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A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

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My first thought when I saw the Ultra Twister for the first time was, "Oh, hell no!" Shockingly good ride.


LOL, exactly!


Loving the trip report! Seeing that Ultra Twister makes me kinda mad that Six Flags left theirs to rust away in Baltimore after they removed it from Astroworld (did they eventually scrap it?). It would've been great at SFNE.


I also love how the jet coaster is supported as a trestle; it isn't the only one to do that and honestly more coasters should be like that.


Thanks, and yeah, that is one reason I really do want to try out the Jet Coaster some day. Very cool looking ride.


Great report yet again Robert! I totally missed the dark ride! Yet another reason to head back sometime.


Thanks, Neil! It was only when I was researching the park for this report that I realized just how big the whole resort is – there's so much to see. I'd love to spend a couple of days there, do the water park, etc.


Great report! How many pendulum rides would you say they've got there in total?


Thanks! I was able to get photos of at least six, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were one or two more I'm forgetting.

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Great report, Spaland looks awesome. When I put together my "bucket list" of Japanese parks to hit one of these days this place never really comes to mind first but that might have to change!


I got a chance to ride the Ultra Twister that was previously at Astroworld on my only visit to that park and thought that little ride was the coolest thing ever. So much fun, it's a shame there aren't many more of them left but going strong.

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Awesome report as always Cokes!


Muchos grassy-ass, my man!


Great report, Spaland looks awesome. When I put together my "bucket list" of Japanese parks to hit one of these days this place never really comes to mind first but that might have to change!


I got a chance to ride the Ultra Twister that was previously at Astroworld on my only visit to that park and thought that little ride was the coolest thing ever. So much fun, it's a shame there aren't many more of them left but going strong.


Thanks so much! I had forgotten that UT had lived at Astroworld for so long, and that it had the angled lift hill!


Yet another amazing TR! I also missed the dark ride Guess I shall have to journey back some day, oh darn.


It's a burden, I know. Thanks, Matt!

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So Robert, what % are you at, "turning Japanese," by now?


Just curious.


(And my first ever Ultratwister, was the one at Astroworld in 1992!)

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Part Seven: Hokkaido Greenland


Many years ago, I used to ski. Not very well, but adequately enough that the expense of getting to and staying at places where you can ski was worth it. Okemo, Lake George, Steamboat Springs, Park City, we went on some great trips back in the day. Looking back, though, it's clear that I always loved the things that come with the sport of skiing more than the sport itself: the incredible mountaintop views; soaking in the hot tub at night; that moment of raw euphoria when you release your barking dogs from those damned ski boots, the Turkish prisons of footwear.


This is all to say that I don't really think much about skiing or where to go skiing anymore. And it never really crossed my mind that people ski in Japan. Guess what; they do.


As I learned over the next couple of days, if you want to ski in Japan, you want to stay on Hokkaido, the country's northernmost island, where there are quite a few ski resorts. We visited two of them, because – of course – they include amusement parks that are open during those warm months outside of winter (or, wait, I'm sorry, Frozen®, that's the new name for winter, right? Isn't a bill working its way through Congress?)


The city that hosts Hokkaido Greenland is Iwamizawa, a detail I share because that name is very high on the "Fun To Say Out Loud" scale. The park may not be packed with fantastic credits, but it's in a beautiful location and has one snazzy little dark attraction. And pedal boats.


After the big, modern, Occidental trappings of Nagashima Spaland, it felt good to get back to a park that was more cozy and Japanese. We wouldn't be here a full day, but you don't really need a full day to cover all the bases at Greenland.


The bug band out front was laying down a sweet jam. I'm not sure if "dancing" was what I was going for with this pose. Or am I throwing a punch? It's a mystery.


What is invisible and smells like carrots? Bunny farts.


I get the feeling Hokkaido Greenland is never overrun with crowds, but it was really quiet for our visit, which was great. This is the main hub just beyond the entrance gates.


The park seems just about evenly split between attractions for little kids and attractions for everyone else. I'm still not quite sure for which demo these furry AT-ATs are designed. Neil seems quite happy astride this panda. I believe he named it "Master Po," but I could be mistaken.


Speaking of AT-ATs, when Disney gets around to dropping some Star Wars into its Japan properties, I'd hope that ridable Banthas would be included.


I love that someone took a look at this desperately sad train trip through Greenland's junkyard and thought, "Let's add a disco ball."


I saw a three-year-old walk up to this "ride," yawn, and walk away. True story.


For non-little kids, there are a few spin and spew rides, like the Roto-Shake, Flash Dance...


...and a swinging boat.


And then there are plenty of rides for the whole family to enjoy together, headlined by the obligatory mega-Ferris Wheel. (Which, again, my group did not ride, because, like, enough already. But seriously, I'll bet the views of the mountains from such a height were probably amazing. Next visit to Greenland, I will make the time for this attraction.)


It appeared that Greenland management doesn't like to throw out old wheel cabins. They were repurposed as I'm not quite sure what – diaper changing stations? make-out pods? – at several locations.


The Cosmo Tower ride was a unique way to check out the area from above, with a little retro sci-fi flair.


That retro sci-fi flair carried over to these monorail space jets, whose "early anime" look got me way more excited I should have been.


Unless you are truly a very young child, it's little more than an excuse to sit down for a couple of minutes.


The suspended pirate ship monorail was probably a hair less unexciting, but we didn't get to that one.


There were two mirror mazes at Greenland; this was the larger, more traditional maze. Poor Lauren, she walked into a pane of glass so hard, the resounding BANG! made me jump. But she was fine, thank goodness, and so was the glass.


I don't think I've ever seen a mirror maze primarily covered in mirrors.


This is Greenland's other mirror maze and it has an "under the sea" theme going on. But that's not what makes it awesome. The coolest thing about this maze is that it there are "Easy" and "Hard" settings. We went through once, pretty quickly, and then the attraction hostess, seeing that there were no munchkins waiting to get in, asked us if we wanted to try the more challenging version. She hit a switch, or pulled a lever, or whatever, and it moved panels around, and dimmed the lights, I think, too? And sure enough, it WAS harder. That was mildly ingenious, I thought. Go, Japan!


It might seem crazy what I'm about to say. Sunshine, she's here, you can take a break! I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space. With the air, like I don't care, baby, by the way... (One of the best pop songs ever written, and that is not a topic for debate. Anyway, this is where we ate lunch.)


Look at this: kids left their backpacks out front, knowing that when they were done eating, they would find their belongings waiting for them. I miss Japan every single day.


Okay, the credits, let's get to 'em. Greenland has four roller coasters, two intended for small children. This is the Wani Wani Coaster and as you can see, there are no small children on board this train. Judge not, that ye be not judged. I would have ridden, too, but that 'gator car brought back some very unfantastic memories of Fantastic Coaster Rowdy (see the Harikata installment of this report).


The other kiddie kredit is the Torokko Coaster, unique for its flume ride-style conveyor belt lift mechanism. (Which happens to run parallel to the park's flume ride lift, so let that blow your mind, man.) I recall some gymnastics getting in and out of the car, and a couple of bumps on the knees going around turns. It was kind of fun, though.


Beautiful trains, aren't they?


It wasn't super-cold that day, but it wasn't really warm enough for us to want to ride the flume. I liked the sign, though.

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This is Greenland's jet coaster, called GO-ON. And go on, we did.


Most of the ride swoops around over one of Greenland's go-kart tracks, but the lift takes you back into the woods a bit, which is nice.


Had the rest of the run been through mountainside trees, like the first drop, GO-ON would have been more satisfying, I think.


Looking over earlier photos of GO-ON, it appears that the park has planted more trees around the lift and first drop in recent years, so (green) thumbs up, Greenland. Please plant more.


Petty landscape bitching aside, it's a worthy credit. You can see that it has a full spiral on the lower left, which, as I think I've made clear already, is something I relish more than your average amusement park guest.


In hindsight, I might have to say that this was my favorite jet coaster of the trip.


The over-the-shoulder restraints, so unnecessary. But I will always have a soft spot for that sharp Arrow-style wedge nose.


Even more in the spirit of Arrow is Greenland's second major credit, Dragon King, a Senyo "Loopscrew." (See, there are some more of the retired wheel cabins along the walkway on the left...)


Loopscrew. *Snicker*


I was bracing for serious pain. Even sitting in the last row, Alan and Erwin are going in with much better attitudes.


It appeared that Dragon King had gotten a new paint job for the season; the colors were rich and very clean.


The black and maroon combo is pretty sharp, I think. Notice that they went to the trouble to paint the loop support spines black and the cross bracings maroon, did the same thing on the rails, too. A little care and affection aesthetically goes a long way in my book.


Dragon King is very much like your stock Arrow triple-looper, except there's a much bigger dip after the lift hill...


...and a more gradual slope down to the teardrop loop. (Yeah, a Bantha corral in some Star Wars kiddie area, I would really dig that. But I digest.)


I'm including as many photos of Dragon King as I am primarily because these sorts of rides do bring back fond memories.


Good old Arrow. Meeeehm-reeees... light the corners of my mind... Misty water-colored MEEEEEHM-REEES... (that's the last time I will quote song lyrics today.)


Dragon King wasn't too painful, but watching a train curl through the 'screw was more pleasurable than riding through it.


Just go dragon-green with maroon accents on the trains and they'll have a winner, at least in the looks department.


At one point during the afternoon, we hung out for a bit in one of Greenland's arcades. Here's Steve, Anth and Cary honing their sharpshooting skills.


Let's see, what to shoot at first? The bandits, the pre-teen Native American girl, or Kristy Swanson?


"Pink Elephant Teeter-Totter" sounds like a euphemism for something dirty. Maybe that's why Steve is enjoying it so much.


So the point of this game is to help Mogy, the boy mole, woo Moglin, the girl mole, while avoiding the gangster moles who want to keep them apart? For a Whac-A-Mole, that seems really overplotted.


I'm telling you, I miss Japan. Every.





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We didn't ride the go-kart track under GO-ON, but we did motor around the track that circumnavigated a lake at the far end of the park.


These go-karts were low on thrills, but pleasantly scenic. Hey, look, pedal boats.


So I'm standing on dry land, taking pictures, and I hear some kind of commotion going on, and I turn to see what's happening. Steve and Priss are having a very good laugh at something.


It appears that Cary and Anth have exceeded the payload ratings for these vessels...


...and are on the verge of a serious maritime disaster. Mayday, Mayday, MAYDAY!


Greenland's naval search and rescue team is deployed and speeds to their aid.


"You're gonna need a bigger boat."


"I'll never let go, Jack. I promise."


"Call me Ishmael."


Saved! Hooray! These were two souls the sea would not claim, not here, not today.


Who was that noble hero in the yellow shirt? We'll never know. He simply bowed and walked off into the sunset, the satisfaction of a job well done his only reward.


For those of you keeping score of such details, Hokkaido Greenland has three scary attractions. Quality-wise, yeah, there's a traditional dark ride and a walk-through (pictured above) that are not as bat-poop bonkers as some of the others featured on this trip. But they most certainly don't offend with suckage, and we didn't wait a minute for either of them.


I know I go on and on about this matter, but it must be emphasized when appropriate: to find three scary attractions in a park of this size and scope is mega-dope.


This is the entrance to the dark ride, which is just down the path from the walk-through. I did not have my picture taken as "stretchy neck geisha phantasm" as I clearly could have, *slaps forehead.*


My favorite attraction at Greenland was their spooky Surprising House, which is tucked away under the station for the suspended pirate boat monorail; you can see it behind the entrance to the carousel in the photo above.


Some day I'd like to buy a drink for the person who came up with the idea to mate a "3D audio" headset experience with a mini somersaulting room ride. The result is so good, I can only hope there are more of them at other parks we didn't get to. First, it lasts several minutes. Second, there's a story to the whole shebang, and don't ask me to tell you what that story is, but it involves seductive/unnerving whispering and breaking dinner plates and creepy moaning and darkness and the possessed room rocking and rolling and finally flipping all the way over. Marvelous.


Greenland is a neat little park; I'll be back.


Later that afternoon, a few of us took a stroll through Sapporo. This is Odori Park, which runs quite a few blocks through the center of the city. That's the Sapporo TV Tower in the distance.


It's a really nice park with plenty of well-manicured lawns and trees, and art and stuff. (FYI, the Sapporo TV Tower gets totalled in 1991's "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.")


We stopped at some beer tent and had blue beer. Why it was tinted blue, I don't recall at all.


Pretty, right?


Then we just meandered for awhile. I liked this lion statue...


...and this awesome horse-drawn double-decker stage coach tour bus (???).


And because it's Japan, Mario and Luigi drove by.


Dinner. Holy damn, do I miss Japan all the freaking time, but when I'm hungry, I REALLY, REALLY miss Japan.


It was another totally defilious day.


Happy Holidays, everyone!


To be continued.

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So Robert, what % are you at, "turning Japanese," by now?


Just curious.


(And my first ever Ultratwister, was the one at Astroworld in 1992!)


Bill, I'm sorry to say that the percentage is dropping... I need to get back. Very cool that you got to ride an Ultra Twister that far back; amazing!

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I'd forgotten about the "Incident of the Not-So-Sea-Worthy Pedal Boat," which would make a great title for s Sherlock Holmes tale. I didn't witness the event, but I heard other people laughing about it later.


Greenland was a very enjoyable park with a great staff.

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This park was great, a bit spare in themeing and enclosed areas, but it made for a good walking workout from ride to ride, lol. The haunted swing was my happiest surprise as I originally thought it was an ice house, or something like that. I am glad I was wrong. It was great. And the maze with that elder ride op congratulating us as we exited the place and shaking hands, etc... unreal, and very Japanese. She was great! And the concept of changing a one-maze space into two... brilliant!


We had a breakdown ahead of us on the lake car ride back there. Thankfully, it wasn't going to be a possible 'sinking' like the guys was, heh.


Great park.

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Great report Robert. What a oddly amusing park that was. The haunted swing with 3D surround audio was actually really good and quite unnerving. Especially it being that small and you not having any clue what the whispers were saying!

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  • 3 months later...

Part Eight: Rusutsu Resort


For kicks, I googled "Togo" recently to see what results came up. The top hit was the hoagie restaurant franchise website. Second was the West African nation's Wikipedia entry. And that's the way it went through every link on the first five pages: information on Togo, the country, or Togo's, the fast food outlets. Then there was a link to a book on Amazon about a sled dog named "Togo" (written by Robert J. Blake, a guy who hears a lot of "Killed your wife lately?" jokes, I'll bet).


Did news of Togo, the defunct Japanese manufacturer of amusement attractions, ever show up on page one of a web search? Maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, it would appear that the company is slowly fading into digital obscurity and that's the way the cookie crumbles.


You and me, we'll keep the memory of Togo alive for awhile longer because it's fun to rag on their most heinous bruise dispensaries, isn't it? But as I mentioned in the Sea Paradise and Spaland reports, this trip to Japan schooled me – Togo did much good work in its home country. And that's why you'll hear nothing but praise today, for Hokkaido's Rusutsu Resort is where Togo dropped some really excellent product.


Rusutsu's ride portfolio gets high marks all around, with a supertanker-load of bonus points for the physical environment it sits on. Like Greenland, this resort's wintertime directive is to service skiers and while I can't vouch for the quality of Rusutsu's trails, I recommend wholeheartedly the tram ride to the mountaintop during the summer season.


We had to rise very early in the morning for a long bus trip to Hokkaido's higher elevations, but I'm not complaining.


"Look, out the window, it's JAPAN!"


Even if you're not all Sierra Club and stuff, you have to admit that is gorgeous, right?


Snow! I will return to Northern Japan during the winter some year. Must do it.


I surely do wish that the Tokyo Disney resort had a "Soarin' Over Japan" attraction. (That could be so freaking awesome and you could have Mothra in there, like "Soarin' With Mothra," with the Twins in the preshow and everything... I'd wait three hours for that, no problem.)


Speaking of EPCOT: we arrived before the park opened to reg'lar folk for still another morning of whomp-ass ERT, so we chilled in the resort's "welcome center" building for a bit. (Just inside the front doors, there's a big singing tree and I'm not sharing a picture of that tree because I somehow managed not to take one.)


There are a bunch of restaurants and retail spaces in here and the atrium has a pan-European street theme, from what I could tell. It's not quite Disney-level immersive but it's pleasant.


I dug the mini-double-decker carousel in the central hub of the atrium. Didn't ride it. Should've. Or wait, maybe it didn't spin? Maybe it was just for show? No, it must have spun, no good reason for the gate around it otherwise.


I didn't ever actually see it spinning is my point, I think. Anyway. Nice detailing on that carousel.


There were some awesome capsule stations next to the carousel, but my favorite was the capsule station that dispensed...


...scary ghost projectors! These are tiny flashlight-type things that beam a creepy image onto whatever you're aiming it at. I got two of them, only 200 yen apiece, should've snagged a lot more.


"Does it spin?! TELL ME, DOES IT SPIN?!?!"


Here we are, walking from the welcome center towards the amusement park section of the resort, the morning clouds still low and thick. See the ski lift towers back there on the hill, and the cabins tucked under the trees?


Here's a shot of those trailside cabins taken later in the day, damn fine ski resort accommodations, if you ask me.


Morning ERT included Rusutsu's star attraction, Togo's ultra-awesome dive loop Ultra Twister.


Dudes. Seriously. Let's save this for the end, but seriously. Dudes. Wow.


Up ahead, the forward tower of Rusutsu's funky Meisho Loop the Loop coaster beckons us.


The thing that gets me jazzed for a straight-line shuttle coaster is a powered launch, be it a Schwarzkopf flywheel launch, or an Intamin Impulse LIM launch, or even Arrow's old electric winch yank. Loop the Loop, which pulls you slowly up a hill and then lets gravity do the rest of the work, is fun enough. But I was perfectly happy with a single ride. (Check out the verdant majesty in the background.)


I enjoyed its gradually curving rear tower, a novelty to me.


And I liked it enough to take several pictures of it, so here's one more.


And one more because red lightning bolts.


Right after the Loop the Loop, most everyone moved on over to Hurricane, Rusutsu's SLC. I'd made a personal vow to stay off these accursed things for good, but this was the only SLC on the trip, and how often would I get the chance to ride an SLC in Japan?


And maybe, just maybe, an SLC in Japan would somehow be less horrendous than an SLC almost anywhere else, which is the logic of a madman, but guess what?


It was less horrendous!


I will be the first to admit that Japan clouds my attempts at dispassionate observation. Still, I'm almost positive that Hurricane was indeed acceptable. I did not press my luck and ride it a second time.

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We cooled down for a bit on this little train. Smiles all around...


...except for Cary. Why is Cary sad? Because the train cars were a tight squeeze for taller guests and...


...because he knows we're going to ride the Corkscrew next. Yes, there's a real Arrow Corkscrew here, and it turns out this model was Japan's first Arrow Corkscrew, which opened in 1977 at Yatsu Yuenchi, a now-closed park in the Chiba Prefecture. It moved to Rusutsu in 1982. And it's kind of rough. But we got through it in one piece.


Rusutsu's Mirror House is okay for a chuckle, nothing extraordinary, especially in comparison to Greenland's presto-chango mirror house.


I can't remember the last time I saw one of these swing-cage deals. It must have been at a schoolyard carnival decades ago. In my opinion, they start to cross the line between "ride" and "gymnasium equipment," too much personal effort required. So I watched as Cary, Anth, Steve and Priss hopped on. Cary got way up there; I was impressed.


If you're into classic flats, Rusutsu has you covered. As far as I'm concerned, these Rok N Rol contraptions are one step up from waterboarding, but the rest of my group was eager to rok out.


So they did while I enjoyed wearing a shirt not covered in my own sick.


A Wave Swinger I can always handle.


Ditto for S&S towers, love 'em.


Until this trip, I avoided Top Spins like the plague, but for some reason I allowed Steve to talk me into riding Top Gun. I must say I enjoyed it, as super-intense as it was. Steve said it ran one of the wilder ride programs he'd experienced. Top Spins are now a slowly growing list of "whirl and hurl" flat rides I will tackle under the right circumstances.


Looking back, I'm almost sure I wouldn't have had any issues with this Swing Around, but I chose not to partake.


I never quite know with rides like these... the ones that perform a single maneuver, over and over and over and over and over and over. I tend to need a lot of variety of motion to keep me from feeling ill. On the other hand, Swing Arounds do look gentle.


Inside an arcade building, you'll find a few small attractions (miniscule, really) like the 3D audio headphone Murder Lodge. Not bad, but there's a much better scare attraction outside, which we'll get to shortly.


Wildriver is a simulator ride you could fit into your living room. (There are a whole mess of these things at Joyopolis.)


Hey, guys... Guys, GUYS! Indoor voices. You rule the earth, we get it. Relax.


Is there an arcade in Japan without at least one of these photo booths? If so, we did not find it.


I'm having trouble writing an inoffensive caption for this photo, so I'm giving up.


Same for this one.


Cary drives the bus like a big boy!


The joyful incorrectness of Safari is what made it one of my favorite attractions at Rusutsu. Climb into a jeep, drive around, aim your gun, and "kill" as many animals as you can. I mean, they even put a bald eagle on the sign. Priceless.


Squirrel, bear, monkey, moose, who cares what it is, KABLAMO, right between the eyes! The ride has barely begun and Cary's already got something in his sights.


("Pacific Ocean Park," the recently published book by Chris Merritt and Domenic Priore, has a black and white photo of that long-lost park's "Jeep" dark ride, similar in concept to this outdoor attraction and I only bring this up because it's such a fantastic piece of work. If you are into amusement park history, I urge you to get your hands on a copy.)


This is Rusutsu's Haunted House walk-through and it is nice and dark, literally and figuratively.


The story seems to involve a girl possessed by some evil spirit, perhaps The Devil himself? There is unmistakably Christian symbolism present here, so I'm fairly sure that's the case, but not 100%.


This was another time I really wished I'd been literate enough in Japanese to figure out how all these details fit together, like "my secret Collection," what the hell is that, and "my friends," are they dolls that are also possessed? Clearly there's a rich narrative which I did not begin to understand. But this spook house still rocked; the "money shot" room in particular was swell.

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I'd begun losing my enthusiasm for stand-up coasters long before riding Six Flags Great America's Iron Wolf, but that dung heap was the last straw. (I suffered through Iron Wolf in 2011, not long before they shipped it off to Maryland, changing its colors and calling it something else, hoping we'd all simply move on and forget what Iron Wolf had done to us, but we didn't forget AND WE NEVER WILL, DAMN YOU!) Riddler's Revenge and Georgia Scorcher, they're not on my Naughty List. Yet. But the rest can sod off.


Given the luck we were having throughout Japan, though, I decided to throw caution to the wind once again and ride Togo's single-inversion Standing Coaster. I did think it was cool that the lift hill threaded the loop, especially since its inversion is significantly shorter than the 124-footer that Riddler climbs through.


I can't tell you that this ride made me love stand-up coasters as much as I used to, but it certainly didn't make me want to throw a puppy into a blender, like Iron Wolf did THAT'S RIGHT, "APOCALYPSE," YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? I DIDN'T THINK SO, BITCH.


Standing Coaster was all right, so way to go, Togo!


This is Rusutsu's Mad Mouse, which is a wee bit confusing because there is another roller coaster here that is closer to what we Americans think of when we hear "mad mouse." Regardless, Mad Mouse is a fun, herky-jerky little ride made by a company called Saeki, whom I'd never heard of before.


That vehicle sure looks like some kind of mine car, right? So, yeah, "Mad Mouse" is odd. And two chains to carry these little things up a hill so short seems kind of over-engineered, but what do I know? Konnichiwa, ladies!


"Hello, United? Hi, what's the airfare for the next available flight from LAX to Tokyo? No, not round-trip, just one way... Sure, I'll hold, thanks."


This is the coaster that's much more mouse-like, and it's called Go Go Sneaker...


...for obvious reasons.


Those adorable cars are the most remarkable thing about Go Go Sneaker, but if you like wild mice, you'll like this ride, another fine Togo attraction.


So if you're keeping score, that's two Togo coasters in one park, so far, and both of them are totally decent. That already makes Rusutsu an unrivaled experience for me.


Moving back up the thrill scale a hair is the park's Mountain Coaster, a jet coaster from Meisho. It's very much what I had come to expect from jet coasters: a fairly long ride; some hills, none steeper than my driveway; some wide, flat turns; a minor bunny hop or two.


These are rides designed to offend no one, which is fine. As I've probably said before, they are excellent "big" starter coasters.


And Rusutsu's Mountain Coaster runs through the park's exceptional landscape, so that's a plus.


It's not butter-smooth, but it's okay. Until that one turn, right near the end. You'll know the one. They have to do something about that turn. It'll wake you right up, that turn. And not in a good way.


Mountain Coaster wraps around the Skid Racing go-kart tracks and that name led me to assume there would be much Tokyo Drifting. I erred in that assumption. Go-karts are never a waste of time, though, no sir.


Speaking of mountains, let's head up to the top of West Mountain. This is a shot looking back at the Rusutsu Tower Hotel, still very close to the bottom.


There's Ultra Twister, and Mountain Coaster, and a little bit of Standing Coaster. And a lot of trees.


Now we're at some altitude. What a view.


See what a beautiful place this is? See?




I don't know how many feet up we go.


But it's at least 100 feet. Maybe more than that.


Yeah, no, it's way more than 100 feet. Way. And we're just about there.


Now we're off the tram at the top and looking towards Mt. Yotei, an active stratovolcano that is known as "Hokkaido's Mt. Fuji." Awesome.


The Zen serenity up here is strong.

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According to Feng Shui (I'm no expert, I just googled it), mountaintops are "power spots," and this is the Bell of Happiness at Rusutsu's Power Spot.


You are to ring the Bell of Happiness for good fortune and such. I rang it and it totally worked because a few days later I was in Tokyo DisneySea and that is some good fortune, yo.


A whole bunch of us spent a lot of time up here, walking around, soaking it all in.


"Hi, yes, I'm still on the line... Wow. That much. Well, what if I packed myself into a pet carrier and rode in the cargo hold?"


So awesome.


Here's a shot looking in the other direction. Not quite as bucolic, but still tremendously awesome.


Note to self: "Purchase third home in Rusutsu with lottery winnings. Also, play lottery."


It was not easy to get back on the tram to the bottom. I could've stayed up there all evening.


It's tricky to spot in this photo, but there's this ride called the Heartbeat, or Heartbreak, or Heartburn, Heart-something or other, to the left of the the rainbow-colored Ferris wheel. Look for the white six-pointed star, anyway, it's a Togo flat ride and it is wicked.


After we arrived back at the base of the mountain, Cary, Anth and I walked back to the main building and got something to eat.


We were serenaded by "Daniel and the Dixie Diggers," a robot critter show that lies on the quality scale somewhere between Chuck E. Cheese and The Country Bear Jamboree (a lot closer to the former than the latter, but hey, animatronics rule).


After eating, we met back up with Steve and Priss and took much delight in this inclined moving walkway. It glides you up a hill to a plateau where the Ferris wheel, a first-gen Intamin Freefall, and this Togo Heartworm thing is.


You know the famous carny Paratrooper ride, right? Take one of those, remove the fiberglass canopies over the hanging passenger seats, crank up the RPM, and you get this wild flat ride, which may be called "Wind Storm," now that I've done a bit more research into the matter.


In this second shot, where they've really got it going, you can see how the swings get so close to fully inverting at the top of the orbit. Far more intense than a Paratrooper, and significantly more fun, too, this should be a high priority for any spin and spew fan who visits Rusutsu. A real surprise.


And now, ladies and gentlemen, we come at last to Rusutsu's most infamous attraction, a roller coaster so deviant it is banned in 97 countries, the one and only: dive loop Ultra Twister.


In Latin America, they call Rusutsu's Ultra Twister "Acero del Diablo." Throughout Northern Europe, mothers warn their children that "Dive Loop Ultra Twister eats bad little boys and girls for supper."


When they finished building the dive loop Ultra Twister, they blinded the engineer, burned the blueprints, and fed the ashes to a goat. And then killed the goat.


The point I'm trying to make is that Rusutsu's Ultra Twister is speed metal-anarcho-grindcore that will melt your face.


The preamble to our total subjugation is that grim crawl straight up the lift tower's esophagus.


Once we're barfed out the top, we hit the brakes only 20 seconds later.


But those 20 seconds... they left me – and will no doubt leave you – changed forever.


The power dive on the other side of the tower gets us rolling heavy...


...and we tear right over this speed bump of a hill. Good stuff, but nothing to distress a seasoned roller coaster enthusiast.


On the far side of that speed bump, we get whipped through the first heartline roll, just like we did at Nagashima Spa Land.


But rather than make a small jump onto a dead-end platform – where we can sit for a spell, shoot the breeze, have a smoke, whatever – we roar up a larger incline and rotate 180 degrees.


The face melting begins here.


Diving down, accelerating hard, we level off and blast forward like a bullet shot through a rifled gun barrel, spiraling madly again and again.


Behold the melting of faces.


Before it was time to leave, most everyone grabbed one or two more rides on this Togo masterpiece (two words I do not use in sequence very often).


Whatever you need to do to get to Rusutsu so you can experience this Ultra Twister, do it. Do it soon. Do it today.


It completely destroys.


Every time I think of Rusutsu, and the Togo magic therein, I am happy. Very happy.


To be continued.

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Rusutsu Resort had a spectacular setting, and I enjoyed out day there immensely. I really liked Ultra Twister, although you may not think that from the photos of me posted in this TR.

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Rusutsu Resort had a spectacular setting, and I enjoyed out day there immensely. I really liked Ultra Twister, although you may not think that from the photos of me posted in this TR.


Yeah, it's that kind of ride, intimidating and awesome and terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.


Effing Japan...I miss it!


Seconded times infinity! I'm realizing that one of the reasons I'm taking so long getting these trip reports done is that I don't want to finish doing them. It's like when they're done, the trip will be coming to an end all over again.



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