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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Magic Springs- Riding Almost All the Coasters in Arkansas!

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Tokyo Joypolis

 

Tokyo Joypolis can either be classified as the world's best arcade or a unique theme park. As a ride fan, I'd consider it more of the latter, but really this place is what DisneyQuest would have been if it were successful and actually received new attractions. Immediately after entering into the park, it was easy to be overwhelmed by the 360 degrees of lights and sounds.

 

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I felt like I was traveling to the future. It's hard to get this feeling now that Back to the Future 2 takes place 3 years ago.

 

The park offers an after 8 special. We figured lines wouldn't be an issue. While that was true for the coaster, it was for basically every other ride due to their low capacities. Because of this, 2 hours was definitely not enough time to experience everything, especially since we arrived a bit late to grab food.

 

Our first stop was of course the coaster. It's called the Gekion Live Coaster, but really it should be called the Guitar Hero Coaster. The first half is an odd rhythm based game where you hit colored buttons on the restraint when prompted a la Guitar Hero. It was a very neat concept. It worked extremely well even though my uncoordinated self royally butchered the game. Still it was a whole lot of fun.

 

The second half was more my speed. For everyone who thought Time Traveler was the world's first launched spinner, think again. Gekion Live has a short coaster bit with a well orchestrated launch with fog and light effects. At first the launch isn't any better than a Backlot Stunt Coaster, but by the end of the launch track, the car starts spinning which is a cool sensation. Without delay, that launch leads right into a barrel roll loaded with hangtime. The combination of spinning and lighting makes for an extremely disorienting element.

 

Off-ride, the launch and inversion are the only visible bits of the coaster, so I figured the ride was over. Wrong! There were 2 compact helices that were pretty forceful, especially since the cars were spinning like a top. I don't know if I'll ever ride anything else quite like Gekion Live Coaster, but I really liked it. It was the perfect mix of an interactive dark ride combined with an exciting little coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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If you thought Time Traveler was the first inverting spinner, think again.

 

Our next stop was basically the one other non-simulator, the Tokyo Halfpipe. Basically every single Joypolis TR shows this odd attraction, yet I wasn't quite sure what it did. After a 20 minute wait, we boarded the skateboard back to back.

 

Turns out it's another rhythm game. Both riders need to hit their foot pedal in unison at the valley of the halfpipe. Doing so scores you points and sends the vehicle wildly swinging. We thought we were doing quite well, as we were spinning pretty much non-stop, but we came in dead last. It was ok since it was a ton of fun. The spinning is faster than it appears and very disorienting with all the flashing lights around Joypolis. We definitely would have gone again had the line been shorter. 8 out of 10

 

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We weren't quite sure what we were walking into.

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But it was another rhythm based game and apparently we stunk at it.

 

We then explored the park’s simulators. Since the driving ones all had lengthy queues, we settled on Wild Jungle. If you take the Indiana Jones ride vehicle and roll it into a tiny little omnitheater, that basically describes Wild Jungle. Since we were the only riders on the train and the operators for some reason thought we spoke English (no clue what would give that away ), we were treated to a surprise ride in English. The narration was comically childish as we drove, swam, and flew (yes our car somehow flew) through the jungle. Ultimately it was a pretty solid simulator, but can't hold a candle to the Disney or Universal ones. 7 out of 10

 

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Board the Indiana Jones Adventure inspired jeep and travel into a mini omni-theater.

 

By this point, it was 9:40 and several of the simulators had 20-30 minute waits, so their queues were closed off. Fortunately Wild River was next door. Using the same ride system as Wild Jungle, the ride felt a bit tamer and was in Japanese this time. It was an ok simulator, but lacked the stupid humor of the other (well maybe it did have humor but we couldn't understand it). 5 out of 10

 

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The river wasn't as wild as the jungle.

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And they completed the trifecta of land, sea, and air with Wild Wing.

 

It was 9:50 and since we saw no one in line for the coaster, we decided that'd be the perfect way to end the night. Sadly it wasn't to be. Even though there hadn't been a line all day, they closed the queue 10 minutes early to start cleaning the vehicles and the queue. And then we realized they had closed everything except the gift shop. I guess a 10 pm closing time in Japan truly means a 10 pm closing.

 

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This simulator had the longest wait and appeared to be the only one that inverted.

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These were some fancy looking cars! Too bad only one of the simulators appeared to have been operational.

 

I'll definitely budget more time at Joypolis next time since it's a really cool place. The amount of simulators would even make Universal jealous, but I have no issue with that provided they're each done well. To say the arcades back home aren't that good is an understatement.

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Yomiuriland

 

Even though a busy day at Disney is still incredible, I braced myself for the oppressive crowds of a Saturday. However, I had planned a sidetrip to visit Yomiuriland and Sea Paradise originally for the Monday. The longer hours of these two parks combined with the opportunity to avoid Disney on a busier day made it a no-brainer to visit these two parks on a Saturday. Since Yomiuriland closed 3 hours earlier than Sea Paradise, I started there.

 

Just getting to the park is an experience in itself. After arriving at the nearby rail station, we needed to take a 5-10 minute gondola ride up a hill to reach the park. The only other park I've visited like this was Ober Gatlinburg and I hesitate to call that a full fledged amusement park. Yomiuriland was a true amusement park. That was immediately clear after cresting the hill and seeing the two Togos beckoning.

 

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If only one of my local parks had a sky ride up a mountain...

 

After grabbing a wristband, our first stop was the eclectically themed spinning coaster, Spin Runway. I don't know who dreamed of theming a coaster to fashion, but Yomiuriland embraces the ridiculousness of the concept in full and runs with it. The theming began with the queue as you pass through a fashion factory, though in many ways it felt more like a haunt because of how dark it was. I half expected Carson Cressley to pop out around a corner with a needle pointed right at us.

 

After loading everything into a mandatory locker, we immediately noticed buttons on the lap bar a la Joypolis. While I'm sure there were instructions in Japanese, the two American tourists were clueless. But once we reached the spiral lift (yes this thing actually has a spiral lift), we discovered what they were for. The sides of the lift are fitted with screens so you play a quirky version of Flappy Bird where you retrieve clothes to dress your character. It wasn't the least bit challenging, but it was plain ole goofy fun.

 

Our car was severely unbalanced, yet it didn't spin as much as expected. Despite this, the helices were still fairly disorienting thanks to the dance club-esque lighting. There was no real drop on this spinner, which was a bummer, but it really is all about the theming and helices. There are definitely other spinners I prefer, but this is definitely the one with the best theme. 7 out of 10

 

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I was ready to walk (err spin) down the runway.

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The random game on the lift combined with the wacky theme made this better than it should have been.

 

Next was the coaster that supposedly inspired Cedar Point to build Magnum, Bandit. The prospect of riding a Togo with a 250 foot elevation change and OSTRs was terrifying, but after a backwards Togo looper didn't kill us, we figured the odds were in our favor. Bandit runs two trains; however, they will not load the second until the first completes its circuit and everyone unloads. That basically negates the second train, but fortunately it was never more than 2-3 trains. Each dispatch is accompanied by a little dance by the operators and party music.

 

On the day we visited every other train operated in “Stop-Go” mode, which meant the train would pause for 10 seconds for riders to admire the view. And what a view it was! Yomiuriland's position on a hill grants you an impressive view of Tokyo. But soon enough riders are lifted out of their seats for the first drop. The first drop is “only” 170 feet tall, but the ride gets progressively faster as it goes since the second half is built in a ravine.

 

The second turnaround was uneventful in a good way. It answered the question whether or not Bandit would have headbanging, so we were in the clear. That's followed by a very fast and forceful upwards helix. Bandit then speeds deeper into the woods, flying over an fantastic hill offering everyone sustained floater air. Then the finale consists of some surprisingly tall drops where it feels like the coaster reaches its max speed and also includes 3-4 hills with surprising pops of ejector air.

 

Bandit really surprised me. By the time the train hit the brake run, I was speechless. I love rides that finish with a bang and Bandit certainly qualifies. The combination of the wooded setting, sustained speed, smoothness, and airtime made Bandit one of the top coasters of the trip. I made sure to get a few rerides to verify I wasn't dreaming, but yes, this is actually an awesome Togo. 9 out of 10

 

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Bandit is like the Beast in that it travels deep into the woods. Bandit is unlike the Beast in that it has several awesome drops.

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Stop Go Bandit offered some impressive views.

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The first drop was impressive on its own, but the ride didn't reach its max speed until later in the ride.

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The helix of death had no death.

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I said Bandit was the best Togo I had ever ridden, but then I went to Sea Paradise.

 

We had another Togo next on the agenda in Momonga Standing and Loop Coaster. As the name implies, you have the option to either ride sitting down or tempt fate by standing up. The vehicles are loaded on separate platforms and utilize a sliding station like Mr. Freeze. I had every intention of trying both sides, but I began with the sit down side to test the waters. Was I in for a head bashing?

 

Fortunately I wasn’t! The drop wasn’t steep enough to provide any thrills, but the coaster was smooth and had a forceful vertical loop and solid helix. Unfortunately that’s all the ride really had. I missed the bunny hills Star Jet or even Kings Dominion’s Shockwave had at the end, but what the ride provides is enjoyable.

 

I immediately tried the coaster standing up and was reminded just how awkward Togo stand-up restraints are. However, I will take them over the B&M stand-up restraints since the OSTRs are spaced far enough from my head that I don’t experience any headbanging. The ride was just as smooth, but I preferred sitting down to avoid the blood rush to my feet. 6 out of 10

 

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How are the US Togos terrible if the Japanese ones are actually enjoyable?

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Choose thy fate, sitting or standing.

 

Since Yomiuriland was perched atop a hill, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to try their S&S towers. Crazy Stooon was the better of the two as it was running in turbo drop mode. The drop was pretty average as far as S&S towers go, but I could tell the view was fantastic even without my glasses. In the distance there was an impressive city skyline and nearby there was a bustling sports field. I sure am glad I didn’t play youth sports on those fields, as I’d be mesmerized by the amusement rides. 7 out of 10

 

I wasn’t planning on riding the space shot next door, but since Crazy Hyuuuu was loading, I gave it a whirl. The view was equally as impressive, but short-lived. But unfortunately that’s all that can be said since there was absolutely no air whatsoever atop the tower. 4 out of 10

 

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Drop (Stooon) or Launch (Hyuuuu)?

 

Haunted House “Hyudoro” was an odd walkthrough. I noticed several pairs of sneakers tossed to the side, so I figured shoes were banned a la Eejanaika. But an English speaking employee clarified that the shoes were part of the theming. Apparently the house was themed to the shoe bandits. I couldn’t help but think of the bumbling wet bandits from Home Alone upon hearing that name.

 

The walkthrough had no further references to shoes. It also had no scare actors. But it did have several effects that were uniquely viewed through tiny little peep holes in the wall. It sounds stupid, but the absolute unknown whether or not something would jump out at me or if I’d just see a random skeleton added to the appeal. I did notice that several effects were slow to develop, so my advice is to slowly move through the house. 7 out of 10

 

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Shoes. Oh my god, shoes.

 

And of course I sampled the kiddie coaster, Wan Wan Coaster Wandit. The coaster was a pretty slow and smooth kiddie coaster offering two laps, but there was one standout effect. As you ascend the lift, you are bombarded with bubbles. This was extremely popular with the younger riders (aka the rest of the train). 3 out of 10

 

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This Snoopy wannabe is the park's mascot.

 

Usually I have zero intentions of riding the “Dumbo” type flats unless I’m at Disney with my sister since Dumbo is one of her favorite rides for nostalgia. However, I made an exception for Space Jet. While waiting for the kiddie coaster, I noticed the base tilted. I had never seen that before so I wanted to give it a whirl.

 

The effect wasn’t too noticeable while riding, but the ride did travel a bit faster than others and induced some laterals. We’re not talking adult himalaya here, but the laterals did compare favorably to those junior models out there. 6 out of 10

 

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Like Disneyland's Astro Orbiter, Space Jets is located on the ground.

 

For the most part, I avoided lines at Yomiuriland. However, I wasn’t so lucky with Splash U.F.O, their indoor river rapids ride. There couldn’t have been more than 60 people ahead of me in line, but I waited almost 45 minutes. The dispatches were glacial at about one per minute and the rafts weren’t even fully loaded. They even allowed single riders to have their own raft, which was baffling considering the wait.

 

After Fuji-Q’s rapids ride obliterated my clothes for the day, I wisely spent $1 for a poncho. And it was a very wise investment. There was a very steep drop in the dark that induced some terrifying airtime not unlike what you’d experience on a water coaster like Wildebeast. I took the full brunt of the resulting splash. Then there was also a ridiculously fast whirlpool section followed by another sizable splash.

 

While I remember the sheer terror of that drop, the ride was also memorable for the eccentric theme. Splash U.F.O. sounds like it should have a space theme, but instead it was themed to a noodle factory. There were random animatronics along the way such as a colossal fork flying towards us along with these random dark ride bits. The latter had us being mixed into a stew and later doing battle with a (for a lack of a better description) noodle monster man. The theme was truly “only in Japan”.

 

The absurd theme combined with the crazy drop makes Splash U.F.O. one of the best rapids rides out there. The only better ones I’ve ridden are the ones at Fuji-Q, Phantasialand, and Islands of Adventure. It’s just a shame the capacity was so putrid as I would have loved to have ridden this a few times, especially on such a hot day. 9 out of 10

 

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First fashion and now noodles? I love how odd this park is!

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Beware of the saucebeam.

 

Last but not least, I tried their Animal Rescue dark ride. I think the theme was to prevent poachers from harming animals. Instead of going all Martin Luther King Jr. and preaching peace, you are equipped with a hunting rifle and take aim at the poachers. For some reason I can’t see something like this existing in the United States.

 

After ending the life of each and every poacher, we then took aim at spiders. I guess spiders don’t count as animals and have no rights? The ride was pretty short, but the amount of targets combined with the hypocritical and insane theme made this a winner in my book. 8 out of 10

 

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If you want your chance to be a terminator, Animal Rescue is the ride for you.

 

I sort of wish I had allotted more time at Yomiuriland. 3 hours was enough time to get all the credits and sample the non-coasters, but I wish I had more time for rerides. Bandit is the standout coaster of the park, but it’s supplemented by some rides oddly themed to fashion, noodles, and murder. Yomiuriland was definitely one of the strongest parks on the trip.

 

Last but not least are a few rides missing from the park index.

 

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The Disko that was so new that it wasn't even on the park map.

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Miracle Wan Room, the weird crazy house ride.

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It looks like that poor man is taking that straight to the nuts.

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Sea Paradise

 

Continuing the tradition of forgoing the animal exhibits, it should be no surprise I visited Sea Paradise solely for the rides. More specifically, I visited for two rides- Blue Fall and Surf Coaster Leviathan. Extended hours on a Saturday night allowed me to cram in this seaside park after Yomiuriland. Approaching the park, it's impossible not to notice Blue Fall towering in the distance.

 

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I think this looks like the right stop.

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And there's Blue Fall in all its glory. It looks even bigger in person.

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The entrance is sort of weird since you just walk down a street and then...BAM you're in the park.

 

After trying to find a ticket booth unsuccessfully, I settled on the self-service kiosk. I was wondering how I'd get an unlimited wristband from a kiosk, but sure enough it was an option. I bought a ride-only pass and the machine spat out a card. My phone's translator mutilated the translation, so I just decided to queue for Blue Fall and see what would happen.

 

I immediately realized everyone else in line had a wristband except me. Figuring I'd be turned away, the attendant happily took my ticket and handed me a pink poncho. I was a bit confused since it wasn't raining, but the park was worried grease could stain riders’ clothes so that was a very nice gesture and something you'd only see in Japan. I was luckily assigned Car 2, which is exactly the one I wanted. Blue Fall’s height (350ft) is impressive on its own, but two sides have a special trick up their sleeve.

 

The ascent was fairly quick and even without my glasses, I could appreciate the view. Off in the distance I could see the skyscrapers of Yokohama and in the nearfield I could see the beautiful ocean surrounding the park. But the freakiest thing was the fact that the tower swayed pretty darn noticeably due to the high winds.

 

Unfortunately there was a countdown before the drop which took away one of the greatest assets of a drop tower, the suspense. After a brief countdown (in English no less), we plunged a few feet before coming to an abrupt halt. The car then slowly passes through a set of magnetic brakes before continuing the long drop back to terra firma. It's certainly a neat idea and particularly shocking for unknowing riders, but I thought the drop was missing that stomach drop sensation Intamin towers reliably provide. Don't get me wrong, it was still very good but not as impressive as expected. 9 out of 10

 

Once my ride ended, an operator was waiting at the exit with a wristband. That's awesome! I immediately got back in line. You cannot choose your side and this time I got the normal side (well as normal as you can make a 350ft drop). And I have to be perfectly honest; this is the superior side of Blue Fall. By having an unadulterated and full drop, I got the wonderful floater air and stomach dropping sensation I expected. And they seemingly lasted forever. While I don't think it's the world's best drop tower, it's not far from the top thanks to the sheer size and spectacular views. 10 out of 10

 

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Make sure you get at least one ride on a side with these white fins. It's truly one-of-a-kind.

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Did all those riders coordinate their outfits and wear pink ponchos? No. Since Blue Fall can splatter riders with grease, the operators provide each rider with a free poncho. It's another example of excellent Japanese service.

 

Leery that Splashute (the park’s boat chute) would close early, I made that my next priority. And my suspicion was correct that it'd close early. Unfortunately I just missed the last cycle of the day. Seeing the last cycle of this retro boat chute was somewhat torture, but it was cool to see nonetheless.

 

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I definitely would fall flat on my face if I tried that.

 

I was optimistic I'd find another walk-on by Surf Coaster Leviathan, but it had a full queue. Even with one train operations, I was on within 30 minutes. Like many coasters in Japan, there's no choice seating. And I should add not once did anyone complain. I was expecting OSTRs, but much to my surprise, I saw a lap bar! The trains looked brand spanking new, so maybe they're a new addition? Because of the oversized padding, I had to cross my legs to fit. It wasn't exactly the most comfortable riding position, but it was well worth it to experience the surprise coaster of the trip.

 

To start, the coaster’s setting is beautiful as Surf Coaster is fittingly adjacent to the water. The lift and turn afford riders a relaxed chance to admire the view and they better take it because the rest of the coaster is action-packed from start to finish. The first drop offers a nice pop of air for backseat riders and the subsequent airtime hill lives up to its name, granting a pop of weightlessness for all riders. I braced for the worst from the oncoming helix, but it was actually smooth and forceful! Something was wrong, I was loving a Togo.

 

The awkwardly shaped s-hill looked terrifying, but somehow it offered a solid pop of air to go with strong laterals. Then came another airtime filled drop and a forceful upwards helix. The following drop is quite possibly the largest on the ride and easily the highlight. It plunges all the way down to the ground and offers incredible ejector air. A hidden hill afterwards again launches riders skyward. How come all Togos couldn't be this awesome?

 

By this point, you shouldn't be surprised but there was yet another solid helix. The last lap had 2-3 more solid airtime hills, punctuated by a very strong burst of air entering the brakes. I was speechless. I was expecting a glorified jet coaster and instead I got a wild, airtime filled coaster that was perfectly reridable. After several rides, I found the seats towards the back to be superior but really this coaster delivers in every seat. Togo must have sold their soul to the devil to create this coaster. Honestly I even preferred it to Kawasemi! 9 out of 10

 

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That's one of the coolest coaster logos out there.

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As the name suggests, Surf Coaster is right up against the water.

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Surf Coaster just kept going and going and going.

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Most importantly, the ride had some surprisingly good airtime.

 

As darkness fell over the park, I wanted to grab some night shots on the park’s observation tower. And I certainly got what I wanted. The 360 degree views of the park, water, and distant city were truly spectacular.

 

The Sea Paradise Tower also had two odd features. One, the operators provided free binoculars to all riders. That's something I've never seen before and it really helped admire the distant cities. Two, there were 1-2 random upholstered booths in the cabin while the rest of the seats were hard plastic. Not that the seats were uncomfortable, but it was just odd a few lucky riders were treated like kings. While the view from Blue Fall is equally as impressive, you miss out on the opportunity to snap some lovely photos unless you ride this tower. 10 out of 10

 

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Here's the observation tower during the day, but I never rode it until darkness set in.

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If you're lucky, you can sit on the throne for your ride.

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Sea Paradise sure did look pretty at night.

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Surf Coaster's layout is more reminiscent of a wooden coaster than a steel coaster.

 

I spent the remaining hour grabbing rerides. I started with two quick ones on Blue Fall. It was utterly hopeless for me to admire the view sans my glasses, but the drop was just as breathtaking.

 

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It's not quite Tower of Terror, but it is a great fall.

 

I then finished by marathoning Surf Coaster. Yes, I marathoned a Togo, so I'm pretty sure the world's going to end now. The queue dwindled with each reride until it eventually became a walk-on. While I never got a true front or back row ride, I basically sat in every other seat. During this marathon, I realized the station had the exact same song on repeat so I pity the operators trying to get that out of their heads at the end of the night.

 

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It felt wrong ending the night marathoning a Togo, but Surf Coaster is a really awesome ride.

 

I also want to note the walkways at Sea Paradise aren't exactly as they seem. I thought it was odd the whole park had sidewalks down the entire midway, but I soon realized why. The park literally has a road that runs through the park so every few minutes I'd see a bus or truck rolling on through. And I thought Kentucky Kingdom having a road separating the front and back halves of the park was weird! Now that seems pretty ordinary.

 

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Make sure you stay on the sidewalks since a road runs through the entirety of the park.

 

For thrill seekers, Sea Paradise is all about two rides, but those two rides are certainly good enough to warrant a side trip if you find yourself in Tokyo. While I didn't experience any of the other flats, walkthroughs, or aquariums, the park definitely looks as though it has enough to fill an entire day. Also I definitely recommend taking advantage of the rare nights they're open after dark since the views are truly astounding.

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That's awesome you liked Surf Coaster so much. I knew from POVs that it will be a must-ride when I go to Japan next year. It's encouraging to see such a glowing review of it.

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That's awesome you liked Surf Coaster so much. I knew from POVs that it will be a must-ride when I go to Japan next year. It's encouraging to see such a glowing review of it.

 

Thanks! I think I definitely liked it more than others on the trip, but those I asked really liked it as well.

 

The new trains went in three years ago.

 

Ok thanks! Seeing lap bars was a very pleasant surprise.

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Tokyo Disneyland

 

Enthusiasts commonly say that Tokyo Disneyland is the best Disney resort. Considering how much I love the US parks and the Disney characters, Tokyo Disneyland had stratospheric expectations. And it didn’t meet them…it exceeded them! Everything about the resort is exceptional.

 

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This is my stop!

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The park was celebrating it's 35th anniversary.

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But that jealous duck wanted to one up the park and remind everyone it was his 69th birthday.

 

I spent 5 days at the resort and the emphasis on customer service was otherworldly. Despite heavy crowds, I never waited more than 5 minutes in any food or merchandise line because of how well staffed the park was. Beyond that, it’s unbelievable the length that each employee goes to in order to ensure guests have one of the best days of their lives. They take service with a smile to a whole new level.

 

Everyone you see seems genuinely excited to see you and greets you with a smile, bow, wave, or usually a combination of the three. Heck there are employees standing outside shops waving the hand of a plushy as guests walk by. Tell me what other park would do something like that?

 

Delving into the individual parks, I’ll start with Tokyo Disneyland. I have a new favorite theme park. It takes everything great about Disneyland and improves upon it. It’s appropriately designed to handle large crowds and has all the classic attractions I’ve come to know and love from Disney plus some unique E-tickets like Monsters Inc. and Pooh.

 

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There's just something magical walking down Main Street.

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I joined the masses and took the obligatory photo.

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No the castle isn't as small as Disneyland's; it's just really far back.

 

It’s impossible to recount my visit play-by-play so I’ll just run through everything in no particular order.

 

I rode some fantastic roller coasters in Japan like Eejanaika, Flying Dinosaur, and Kawasemi, but Tokyo Disneyland had a ride topping them all- Splash Mountain. Disney’s take on a flume has been a favorite of mine from the day I first rode it. And Tokyo Disneyland has the best Splash Mountain in my opinion.

 

Since it was such a hot and muggy week, Splash Mountain’s queue regularly topped 90 minutes. Further it quickly ran out of Fastpasses. However, I was able to ride it over a dozen times thanks to the single rider line. I bypassed the entirety of the queue (which looked incredible I might add since it took place inside a cave inside the structure) and was usually paired up with another rider in 5-10 minutes.

 

It’s very similar to the Florida version except for a few minor differences. You have the comfy two-abreast logs and all the familiar animatronics. While the show scene starts similarly, the Laughing Place segment occurs before the second drop and is more prolonged. For me, that’s a welcome change.

 

From a thrill perspective, there are four drops. This Splash Mountain is unique in that the first plunge is enclosed. Then the second indoor drop is steeper than you’d expect (giving a good stomach drop feeling) and is followed by that odd uphill segment. There’s a pretty weak third drop, but the final plunge more than makes up for it. It’s every bit as excellent as the US counterparts- it’s tall, steep, and fast. The splash won’t get you wet, but the misters aimed right at your face are sure to nail you.

 

It’s impossible not to come off Splash Mountain smiling ear to ear and humming Zip-a-dee-do-dah. I’d go so far to say that Splash Mountain is better than 99% of coasters I’ve been on. Maybe I’m a bad enthusiast saying that, but Splash Mountain really is a tour de force combining everything I could ever want in an attraction- immersive theming, a well-executed story, and thrills. 10 out of 10

 

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Splash Mountain was the best ride of the entire trip and it's better than 99% of the coasters out there.

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Smile for the camera.

 

Big Thunder Mountain wasn’t quite as good as the US versions, but it was still a fun coaster. I was sure to ride in the back and was expecting the same combination of surprising airtime and strong laterals. However, on Tokyo’s version I only experienced the laterals. I’m not sure this one was slower or the drops were profiled slightly different, but I only got one little pop of air on the final drop.

 

The ride was glass smooth though as it carved its way through the picturesque mountain. It was odd having the bat scene at the end of the ride, but I thought it made for a nice finale. I only rode Big Thunder twice since I prioritized my Fastpasses for Pooh, Monsters, and Space, but it’s an enjoyable coaster nonetheless. 7 out of 10

 

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It's not quite the wildest ride in the wilderness, but it's still fun spiraling through the mountain.

 

Space Mountain was probably the attraction that I got the most Fastpasses for over my 5 days. For whatever reason, Space Mountain’s Fastpasses tended to last the longest. The queue was cool for two reasons. One, they had still had the space ramp leading to the interior queue. Second, there are little port holes along the queue where it’s possible to catch a glimpse of a rocket speeding by.

 

The layout was identical to Disneyland’s Space Mountain. There’s only one drop, but each right-hand turn gets progressively tighter until that impossibly tight left-hand turn catches you off-guard. For a coaster lacking drops, Space Mountain gains and holds its speed very well (or it feels that way at least).

 

However, Disneyland’s is superior for one major reason- the soundtrack. I never rode it with the Dick Dale soundtrack, but I absolutely love the Michael Giacchino one as you fly through the cosmos. I know the coaster originally existed without the music stateside, but I really did miss the on-board audio. Still it’s the best coaster at the resort as it gives a smooth and wild ride. 8 out of 10

 

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As an old teacher said, "Aim for the stars...because what if your aim sucks."

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It's basically a clone of Disneyland's minus the on-board audio.

 

Gadget’s Go Coaster was down for its annual rehab. I’ve ridden the one at Disneyland (and others), but I was slightly disappointed I didn’t get to ride my Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Ranger themed coaster. That was my favorite show as a kid, so it’s nostalgic in a way. But at least I was able to get my chipmunk fix by ascending their adjacent Treehouse and purchasing one of the best souvenirs of the trip.

 

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I always bash the Swiss Family Treehouse for just being a glorified staircase, but I guess I turn a blind eye when Chip n Dale are involved.

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You know you're jealous of my hat.

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It's the holy shrine of chipmunks.

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If you thought this Gadget's Go Coaster was themed to Inspector Gadget, go watch Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers right now.

 

But the bread and butter of a Disney park are all the dark rides and Tokyo Disneyland excelled here. My personal favorite was Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek. I hadn’t heard too much about this attraction other than the fact that it was the top Fastpass in the park. I came off very impressed.

 

Essentially it’s a twist on the shooting dark ride. Instead of using guns to kill monsters (this isn’t Universal), you use flashlights to illuminate monsters. That sounds pretty stupid, but it’s pure goofy fun. Every single target hit resulted in an animatronic responding. In an age where many dark rides rely on screens, it was refreshing seeing such expansive physical sets. It was very reminiscent of Men in Black Alien Attack.

 

While I do wish the score was kept for some friendly competition, the interactivity of the attraction really shone (pun intended). The monsters are cartoonish enough for kids and some targets are challenging enough to hit that there’s some difficulty for older riders. 10 out of 10

 

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In a cruel twist of fate, humans have infiltrated Monsters Inc.

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The monsters shouldn't worry. They're just carrying flashlights that look an awful lot like guns.

 

If you’ve been on Disneyland’s Buzz Lightyear, I’m pretty sure the one in Tokyo is a literal clone. I’m very thankful they didn’t copy the mounted guns of the Orlando version. The ride is pretty short in length, but there’s not a shortage of targets, many of which have different point values for an added challenge.

 

In a way, Monsters Inc. made Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blaster redundant. Buzz is a very fine attraction and one of the best shooters out there. It just so happens there’s a superior shooter literally next door. And that’s really more a testament to how good Monsters is since this is one of the better shooters out there thanks to its reliance on detailed practical sets. 9 out of 10

 

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Is harvesting batteries a euphemism for murder because that sure does look like a lethal weapon?

 

When people start talking about how great Tokyo Disneyland is, you can be sure that they’ll quickly mention Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. It’s technically the park’s most impressive dark ride because of the trackless ride system. Once you’ve ridden the Japanese version, the US versions are ruined (granted those nostalgic for Mr. Toad or the Country Bears may say that anyway).

 

The initial scene in the Hundred Acre Woods is extremely detailed. It’s so detailed that you’ll need multiple rides to see everything since your honey pot has a mind of its own and won’t always go the same way. The Tigger bouncing room is a delight, but it’s the finale that stands out.

 

The dreaming effect for Pooh is very well executed and the final room with the Heffalumps is absolute mayhem (in the best way possible). Disney really lets the trackless ride system shine in this room. You randomly spin and swirl about narrowly missing the other vehicles and periodically stopping at a brief scene.

 

I was somewhat let down after my first ride because of how immense the hype for this attraction was. However, after my second ride, I realized I was mistaken; Pooh really is one of the best rides Disney has ever created. The trackless ride system alone is a marvel. If you’ve been on Antarctica, you already know that. But unlike Antarctica, Pooh actually has a legit ride to go with it. 9.5 out of 10

 

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Anyone who says the US Pooh rides are better are just being trolls.

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The trackless vehicles alone are a treat, so adding in all the animatronics and detailed sets makes this truly incredible.

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What is Rabbit doing with that pencil?

 

Pirates of the Caribbean is a weird mashup of Orlando and California’s. In many ways, it feels like the Florida version with an abridged version of Disneyland’s cave section appended to the start. I have to be honest, the cave section is pretty slow and somewhat boring, but the voyage through the town is an absolute hoot.

 

I figure this will be the final time I see the bride auction scene in its original form, so it was nice to see one last time (although I heard the revision is well done). There are a few Jack Sparrow sightings, but I think he was tastefully added to the attraction. This really is a Disney classic and Japan’s stands up well. 9 out of 10

 

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This may be the last time I see the auction scene in its original glory.

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Johnny Depp sighting.

 

Next door was Jungle Cruise. Regrettably I did miss out on Japanese Jaws; however, I was treated to quite the animated experience on the Jungle Cruise. Now I know almost no Japanese, but what I do know is that the presentation was entirely different. While the US drivers give an intentionally deadpan spiel teeming with dry humor, the Japanese drivers were extremely animated.

 

The outdoor scenes were almost identical to the US ones, but one difference was inside the cavern. Where Florida’s is pitch black, Tokyo’s had a cool projection mapping effect not unlike what you see in the Cobra’s Curse queue line. I always enjoy an expedition on the Jungle Cruise. 9 out of 10

 

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This elephant bathes more than some ACErs.

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That rhino is a real pain in the butt for those tourists.

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Aw those lions are so considerate watching over that dead (tired) zebra.

 

Another timeless classic is the Haunted Mansion. The park was rehabbing the building’s exterior. But did that keep the ride closed? Nope! They simply placed a massive tarp over the facade and operated it as normally.

 

The animatronics and effects seemed newer than the US versions, but otherwise the layout and scenes were similar. The one odd thing was how the language constantly transitioned from English to Japanese between scenes. I have great respect for the Japanese learning both languages since I could barely get an elementary understanding of Spanish after 5 years of classes. 9 out of 10

 

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The tarp is definitely tacky, but it sure beats the ride being closed.

 

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is based on one of my all-time favorite movies and the ride represents the film well. This is one queue I don’t mind being stuck in because it’s well themed and has all sorts of references to the film. When I first rode the one in California, I was slightly disappointed the vehicles didn’t spin like the Mad Tea Party. But then I realized that would have neutralized all the detailed sets.

 

Instead the spinning adds to the general feeling of chaos throughout the attraction. It’s especially effective at the end of the attraction as you romp through the gag warehouse, dodging those dastardly weasels. But the highlight is without a doubt the extending tunnel effect. I’ve since looked up how that effect is executed, but it’s still incredible to see. 9 out of 10

 

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The kid in me always comes alive when I set foot into Toontown.

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It really brings a smile to my face that Roger Rabbit gets his own attraction.

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I don't mind waiting in this queue one bit.

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It's so refreshing being able to ride a taxi and not have to keep an eye on the meter.

 

Fantasyland also has the gambit of old-fashioned Disney dark rides. To avoid a painful hour queue, I had to rope drop Peter Pan’s Flight one day. Now I do enjoy Peter Pan. I just don’t enjoy waiting a long time for it. The ride is short, but I’m always impressed flying over the miniaturized London. I did find this one to be a bit darker (in terms of light) than the US versions, but it was still good. 7 out of 10

 

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I found a unicorn, a 5 minute wait for Peter Pan. Guess no one else wants to rope drop this ride.

 

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey was a journey back in time. While you have the newer marvels like Pooh and Monsters Inc, you have this retro dark ride with blacklit effects and cutouts. The scenes were identical to California’s, but the vehicles seemed to travel quite a bit faster, more like they do on Mr. Toad. It was just missing the journey to hell. 7 out of 10

 

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This is the norm at Tokyo Disneyland, every single employee smiles and waves as you walk by.

 

Snow White’s Adventures is another oldie but goodie. Considering their age, the animatronics look pretty good. The ride isn’t the longest in the world, but the scenes are well done and tell the story of Snow White quite well. 7 out of 10

 

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I prefer the coaster in Florida, but riding this was a step back in time.

 

It’s a Small World is such an easy ride to hate on. That’s what everyone does, me included. Yet I always end up riding the voyage around the world. Because if you can forgive the ride for getting that infectious tune stuck in your head, you know you secretly do enjoy the attraction. The Japanese in particular love It’s a Small World since I saw the queue hit 60 minutes at points.

 

I snuck on in the evening when the queue subsided and only waited 10 minutes. The only downside was that I got a nosebleed immediately after the ride began. Thankfully I had some tissues available or else the boat would have looked like a murder scene, although I wouldn’t put it past those dolls turning on the humans someday like the machines in Terminator.

 

The ride incorporates many familiar Disney characters into each scene. It’s not exactly subtle, especially the Frozen bit, but the characters are designed to match the artistic style of the attraction. It’s a Small World purists will probably complain, but I enjoy the scavenger hunt of locating the characters among the singing dolls. 8 out of 10

 

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This ride is the butt of all jokes, and yet we all end up riding it.

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The Disney characters aren't subtle, but at least they follow the style of the ride (well except outside of Olaf).

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Um...is he not wearing pants?

 

Mickey’s PhilharMagic was down for rehab at the start of the trip, but it reopened towards the end. Even though the entire film was in Japanese, appreciating classic Disney tunes such as Part of Your World and I Just Can’t Wait to be King is universal. The animation and 3D are beautiful and the ride ends with a literal bang. 9 out of 10

 

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The staging room before the big show.

 

Star Tours offered Fastpasses, but they were never necessary since the queue rarely exceeded 15 minutes. I am a major fan of the randomized ride program since it definitely added to the reridability. For my first ride I had an episode 1 centric ride (groans) with JarJar and pod racing, but later I got a more favorable ride with Boba or Jango Fett pursing us with a bomb.

 

While I prefer several of the dark rides to Star Tours, I still have to admit this is one of the best executed simulators out there. You have a great story, some wild movements, and a nice picture. 8 out of 10

 

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Star Tours- "We're not Spirit or United."

 

One of the neat things about the Enchanted Tiki Room is that the staff offered us English translators. Apparently two English tourists stood out like a sore thumb Originally we just wanted to see the animatronics and relax in the AC, but this allowed us to understand the story. The attraction had a Stitch overlay. It seemed weird throwing an alien into an attraction about birds, but it actually worked. 6 out of 10

 

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Stitch has now invaded Adventureland.

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This was an absolute lifesaver. Thank you Disneyland for being able to tell that I couldn't speak a lick of Japanese.

 

Unfortunately Stich Encounter didn’t offer the same translators. If you don’t know Japanese, you shouldn’t hesitate to skip this attraction. The animation was well done and based on the reactions of the locals, it seemed funny, but it was completely lost on me.

 

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If you don't speak Japanese, I strongly recommend that you keep on walking by.

 

The Mad Tea Party is universal though. What could be simpler than boarding a tea cup and spinning it like mad? It was incredibly easy to get the cups spinning fast, but every few seconds they were automatically slowed down. It felt like the autobrake you’ll experience on a mountain coaster. I’ve never seen this on a tea cup before, but it was still a nice diversion from the park’s other attractions. 6 out of 10

 

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The tea party was mad that I spun it so fast, so it kept autobraking my cup.

 

The Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes were an odd attraction to find at such a corporate park. It’s odd being given an actual paddle and actually propelling the boat down the stream, but that’s exactly what happens on the canoes. The pitch between seats was pretty tight, so it was easy to smack paddles with others, but it was a nice, scenic change of pace. 6 out of 10

 

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Work hard for the beaver.

 

One of my least favorite Disney attractions is the Swiss Family/Tarzan Treehouse. The last thing I want to do after trekking around a park in the oppressive heat is to climb several flights of stairs for minimal theming. However, the Japanese version offered one thing the US version doesn’t- photo opportunities. From atop the treehouse, you can get some great shots of the mountains and Monsters Inc.

 

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Usually this isn't my favorite attraction.

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But being able to photograph Splash Mountain with a volcano behind it makes it worth it.

 

From a show perspective, the park offered two impressive parades- Dreaming Up and the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade. Since the Japanese have zero qualms respectfully and calmly waiting for hours to view shows or parades, the park operates a lottery system to help save people some time. Once per day, you have a chance to scan your ticket at a kiosk and if luck is on your side, you get a return time. Otherwise you join the masses.

 

It’s a neat system and I was lucky enough to have won a pass to the special viewing area for Dreaming Up. Unfortunately I couldn’t use it. Tokyo Disneyland is right next to the ocean. On one hand, it can produce a refreshing sea breeze. On the other hand, it cancelled the parade a few days.

 

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I won! But then the wind spited me.

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Every other time I was greeted with this unfortunate message.

 

Fortunately I was able to see Dreaming Up on my last day and it was an enjoyable show. There were floats for all the core characters plus everyone’s favorite princesses. The floats were well designed and the parade was accompanied by high energy music. It’s enjoyable, but the real star is the electrical parade. 7 out of 10

 

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Goofy just wants attention.

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This is the real Peter Pan's Flight.

 

The Electrical Parade is absolute eye candy. Each float’s lighting package absolutely pops and it’s accompanied by an incredibly catchy tune (Disney seems to be quite good at this). I still think Universal has bested Disney for night parades, but this is far better than the one I used to watch at Disney World. 9 out of 10

 

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I love how the parade route passes in front of the castle. It makes for some great photo ops.

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It's eye candy at its finest.

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I approve of the inclusion of Chip n Dale.

 

From a food perspective, Tokyo Disneyland also excelled. I was disappointed the hotel didn’t have Mickey waffles (one of the highlights of an on-site Disney World vacation), but Tokyo Disneyland had me covered with the Great American Waffle Company. I had my waffle au natural, but those with a sweet tooth can have their waffle decorated with whipped cream, chocolate, and all sorts of diabetic delights.

 

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Mmmmmm waffles.

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It's an assembly line of goodness.

 

If you want something heavier, my favorite place was the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. I’d be hard pressed to name a better looking and better themed restaurant. I was worried it’d be all about the experience and less about the food, but I had some delicious roast beef and rotisserie chicken from them.

 

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This was my favorite restaurant at Disneyland.

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The food could be absolute trash and it'd still be worth it to eat here at least once.

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But thankfully the food is awesome!

 

If you really want to stuff your face, there’s the Crystal Palace. This is a buffet. None of the food is exceptional, but the breadth is impressive. I was particularly impressed by the amount of seafood available.

 

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If you want to stuff your face with quantity, this is the place to do so.

 

Last but not least there was popcorn. Again I’m not a fan of sweet things so I skipped a lot of flavors. I will say that I enjoyed the plain salted popcorn and it was an incredibly cheap snack in between meals. However, if you’re more adventurous than me, there were probably a dozen or so different flavors scattered about the park.

 

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Yes...I bought a hat of Slinky wearing a hat. It's hatception.

 

Tokyo Disneyland excels in every area. I could keep going on and on, but I’ve already rambled on enough and there are countless other glowing reviews out there. Tokyo Disneyland takes everything that’s great about Disneyland and takes it to the next level and makes a truly world-class experience. This is without a doubt my favorite Disney park.

 

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I eventually had to wave the white flag and leave, but as Arnold says, I'll be back.

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Where's Elissa? (see below)

 

Awesome coverage of TDL! Some really greats shots there, day and night ones.

 

And yeah, I'm sure the Disney Sea TR will make my eyes go buggy, too LOL!

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:shockr: Where's Elissa? (see below)

 

Awesome coverage of TDL! Some really greats shots there, day and night ones.

 

And yeah, I'm sure the Disney Sea TR will make my eyes go buggy, too LOL!

 

Thanks! I think it's pretty much impossible to get a bad shot of either park. Both are gorgeous.

 

^I was probably just outside the frame!

 

Ah I thought you were hiding in the treehouse.

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Every report from Tokyo Disneyland (and DisneySea) makes me want to visit this place even more. Everything looks so awesome; the food, the theming, the rides, the merch, the staff, the parade!

 

Thanks for sharing your adventures in Japan (and making me even more jealous ).

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Nice to see such a detailed look at "the other" Tokyo Disney park. People tend to focus on TDS for obvious reasons so I feel like we don't often see TDL explored as thoroughly.

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^ Thanks! Tokyo DisneySea is definitely the more unique park of the two, but my preference was for the traditional Disneyland side. That's not to take anything away from DisneySea since that was incredible in its own way.

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Tokyo DisneySea

 

I almost broke my jaw at Tokyo DisneySea. Not from too much popcorn or anything, but from the beauty of the park. The moment I saw Mt. Prometheus, my jaw dropped and I had to be careful not to step on it. Without any hesitation, I can say that Tokyo DisneySea is the most beautiful theme park I have ever visited. I mean this as a compliment, but it was easy to forget we were in a theme park at many points throughout the park. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

 

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Finally I made it to Tokyo DisneySea!

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It's incredible the park built Mt. Prometheus in the center of the park since it meant it needed to look amazing in every direction. And it does!

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Heck the volcano even erupts randomly.

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As expected, it looked incredible at night too.

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Arabian Coast

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Yes this is still Tokyo DisneySea and not the real Venice. Though can you tell the difference?

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Cape Cod looked too nice and not touristy enough.

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This ship looks even bigger in person. This picture doesn't do it justice.

 

That’s pretty impressive considering some of the rides at this park. Tokyo DisneySea’s ride lineup may not offer the breadth of the resort’s flagship park; however, it more than compensates with the quality. After Splash Mountain, DisneySea had my three favorite attractions at the resort.

 

And that was without Journey to the Center of the Earth. From POVs, the ride looks like an absolute masterpiece combining the high speed finale with impressive animatronics. Unfortunately the ride was down for maintenance. Not that I needed any reasons to return, but Journey is a pretty darn good one.

 

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I kept telling myself if I looked hard enough, I'd see a vehicle shoot out of the volcano. Next time!

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I'm guessing this was for Journey.

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Even with Journey closed, Mysterious Island looked amazing.

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Even more so at night.

 

For the attractions that were open, Indiana Jones Adventure was my favorite. Indiana Jones is my favorite film franchise so I’m admittedly very biased. But this attraction received a budget approaching a major motion picture and it shows. The colossal set-pieces are absolutely awe-inspiring and adding in the exciting motion of the EMVs is icing on the cake.

 

The layout is the exact same as California’s (and technically Dinosaur). The motions felt a bit tamer than its US brethren (could have been by design or my memory failing me), but it was still plenty exciting and felt like a bucking bronco at points when the vehicle would suddenly jerk from a near stop to its maximum speed. This is most evident during the hairpin turns in the dark and the final drop.

 

However, instead of being themed to the Forbidden Eye, Tokyo’s is themed to the Crystal Skull. Thankfully it’s unrelated to the fourth film, which is an absolute abomination. There were some new effects such as a blasted smoke ring, but most were similar. Some were dressed differently (i.e. Crystal Skull instead of Mara), but others were identical like the cobra attack.

 

Indiana Jones Adventure is an absolute delight from start to finish. I’m always in awe how Disney was able to incorporate a thrill ride with such an immersive attraction. How can you not get amped up when you see a 50 foot statue firing lasers or a colossal boulder rolling towards you? I think I slightly prefer California’s, but this is undoubtedly one of the best dark rides in the world. Actually make that one of the best rides in the world. 10 out of 10

 

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In most parks, this would be the most impressive structure. Too bad it has to compete with Prometheus.

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Thankfully the movie had no affiliation with the Indiana Jones sequel that I wish never existed.

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The whole ride plays like a summer blockbuster and that's fine by me.

 

Despite the positive reviews Guardians and Tokyo’s Tower of Terror always received, I was leery if I’d enjoy a non-Twilight Zone themed tower as much. That theme works so well. Well, seeing the beautiful tower in person started to quell those doubts and then they disappeared entirely (just like Shiriki) after the pre-show. Disney crafted yet another marvelous story.

 

Shiriki is not your traditional Disney character. He’s not cute and cuddly (maybe that’s why he didn’t have much merchandise), but rather he’s a seriously vindictive dude with a serious Napoleon complex. Most Disney villains just talk a big game, cast some spells, and want to rule a kingdom. Shiriki is out for blood and the scenes are appropriately dark and ominous.

 

The drop sequence is the weakest of the three towers I’ve ridden. I knew there was no way it’d match Orlando’s, but I was hopeful it’d at least match California’s former four drop program. Sadly it only had three drops (1 half, 1 rapid ascent, and 1 full drop), but that still surpasses basically every other drop tower on the planet. And the drops pack a punch too. Despite the shoulder belts, I felt plenty of airtime (particularly on the rapid ascent) and got that delightful stomach drop sensation.

 

One of the drop shafts was down for our visit, so lines were regularly around 2 hours. Thankfully Fastpass was my best friend and allowed me to experience this brilliant attraction 7 or 8 times. The quality of the drops is better than almost every drop tower on the planet, so when you mix in such a captivating story, you have a truly world-class attraction. It can’t beat Orlando’s tower as an attraction, but the theme may. 10 out of 10

 

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At first I wasn't sure how I'd like the non-Hollywood Tower of Terror, but I was a believer when I saw this.

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The fog made the tower appear extra ominous in the morning.

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Don't piss of Shiriki or else.

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One of my favorite little touches is how a bolt of lightning strikes the elevator right before it falls.

 

Toy Story Mania is appropriately named, as the Japanese go crazy over this attraction. The flood of people heading to Toy Story at opening is overwhelming. If you aren’t at the front of that mob, you’re wait has already reached the 1-2 hour mark. Then the Fastpasses rapidly deplete. It seemed like they ran dry within 1-1.5 hours after park opening.

 

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If you couldn't tell, Toy Story is off to the left.

 

This is the best looking of the three Toy Story Manias. You have the giant Woody serving as the ride entrance, which on its own looks incredible. But further, the area perfectly captures the feel of a classic boardwalk amusement park and is absolutely mesmerizing when it’s lit up at night. Then the queue is very reminiscent of Florida’s with all the oversized board games and toys.

 

The ride is identical to the two in the United States and I didn’t mind one bit. This is the best shooter. There is something inherently satisfying about pulling the string to fire plungers, darts, or whatever else it may be and by the end of the ride, your arm is absolutely exhausted and you have to power through it to get a top score. The more I ride Toy Story, the more bonus targets I discover such as the erupting volcano. I just wish the line wasn’t as prohibitively long so I could ride it more! 10 out of 10

 

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This is easily the best looking Toy Story Mania. Just look at Woody's pearly whites.

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Woody is really turned on at night.

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California's queue is so disappointing after walking through this one and Florida's.

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I swear it was just a coincidence that I photographed the Slinky Dog car.

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Speaking of Slinky Dog...

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Here you can purchase your favorite Slinky Dog merchandise.

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Like this beautiful hat and then you can pose with him.

 

I felt absolutely no shame showing my appreciation of Slinky (or Dale for that matter) considering just how crazy some of Donald’s fans were.

 

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Dale literally bowed down to me when he saw my hat and t-shirt.

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I showed restraint. I capped myself at like 4 Chip n Dale souvenirs. This person did not do the same with Donald.

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This is probably their favorite store- the Donald gift shop.

 

There are also two coasters for good measure. Raging Spirits is probably the most intense coaster at the resort and it’s actually surprising how smooth it is. It’s a compact Intamin taking the form of one of those traveling Pinfari loopers. With the oversized restraints and tight transitions, I was amazed that there wasn’t any headbanging. Those who had ridden it on past trips noted the park had smoothed the coaster out, but whatever they did worked wonders.

 

The coaster bit is decent. There are two drops with pops of air in the back and the vertical loop is odd in that it starts off forceful but then delivers some hangtime. Beyond that, there isn’t much else to the layout. Where Raging Spirits shines is the theming. The coaster weaves in and out of ancient ruins, so the basic layout is actually concealed quite well. Plus the use of fog and fire really heightens the thrill, particularly in the evening when the intensity of the effects seems to be cranked up.

 

The two major coasters at the adjacent park were superior, but Raging Spirits was an enjoyable and extremely reridable coaster, particularly since it offered a single rider line that was usually a walk-on. It’s also equally as enjoyable to watch as it is to ride thanks to those aforementioned effects. 7 out of 10

 

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First Shiriki and now this. There are a lot of angry spirits at DisneySea.

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They're especially angry at night.

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What should be a boring boardwalk coaster is elevated by some impressive theming.

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These riders are braver than Indiana Jones.

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And in case you miss the big freaking loop while waiting, they have this lovely warning that you will in fact go upside down.

 

Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster was something I said I wouldn’t ride if it had any sort of a wait. However, the allure of the Little Mermaid themed kids coaster was too much for me to pass up. After a half hour, I boarded Togo’s take on a junior coaster.

 

The coaster doesn’t track quite as well as a Vekoma roller skater, but it never delved into rough territory. The layout wasn’t anything special, but the landscaping around the attraction sure was. The coaster was located in a recessed alcove and packed to the gills with flowers, trees, and plants. 3 out of 10

 

The adjacent Little Mermaid area looked incredible as well even though I didn't ride anything else.

 

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At least I wasn't the only adult riding.

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In retrospect, I probably should have waited for the castle to pass by the castle.

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The indoor area looks incredibly cool even if it's just a show and some flat rides.

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This looks a whole lot better than California's (if they even still have that ride).

 

Nemo & Friends SeaRider was the newest attraction at the park and subsequently boasted lengthy queues. Fortunately we were able to Fastpass it since the ride appeared to be limited to one theater on the day we visited. This was one of those motion simulator theaters.

 

The theater is actually more impressive than most. Beyond the large screen in front, you also had these portholes along the side of the theater. The movement was pretty mild, especially after riding Star Tours, and the plot never expanded beyond a meet and greet of familiar faces from the film, but it was a decent attraction. It seemed to really be a bit hit among younger riders. 6 out of 10

 

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Slowly but surely, Pixar has creeped into Tokyo DisneySea.

 

Right next door was Aquatopia, one of the oddest attractions out there. It’s essentially a nonsensical joyride in the oddest watercraft you’ll ever board. There were two separate sides, but they give equally as random ride experiences. You’re sure to spin, stop, randomly spin some more, and move about with no particular rhyme or reason. It sounds stupid, but it’s just stupid fun. 7 out of 10

 

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Will they go left or right? Stop and spin? Your guess is as good as mine.

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At night, Aquatopia was basically the slowest rave you'll ever witness.

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Here's a cool shot in the morning before they filled Aquatopia's pool and you can see the trackless set-up.

 

Usually I only take park transportation if it’s faster than walking or offers photo opportunities you can’t otherwise get. The DisneySea Electric Railway doesn’t really offer both. However, it’s unique in that it’s an elevated railway much like the subway system running through downtown Chicago. It’s worth a ride if you catch it as a walk-on, but if there’s any sort of wait I’d recommend walking. 5 out of 10

 

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I'm guessing you were focused on the mountain rather than the train.

 

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was the lone attraction open in the Mysterious Island area with Journey down for rehab. The attraction offered Fastpass, but it was absolutely unnecessary as I never saw the queue longer than 10 minutes. This is a capacity machine. Part of the reason is the conscientious decision to have the submarine style vehicles designed so they can be boarded like a traditional dark ride to accelerate loading.

 

The unique part about this attraction was the light. Each rider is given a flashlight they can move around to illuminate the set-pieces. They don’t react like Monsters Inc, but it’s a neat little feature. The highlight though is the kraken animatronic at the end of the attraction. It’s simply massive and the effect to dispose of it is very well executed. 8 out of 10

 

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The other Nemo ride.

 

Sinbad is the park’s version of It’s a Small World. It’s a slow-moving boat with an undeniably catchy tune that’s sure to be stuck in your head. The attraction is teeming with animatronics. Many are in the doll style of It’s a Small World, but some are larger such as an ogre about halfway through the ride. Then you also have some cool supplemental effects like the rainstorm sequence. It’s not my favorite dark ride at the resort, but it’s always a walk-on like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. 7 out of 10

 

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Just when you get It's a Small World out of your head, Sinbad has another catchy tune to fill the void.

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I didn't ride it, but this carousel sure was pretty.

 

The park’s collection of shows was also exemplary. We started with the live musical performance, Big Band Beat. The show highlighted jazz music and had a high production value, combining great singers with well-choreographed dance routines. The most impressive part was that characters participated. Dancing alone would have been plenty impressive, but Mickey even had a drum solo. I guess Mickey is more than just a conductor. 8 out of 10

 

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I wish I could have shown you Mickey playing the drums, but no cameras were allowed. Guess you'll have to visit and see for yourself.

 

The Magic Lamp Theater was not what I expected. After picking up a pair of 3D glasses, I expected your typical 3D film. Instead I was treated to a lively magic show and only halfway through the performance did the Genie appear on the big screen and utilize the 3D. The 3D effects were the usual “in your face” variety, but the combination of live action and 3D was something I had only seen previously on T2. 7 out of 10

 

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A live action/3D hybrid was not what I was expecting, but it was well done.

 

But the top show was without a doubt Fantasmic. The park cautioned that due to wind, there would be a modified version of the show. If the version I saw was modified, than the real one must truly be special. While Florida has the designated arena for Fantasmic, I prefer how DisneySea use the park’s pre-existing body of water like Disneyland. It makes the show feel much more organic. Plus at DisneySea, it’s nice to have Mt. Prometheus in the background, especially since the show incorporates an eruption or two.

 

The music was as catchy and lively as ever and it was accompanied by several vibrant floats. What really stood out for me was the finale. Because of the lake’s location, I figured they’d have some size restrictions on their floats, so I was interested to see how they’d handle the dragon. They had a very clever reveal where the dragon bursts through the Magical Mirror after it slowly unfolds to its maximum height.

 

Then the pyrotechnics conclude the performance with a bang. The dragon takes aim at Mickey with her fire breath until Mickey casts Avada Kedavra to terminate the beast. Then that’s followed with a plentiful display of fireworks. None of the fireworks traveled particularly high (presumably due to the wind), but there were more than enough to compensate. This truly is a night spectacular. It’s not quite as good as Disneyland’s, but it’s close. 10 out of 10

 

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Using the existing park features over an arena (like Hollywood Studios) makes the show so much better.

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Dragons and fire is a winning recipe.

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There was also a day parade on the water that seemed pretty popular. I didn't watch it however.

 

Tokyo DisneySea is also a culinary wonder. As I mentioned in my Disneyland report, I’m not a fan of sweets so I avoided most flavors. One different flavor I did have was garlic shrimp. It tasted good, but it definitely didn’t taste like shrimp. It tasted more like a pork rind.

 

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This should be called pork rind popcorn, but it's yummy regardless.

 

Three other snacks I tried were the fried pizza turnover, Yucatan sausage roll, and gyoza roll. The pizza turnover was probably my favorite of the three. It tasted like an empanada, which is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. The Yucatan sausage roll was decent, but the gyoza roll was considerably better. It was more like an elongated dumpling than gyoza, but whatever it was, it was really good.

 

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The pizza turnover was my surprise favorite snack at the park.

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The gyoza roll was super long and tasty and as Michael Scott would say, that's what she said.

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This looks a bit wrong, but it tasted delicious.

 

My favorite meal was at Horizon Bay. It was across from Aquatopia and I got a surprisingly cheap three course dinner. Since I’m not a dessert fan, I loaded up on two soups, but the highlight was the salmon. Being from the Northeast, I’m pretty picky on my seafood, but Tokyo DisneySea’s gets my seal of approval.

 

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Just look at this whole spread.

 

Tokyo DisneySea really is a spectacular theme park. The attention to detail around every corner is stunning and you can have an extremely enjoyable day just walking around not even riding anything. That’s not something you can say about a lot of parks. So when you add in elite rides like Indiana Jones and Tower of Terror, Tokyo DisneySea truly becomes exceptional.

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Adventure City

 

Usually parks try and diversify their offerings. Parks may focus on thrills or kids’ attractions, but they often have a mix appealing to both. Adventure City does no such thing. They go all in on kids’ attractions. For that reason, I can confidently say that I was the only adult without a child in the park unless there was another enthusiast visiting at the same time as me.

 

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Make sure you whip out your coaster membership for a nice discount.

 

Adventure City is mere minutes down the road from Knott’s Berry Farm and occupies a tiny little strip of land much like Long Island’s Adventureland. It’s honestly impressive they were able to shoehorn a park in here. It’s an easy in and out for coaster enthusiasts and the park offers a generous discount to coaster club card carrying members. I believe I got in for less than $10 with my Club TPR card.

 

Despite its small size, the park was undeniably charming. A majority of the attractions were themed to one form of transportation or another- firetrucks, balloons, cars, boats, etc. As a kid, I would have fallen in love with the place. Likewise, this is the perfect place to bring your kids and watch their imagination run wild.

 

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They're probably pretty busy considering it's California.

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I guess I'm not getting my steps in today.

 

Or if you’re a coaster enthusiast, you’ll immediately weave past hordes of people half your height for two credits. The first is one of the more unique Milers out there, the Freeway Coaster. The layout and elements are no different than your usual Miler kiddie coaster, but the placement sure is. The second hill travels over a tree branch (something I’m pretty sure would give a corporate park a heart attack) and then the final helix interacts with a rock cave.

 

It wasn’t particularly fast and was a bit jerky, but the target audience was satisfied- the kids came off smiling and enthusiasts can add another to their count. 3 out of 10

 

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This coaster's theme is inaccurate. 10mph is far too fast to be traveling during LA rush hour traffic.

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Not many parks would have the cajones to go over a tree branch like this.

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Freeway Coaster rocks.

 

Rewind Racers is the park’s signature attraction and it’s Gerstlauer’s answer to the Vekoma junior boomerangs. In a park populated primarily by smaller attractions, Rewind Racers looks pretty darn imposing. I was only able to get one ride due to a flood of camp kids, a painstakingly slow loading process, and a desire not to sacrifice any more of my Knott’s Berry Farm time.

 

I have to say that the coaster is perfect for the park. The layout is compact, but the helix provides some decent forces, particularly in reverse. There’s no air or anything, but traveling backwards is something you usually don’t find on smaller coasters. It was quite a hit with the younger crowd! And the coaster is nice and smooth so adults won’t object to accompanying their kids. 5 out of 10

 

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Rewind Racers is a perfect fit for Adventure City.

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The ride appeared to be an absolute hit with kids.

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Are they going forwards or backwards?

 

I also decided to give Drop Zone a whirl. I’ve always found the mini Moser towers to have far more forceful drops than they have any rite to and this one followed suit. There were 6 drops and each provided a (for a lack of a better term) ball tingling sensation. Honestly I found this more fun than the coasters. 6 out of 10

 

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Take that Cedar Fair, Adventure City can call it Drop Zone.

 

For coaster enthusiasts, Adventure City is the perfect side trip on the way to Knott’s. It’s a cheap stop offering two unique credits- a Miler with an interesting setting and an interesting family shuttle coaster. Considering they’re even more landlocked than Knott’s, I can’t see them expanding much in the future, but they don’t have to. It’s already the perfect park for the little ones.

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Knott’s Berry Farm

 

With a 12 hour layover in LA between my flight from Tokyo and my flight to Boston, I had enough time squeeze in a park visit the day before the 4th of July. My options were plentiful.

 

Disneyland- Guardians and Incredicoaster were tempting, but I figured the park would be a madhouse.

 

Universal Hollywood- I actually have never been there. I considered finally making the trek over, but for the admission price, I couldn’t justify visiting it over the other options.

 

Scandia- It’s sad I mention this park in the same breath as the others, but the Scandia Screamer has always fascinated me, even more so after experiencing that crazy airtime on Fun Spot’s Screamin’ Eagle.

 

SeaWorld San Diego- I really enjoyed this park back in 2014 and have a Platinum Pass, but I figured the soul-crushing traffic between LA and San Diego would cause me to miss my flight.

 

Six Flags Magic Mountain- Free admission with my season pass made it very tempting, but on such a busy day and Flash Pass limiting me to just one ride on Twisted Colossus and X2, it became less appealing.

 

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And the winner is...Knott's Berry Farm!

 

That made the winner Knott’s Berry Farm. I had a Platinum Pass for the first time, so it made economic sense. Plus they just opened HangTime, a very cool looking Gerstlauer. I was also looking forward to racking up several rides on GhostRider. I decided to forego FastLane in my 2016 visit since the park was empty; however, I only got one ride on GhostRider due to a 2 hour wait.

 

This time, I unequivocally knew that I needed a FastLane. I figured it would be needed at minimum for GhostRider and HangTime, but it ended up being necessary for almost everything. The park was packed! Also does anyone else have problems finding the parking lot entrance? Maybe I’m just oblivious, but this is the second straight visit where I had to circle the park once or twice before going to the right place.

 

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Considering how far away I parked, I knew FastLane was a must.

 

I immediately made my way over to GhostRider, only to find it down. So I kept going counterclockwise and got in line for Pony Express. It was down for maintenance in my 2016 visit, so I was looking forward to riding it. But wouldn’t you have it, the ride also broke down. My visit was not off to a good start.

 

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I planned to ride this first, but it was having technical difficulties.

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The ponies needed a breather after this lap.

 

I then skipped a full queue for the Timber Mountain Log Ride, crossed my fingers it also wouldn’t break down, and thankfully dispatched as designed. It’s really impressive to find such a well-themed attraction at a Cedar Fair park. The animatronics aren’t as good as what you’ll find at a Disney park, but it had more theming than Ripsaw Falls.

 

The ride was perfectly refreshing on such a hot day. The indoor drop is the highlight of the ride. It’s pitch black, sudden, and gives that gut-wrenching sensation. The outdoor drop is just ok as it isn’t overly steep. This really is one of my favorite flumes out there. 9.5 out of 10

 

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Timber Mountain feels way too themed for a Cedar Fair park.

 

HangTime was a coaster that definitely intrigued me. Despite its compact footprint, HangTime really appeared to pack a lot in- a beyond vertical drop, multiple inversions, and even an airtime hill for good measure. It was a refreshing sight seeing this twisted teal beast towering over the Boardwalk as opposed to the old head-smashing Boomerang.

 

I absolutely love the lap bar only trains. They eliminated any fears of headbanging (even though the coaster is crazy smooth anyway) and offered unobstructed views. The one wonky thing about the restraints were the seatbelts. I’d say that 75% of the train struggled to release their seatbelt at the conclusion of the ride. You had to push the belt together before it would release. It was definitely odd.

 

I know Knott’s called it a dive coaster because of the holding brake. However, instead of the sustained floater of a B&M dive machine, I was treated to the usual ejector air of a EuroFighter. And the air is all the more terrifying considering you have just a lap bar. That’s followed by an odd variant of the Norwegian Loop and something that RCDB calls a Negative-G Stall Loop. Basically you start like a Norwegian loop (giving a nice pop of air along the way) and on the ascent you entire into a hangtime filled inversion.

 

The following corkscrew offers some more hangtime (the coaster’s name is very fitting) and that’s followed by a rapid cutback. Honestly the cutback didn’t do too much for me, but the drop after sure did. It can’t be more than 20-30 feet tall, but it gives some powerful ejector air. The cobra roll was just ok, much like the cutback, and then there’s another pop of air as you enter the brake run.

 

HangTime is a major win for the park. It’s extremely reridable and has some really awesome moments like the first drop, first inversion, and drop off the cutback. Seats are assigned, but fortunately I was able to secure both a front row and back row ride. Of the two, I slightly preferred the back, though the coaster is fantastic in every seat. HangTime was probably my second favorite ride in the park. 9 out of 10

 

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HangTime really needs a single rider line.

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The Norwegian dive loop/stall thing looked odd and had some interesting forces.

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Another peek at the ride's oddest inversion.

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The inversions give some solid hangtime, hence the name.

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This drop offered some surprisingly strong ejector air.

 

There are a lot of restriants out there that enthusiasts complain about- Skyrush, Coney’s Thunderbolt, etc. Those restraints may cause discomfort, but they don’t cause pain. Coast Rider managed to do the latter. For those unaware, Coast Rider was retrofit with metal shin plates. While the Six Flags Superman coasters received shin plates, there was enough space such that they aren’t panini pressed against the rider.

 

The same couldn’t be done in a compact wild mouse car. I was in agonizing pain by the end of the ride and couldn’t wait for the restraints to release at the end. I had marks on my shin where the plate had dug into me. And I’m just 5’10”. The mouse coaster itself is fine, but there was no way to enjoy it with those restraints. 1 out of 10

 

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PTSD.

 

Having just ridden Do-dodonpa the week before, I was interested to compare it to Xcelerator. There may be taller accelerators like Top Thrill Dragster and Kingda Ka, but neither offers the sheer launch power of Xcelerator. While I love the front, the queue for the front row is equal in size to the queue for every other row. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if waiting for the front added an extra hour to your wait.

 

As a consolation prize, I chose the back. I didn’t get the rush of wind against my face, but the launch was every bit as incredible as I remembered. My stomach dropped from the sheer power of the launch. One benefit of the back row is the top hat, as it offers some fantastic air for the entirety of the descent. The final few overbanks are filler, but they’re fast and enjoyable filler. Xcelerator is an absolute rush. I prefer its larger brethren, but Xcelerator isn’t far behind. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Where are the supports?

 

Afterwards I grabbed a ride on Supreme Scream and was able to catch a glimpse of Incredicoaster off in the distance. The view is the best part about Supreme Scream. Meanwhile the teens next to me were busy playing the penis game. The drop itself is solid, but there are definitely more powerful S&S towers out there. 7 out of 10

 

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The supremely annoying teens decided to scream "penis" for the entire ride.

 

One of my biggest pet-peeves about skip-the-line passes is when they make your enter through the exit. In principle, this is the most rider favorable policy as (often times) you can pick any seat that you want with absolutely no wait. However, I dread this. It’s one thing to be let into the station at a merge point. It’s an entirely different story to deal with the scornful looks of the next group of riders.

 

Fortunately Knott’s let me wait for a single rider to pair up with so I could calm my conscience. Some parks like Six Flags St. Louis will not let you do this. On a signature coaster, I definitely have a seat preference, but I don’t really have one on a family coaster. I was seated towards the front. For the most part, Jaguar uneventfully meanders around, but it did catch me off-guard with a surprise pop of air after the second drop. 5 out of 10

 

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If you like high speed monorails, Jaguar is for you.

 

I did want to try Sol Spin because of my affinity for top scans, but unfortunately it had a lengthy queue and wasn’t included on FastLane for some reason. The program definitely didn’t seem as wild as the one I rode at Oktoberfest (really that’s an unfair standard for any ride), but the movement never fails to induce some really wild flips. Maybe next time.

 

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It was a bummer Sol Spin wasn't on FastLane as I really like top scans.

 

Montezooma also had me enter through the exit. I have a strong preference for the front row on shuttle loops, but after the FastLane group ahead of me picked the front, I didn’t have the heart to take that seat as well. I waited for a single rider and was seated towards the back. Despite its age, Monty still shows that it has some bite to it.

 

The launch starts off really slow for a split second but then has a strong kick to it once it gets rolling. It’s not quite Xcelerator, but that’s not really a fair comparison for any coaster. The Schwarzkopf loop was forceful as ever, particularly in reverse, and I got a nice tummy tickling sensation on the back spike. 7 out of 10

 

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Xcelerator may be the young buck, but Monty reminds riders it still has some tricks up its sleeve.

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Like this incredibly forceful loop.

 

We always have our guilty pleasure rides at parks. It’s the ride that you love way more than everyone else. For me, that’s Sierra Sidewinder. It may be located in the Camp Snoopy kids area, but it offers some surprising forces. I love the Mack spinners.

 

The first two drops are drawn out and with the copious amount of spinning, it’s to the ride’s advantage. But the highlight is in the middle of the ride. There are 2-3 low-to-the-ground turns with some seriously prolonged G-forces. It’s not blackout inducing, but it’s extremely disorienting on a spinner. Sierra Sidewinder is a very short coaster, but it packs a serious punch. 8 out of 10

 

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I can only dream what the free spinning cars would have been like on Time Traveler.

 

Silver Bullet is one of the most maligned B&M inverts out there. Admittedly the ride is a bit of an eyesore and while it lacks the intensity of its older brothers, it is still a very fun coaster. The first drop is pretty easy to poke fun at considering it rides more like an ADA compliant ramp than a drop, but the resulting inversions are nothing to snuff at.

 

I actually greyed out a bit on the vertical loop and the overbank is a really funky element for an invert. That’s followed by an ok cobra roll. It was quite possibly too smooth as there was zero intensity to it. Usually the highlight of an invert is the zero-G roll and while Silver Bullet has a solid one, that’s not the ride’s strength.

 

The highlight is the finale. Even those criticizing Silver Bullet can find no flaw in the finale. There’s a very snappy corkscrew reminiscent of the older B&Ms and that’s followed by an intense and leg-numbing helix. I felt all the blood rush to my legs like I do on the turns on a Batman the Ride. There are certainly better inverts out there, but that doesn’t make Silver Bullet bad. 8 out of 10

 

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I wish I could say I stretched out this photo, but Silver Bullet's drop is actually that gradual.

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It's a fun ride, but it sort of kills the aesthetics of the pond.

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The inversions are as good as ever though.

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Even B&M's harshest critics can't deny the power of this helix.

 

GhostRider was a coaster I was really looking forward to reriding. I remembered my one ride in the back being very good, but I knew I needed more rides to form a more concrete opinion. My front row ride was good, but my back row rides were excellent. This really is the star of Knott’s and one of the best wooden coasters out there. It’s a relentless ride.

 

GhostRider is one of those coasters that gets progressively wilder. The first drop has decent air and that’s followed by stronger air on the second and third hills. But then there’s the legendary drop off of the former MCBR. It’s as strong as the Raven’s 5th drop and it leads into one of the craziest second halves on any coaster.

 

It’s a barrage of airtime and laterals. Any of the straight hills provide some fantastic airtime and even the twisted hills provide some nice pops towards the back. But the highlight for me are the turns and final helix. They are almost completely unbanked and offer some of the strongest laterals out there. It was impossible for my upper body not to be forced over the center divider. They were that strong!

 

As wild as it was running during the day, GhostRider felt like an entirely different animal once the sun started to set. It felt like the tracks were greased with Crisco and the train absolutely hauled, particularly during the second half. The rides booted Ravine Flyer II from my top 10 wood coaster list. FastLane is a must if you want to reride this coaster and I’m sure you will. 9.5 out of 10

 

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HangTime may be new and all with its fancy light package, but GhostRider is still the star of the park.

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It felt weird riding in Millennium Flyers on a mostly out-and-back layout.

 

I returned to Pony Express only to find it down again, so I instead rode Bigfoot Rapids. The rapids on this one are like Russian roulette. The rapids are plentiful, but it’s complete pot luck whether or not it’ll be a total dud or nail you with a soaking splash. Beyond the rapids, there wasn’t much else. There were no waterfalls and just 2 geysers offering just a few splashes.

 

It’s a pretty average rapids ride, but it’s your best bet to cool off at Knott’s Berry Farm. 6 out of 10

 

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It was completely arbitrary if each rapid would leave you drenched or be a complete dud. Russian roulette at its finest.

 

Pony Express had reopened, so I got in line hoping to finally snag a ride. A larger rider appeared to have difficulty fitting and after three failed attempts, they announced the ride was having technical difficulties. Does this ride have a penchant for breaking down or was I just unlucky? I guess the Pony Express lacks the reliability of email.

 

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Three breakdowns was enough, so I decided to end the night with some final rides on GhostRider before heading out. GhostRider was the perfect way to end the night and culminate a great trip.

 

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GhostRider was absolutely hauling at night. This is a top 10 wooden coaster for me.

 

I also made the obligatory stop at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner restaurant. I wasn’t sure how the chicken would compare after having all the southern fried chicken down in Pigeon Forge last year, but my concerns were quickly squashed. The fried chicken is delicious and it’s accompanied by those diet-ruining biscuits that are incredibly addictive. I probably had 6-7 on my own.

 

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Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner is one of the park's best attractions.

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My mouth just salivates looking at this picture.

 

Knott’s Berry Farm has a very odd feel to it. On one hand, you have areas of the park like Ghost Town which look incredible and capture the feel of a Silver Dollar City or a Dollywood. Then right across the park you have the asphalt jungle straight out of any other Cedar Fair park in the Boardwalk. The juxtaposition of the two is shocking as you navigate the park.

 

But the sum of the parts is an enjoyable park whose coaster collection was bolstered by HangTime and anchored by GhostRider.

 

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Hopefully I'll return soon.

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And I'll end the report with a tribute to Deadwood Dick.

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It's always nice to see first-timers' reports on my home park. I pretty much share all of your opinions on everything. I love HangTime and Xcelerator, but I agree and still think GhostRider is the star attraction at Knott's. Every year since the refurbishment it gets better and better.

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The seatbelts on those Gerstlauer trains are kinda funky if they're the same as I experienced on Tantrum earlier this summer. I don't know if I ever got those things to open on my own haha.

 

Great report, Knotts really is on my bucket list one of these days when I make it back out to SoCal, despite the superior coaster lineup I'd probably prefer a day there of SFMM honestly.

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Nice review of Knott's. It's such a wonderful place, Cedar Fair's best for sure. Sounds like you had a good time!

 

Thanks! I'll definitely take Cedar Point over Knott's just because of how strong that coaster lineup is, but after that it may be their best all-around park.

 

Great report!

 

I really need to get back to this park. It's a shame that the ponies were having none of your sh*t that day, I love that stupid ride.

 

Thanks! Yeah I enjoy the coaster for what it is. Though I really can't complain considering I was lucky enough that Xcelerator reopened shortly before my visit.

 

It's always nice to see first-timers' reports on my home park. I pretty much share all of your opinions on everything. I love HangTime and Xcelerator, but I agree and still think GhostRider is the star attraction at Knott's. Every year since the refurbishment it gets better and better.

 

Other than that painfully slow moving line, I love everything about GhostRider. Without FastLane, I probably only would have been able to ride it once which would have been an absolute shame.

 

The seatbelts on those Gerstlauer trains are kinda funky if they're the same as I experienced on Tantrum earlier this summer. I don't know if I ever got those things to open on my own haha.

 

Great report, Knotts really is on my bucket list one of these days when I make it back out to SoCal, despite the superior coaster lineup I'd probably prefer a day there of SFMM honestly.

 

Thanks! I think the guy next to me had to help with my seatbelt, but by my second ride I realized the trick. It'd be really helpful if they made an announcement how to do it so people aren't just fumbling around.

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Canobie Lake Park

 

You knew it was coming eventually- the annual Canobie Lake Park trip report. Despite it being just 10 minutes from work, I only visit 2-3 times per year because of the unfortunate fact that they never have offered season passes. If they ever start offering season passes, I could hit 2-3 visits per week.

 

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I visited on a rare day where crowds were light.

 

Despite the beautiful weather, crowds were surprisingly light. Even on weekdays, Canobie usually pulls a strong crowd and the signature attractions can easily have 30 minute waits. But my close parking space told me I wouldn’t have to worry.

 

So I immediately made my way to the park’s signature attraction, the Yankee Cannonball. Rather than being met by the usual full queue, it was only one switchback deep and I boarded the classic woody in about 10 minutes.

 

Since seating is done on a first come basis, I strategically tried to enter the line so I’d have the pick of the lot. I believe my math was correct, but unfortunately a younger rider chickened out and they called me through as a single rider. Fortunately the empty seat was in second to back.

 

The coaster’s height and speed are very modest (63 feet and 35mph), but the buzz bars allow for some nice floater air. GCI’s retracking neutered the ride somewhat from how it ran 5-10 years ago, but it had regained some of its airtime back on the outward leg. Still the most powerful pop of airtime is on the final turnaround which I believe they didn’t touch. Plus for an 80 year old coaster, it’s immaculately smooth. 7 out of 10

 

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Basically every photo of the Yankee Cannonball comes from the parking lot.

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Amen for buzz bars.

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I always call out Six Flags for parking lot coasters, but turn a blind eye to this. I guess I'm a bit biased towards Canobie, not that my user name is any indication.

 

After the Yankee Cannonball, the best ride in the park is the Policy Pond Log Flume. Admittedly I’m nostalgic for the attraction since I’d marathon this with my dad before I was tall enough to ride any of the larger coasters, but it’s one of the better flumes out there. The layout is tucked beneath the trees and even includes a tunnel, which now has some evil water curtains that guests can activate for 25 cents.

 

Along the way there is a modest first drop and some tiny rapids bits, but the highlight (like most flumes) is the final plunge. It’s decently steep and I think the Hopkins drops are far superior to those on Arrow flumes. 9 out of 10

 

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Of course there's a gun shooting game. It's New Hampshire after all.

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The water curtain is pure evil. You cannot see it coming until it's too late.

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This splash can be seen from a mile away though.

 

Canobie’s new-for-2018 attraction was a much needed water park. That was the one thing every other New England park could hang over Canobie’s head. Not anymore. It’s modest in size with a lazy river and a single slide tower, but it’s absolutely perfect for the park. As of this writing, it still hasn’t opened so I suspect it’ll just become their new-for-2019 attraction instead.

 

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This was the progress as of mid-July. As of now, the water park has still yet to open.

 

But they did have the old Timber Splash water slides running. I wonder if the water park will impact the long term future of these slides since they never seem to have a line, but they're enjoyable. The "Wet" side is just ok, but the "Wetter" side has 2-3 nice little drops followed by a wild turn. Definitely take advantage of the free shoe rack at the bottom. 7 out of 10

 

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At least the park's two old wet/dry slides were open.

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The Wetter side is aptly named.

 

I really want to know who storyboarded the Mine of Lost Souls. The first half is a tranquil journey through an old mine and appropriately fits the name. But then you halfway through the adventure you come face to face with the Grim Reaper and are somehow transported from Salem, NH to Egypt. I’ve been riding this for 20 years and still don’t quite understand that transition.

 

The ride is undeniably cheesy, but there’s a level of quality to it that supersedes your standard carnival dark ride. 8 out of 10

 

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At no point does this offer any warning you'll be traveling to Egypt.

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Dancing Bear Canteen sounds like a good idea.

 

Ever since the park eliminated their delicious twisted crust pizza, my go-to dining option has been the Dancing Bear Canteen. It’s tucked away in the corner of the park adjacent to the Mine of Lost Souls. It doesn’t receive the foot traffic of the Roller Coaster Tycoon style stands along the midway, but that has the benefit of the food being cooked to order.

 

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Dancing Bear Canteen is where you should go if you want good food.

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Although I do understand the allure of Roller Coaster Tycoon stands in real life.

 

Because of its proximity to the water park, I suspect the Canobie Corkscrew will one day be removed. But for now the park is proud of their classic Arrow looper. A new addition in the past year are several signs along the queue line giving fun facts about the coaster in its current location and former home.

 

I’ve always found this to be the smoothest Arrow corkscrew out there. I’ll openly admit I was probably biased, but my rose-colored glasses fell off and I was treated to some nasty neck chops entering and exiting the corkscrew. The first drop still gives a nice pop of air, but I’d rather ride Untamed. 4 out of 10

 

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I'm finally used to the blue paint scheme after all these years.

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Focus on the history and not the warning about the imminent headbanging.

 

Canobie has one of the best collections of spinning rides out there. The highlight is the Turkish Twist. Being an operating rotor is noteworthy enough considering they’re becoming scarcer than a Cleveland Browns victory. But it’s also the fastest rotor of the ones I’ve ridden.

 

The Gs plaster you to the wall and the floor drops a solid 2-3 feet. The cycle is ridiculously short, but I don’t blame the park one bit since I often see people hunched over the trash can at the conclusion of the ride. They warn people not to eat beforehand, but people simply don’t listen. 9 out of 10

 

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The Turkish Twist is a delight unless you've recently had Turkish delight.

 

I made a point to ride the Xtreme Frisbee since it had been down for much of the past two years. I was worried the ride would meet the same fate as Equinox, which would be a shame since it’s one of their signature thrill rides. I much prefer the frisbees that focus on swinging, but this Huss model does spin decently fast. I think my favorite part is how the operator had a soundboard and was blasting random catchphrases by Mario and Austin Powers during the ride. 6 out of 10

 

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I still don't understand why all that scaffolding has always been in front of Frisbee.

 

Continuing the run on spinning rides, I also rode Zero Gravity for a change. It’s a decently fast round-up, but the padding isn’t as good as a lot of others out there. 7 out of 10

 

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I still prefer the old Round-Up they had, but I'm glad they replaced it rather than forgoing this classic attraction.

 

I caught Wipeout just as it had reopened; someone apparently had a little too much cotton candy before riding. That’s probably the reason the cycle isn’t as intense as it used to be; it used to run in both directions for a solid 3-4 minutes. Now it only runs in one direction, but it still gives some tiny pops of air and the laterals at the end are insane. They’re almost borderline painful. 8 out of 10

 

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I hope they're ready to get to know their seatmates.

 

Star Blaster only had one op, but she was incredible. She was grouping and checking restraints incredibly quickly all with a smile on her face. Canobie has the best staff of any New England park and I’m still puzzled to this day how Six Flags New England somehow was in the top 5 for friendliest parks one year, but I digress.

 

Star Blaster was running better than last year, as the airtime atop the tower was more plentiful. I still prefer to be dropped down than launched up, but Star Blaster is a great double shot tower and probably the best tower Canobie could get considering their height restriction. 7 out of 10

 

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Are we blasting towards the stars or blasting the stars? Since it's New Hampshire, I'll lean towards the latter.

 

Untamed is probably the park’s most intense coaster. I found it to be rougher than usual on this trip, particularly on one car in particular, but I was able to avoid any pain on the cutback and transitions by leaning forwards. It required a bit of effort, but it was worth it for the incredible ejector air on the beyond vertical drop and copious hangtime on the barrel roll. 7 out of 10

 

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Untamed is such a photogenic coaster.

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If you don't get that cozy ski lodge vibe from Untamed's station, you haven't gone skiing enough.

 

Usually Canobie closes the Yankee Cannonball’s line 30 minutes prior to closing, but they relaxed that policy on such a light day. I was able to snag 3 night rides, including one on the last train of the night. The Yankee Cannonball really does embody the overall feel of Canobie, so it’s the perfect way to end the night.

 

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Since this stage is across from the Yankee Cannonball, I strongly recommend timing your waits with the performance. It sure beats Fun TV or whatever Six Flags uses.

 

One negative for the 2018 season is that Canobie now closes at 9 pm on Monday-Thursday. They used to be open until 10 through the entire summer. Despite the earlier closing time, their twilight tickets still started at 5 pm and I really felt the lost hour. Usually I spend at least a half hour in their outstanding pinball parlor, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice ride time, especially on a lighter day.

 

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It's a shame I had to miss out on pinball, but with less time I prioritized rides.

 

If you go to Canobie solely for roller coasters, you’re doing it wrong. Canobie’s strength is its atmosphere. As you walk down the midway, you know you’re at a traditional amusement park as you see classic flats on one side and hear the booming carousel band organ on the other.

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Wait, Canobie Lake Park never has offered a season pass? That's so strange. Definitely a shame for you locals.

 

I loved our trip to Canobie back in 2015. Nothing may significantly stand out like at other parks (though Cannonball and Untamed are both very fun coasters), but the charm of the place is the kicker. I was disappointed when they cancelled that river rapids ride, it looked like it fit the park really well.

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