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Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:33 pm

Chapter 5
The Same, but Different: Nagashima Spaland

I had a "Twilight Zone-like" experience as I climbed out of the cab at Nagashima Spaland. Even though I had visited the place with TPR before in 2007, it was as though I hadn't. Why? Probably because a number of the park's coasters had switched places. Spaland had undergone a pretty good sized makeover since '07. They added a large kids area near the hotel, and moved a few coasters to other side of the park--and repainted them in bold, vibrant colors. The whole park actually looked a lot fresher than it did six years ago.

Not only that, but the park's signature attraction, Steel Dragon 2000, had made a big change, too. Gone were the old Morgan "bathtubs on wheels" trains. The ride now sports B&M "open" trains with clamshell restraints--along with "shin guards" and seat belts. These new trains did add a new dimension to this 300-foot-plus monster, which is still the longest roller coaster in the world (over 8,000 feet of track). I liked it back in 2007, and the B&M trains do make the ride a bit more "interesting" than the old, lumbering Morgans--and there's still some nice airtime in the bunny hills coming back to the station.

So, it made sense that Travel Channel would want to feature Steel Dragon 2000 on Insane Coaster Wars. Watch for it next season.

As for the rest of Nagashima Spaland, my opinion from 2007 is unchanged--a good, if not great, park.

Let's have a look.
Hmm--I wonder if Japanese would improve "The Sound of Music"?
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Yes, be sure and separate your trash VERY CAREFULLY.
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The congregation reverently entered Nagashima Spaland for Mass . . .
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. . . at Our Lady of Steel Dragon 2000.
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Something new has been added.
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Way behind the scenes at Insane Coaster Wars. Most of us were extras, but Matt and Lauren were "stars."
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Here's a look at the new train--and at Robb as he sets up for the shoot.
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The park opened up White Cyclone, the park's enormous wooden coaster, while we waited for Steel Dragon.
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Imagine seeing this queue full.
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I kind of liked this ride in '07 . . .
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. . . but it was like a drunk with the DTs that day. Hardly the worst ride ever, but it has slipped a bit.
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Travel Channel is ready for us.
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What does Spaland have against Crocs--other then the obvious aesthetic objections?
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This 300-foot-plus drop is still wonderfully insane--and you have to like the bizarre double lift chain that gets you to the top.
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And . . cut!
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Matt and Lauren are reportedly looking for agents.
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In fact, the rest of talent is seeking representation. They can yell and scream with the best of 'em! (But why so serious, Dan?)
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Make your votes count, gentlemen.
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Ultra Twister used to be way the hell over on the other side of the park. And it's so yellow now that it's positively blinding!
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These cars look like escape pods on Star Trek or something.
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If you have any prayers to make, best make them now . . .
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. . . because the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or what ever deity you worship) . . .
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. . . will not be able to hear them over your screaming later.
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Hmm--my coaster enthusiast senses are tingling!
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They're telling me that Corkscrew probably won't be open today.
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At least I could still snag an "artsy" shot of Steel Dragon. More to come from Spaland.
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Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:21 pm

More from Spaland--enjoy all that fresh paint.
Shouldn't that be "Wild Rabbit"? The Beatrix Potter Estate will be outraged!
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If you are not sure of your pregnancy, you should not ride.
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"We are sure of our physical strength and that we are not pregnant. Therefore, we may ride."
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What does an old Schwarzkopf ride have to do with one bunny strangling another bunny?
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Perhaps the loop is symbolic of the bunny's struggle to survive in an unfriendly world, where even other bunnies are not to be trusted.
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What do you gentlemen think? Did Schwarzkopf have the entire bunny struggle for existence in mind when he designed the Looping Star?
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The Shuttle Loop . . .
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. . . should not be confused with the Shuttle Snack. One is an enjoyable, if wholly indigestible ride, while the other dispenses edible products.
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The Japanese do love their coaster-related snacks, though.
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Hmm--this looks like the end product of a few too many rides on Ultra Twister.
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I'm not sure how this tastes, but it does look cool when all lit up.
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Aw . . . who could resist adorable Spaland socks . . .
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. . . or their adorable ride-ops with hand puppets?
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In Japan, kids jump on balls. You have been warned.
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How do you like your "chiken"--"frid" or sauteed?
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"Deep-frid chiken" is looking pretty good about now.
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Of course, if you're British, there's always the Japanese taco salad.
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Spaland's Ferris wheel is awesome--because it's air conditioned.
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We are watching you!
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If you give White Cyclone a little "hair of the dog," it might not shake and shuffle so much.
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This will give you an idea of how mind-bogglingly big White Cyclone is.
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Dear Kings Dominion,
Notice how nice and shiny this ride is? It's due to a substance called "paint." This "paint" would also work on Rebel Yell.
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May as well have another look at Steel Dragon while we're up here.
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Here's another interesting assortment of Japanese snacks. "Stick Crepe"? How the hell does that work?
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My finely honed senses are also telling me that the Jet Coaster won't be running today.
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Hmm--not my thing. You guys enjoy yourselves, though.
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And that's it for Nagashima Spaland . . .
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. . . well, maybe one more look at While Cyclone, because it's so purty in its nice white paint. Next stop, Sapporo!
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Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:24 pm

805Andrew wrote:Imagine how cool Sea World would be if they had a "boat with dolphins experience" like the one shown here. Those jellyfish look scary, are they in the same lake as the dolphins? Sad to see the boat jumpers ride wasn't operating. I hope it isn't permanent, even if the jumpers never jump off the boat again.

What is the false drop on Blue Fall btw? I have ridden Intamin's Drop Zone/Tower at CGA, Huracan Condor at Port Aventura, and their old Freefall at SFMM, along with S & S drop rides at Knott's, SCBB, DCA, and Stratosphere, and DCA's Tower of Terror so I'm not sure if I've experienced the false drop.

There was a barrier between the jellyfish and the dolphin lagoon. A few of the seats are Blue Fall make an initial drop of about 10 feet or so, stop short for a few seconds, then send you plummeting.

Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:40 pm

I still don't understand totally the Peter Rabbit thing, although it's on signs, napkins, plates.. and some snacks too.

But still - never seen the bunny in the fur - maybe they're actually smart with their
character actors and DON'T put them in stuffy suits like this during that humidity?

Great take on Nagashima, Chuck. I believe truly, that all the Japanese version of
English signs are more fun, awkward, totally f-ed up, or just ??? than any others in the world.

Even China! :omg: Looking forward to more.

Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:19 pm

cfc wrote:
There was a barrier between the jellyfish and the dolphin lagoon. A few of the seats are Blue Fall make an initial drop of about 10 feet or so, stop short for a few seconds, then send you plummeting.

I was suprised at how different the 2 sides felt even though that initial drop plus those brakes that stop you only take up 20ft of the drop, both sides felt different when you hit the bottom, although both were great fun.

Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:41 am

I think Steel Dragon in the front with the new trains must be awesome. Actually probably any seat now with the bathtubs gone!

Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:09 am

^It seemed a bot rougher than what I remembered from 2007, but I'm not sure that's entirely due to the trains (which are an improvement over the old Morgan bathtubs). The airtime on the return leg seems to have increased.

Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:34 pm

^ Well, if there's ANY airtime on the return run, then you can probably thank the new trains. I rode it last October with the old trains, and there was none.

Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:43 pm

^I remember decent airtime with the old "bathtub" trains, but that was back in 2007. The new B&M trains are a definite improvement.

Re: Photo TR: Chuck Finally Returns to Japan with TPR

Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:51 am

Chapter 6
Coasters and Beer: Hokkaido Greenland and the Sapporo Beer Museum

Our flight from Nagoya to Sapporo (in northern Japan on Hokkaido) was a bit of an eye opener when it came to Japanese airport security and service. After checking in, which went very quickly and smoothly despite the size of our group, most of us headed over to the security station. This consisted of a number of doors leading to separate x-ray machines and metal detectors, instead of a long, winding queue crammed into a tiny space, as you often see in U.S. airports. After emptying your pockets into a bin (you keep your shoes and belt), the security guard places your stuff on the conveyor and politely asks to see your passport. After you walk through the metal detector, another staff member hands you your stuff and thanks you for your patience. It's all painless and lasts about a minute.

Contrast that with our beloved TSA, which uses more than double the staff much less efficiently.

Sapporo is a pretty laid-back city that's used to westerners, thanks to being a popular destination for skiing. The first thing we saw after leaving the train station was a large "bier garten" the Sapporo Brewery had set up out front. What's not to like?

We visited two parks on Hokkaido. Robb and Elissa had planned for more, but some of the parks had permanently closed their summer amusement areas to concentrate on their ski-resort business due to the soft economy--the earthquake and tsunami a few years ago hit this part of Japan particularly hard. But that did give us time to see a bit of Sapporo (more on that later)--plus, the two parks we did visit were a lot of fun.

Stop number 1, after riding a train or two and gabbing some taxis, was Hokkaido Greenland. This is the sister park to Mitsui Greenland, a much larger park in southern Japan, which I visited with TPR in 2007. TPR had last visited Hokkaido Greenland in 2009, and Robb recalled that the place was dead and in pretty rough shape. This year, although the park was still rough in spots, it was clear that some work had been done to spruce it up. In addition, the staff was very friendly and genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves--from the parking-lot attendants to the ride ops.

While there's nothing earth-shattering about the park's attractions, Hokkaido Greenland is very enjoyable park, and the group had a great time there. It does, of course, have the obligatory Japanese Jet Coaster (here called "Go On"), along with a fun haunted walk through and dark ride. Its beautiful valley-and-mountain setting is an asset, too.

There is this rather interesting little ride, as well.

Click to download video to your computer or iPod/iPhone

Here's a look at Hokkaido Greenland.
I was very amused that this train provided its own POV of our journey.
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Welcome to Sapporo.
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Remember: What happens in Sapporo, stays in Sapporo--or at least if it happens in Vegas Vegas.
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Welcome to, er, what ever town in which Hokkaido Greenland is located.
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This nightmarish vision greets you upon entry. They actually move and sing!
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"At night, when it is quiet and still, we will come for your children."
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Best restroom sign ever.
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Second best restroom sign ever.
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OK, is everybody nice and refreshed? Good. Let's see the rest of Hokkaido Greenland.
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I'm not sure if Lauren (lower left in green) is really bored or really excited in this shot.
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Oh, go on Go On, if you must.
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Please use the proper riding position. You're riding a Jet Coaster, not attending a Quiet Riot concert.
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Hmm--looks a mite cramped in there.
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"I've lost all feeling in my legs, but that's OK. I'm on a Jet Coaster!"
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It wasn't a bad ride at all.
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Like most Jet Coasters, it just kind of meanders.
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They're the "scenic railways" of Japan.
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Dan, please keep both hands on the wheel! I like how these go-kart tracks wind around the coaster's supports.
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I think this is called "Yard Sale: The Ride."
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Yes, if may be a kiddie ride, but grown men like it, too.
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Dave looks appropriately ashamed.
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But Dan says, "I rode, and I'm glad I rode it! I'd ride it again, too!"
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Creepy Clown says, "Ride me next!"
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"Yay for Creepy Clown's Creepy Clown Cars!"
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At Hokkaido Greenland, even the trash cans have balls.
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"Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica, leads a ragtag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest . . ."
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Ok, let's get going. Them credits ain't gonna whore themselves.
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Robb at work. This could be his most amazing POV yet.
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Dan says, "Well it's no 'Yard Sale: The Ride,' but I'm still psyched!"
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Like the old Nick Lowe album, this coaster is "pinker and prouder than previous."
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Dragon King, the park's rather painful loopscrew, has the weirdest drop into a loop I've ever seen.
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Seriously, it barely picks enough sleep to complete that loop.
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Yes, nothing good can come of this.
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Can no one save those poor people?
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Not even Hello Kitty can help them now. More to come from Hokkaido Greenland.
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