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