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Photo TR: Jeremy's First-Time Visit to Japan and China!


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Part 1, Tokyo Dome City and Nagashima Spa Land Click Here

Part 2, Universal Studios Japan Click Here

Part 3, Quantum of the Seas and Happy Valley Shanghai Click Here

 

Hey everyone,

 

I am an engineer at FlowRider, and I was recently assigned to work on one of our rides on the RCCL ship, Quantum of the Seas. This FlowRider Double needed some repairs, so I was set to take embark at Kochi, Japan and disembark at Shanghai, China. I had never traveled to Asia before this, so I left a couple days early to see a little bit of Japan (and ride some coasters!). My itinerary ended up being 6 days - 2 days of travel, 2 days in Japan, and 2 days on the ship.

 

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My first flight from San Diego to San Fransisco flew right over my college town, San Luis Obispo. If you look closely, you can see Morro Rock!

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I hopped on the next plane to Tokyo, I had a couple Asahi's during the 10-hour flight!

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Due to my trip being so short and because I knew I'd be doing a lot of walking/train-riding, I packed up my clothes and construction supplies in only this backpack.

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After finding a bus into downtown (too late for the trains), I found the Tokyo Dome Hotel!

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The hotel is very tall - My room was on the 9th floor

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I lucked out by waking up with this awesome view. The room was excellent for only $100.

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I LOVED the amazing city setting of Thunder Dolphin

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I got on the first ride of the day

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Backseat was a lot of fun. Two spots of floater air, nothing too crazy.

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The amazing view and unique interactions with the other buildings make this coaster really special

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Due to my limited time, I decided to leave Tokyo early to get some rides at Nagashima. The subway system is quite easy to navigate

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From the Tokyo station, I got myself a Shinkansen ticket to Nagoya

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This thing looks like some futuristic anime train, SO AWESOME!

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Speaking of anime, I could really see Miyazaki's inspiration from the train. It looked straight out of a Ghibli movie setting.

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From Nagoya, I found an hour-long bus that went straight to where I was headed. What do I see that in the distance?

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Ah yes, if it isn't the LONGEST coaster in the world! I made it - And in only 2.5 hours from downtown Tokyo.

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The park was open until 5pm, so I had about 3 hours to check it out - Challenge accepted! I had no idea what crowds were like and was expecting to get maybe 4 or 5 coasters, better than none

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While entering the park, Steel Dragon 2000 seriously dominates you - even the second, 252-ft hill looks menacing.

 

Steel Dragon was closed upon entering the park, but I was told to expect a 2:30pm opening, how strange. I walked next door for a ride on Ultra Twister first. I rode in the front and it was surprisingly awesome - Especially the drop and airtime hill!

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Next, I headed over to Acrobat to brave the longest line of the day, 90-minutes. On second thought, I utilized the one-use line-skip pass for ¥500 (~$5).

 

This coaster is an exact clone of Manta at SWO. Nagashima built a great setting for this coaster, but it's not quite as immersive at SWO. It was still very fun, I had a great ride!

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COOL! Steel Dragon opened!

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This coaster is seriously a beauty. Purely massive in every sense of the word

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I was happy to be able to ride in new, comfy B&M trains

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I rode in the back seat! Wise choice, I think.

 

Another note - This is a huge credit milestone for me, #420. YAAA BOIII!

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This was the final Giga coaster for me to ride, and although not as good as the other 4 it's still excellent!

 

The first two-hills had floater air, but were very fast! The next section was a series of fairly intense helices. This "turn-around" section felt like it was so geographically far from where the station sits. From the MCBR to the end consisted of no less than 7 spots of airtime - All of which were strong floater. It was awesome and went on seemingly forever!

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This Looping Star was great in the front! Classic Schwarzkopf fun!

 

The shuttle loop was closed all day - bummer. But I've been on two of the same model elsewhere, no biggie!

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With a little over an hour until closing, I made the scramble to the rest of the credits.

 

Next, I made my way back to the massive, White Cyclone

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It's a very pretty coaster. I tried both front seat and back, non-wheel.

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Outside of Acrobat, crowds were pretty non-existent. Let's just say this one is definitely a front-seat ride.

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I followed up by riding the Tivoli and then this old-school Togo Jet Coaster - My first Jet Coaster, woohoo! Actually very smooth, and in a small forest

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Not pictured: I rode the Arrow Corkscrew, and one side of the dueling Wild Mice! I ended up riding all operating coasters 9 out of the 11 they had.

 

Steel Dragon had closed again by the time I made it back around, so no re-rides for me. I think it was open for about 45 minutes while I was there. I was just happy to have ridden it at all!

 

So with a little time left, I had to hit up the old-school, first-gen Intamin freefall! It was awesome!

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Another ferris wheel, this one was gigantic.

 

Overall, I thought Nagashima Spa Land was an excellent park, a great set of coasters, good operations, and a beautiful setting! I love the ocean view from Steel Dragon and White Cyclone. I look forward to spending more time here on a fully-dedicated Japan trip!

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Oh, and here is a construction update on Arachi, the new S&S Free Spin opening in 2017. They have a bit of vertical construction with a ton of track in the parking lot.

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I made it back to Nagoya! The city was very pretty when I walked around a bit.

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I proceeded to take the train down to Osaka in preparation for the next day's park. Here is yet another ferris wheel I saw from my hotel.

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I was starting to feel the charm of Japan - The culture here is so idyllic. They give you little sandals to walk on the bamboo floor! This hotel didn't have beds, just comfy sleeping pads, very neat!

 

Next up, Universal Studios Japan!

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For my second full day in Japan, I found myself in Osaka. My plan was to get to Kochi that night to start work on the cruise ship the next morning. I had plenty of time to spend at Universal, it was a Friday so I didn't expect crowds to be impossible. I still splurged for an "Express-4" pass that let me skip the lines on 4 rides. The pass paired with me being a single-rider led to a totally manageable day at the park, despite mid-to-heavy crowds.

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The Universal Hotel Gloire had an excellent view from both sides. This was out one window.

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And this was out the front. I love the smell of fresh B&M in the morning!

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I got to the park early and there was already lots of people lined up - Very politely, mind you!

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The way Hollywood Dream interacts with the entrance is really cool! I really wish USH could build a small coaster with almost no footprint in their upper lot, like this one.

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Watching it test, I felt the urge to come here first while there was no wait! I love when parks open up at 8am, and not 10:30 like a lot of US parks.

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Holy crap! I'm surprised by how much I liked this coaster!

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They fit in a surprising amount of airtime for such a tiny coaster.

 

I was able to ride Hollywood Dream 3 times, twice in the back, and once in row 2. (I didn't ride backwards because the line was much longer - Riding backwards also doesn't do much for me.) I really liked the pacing of this one, it didn't feel as laggy as some B&M Megas can be. The hills over the park entrance didn't have much airtime, but the other hills on the run towards the helix did - And they were really fun! The helix had a lot of positives and the drop out of it had a really nice spot of airtime. Maybe I was expecting it to be really dull, but I had a ton of fun on it!

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This little drop in the back had a great pop - My favorite part of the ride!

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Time to work my way around the park. I do like the stacked B&M mega track through the main midway.

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This is different than the two other WWoHP's! This walk back to Hogsmeade definitely creates a more immersed atmosphere, especially compared to USH. It is a bit of a hike though.

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Probably my favorite thing about Harry Potter is the butterbeer! I really sets the mood for me

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I'm 3/3 on these rides - Still a fantastic dark ride, even in Japanese! The story-line is a bit of a jumble, but the mix of digital and physical effects is amazing

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Can't forget about the roller skater!

 

I also rode the Snoopy roller skater. It's built by Senyo Kogyo, but it has a Vekoma 207m layout...?

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Next, I made my way back to the brand new, bad-ass, B&M Flyer

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Flying Dinosaur! Uh oh, 180 min wait. Good thing I have Express!

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Couple minutes later, I'm here. Woah, this station puts me right in the movies!

 

I admittedly am not the biggest fan of B&M Flyers - I find the forces can sometimes be un-enjoyable or uncomfortable. I'd previously been on all the US flyers and found my favorite to be Manta (and now Acrobat) closely followed by Tatsu - But they still didn't overly impress me in general. Anyway, I went in with reservations based on previous experience, but HOLY SHIT, I was BLOWN AWAY by this thing!

 

I was able to ride this coaster twice, row 5 and row 6. The first drop is unlike any flyer I'd previously ridden, the steepness achieved basically forces you into a handstand, and it felt awesome to have a normal pullout after that, it's like a flyer's version of airtime. You are flying right over the heads of the guests below, the path interaction on this ride brings it to a whole new level! Next, the floaty 540 roll twists you into the air, seemingly forever. You end up on your back, but without the crazy pressure that some pretzel loops sustain. You pull up in a half loop where you look out over the the Jurassic Park ride and area of the park - Quite a view! After a brief glide over another path, you are banked right into a compact pretzel loop that dives into a tunnel under a path. The exit of the pretzel loop is much cooler than any other flyer due to it having a straight drop completely to the ground. You get weird flyer "airtime" here, just like on the drop. Next you go into a speed hill of sorts, again with the pseudo-airtime, before an awesome fly-over-the-lake turn. The next big corkscrew reminds me of the one on Manta right before the MCBR. The coaster ends with an awesome finale of the most forceful flyer helix I've felt and a quick in-line twist.

 

This coaster has excellent pacing/speed, feels more complete, and is more balanced than any other flyer I've ridden. One of my favorite B&M's of the '10's for sure!

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The interactions with the Jurassic Park area feel so natural. This towering B&M feels like it belongs here... cough.SilverBullet.cough...

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Seriously, just look at this!

 

It made its way into my top-25 steel, previously unheard of for a flyer!

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I couldn't leave without riding the other Jurassic Park ride. Always a great, fun drop!

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I also got this snack - Dinosaur Wings! Check out the box, I found them both hilarious and delicious!

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I missed Jaws at USF, so I couldn't miss riding it here

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Here's my daily selfie, I was having a lot of fun!

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Even though I couldn't understand a word, the skippers were hilarious. Park guests loved this attraction!

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My final credit of the day, Space Fantasy. I've looking forward to this mysterious coaster for a while.

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Holy crap, the queue is amazing! The lighting effects were so well done.

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The continuous loading is always a great idea.

 

This coaster surprised me. I had no real idea what it was, but I knew it wasn't very big. I won't give away the amazing finale, but I will say that there's three lifts, and the ride can get quite forceful at times! There's a story-line that I couldn't follow, but the whole thing is amazing - There's fairies, planets, asteroids, and stars! This coaster is up there with my favorite family coasters (Manta @ SWSD, Expedition Everest, Space Mountain).

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I took a spin on Spider-man. Just as good as the IoA version, just Japanese - Great ride!

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Here's a picture from my second ride on Flying Dinosaur. I'm seriously floored by this coaster.

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I took a last ride on Hollywood Dream before I made my way down to Kochi. This helix has got some force to it!

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Here's another random ferris wheel on top of a building. Japan loves their ferris wheels!

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I took the Shinkansen from Osaka to Okayama and then this train from Okayama to Kochi. It took 2.5 hours, but it was a comfortable ride. When people say how easy it is to get around Japan by train, they aren't lying!

 

Next up, Quantum of the Seas and Happy Valley Shanghai!

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This is such a fantastic trip report Jeremy! Thank you for sharing this with us (and for helping to keep the Flowriders so awesome onboard the ships--I'll be enjoying the one on the Independence of the Seas in about a month)!

 

Thanks for the encouragement! I hope you have fun on our Independence ride - I'm typically designing the rides on my computer in the office, so it was awesome to go on site for a little bit!

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^^ Thanks, Elissa!

 

My plan at this point was to complete some repairs onboard Quantum for the next few days before arriving in Shanghai. I had 11 hours between docking and my flight departing from Pudong airport (under the 24-hour visa-free transit) to explore Shanghai a little bit. Although Shanghai Disneyland looks incredible, the idea of rushing around with limited time (and without any company to enjoy the park with) it didn't sound ideal. Instead I chose to have a few hours at Happy Valley Shanghai! Two custom B&Ms, a Mega-lite, a Gravity Group, an Intamin Mine Train? Hell yeah! Here's how all that went:

 

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The unexpected theme of this trip ended up being "Wake up to an incredible view every morning"

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I met a colleague and we took a taxi to the cruise port. Rainy morning, but I've made it to Quantum!

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Here is the view of beautiful Kochi as we departed

 

Japanese policy (like many countries), is that once you depart on vessel you cannot return to Japan without entering a different country. That's why I was required to plan my visit to Quantum from Kochi to Shanghai vs the more preferable Hiroshima to Kochi the days before.

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It's surreal spending time on a cruise ship this big. Very cool experience

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Here's a view from the Solarium (This awesome greenhouse/multi-level pool complex)

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Here's a view of the FlowRider, which I was mostly underneath for two days! Behind you can see the iFly indoor skydiving ride, super neat!

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Other neat things onboard include this robotic bar. Chinese tourists apparently aren't too into drinking.

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This ship was built in 2014, so everything still felt brand new and beautiful. It was filled with random cool stuff like this giant bear. I forgot to take a picture of the large observation crane called the "North Star" that swung guests over the edge of the ship!

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One morning I looked out and saw some southern Japanese isles - These seabirds flew alongside our ship for hours!

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This is the view I woke up to my final morning of my trip. 5:30am outside of the Port of Shanghai somewhere.

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Alrighty, I made it into China! It's bright and early and I'm on my way to Happy Valley!

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Took a bit of time, but I found myself at the entrance. Admission was like $35, not bad.

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First coaster I walked to, Fireball. The sign said "Temporarily closed for monthly inspection." I saw no employees at the ride all day - It never opened.

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Oh well! Considering that any of these parks were all essentially "bonus" for me, I wasn't really bummed. Perhaps my heart grew cold after watching Lightning Rod test 13 times without opening a few months ago? Either way, I couldn't be bummed when I had a Mega-Lite waiting for me around the corner!

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But first I made a stop at this (near) clone of SheiKra!

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SheiKra was my favorite Dive Coaster (out of the 3 US models) so I was expecting this one to be really fun as well!

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Maybe I have a recency bias here, but I felt that "Diving Coaster" slightly exceeded SheiKra in terms of airtime and positives. SheiKra still wins with smoothness and setting/theming. The drops felt the same, great floating airtime! I love having a little space with the classic restraints to come all the way out of your seat ...coughValRavncough...

 

The extra airtime I felt was in the exit of the Dive Loop (it felt stronger than SheiKra), the transition into the MCBR, and the little pop into the diving helix at the end. This part of the ride is essentially the only part that is different than SheiKra. Where SheiKra keeps elevated and slowly turns over the backstage road, Diving Coaster dives back down providing a pop of airtime and decent positives for the low-the-ground helix before hopping back up into the brakes. This one definitely ended up as my favorite Dive!

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I walked by the photo booth and almost cried from laughing... I'll send you a prize if you can spot me here!

Hint: I'm the only person not crying/holding on for dear life

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I continued my way back around the park. The natural setting was really great here - I think the trees have grown in a lot since opening.

 

This rockwork theming and vines were beautiful! It was strange because within the gift shop inside this mountain, the rooms felt half-built/dilapidated.

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OK - I've made it! I'll preface this by saying that ever since TPRs first Tobu Zoo/Djurs Sommerland TRs in 08/09, I pledged to myself that I NEED to get on a Mega-Lite. Unfortunately, one has yet to be built on my home continent, so I've waited... 8 years! During my last-minute planning of this trip I saw that I had the potential to ride two of them! I eventually came to the conclusion that I'd skip the Kawasemi (in order to check out other bucket-list Japanese stuff) if I got on this Chinese one. So here I am.

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Not going to lie... It's incredible. The ejector. The positives. The transitions. The trains. Everything.

 

The first drop has a bit of airtime to start it off. It was followed by crazy positives (which Chinese people just fall over the lapbar during. Apparently nobody can hold up their upper-bodies). The large twisty hill had floater, but was such a neat element. The following straight hill had ejector, very reminiscent of Maverick's in shaping. More positives, then more floater on another twisty. Next came the insane 4-part ejector buffet: Two small, twisty hills, followed by two small straight hills... PERFECTION! You end with one last pop into a long swooping turn into the brakes. I think there's 9 spots of airtime packed into this sub-100' masterpiece.

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There's seriously hair-time all over this thing. It lived up to ALL expectation I garnered over 8 years.

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But wait, there's still more coasters! This one was fun - The vines have grown in since the old pictures I've seen of this

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I rode my first Intamin Gyro Swing - Easily my favorite pendulum ride. This one had a ton of positives!

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And here's the elusive B&M Family Coaster. (Oh wait, most post-2000 B&M's are family coasters, huh? )

 

It was fun, although a ripoff layout of the Vekoma one, this one felt snappier and more forceful than the Vekoma version.

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There was a crappy Zamperla spinning mouse too, but here's "Coastal Ant" - My first Golden Horse coaster. It truly lived up to the high standards of this reputable company!

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This thing looked neat, but I didn't ride it. I bet the views are really cool!

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Ok - Credits done. Let's get more rides on this Top-5 coaster!

 

Did I mention that they make you do this stretch-dance in order to get your upper-body a bit more flexible before enduring all the crazy airtime/transitions?!

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I ended up with 5 rides in my couple hours at the park. Operations are terrible, but everything worked out.

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I also got two more rides on this beauty.

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This coaster honestly looks like the park designers saw a picture of SheiKra in a catalog and said "We will take this" - The paint is even the same!

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Got some skewered chicken wings! They had some great spice to them

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One last look at Fireball. It at least looked fun

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I took the subway back across town and ended up on the Shanghai Maglev to the airport. This train is the fastest in the world - 267mph. It was insane. In under 7.5 minutes, it traveled 19 miles. I actually caught a quick glimpse at Disneyland, but we were far past by the time I tried to snap a picture

 

After that I flew home to San Diego via LAX. Another super long flight! But, I got to see the sunset twice!

 

Well that's it - Super quick trip, packed with like 20 coasters! Thanks for reading!

Edited by chickenbowl
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Please tell me you did the Santa Claus shooting dark ride. Please tell me you did the Santa Claus shooting dark ride...

 

Oh man, I wish! I think Monday was a maintenance day at the park, because lots of rides were closed. I missed the Santa Claus ride as well as the Soarin ripoff...

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Nice shot of Morro Bay, I live just below that first picture you took. I love Japan and can't wait to eventually go back. I bet this sampler trip left you wanting more, but at least you got to go and experience some things. If you ever get back to USJ, try Hollywood Dream backwards (Backdrop) - I thought it was way more exciting this way than forwards. I was wondering how you were able to ride the Flying Dinosaur twice with one express pass and an 180 minute wait. When I went to USJ last year it felt like one of the most crowded parks I've ever been in (it felt more crowded than Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea for me) and it was midweek in June. I did Nagashima Spaland the previous day and it was dead. I also remember Steel Dragon 2000 closing for like an hour midday - whatever works to keep it operating though.

 

I agree with you that if your only in Shanghai for a few hours that it's better to save Disney for another visit, though opening year would've tempted me. I forget that Shanghai also has a Happy Valley park, and it looks like a nice one. Although from what I hear about Happy Valley's operations, they sound like a Six Flags with better theming. Anyways, great TR.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Please tell me you did the Santa Claus shooting dark ride. Please tell me you did the Santa Claus shooting dark ride...

 

Oh man, I wish! I think Monday was a maintenance day at the park, because lots of rides were closed. I missed the Santa Claus ride as well as the Soarin ripoff...

 

Hi.

 

Happy Valley parks has a regular maintenance schedule. Each coaster get weekly or monthly inspected.

Here in Shanghai. Every Monday is Fireball. Wednesday is Dive Coaster. Tuesday seems like Mega-lite. Thursday is Family Inverted.

When it is weekly, it closes for half of the day.

When it is monthly, it closes the whole day.

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