A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Or "I think I'm turning Japanese; I really think so."
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby Nrthwnd » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:19 pm

I also think more parks anywhere should get one of those
Mad House/Haunted Swing attractions! I love these things, even
the simpler ones, like this one at Tobu Zoo.

And I still want one for my back yard. :wink:
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby cfc » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:20 pm

^I rather like those, too--and Vekoma makes damn good ones.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:17 pm

GigaG wrote:By the way, are the MLs (Mega-Lites) more intense than Maverick? That is the closest analogue I'm familiar with - I've been on trimmed I305, but that was a few years ago. I'm mainly focusing on the airtime - is the "first" airtime hill (not the twisty one) similar to Maverick's first (awesome) hill, and are the final hops similar to Maverick's final hop?


I haven't been on Maverick since 2011 so my recollections of it are not nearly as fresh, but I think the airtime on Kawasemi's hills - ALL of them - compares favorably to any airtime on Maverick. But they are such incredibly different rides, esp. with the different types of restraints. Maverick is a blast, but for sheer, total airtime fun, Kawasemi wins, IMHO.

cfc wrote:^I rather like those, too--and Vekoma makes damn good ones.


Totally agree; they are easily among the best things Vekoma makes.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby Nrthwnd » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:33 pm

This photo's mine, from the 2011 TPR Tour.

It looked so seedy, poking up above the trees, while we
glided by on our Pegasus-O-Rail. Had to ride it, lol!
H09_HauntedSwingBldgFace_TobuZoo.jpg
So ordinary looking, like a clown should be, yes? <evilhere>
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:19 pm

Directly from The Guidebook: "June is the height of the rainy season for the main and southern island of Japan. It will be very hot, humid, and quite dreary with a lack of sun and plenty of rain... Understand that most roller coasters will close in rain."

It was further explained on the TPR trip boards that this nationwide rain policy is definitely more extreme than anything U.S. parks enforce. For instance, if anyone at a park in Japan starts whistling "Purple Rain," things shut down. It's pretty extreme.

The night before our day at Universal Studios, Elissa warned us that the forecast was for heavy cloud cover and steady rainfall. But, of course, as most of Uni's rides are indoors, the only roller coaster we could miss due to naughty weather interference was Hollywood Dream: Backdrop (which, frankly, I wasn't all that keen on), and we'd still get to enjoy almost all the park's other attractions.

We also knew well ahead of time that Spider-Man would be closed because the park would still be swapping out ye olde projected film media for newfangled high-def 4K digital eye candy.

Worst case, we'd get to ride Jaws, and Back To The Future, and Jurassic Park, and the Snoopy coaster and Space Fantasy: The Ride. That would be a very, very good day, worst case.

SPOILER ALERT: We didn't miss any credits (and this day was the only day sky-water fell steadily during the entire trip; thanks again, Mother Nature, for being such a stand-up gal!). And we got a super-special walk-through of Spider-Man, with the new digital media running on the show screens, which was flipping bonkers-awesome. AND Space Fantasy, seriously, what the holy hell is going on in there; I have no idea, but in the end, I don't care, because Space Fantasy: The Ride is a tremendous pile of Japanese ass-kickery.

Part Three: Universal Studios Japan
BulletNose.jpg
After our wondrous day at Tobu Zoo (...Ah, Kawasemi...*dreamy sigh*...), we took a 700 Series Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya. The picture of the bullet train nose above was not taken that day, but it was the best shot of a bullet train nose I got, so I'm sharing it here. And how about that bullet train nose, pretty damn sexy, right? Amtrak, please go punch yourself in the face.
BulletTrainleaving.jpg
You can argue the point all you want, but I'm counting this as a credit. Rides on rails, goes really, REALLY fast, is fun and awesome and thrilling in its own way. I'm not trying to stir up a hornet's nest, but if people count powered oval kiddie coasters, well, then, there you go, I think that's all that needs to be said.

Joking aside, bullet trains are freaking sweet.
BulletTrainInt.jpg
It's like flying in business class, but better because you are on rails, and you can keep your smart phone and other electronic devices on all the time, and you never need to wear a seatbelt, and you are in Japan. Amazing.

(Also, yes, I'm padding out this report a little because I didn't take very many photos at Uni due to the rain.)
NagoyaNight0.jpg
We arrived in Nagoya after dark and after checking in to the Meitetsu New Grand Hotel, a group of us went out to get something to eat, and to take a quick look around.
NagoyaNight1.jpg
If we didn't have a big day at a theme park less than 12 hours away, I would have been more inclined to spend some time at a few of Nagoya's "entertainment centers."
NagoyaNight3.jpg
Not just Joy, but Joy Joy, and 24 hours a day of it, too. Clearly, there is a huge Joy surplus in Japan.
NagoyaNight4.jpg
I do not know what goes on in this facility, but I am compelled to return and find out some day.

After dinner, many continued on for some late night revelry, which included the consumption of more alcohol. And horse meat. In hindsight, I'm sorry I missed the chance to eat some Trigger, but I no longer have the stamina of my college years, so I clocked out for the evening.
UniGate.jpg
This famous portal always gets me excited, especially when there's a big roller coaster right through it.
UniGlobe.jpg
How many times have you seen a photo that looks almost exactly like this one? Eleventy-thirteen bazillion times? I tried to snap it so that Japan was visible, but most of it is hiding behind the "S."
USJpresent.jpg
As soon as we arrived that morning, we were ushered into a private meeting room in the executive offices and given a very cool presentation on the history of the park.
USJpresentHalloween.jpg
This gentleman spoke at length about all the changes at the park since it first opened in 2001, which included a refreshingly sincere catalog of problematic issues and subsequent corrections made. (Just one example: finding the right marketing tone and scary-for-teens/fun-for-families balance for their seasonal Halloween events took some adjusting over a couple of years.)
USJpresentHarryPotter2014.jpg
But successes have far outweighed the missteps and this park – already one of the world's most popular – will no doubt become even more popular when they open their own Wizarding World next year.
USJpresentBroomsticks.jpg
This photo was just a gag, but I'll bet you that Japan offers real flying broomsticks for sale before anyone else does.

Hearing this talk was a rare opportunity and was certainly one of the major premiums of the trip. (Dan Cuffe, one of the trip participants, helped to arrange both this presentation and the Spider-Man walk-through; thanks so much again, Dan!)

And before we were let loose into the park, Robb handed out a whole bunch of Express passes and other V.I.P. materials that pretty much assured that we'd wait on almost no lines that day. Sick.
BiohazardPoster.jpg
On the one hand, much of this park will look familiar (at a glance) to anyone who's spent time in a U.S. Universal park. On the other, "Biohazard" is what the "Resident Evil" games and movies are called over there and why doesn't this poster feature my girlfriend Milla Jovovich? That's just not right at all.
CoveredMainStreet.jpg
Rain or shine, you can always spend time shopping up at the front of the park, thanks to this fairly stunning glass and steel canopy.
CoveredMainStreet2.jpg
My photos don't capture how big that structure really feels when you are under it. Very neato.
coveredstreet.jpg
But you can see, minus the canopy, this area does look very much like a Universal park, but with a far greater level of detail than we're used to here in Southern California, that's for damn sure.
CrowdWalking.jpg
The rain was a bit of a drag, but it did mean that the park was not very crowded at all. Here's our group walking along one of the New York streets.
SpaceFantasyEnt.jpg
With a mild drizzle working up to something wetter, Hollywood Dream was indeed closed, so the first order of business was getting our butts wedged into this park's newest and truly one-of-a-kind coaster.

Put a roller coaster in a big box and throw down with whatever environmental design you can afford, even just a few flashing lights, and I'm as happy as a clam. So I was primed to enjoy myself on Space Fantasy. Little did I know.
SpaceFanBall.jpg
We all say things like this, don't we: "Coney Island's Wonder Wheel is a Ferris wheel ON ACID!" Or: "Chocolate Bacon funnel cakes are normal funnel cakes ON ACID!" And so on. Most of the time, it's jokingly over the top. I've never taken acid (it's on my bucket list), but from what I've been told by the experienced, things have to be pretty trippy to be like something else "on acid."
SpaceFantasyBot.jpg
While I can't say with certainty that Space Fantasy: The Ride is like something else "on acid," I've little doubt that had it been built in America, it would be the only roller coaster listed as a Schedule I substance by the DEA.

Look at the picture above and tell me that isn't something you'd expect to see during a hallucinogenic episode. And that is just a little pre-show moment in the exterior queue. It gets way weirder inside.

There are space crystals and space fairies and a space princess and space fireworks and all kinds of wacky, glowy space junk and lasers and mirrors and you spin and there are buttons to press that do nothing or something we never figured out and planetary ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings you fly right under and music and more space junk and more three-limbed flying emoticon-bots and more visual and auditory stimuli than a human brain can process in one serving it's insane and wonderful and so many pretty colors DUDE IT'S ABSOLUTELY DERANGED.
SpaceFantasyPhoto.jpg
Yay, it is mission success! Happy Sunfairy wishes us most joyful memory capture photo purchase! Space Fantasy is simply unmissable.
T2sign.jpg
I hope listening to some Japanese voice-over actor portraying Edward Furlong is missable, because our group did pass up on T2-3D. I sure adored this attraction during its first seasons, but with poor Eddie really going through some rough patches and Arnold... criminy, man... Plus, Terminator: Salvation left SUCH a bad taste in my mouth, but I won't burden you with that particular rant.
Jaws.jpg
I love Uni Orlando's Wizarding World and ...Forbidden Journey and I'm very much looking forward to Florida's enormous, audacious, park-straddling mega-land. But did they have to take out Jaws? Bean-counters and focus-group testers and all kinds of starched-shirt management types who are paid to keep emotion out of decision-making all probably assert that Jaws is over and Harry Potter is not. And the cost of operating and maintaining the attraction, and blah, blah, blah. I won't argue with them. So thanks for all the good times, Bruce; don't let the door hit ya.

I have a framed print of the original Jaws movie poster because it was and always will be on my Top Ten list. So I would not have missed Japanese Jaws for any reason. We had a powerfully enthusiastic, and totally adorable, female boat captain and it was as bitchen as always. Great White sharks are still effing scary things, yo. I hope Japan gets to keep their Jaws for a long time to come.
JPbuilding.jpg
Okay, so Japanese Jurassic Park: this was a HUGE surprise. I figured we'd get a kissing cousin of the rides in California and Florida, and we did, pretty much, until we got inside the big pumping station. There's, like, a whole second ride in there! After the lift up to the top, the sequence before the big RRRRAAWWRRR finale is much longer than our stateside versions, totally boss.
Last edited by RoCo on Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:15 pm.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:33 pm

Continuing:
JPjeep.jpg
Had it been a warm, sunny day, we would have gone back for another spin for sure. Sleet, hail, sharknado, doesn't matter: if you're fan of rampaging thunder lizards, do not raincheck this JP river adventure.
EmptyRainyStreet2.jpg
It did get pretty dank off and on. But the New York area looked even more authentically captivating in the grey weather.
EmptyRainyStreet.jpg
We ducked into Back To The Future: The Ride and Backdraft during some particularly heavy sprinkles. You don't need me to tell you how awesome BTTF:TR is, right? Of course, you don't. It cheered my soul to see Biff Tannen-San and the good doctor again (and all the practical effects! Doug Trumbull is a god among men.). Backdraft dried us off a little. Fire good.
PPattysStuntSlide.jpg
There's an indoor kiddie credit in the Peanuts area, ideal for an irksome-climate whore stop.
SnoopyStudiosSign.jpg
If dogs ran more movie studios, would movies generally be better than they are now? I think the argument can be made that, yes, they would.
SnoopysGreatRaceEnt.jpg
I was pretty certain that Snoopy's Great Race was a Vekoma Roller Skater, but it's actually from our good friends at Senyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. And it's fast and fun!
SnoopysGreatRaceTurn.jpg
We're actually the stars – well, maybe just supporting players – in a movie Snoopy is directing. At this point, when we zoom around a curve, Snoopy gets a sweeping action shot; the camera boom actually follows us through the turn. And you can see the backside of Woodstock, operating the camera, sort of. That's some fine kiddie coaster theming.
DirectorSnoopy.jpg
I had to leave the project, though... "creative differences."
SnoopysGreatRaceBillboardhole.jpg
No, I went full Lohan, always late for make-up, trashed my trailer more than once... When I drove us through this billboard, that was the last straw. But I'm in a program now, doing really well, going out on auditions again, I feel like this time it's going to stick...
SnoopysGreatRaceTunnel.jpg
No, but seriously, it is a very nicely put together attraction and even though it's not as fast as this photo makes it look, it's a totally worthy credit.
SnoopyStudiosGame.jpg
There are also games, which I think are movie-making related? I didn't play any, so I'm not 100% on that.
SnoopyStudiosSally.jpg
Yes, I was tempted to make a joke about adding the letter "F" and I am ashamed.
SnoopyStudiosSnowman.jpg
Looking back, Charlie Brown had a much lower presence here than I think is appropriate (Snoopy is awesome, but Chuck owns him, lit and fig, dig?). There is this nifty snowman in Charles' trademark shirt...
LucyShrink.jpg
It only took her ten minutes to help me realize that I have an unhealthy fixation with Milla Jovovich. For a pre-teen, Lucy is frighteningly astute.
SnoopyGirls.jpg
If this photo doesn't make you smile, you're dead inside.
NYCStreet.jpg
What's dimensional, and what's a painted surface? A little hard to tell, right?
NYCStreetCU.jpg
If anyone can tell me why the STOP sign is yellow, I'd love to know. I have a feeling there's a reason for it, but maybe it's just a transcultural gaffe? [EDIT: Thanks to JK Grence for pointing out that STOP signs were indeed yellow until 1954! Who knew?!] Speaking of yellow, can't someone design a taxicab that functions like a modern automobile, but looks like these classic early 20th Century "Yellow Taxi" cabs? That would be so rad.
SpidermanExt.jpg
Anyway, the V.V.V.I.P. Spidey walk-through was scheduled for early afternoon so we left plenty of time for lunch and made sure we were not late. Missing this would have been tragic.
SpidermanScoop2.jpg
As you likely know from reading other trip reports (posted in a far more timely manner), the taking of photographs was forbidden during this tour, with only one exception: in the maintenance area where we got a good look at the SCOOPs. So, there you go, a SCOOP, eagerly "presenting." Well over a decade old, and this ride system still blows my freaking mind.

Have you been on a Spider-Man since the digital media conversion? I rode Orlando's a while back, with a few of the scenes already upgraded, and they looked extraordinary. But to see the whole show running the all-new projections, looping over and over, was revelatory. Unbelievably sharp, and simply crammed with so much more visual information, it really is Spider-Man 2.0 and merits a ton of re-rides to pick up all the new details.

Plus, walking through those sets was a sickeningly cool privilege. PLUS, our guides had so many amazing stories to tell, I wish I still remembered them all. Our collective geek-spaz registered on seismic equipment throughout the Osaka prefecture.
rainystreetHD.jpg
Later in the afternoon, there were rumors floating around that Hollywood Dream might open up after all.
HDEntrance.jpg
The rain had stopped and crowds were gathering in front of the entrance. Could we be so lucky?
HDcrowdswaiting.jpg
We'd done just about everything else, including a third ride on Space Fantasy, so hanging out for a bit on the off chance was fine with our troop.
HDsignbelow.jpg
Going backwards on a roller coaster for more than a little bit doesn't really appeal much to me. Shuttle coasters are awesome, and some full-circuit attractions that have a section of reverse travel – like the Revenge of the Mummy rides – are among my favorites. When the whole thing goes bass-ackwards, though, I'm sort of queasy and grumpy by the time it's over. And: this Bolliger & Mabillard layout didn't look very exciting anyway.

But: music. And also but: "Backdrop" is sort of pretty clever.

Anyway, it did open and we got on and I'll be damned, but going backwards was not only really fun, it was better than doing it vanilla style.
HDfirstdrop.jpg
Like Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, Hollywood Dream allows you to choose your musical accompaniment; unlike HRRR, there is only a handful of selections. For my first ride, backwards, I went with whatever J-Pop selection was on the list. When in Rome...
HDfirstdropcars.jpg
Turned out to be a swell, upbeat song, and I suspect that some editing was done to better time it to the flow of the ride. The seats are comfortable (B&M, duh), the audio is crisp and loud (with no aural spillover from any of the cars near you), every drop and turn is a terrific surprise when you don't see it coming (funny how that works, duh), and I never felt queasy at all. Yay!
Last edited by RoCo on Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:14 pm.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby RoCo » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:38 pm

Continuing:
HDfirstdropBottom.jpg
Thanks to some appropriate piece of paper in our wad of express tickets and special passes – or for some other reason I'm forgetting, anyhow – we were able to run right back around and grab another ride facing forward. Decent high jinks for sure because MUSIC + ROLLER COASTER is always equal to or greater than GOODNESS.

Backwards was my fave, though, and I think that was the case for just about everyone. Way to go, Universal and B&M!

(The trains, by the way, looked fairly sensational even in the drab light of this day, with all their sparkly lights twinkling magically. I will come back and try this ride out at night. Maybe they could have gone more Art Deco or Streamline Moderne with them, all shiny black and chrome, more "Roaring 20s Hollywood," but whatever, they look very Japanese as is, so they're just fine and I'll shut up about it.)
CitywalkSign.jpg
We walked out through their CityWalk, which was almost a little too familiar.
HardRockSign.jpg
Familiar or not, I love this neon guitar a bunch.
KongSign.jpg
And the big blue gorilla, too.
UniNightStreet1.jpg
That night, we made our way to another part of the area for a big group dinner.
UniNightRestaurant.jpg
It was this yakitori joint and the meal was out of sight. Delicious, with beer and saki flowing freely. Mr. Kitagawa, our host at Yokohama Cosmoworld two days hence, joined us there as well. Next day, Harikata!

To be continued.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby Nrthwnd » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:44 pm

I missed Universal. :(

And Space Fantasy with the Disco Room.

:cry:

Next time....

(Great look at the ongoing tour btw, Robert!)
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby cfc » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:15 pm

Space Fantasy--I had no idea what the hell was going on, but I rode it five times, anyway. ;) The Jaws gift shop is still great, too.
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Re: A TPR Japan 2013 Trip Report

Postby rctneil » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:06 am

Excellent report of the Universal Studios day Robert! It really is a fantastic park but a shame it was raining. I guess USJ was the best park we could have been at on a rainy day due to all the indoor attractions.

Space Fantasy has to be the surprise ride of the trip, I knew literally nothing about it and it a ride filled full of fun and the mirror room is awesome near the end. I also have no clue as to the real story but I guess it works!

Dare I admit it, but I have never seen Back to the Future, so the ride was very bizarre to me and made me very dizzy. Jaws was excellent as I had heard, totally over the top skippers but glad I managed to ride at least one of the versions of Jaws before they both go.

Really enjoyed jurassic park too. Nice to see all the effects working and yes it was different from the one I had previously ridden at USH.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Spiderman walkthrough. Was an honour to get to do this and it looks spectacular, the attention to detail is superb as well. I have walked around the ride, seen the cars in motion, heard the soundtrack, seen all the clips and sat in the cars but still have not had the chance to ride it! Ah well, i'm sure eventually I'll make it to either version when it is operating!

Can't wait for the next update.

Neil
TRIPS:
West Coast Tour 2009 - || - Middle America 2010 - || - IntimidaTOUR 2010 - || - Best of China 2012
Taiwan 2013 - || - Japan 2013 - || Scandinavia 2014
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