you’re off the train. I head over and see a lot of closed shops, but the park was open. It took a while to see a train on Thunder Dolphin, but I did. I get a writstband, and try to get to it. I end up going the other way, and get to Linear Gale. There was no real wait, and I get on. This ride is really underpowered. The trains get nowhere near the top of the spikes, ala SFMM’s Superman. A dull ride, but I’m not a fan of going backwards anyway. I then get on the standing parachute ride. I had never ridden one of these. Quite exhilarating, actually. Just get in the cage, and you’re off. NO wonder none are left in the US, afaik. And, you get two trips! Very fun ride, and the sight of Tokyo lit up at night was amazing.


I looked around for Geo Panic. I found a sign on a bulding that said Geopolis, and I figured that’s where it is/was. That building is gutted and is getting some Power Rangers attraction apparently. So, I believe Geo Panic is gone. There was walkthrough based on some new J horror movie it looked like, but I skipped it. I also skipped the spinning mouse, because I don’t like spinning. And, after reading later that this mouse has no spin control, I’m very glad I did. I finally figured out that Thunder Dolphin was on the other side of the street. I got up to find a huge line. They were running only one train. I did talk to a group of guys from the US for a while that were slumming it through Tokyo. They’d even slept in a park one night. I ended up going back to join them, since they were going to be near the back of the ride, and I was going to be in the front middle. But, before riding, we had to strip down to our birthday suits. Well, not quite, but pretty damn close. They hand you a paper in English saying the standard about what can’t be taken on. Only, this time, they mean it. And they also won’t let you take things that everyone else does. You get a locker, with a key that one person keeps, to put everything in. And I mean EVERYTHING. Since I had cargo shorts on, this took a while. Even when I had taken lots of stuff out, I still had some change left. The other guy with the key was already in the seat. I took one step, there was a slight jingly in my pocket. “CHANGE”, a ride op said. It was like I was busted. Would I still get to ride? Would I be sent to the 8ty floor of Don Quixote? I hit the top of my pants, and made no sound, so he let me go. Once I was on the train, one of the pockets of my cargo pants was bulging a bit, and the ride op kept poking at it, hoping to find something. It was positively insane. I’ve never seen such complete craziness. It easily added a minute or two to dispatch times. Finally, we were off up the super steep lift, able to see the cityscape going off for miles. The first drop was awesome with great air. The rest was awesome too. Robb has given this ride a lot of “meh”s, but I thought it was great. Sure, it needed to be going about 5 more miles per hour, and the trick track should be right on the edge of the building, but the setting for the ride is top notch, it’s smooth as silk, and has some great drops with some nice floater air.


I decided that even though it was about a 40 minute wait, I needed another ride. It was a bit quicker this time, and I got a seat close to the front. Not quite as good, but still an awesome ride. Really a top notch coaster.


I looked around this side a bit, hoping for some more American food, but nothing. I decided to do the Golden Compass walkthrough. This was one of the ever popular question walkthroughs in Japan. You got a compass, put it in the holes, and a question came up with two answers. A guide that spoke a bit of English went through with me. It was a bit awkward. She could tell the story a bit in English, just told me to pick an answer at random,and then would respond with the Japanese script when a monster jumped out of the small scene where the question was. One was pretty good when a wolf jumped out of a box at me. There were also some bugs that went flying around. Then you come to a point where I think the bad players are dumped out to the finale, and the good players move on. I of course went to the icey finale where a video was shown on glass that when over revealed a big polar pear ready to attack. We fled the room to the exit. My guide quickly disappeared. She was definitely into the act, even with someone who really couldn’t have been further from the target demographic.


I then started the long trek home. I stopped at a convenience store to stock up on liquids for the fridge, and perused the enormous amount of porn that is in every shop in Japan. It’s weird, in Korea, I saw nothing sexual at all. Here, they have tons of magazines in every shop, in full view of kids. Most of them contain DVDs. All censored. But the weird anime is just beyond strange. And you’d go into stores that had huge rooms full of anime porn. Books and DVDs. And it was censored too. Just strange. I’ve read that Japanese couples only do it once a month or so. Perhaps it’s because the guys are looking at so much comic book porn.


Oh, and by the way, I found out what was on the 8th floor of Don Quixote. Apparently there is this schoolgirl singing group called AKB48, and that is where they put on a nightly show. They have a website and videos are on Youtube. They’ve had some big singles. Basically the Spice Girls times almost 10. Nothing too over the top, just 48 20-something year-old women, dressed in schoolgirl outfits, singing songs. Man, I should have tried to buy a scalped ticket.


Just another example of why Japan is so awesome!




See, I told you so.


Don Quixote, the center of the schoolgirl galaxy.


Another thing, just as cool, but in a very different way.


Now there's something you won't see in American arcades.


Awesome double drop escalator. Look closely, it's not two separate ones.


Apparently Nazis were just dyslexic Bhuddhists.


Scary Japanese clown guy


One of the lamer stunts in the dark ride.


Stuff packed everywhere


It's like a tiny Blackpool


The park is in a tiny section of land, surrounded by apartment buildings.


Cool shrine entrance that led to 3 football fields of tourist trap crap stores.

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Tokyo trip day 4 – Yokohama Cosmoworld


Today I was planning on hitting Cosmoworld and Sea Paradise. But, I’m starting to run out of some gas, and needed a slower day, so even though Blue Fall looks great, I couldn’t justify the 1 hour train travel and probably $50+ to get there and get in the park. SO, I started off by going to Harajuku, hoping to see some cosplayers. I had heard both Saturday and Sunday were good days. Well, Saturday isn’t. There were a couple, but not many. But there were crazy amounts of people there. And plenty of Harajuku girls. The shops were strange. Some shops seemed to do little more than sell photos of teen idols. Just photos. Don’t these people know what the internet is? Why buy pictures? There were tons of shops for teens, but there was one shop I knew would be for me: Kiddy Land.


Kiddy Land is an enormous toy store, supposedly the largest in Tokyo. It was 6 floors I think. The bottom floor had most of the stuff I was looking for, namely Nintendo stuff for my son. They had a lot of plush, including many Yoshi’s, various Mario and Luigi, and exactly what I was looking for: Boo! They had Mario as the Boo power-up from Mario Galaxy. They also had a large Kirby plush. Score! They had lots of little stuff too, including some gummy gold coins, and some bath toys. This floor also had Littlest Petshop for my wife. There was also Doraemon, and a crapload of Pokemon. Plus, they actually took credit cards!!!!!


One floor was devoted to Snoopy, which seemed strange. Another one was mostly cutesy girl stuff like Hello Kitty and other Sensai stuff. All this stuff was insanely expensive, as it was all through Japan. Hello Kitty especially.


The top floor was older kids stuff, robots, Star Wars, and anime. I checked off a lot of things I was looking for, especially the Nintendo stuff. Plus, they had tons of Goshapon machines on each floor.


On the way back to the station I saw a Condomania store. I also saw a place selling Pepsi!!! I got a large Pepsi, no ice. It was 250 Yen for about 12 ounces of fountain Pepsi. OUCH! But, it was Pepsi, so I was happy. Of course, on the way home I saw a vending machine on the way to my hotel with 16 oz cans for 150 Yen.


I saw the bridge over the tracks, and recognized it from stories on Harajuku, so I figured that’s where the folks would be tomorrow, if I came back. I got on the train and started the looooong trek to Yokohama. I had seen pics of their Dive Coaster in many e-mails, including chain e-mails and e-mails from coworkers that worked on a project in Yokohama, and could see it from their office. So, this was a special coaster. I ended up having to stand the whole way to Yokohama, which sucked. Plus, the sky was not favorable. I get off at the rather large station and immediately see the Ferris Wheel. Also, there was the obligatory map of the area, so again, my GPS wasn’t needed. There were two ways to get there, one seemed more direct, so I took off. This is a pretty small park, and rides are crammed in. I get there, and see machines selling tickets. I go to information to see if they have a Free Pass. The girl didn’t really speak English, but another girl that came up did, and said no Free Passes. So, I got 11 for 10 right as she put up some little magnets next the Vanish. She said it was undergoing maintenance for 20 minutes. I have a feeling this was actually break time for the crew. So, I hit the log ride. This was a strange log ride. The initial section was a trough, and then you went up the first hill. All the upper section was a rolling section, sort of like most Shoot the Chutes. The first splashdown lead to an section going by the Vanish hole for some photo opportunities. The second lift also led to a rolling section and the final drop. A fun, fast flume, and the drops were crested quickly since you were free rolling to them.


The coaster was still down, so I hit the arcade a bit. A pretty big arcade with lots of cranes and other various prize machines. I actually won two little Disney toys in one where you first scooped up toys that were dropped on a pusher that then pushed them out the prize slot. Another strange thing is all the vending machines that have boxes of cookies in them. Big boxes of cookies. And I don’t understand it. There would be a stack of cookies, and then one box precariously placed on some wires obovethe win chute. I think the workers go around and make sure one box is actually gettable, because I can’t see anyone getting one out of the big stacks. And you’d see people with bags of these boxes of cookies. Apprently they don’t live near grocery stores, or these are some sort of magical cookies.


Anyway, I realized I needed some more tickets, and had seen two dark rides, so I got 11 more, just as the maintenance signs were being taken down. I headed up to Vanish for a quick ride. WOW, this is a brutal coaster. Just INSANE g’s in the helix. I got very grayed out during it, moreso than I ever have I believe. And the rest wasn’t that great either, although the dive was neat. It looks better for the folks watching of course, with a big water spray shooting up as the coaster drops under the water level. Once is definitely enough for this thing.


Then I hit the dark rides. The first one is a shooting variety. You slowly go by 4 scenes full of animatronics with targets on them. There did seem to be some progressive targets, but they weren’t obvious. There was an added bit to this ride since you could actually win something if your score was high enough. Even with finding a couple of targets that seemed to net a few thousand points when most were giving 300 tops, I was well below the winning amount. A few more rides and I may have been able to figure out some big ones, but at $5 a pop, that wasn’t happening. The second ride was a standard dark ride, although instead of the stunts being covered in chicken wire to protect them, you rode in a cage!


It was themed to a shrine, and had some very Kill Bill-esque scenes, and a few people above you. One this is that many of the stunts were VERY close to you since you were caged. Most scenes were static.


After the dark rides, I got some popcorn out of the vending machine. I couldn’t pass up that. It was 200 Yen, and you had three options, which was sorta scary because I was afraid I was going to get squid flavored popcorn. Instead I think it was slightly caramel, and actually not bad. Heck, even the Disney popcorn I had wasn’t really up to US standards. They need to call the great Boilermaker, Orville Redenbacher, to get some top notch popcorn.


I looked for some sort of souvenir. I was going to get a 100 Yen ticket to keep, but then found a small magnet instead. I then headed back towards the station, but of course had to stop at the little annex across the river. They had 3 walkthroughs with no English explaining them, but at least one was a question based one, so I skipped them. $5 for a bunch of gibberish isn’t worth it. I did ride the Banana Coaster, which was a unique kiddie coaster.


I was pretty hungry by now, and remembered seeing a TGI Friday’s near the station, and was excited to get some decent food. However, I saw a Hard Rock Café on the way, so obviously had to eat there. I had had enough Mega’s to satisfy my burger craving for a wihle, so I opted for what was advertised as a half pound chicken breast. Now, that’s a big chicken! However, it was actually two breasts. I was craving good chicken, since getting all white meat chicken is pretty tough in Japan. It was a nice low fat meal. I then decided to get another pin for my son, since it’s sort of a tradition for us to hit the Hard Rock before we go to concerts, such as Blue Man Group, Weird Al, and Video Games Live. We went to see VGL right before I left, and I had a pic of him eating a burger there on my GPS. I took pics of it in the Seoul HR, and now also got one in the Yokohama HR. They actually had some clearance pins. 1700 Yen normal, now 700 Yen. I got two, and took off.


There was a very fancy mall here. Yokohama has a lot of American businessmen come to it, and apparently they spend lots of money for stuff for their wives. There was a small grocery store where I looked for some SPAM for my wife, who collects odd SPAM cans and flavors, but the SPAM cans are just English, unlike the Korean ones that were actually in Korean. My wife think’s that the only language where it isn’t just SPAM. I also got a small bottle of Sake, and one of my favorite Coolish shakes in a bag. They are from Korea, by Lotte, and taste like homemade ice cream, and you just squeeze it out. Good stuff!


I then got back on the train for the long trek back. Luckily I had a seat this time.


Yokohama at night


Funky curving escalator.


Shooting dark ride.


random heads


Kill Bill the ride.


Photogenic, but crappy.


Fresh from the Hello Kitty factory, with the kitty fired furnace.


The awesome named Takeshita street, the center of Harajuku teen fashion.

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Tokyo trip day 4 – Tokyo Disneyland


Luckily, I woke up feeling pretty good, albeit tired, for my suspected loooooong day at Disneyland. Again, I made the long trip to Maihama, this time going the right direction. However, when I got up near the gates, I saw an absolute sea of people. Huge lines sprawling out of the gates. It was about 10 minutes before the 8 am opening, and things looked bad. I mean, I knew Disneyland in Tokyo is insanely crowded, but this was more than I expected. The lines to get actual tickets was fairly short, and I got in the entry line by the time they opened. However, it took a good 20 minutes to get in the park. Of course, I made a beeline to Pooh.


I get to Fantasyland to see a long line of people with a woman with a sign Scary Farm style standing at the end. The sign said “Pooh’s Honey Hunt: Fastpass Ticketing”. Holy shit! I was in line 15 minutes just to get a damn Fastpass for around 1 pm. Wowzers! Things were NOT looking good. My plans of a quick Pooh ride early on was vanquished by the sign saying 190 Standby. Yep, 190 minutes 40 minutes after the park opened, and before many Fastpasses were even valid. DAMN!


I see Mansion has only a 40 minute standby, and it looks sorter than that. I get in, and ask a girl, who spoke to me in English about getting in line. She was totally fluent, and explained that this week was some sort of Japanese holiday week for the Summer, and that the crowds were about double normal. Yay for me! It did only take 20 minutes to get into Mansion. I knew it was a WDW clone, but wanted to hear it in Japanese. The lighting did seem a bit better, and the sound didn’t cut out like it used to in WDW.


After that, I come out to a park that looked like a Spring Break afternoon in Florida. I decided I needed to get moving, and chose Big Thunder next, since it is unique. The posted sign was 110 minutes. I hoped this was overstated too. And it was, it was really about 60 minutes. This is a probably my favorite of the 3 BTMRRs I’ve ridden. It seemed to be a better coaster, and also seemed to be longer. BY this time, I could get another Fastpass, and decided to get a second Pooh pass. I get there to see the insane lines are gone, and return time is already about 9 pm at a little after 10 am!!! The fastpass I get is not valid. The girl there knew no English, and I thought maybe my watch was off, because it said I was at least 10 minutes after the time I could get a Fastpass. Another girl came over and I eventually figured out, I guess, that each person visiting the park can only get one Pooh Fastpass each day. So, I decide to instead get one for Splash Mountain. I figured it was a clone, but I love Splash Mountain, and knew the standby would be enormous all day. Japanese folks are VERY Fastpass savvy. The line to get FPs for Splash was still about 10 minutes. Just insane. I’ve never waited more than 3 people to get a FP in the US. Just a huge difference that tells me that MANY US Disney visitors don’t use FP much at all. Which is good for me, however it doesn’t help today.


I figured the Mickey Mouse Revue would have very little wait, and I was right. As I was going into the preshow, a lady came up and told me it was only in Japanese, and it was an animated show. It seemed like she was warning me that I wouldn’t like it. There was nothing that was going to keep me from seeing this. I only vaguely remember seeing it back in the 70s at WDW, but I always remembered an animated show, and only recently realized it was at TDL. I told her “I saw this when I was a little kid in Florida, and I’m very excited to see it today”. She smiled, and went away. This attraction was a damn time warp. The whole preshow movie is untouched, except for the Japanese narration. Vintage 70s Disney logo, 70s color pallet, it was great. So, we head in to the show room. I recall the animatrons surrounding you more, but I was pretty young then. I did remember bits of the show, and got a bit teared up. I hadn’t seen this show for 30 years, but I distinctly remembered the Caballero’s section, especially the gun shots from side to side, and the Mickey animatron. Again, every animatron was working, and looked great. Oriental Land Company really take pride in their stuff. And it shows.


I was getting hungry, and was a bit depressed by the crowds, so I started looking over the map to see where I could get some normal food. A place in Tomorrowland had pizza, cool!. Of course, I get there to see it’s seafood and broccoli pizza, not cool! Another place advertises rice dishes. I end up getting a beef and egg over rice kid’s meal and another one with beef patties and fried egg over rice. Yeah, I’m a hog, but I knew this would hold me most of the day, just like it did at Disney Seas. The kids version was better than the adult version, but a little too salty. An American couple ended up sitting a the table with me. The guy was in the Army on leave from Seoul and brought his girlfriend for the day. They had just arrived, and went to eat first. Remember what I said about American’s not being savvy about FPs? They were amazed by the crowds too. They guy said he’d been to the original DL before. So, after I eat and hit a store, I get in line for Space for the credit. And I see them in line in front of me. Now, here they are at a new DL park, and they get in line for a clone of the CA ride they’ve surely been on. He asks me while we pass “didn’t go for the FP huh?”. I said I had one for another ride, and couldn’t get another one right now. He then asks “how much are those anyway?” D’oh!!! I tell him free and he’s all happy to find that out. Of course, when I got out of the ride, it seemed like all the FPs for all rides with it were basically gone, so I doubt they got one. I got a grand total of 2. I would assume if you weren’t in the park by 8:10 or so, you got only 2. I really wanted to do Buzz, which I think is a bit better than in the US, but the line was very long, and it had an enormous FP line first thing, perhaps more than Pooh. Japanese love their dark rides. Which is apparently why they are getting another one in Monster’s Inc Monster Hunt, which looks to be ANOTHER shooting type dark ride basically right next to Buzz. I also forgot to do the castle walkthrough, which pisses me off (I later realize the reason I missed it is because it’s shut down now). I went through DL’s before it was shuttered, but definitely meant to do this one.


Space was good, and seemed a bit faster than Disneyland’s. I did miss the onboard audio, and am sorta surprised they don’t have it. I was hoping for the Dick Dale soundtrack.


I decided I shouldn’t hold off on my Pooh FP too long after the window. Who knows, maybe they’re strict on this one. I get there to see a 90 minute wait still, and zip right in. I was fearing some anticipointment here. I’d heard so many good things about it. I get in the honey pot, am told to put up my camera, and we’re off. First up, I was surprised at how fast you move from room to room. You zip into the opening book for a quick video, and then into a simply amazing room just full of stuff going on on a Blustery Day. You follow Pooh floating on a balloon past his friends, including Mr. Owl’s house that is being blown around. The amount of detail in this room is awesome. Plus, there are multiple paths, so your group of 3 splits up, so spin around, some go backwards, it’s very cool. At the end of this room, you see Tigger.


The next room has three screens through some trees. You soon see Tigger jump out, and you start bouncing. Let me tell you, this bouncing effect is simply brilliant. You really don’t move a whole lot, but the music and video, and various levels of theming, all bounce absolutely perfectly with each other. They must have spent weeks getting it all matched up right, but it pays off. Simply brilliant. You then go into a room to see Pooh falling asleep. There is a similar room at WDW, but this one craps all over it. The entire room turns into a starfield as Pooh floats up into a dream. From here, you go through a hall and enter the Huffalumps and Woozles room, which has 2 groups of pots in it. You spend quite a bit of time in here, and see the two effects, one a Pepper’s Ghost video of a bee, and then the cannon blast. There is also another honey pot with of a Hufflaump and a Woozle in it that just zips around the room. This room is amazing, technically. I’d love to know if the pots truly are autonomous, or if they simply have a large number of different paths they can take, randomly mixed up. Even your order changes during the ride. You may be first at load, but last at unload. Of course, they all have to sync together.


After that room, you all go backwards through a hallway where H&W’s are being sucked into the main room. You then stop for Pooh to talk to you, and then go to the end room. There is no doubt, this ride kicks massive amounts of ass. It wasn’t until my second ride that I really notice all the little things and truly appreciated the greatness of this ride. Anaheim’s version is the dump that this ride took after some bad sushi.


I decided to finish off the coaster credits and headed to Toontown, hoping Gadget’s coaster would have a reasonable line. It did, at 20 minutes! Amazing with the crowds. I got a honey/lemon sherbert in a special honey pot before getting in line. This was a great deal. 400 Yen for some good sherbert and a very heavy duty Pooh honey pot that even has the 25th logo on the bottom. Toontown was a near clone of Disney’s, only I guess a mirror image, and the entrance was in a different place.


I went over for the lottery to get prime seats for their nighttime spectacular. Basically, you have all your tickets read in by a scanner, and then it randomly decides if you win tickets. The chick right before me won. I did not. It’s a cool idea, and with the crowds, you probably would have had to sit 3 hours in advance to get a ticket. So, I decided to do some shopping. I found a small cute pair of Thumper and his girlfriend plush for my wife, but they were 3600 Yen!! That’s crazy. I also found a Pluto with a key for my son, but it was 2800 Yen. I found a smaller one of each for more reasonable prices. I looked again, fruitlessly, for some T-shirts. It sucks that my only shirt from the trip is from Seoul Hard Rock. I guess I have too many damn tees anyway.


I head out to the entry area for some pics of the awesome Mickey and friends statue. This thing looks brand new. You can tell they give it some TLC every morning. I wait in line and decide to get a pro photo, but still don’t know why they always say 3 pictures. I never did pick it up. I looked pretty frazzled anyway with the wind blowing in off the bay good this day, making me realize in advance that the fireworks are probably going to be minimal tonight. I really don’t like the covered Main Street, for photo opportunities, but I guess it’s needed in Tokyo.


I decide to head over to Pirates next, which of course had very little wait since it eats people. This was an exact clone of DL’s, including the Blue Bayou. The whole area is basically a clone of New Orleans Square, sorta creepy. The only difference is that the unload station is before the lift, which I don’t think is the case at DL, but maybe I’m mistaken. The weird thing is that the ride is basically in all English. Imagine going to WDW and riding Jungle Cruise, and the captain was French. It was very surprising. Every scene seemed to have one character that spoke Japanese, I guess to explain everything. A very odd choice. The storm scene before the second drop looked awesome, much better than I recall DL or WDW looking. Again, the lighting looked to be better than usual, all their rides looked a bit brighter. I was sorta hungry, and checked out the options around here. They weren’t great. The sit down restaurants all had long lines, and the rest had crappy sounding food. I go to Adventureland, which looked neat. The facades were very nice. It was here where I found the only squished medallions with actual Japanese on them! Ninja Mickey!!! I figured Jungle Cruise would be a waste, and the new Stitch Tiki Room had a massive line.


That got me back around to BTMRR were I wanted to check out the shooting gallery which was advertising a special badge if you hit 10 targets. Well, that’s a perfect score. I did see some kids getting them, but there was a pretty long line, and I have a feeling close wasn’t going to cut it for an old guy, and doubted I’d get a perfect score, although I did want one of those badges. Oh well.


I was happy at this point, having salvaged a seriously busy day, still amassing a good number of rides. A testament to the amazing ride ops, all with huge smiles, and excellent attitude. Something that WDW and DL simply don’t have anymore. Walt would be proud.


I really wanted to at least see the electric parade, and perhaps the fireworks, even though it was still windy. I decided to get a bite to eat, and remembered that Toontown had SAUSAGE pizza. I get there and see it is also covered in onions, so I get a fried chicken sandwich instead. This is another disgusting sandwich with lots of fat, just like McDonald’s. It’s like they fry it with the skin on, so you have a layer of fat below the batter. It wasn’t great, and I didn’t eat the fatter parts, so it left me wonting.


It was dark now, and the park looked great. Nothing beats a Disney park at night. I really missed my family at this point. I head over to a caramel popcorn stand that I remembered was selling it in 25th logo containers. It was on the right side of the hub near Buzz. As I was waiting, the nighttime show started. Of course the jackass behind me tried to take the opportunity that I was filming the show to cut in front of me. You know, just because I’m a few feet behind the person in front of me doesn’t mean you can pass me. Me staying a bit behind won’t impact when you get your damn popcorn. Very non-Japanese attitude.


The show looked quite neat, even though I could only see the top part of the castle. Apparently Mickey was trying to get it lit up, and Sorcerer Mickey appeared at the top of the castle calling up huge geysers of water, and Tinkerbell came and the whole castle sparkled and lit up. Then Donald came and painted it different colors. Eventually the Wicked Queen showed up and the castle was covered in vines. HUGE fire balls shot up at some points, along with more water canons. The show looked to be damn cool. There was a stage show in front of the castle, then the light show on the castle, then the fireworks, fireballs, and water. You could tell long sections had nothing going on where fireworks were supposed to be. I really wanted to see the later show, but still had rides to do, and I got the feeling that the crowds were parking their asses for both showings, and the light parade.


So, I headed back to use my Splash FP. It seemed to be a WDW clone with a slightly faster flume, and a mirror image. They stuck me in a boat with a large group of Japanese teens, which was uncool. They weren’t too bad, but had a real complex setup for the ride pic. I decided to flip off the camera, to see what would happen. They showed the pic, albeit fuzzy. I should have tried to buy it to see if they had let me.


I got out of Critter Country as the second half of the light parade was going by. I filmed it all, and then fought the crowds a bit and finally got in Fantasyland. I decided to see what Pooh was like. I though “maybe everyone is watching the parade, and no FPs will be being used, so the standby will be moving very quickly”. Crazy, I know, but it was exactly what happened. The sign had 40 minutes posted, and I waited a grand total of 10 minutes to ride Pooh a second time. I was elated. That alone salvaged the day. Hell, it was basically a free second Pooh Fastpass!! When I got out, the standby time was up to 60, so the FP’s must have been pouring in. Talk about perfect timing!


With new found vigor, and a realization that Japanese folks seem to leave the park early, just like Americans, I headed to Toontown for a 10 minute wait for Roger Rabbit, a clone of DL’s, which is fine by me. I love this ride, and again, things just looked better. They seemed to glow better. I wonder if TDL is using a new kind of black light or something. Roger at the end really popped out from the background.


I should have tried Buzz, but I forgot, and it has FP, so I figure it was still a long standby wait. As I was walking out of FL, lots of folks were coming in, and it was about 40 minutes to close, so I assume they were all going to redeem a Pooh FP. Heck, I should have tried the other FL dark rides. They’re all clones, I believe, but they may all look better too. Pinocchio always looks a bit drab, it may have been a lot better. TDL needs to put in a kickass Alice update.


I was getting quite sad at this point. Missing my family, and realizing my Disney visit was about over. Leaving Disney parks is always a sad moment. I get some good pics of everthing with long exposures, and head for the train station. I check the store by the station, but it still had no good shirts. Ah well, maybe once the Japanese eat all the cookies in those tins, they’ll get bigger and need bigger shirts.


3 down, 2 to go for me.


Chik-a-pin Hill


Great looking Alice restaurant. I really wanted to eat there, but the menu looked nasty.


The very well themed Adventureland


The roof really takes something away, imho.


The beginning of one kick ass dark ride.


A portal back to the 70s for me.


Call me crazy, but I actually liked the cakestle better.


THe really cool Space Mountain station.


You can see Monstropolis over there.


Uhh, where does the train go?


This is 42 minutes after the park opened! But, BTMRR does look really cool.


This is the line so I can get in another line!


Um, OK, it's going to be crowded today


Man, you can NOT escape the asians giving peace symbols in pictures! But, the Mickey and friends statues looks great. I sure I hope I get to return here some day.

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BY this time, I could get another Fastpass, and decided to get a second Pooh pass. I get there to see the insane lines are gone, and return time is already about 9 pm at a little after 10 am!!! The fastpass I get is not valid. The girl there knew no English, and I thought maybe my watch was off, because it said I was at least 10 minutes after the time I could get a Fastpass. Another girl came over and I eventually figured out, I guess, that each person visiting the park can only get one Pooh Fastpass each day.




What you experienced here is a "fastpass rule" that many do not know exists. Guests are not able to acquire a second fastpass for the same attraction if the return time on the first fastpass has not yet come up yet. While you were indeed eligible for another fastpass, because it was before the 1PM return time for your first Pooh fastpass, the machine didn't allow for you to get a second Pooh fastpass in this case.


This is only really an issue on very crowded days when fastpass eligibility windows are 2 hours (the max length).



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Hmm, I sure didn't know it existed. I guess it's rarely an issue at US parks. And normally, I wouldn't want another FP for a ride so quickly, but I wanted to get two Pooh rides for sure. Since most of TDL is clones, most everything else was secondary.


I'll remember this rule if I luck out and get another trip to Seoul later this year. HMH will be on the top of the list if I get to return this Fall.



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Hmm, I sure didn't know it existed. I guess it's rarely an issue at US parks. And normally, I wouldn't want another FP for a ride so quickly, but I wanted to get two Pooh rides for sure. Since most of TDL is clones, most everything else was secondary.


I'll remember this rule if I luck out and get another trip to Seoul later this year. HMH will be on the top of the list if I get to return this Fall.




I didn't know the rule existed either until a visit to Disneyland during the busy holiday period in late Dec after the "new" Space Mountain was re-launched. Ran to Space at opening, snagged a fastpass with a return time for 10:30 AM (waited in a 10 min line to get a fastpass) and then rode standby in about 30 min. Came back at 10AM (the park opened at 8AM this day) when I was eligible for another fastpass, but couldn't get another one for Space until 10:30 the CM told us.


Again, only an issue on very crowded days and in the rare case where one attraction holds such high priority for so many people.



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Japan 2008 day 7 – Aqua Stadium and Tokyo Teleport


Well, it was sadly my last day in Tokyo. I was very bummed. Plus I was mega tired following the insane Disneyland day. I had craploads of stuff to pack, but put that off. I got a bit of a late start, but knew it didn’t really matter today. I grabbed my coffee, counted my money, and figured I probably could get by on the cash I had left, so I didn’t need to hit 7-11. First, I had to go down and buy a bus ticket for my trip to the airport tomorrow. They took AMEX, so my cash situation looked even better.


First up for the day was Aqua Stadium. I got off at the subway station, and wasn’t sure where to go. I was pretty sure of the side of the tracks, but there was no obvious signage to Aqua Stadium. And of all the days I didn’t bring my GPS, but it probably wouldn’t have helped anyway. I followed instinct and after some walking saw someone holding a Aqua Stadium sign. They had tons of folks once you got close to the entrance, but didn’t have one down across from the station. Go figure. So, I climb up the hill and head in. Again, luckily they took credit cards. I got my one ticket for Galaxy Express, and wondered around.


They had a big cinema here, so I got some pics of Japanese movie posters. The weird thing was a sign that said no food or drinks allowed in the theaters. Surely they meant no outside food, but I wasn’t sure. They even had a gift shop for the theater.


In the main lobby is the cool carousel, which reminded me of the Crystal Carousel. Off behind that is the super themed pirate ship, and beyond that is the entrance to Galaxy Express 999. They handed me a placard, warning it was a coaster, and myself and 4 other people went into the pre-show. Apparently Galaxy Express is a Japanese comic book, as there was a story and characters in the preshow. I saw a stack of the books in a waiting room later, amazingly not getting stolen.


Of course, I have no idea what the story was, but we were hurtling through the galaxy. They actually have 3 preshow rooms, along with 2 fake doors to other ones on the other side of the entry room. All 3 dumped into the station, where a weird train awaited. I thought this was Intamin, and the belts backed up that feeling, but the strange thing is that these cars have VERY low seat backs, and no head/neck support. It’s like riding a coaster in Shriner cars. We packed our stuff into a cabinet, and the army of workers waved at us before we launched into an impossibly tight hairpin turn, via wheels. Then into a large loop, around the aquarium tank a couple of times, and to the station. WOW, this ride shook the bejeebies out of me. It didn’t track worth shit, and it amazed me that an Intamin would be like this. This thing isn’t even close to the quality of the latter day Intamin rides, even though it ain’t that old. It felt like it was about to fall apart. I gathered my stuff, said goodbye to all the workers, and was dumped out at the pirate ship. In the US, this ride would be operated by 2 people, one for the preshows, one for the station. IN Japan, it seemed like there were about 10 people operating a ride that was having about 5 people per group.


I walked back to the subway station, hoping to find some good food, and ended up eating another damn Mega. I get on the train and head to Tokyo Teleport. I get out to a surprisingly sorta rundown area around the train station. Long grass, big areas of land just not looking up to Japanese standards. I see Mega Web off to the distance with another big wheel, and head there. This is an enormous Toyota show room, but it also includes some sorta rides, and other stuff. I ask if they have a Winglet exhibit, and am told to go to one building that does have some futuristic stuff in it but, alas, no Winglet, and nobody to really ask about it.


However, this also gets me right at the entrance to Leisure Land, a ginormous 24 hour arcade. It was video game overload. Strangly, Japanese don’t have much need for vintage games, or pinball, as I saw absolutely none of either one during my trip. They did have a ton of Goshapon, including 8 Mario Galaxy ones that sucked up a lot of my money, plus some cool Space Invader magnets. They had a cotton candy vending machine, that although isn’t all that sanitary, did make decent cotton candy. They also had a weird fishing area where you actually fished. There was another strange vending machine that I don’t know what it vended. I should have given it a try anyway.


They had the obligatory photo booths, token pusher games, and even a scary walkthrough. Plus a bunch of sports games like soccer, baseball, and basketball. Upstairs is a huge bowling alley. I wanted to play some of the token redemption games, but there is little English, and you have to make a 500 Yen minimum purchase of tokens, and I really wasn’t sure what you could get for them.


I next wanted to find Joypolis, which is nearby. I end up at a mall nearby with another huge arcade, a Japanese Spencers type store which was interesting, and an area upstairs apparently full of “hip” restaurants. I end up walking up and down the length of this building looking for Joypolis. I wonder if maybe its gone. I end up back at the Ferris wheel and barely see out of the corner of my eye a Joypolis sign waaaaaay over on the other side of the train tracks. I’d walked about a mile for nothing looking for it and had to walk another half mile to get to it. And of course, I left my GPS behind today.


Finally, I’m at the entrance, and luckily realize they have a person selling tickets that takes VISA, unlike the vending machines. SO, I get an after 5 pass and head through the Metroid door. I immediately am greeted by a huge line for Spin Boarder. I reluctantly get in and calculate that it’s close to an hour wait. Damn Japanese holiday week! I’m pretty close on my estimate, and finally get strapped into the torture device. You are literally tied into a riding position, with very little movement possible, including your arms. Hoping perhaps a maid or schoolgirl will come out to spank me . No such luck, as I traverse the jerky track, spinning more than I wanted to. A very weird coaster that I’d rather ride on a normal train.


After that, I look around the rest of the three floors. I wanted to do the 24:CTU challenge, but it was another question game in only Japanese. The girl wouldn’t even let me take one of the question cards, although I found one later. There were a number of motion base video games, some where fairly large groups played as a team. The waits were 30 minutes or so for these. There were also a couple other question games and a couple of haunted walkthroughs.


One cool thing was the House of the Dead 4: Special machines they had. You sat in a dark ride vehicle type thing, took your gun, and played a shortened version of HOD:4. The awesome thing was that your car spun around to face two different projector screens during your game, and sometimes you were a little off kilter to go with the action. It was really pretty neat, although quite hard by myself. I got to the first boss and 47%. I sure wish my wife was there to play it with me. They had a Jungle based game using the same motion bases. They have 4 or 5 of each one.


It was getting late and I still wanted to look at Muscle Park. My son and I LOVE Ninja Warrior, or Sasuke, which is the basis of Sasuke Park, the biggest attraction in Muscle Park. I watch a couple of much younger dudes do really badly on the course, and decide there is no reason to humiliate myself. There are 4 sections, the hand bike which I doubt I could even move. The cliff hanger, where you have to climb across a gap holding onto a 2” edge, again, I doubt I’d make one successful grab. Then the impossible salmon ladder where you must grab a pipe and literally jump up a serious of hooks, and then the ring maze, where you grab two rings and must hand on them while traversing pipes that go up and down. It was cool to see it, and the model they have of the Sasuke course made by one of the more goofy contestants they have every year. I wanted some Ninja Warrior stuff, but all they had was Muscle Park and Muscle Musical stuff.


Sadly, I realize that my trip ended with this visit to this park that my son and I had talked about a lot. I sure wish he was with me, and I sure hope to return to Tokyo with him some day. I got another of my favorite Coolish shakes and took my last train ride back to Shinjuku.


I was sad. VERY sad. I loved my week in Tokyo. It really was a vacation dream come true, although it was tarnished by the fact I did it alone. But, I sure wasn’t going to pass through Tokyo and not take a vacation. I took almost 2000 picures in Korea and Japan, so I’d be able to relive everything with my family when I returned home.



I still have a random Seoul update to follow.




Fufu first class lounge food at Narita. And my only time to really eat Japanese food.




My "upgraded" room. I can't imagine it being much smaller.


The last time walking back at night was very sad.


Ninja Warrior model by the weird old guy that never makes it past the first obstacle.


Super cool House of the Dead 4: Special


Metroid door to hide the huge line for a crappy coaster. Joypolis is awesome, but loses a lot if you don't speak English.


Leisureland was Gashapon heaven. I bought way too many. But, really not enough. I could have bought my son's entire Christmas here too.


Old school arcade game.


In MegaWeb's high tech building, the bathroom was actually sorta scary.


Very heavily themed very crappy coaster


Cool carousel.


After going through a mall, I finally knew I was going the right way, up the hill, luckily with shade.

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