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Photo TR: Chuck Returns to Japan with TPR--Again


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^This Japan trip was $3995 for 15 nights. Included a bunch of awesomeness.

 

Yep--with an earthquake and and extra layer of amazing!

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^ And lots of trains! Ranging from local trains all the way to bullet trains! Is it too much to ask for a shinkansen in the US? (I know it is, but one can dream)

 

Ugh, don't get me started on the lack of fast trains here!!!

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“Ooo, you work for Ralphs? Come here, you sexy thang!”

I'm pretty sure I heard these words once in a dream like 20 years ago... and never ever again since

 

Always love your TRs, Chuck! I miss Japan. Such a great trip R&E managed! Despite the fact that Japan keeps trying to kill us with typhoons and earthquakes and volcanoes and yakitori and awesome trains and Braddock and the Compass to my Heart and ARGH I love it so much... ... ...

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^I know both feelings.

 

"You work for the National Center for State Courts? Ooo, take me now," said no one ever.

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I don't think I'd have handled being sent to the back of a line that many times, I think finally getting the stuff to find the wrong passes would have broken me.

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A Wet Day at Brazilian Park Washuzan Highland and New Reoma World

 

People like to experience different cultures, but often lack the opportunity to do so. This is as true for the Japanese as it is for anyone else.

 

Some theme parks, such as Epcot, successfully fill that void. For its part, Japan has Parque Espana (more on this later), which celebrates Spanish culture and history. It also has Brazilian Park Washuzan Highland. I was unaware that the Japanese had a burning desire to embrace Brazilian Portuguese culture. Maybe they really like chimichurri sauce and salsa music.

 

It was a gray, rainy day, and I swear we were the only ones at the park, except for the staff, who smiled and doled out complimentary green ponchos as we passed through the turnstile (it was raining fairly hard at that point). Then we learned why “Highland” was such an important part of the park’s name.

 

Stairs. Lots of colorfully painted, Brazilian-looking stairs.

 

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We looked like we were on our way to a meeting of the Irish Klu Klux Klan.

 

Breathtaking views of the mountains, ocean, and islands awaited us at the top. There was also a pedal-cycle ride on the edge of a cliff, which was also a bit breathtaking.

 

The park has three coasters, two of which were closed for maintenance: Ultra Twister (which has been SBNO for some time) and Chupy Coaster (a family “Jet Coaster”). However, the big, rusty old Togo looper, Star Jet, was open. This ride has both a standing train (not running) and a sitting train that goes backwards through the course and (it seems) requires only one ride op. (Yep--one guy checked the restraints, walked upstairs to the control room, gave the safety spiel, and dispatched the train.) The ride is surprisingly fun, but made me feel a bit queasy. Once was enough.

 

All in all, I enjoyed Washuzan Highland, and the park seemed like it was a really nice place--once. Now it needs a lot of TLC, but it does have a good location and those beautiful views going for it. Big thumbs up to the staff and the performers at the Brazilian samba show, who really believe “the show must go on,” no matter how small the audience. I hope they can keep going.

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Forgot I took this photo of “Not Exactly Universal’s City Walk.” Here ya go.

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Before visiting Brazilian Park Washuzan Highland, one must worship at the HOLY LAND OF JEANS.

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Blessed be your mighty name and holy flattop, oh Panda of Denim!

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We were all converted. Would you like a copy of our newsletter?

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To be fair, I’m pretty sure that my attempt to spell “entrance” in Japanese would be even worse.

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Brazilian flag + donkey = TPR in Japanese Brazil.

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Yes, may as well make the best of the weather.

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We never got a chance to play “Brazilian Bing.”

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Yeah, they don’t have “Highland” in their name for nothing.

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Something here is big. I’ll let you decide what.

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We took a train across that bridge later to get to New Reoma World.

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Remember that viral video of the scary Japanese pedal-car ride? Well, we rode it.

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Danger! Watch out for . . .

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. . . this guy!

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Yep--it’s hard to beat this park’s location when it comes to views.

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Yes, this is the lift hill, and yes, they are going up backwards!

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And here they are going down backwards--or . . .

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. . . is it merely a clever deception on my part?

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How can you be sure what direction they’re traveling?

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Yes, just thinking about it . . .

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. . . could drive you stark raving mad!

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Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

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Don’t blame me. I only do this rodent’s bidding!

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Uh oh! We have to leave soon, but we must get past the guard goat.

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Good thing he’s easily distracted.

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I think we were the only people in the park other than the staff . . .

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. . . but the Brazilian dance show must go on!

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Nathan and Megan have been swept away by the samba! Yes, they caught the fever and haven't stopped dancing since then.

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They even taught us about Brazil, . . .

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. . . along with a little Portuguese. This was one of the most surreal TPR trip moments ever.

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“Tonight, I will haunt your dreams!” Gulp! On to New Reoma World.

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New Reoma World was a nicer park than Washuzan Highland. It had its own hotel and was more of a “resort.” Plus, it didn’t have nearly as many stairs.

 

That being said, I’m not sure what to make of the place. I liked the park, and it looked nice, but I was perplexed about what the place was about.

 

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But this is Japan, and I’m used to those feelings when it comes to Japanese parks. I like how the colorful New Reoma mascots stand out against gray sky in this shot.

 

New Reoma had four coasters:

 

Vivace--I don’t know who built this ride, but it looked and rode a lot like a Schwarzkopf mine train. A very good family coaster.

 

Ladybird--This was a better-than-average “wild mouse” in a rather nice setting.

 

Spaceship 2056--This was New Reoma’s version of Space Mountain, and it had a very spaced-out, Star Trekish queue. The ride itself rumbles around in the dark and is OK. The coaster also offered VR (no, thank you).

 

A kiddie coaster--I didn’t bother with in the rain.

 

There was also this bizarre dark ride, Rainbow Bandits, which was sort of Wizard of Oz mixed with It’s a Small World augmented with a touch of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Fun, but . . . what was it?

 

Like I said--it’s Japan. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.

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When at New Reoma World, be sure to stay at the Hotel Mordor.

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The Eye of Sauron is on you!

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“Enjoy your day, you punks!”

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Hey, no one warned me about this!

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Whoa! That T-Rex took a nasty bite out of that Triceratops and gobbled up all its organs!

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I have no idea who built Vivace, but it looks Schwarzkopf-like.

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It’s a pretty good ride, too--look at that happy if prickly train! (All those lights make it look like a porcupine with a crew cut.)

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Then again, there is the sad-and-pathetic train.

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“Whee, for me!”

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Let's ride Spaceship 2056. It's in that dome.

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I think the weather kept a lot of people away, but there were more guests here than at Washuzan Highland.

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At least I think there were people there besides our group.

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Hmm--no resemblance to Space Mountain at all.

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“We are in no way reminded of any famous Disney attraction.”

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Well, the queue is a bit “Space Mountain like,” I’ll grant you that.

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It is a bit more sparkly than the average Space Mountain queue.

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These TSA screening areas are getting a bit ridiculous. One more set of photos to come.

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Now it gets really weird. You have been warned.

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Allow me to share a little fever dream of mine. It started with a balloon.

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I was accosted by the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion (who was, for some reason, cosplaying a "flasher" version of himself), who asked for my help against . . .

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. . . the Wizard of Oz, who was now leading a satanic cult and planning to unleash the Devil’s Rain to melt Glinda the Good. He had to eliminate her to corner the Emerald City Green Meth market. (Call it "Breaking Bad: The Wretched Wizard of Oz.")

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Oz had Mini Me-type minions who rode grasshoppers, which was no stranger than anything L. Frank Baum concocted for his novels.

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Oz’s evil knew no bounds. First, he stole a sphinx . . .

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. . . and then the Statue of Liberty! All hail the Great and Terrible Oz! (This is shaping up to be the worst "Wicked" sequel ever.)

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Soon, Jack Skellington was revealed to be the man behind the curtain, and Oz knew the jig was up.

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“Don’t ask us. We have no idea what’s going on, either.”

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Baum couldn’t have imagined this, even after a week-long bender of cough syrup, opium, and vodka.

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But, like I said, it was all just a fever dream.

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Maybe it was all the sake and wasabi Kit Kats I ate in Japan.

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The forecast remained wet.

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When a park has a train, it must be ridden. Nerd law.

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I thought the ride op was a good sport to haul us around on such a wet day.

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They had a Ferris wheel. I know you’re shocked, this being Japan, and all.

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Ladybird Coaster was surprisingly good.

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All staff had to stop whatever they were doing and wave at the train.

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Up close and personal with the Ladybird Coaster

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“Arise, my son, and feast on man flesh!”

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The train’s psychedelic surprise tunnel.

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Utterly mind bending. Suddenly, the bizarre dark ride makes more sense . . . er, no it doesn't. Sorry.

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One of these gondolas is not like the others. Looks like they have a seat for more daring riders.

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I always spend the time of the relaxation. This is good advice.

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Kids: If someone named “Captain Peddy” offers to show you his dinghy, just say “no.” That's all for now.

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There is something so EERIE about these parks (made even more bizarro by the "Green KKK" conventioneers taking over the place).  The murky weather heightens the mood - as does the Storyteller's pitch-perfect delivery (dare I say 'a bit like Dateline's Keith Morrison!').   Anyway!  A fiendishly fun commentary, Chuck.  I really enjoyed this opportunity to see Japan's two eccentric (in the best possible way!) parks!

 

Alice

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm glad folks are enjoying this trip report. It's nice to know when one's nonsense is appreciated.

 

Moving right along to a short update.

 

Five Miles from the Epicenter: Hirakata Park

 

Some of you may recall stories of TPR being shook around bit at a train station during the first “official” park visit of the 2018 Japan Trip. Later, we got much closer to the where the earth-shaking action began at Hirakata Park. The quake’s epicenter was a mere five miles or so from the place, but Hirakata didn’t look any worse for the wear.

 

So, what exactly is Hirakata Park? It’s the fairy-tale realm of fairies, dwarves, elves, trolls, and a wizard who looks like Gandalf as portrayed by Bing Crosby.

 

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For you youngsters, this is Bing Crosby. He's known for warbling "boo boo boo," narrating Disney's version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," singing "White Christmas," and playing lots of golf.

 

 

In other words, it’s a family park--and a very nice one, at that. This was my second visit to Hirakata since 2013, and it didn’t seem to have changed much. ELF (Episode of Little Fairies) was still an enjoyable Intamin family wooden coaster; Red Falcon was still a “Jet Coaster” with some funky, neck-snapping transitions; Fantastic Coaster Rowdy still tried to kill us; and the spinning coaster still doesn’t spin. There was a funky “refrigerator” walk through that I don’t recall from my last visit with TPR.

 

Here’s a quick look at Hirakata.

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The park’s neighborhood looks as funky as some of its attractions.

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Very nice entrance, though.

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Hirakata is an oasis amid urban sprawl. Or is the urban sprawl an oasis surrounding Hirakata? Those fairies are tricksy, you know.

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“Hello. I’m a little fairy. I hope you enjoy my episode.”

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Time to ride some magical fairy wood.

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"Phew! Thank god those creepy coaster enthusiasts are done . . .

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. . . oops! Spoke too soon. There they are taking photos."

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Up the enchanted fairy lift hill they go.

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Whee! The best episodes happen . . .

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. . . on magical fairy wood!

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There are a few little “episodes” on this ride, too, involving some rough transitions.

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Red Falcon towers over the non-spinning spinning coaster.

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Even though it’s bumpy and jerky in a few spots, . . .

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. . . I kinda like Red Falcon. Nice views of the park and city.

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I think the kid likes Peekaboo Town. Just a hunch.

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Hmm--this looks like an Intellivision graphic of a tree squatting and taking a dump.

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Have you ever peeked in a stranger’s fridge?

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You can walk through one at Hirakata. How old is that piece of cake, one wonders.

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“Oh crap! Someone get me an ice pick, or we'll never get outta here."

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You know that blue juice bar is going to taste just like that fish head.

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If you ride the dolphin, you must hug the dolphin.

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“Ew! I just not comfortable with this dolphin-hugging stuff!”

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If you do not hug the dolphin, you must passionately embrace one of these creatures.

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“I want in on some of that sweet dolphin hugging!” (This is a “family” haunted house ride--FYI.)

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Fantastic Coaster Rowdy: Not so fantastic, but pretty damn rowdy.

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Our ice cream may not be completely frozen, but it is “coolish” and won’t taste like the fish head in the fridge walk through.

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This is a pretty violent message for a kiddie ride.

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“Yep. And after slayin' that ol’ Balrog, I sneaked in a quick nine holes at Pebble Beach."

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Dan wished for his own Shinkansen, and Bing Crosby Gandalf made it come true!

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Mr. Kitagawa is the one on the right. He’s with the Sanyo ride company, and helped with TPR’s days at Cosmoworld and Harikata.

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A very nice park to wile away a few hours. That’s all for now.

Edited by cfc
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Cedar Point, but with Katsu Curry: Nagashima Spaland

 

Japan’s rainy season forced us to change our plans a bit as we moved from Osaka to Nagoya. Originally, we were supposed to hit Legoland, Parque Espana, and Nagashima Spaland. But heavy rain was forecast for the Spaland day, so that park swapped places with Espana, which turned out to be a wise move (the Spanish-themed park had more indoor attractions and was a better fit for a very rainy day).

 

So off we went to Nagashima Spaland, which is sometimes called the “Cedar Point of Japan,” thanks to its large line up of coasters, expansive areas of concrete without a lot of shade, and “close the rides in the rain” policy.

 

But the CP parallels don’t stop there. Spaland has its own answer to Millennium Force in Steel Dragon 2000, a hypercoaster more than 300 feet tall that rambles over a layout more than one-and-a-half miles long. It’s going to have its own Steel Vengeance when RMC finishes converting its gigantic wooden coaster White Cyclone (shades of Mean Streak). Heck, there’s even an old Arrow Corkscrew there.

 

So, if you’re into big coasters and flat rides in Japan, Nagashima Spaland is the place to go.

 

This was my third visit to the park with TPR, but Spaland has changed a bit since I was last there in 2013. There were two new coasters: Acrobat, a B&M Flyer, and Arashi, an S&S Free Spin. I’m not a huge fan of flyers, but Acrobat was a good one. Arashi was my first experience with a Free Spin, and this one lived up to it--lots of flipping and spinning. I enjoyed it, but it’s one of those coasters that I can ride once per visit, then I’m done. From what others have said, Arashi was much crazier, and more intense, than the Free Spins built in the United States.

 

This was also where I had my first katsu curry of the trip.

 

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Gotta love Japanese country-fried steak.

 

I’ve always enjoyed Spaland, despite the lack of shade. Robb arranged after-hours filming sessions on Acrobat, Steel Dragon, and Arashi, which were great. Thanks again, Robb!

 

Speaking of food, Japanese parks love to sell snacks, like cookies and crackers, themed to coasters. Nagashima Spaland takes this to the next level, with all sorts of bizarre food items publicizing their major attractions. I’ll show you some of those goodies as we check out the park.

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Let’s see . . . some big coasters, katsu curry, a haunted walk through . . . yes, I think having a “good time” is a possibility.

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Powdered Toast Man has teamed up with Bun Basher, Cookie Crusher, and Ice Creamer. Together, they’re FANTASTIC FOOD 4CE!

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Pastor Robb leads us in worship at the Holy Sanctuary of Steel Dragon 2000.

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First you ascend toward Heaven, only to be plunged back to Earth as a sign of humility.

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Spare these humble sinners your wrath, o’ mighty lizard of steel!

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Be not distracted by the temptations of the water park! Therein lies ruin!

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You were warned! Look at the water park, and you plunge to your doom!

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OK, I’ve got the the Tomato Pretz communion sticks that stand in for Steel Dragon’s body. What do we drink to represent his blood?

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Read this sign very carefully and follow its directives to the letter.

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I’m not a big fan of flying coasters in general, but I like Acrobat and Manta.

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This makes perfect sense . . .

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. . . as they’re pretty much the same ride (only with bats and mantas).

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I was feeling a bit queasy after riding Acrobat, but I wish I’d tried one of these things later (what ever they were).

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Arashi is Japanese for “storm.” The ride is well named, as I felt that I’d been spun around in a tornado. It almost makes the park’s Ultra Twister look sane.

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Hmm--I look blissfully stoned here on the Bobkarts. (Photo by Brad Roach. Thanks, Brad!)

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Ultra Twister ruptures the space-time continuum with brief, but insane spinning.

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The trains even look like futuristic time-travel vehicles.

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What? A Japanese amusement park with an enormous Ferris Wheel? How unusual.

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Eye-to-eye with the Space Shot and Steel Dragon.

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The Ferris wheel provides a good view of what’s happening with White Cyclone.

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Chunks of it have been removed.

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This photo’s a bit blurry, but if you look closely, you can see blue harbingers of things to come.

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Weep not for this bumpy old helix.

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Hmm--this reminds me a bit of the leftover parts of Rolling Thunder at SF Great Adventure.

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Now that would be a thrilling jump.

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I didn’t ride the Free Fall, for which my back is grateful.

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But these poor, unfortunate souls . . .

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The old haunted walk through is still fun--especially when it’s full of screaming Japanese teenage girls.

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When I was here in 2013 with TPR, the Arrow Corkscrew was in pieces.

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Did all that refurb work help? Eh, not so much.

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Aw, this ride is sponsored by an adorable kitty. What could possibly go wrong?

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Aghh! Stupid cat!

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Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loops are always fun, though. More to come from Nagashima Spaland.

Edited by cfc
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More photos of rides and snacks at Nagashima Spaland.

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Always dress for the job you want. Buy this if you want to be a "supervisor" at Spaland.

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Nothing says "sexy" like this pair of underwear. Yes, you'll be scoring with all the hot women in no time with gear like this.

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That’s a lot of detail packed into one coaster shirt. Is it desirable to have a bat fly out of one's groin?

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“Pudding Omelette” sounds like a video on Porn Hub.

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These cookies are very happy to see me.

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“Yeah, I’m the sheriff here, pilgrim. And this town don’t much cotton to fellas who make our cookies too excited. You best be movin’ on.”

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Don’t be shocked if this is the actual name of the ride when it opens. Spaland has never been known for its originality when it comes to names, although Acrobat and Arashi are steps in the right direction. Maybe they'll go with "Great White Cyclone Hybrid Whale Coaster."

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Bad, bad juju!

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What’s the story here, anyway?

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It looks like one of those cook-your-own-meat restaurants.

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RMC’s new “Evel Knievel” element up close.

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Always the innovator, that RMC.

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Time for a little after-hours filming on Acrobat.

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“Wow! That was fun, Nathan. I could really go for some . . .

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. . . Acrosnax!” (This message in no way constitutes paid advertising for Nagashima Sapland or the Acrosnax Corporation.)

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“Snacks? Did somebody say ‘snacks’”?

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Hmm--I think I’ll pass on the Acrosnax until my stomach settles down a bit.

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Time to pray some more at the Holy Sanctuary of Steel Dragon 2000. Sarah is anticipating the Rapture.

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Looks like we have some true believers here!

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I was content to photograph others riding Arashi.

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“My God! What is happening to me?”

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All the flipping and spinning! It opens portals to evil dimensions!

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Yes, these people have seen abominations no one should ever behold.

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Soon, their minds will snap.

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And madness will take them all!

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These two have embraced their insanity.

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Look toward Steel Dragon! Only he can save you now!

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Nope--too late.

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There is no hope for any of you now.

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To ride Arashi is to enter the gates of other dimensions . . .

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. . . where you can enjoy some maple-flavored snacks for your “relaxing tea time and your happy talking time.”

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Yes, this shirt sums up the Arashi experience perfectly. That’s all for Nagashima Spaland.

Edited by cfc
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Great report as always! So much Japanese weirdness. Nagashima Spaland looks fantastic. I may be one of the few people actually excited for the Final Fantasy ride. I have spent a LOT of time over the last 25 years playing those.

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The girls had a slight bummer of a day at Nagashima SpaLand as they took out the big interactive Pokemon attraction. It was in the large arcade building near White Cyclone. I can only hope that they had to take it out for some RMC goodness and not just for no reason. That Arashi ride was insane, truly the *correct* way to run it, not like how some parks have them pretty neutered.

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So how does Steel Dragon 2000 compare to other giga/hyper coasters? I've heard good things about the B&M train upgrades but have never really heard anyone compare the ride to something like Millenium Force/Fury/SROS/Steel Force/Magnum/Apollo's Chariot etc. I think it finished in the 40-50 range in the Coaster Poll so I'm guessing it's pretty good, just curious how it compares to some similar coasters.

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^^Arashi caught me a bit off guard after reading reviews of the the U.S. Free Spins. it's crazy fun, but a bit much for me.

 

^Steel Dragon is a good ride, but not on the level of Millennium Force. The B&M trains are an improvement over the old Morgan "bathtubs on wheels," but it's still a bit shaky in the helices. I think it's better than the old Morgan Hypers in the U.S., and I like those.

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great report Chuck. . .love seeing another perspective of the TPR trip, as there's all kinds of interesting stuff one can get into during the free time!

 

wonderful photos, and the food all looks delicious! (and I TOTALLY understand the regret of not trying an item because the opportunity came after riding something that might cause food to not sound like a very attractive option at the moment)

 

gives you another reason to go back and try it!

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Great photos Chuck! Apologies if this has been answered in other threads, but did Steel Dragon's max-height restriction prevent anyone from riding? As I understand it a 185cm limit (a hair under 6'1") came with the new trains. I'd like to know ahead of my trip next year.

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