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Photo TR: Ccron10 Heads to Japan


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Japan has been a place I have always wanted to visit ever since I joined the forums and I always loved looking at the many different trip reports that people would always post and learning about the different parks over there. Earlier this year a friend told me that he was going to get a group of friends together to go over and visit the parks in and around Tokyo and I knew I had to be apart of it!

 

Updates:

Day #1 and 2 Part #1: Arrival, Akihabara, and Hanayashiki (see below)

Day #2: LaQua/ Tokyo Dome City

Day #3 Part #1: Hakkejima Sea Paradise

Day #3 Part 2: Yokohama Cosmoworld and Joyopolis

Day #4: Culture Day with More Akihabara!

Day #5 Part #1: Tobu Zoo Park

Day #5 Part #2: Yomiuriland

Day #6: Fuji-Q-Highland

The trip was a good two weeks long and visit places such as Hanayashiki, Tokyo Dome City, Fuji-Q-Highland, as well as Tokyo Disney Resort. I also added on a stop down in Osaka to Universal Studios Japan.

 

Going in, I had never traveled outside the United States before but I did do massive research on customs and practices that I would experience (such as staying on one side the escalator to stand and the other to walk up, slurping ramen is okay as it shows that you like it, etc.)and watching Youtube videos on how to get around train stations. One thing that I regrettably did fall short on is learning Japanese; I only went in knowing how to say yes, thank you very much, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. It got me by, but with so many kind people, I wanted to communicate more with them but felt limited. Finding someone that can speak English is common as it seemed most train station employees, police officers, park employees, and those who work at busy locations seemed to be very helpful, you just had to keep the sentences simple.

 

After only getting 2 or 3 hours of sleep, I woke up around 12:30am and tried going back to sleep until 4am; at this point I said screw it, I'll try to sleep on the 13 hour plane ride and woke up.

 

At Harrisburg Airport I waited in a 10 minute security line and arrived at an empty terminal to board a simple 13-seater Beechcraft plane to Toronto. After takeoff, we buzzed just about literally over Hershey where I got to see my apartment before heading north. An hour later I landed at Toronto.

So upon landing, you have to walk for a god ten minutes until you get to customs to allow you in to the international section of the airport... not good if you need to use the restroom. I saw an insanely long hallway next to customs so I figured there would be one further down. I found out later that this hallway is used for arriving international flights and upon asking an employee at the end of the hallway, I would need to go though customs first to get to a bathroom (also bring a pen if you travel internationally as the airlines don't give out pens even if they just give you the declaration card).

 

Once in the International terminal, I tried to get myself connected to my international data plan and while successful, the internet speed was nothing compared to what it was like in the U.S. (I got a travel plan with my cell provider that allowed me to take my plan with me). Next time I think I will get a wi-fi device like my fellow tripmates did.

 

I flew AirCanada for the whole trip and while flying over was okay, flying back was a tad better (I'll get into that when the time comes). They served a heated packaged dinner meal two hours in which was okay, a snack which was a large Cup O' Noodles where I used chopsticks (which I managed to figure out not get it all on me. lol) and a breakfast before we landed. Tried falling asleep with the travel pillow and blanket they've provided, but wasn't very successful.

One hour before landing we passed over Northern Japan with beautiful coastlines, and descended towards Tokyo. Before landing, we passed by Western Chiba, Tokyo Disneyland, Joyopolis, and the Tokyo SkyTree. Going through Japan customs and immigration was incredibly easy. Upon exiting, I went to the rail pass office at the airport, went right upstairs to the Tokyo Monorail station, googled the right train I needed to take, watched the display monitor to figure out when that was, and headed straight to the hotel. Once I got to the train station near my hotel, I accidentally went out the wrong exit and spent a good 5 minutes looking for landmarks that I remembered from looking on Google StreetView to pinpoint the correct street it was on. By this time halfway to the hotel I found the group. I quickly got checked in, unloaded my luggage, and went down to join everybody on their trip to Akihabara.

 

Akihabara: If you love electronics and anime, you came to the right place.

 

Let me say that again. This is THE place for both anime and electronics. There are many larger-than-department store buildings just devoted to these things. There are also a lot of arcades as well and maid cafes (didn't do, but there had to be somebody every half a block trying to promote one).

We came upon Akihabara MariCar in a back alleyway (in Tokyo it is not uncommon to find stores to be located in places like this) where we got suited up in character costumes of our choice, learned some basic road rules and jumped on our go karts for a ride around Tokyo.

 

Other than using the turn signal, driving wasn't hard at all. You follow a lead car around and he will signal you on when to stop at traffic light two-across or one-across and drive across town through akihabara, Ginza, and Tokyo SkyTree on a 2 hour drive (there's also a 3 hour one as well). I also strapped on a GoPro camera and captured a good 1 hour of the drive (video coming soon!) If you ever get to Japan, you HAVE to do this; you won't ever forget it!

 

After the awesome drive, we did some shopping at Don Quijote which was a mix of convenience store, department store, electronics store, anime store, maid cafe, pachinko parlor, and arcade. After nabbing every kind of kit-kat they had, we called it a night and took the train back to the hotel.

 

Since I didn't eat anything since we landed, some of us decided to go to Denny's for a late night dinner. Just to note, and I thought I remember hearing something about it awhile ago, Denny's is not a western restaurant like you would find in the US... nope it's Japanese food. I ended up ordering creme' brule' pancakes and pretty much crashed right afterwards after being up for almost 36 hours.

 

Hanayashiki Park:

After having a kickass time the night before and not even getting to the theme parks, I woke up the next day after getting some much needed rest (even though I had a tiny bit of jet lag) and feeling ready to take on the first set of parks for Family Entertainment Center park day.

 

Like I said on the first day’s album, I’ve always wanted to visit these places and learn about these places. The rest of the albums about the trip are going to have an album dedicated to each park along with one cultural activity. I’m going to include some opinions, research on what I know about the history, how I experienced each park and what I would recommend or not recommend. I will tell you something in advance: there is not a park I wouldn’t recommend doing at least once as they were all great!

 

Getting from Shintomicho to Asakusa requires taking two or three train lines, but it can be pretty fast. Once you exit the station and go above ground, that’s where it can get tricky. It kind of felt like Asakusa and Hanayashiki were hidden in a maze of community shopping malls and alleyways. If you do come here, arrive hungry as there are no shortage of places to find something to eat.

 

Hanayashiki was a park I knew little about before visiting. I knew it had one coaster and a few rides, it was pretty compact, and different from the other parks I would later experience. I expected several rides here and there that are common, a drop tower, and a haunted walkthrough attraction and that’s about it.

 

According to the park map I picked up at the entrance (they have English and Japanese maps), the park opened as a flower garden in 1853. The park opened a zoo in 1915 and by 1947 rides started to be installed and the the park’s coaster was installed in 1953 making it the oldest in Japan. Hanayashiki became a paid entry admission amusement park in 1985, celebrated it’s 160th anniversary in 2013, and added multi-story wooden maze in 2015.

 

Admission to the park is ¥1000 (almost $9.00) and ¥2300 (almost $21) for a Free Ride Pass (the Japanese park term for an unlimited ride wristband). Individual ride tickets are ¥100 ($0.90 a piece) and the rides take anywhere from 2 to 5 tickets. So really if you don’t plan on doing many rides or re-riding so things, it might be better just buying individual tickets. Factor in food and it really can be a park you could easily do under $50.

 

Attractions in the park focus more on the family-friendly type, but you can find several thrill rides such as the park’s classic Roller Coaster, Space Shot drop tower, and the Disk “O” rides.

There are several haunted rides scattered throughout the park. Hanayashiki had to be no bigger than a football field, but they seemed to have mastered the art of utilizing space as many of the rides are built above the midways and have shops and different eateries built under them. The landscape and theming seems to be all handmade and complements the park’s history very well. Reminded me a little of Knoebels if it was in the middle of a city.

 

Upon arriving at Hanayashiki, we got our wristbands and headed straight to Roller Coaster, which would be the first coaster of the trip and mine in another country. As being someone on the larger side, I was kind of worried about being turned away on some rides, but it didn’t really turn out to be a major issue as the only ride I was rejected was the flume at LaQua/Tokyo Dome City. It was a tight fit as I needed to sit crosslegged.

 

The coaster starts going up a short 40 some foot lift and it goes over a series of hills, tunnels, and turns that circle the entire park. You do get some airtime in the middle of the train, but you get more of an intense experience in the very back. Still a very nice family coaster.

 

After the coaster, we rode Space Shot, which is the park’s S&S tower. It was pretty aged and only went up part-way as I think they added several more pieces to the top to make it noticeable to people visiting the area. Not a bad idea really. No loose items were allowed on this ride as they make you empty your pockets and put them in a box. No glasses even with a strap… kind of a bummer but oh well. It wasn’t a very intense ride, but you do get a good feeling of weightlessness when you’re launched to the highest point. It really looked like the ride was more about the view than anything.

 

We next went over and did some culture sightseeing at Asakusa at the temple, got lunch at a small shop that was kind of mediocre and returned to Hanayashiki, which has a handstamp re-entry policy. We took another lap on Roller Coaster and went upstairs in the coaster station (the park has a main building that houses several ride stations that take you over the park) and rode Sky Ship. You board a pirate ship that rides below a track and it circles much of the park from above.

 

While there I found out they had a ride similar to Houdini’s Great Escape at Six Flags and Dutch Wonderhouse, but we had trouble finding it. We did come to a building that looked like it might be it, but there was a sign out front in Japanese that looked like it said it was closed, so we went over to Disk “O” which ended up being like any other ride of it’s type if not slightly more intense.

 

We did end up discovering one of the park’s haunted attractions called Thriller Car. It really didn’t have much a theme and looked like someone built a ride in their backyard and tried turning it into a haunted house by adding whatever they had left at a Halloween store. Odd, but still fun!

 

I walked back past the spinning house attraction and they had someone staffing it at this time. I guess they had employees moving between two rides, so I got on it by myself. It was more like Dutch Wonderhouse as it had some theming, but seemed to be there just as a retro attraction.

 

I ended my visit with a trip into the park’s main gift shop where I bought a t-shirt, button and sticker. The type of items were a little different than what you would find in an American park gift shop, but more on that when I talk about the other parks. Once our group got back together, we navigated ourselves to finish the rest of the day at Tokyo Dome City/ LaQua.

 

Overall, Hanayashiki/Asakusa was a fun place to stop at. It was a little touristy with the numerous overpriced gift shops surrounding the temple, but I would recommend visiting the place at least once. Same goes for the park as it really isn’t about the thrills, but the overall park experience. The park’s landscaping is truly one-of-a-kind and they really got creative with fitting in rides such as the park’s main ride building.

 

I can’t really say what the park could improve on as the employees were nice, I didn’t get anything inside the park for food, and there’s no place left to add any new rides. I’m pretty sure they don’t need to add anything new since they are next to a popular tourist spot inside downtown Tokyo.

 

Next is Tokyo Dome City/ LaQua.

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To go from Harrisburg to Toronto you have to hop aboard this tiny Beechcraft.

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Yeah there was nothing down this hallway. Luckily the supposed worlds fastest escalator was there to take me back to where I started!

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My first view of Japan. This is the northern part of the main island.

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Talk about a welcome! We buzzed by Tokyo Disneyland on the way in.

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There's the Tokyo SlyTree in the distance.

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Teleport City

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And I'm here!

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As someone who has the absolute minimum experience with traveling by train, getting around was pretty easy thanks to the signage and Google Maps.

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The trains and stations were incredibly clean. Same would go for the rest of the city.

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Looks like I made it to Akihabara.

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Blocks of video arcades, anime, and electronics stores.

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I'd take Akihabara over Times Square anyway.

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This is the main street of Akihabara where you can find tons of stores, restaurants and cafes all along here. The busiest and brightest area is directly in front of the train station.

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I'm pretty sure I ended up on a lot of people's phones as a lot of people stopped to take pictures of us at the intersections!

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We were going to do Tokyo SkyTree later on in the trip, but a typhoon would later put a damper on those plans. Oh well, next visit!

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Again, these guys are awesome. They also have a kickass bathroom where you have to wear fireworks glasses when you go inside! :p

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I came back two here more times later in the trip.

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Awesome shirts! Didn't buy any since they looked kind of small.

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Oh god, yes! lol

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Ofcourse you can't visit Japan without seeing one thing of Hatsume Miku.

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You can see a little bit of a crepe shop. There will be many more later on in the trip.

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After visiting Akihabara, then watching TV back at the hotel and experiencing a few attractions at the parks I would visit, I kind of found myself to like anime a little more by the end of the trip. My mind was already blown by the end of the first day and this only the start of a two week trip!

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The coffee is very strong and helped jumpstart me in the morning. I swear I remember seeing Tully's coffee in the US. They are kind of the alternative to Starbucks in Japan.

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Very nice old style Japanese park entrance.

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Looks roughly the same size as the one at EPCOT.

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The shop architecture is very old and cool looking.

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Hello SkyTree!

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The ninjas are scattered around the shopping area. This one is on top of a building.

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This is the older shopping area filled with a lot of touristy things.

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The park looked pretty compact, but it looks tastefully themed.

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A lot of people were dressed up in kimonos in this area. You can rent them at some places and wear them around the property and the city.

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Looks like we're about to go into the temple area.

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This area had a ton of locally owned shops and restaurants, but there were also a few convenience stores as well.

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It was pretty relaxing walking around the Buddist statue area.

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Fujin Rajin statue behind chicken wire.

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Beautiful garden shrines.

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Ofcourse they have Koi.

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Extremely beautiful!

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This is one of several park entrances.

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The park's mascot is this walking mechanical panda that you could ride. There were a few scattered around the park.

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Hanayashiki Park is pretty compact with rides built on top of each other.

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The park's carousel is a tad small, but looks nice.

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While walking around the shopping malls, we found an Owl cafe! For around ¥700 you could go in, pet as many owls as you want for however long you want, and get a drink!

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Cute little guys!

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Found some barn owls!

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There were some owls that you really shouldn't pet and they have a sign letting you know which ones.

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Our barista was a hoot!

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They have a Zamperla Disk "O".

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Space Shot provides some good floating airtime.

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The Sky Ship was a suspended monorail that traveled over much of the park in the air.

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The main ride building houses the Roller Coaster, a cycling ride, and Sky Ship, a few eateries and Space Shot.

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The park really doesn't have much room to expand.

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I didn't see this ride run while I was there.

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There's no litter!

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Roller Coaster has a funky first drop.

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It's really tough to no find a place to not see the SkyTree

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Its more about the view than the ride itself.

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This has to be my favorite area of the park. Very tranquil!

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The model didn't work, but it looked cool!

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Didn't need to wait too long!

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The lift was pretty slow, but Roller Coaster was a pretty decent ride.

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No need to get creative with the name.

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Roller Coaster was a tight fit, but fun!

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Here's a brilliant example of utilitzing park space: dining area and eatery on the ground floor; Zamperla Disk "O" built on a structure right above it.

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Pikachu: the Ride!

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Next up, Tokyo Dome City/ LaQua for some Thunder Dolphin awesomeness! Thanks for reading!

Edited by Ccron10
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"While walking around the mall area we found an owl cafe..." "There was this place in the back alley you could get dressed up as Pokemon and ride GoKarts around Tokyo..."

 

It's these things right here is why we go back so often!

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Ccron10 - a huge BRAVO to you for sharing one amazing Trip Report! I felt as if I was traveling along with you - soaking up the fun, the food, the beauty and the quirkiness that make Japan a number ONE travel destination. You took so much time and detail to share your moment-by-moment experiences with us, and I look forward to the rest of your trip. MANY MANY thanks - am so appreciative!

 

Alice

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I. MISS. JAPAN!

 

Thank you for the TR!

Thanks, Yin! I already want to head back at end of next year or beginning of 2019.

 

wow.. WONDERFUL pics.

 

gonna make note of this thread to keep coming back to look. Japan is on my wishlist, tho I doubt I'll ever get to go.

 

great start!

I really recommend the trip. It is worth it!

 

"While walking around the mall area we found an owl cafe..." "There was this place in the back alley you could get dressed up as Pokemon and ride GoKarts around Tokyo..."

 

It's these things right here is why we go back so often!

And everytime you go back you can go to the same area and find many more things to do! I went to Akihabara three times and visited new places each time and still want to do more when I go back! I blew a good 1000 yen on the crane games in Don Quiote in their arcade and I wanted to check out Sega, but was afraid I would lose a good 10 times more than that in there!

 

Ccron10 - a huge BRAVO to you for sharing one amazing Trip Report! I felt as if I was traveling along with you - soaking up the fun, the food, the beauty and the quirkiness that make Japan a number ONE travel destination. You took so much time and detail to share your moment-by-moment experiences with us, and I look forward to the rest of your trip. MANY MANY thanks - am so appreciative!

 

Alice

Thanks! I've always wanted to do a trip like this for awhile and I kind of want to inspire other people to visit this country and their parks as it really was a one-of-a-kind experience!

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Day #1 Part 2: LaQua/Tokyo Dome CityLaQua,

 

Tokyo Dome City or whatever it’s called, is a park I’ve looked very forward to visiting mostly because of it’s concept. It is very rare to see a large coaster sitting in the middle of a huge metropolis let alone a park. As with any park I visit, I left my expectations open.

 

To get to Tokyo Dome City from Asakusa we took a two or three lines to Korakuen station, which brought us right across the street from the LaQua building. To get to it from Tokyo station would just be a matter of riding the Tokyo Metro Maorunouchi line to Korakuen station.

 

The history of Tokyo Dome City dates back to at least the 1960’s when Korakuen Amusement Park called the land home on both sides of a busy intersection. A classic coaster similar to what Hanayashiki had, a parachute tower similar to what Great Adventure was there, and a few other classic rides existed. The early 2000’s brought an extensive renovation to the park which introduced the massive LaQua Spa Resort building, a shopping mall, Thunder Dolphin mega coaster, The Big O Hubless Ferris Wheel, Lunar Gale: a prototype inverted impulse coaster, and Maurer spinning coaster (the latter two were taken out a short time later).

 

Admission to the park is free, but to partake in the attractions they do sell tickets, which range from ¥420 ($3.76 approx.) for the kiddie rides up to ¥1020 ($9.12 approx.) to ride Thunder Dolphin. They also have a plan for a flat rate of ¥2600 ($23.25 approx.) you can ride 5 attractions as well as a 1 Day Pass for unlimited rides for ¥3900 ($34.88 approx.). Thunder Dolphin has an express pass to allow you to bypass the line once for an additional

¥520 ($4.65 approx.) per person.

 

To enhance the experience, I would recommend doing Tokyo Dome City in the late afternoon to early evening as the park really seems to have a great atmosphere with beautiful lighting. It doesn’t have the amount of coasters it used to have, but I do recommend doing some of the non-coaster rides and exploring the park in between laps on Thunder Dolphin. The Parachute Tower and Big O offer memorable views of the Tokyo skyline and Tokyo Panic Cruise is a funny spin on your favorite DarKastle ride.

 

The first ride we did when we got to the park was The Dive, which was a shooting ride where you board an enclosed vehicle and shoot at different objects and score points. The layout is a basic oval so it is very short. Loading is a little long as each group of guests before boarding have to go over a paper full of instructions before riding.

 

Our group settled on meeting back in front of the musical fountain (think EPCOT’s Fountain of Nations but on a much smaller scale) by around 6pm. We went right up to Thunder Dolphin at this point as we couldn’t contain ourselves at this point.

 

Opening in 2003, Thunder Dolphin is 260 feet tall with speeds of up to 81 mph. The wait time was pretty minimal, but the loading process was kind of lengthy. After waiting in line for about 5 minutes, you get to a grouper who goes over the loose article policy (nothing allowed at all on the ride and no glasses with straps) and that once you board, place your items in the locker on the loading platform and put the key locking the items around your wrist and board the train. Had no trouble at all with the restraints on this ride.

 

Upon dispatching, you immediately have one ride photo taken and you start the long journey up the lift hill. Going down the first drop, you get a good sense of speed in the front row and a little bit of airtime closer towards the back, but really much of the ride isn’t really about that as it is that you are LITERALLY flying past, over, and through tall buildings and a ferris wheel in the middle of a city on a roller coaster! While I love intense roller coasters, I also love ones that could just camp out and re-ride as many times as I can and Thunder Dolphin definitely takes #1 in that category.

 

We next took to the sky and rode the park’s hub-less ferris wheel for some excellent views of Tokyo, then took a lunch break at Bubba Gump and head to the other side of the bridge. We were going to try the flume, but getting the seatbelt situated became quite a hassle, so we bailed.

 

Hiding downstairs in one of the theater buildings is Tokyo Panic Cruise; a motion simulator dark ride similar to the Justice League rides at Six Flags. The basic premise I got out of the ride is that you set out to take a guided tour of Tokyo, but you get pulled into a battle between a parasol-wielding tour guide superhero and an evil wolf-like creature. Some parts of the ride seemed to felt a little like Spiderman, but it was a really good attraction! Best non-Disney dark ride of the trip!

 

We still had a few minutes left so we went over to the Parachute Tower at the far end of the park. This was almost like Great Adventure’s but you actually stand in a basket instead of sit. This adds a pretty good thrill when you drop from the top and add in the fact that you go twice and it really ended up being a great ride.

 

Our group met back up again and talked about scrubbing Joyopolis tonight and saving it for another night if it rains in exchange for some rest. We decided to spend one more hour and get 1 or 2 more rides on Thunder Dolphin and re-ride Tokyo Panic Cruise. We headed back to the hotel for the night where I dined on some corndog from 7-Eleven and ice cream and had a great time watching Japanese tv. I kind of miss it as it had some great anime shows that were brand-new over there.

 

Next up: Sea Paradise and the start of the typhoon!

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If I had any pocket change at this point, I definitely would've got this for my mom's cat.

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Reading the signage was extremely easy. Really the whole trip there might've been once or maybe only two times where it was tough to get around because the sign or directions were only in Japanese.

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Giggity... moving on. :p

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Still three years away and 2020 Olympic ads are already up. I also saw a store already selling merchandise for it.

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The support structure is like nothing I've seen on a coaster before.

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Like Hanayashiki, LaQua is a modern equivalent on how to maximize space in a tight location. For example, the Carousel is elevated to allow the flume to travel under it.

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Hello Thunder Dolphin!

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The Dive was decent for the space they had. Kind of an odd ride.

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I think we're here.

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Thunder Dolphin provides a little bit of airtime on the first drop in the back seat.

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To accommodate the cable lift system, they seem to have built it quite a distance up above the midway.

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The LaQua section is kind of like an ultra modern outdoor mall that has a coaster going around it. I think I even saw a supermarket too.

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Wait...

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Holy crap, it's Pocari Sweat: The Ride!

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Looks like they have a flume.

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On the way up to Thunder Dolphin, we got a preview on what to expect.

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At this park, they had an escape room set up themed to the anime Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Pretty sure I would still be in there trying to find my way out if it was all in Japanese.

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Here are the three main attractions on the LaQua side of the park in one photo.

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The large building is the Spa/hot spring building.

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I didn't expect the musical fountain in the plaza. It was kind of cool and reminded me of Fountain of Nations at EPCOT a little.

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A nice walkway just about directly below the lift hill and first drop.

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Thunder Dolphin's entrance is on 3F (the third floor). You can purchase tickets and skip passes at the machine on the left.

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The Ride layout in the queue. This is about the point where they give you a card with the safety info on it to read.

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Entrance sign

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This turn was kind of fun as you kind of got yanked to the right a little with a little bit of airtime.

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If this coaster didn't have to go over top of the spa building, they could've easily made this ride do a third trip around the park. But as it is, it's still a very enjoyable ride.

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Up on 5F (the 5th floor) is the Big O, which is the first hub-less ferris wheel (and also featured on the Planet Coaster game).

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For a small upcharge you could have a car with a karaoke system in it. That's kind of a cool concept!

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Time to go up on my first Japan ferris wheel (I swear I saw a good 8 to 10 ferris wheels the whole trip!)

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Here's the old section of the park on the other side of the road.

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There's a pretty big swinging ship.

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It's next to Tokyo Dome as well.

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This whole place looks like an excellent park to spend an evening with the family, special someone, or co-workers gaming, shopping or riding. It really has the ability to appeal to just about everyone.

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Well this looks familiar. Just replace the standing baskets with sitting ones, paint it red and yellow and you have Great Adventure's. This one's better.

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The ferris wheel gondolas run on a track around the structure powered by a fleet of drive tires.

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Hello again SkyTree.

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I'm pretty sure the park gets packed whenever there's a concert or baseball game.

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This is the only view I got of the Tokyo Tower.

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You don't see many sights like this.

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Thanks to my friend Gary for getting this awesome shot!

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The flume does a little meandering up above the mall.

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Its kind of awesome how simple yet unique how each building is in Japan.

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The city just seems to stretch on continuously.

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The center of downtown seems to be over there.

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The top of the lift of Thunder Dolphin.

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At this point I was kind of surprised the flume had a turntable and wanted to ride this. Unfortunately the seatbelt was a tad too small. Oh well. This really ended up doing the walk of shame on the entire trip.

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The sun was starting to set, which meant that it was getting closer to the time to see the park at nighttime!

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Nailed it!

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They had this odd robot set up which I thought gave out information. Turns out it only snaps photos of you. lol

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And just like that it can give you a mustache beard.

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Lets go to the other side of the park.

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In the basement of the main building of the older section, they have a really cool motion simulator dark ride called Tokyo Panic Cruise!

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Didn't have to wait as the queue was completely empty!

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We need more stairwells like this!

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We took a quick last lap around the older section and rode the Parachute Tower before meeting back up with the group again.

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Again, nailed it!

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On the way to the Parachute Tower, we passed through an awesomely lit up shopping area and there was an artist exhibit for the work of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. I wish I could've stopped to see it, but the line was incredibly long and out the door!

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I love these vending machines and the drinks are very cheap! You can easily get a drink under ¥160, which is about $1.50! These machines are also everywhere and each have different drinks!

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The parks seemed to have many more of these photo op locations than the ones in the US.

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We decided to postpone Joyopolis to a rainy day in order to relax and catch up on sleep, so we spent another hour exploring the park. We came back and rode Tokyo Panic Cruise at lease one or two more times to figure out the storyline.

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Cute logo for the tour company.

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Tour guide by day; crime-fighting superhero cat lady by night!

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See the many sights of Tokyo!

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If you're a fan of Lupin: The Third, they have a puzzle game attraction right next door to Tokyo Panic Cruise.

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Just as I expected, the park looks excellent at night!

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There was a Shonen Jump store inside the park that I managed to go in and take a look around before they closed for the day.

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Let's talk about the hotel we stayed in for the first 7 nights. While the room was incredibly small as I could barely fit three pieces of luggage inside, it had all the comforts of home, it was extremey clean, had awesome staff (they also spoke English) and conveniently located near the train station! I later found out that the rooms sometime cost as low as $60 per night! The pillows were made thin, but after stacking them, they were very comfortable as well as the bed!

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The bathroom is one piece and the sink faucet doubles as the shower/tub faucet. The toilets were awesome as well!

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The A/C does shut off everytime you leave the room to save power so it did kind of get warm in there.

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Love your report! Great photos and a huge amount of detail. When you mentioned Linear Gale, at first I was like "where are the photos of that coaster", then I looked on rcdb and I never knew it's been gone for 7 years

 

Thunder Dolphin looks so graceful. I know everyone says it's not up to the level of the other Intamin hypers, but that is totally fine by me. I have a weak spot for that type of coaster and this one is definitely on my list of ones to ride, one of these days.

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La Qua had some really cool rides, as well as a few great coasters, for where it was,

and how it was put together. I remember back then. And you can't beat Japan's Beverage Machines

for literally anything to drink, cold OR hot, lol! Thanks for the updated TR on what's there now, etc.

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I really enjoyed reading about your first 2 days in Japan! I've never been over there and doubt I'll ever get the chance to so it's great to be able to read TRs like yours to get a small bit of the experience. That hotel room is crazy tiny but I'm sure you were barely even in there enough to do more than sleep and shower!

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Chris, this is such a kick@$$ trip report! Great coverage of everything. When were y'all there? Must have just missed you! Can't wait to follow along more

Thanks Jake! I was there from September 14th to September 26th. A good 2 week trip, but I kind of think that I could've spent more time at some of the parks. I might do three weeks the next time I go over and do a park a day (excluding TDR of course).

 

Love your report! Great photos and a huge amount of detail. When you mentioned Linear Gale, at first I was like "where are the photos of that coaster", then I looked on rcdb and I never knew it's been gone for 7 years

 

Thunder Dolphin looks so graceful. I know everyone says it's not up to the level of the other Intamin hypers, but that is totally fine by me. I have a weak spot for that type of coaster and this one is definitely on my list of ones to ride, one of these days.

I want to say that they may have re-used the former station for it and turned it into a haunted walkthrough, but I'm not sure.

 

It's certainly no Skyrush or Millennium Force, but it is something you could just stay on and marathon it and not feel exhausted or bored. I kind of like rides that have a pretty good flowing layout, but I also like rides that have some decent airtime. This ride goes on a different list than the previous two to me.

 

La Qua had some really cool rides, as well as a few great coasters, for where it was,

and how it was put together. I remember back then. And you can't beat Japan's Beverage Machines

for literally anything to drink, cold OR hot, lol! Thanks for the updated TR on what's there now, etc.

I really enjoyed drinking Pocari Sweat each morning and I think those machines turned me into a grape soda fanatic. lol

 

I really enjoyed reading about your first 2 days in Japan! I've never been over there and doubt I'll ever get the chance to so it's great to be able to read TRs like yours to get a small bit of the experience. That hotel room is crazy tiny but I'm sure you were barely even in there enough to do more than sleep and shower!

Thanks! I did spend a little time in there especially during the typhoon, but I didn't really mind the lack of space too much. I can say that it was a little tough to move around with a large suitcase, a rolling backpack and laptop backpack. I realized as soon as I got there I should've packed lighter when moving around the train stations.

 

 

Day 3 Part #1: Hakkejima Sea Paradise

A typhoon was approaching Japan from the south (much weaker than the one that seems to be happened the other week over there) and it was getting clear that there was a good chance that we might end up skipping a park or two. The original goal for today was to start at Sea Paradise for half of the day then head over to Yokohama Cosmoworld for the evening. This changed the wetter it got.

 

Its a little bit of a journey to get to Sea Paradise as it is on a literal island at the southern part of Yokohama.To get there you have to take the Negishi Line to Shin-Sugita Station and board the SeaSide Line to the Hakkejima station. It took more than an hour or so to get to from Tokyo on a regular train, but it can be much faster if you take the shinkansen to Yokohama.

 

Going back to the SeaSide Line, it seemed to be the cleanest and most well kept of the train lines that I’ve traveled on the trip. I also kind of found it interesting that they had an anime character promoting the line as they had tons of posters up and even selling specially themed bottles of water and souvenirs in the drink machines.

 

Built in 1993, Sea Paradise (also called Sea Para) is located completely on a manmade island in Tokyo Bay. The park opened to be both a marine life park with also a bunch of rides scattered throughout the park. The park’s star coaster Surf Coaster Leviathan built by Togo, opened with the park and is still operating. The park did have a small wild mouse coaster in the early 2000’s, but that apparently only lasted several seasons.The park is also have to the famous Blue Fall drop tower and classic shoot-the-chute attractions. It’s newest addition is a 3-story wooden structure where you have to find 10 locations by navigating through a ton of crazy puzzles and doorways and not go off the course.

 

I looked a little bit into who owns Sea Paradise and it turns out it is owned by a Japanese holding company called the Seibu Group. They apparently also own many different hotels, ski resorts, transportation lines, shopping malls, and even a few Hawaiian resorts in Hawaii. They also own Toshimaen and Seibuen Amusement Park (both parks that I didn’t visit on this trip).

 

Admission to Sea paradise is free, but you can either purchase individual ride tickets priced from ¥100 to ¥1000 (approx. $0.88 to $8.80), a One Day pass for the aquarium and unlimited rides for ¥5050 (approx. $44.45) or Paradise Naitopasu (Paradise Night Pass for admission after 4pm) for ¥3300 (approx. $29.04). There are several uncharge attractions such as the Aqua Theater show for ¥500 (approx. $4.40), Ice House, and the wooden maze structure, but there is a slight discount for them if you have a one day pass.

 

After taking a long train ride down to Sea Paradise, we walked across a long bridge and were greeted by the park’s entrance area, which housed a huge carousel with several restaurants and games around it. So far things were mostly dry, but that would change as soon as we walked straight towards Leviathan after receiving our wristbands. We figured once it started to drizzle, things would start closing and it would affect our plan to his Yokohama Cosmoworld later on.

 

The park itself kind of looks like it hasn’t changed a whole lot since it first opened in 1993, but they have done an excellent job at upkeep and making sure the park stays clean. The main kids area is themed to Cartoon Network, which was odd, but it does kind of make me wonder why that franchise hasn’t been brought to any US parks.

 

Before Leviathan, I only had experience with Shockwave when it came to Togo coasters and went in expecting to have my spine split in half. While the train was a little cramped and did feature stomach guard restraints for some reason, it really wasn’t half bad! It was pretty smooth, had a pop of air or two, and the turns were still oddly formed, but were tolerable. Miraculously they were running it in the rain as well and had water jets set up at several places along the track! Only took one lap on it due to time constraints, but would definitely make the journey back to the park to ride it again.

 

This was kind of dumb on our part but Blue Fall was operating at this point, but instead of heading straight there like we should’ve, we went to check out the dolphins and then grab a Japanese style fast food meal at Lotteria in the food court (it was good other than the chicken I got was kind of rubbery compared to what you can get stateside).

 

After finding out that Blue Fall was closed, we went and checked out the main aquarium building, which was home to tons of different species and kind of reminded me much of the Baltimore Aquarium. We next decided to check out the Wooden structure and see how well we stacked up. You have three different courses to pick from that each make their way through the 3-story structure and at 10 different locations you need to get your passport stamped. Along the way, you have to go through doors that open a certain way, climb above, over, and around wooden gaps and holes but if you go out a certain way, you’re disqualified. Three of us went in, but we eventually separated to try to search and spot the stamp locations and were never able to meet back up. They got as far as the 3rd and 5th stations, but I managed to make it to the 7th on the top floor before accidentally going out the wrong door.

 

We discovered an Intamin rapids ride behind the aquarium building and figured on taking a ride considering we are already soaked… we ended up not getting wet by the ride at all, but it did wrap around a dolphin backstage area, which was pretty cool.

 

By this point the heavier rain was starting to approach and we decided to wrap up the visit and see about heading up to Yokohama and try to get the Dive Coaster credit, but first we rode the Shoot-the-Chutes. This ride is modeled just about exactly like those old water rides from the history books where you board a boat at the top of a long ramp, slide down and splash into a open pond below. The operators who ride the boat while standing used to jump into the air once it hit the water and land back on the boat, but they don’t do that anymore.

 

After waiting for the rest of the group back at the carousel, we headed out and attempted to try to get to Yokohama Cosmoworld before the rain got worse. Plan B was to hit Joyopolis instead.

 

Find out in the next update whether I get the Dive Coaster Vanish credit or the Veil of Dark credit!

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We stopped in Tokyo Station briefly. Loved the beautiful architecture of the main station building!

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Looked a little Victorian in style.

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I think it is safe to say the winner was the shinkansen. lol

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You can pay 100 yen to take the bus from the train station to the park entrance... or you can walk as it isn't that far.

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Credit dead-ahead! Best grab it before the rain gets worse!

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The first thing see once you get in the park is a central carousel with a guest services location, several food stands and games surrounding it.

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The area looks pretty outdated, but looks extremely clean.

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Reminds me of the Baltimore Aquarium.This plaza in front of the aquarium is pretty big to hold concerts and events.

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If we would've went over earlier, we might have gotten to ride it. Oh well, next visit!

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Surf Coaster didn't dissapoint!

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Safety instructions were in Japanese and English. Also no loose items on this ride either, so no glasses with or without straps. :(

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I guess you can say that I rode Leviathan without having to go to Canada's Wonderland. :p

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It's not a very insane coaster, but it was still very fun.

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It also came equipped with water cannons, which was cool.

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It was only about a 10 to 15 minute wait and it still operated in the rain.

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Don't let this photo fool you, it was still very rainy.

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Hey guys, lets all take the erevator.

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There was a large glass tunnel you can walk through with dolphins swimming over and around you!

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This had to be one of the best dolphin experience attractions I've seen.

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There was another tank area in the back that had a different type of dolphin in them.

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The sanitation crews must have it very easy at these parks! :p

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The food court seemed to have a decent amount of seating.

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Lotteria is a Japanese fast food restaurant. I had the stretchy burger, which was a fried mozzarella wedge instead of a berger.

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In the main aquarium, we got to see the typical sea-life animals such as seals.

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They have an excellent shark and manta ray exhibit. I saw from prior trip reports that they had a sunfish, but I didn't see it anywhere.

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The school of fish inside looked beautiful.

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Penguins as well.

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Time to go up the escalator through the shark tank.

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For some reason you don't see many jellyfish in aquariums.

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We first thought these wern't real due to how huge they were.

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Hammerheads.

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They had a polarbear as well.

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Sea turtles.

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If you eat this guy the wrong way, you could die.

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The World's largest rodent.

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I have a habit of breaking observation towers before I visit a new park (ex: Sky Cabin at Knott's and Sky Tower at SeaWorld Orlando), but Sea Paradise's was lucky to stay open. Didn't ride it unfortunately.

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The park really feels like it didn't change much since it first opened.

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The burger was pretty good, but the piece of chicken that came with it was kind of rubbery.

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he park's mascot is all dressed up for Halloween!

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So while we were waiting for the train, we decided to try our best to replicate the pose. lol I eventually Tweeted a photo to the PR rep and even got a reply back! lol

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The rain I guess...

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This maze attraction was awesome and a lot of the parks had these over here!

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The Intamin rapids ride the park has circles a backstage dolphin pool!

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Looks like they're doing a little training now.

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This dolphin was so awesome! He would always circle around and look at us through this window! The two girls in front of us were having a ball! Ofcourse when I went over to the window next to this one, they completely ignore me. lol

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The Courage the Cowardly Dog Drunken Barrel ride... doesn't really go along with the theme, but oh well.

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Shoot the Chute was a little challenging to find the entrance (mainly because there was no line for it), but it was fun and something you can't do anywhere else anymore.

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They had a Monster, but we passed due to time constraints.

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She works at the park's guest services building behind me. Having kind of done the same, it was kind of cool how different it is from a US park were the standard uniform is a polo and shorts.

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Back over to the train station!

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Thanks and I definitley will be back!

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At first it was just the train line adapting an anime character as a mascot, but it turns out after following Sea Paradise on Twitter that there is actually someone that is a PR rep. that looks like this!

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It's kind of cool how the train line has branded a quite a bit of stuff to sell out of the drink machines as souvenirs.

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We got off a little too early, but it allowed me to get some souvenir fridge magnets from the drink machine. lol

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So while waiting for the next train, we decided to see if an anime pose is possible to perform in real-life. lol

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The ride used to have a loading turntable, but they seemed to have converted it into a stationary loading platform.

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The sunfish used to be at the end of that dolphin tunnel you went through, that other dolphin wasn't there so looks like it changed. I forgot how many different aquariums that place had, there's a picture on the English site of it, but the japanese site confirms that other dolphin took over the sunfish's old round pool: http://www.seaparadise.co.jp/english/aquariums.html

 

I never saw a manta ray when I was there so that must be new, although I missed the door to see into the show tank where the whale shark was twice on my first trip (it didn't have a big sign back then) so I could have missed it, although I did end up seeing a manta ray in quite a small tank at the tokyo stadium when I was getting my galaxy express 999 credit.

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^^Just did the same research. Yup. Ocean Sunfish appears to be gone. Not moved into the main aquarium or anything. KT is kind of sad...she was planning to get married in that building!!!!

 

I will now continue to do more research and see what I can find out!!!!

 

Edit - Still looking to see if the fish died or they moved him to another aquarium, but the new dolphins were put in that tank in June 2016.

Edited by SharkTums
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