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Photo TR: Aaron's World Tour of Japan!


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Universal Studios Japan

Like Universal Singapore, Universal Studios Japan takes the best rides from the California and Florida parks, and makes them even better. It was one of my most anticipated parks for this trip, and I was excited to experience some "classic" Universal attractions I hadn't had the chance to see at any of the other parks - Back to the Future and Jaws. Both rides are definitely a product of their time, but neither disappointed.

 

Harry Potter Japan is almost exactly the same as its counterpart in Orlando, minus a pair of dueling coasters. Some elements are a little improved, with a more immersive entry and 4K 3D projections on the ride. When I rode Forbidden Journey in Orlando I felt that the transitions between the physical sets and the screens were pretty poor. The upgraded screens are definitely an improvement but the best part of that attraction is still the queue. Despite us visiting on an off-peak Tuesday the place was packed, and this was particularly evident around the lockers, which were jammed full of people with a handful of poor cast members doing their best to manage the traffic flow. The park needs to sort this out pretty soon as the crowd crush is a safety concern as well as poor guest experience.

 

Elsewhere in the park, Space Fantasy is the best ride you've probably never heard of. It's hard to describe - basically an indoor spinning coaster dark ride loosely based around the big bang. It is spectacular, no POV video can possibly do the ride justice, so I recommend just going and riding it!

 

We checked out a couple of the shows as well - Monster Rock and Waterworld. Waterworld is exactly what you'd get in LA or Singapore, except in Japanese (not a barrier to enjoying the explosions). Monster Rock is similar to the Beetlejuice show that was (until recently) in Orlando, in a big airconditioned theatre. Both shows were great and, as seems to be standard at Asian parks, extremely popular.

 

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The day started at Japanese Citywalk, which was very similar to all the others. Hard Rock Cafe? Check. Pop culture store? Check. King Kong hanging off a building? He's there too.

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I think we might have arrived.

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They have a globe, of course.

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Hang out with Nolan and you'll see a lot of this.

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They took one look at AJ and sent us to the "Special Entry".

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Definitely a Universal main street!

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First stop was a credit - Snoopy! We're in a movie park, so this is themed to Snoopy filming a race.

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No amount of psychiatric treatment could help James. I blame the hat.

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Universal Japan has the Sesame Street license too. And Hello Kitty. I think they've just picked up everything that isn't owned by Disney already.

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Definitely aimed at the younger set, although that flume ride looks fun.

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Jeff decided to try the slide instead, and failed.

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James showed us all how it's done, right before the attendant suggested we should go visit some more "adult" attractions.

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Having never had the chance to ride Jaws, I was keen to check this one out.

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The cruise sounded delightful.

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The shark photo op was very crowded so I took this picture instead.

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For 400 yen, a shark-resistant poncho can be yours!

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The tour guides were great, I assume. Did not understand a word but it was all very enthusiastically delivered.

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I grabbed this just before the "no camera" announcement was made. I liked Jaws quite a bit, the ride actually does a really good job of recreating the tension from the film - certainly much more so than the equivalent section of the Studio Tour in Hollywood.

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Jurassic Park area was closed so they can build the new B&M flyer. I'd done the ride at three other parks so wasn't too concerned about missing this one.

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Space Fantasy was brilliant. Excellent ride, very well themed and because it's a spinner every time you rode you got to see different things. I can't imagine Universal ever bringing this kind of ride to the US - it's probably too abstract - but that just makes for a good reason to visit Osaka!

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Space Fantasy: The Fountain.

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Our timed entry passes to Harry Potter world were ready, so it was time to go get a dose of fan service.

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Unlike Islands of Adventure, in Japan Hogsmeade is completely separate from the rest of the park, so guests walk through a forest to get there. This definitely adds to the immersion. In LA you'll probably be able to see Burbank airport from the Three Broomsticks.

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Like most British forests, someone had dumped an old car there.

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We arrived to find a very busy Hogsmeade village.

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So just like Orlando, but everyone is Japanese. The sense of immersion is excellent, right down to the overcast skies.

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Lots of little details for fans of the movies and books.

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The bullfrog choir made for an entertaining show. It was even in English!

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Very impressive castle, housing a great queue and underwhelming ride.

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(audible gasp)

Fortunately with our express passes the wait was closer to 20 minutes.

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They have a Hippogriff coaster too. This had a ninety minute wait, if you can believe that, although once again we had express access.

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Japan is humid, so air conditioning was a tempting offer.

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As was this show. Format was pretty simple, six monsters, each one gets a song, which they sang in English. Mercifully Beetlejuice's tedious dialogue was in Japanese.

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Next up was Waterworld, one of the best theme park shows anywhere!

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The cast did an excellent job getting the crowd pumped for the show.

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Japanese Waterworld is very similar to its other incarnations, and still much better than the movie.

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I could probably stick photos from Singapore in here and nobody would know. But this is definitely Japan.

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Her dialogue was dubbed, but I'm OK with that.

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The crowd absolutely loved Waterworld, you could tell a lot of guests were (multiple) repeat visitors, anticipating all of the big moments.

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The money shot. Of course.

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Explosions!

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Fire!

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Explosions and fire!

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After all of the excitement of Waterworld we calmed down by wandering the New York backlot. This is basically identical to Orlando.

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Although I don't know if they have the cigar store.

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Especially not a cigar store Indian. Jeff is saluting to show he's not racist, I guess?

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Mel's Drive-In makes an appearance too.

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Another long-lost Universal attraction - Backdraft! I hadn't seen this before either, it was great!

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Behind the Minion Mart lies my #1 anticipated attraction at this park.

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Back to the Future!

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I am a big Back to the Future fan, so was very excited to get the chance to ride this at least once. It's definitely a little dated, which is to be expected. I found out that the whole ride sequence was filmed on a miniature model - in my mind, that's far more impressive than just doing it with computers!

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Next up, the Amazing Hot Dogs ride!

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Oh wait, it's Spider-man. Like its Orlando counterpart, this one recent received a 4K upgrade, and is also excellent.

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I'm sure all of us, at one time or another, have wanted to look more gorgeous and fancy.

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Jon considers the possibilities of this item.

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And James has swapped his ridiculous hat for a classy Elmo headband. That's a wrap (sorry) from Universal, next update will be the Wonderful World of Fuji-Q!

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Fuji-Q Highland

Having heard all of the horror stories about Fuji-Q, I weighed them up against the rides on offer and decided to chance it with a visit. I went to this park expecting the worst - two hour queues, rides closing unexpectedly, painfully slow operations and overall, a lot of drama just to experience a handful of rides. In the end, we got very lucky. The weather was great, crowds were light and with some solid advice from Robb and Elissa, we even managed to get all of the credits in.

 

That said frankly everything was still more drama than it needed to be. The park's nonsensical loose item policy (take off your watch, put it in a locker, put this key around your wrist which is looser than your watch) makes coaster dispatches few and far between. What would otherwise be a 20 minute wait at most parks takes an hour at Fuji-Q. The Japanese might be renowned for efficiency but it definitely doesn't extend to this park. Basically, we got everything done but it's not hard to see they would end up with crazy lines on an "ordinary" day.

 

That said, the rides were, for the most part, worth going out of the way for. Takabisha is the best Eurofighter I've been on, a delightful mess of inversions and twists. Dodonpa's launch and insane top hat airtime are unlike anything else, and along with having the most inversions, Eejanaika probably has the record for the most number of "holy crap" moments of any rollercoaster. Fujiyama is 80% fun, 20% painful trick-track.

 

Aside from the coasters we also rode the park's newest addition, Fuji-Q Airways. This is basically Soarin' Over California, but in Japan, and just different enough so as not to attract a patent infringement. Sometimes these simulators in smaller parks end up with a terrible ride film (like, say, Europe in the Air) but Fuji-Q Airways was quite well done, and wouldn't be out of place at Epcot (if they didn't already have the a very similar ride, of course!).

 

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After an early start and a long bus ride, we had arrived at the park. They're currently building some kind of French-themed entry mall/plaza, what was there so far looked quite good.

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The actual park entrance was less impressive, but crowds looked light.

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After bracing himself for these rides to close at the slightest hint of rain, James is glad to see mostly clear skies!

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We ran straight to Dodonpa, and luckily only had a 20 minute wait to ride. No longer the fastest coaster, but still the fastest launch.

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Apparently undressing while on the ride is frowned upon. I'm almost surprised they didn't make you leave your clothes in a locker too.

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Zero to 107mph in 1.8 seconds, 4.25Gs!

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It's kind of a shame the ride doesn't do more with all of that speed, but you basically launch, turn right, go up a near-vertical top hat, and back into the station. Simple but effective.

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This is where the ride tries to violently eject its passengers.

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There's more airtime on this one ride than in all of California.

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Arms up = coaster enthusiasts.

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Our next stop was Takabisha. Again, fortunately the queue wasn't too bad. By the end of the first hour we'd managed two of the park's major rides.

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Takabisha is a kilometre-long, enchanting mess of Eurofighter track.

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It currently holds the world record for the steepest drop, at 121 degrees.

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Takabisha has two "acts", with a launched section followed by a vertical lift and the big drop. I quite like rides that let you take a breath in between the thrills, makes them feel more substantial.

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With seven inversions, you spend a lot of time upside down on this ride.

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Even more upside down.

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And again.

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One more. I was having a lot of fun with the zoom lens at this park.

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Fuji-Q has denoted Fujiyama as the "King of Coasters". At three and a half minutes, it's definitely one of the longest rides out there.

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Not wanting to push our luck any further, we caved and shelled out for the front of line passes on this one. For it wasn't a bargain but I was pretty happy to skip the hour-long quiet-day line.

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Fujiyama is very big and mostly hidden behind trees and buildings. So here's a picture of the lift hill.

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For the most part, this is an excellent coaster. The speed combined with plenty of hills makes for a great ride. The final leg is a little painful though, finishing with a bouncy trick-track section.

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The gold train might be lucky but that ending is still going to hurt.

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Noticing there was no line, we stopped for the wild mouse.

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This was a pretty standard mouse, I think it might have even been a portable model? It's kind of weird to see a fairly ordinary ride like this sitting in between Fujiyama and Eejanaika.

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It had some good whip action on the corners, but not something I needed to re-ride.

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Fuji-Q Airways is a simulator where you get to fly over Mt Fuji.

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I suspect if Fuji-Q had to design a real airplane passengers might end up sitting on the wings too. So this is the "not quite Soarin'" ride system. Apart from that the ride was pretty similar, big room with a giant concave screen. As I said before, the ride itself was actually decent.

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Jeff was happy to model for this strange photo op.

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Great Fluffy Sky Adventure is a family invert. It reminded me of the Batflyer at Nasu Highland, only with a less awkward train.

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You ride in a charming cloud-shaped train.

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It was a credit and offered good views of the other coasters. I left happy.

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I think this is an ad for the flume ride. That wave is about the size of the splash it makes too.

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This lucky guy has the wave swinger all to himself.

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Kitty Power rapids ride.

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For all the negatives about the park, it does have a great setting. And a giant ferris wheel...

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...complete with a "love capsule".

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This haunt attraction consisted of sitting in the dark with headphones on. I'm sure it's great if you speak Japanese, but I didn't understand a word.

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The park's kiddie area was themed to Thomas the Tank Engine. Having grown up with the TV show, I was interested to see this.

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This area of the park was quite well done, five year old me would have loved it!

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The dark ride, based around Thomas having a birthday party, was very good. It even had a switch track and turntable, just like a real train!

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For some, Rock'n'Roll Duncan is the real highlight of Fuji-Q.

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I'd been on X2, but Eejanaika was still a little intimidating. The inversions might be controlled, but it's still one of the more extreme coasters out there.

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James has the confident pose of a man who's been on the ride before.

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The posted wait was an hour, I think we ended up waiting about two-thirds of that. Credit where it's due, the ride ops were showing some hustle on this one.

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Guinness World Records says most inversions, good enough for me.

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It's surprising anyone is actually deemed worthy to ride this thing.

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Turns out Eejanaika is fantastic, deliberately aggressive right to the end!

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The whole ride is very disorienting, to the point where it's easy to lose track of which way is up.

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The park makes you take your shoes off to ride, so a lot of people just go barefoot. Not a bad way to ride!

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It's almost a shame there aren't more of these in the world, although given the cost and troubled history that's kind of understandable.

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Like X2, inversions that don't match the track layout make the ride wonderfully unpredictable.

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In case I haven't been clear, this is a very fun coaster.

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You should go ride it. Now!

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So these signs started popping up an hour before close, so I got some bonus photography time. Overall Fuji-Q could be an awesome park if they fixed up their operations, in the meantime it's just kind of mediocre but with a few outstanding rides. Fortunately we got lucky and a had a reasonable day there. Thanks for reading - next update will cover a few small parks around Tokyo!

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Our group finished the whole park by 11, including a few flats and Thomas dark ride! Truly a great day that might happen once every few hundred years I guess! Also applause to Fuji-Q for running their flat rides at the intense mode, their HUSS frisbee is the best one I've been on despite having 3 seat belts.

 

Thank you for the Dodonpa photo!

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I feel like Fuji Q has a undisclosed minimum wait no matter when you visit. I went in a cold February when the park had quite a few more visitors by the look of this TR, and I hit mostly the same rides in the same order as you did (except I did Fujiyama at the end) and hit mostly the same queue times you did.

 

I say that because Fujiyama had a 1 hour wait for me also in the morning and like you I didn't want to push my luck (I lost my debit card in the morning so couldn't get passes like I planned, I literally only got to go to the park because of bus deal and lived off 1 bottle of water and walked back to my hotel in the night) so put it as lowest on my priorities of the roller-coasters but since the line looked half of what it had in the morning when I passed in mid-afternoon I jumped in line but still waited over an hour. Big surprise, they'd taken off the 2nd train sometime 3 hours before closing so it was only 1 train operation so I sadly missed out on Thomas Town for the evening since by the time I'd got off it had been almost 90 minutes and stuff was already closed off (like you way before closing)

 

I think in it also helped a lot of the people who went that day were young couples or groups of school girls, so the bigger coasters didn't seem to be where they went, the line for the new rapids and the Hamster coaster were huge and spilling out, your picture makes both look a lot quieter.

 

I'd forgotten that Eejenaka had got a repaint and new trains, might have to re-ride it one day since it beat me up pretty bad on my only ever 4d coaster experience even on an inside seat.

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Just catching up on your TR, great job. Makes me want to post my Japan TR (soon enough I will). I really enjoyed Fuji Q for what it was (I know we got incredibly lucky). Three of my five favorite coasters in Japan were at Fuji Q. The launch and top hat on Dodonpa were incredible, Eejanaika was smoother and even more unpredicable than X2, and Takabisha was my first Eurofighter and was great fun. I also enjoyed the new Fuji Airways, the flats ran great programs (better than Nagashima), and their rapids ride was nuts. The mountain air, surrounding views, and cooler temperature were nice to have too.

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Fuji-Q is far and away the park that most interests me in Japan, regardless of it's reputation.

 

Ditto. Sure other parks might have better operations, shorter lines and better theming, but unfortunately there's only one Dodonpa and Eejanaika and I would travel all the way to Japan just to ride them. If I'm going somewhere to look at amazing stuff I want to look at actual historical temples, artwork, and landscapes, not fake stuff at Universal.

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Fuji-Q is far and away the park that most interests me in Japan, regardless of it's reputation.

 

Ditto. Sure other parks might have better operations, shorter lines and better theming, but unfortunately there's only one Dodonpa and Eejanaika and I would travel all the way to Japan just to ride them. If I'm going somewhere to look at amazing stuff I want to look at actual historical temples, artwork, and landscapes, not fake stuff at Universal.

 

Well, good luck to you both, and better you than me.

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LaQua

On this trip we visited a bunch a small parks in the Tokyo area, over a few days, so I'm lumping them all together in one update. The first of these was LaQua, at Tokyo Dome City. This park is best known for Thunder Dolphin, an Intamin mega coaster. The ride is decent enough, but probably more remarkable for its location - on the top of a shopping mall.

 

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Starting out with a little sightseeing. This is the Metropolitan Government Building, one of Tokyo's tallest and with a free observation deck up the top.

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Tokyo's unending metropolis.

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I spy a ride!

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Judging by the giant ferris wheel, we're getting close.

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Thunder Dolphin runs around the perimeter of the park, like the Scenic Railway at Luna Park Melbourne. Unlike the Scenic Railway, Thunder Dolphin is not a century old woodie.

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In addition to the rollercoaster, LaQua has a few more flat rides across the street, a flume and a Spiderman-style motion-base dark ride in the basement. The dark ride was quite good, kind of an anime-style story about a Japanese girl saving Tokyo (I think?).

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Presumably the ride sign has a lightning bolt because thunder is hard to draw.

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So this is a good ride, but probably the least thrilling of its kind. The setting is spectacular though!

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It has some cool moments, like this headchopper, and "threading" the ferris wheel.

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And after all of the meandering jet coasters I'd been on, Thunder Dolphin's speed was very welcome.

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That girl in the third row is definitely enjoying this ride.

 

Yokohama Cosmoworld

Cosmoworld is about a one-hour train ride south of Tokyo, and is one of those parks where all of the rides are on top of each other. This park contains the iconic Diving Coaster: Vanish, which dramatically dives into an underwater tunnel. A unique flume ride ran through the park as well, which awarded riders points for screaming loud on the final drop.

 

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Once again, a big-ass ferris wheel gave a pretty good indication of where the park was.

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Here is Yokohama Cosmoworld. And yes, that is a spinning mouse on top of the building.

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Please enjoy this ride sign.

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I'm not sure what those trains are themed to but they're certainly funky.

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This coaster definitely looked better than it rode. I don't recall the ride being particuarly rough, but it just kind of average.

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This element was fun, although you don't really notice the splash effect when riding.

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I'm sure nobody has taken this photo before.

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The spinning mouse had been listed as down for maintenance, so we were pleasantly surprised to find it open.

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The group tried many different combinations of rider size and positioning to maximise the spin count.

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In the end it just came down to luck, I think.

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Across the river was one more credit, the hotly anticipated Family Banana Coaster.

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This was the first kiddie coaster I've ever been on that had seatbelt extensions for the adults!

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Cosmoworld also had a few indoor attractions, like this walkthrough game we'd first encountered at Mitsui Greenland.

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By difficult, they mean borderline impossible. Fortunately we were pros who had done this before, and still scored a trading card prize at the end.

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The flume ride was quite good, I always enjoy it when these things wind around buildings and other rides.

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Points were awarded for screaming loudly on the final drop.

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Most pairs made a decent effort.

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But Thad and Nolan gave everything.

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Letting out a violent roar...

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All the way to the end. I don't know if they ended up with the highest score, but it didn't matter. They won hearts instead.

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The final group stop was this walkthrough freezer, with models of animals and ice sculptures. Robb sent us in and then proceeded to lock the exit. I can't remember why were let out, but it did happen eventually.

 

Sea Paradise

Also in Yokohama, Sea Paradise is an aquarium complex that also happens to have a few rides. The chief draws here were the 350-foot Blue Fall drop tower, and Surf Coaster Leviathan, with a good chunk of its track sitting over Tokyo Bay.

 

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Here we are at Sea Paradise!

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Blue Fall is pretty big. That pyramid houses the park's main aquarium and amphitheatre.

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Blue Fall was pretty good, as far as drop towers go. It did give an excellent view of the surrounding area, always a plus when visiting foreign parks. I'm told that one group of seats has a slightly different drop sequence, but since it was raining we just took the one ride.

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Japanese parks don't tend to run their coasters in any sort of rain, so we were pleased to see Surf Coaster Leviathan running when we arrived.

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For a Togo this was pretty good, and definitely unique in the way it went out over the open water.

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The ride had recently received new trains without OTSRs, just lapbars. Hooray!

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There was definitely plenty on offer for those who are into helixes.

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Overall a good ride, even in the wet.

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Sea Paradise also had a ride where you can get into a boat and ride around with the dolphins. Definitely a "never in the west" attraction!

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The boats are even themed!

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On-ride photo! We saw a couple of dolphins swim past, but they seemed to only emerge from the water if you had brought food.

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Jeff gets his dolphin photo.

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Unsurprisingly, Sea Paradise had a sizeable aquarium.

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Is it just me or do all aquariums look the same?

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One of the rooms had a "show" using different coloured lights to make the fish school in different directions. The whole thing was like some kind of strange aquatic rave.

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The park's auditorium housed a number of performing animals, a maritime circus of sorts. At one time they had even managed to train a shark here!

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Seals were the clowns of the show.

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Performing beluga whales were definitely a first for me.

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Dolphins headlined, although this show involved far less trainer-dolphin intimacy than the one I'd seen at Sarkanniemi a year earlier.

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I'm always impressed that it's possible to train marine animals. I can't even get the dog to roll over.

 

Joypolis

Part of the enormous Tokyo Decks mall precinct, Joypolis is an indoor video-game theme park. Most of the park is aracde-style attractions, but even the rides had some degree of interactivity. The park's largest ride is Veil of Dark - dark ride coaster that spins, shoots and inverts. This was one of the more unique coasters I've been on, combining so many elements in one ride. Joypolis' other major ride is a sort of swinging pendulum, which involved flipping a switch with your feet to score points and spin. This required a lot of concentration, but was quite rewarding as the more accurate you were, the more intense the spinning.

 

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Tokyo Decks features some interesting architecture, including the home of Japan's Fuji TV network.

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They even have a Statue of Liberty, just like Vegas!

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This giant robot is known as a gundam. Japan are definitely ready for a Pacific Rim-type scenario I guess.

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Nolan is almost as big as the gundam!

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Joypolis occupies a few floors of the shopping mall.

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For a smaller coaster, Veil of Dark was actually pretty intense. There was a lot going on with all of the shooting and spinning.

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Most of the ride is blocked from view, but one small section runs through the main park.

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Another interesting ride. Each player is strapped to one side of a pendulum, as it swings, you have to flip a switch beneath your feet as you pass the white line. If both players are in sync, the ride will spin a lot and points are scored.

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Once the ride is in motion it looks pretty cool and it was a fun challenge. I'd love to see these show up in more parks.

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A Sega (remember them?) showroom comprised most of the arcade.

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There were quite a few of these shooting simulators, at which I am terrible.

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This ride was particularly cool, a racing game but with 360-degree flips. When the car on screen went upside down, so did you!

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A projection-mapped stage show rounded out Joypolis' offering. I wasn't familiar with the characters but it seemed quite popular.

 

Hanayashiki

Rounding out this part of the report is Hanyashiki, a very small park near the Tokyo Skytree. Jeff and I visited this one at the very end of the trip, as the park's rollercoaster had only just reopened after a lengthy rehab. The park kind of seemed like someone had added rides to a block of flats and built a garden in the middle. But a credit is a credit, so we grabbed a book of tickets and went to explore.

 

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The journey to Hanayashiki started in the Akhihabara district, a gaming and anime hub.

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The shops here had some very interesting stuff on offer. Anyone need a Nintendo 64?

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Or perhaps some decorations for your home?

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The weather wasn't too bad (it's almost permanently cloudy in Tokyo during June) so we decided to "get some culture" and walk from Akihabara to the park. This turned out to be a lot further than expected, but we definitely say some interesting stuff along the way.

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We even passed through the "restaurant supply" district, which had entire shops devoted to knives, or signage, or plastic dispay food.

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Thanks to the swing ride Hanayashiki is easy enough to spot. The entrance, however, was not.

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This might be the world's most adorable van.

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Finally found the park and took a picture of the garden to prove it. A few parks in Japan seemed somewhat "homemade", but Hanayashiki most of all.

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I don't know if this is a garden or these plants are for sale. Probably both.

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Ignore the charming swan ride, I spy coaster track!

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The aptly named "Roller Coaster" runs around the edge of the park. This is where any similarities with Thunder Dolphin end.

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Roller Coaster is Japan's oldest, uh, rollercoaster. It's been there for 60 years, and you can tell - definitely more of a steel scenic railway than a thrill ride.

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Hidden away in a corridor was an excellent haunt walkthrough. There were no live actors but this had some great jump scares and clever effects. So for this alone the park was worth visiting. Thanks for reading, next update will be from Tokyo Disney!

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Those three small parks were insanely fun! I think even Universal can learn from Cosmoworld's very well-done haunted walk-through with crazy animatronics. Blue Fall and Surf Coaster did not disappoint! Ocean Sun Fish is definitely one of the ugliest animals, Veil of Dark is something you've been looking forward to for so long and still got amazed by. Oh and the fish market!

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Disneyland

Time to take a look at one of the world's best parks, Disneyland Tokyo! I'm not much of "Disney person", but I'm definitely a big fan of their theme parks. Having previously been to the Disney parks in Hong Kong, Anaheim and Orlando, this one was set to be a highlight of my time in Japan.

 

So Disneyland Tokyo is quite similar to Orlando's Magic Kingdom, with its big wide walkways and sprawling layout. Almost every ride the two parks share in common (Pirates, Jungle Cruise) has been improved in some way, while others (Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc) are different entirely. Having heard about the popularity of this park I was a little nervous about the crowds, but wait times were pretty manageable providing you used fastpass efficiently.

 

Pooh's Hunny Hunt was my most anticipated "new" ride in this park, and it didn't disappoint. The Japanese version of this makes the equivalents in the US and Hong Kong look pretty poor by comparison. I rode Mystic Manor last year and felt that while it was a good ride, the trackless tech wasn't used to its full potential. That certainly wasn't the case on Hunny Hunt, where the vehicle paths seem genuinely unpredictable. This ride definitely represents DIsney at its best.

 

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Being theme park pros we arrived well ahead of opening, and the locals were savvy enough to do the same. This looks like a long line but everyone got in quickly.

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There's no train station at the front of Tokyo Disneyland, instead you enter the Main St "arcade". Also note the complete absence of electric scooters, or strollers carrying eight year olds.

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The whole area is covered to account for Tokyo's often wet weather. We were extremely lucky and had almost four days of clear skies this time around.

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First stop is fastpass (of course!). Monsters and Pooh run out the quickest, we decided Pooh would probably be worth a standby wait (it was) so went with Monsters instead.

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Space Mountain was in rehab mode, fortunately we'd already visited at the start of the trip, before it was closed. This version is quite similar to the Hong Kong/Disneyland Space Mountains.

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Star Tours is always fun, especially in Japanese. This one never had much of a wait so we rode it a few times, still never got that Death Star ending though...

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Don't think a dessert can qualify as "adorable"? Try these little green men dumplings!

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The Monsters Inc dark ride is certainly well ahead of the one in California. The deal is that you shine a flashlight at Monsters and they react, which I thought was a cool way of adding interactivity without bothering with point-scoring.

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The queue room is quite impressive, too!

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So Fantasyland is almost exactly the same as Florida, except with Disneyland's Snow White and Pinocchio rides thrown in. They might be low-tech, but I always enjoy the classic Disney dark rides.

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Inside the castle was an art display, followed by this room which looks like it was designed for a princess meet-and-greet. But today they were just letting you take photos on this chair.

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One group member likes Small World so much that we rode four times. It's not any better in Japanese, in case you're wondering.

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As I mentioned, Pooh's Hunny Hunt is a great ride. It uses the trackless technology really well, especially in the "dream" room. I am kind of surprised this hasn't made its way to the other Disney parks, as its far better than the dark rides found elsewhere.

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The queue is also impressively detailed. They were doing this 15 years before new Fantasyland arrived in Orlando!

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More queue. Despite this being one of the most popular rides in the park we managed to ride it a few times in a row with 5 minute waits!

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Jungle Cruise had recently received an upgrade, with new special effects added.

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The spiel was, not surprisingly, in Japanese. I wonder if the backside of water got a mention?

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The queue jokes were still in English though, corny as ever.

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Rather than running around the perimeter of the park, the railroad here does a lap of one side, with just a single station. The dinosaurs are still in there, though.

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Being neither a Stitch nor Tiki Room fan, I wasn't really that excited for this attraction. But it was actually quite good, and the most I've enjoyed the singing animatronic birds to date.

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Haven't had a picture of Jeff with a bear for a while, here's another one.

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Speaking of bears, the vacation version of the Country Bear Jamboree was presented here. This wasn't bad, and I would recommend solely for Trixie's Japanese rendition of "Achy Breaky Heart". Hilarious.

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For lunch we decided to try the Blue Bayou. This is essentially the same as the on in Anaheim, and on this occasion we scored the coveted "bayou-adjacent" seating.

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Selfies ensued. The food here was excellent, and it was fun to watch the ride as we dined. Pirates in Tokyo is most similar to the one at Disneyland, with a slightly shorter "caves" section. Jack Sparrow was absent from this one, which is either a plus or minus, depending on your point of view.

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Big Thunder Mountain is just like Orlando's version, and very popular.

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A look back over "Westernland", as the Japanese version of Frontierland is known.

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Lines were consistently long for this one, fortunately we had fastpass this time. Waiting in line in Japan, people do seem much more patient than in Western countries though - and I don't think we encountered a single instance of anyone cutting or even trying the "catch up" to their group.

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We took the raft over to Tom Sawyer's Island. I love these Disney islands - no queues, plenty to do, a nice break from the bustle of the "mainland".

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They have a riverboat too. (I could have subbed in this photo from Orlando and nobody would know...)

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There was plenty to explore, including the fort. The cave network on the island is extensive, and it took us a while to see everything.

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Haunted Mansion was once again excellent.

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I think this must be the best looking "mansion" of them all.

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Splash Mountain is based on the Magic Kingdom version. It was also very popular, and had the longest wait of all of the attractions we visited. Worth it though, this is a great ride.

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The park had just launched some soap dispensers that squirt a Mickey-shaped foam bubble into your hand. There was even a queue to try this out!

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We found a viewing spot for the parade. It's common here for the first few rows of people to sit on the ground (most people bring blankets to sit on) so those behind can see. It was great how considerate people were in this park, I didn't experience any of the "must be first" mentality here at all!

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The Tokyo Electrical Parade is like the one in Florida, except it's been updated since the eighties.

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Pete's Dragon makes an appearance, with smoke!

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Genie's float was particularly cool.

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The whole thing was like a giant video screen, changing colours to the beat. Awesome!

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Like a Middle Eastern airline, Prince Ali (fabulous he!) had a bling-heavy float.

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The park had a short fireworks show in the evening, but the main even was the castle projection show, "Once Upon a Time". This is a spectacular display, even better than at the Magic Kingdom.

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There is a big "reserved" seating area in front of the castle, you can enter a daily fastpass-style lottery to try and secure a spot. We were unsuccessful on our first try but won tickets on the last day. Apparently this is a big deal, some locals near us were going nuts when they found out they'd scored seats.

JP_TDL_45.jpg.b04134703154e16fc1382f9b114157a9.jpg

The view from the reserved area was excellent, and the show was much better front-on. I really like how they've used lasers here to highlight the projections.

 

That's it from Tokyo Disneyland. For such an iconic park I didn't end up taking a whole lot of pictures - probably because much of it looked so similar to other Disney parks. That will not be the case for the next (and final) update from DisneySea!

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Ahhhhh gee, I miss TDL. Thanks for the reminder of all that is awesome about this park.

 

But - how much time did you invest for the parade lottery? And did they know you weren't

solo, so that if you yourself won seats, ALL of you won seats? Just curious.

 

I'm hoping to get back in a couple of years. But your TR just makes it more agonizing to

wait that long.

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