A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Or "I think I'm turning Japanese; I really think so."
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby Hilltopper39 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:17 am

Great report, Spaland looks awesome. When I put together my "bucket list" of Japanese parks to hit one of these days this place never really comes to mind first but that might have to change!

I got a chance to ride the Ultra Twister that was previously at Astroworld on my only visit to that park and thought that little ride was the coolest thing ever. So much fun, it's a shame there aren't many more of them left but going strong.

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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby mattguyver » Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:47 am

Yet another amazing TR! I also missed the dark ride :( Guess I shall have to journey back some day, oh darn. :)
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:14 pm

spongey wrote:Awesome report as always Cokes!


Muchos grassy-ass, my man!

Hilltopper39 wrote:Great report, Spaland looks awesome. When I put together my "bucket list" of Japanese parks to hit one of these days this place never really comes to mind first but that might have to change!

I got a chance to ride the Ultra Twister that was previously at Astroworld on my only visit to that park and thought that little ride was the coolest thing ever. So much fun, it's a shame there aren't many more of them left but going strong.


Thanks so much! I had forgotten that UT had lived at Astroworld for so long, and that it had the angled lift hill!

mattguyver wrote:Yet another amazing TR! I also missed the dark ride :( Guess I shall have to journey back some day, oh darn. :)


It's a burden, I know. ;) Thanks, Matt!
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby Nrthwnd » Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:12 pm

So Robert, what % are you at, "turning Japanese," by now?

Just curious. :wink:

(And my first ever Ultratwister, was the one at Astroworld in 1992!)
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby gerstlaueringvar » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:52 pm

Wow this park does look like Cedar Point somehow! Their flat ride collection is very impressive and a park can never have too much Schwarzkopf! :lover:

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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby ernierocker » Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:41 pm

How do you make Cedar Point better? Put one in Japan. :)

Thanks for the great report!
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:54 pm

Part Seven: Hokkaido Greenland

Many years ago, I used to ski. Not very well, but adequately enough that the expense of getting to and staying at places where you can ski was worth it. Okemo, Lake George, Steamboat Springs, Park City, we went on some great trips back in the day. Looking back, though, it's clear that I always loved the things that come with the sport of skiing more than the sport itself: the incredible mountaintop views; soaking in the hot tub at night; that moment of raw euphoria when you release your barking dogs from those damned ski boots, the Turkish prisons of footwear.

This is all to say that I don't really think much about skiing or where to go skiing anymore. And it never really crossed my mind that people ski in Japan. Guess what; they do.

As I learned over the next couple of days, if you want to ski in Japan, you want to stay on Hokkaido, the country's northernmost island, where there are quite a few ski resorts. We visited two of them, because – of course – they include amusement parks that are open during those warm months outside of winter (or, wait, I'm sorry, Frozen®, that's the new name for winter, right? Isn't a bill working its way through Congress?)

The city that hosts Hokkaido Greenland is Iwamizawa, a detail I share because that name is very high on the "Fun To Say Out Loud" scale. The park may not be packed with fantastic credits, but it's in a beautiful location and has one snazzy little dark attraction. And pedal boats.
GreenlandEntMorning.jpg
After the big, modern, Occidental trappings of Nagashima Spaland, it felt good to get back to a park that was more cozy and Japanese. We wouldn't be here a full day, but you don't really need a full day to cover all the bases at Greenland.
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The bug band out front was laying down a sweet jam. I'm not sure if "dancing" was what I was going for with this pose. Or am I throwing a punch? It's a mystery.
Carrot.jpg
What is invisible and smells like carrots? Bunny farts.
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I get the feeling Hokkaido Greenland is never overrun with crowds, but it was really quiet for our visit, which was great. This is the main hub just beyond the entrance gates.
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The park seems just about evenly split between attractions for little kids and attractions for everyone else. I'm still not quite sure for which demo these furry AT-ATs are designed. Neil seems quite happy astride this panda. I believe he named it "Master Po," but I could be mistaken.
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Speaking of AT-ATs, when Disney gets around to dropping some Star Wars into its Japan properties, I'd hope that ridable Banthas would be included.
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I love that someone took a look at this desperately sad train trip through Greenland's junkyard and thought, "Let's add a disco ball."
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I saw a three-year-old walk up to this "ride," yawn, and walk away. True story.
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For non-little kids, there are a few spin and spew rides, like the Roto-Shake, Flash Dance...
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...and a swinging boat.
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And then there are plenty of rides for the whole family to enjoy together, headlined by the obligatory mega-Ferris Wheel. (Which, again, my group did not ride, because, like, enough already. But seriously, I'll bet the views of the mountains from such a height were probably amazing. Next visit to Greenland, I will make the time for this attraction.)
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It appeared that Greenland management doesn't like to throw out old wheel cabins. They were repurposed as I'm not quite sure what – diaper changing stations? make-out pods? – at several locations.
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The Cosmo Tower ride was a unique way to check out the area from above, with a little retro sci-fi flair.
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That retro sci-fi flair carried over to these monorail space jets, whose "early anime" look got me way more excited I should have been.
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Unless you are truly a very young child, it's little more than an excuse to sit down for a couple of minutes.
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The suspended pirate ship monorail was probably a hair less unexciting, but we didn't get to that one.
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There were two mirror mazes at Greenland; this was the larger, more traditional maze. Poor Lauren, she walked into a pane of glass so hard, the resounding BANG! made me jump. But she was fine, thank goodness, and so was the glass.
BigMirrorMaze.jpg
I don't think I've ever seen a mirror maze primarily covered in mirrors.
MirrorMazeVariable.jpg
This is Greenland's other mirror maze and it has an "under the sea" theme going on. But that's not what makes it awesome. The coolest thing about this maze is that it there are "Easy" and "Hard" settings. We went through once, pretty quickly, and then the attraction hostess, seeing that there were no munchkins waiting to get in, asked us if we wanted to try the more challenging version. She hit a switch, or pulled a lever, or whatever, and it moved panels around, and dimmed the lights, I think, too? And sure enough, it WAS harder. That was mildly ingenious, I thought. Go, Japan!
HappySign.jpg
It might seem crazy what I'm about to say. Sunshine, she's here, you can take a break! I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space. With the air, like I don't care, baby, by the way... (One of the best pop songs ever written, and that is not a topic for debate. Anyway, this is where we ate lunch.)
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Look at this: kids left their backpacks out front, knowing that when they were done eating, they would find their belongings waiting for them. I miss Japan every single day.
PinkGatorCoaster.jpg
Okay, the credits, let's get to 'em. Greenland has four roller coasters, two intended for small children. This is the Wani Wani Coaster and as you can see, there are no small children on board this train. Judge not, that ye be not judged. I would have ridden, too, but that 'gator car brought back some very unfantastic memories of Fantastic Coaster Rowdy (see the Harikata installment of this report).
flumeConveyorCoaster.jpg
The other kiddie kredit is the Torokko Coaster, unique for its flume ride-style conveyor belt lift mechanism. (Which happens to run parallel to the park's flume ride lift, so let that blow your mind, man.) I recall some gymnastics getting in and out of the car, and a couple of bumps on the knees going around turns. It was kind of fun, though.
ConveyorCoaster.jpg
Beautiful trains, aren't they?
FlumeSign.jpg
It wasn't super-cold that day, but it wasn't really warm enough for us to want to ride the flume. I liked the sign, though.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Sun Dec 14, 2014 8:06 pm

Continuing:
YellowCoasterLift.jpg
This is Greenland's jet coaster, called GO-ON. And go on, we did.
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Most of the ride swoops around over one of Greenland's go-kart tracks, but the lift takes you back into the woods a bit, which is nice.
YellowCoasterFirstDropTop.jpg
Had the rest of the run been through mountainside trees, like the first drop, GO-ON would have been more satisfying, I think.
YellowCoasterFirstBottom.jpg
Looking over earlier photos of GO-ON, it appears that the park has planted more trees around the lift and first drop in recent years, so (green) thumbs up, Greenland. Please plant more.
YellowCoasterHills.jpg
Petty landscape bitching aside, it's a worthy credit. You can see that it has a full spiral on the lower left, which, as I think I've made clear already, is something I relish more than your average amusement park guest.
YellowCoasterMidDropSign.jpg
In hindsight, I might have to say that this was my favorite jet coaster of the trip.
YellowCoasterEnd.jpg
The over-the-shoulder restraints, so unnecessary. But I will always have a soft spot for that sharp Arrow-style wedge nose.
DragonCoasterLoopDistance.jpg
Even more in the spirit of Arrow is Greenland's second major credit, Dragon King, a Senyo "Loopscrew." (See, there are some more of the retired wheel cabins along the walkway on the left...)
DragonCoasterSign.jpg
Loopscrew. *Snicker*
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I was bracing for serious pain. Even sitting in the last row, Alan and Erwin are going in with much better attitudes.
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It appeared that Dragon King had gotten a new paint job for the season; the colors were rich and very clean.
DragonCoasterLift.jpg
The black and maroon combo is pretty sharp, I think. Notice that they went to the trouble to paint the loop support spines black and the cross bracings maroon, did the same thing on the rails, too. A little care and affection aesthetically goes a long way in my book.
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Dragon King is very much like your stock Arrow triple-looper, except there's a much bigger dip after the lift hill...
DragonCoasterRideAnimals.jpg
...and a more gradual slope down to the teardrop loop. (Yeah, a Bantha corral in some Star Wars kiddie area, I would really dig that. But I digest.)
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I'm including as many photos of Dragon King as I am primarily because these sorts of rides do bring back fond memories.
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Good old Arrow. Meeeehm-reeees... light the corners of my mind... Misty water-colored MEEEEEHM-REEES... (that's the last time I will quote song lyrics today.)
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Dragon King wasn't too painful, but watching a train curl through the 'screw was more pleasurable than riding through it.
DragonCorks.jpg
Just go dragon-green with maroon accents on the trains and they'll have a winner, at least in the looks department.
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At one point during the afternoon, we hung out for a bit in one of Greenland's arcades. Here's Steve, Anth and Cary honing their sharpshooting skills.
ShootingGalleryDetail.jpg
Let's see, what to shoot at first? The bandits, the pre-teen Native American girl, or Kristy Swanson?
StevePinkElephant.jpg
"Pink Elephant Teeter-Totter" sounds like a euphemism for something dirty. Maybe that's why Steve is enjoying it so much.
Wackamole.jpg
So the point of this game is to help Mogy, the boy mole, woo Moglin, the girl mole, while avoiding the gangster moles who want to keep them apart? For a Whac-A-Mole, that seems really overplotted.
PinkyGirl.jpg
I'm telling you, I miss Japan. Every.
Cube2.jpg
Single.
Cube.jpg
Day.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Sun Dec 14, 2014 8:21 pm

Continuing:
GoKartsLake.jpg
We didn't ride the go-kart track under GO-ON, but we did motor around the track that circumnavigated a lake at the far end of the park.
GoKartsSwanBoat.jpg
These go-karts were low on thrills, but pleasantly scenic. Hey, look, pedal boats.
PedalBoats2.jpg
So I'm standing on dry land, taking pictures, and I hear some kind of commotion going on, and I turn to see what's happening. Steve and Priss are having a very good laugh at something.
PedalBoats1.jpg
It appears that Cary and Anth have exceeded the payload ratings for these vessels...
PedalBoats7.jpg
...and are on the verge of a serious maritime disaster. Mayday, Mayday, MAYDAY!
PedalBoats3.jpg
Greenland's naval search and rescue team is deployed and speeds to their aid.
PedalBoats4.jpg
"You're gonna need a bigger boat."
PedalBoats5.jpg
"I'll never let go, Jack. I promise."
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"Call me Ishmael."
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Saved! Hooray! These were two souls the sea would not claim, not here, not today.
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Who was that noble hero in the yellow shirt? We'll never know. He simply bowed and walked off into the sunset, the satisfaction of a job well done his only reward.
ScaryWalkthroughWall.jpg
For those of you keeping score of such details, Hokkaido Greenland has three scary attractions. Quality-wise, yeah, there's a traditional dark ride and a walk-through (pictured above) that are not as bat-poop bonkers as some of the others featured on this trip. But they most certainly don't offend with suckage, and we didn't wait a minute for either of them.
ScaryWalkthroughEnt.jpg
I know I go on and on about this matter, but it must be emphasized when appropriate: to find three scary attractions in a park of this size and scope is mega-dope.
ScaryDarkRide.jpg
This is the entrance to the dark ride, which is just down the path from the walk-through. I did not have my picture taken as "stretchy neck geisha phantasm" as I clearly could have, *slaps forehead.*
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My favorite attraction at Greenland was their spooky Surprising House, which is tucked away under the station for the suspended pirate boat monorail; you can see it behind the entrance to the carousel in the photo above.
ScarySurprisingHouse.jpg
Some day I'd like to buy a drink for the person who came up with the idea to mate a "3D audio" headset experience with a mini somersaulting room ride. The result is so good, I can only hope there are more of them at other parks we didn't get to. First, it lasts several minutes. Second, there's a story to the whole shebang, and don't ask me to tell you what that story is, but it involves seductive/unnerving whispering and breaking dinner plates and creepy moaning and darkness and the possessed room rocking and rolling and finally flipping all the way over. Marvelous.
Robot.jpg
Greenland is a neat little park; I'll be back.
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Later that afternoon, a few of us took a stroll through Sapporo. This is Odori Park, which runs quite a few blocks through the center of the city. That's the Sapporo TV Tower in the distance.
Tower2.jpg
It's a really nice park with plenty of well-manicured lawns and trees, and art and stuff. (FYI, the Sapporo TV Tower gets totalled in 1991's "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.")
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We stopped at some beer tent and had blue beer. Why it was tinted blue, I don't recall at all.
CityPark.jpg
Pretty, right?
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Then we just meandered for awhile. I liked this lion statue...
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...and this awesome horse-drawn double-decker stage coach tour bus (???).
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And because it's Japan, Mario and Luigi drove by.
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Dinner. Holy damn, do I miss Japan all the freaking time, but when I'm hungry, I REALLY, REALLY miss Japan.
Defilious.jpg
It was another totally defilious day.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

To be continued.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Sun Dec 14, 2014 8:29 pm

Nrthwnd wrote:So Robert, what % are you at, "turning Japanese," by now?

Just curious. :wink:

(And my first ever Ultratwister, was the one at Astroworld in 1992!)


Bill, I'm sorry to say that the percentage is dropping... I need to get back. ;) Very cool that you got to ride an Ultra Twister that far back; amazing!
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