cfc wrote:^Journey is the best dark ride Disney has ever developed, and a great use of the "Test Track" ride system--there's even some airtime during the last high-speed section. The detail in the various caverns you travel through is superb.
Plus, it has Lava Monster.
I think the Lava Monster is the most impressive and realistic Audio-Animotronic creature Disney has created.
P.S. Thank you so much for the pictures.
Last edited by GO MUFC!!! on Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:33 pm.
Chapter 2 Stuff You Can't Do in the U.S.: Universal Japan
Some refer to Universal Japan as "Universal's Greatest Hits," and this is still true. After all, this park in Osaka boasts not only its own City Walk, but also plenty of attractions you can find in the California and Florida parks, such as Jurassic Park, the Adventures of Spider-man, and the Terminator 4D flick. But I think you can also label the place "Universal's Golden Oldies," because this is the only park in the world where you can experience Backdraft, Back to the Future, and (above all) the "good" version of Jaws.
Yes, you haven't experienced Jaws until you've ridden it in Japan and checked out the ride's gift shop--those Japanese really love Bruce the Shark!
This was also our only near-washout day on the trip, as we were pelted with torrential rains that morning. But if you have to visit a Japanese park on a rainy day, Universal is a great choice. While the Hollywood Dream roller coaster (with it' backward-facing car, labeled Backdrop) was closed due to the damp, the park itself was nearly deserted; even so, TPR provided Express Passes "just in case." These passes came were very handy when the rain finally let up, and Hollywood Dream opened late that afternoon.
Of course, the rain didn't stop us from riding the park's newest coaster, Space Fantasy, which is in the building where the ET ride used to be (now there's something you can only ride in Florida). This crazy spinning coaster is, well, hard to describe, especially if you don't speak Japanese--something to do with a space princess and crystals or something. But that doesn't matter. Just open yourself up to the absurdity of all, and it's a helluva lot of fun, as you soar and spin around planets, meteors, and comets (all done in a sort of Fantasyland "dark-ride" style).
Spider-man was closed because the park had recently upgraded the ride and was still testing it. But we got the next best thing--an excellent, detailed guided tour, complete with 3D glasses and the video projections running! This was the best walk-through tour of any TPR Trip yet, and my thanks to Robb, Elissa, and Universal for making it happen.
The day started with a surprisingly honest presentation about the park's history. It's unusual for park management to ever admit mistakes, but this presentation was quite frank about how the park suffered a bit due to focusing on "teenage thrillseekers" at the expense of families. Yes, they did huge business their first year, only to see it drop off sharply the following year. But focusing on families and not just thrillseekers proved to be the solution, and attendance has been improving since the change.
Imagine that--a balanced approach works! Some other parks might want to keep that in mind.
As for Backdrop, I enjoyed riding Hollywood Dream backward. It did enhance what was already a pretty good ride (that is, made it seem a bit more intense).
Here's a look at Universal Japan, a great park with a wonderful, helpful staff--not to mention Jaws! (But not to worry Harry Potter fans--he's coming to Japan, as well.)
Be careful as you navigate the slick streets of City Walk.
Welcome to Universal. Our first stop will be an uber secret conference room for the park's presentation! (Actually, I think it was just an orientation room for job applicants.)
This room is so secret, it's protected by pointy rocks!
No more now can I show you. (Why am I talking like Yoda? I'm at Universal.)
Yep--30 minutes or so later, it's still raining, but that doesn't matter, as our next stop is . . .
. . . Space Fantasy--the silliest ride in the cosmos!
I didn't get any pictures of the station, but the cars look like this. And they spin just enough for my taste.
They take a photo of you here, which you can purchase after you ride.
"Something, something Japanese." I have no idea what this robot was saying, but that doesn't matter. The ride is a lot of fun.
My god! Hello Kitty, Elmo, and Snoopy have joined forces to celebrate Easter in June! It's the END TIMES, I tells ya!
Hmm--I don't remember "Dumbo Snoopy" being here in 2007.
Despite being themed to the Trifecta of Evil that's going to bring on the Apocalypse, this is a great kids area. Much better than the tiny Wizard of Oz land that used to be here.
Cedar Fair could learn a lot from Universal Japan when it comes to using the Peanuts characters. This indoor section is beautifully done.
Now this is the sort of "shooting schedule" I can support--it's all about food!
Poor old Charlie Brown--stupid kite-eating tree!
At least he's seeing a shrink about it.
No longer in Florida.
Jaws yay! Harry Potter boo!
Sounds like fun--and what could possibly go wrong?
Sigh! Replaced by a bunch of broomstick-riding wand jockeys (which sounds like a great name for a band).
Proof that Jaws and Harry Potter can peacefully coexist.
Let's not forget all the amazing Jaws merchandise.
While Spider-man is down for an upgrade, the streets of Universal Japan are protected by Shark Woman!
Yep, this all looks pretty familiar (except for Jurassic Park in the background).
I could be in Florida now, for all you know.
Presenting something else you can't do in the U.S. (This isn't necessarily bad, as I've never been a big fan of this ride.)
More amazing merch.
Admit it, BTTF fanboys: You want this to cover your most secret place!
You can still get the ride vehicles, too.
Hmm--looks like a Japanese version of a San Francisco eatery.
You know, I'm just chock full of happiness when looking at this photo.
You will encounter these amazing colors again a few hours after eating the curry.
Another attraction they no longer have in the U.S.
The whole preshow is in Japanese (as "Backi Drafto," or something like that). This is a chance to talk about camera policies at Universal Japan. I took this one shot and was politely asked to put my little camera away. Dan was standing next to me with a camera the size of a bazooka, snapping away--and they didn't say a word to him. Go figure.
This is the entrance to either Spider-man or a Styx tribute show.
we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the ride building, but they did let us take shots of people in the maintenance bay. They put one of the ride vehicles through its paces while we were there, too. It was interesting to watch how smoothly it moved and bucked around on its servos.
Group shot in the station.
J. Jonah Jameson was right: Spider-man is a menace! (At least to cabs.)
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man would love to get acquainted with your most personal areas.
The rain had let up . . .
. . . and the hordes has arrived at Hollywood Dream. I think damn near everybody in the park that day was queuing up.
This train is running forward.
This train is running backward. Trust me.
Thanks for a great day, Universal. But the fun isn't quite over yet.
Time for yakitori!
Shoes off, everyone--this was a great meal.
Yes, bears drink Margaritas with wolves in Japan. That's all for now.
And the tour of Spiderman was probably BETTER than the ride actually being open. You can ride the ride in Universal or in Japan now anytime, but walking through and seeing the cars and shows was truly unique!
Love my Jaws towel/hoodie thing. It seemed to be the new trend in Japan as we saw them at Universal and Disney and EVERYONE was wearing them.
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