I'd forgotten about the "Incident of the Not-So-Sea-Worthy Pedal Boat," which would make a great title for s Sherlock Holmes tale. I didn't witness the event, but I heard other people laughing about it later.
Greenland was a very enjoyable park with a great staff.
This park was great, a bit spare in themeing and enclosed areas, but it made for a good walking workout from ride to ride, lol. The haunted swing was my happiest surprise as I originally thought it was an ice house, or something like that. I am glad I was wrong. It was great. And the maze with that elder ride op congratulating us as we exited the place and shaking hands, etc... unreal, and very Japanese. She was great! And the concept of changing a one-maze space into two... brilliant!
We had a breakdown ahead of us on the lake car ride back there. Thankfully, it wasn't going to be a possible 'sinking' like the guys was, heh.
Great report Robert. What a oddly amusing park that was. The haunted swing with 3D surround audio was actually really good and quite unnerving. Especially it being that small and you not having any clue what the whispers were saying!
TRIPS: West Coast Tour 2009 - || - Middle America 2010 - || - IntimidaTOUR 2010 - || - Best of China 2012 Taiwan 2013 - || - Japan 2013 - || Scandinavia 2014[url=http://www.clubtpr.com][img]http://www.clubtpr.com/images/memberbanners/5a7b5ea10f265e536d315d1bd5a624a7.jpg[/img][/url]
For kicks, I googled "Togo" recently to see what results came up. The top hit was the hoagie restaurant franchise website. Second was the West African nation's Wikipedia entry. And that's the way it went through every link on the first five pages: information on Togo, the country, or Togo's, the fast food outlets. Then there was a link to a book on Amazon about a sled dog named "Togo" (written by Robert J. Blake, a guy who hears a lot of "Killed your wife lately?" jokes, I'll bet).
Did news of Togo, the defunct Japanese manufacturer of amusement attractions, ever show up on page one of a web search? Maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, it would appear that the company is slowly fading into digital obscurity and that's the way the cookie crumbles.
You and me, we'll keep the memory of Togo alive for awhile longer because it's fun to rag on their most heinous bruise dispensaries, isn't it? But as I mentioned in the Sea Paradise and Spaland reports, this trip to Japan schooled me – Togo did much good work in its home country. And that's why you'll hear nothing but praise today, for Hokkaido's Rusutsu Resort is where Togo dropped some really excellent product.
Rusutsu's ride portfolio gets high marks all around, with a supertanker-load of bonus points for the physical environment it sits on. Like Greenland, this resort's wintertime directive is to service skiers and while I can't vouch for the quality of Rusutsu's trails, I recommend wholeheartedly the tram ride to the mountaintop during the summer season.
We had to rise very early in the morning for a long bus trip to Hokkaido's higher elevations, but I'm not complaining.
"Look, out the window, it's JAPAN!"
Even if you're not all Sierra Club and stuff, you have to admit that is gorgeous, right?
Snow! I will return to Northern Japan during the winter some year. Must do it.
I surely do wish that the Tokyo Disney resort had a "Soarin' Over Japan" attraction. (That could be so freaking awesome and you could have Mothra in there, like "Soarin' With Mothra," with the Twins in the preshow and everything... I'd wait three hours for that, no problem.)
Speaking of EPCOT: we arrived before the park opened to reg'lar folk for still another morning of whomp-ass ERT, so we chilled in the resort's "welcome center" building for a bit. (Just inside the front doors, there's a big singing tree and I'm not sharing a picture of that tree because I somehow managed not to take one.)
There are a bunch of restaurants and retail spaces in here and the atrium has a pan-European street theme, from what I could tell. It's not quite Disney-level immersive but it's pleasant.
I dug the mini-double-decker carousel in the central hub of the atrium. Didn't ride it. Should've. Or wait, maybe it didn't spin? Maybe it was just for show? No, it must have spun, no good reason for the gate around it otherwise.
I didn't ever actually see it spinning is my point, I think. Anyway. Nice detailing on that carousel.
There were some awesome capsule stations next to the carousel, but my favorite was the capsule station that dispensed...
...scary ghost projectors! These are tiny flashlight-type things that beam a creepy image onto whatever you're aiming it at. I got two of them, only 200 yen apiece, should've snagged a lot more.
"Does it spin?! TELL ME, DOES IT SPIN?!?!"
Here we are, walking from the welcome center towards the amusement park section of the resort, the morning clouds still low and thick. See the ski lift towers back there on the hill, and the cabins tucked under the trees?
Here's a shot of those trailside cabins taken later in the day, damn fine ski resort accommodations, if you ask me.
Morning ERT included Rusutsu's star attraction, Togo's ultra-awesome dive loop Ultra Twister.
Dudes. Seriously. Let's save this for the end, but seriously. Dudes. Wow.
Up ahead, the forward tower of Rusutsu's funky Meisho Loop the Loop coaster beckons us.
The thing that gets me jazzed for a straight-line shuttle coaster is a powered launch, be it a Schwarzkopf flywheel launch, or an Intamin Impulse LIM launch, or even Arrow's old electric winch yank. Loop the Loop, which pulls you slowly up a hill and then lets gravity do the rest of the work, is fun enough. But I was perfectly happy with a single ride. (Check out the verdant majesty in the background.)
I enjoyed its gradually curving rear tower, a novelty to me.
And I liked it enough to take several pictures of it, so here's one more.
And one more because red lightning bolts.
Right after the Loop the Loop, most everyone moved on over to Hurricane, Rusutsu's SLC. I'd made a personal vow to stay off these accursed things for good, but this was the only SLC on the trip, and how often would I get the chance to ride an SLC in Japan?
And maybe, just maybe, an SLC in Japan would somehow be less horrendous than an SLC almost anywhere else, which is the logic of a madman, but guess what?
It was less horrendous!
I will be the first to admit that Japan clouds my attempts at dispassionate observation. Still, I'm almost positive that Hurricane was indeed acceptable. I did not press my luck and ride it a second time.
We cooled down for a bit on this little train. Smiles all around...
...except for Cary. Why is Cary sad? Because the train cars were a tight squeeze for taller guests and...
...because he knows we're going to ride the Corkscrew next. Yes, there's a real Arrow Corkscrew here, and it turns out this model was Japan's first Arrow Corkscrew, which opened in 1977 at Yatsu Yuenchi, a now-closed park in the Chiba Prefecture. It moved to Rusutsu in 1982. And it's kind of rough. But we got through it in one piece.
Rusutsu's Mirror House is okay for a chuckle, nothing extraordinary, especially in comparison to Greenland's presto-chango mirror house.
I can't remember the last time I saw one of these swing-cage deals. It must have been at a schoolyard carnival decades ago. In my opinion, they start to cross the line between "ride" and "gymnasium equipment," too much personal effort required. So I watched as Cary, Anth, Steve and Priss hopped on. Cary got way up there; I was impressed.
If you're into classic flats, Rusutsu has you covered. As far as I'm concerned, these Rok N Rol contraptions are one step up from waterboarding, but the rest of my group was eager to rok out.
So they did while I enjoyed wearing a shirt not covered in my own sick.
A Wave Swinger I can always handle.
Ditto for S&S towers, love 'em.
Until this trip, I avoided Top Spins like the plague, but for some reason I allowed Steve to talk me into riding Top Gun. I must say I enjoyed it, as super-intense as it was. Steve said it ran one of the wilder ride programs he'd experienced. Top Spins are now a slowly growing list of "whirl and hurl" flat rides I will tackle under the right circumstances.
Looking back, I'm almost sure I wouldn't have had any issues with this Swing Around, but I chose not to partake.
I never quite know with rides like these... the ones that perform a single maneuver, over and over and over and over and over and over. I tend to need a lot of variety of motion to keep me from feeling ill. On the other hand, Swing Arounds do look gentle.
Inside an arcade building, you'll find a few small attractions (miniscule, really) like the 3D audio headphone Murder Lodge. Not bad, but there's a much better scare attraction outside, which we'll get to shortly.
Wildriver is a simulator ride you could fit into your living room. (There are a whole mess of these things at Joyopolis.)
Hey, guys... Guys, GUYS! Indoor voices. You rule the earth, we get it. Relax.
Is there an arcade in Japan without at least one of these photo booths? If so, we did not find it.
I'm having trouble writing an inoffensive caption for this photo, so I'm giving up.
Same for this one.
Cary drives the bus like a big boy!
The joyful incorrectness of Safari is what made it one of my favorite attractions at Rusutsu. Climb into a jeep, drive around, aim your gun, and "kill" as many animals as you can. I mean, they even put a bald eagle on the sign. Priceless.
Squirrel, bear, monkey, moose, who cares what it is, KABLAMO, right between the eyes! The ride has barely begun and Cary's already got something in his sights.
("Pacific Ocean Park," the recently published book by Chris Merritt and Domenic Priore, has a black and white photo of that long-lost park's "Jeep" dark ride, similar in concept to this outdoor attraction and I only bring this up because it's such a fantastic piece of work. If you are into amusement park history, I urge you to get your hands on a copy.)
This is Rusutsu's Haunted House walk-through and it is nice and dark, literally and figuratively.
The story seems to involve a girl possessed by some evil spirit, perhaps The Devil himself? There is unmistakably Christian symbolism present here, so I'm fairly sure that's the case, but not 100%.
This was another time I really wished I'd been literate enough in Japanese to figure out how all these details fit together, like "my secret Collection," what the hell is that, and "my friends," are they dolls that are also possessed? Clearly there's a rich narrative which I did not begin to understand. But this spook house still rocked; the "money shot" room in particular was swell.
I'd begun losing my enthusiasm for stand-up coasters long before riding Six Flags Great America's Iron Wolf, but that dung heap was the last straw. (I suffered through Iron Wolf in 2011, not long before they shipped it off to Maryland, changing its colors and calling it something else, hoping we'd all simply move on and forget what Iron Wolf had done to us, but we didn't forget AND WE NEVER WILL, DAMN YOU!) Riddler's Revenge and Georgia Scorcher, they're not on my Naughty List. Yet. But the rest can sod off.
Given the luck we were having throughout Japan, though, I decided to throw caution to the wind once again and ride Togo's single-inversion Standing Coaster. I did think it was cool that the lift hill threaded the loop, especially since its inversion is significantly shorter than the 124-footer that Riddler climbs through.
I can't tell you that this ride made me love stand-up coasters as much as I used to, but it certainly didn't make me want to throw a puppy into a blender, like Iron Wolf did THAT'S RIGHT, "APOCALYPSE," YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? I DIDN'T THINK SO, BITCH.
Standing Coaster was all right, so way to go, Togo!
This is Rusutsu's Mad Mouse, which is a wee bit confusing because there is another roller coaster here that is closer to what we Americans think of when we hear "mad mouse." Regardless, Mad Mouse is a fun, herky-jerky little ride made by a company called Saeki, whom I'd never heard of before.
That vehicle sure looks like some kind of mine car, right? So, yeah, "Mad Mouse" is odd. And two chains to carry these little things up a hill so short seems kind of over-engineered, but what do I know? Konnichiwa, ladies!
"Hello, United? Hi, what's the airfare for the next available flight from LAX to Tokyo? No, not round-trip, just one way... Sure, I'll hold, thanks."
This is the coaster that's much more mouse-like, and it's called Go Go Sneaker...
...for obvious reasons.
Those adorable cars are the most remarkable thing about Go Go Sneaker, but if you like wild mice, you'll like this ride, another fine Togo attraction.
So if you're keeping score, that's two Togo coasters in one park, so far, and both of them are totally decent. That already makes Rusutsu an unrivaled experience for me.
Moving back up the thrill scale a hair is the park's Mountain Coaster, a jet coaster from Meisho. It's very much what I had come to expect from jet coasters: a fairly long ride; some hills, none steeper than my driveway; some wide, flat turns; a minor bunny hop or two.
These are rides designed to offend no one, which is fine. As I've probably said before, they are excellent "big" starter coasters.
And Rusutsu's Mountain Coaster runs through the park's exceptional landscape, so that's a plus.
It's not butter-smooth, but it's okay. Until that one turn, right near the end. You'll know the one. They have to do something about that turn. It'll wake you right up, that turn. And not in a good way.
Mountain Coaster wraps around the Skid Racing go-kart tracks and that name led me to assume there would be much Tokyo Drifting. I erred in that assumption. Go-karts are never a waste of time, though, no sir.
Speaking of mountains, let's head up to the top of West Mountain. This is a shot looking back at the Rusutsu Tower Hotel, still very close to the bottom.
There's Ultra Twister, and Mountain Coaster, and a little bit of Standing Coaster. And a lot of trees.
Now we're at some altitude. What a view.
See what a beautiful place this is? See?
I don't know how many feet up we go.
But it's at least 100 feet. Maybe more than that.
Yeah, no, it's way more than 100 feet. Way. And we're just about there.
Now we're off the tram at the top and looking towards Mt. Yotei, an active stratovolcano that is known as "Hokkaido's Mt. Fuji." Awesome.
According to Feng Shui (I'm no expert, I just googled it), mountaintops are "power spots," and this is the Bell of Happiness at Rusutsu's Power Spot.
You are to ring the Bell of Happiness for good fortune and such. I rang it and it totally worked because a few days later I was in Tokyo DisneySea and that is some good fortune, yo.
A whole bunch of us spent a lot of time up here, walking around, soaking it all in.
"Hi, yes, I'm still on the line... Wow. That much. Well, what if I packed myself into a pet carrier and rode in the cargo hold?"
Here's a shot looking in the other direction. Not quite as bucolic, but still tremendously awesome.
Note to self: "Purchase third home in Rusutsu with lottery winnings. Also, play lottery."
It was not easy to get back on the tram to the bottom. I could've stayed up there all evening.
It's tricky to spot in this photo, but there's this ride called the Heartbeat, or Heartbreak, or Heartburn, Heart-something or other, to the left of the the rainbow-colored Ferris wheel. Look for the white six-pointed star, anyway, it's a Togo flat ride and it is wicked.
After we arrived back at the base of the mountain, Cary, Anth and I walked back to the main building and got something to eat.
We were serenaded by "Daniel and the Dixie Diggers," a robot critter show that lies on the quality scale somewhere between Chuck E. Cheese and The Country Bear Jamboree (a lot closer to the former than the latter, but hey, animatronics rule).
After eating, we met back up with Steve and Priss and took much delight in this inclined moving walkway. It glides you up a hill to a plateau where the Ferris wheel, a first-gen Intamin Freefall, and this Togo Heartworm thing is.
You know the famous carny Paratrooper ride, right? Take one of those, remove the fiberglass canopies over the hanging passenger seats, crank up the RPM, and you get this wild flat ride, which may be called "Wind Storm," now that I've done a bit more research into the matter.
In this second shot, where they've really got it going, you can see how the swings get so close to fully inverting at the top of the orbit. Far more intense than a Paratrooper, and significantly more fun, too, this should be a high priority for any spin and spew fan who visits Rusutsu. A real surprise.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we come at last to Rusutsu's most infamous attraction, a roller coaster so deviant it is banned in 97 countries, the one and only: dive loop Ultra Twister.
In Latin America, they call Rusutsu's Ultra Twister "Acero del Diablo." Throughout Northern Europe, mothers warn their children that "Dive Loop Ultra Twister eats bad little boys and girls for supper."
When they finished building the dive loop Ultra Twister, they blinded the engineer, burned the blueprints, and fed the ashes to a goat. And then killed the goat.
The point I'm trying to make is that Rusutsu's Ultra Twister is speed metal-anarcho-grindcore that will melt your face.
The preamble to our total subjugation is that grim crawl straight up the lift tower's esophagus.
Once we're barfed out the top, we hit the brakes only 20 seconds later.
But those 20 seconds... they left me – and will no doubt leave you – changed forever.
The power dive on the other side of the tower gets us rolling heavy...
...and we tear right over this speed bump of a hill. Good stuff, but nothing to distress a seasoned roller coaster enthusiast.
On the far side of that speed bump, we get whipped through the first heartline roll, just like we did at Nagashima Spa Land.
But rather than make a small jump onto a dead-end platform – where we can sit for a spell, shoot the breeze, have a smoke, whatever – we roar up a larger incline and rotate 180 degrees.
The face melting begins here.
Diving down, accelerating hard, we level off and blast forward like a bullet shot through a rifled gun barrel, spiraling madly again and again.
Behold the melting of faces.
Before it was time to leave, most everyone grabbed one or two more rides on this Togo masterpiece (two words I do not use in sequence very often).
Whatever you need to do to get to Rusutsu so you can experience this Ultra Twister, do it. Do it soon. Do it today.
It completely destroys.
Every time I think of Rusutsu, and the Togo magic therein, I am happy. Very happy.
cfc wrote:Rusutsu Resort had a spectacular setting, and I enjoyed out day there immensely. I really liked Ultra Twister, although you may not think that from the photos of me posted in this TR.
Yeah, it's that kind of ride, intimidating and awesome and terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.
SharkTums wrote:Effing Japan...I miss it!
Seconded times infinity! I'm realizing that one of the reasons I'm taking so long getting these trip reports done is that I don't want to finish doing them. It's like when they're done, the trip will be coming to an end all over again.
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