We were just looking for a few years down the line to try Nintendo Land in 2021 and we have no proof but we both came to the conclusion that there's a chance it'll be a separate fast pass just for Nintendo rides or a stupidly high priced on a new combined fast-pass to really rake it in. That and time entry on the existing one and we are assuming Nintendo Land will be timed and we couldn't justify the stress of making deadlines with us taking turns with our son.
Honestly for what we'd budget just for a weekend in Osaka and one day and fast pass in USJ (since it's a v short flight from here) to get in MOST rides, not ALL, we can probably get a whole week in Hong Kong and a semi-decent hotel for that cost.
Today was another two-park day, and we were heading out west, past Kobe, to what might have been the most bizarre park of the whole trip: Washuzan Highland.
It was another rainy day, but that's okay, 'cause both parks today ran their rides in the rain!
So, uh, the station by the park was pretty interesting….
Yeah, so Kurashiki has a thing for denim. Who knew?
Like a ruin in the Amazon, the park rises up out of the woods.
Okay, so I had no idea about this going in, but Washuzan Highland is themed to Brazil! This makes Parque España look normal by comparison! I assume this is thanks to Brazil having the most Japanese expats of any country and that Brazilians represent the largest non-Asian demographic in Japan. It's still an amusing theme, though!
Brazilian Bing is the biggest competitor to Brazilian Google
Oh, hi there….
I was running a bit behind the pack, so I had to hightail it if I wanted to catch up. The thing is… in order to get to where everyone else was, I would have to hike a seemingly endless set of stairs up Mt. Washu itself. This right here is only part of it! Still, I had conquered Tokyo Tower mere days before; surely I could handle this!
I could barely stand after this.
But what a view! Up here is their human-powered "roller coaster," which is just as much clickbait fodder as Diving Coaster: Vanish, but for good reason! The ride takes you (or rather, you take yourself) out over a very large cliff, which is made all the more unsettling by your bare-bones seat belt and sketchy seats.
Photo by Chris Having lagged behind, I was the last to get their ride in.
This park honestly had some of the best views of the entire trip, and I think the rain clouds just added to that! Standing on Mt. Washu, you're offered a grand panorama of the Seto Inland Sea, with its myriad islands and islets. You also get a great scene of the giant suspension bridge that we would be taking very soon! (I somehow didn't get a picture of it, though).
Heading down the stairs to ride Star Jet, I came across this little guy enjoying the weather.
Lurking in the forest is this shabby beast. Star Jet has since been repainted (and renamed), but in this state, it was hard not to approach it with a little trepidation.
"Tu está totalmente ferrado huehuehue"
This coaster had all the makings of a deathtrap: it was rusty, a Togo, and one train went backwards! There was no way this thing was gonna be good. But somehow it was! The ride itself was actually quite comfortable, and you get some killer airtime going over those humps! Maybe my opinion would've been different if the stand-up train had been running instead, but it's certainly a fine ride!
Unfortunately for us, the other two coasters there—a jet coaster and an Ultra Twister—weren't running, but we'd be riding plenty of jet coasters, and there'd be another Ultra Twister later on.
They even had a real samba band playing some tunes, and the dancers came over and danced with us! During pauses in the music, there were educational segments, including a short Portuguese lesson… which of course was in Japanese! Where else could we have learned that "obrigado" is Portuguese for "ありがとう"? Being that we were literally the only ones there, these people must have really appreciated the audience!
Wow, these guys sure know how to advertise!
Photo by Robb So that was our day at Washuzan Highland! This is such a quirky park that I definitely recommend you visit it, even if it's not the most glamorous park around. If you're traveling between Hiroshima and Osaka, check this place out!
Adeus, Washuzan Highland.
Oh yeah, I forgot about how much they love jeans here….
Photo by Robb Well, who can deny a nice pair?
Next up: New Reoma World!
—Nick Z. Like a nun with a gun, I'm wonderful fun.
My husband and I are going in 2 weeks and also bought the entry+7 passes and holy crap we were shocked at the end price to say the least. He's never been to any Universal park at all so it sucks that we'll have to wait for a few rides like Backdraft because it doesn't include everything.... but oh well. We'll make the best of it.
To get to our next park, we had to take a train over the water! Most of the things we'd done so far had been on the island of Honshu, which is the largest island of Japan; New Reoma Land, however, is on Shikoku, directly south of where we were.
The sea between Honshu and Shikoku is pockmarked by my many smaller islands, several of which have these cute little villages!
If you have a fear of the ocean, this train ain't for you! (Train't for you?)
Really great scenery
As we reached the shores of Shikoku, we were greeted with some cool industrial stuff.
For real, though, the ride didn't take long at all!
This scene outside Kotohira Station is just so quintessentially Japanese: the rain, the huge mountain obscured by mist, the utter coziness of this town… it's just so lovely!
The park has a gorgeous hillside setting!
The rain was heavier here, but I do love the look of misty mountains!
Photo by Robb A little rain don't hurt nobody!
Photo via Robb We all made a beeline for the park's biggest coaster, Vivace. (The literal Italian translation means "lively," but in a musical context, it basically means "quickly," which is what I bet they were going for).
The coaster is a quirky little contraption—basically a cross between a mine train and a jet coaster, with a little bit of Schwarzkopf thrown in for good measure. Not a bad combo!
Their shooting dark ride had capybaras out front. (I found it interesting that Washuzan Highland of all places didn't have any, considering they're native to Brazil and all).
After that, some of us did a strange, hard-to-explain haunted walkthrough attraction with scare actors (actually, there might have only been one scare actor doing multiple things). And after that, we moved on to their not-Space-Mountain coaster, Spaceship 2056….
It may look like we're waiting for a show, but this is in fact the queue for the coaster!
After you're let inside, you're led through this impressive, if a little kitschy, themed hallway to…
…a space elevator! Because lift hills are just so passé.
Once you're let out, you go through this trippy tunnel, and then you're finally at the station! The ride itself wasn't anything special, but you may find yourself squeezed in tight, especially if you've got a bag like I did.
After you're done, there's still a little bit of theming left.
The park also has this weird suspended balloon ride thing. It's just as odd as you'd expect.
God, we're pathetic.
I guess I should point out that the park's Ferris wheel has a few carriages that look like seats from an inverted coaster. We didn't do that, though; we weren't that interested in sitting out in the rain.
This coaster is a really cute wild mouse-style ride. It's great for a nice solo ride! As you can see, the rain had started to pick up, so I decided to make my way back to the entrance area.
This is really nice to have when the weather isn't perfect!
NRW was another "sleeper hit," I think. The park had a cool setting and many unique attractions, even if nothing there was bucket list material. And despite not being right in the middle of everything, the park is really not too out of the way either, so don't write it off just because it may be a slight detour.
The sun's already sinking at five, but that lighting is gorgeous!
Next up: More Universal and Hirakata Park!
—Nick Z. Like a nun with a gun, I'm wonderful fun.
Today would be a very jam-packed day from morning 'til night, and it all began with a second crack at Universal after the events of the other day….
Since Hirakata was originally scheduled for this day, we decided to get to the gates as early as possible to get in our credits before leaving.
For us, the big prize was the Flying Dinosaur. (What's Universal got against the word "pterodactyl"? First Pteranodon Flyers, now this!) This thing is intense as hell! The back-to-back barrel roll, sidewinder, and pretzel loop really take it outta you!
This area also has people dressed up in these really cool dino suits!
After getting my Snoopy coaster credit, I moved on to the last one I needed: Hollywood Dream – The Ride. It's not the most exhilarating ride in the world, but it was running one train backwards, so that spiced things up quite a bit!
The main event for today involved a short ride to the northern parts of Osaka Prefecture, much closer to the epicenter of the quake just a few days before.
Looking around, you'd have never known that this place was just in the middle of a strong earthquake!
"What in the hell is this!?!?" (No, seriously, what is he holding?)
"Hirapah," as it's nicknamed, is a family-oriented park with no overtly thrilling rides, but it's very scenic and has tons of charm!
Look at this lil guy!
Photo by Robb Our first ride was on Elf, an old-school Intamin woodie. "Elf" is actually an acronym for "Episode of Little Fairies". Makes it sound like some kind of military code name….
Elf was one of only two wooden coasters the entire trip. It's a fairly small coaster, and it does have a few bumps here and there, but it does offer a few moments of airtime! (Hi Barry!)
Red Falcon is the obligatory jet coaster of the park. It's pretty standard for a jet coaster, but it has this weird way of banking in which the spine stays in place while the ties move. Watch Robb's POV; you'll see what I mean.
The park also has a classic spinning mouse coaster… except this one doesn't spin! You do get some pretty fierce laterals on that second half, though!
Dontcha just love the little characters they create for these things?
Of course there's a Ferris wheel
My last credit of the day was on the oddly-named Fantastic Coaster Rowdy. As anyone can tell you, only one of those adjectives is true.
Nothing's rowdier than a pink alligator! …Or is that a crocodile? …A caiman perhaps?
I know it's a bit cliché to say this, but some of these coasters really do look like they were designed in RollerCoaster Tycoon. But honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way!
"Better than RMC!"
So, Mr. Kitagawa was back with us again, and he told us that this rather odd sign was actually used in advertisements for the park!
Photo by Colin So of course we had to imitate it! Needless to say, I was a bit big for it!
Photo by Chuck And this is me moments after nearly capsizing. Well, I probably couldn't capsize this if I tried, but it sure felt like it! Clearly, this was not made for big ol' hunks o' meat like myself; after the five(?)-foot splashdown, some of us got stuck in the trough, and we had to reach out and grab the sides to move us along! This was dumb as hell, but also hilarious!
One of the more eccentric attractions of Hirapah is Legend of Luxor. [Spoiler alert]: Basically, you and your group go inside individual Egyptian-style sarcophagi. You sit down in there, put on some cheap headphones, and then stick your hands outside your sarcophagus. A video then plays on a screen in front of you, and it's the most confusing, B-movie-tier, yet entertaining stuff you've ever seen. The best part was one point in the film where a scorpion "stung my hand," and somebody outside whipped my hands with a band of some kind! I know (or think) it's supposed to be scary, but I was nearly cracking up the whole time!
Image via Robb Here we are gettin' gnomed!
It was getting a little late, so we decided to do one more attraction. This this thing was interesting…. We were first given these booklet things and told to go into a cave area. After a pre-show of sorts, we stood around wondering what to do next. The workers, clearly taking pity on us poor fools, then proceeded to show us how it's done.
As it turns out, we had to walk around the whole volcano looking for the things in this map. You then punch out answers in your map. For the finale, you all go inside the volcano and throw blue foam balls ("water") into a big basket to keep the lava on a screen down while simultaneously tapping monsters on the screen to kill them. It's all a bit hectic.
At the end, you get a nice little card! (I wouldn't call our performance "perfect," but whatevs).
Hirakata Park, while not aimed at thrill seekers, is a really nice park for what it is. And given its convenient location right in between Osaka and Kyoto, there's no real reason to not go at least once, especially given its more left-field offerings.
Next up: We explore Kyoto!
—Nick Z. Like a nun with a gun, I'm wonderful fun.
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