If breezing through one zoo wasn't enough on this trip, we did the exact same thing witg Tobu Zoo. I have no problem with our furry friends, but I always prioritize coasters over animal exhibits. That's especially true when that coaster would be my first Intamin mega lite.
My first thought entering the park was that Tobu Zoo is simply massive. I knew it'd be on the larger side considering it was a zoo, but I didn't realize just how spread out the amusement park section would be. It took a good 15 minutes from the entrance to reach Kawasemi and the kiddie coaster was even further back. While I do enjoy making a fool of myself on kiddie coasters, I wasn't going to waste my limited time walking back there when the alternative was a mega lite. I'd think most enthusiasts in my position would do the same, but I'm sure the allure of Diggy and Daggy’s Tram Coaster is too much for some to pass up. Now I would have ridden the Tentomushi tivoli coaster since it was on the way, but sadly it was down for the day.
Kawasemi was without a doubt one of the most anticipated coasters of the trip for me. Enthusiasts always rave about the airtime. With no wait, we started in the front and were stunned a coaster this short would have a cable lift. It almost seems unnecessary, but it does whip you over the top. The turn at the bottom of the drop isn't quite at the level of I305, but it was really intense. On each of my rides, I was definitely seeing grey. Then instead of flying over the second hill, Kawasemi really crawled.
The next airtime hill appeared similar to the picturesque one on Maverick and delivered some strong airtime, but not the sustained ejector like Maverick's hill. The next bit was the highlight of the ride- the s-hills. There were three tiny s-hills traversed in rapid fire succession that each provided some strong ejector air to go with some laterals. After another quick turn there were two bunny hills that looked ripe with crazy airtime, but instead I just got a few weak pops. Then there was a surprise bit of air entering the brake run, but again it wasn't all that powerful. Kawasemi was good, but my sky-high expectations definitely were not met.
So the logical thing to do was try it again in the back row. And I can say unequivocally that is the right place to ride Kawasemi. The drop had some nice floater the whole way down, the already awesome air on the s-hills was even stronger, and the final bunny hills delivered some pops of ejector like I had expected. It still wasn't quite as good as I had expected, but it's still an excellent coaster. It's smooth, reridable, and few coasters of this size offer this much airtime. It just didn't have that out-of-control feeling that a similarly sized ride like Lightning Run provided. 9 out of 10
After a few more rerides, there was another Intamin waiting for us. Except this one was made of wood. Before getting excited, this isn't El Toro or Balder we're taking about. No, this is Regina. We walked onto the front row and prayed Regina wouldn't be abusive. While she doesn't quite reach the levels of 50 shades of grey, she does remind riders whose in charge.
The first turnaround delivered a very strong pop of air. Actually all the turnarounds delivered solid airtime, as well as the finale. It was a bit bumpy at points, but it never approached what I'd consider rough. My riding partner thought different, especially after I convinced him to ride in the back (after all, I hear that's where Regina likes it).
Again I didn't find it unbearably rough. It was definitely bumpier than the front, but the reward was some decent air on any larger drop. It's not the world's best wooden coaster, but it was the best one I rode in Japan. 7 out of 10
Hoping Kawasemi was maybe running a bit sluggish on our first rides, we came back around 2 hoping it had sped up. Alas it did not happen. It felt like hill 2 was sapping a large chunk of Kawasemi’s speed on each ride. I think the low crowds were working against us. For one, I honestly don't know how many times it even ran without us. Then when we did ride, the train never had more than 6 people. Maybe others who have ridden Kawasemi or the other mega-lites can chime in, but I'm guessing a combination of the two led to me getting what were very good rides as opposed to world-class rides.
Tobu Zoo is definitely way more than just the two Intamin coasters I rode. Animal fans definitely shouldn't do what we did, but it was the only way to cram Kawasemi into the trip. If and when I return to Japan, hopefully I will visit Tobu on a busier day (that feels like an odd thing for an enthusiast to say
) and possibly experience why these mega-lites always creeped into the top 10 on the Mitch Hawker poll.