Thanks! Japan definitely lived up to its reputation for being quirky. There's no better way to show that than through dark rides in my opinion.
Philrad71 wrote:Sorry for the double post - got an internal server error and didn't realize that it actually posted the first one. Or I could just say that your report is so awesome that it needed two comments. lol
In many ways, Nagashima Spa Land had a similar feel to an American park. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. While the most memorable thing about many Japanese parks are the quirky dark rides and theming, Nagashima Spa Land is a true coaster park. That’s readily apparent as you approach the park. Like Cedar Point, it’s located on a peninsula and has an imposing giga coaster that catches your eye.
Our taxi driver struggled to find the main entrance so I had plenty of time to admire the park's impressive skyline.
Since the park didn't have a "Main Street" to cover, they just covered the entrance instead.
How many water slides can you spot?
There are three operational notes about Nagashima Spa Land that are worth noting. One, the larger coasters like Steel Dragon 2000 and Acrobat do not offer choice seating. Two, they are very strict about any loose articles going in a storage fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo. Three, several attractions closed for a one-time inspection throughout the day. I’m not sure if it was restricted just to the coasters, but we noticed it on Steel Dragon 2000, Ultra Twister, and Wild Mouse.
At first we were terrified another Ultra Twister would be down, but thankfully it was just a routine inspection.
Naturally we started with Steel Dragon 2000. I’ve seen this monstrous ride on coaster documentaries over the years and it has always been a bucket list coaster for me. It was certainly an odd but welcome sight seeing the familiar Morgan layout oversized and with B&M trains nonetheless. After storing everything in a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo and being wanded for good measure, I was seated somewhere towards the back.
The lift provided absolutely stunning views of the park and peninsula. Those views were only interrupted by the fantastic first drop. Steel Dragon has the trademark ever-increasing steepness of all the Morgan hypers and the result is fantastic floater airtime that lasts even longer than usual. The same occurs on the 252 foot second hill, which stands taller than all but 13 coasters in the world. Let that sink in for a second. The only downside is that the valleys had some really bad jackhammering in most rows.
Even the hill into the turnaround is massive; it too stands over 200 feet tall! The turnaround wasn’t particularly forceful, but the drawn out turns was the best part for riders to appreciate Steel Dragon’s once record-breaking speed. A few of the valleys also had a slight vibration to them, but nothing approaching the first two drops.
But the ride’s highlight is the finale. After flying over the MCBR and treating backseat riders to some outstanding ejector air, there are 6-7 consecutive bunny hills that offer more of the same. While many out-and-back hypers feel like they peter out at the end, Steel Dragon absolutely hauls over the return hills. I really appreciated the B&M seats here since this could have been quite painful with Morgan's hard seats.
Steel Dragon left me breathless. While many of the other gigas focus on speed, Steel Dragon rides more like a traditional hyper and focuses on non-stop airtime. Unfortunately Nagashima Spa Land was only running one train on this coaster. Combined with the extremely long ride and slow loading procedure, the line crawled. Fortunately TPR had ERT after park close since this was definitely a coaster I wanted to reride several times. 9.5 out of 10
I think this is a steel coaster. Just a guess.
That's a long ways up.
And what comes up is sure to come down. Unless it's a broken down Windseeker.
The 2 across B&M trains looked odd, but they were a welcome change to the boxy Morgan vehicles.
Steel Dragon 2000 wasn’t even the craziest coaster in the park. That honor goes to Arashi. A free spin? Yes, a free spin. When these things are run to their fullest potential, they’re one of the wildest rides out there. If you haven’t seen TPR’s Arashi video, stop everything that you’re doing, watch it, and be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor.
The moment you crest the lift, all hell breaks loose. The flips were so fast, so furious, and so constant that it was impossible to accurately count how many times we were inverted. But I think it was in the ballpark of 15 flips. And that wasn’t a one-time fluke either. It was also a real treat to be wildly flipping during the raven turns. It gave me flashbacks to my rides on zippers at the county fair. The Joker clones never seem to flip at this point and it’s a real shame.
Needless to say, Arashi has ruined the US free spins for me. I thought the free spin at Fiesta Texas was far and away the best with its 5-6 flips. I stand corrected. Don’t get me wrong, the US free spins are still fun rides, but Arashi is truly special with how its operated. 9 out of 10
I think it's impossible to take a picture of Arashi with the vehicle upright.
After one crazy flipping ride, I was hopeful the nearby Rock n Roll flat would offer a similarly dizzying ride. It’s one of those hamster wheels in the ilk of Looper at Knoebels, except the rocking is controlled by a motor rather than the rider. The full inversions were taken very slowly and induced some strong hangtime.
There were two issues. For one, being located right next to Arashi made this seem almost like a kiddie ride. Two, after the first few flips, I was landing square on the crotch nub so it was literally a pain in the butt. Eventually I braced myself to avoid this, but something worth noting for your first ride. Ultimately it’s a decent ride but I’d rather ride Arashi for my flips. 6 out of 10
The kiddie flipping ride.
Acrobat is a clone of Orlando’s Manta. I rode Manta quite a bit in March, so it was pretty bizarre seeing a naked clone of the coaster in Japan. Manta definitely has one of the better flyer layouts, so I’m glad they decided to go with the superior coaster rather than the more common Superman: Ultimate Flight.
All four inversions are still outstanding, most notably the pretzel loop, and the ride is smooth as glass. And they even copied the signature water jet turn. However, outside of that effect, the coaster is barren. It lacks the lush landscaping, detailed rockwork, and interaction with the pathways that really makes Manta stand out. For this reason, Acrobat can’t match the original, but it’s still a great coaster. 9 out of 10
It looks like Manta. Just take away the rock work.
But it did have the signature faux splash.
It should be a rule that every flyer has a pretzel loop.
I followed one clone up with another. Except an Arrow Corkscrew is far less exciting. Unlike the previous coasters, Corkscrew did allow for choice seating, and this is something that extended to many of their supporting coasters. I’m not sure if that’s always the case or was just an option since they were walk-ons.
As for the ride itself, it was tolerable. I don’t have too many issues with Arrow loopers since my head rests above the restraint, but anyone who isn’t so lucky probably feels like they need Dr. Omalu to check for signs of a concussion. Outside of the nice pop of air in the back, there isn’t much to say about Corkscrew. 4 out of 10
At Canobie, this is a star attraction. At Nagashima Spa Land, it's just another coaster.
After seeing a barrier in front of Ultra Twister, we were worried we were going to miss out on the trip’s second and final ultra twister as well. Fortunately it was just undergoing it’s daily inspection and reopened by the early afternoon. Once it reopened, most people on the trip flooded the station, all intrigued by the rare Togo contraption.
I hadn’t seen Ultra Twister run prior to riding, so I was completely caught off-guard by the tilt track into the vertical lift. I’ve ridden my fair share of EuroFighters so I’m familiar with vertical lifts, but it was slightly disconcerting having the track go all Escape from Gringotts on a Togo no less.
The first drop was incredibly steep, but lacked the crazy air of the other vertical drops I’ve experienced. Ultra Twister compensated with one of the best airtime hills I’ve experienced. Since Ultra Twister had no seatbelts (only coaster in the park without them if I remember correctly) and the OSTR rested a good 6 inches above my lap, I was really floating out of my seat. That’s followed by a wild barrel roll taken so quickly that it induces laterals rather than hangtime.
Amazingly Ultra Twister was smooth to this point. Then it reminded me it was a Togo. The brake at the far end was absolutely brutal. It felt like a shopping cart slamming into a brick wall. With my back barely in tact, Ultra Twister plunges backwards into two additional barrel rolls loaded with laterals. We braced for the worst after the MCBR, but the final brake was actually quite smooth.
These Ultra Twisters are increasingly rare and it’s a shame. They’re actually really good rides! Between the unique track, amazing airtime moment, and whippy inversions, Ultra Twister I rode this one a few times since I don’t know if and when I’ll ever ride one again. 8 out of 10
A vertical drop on a Togo certainly justifies screaming, although it actually is a really fun ride!
Why hadn't I heard about this amazing moment of airtime before?
The nets obscured what would have been cool shots of the inline twists.
Nagashima Spa Land copied the German fair circuit (or maybe it was the other way around) and erected two wild mice directly next to each other. The visuals of a dueling wild mouse are actually quite cool as I discovered from Oktoberfest, but unfortunately Nagashima Spa Land was only running the left side for our visit. Maybe they run both sides on busier days?
The hairpin turns were solid as always, but the drops were a bit of a letdown. The cars were slowed to a crawl before each and every drop. While it may not be the best mouse out there, it’s still good for a ride. The same cannot be said for some of the country’s other wild mice. 5 out of 10
Credit whores were disappointed only the left side was operational.
This mouse spun just as much as Hirakata's.
Nagashima Spa Land also boasted a nice little Schwarzkopf collection. We started with Looping Star. We got one ride in the back and were surprised by the strong laterals on the first drop. Then again Alpina Bahn did the same thing so it shouldn’t have been too much of a shock for me.
The subsequent vertical loop was as intense as always and the rest of the layout consisted of a few fast helices (not overly intense though) and surprise pop of airtime. At a larger park like Nagashima Spa Land, this is a one and done, but this really could star at a smaller park. 7 out of 10
Since I've never been to Frontier City, this was my first looping star.
Schwarzkopfs are always crowd pleasers.
Shuttle Loop also boasts an intense vertical loop, but the highlight is the launch. For an older coaster, it’s surprisingly strong. It’s not Xcelerator or anything, but it’s nothing to scoff at. I wish there were more shuttle loops since they’re fun rides that pack a lot of thrills into a small footprint. 7 out of 10
Shuttle Loop is the closest coaster to the main entrance.
It's a shame so few of these are left.
Another oldie but goodie is the FreeFall. Yes there are taller drop towers out there, including the park’s Space Shot, but few are as terrifying as an Intamin first generation. It really is an uneasy feeling when the cars move in and out of the shaft. I know Orlando’s Tower of Terror is somewhat similar in this regard, but that ride doesn’t have a support structure reminiscent of scaffolding fixing an old building.
While short, the drops on these first generation towers are excellent. You drop like an absolute rock and get that great stomach dropping sensation. The return to the station is a bit wonky. I’ve ridden Demon Drop enough that I know to brace myself, but failure to do this would result in a less than comfortable ride. 7 out of 10
You'd think this massive drop tower would be the park's best drop tower.
But not when you have this thing!
Just look past the wonky return and you won't be disappointed.
And of course I rode the two smaller coasters as well. The Peter Rabbit Coaster was a powered coaster whose best quality was the cute and colorful train. As far as junior coasters go, it was perfectly comfortable for an adult to ride (even more than some of the country’s jet coasters) and tracked smoothly. 3 out of 10
Peter Rabbit may not be the best coaster, but it does look adorable.
The Children Coaster was slightly better. Gravity driven, this is one of those Zierer medium tivolis and it’s one of the few rides in the park with any sort of shade. It was a welcome sight after baking in the sun for the entire afternoon. While I do enjoy the larger tivolis for the laterals of the first two drops in the back, the smaller ones simply don’t offer the same thrill. 3 out of 10
Some rare shade at Nagashima Spa Land.
Along with the right side of the Wild Mouse, the Jet Coaster was closed. We knew it’d be closed going into the park, but we all got excited when we saw it test cycle a few trains. But that was all she wrote, as the tests were followed by a maintenance worker checking something out underneath the station. The coaster itself didn’t look too special, but it was another rare shaded ride at the park.
We were hopeful Jet Coaster would open after we saw it testing, but it wasn't to be. That screwed up rabbit monorail was open though!
White Cyclone was also closed, but I don’t think any enthusiast will complain considering what’s coming next year. I saw a little bit of royal blue track reminiscent of Twisted Cyclone, but that was it. Because of the massive support structure and RMC’s track record, I’m all but certain RMC White Cyclone has the potential to be one of the world’s best coasters when it opens.
Enthusiasts will also be coming in 2019 spring.
There hasn't been too much work so far, but this structure has a lot of potential for RMCing.
Beyond the coasters, the park also boasted an impressive flat ride collection. Due to time constraints, I barely experienced any of them, but some of the more notable ones include a massive S&S space shot, a rare suspended flying carpet, a Huss giant frisbee, a star flyer, and one of the largest swinging ships you’ll ever see. The latter is the all the funnier considering the normal sized swinging ship is located next door.
I was definitely intrigued by the suspended flying carpet, but those who rode it weren't overly impressed.
How did I go to Japan and fail to ride any of the giant frisbees?
For reference, that tiny swinging ship in the center of the photo is normal sized. That shows how gargantuan the other one is.
One non-coaster I did experience was the Haunted House. As I’ve said before, the Japanese love their haunted walkthroughs. This one was longer than most, but it lacked any live scare actors. Instead it compensated with some really detailed scenes. None of the scenes were particularly scary, but the attraction nailed the atmosphere well. 7 out of 10
The obligatory Japanese dark ride.
Robb and Elissa recommended the inconspicuously named Park Restaurant as well during the visit and it didn’t disappoint. I ordered a steak (I mean how often can you say that at a park) and it was pretty good. It can’t beat a dedicated steakhouse or anything, but it sure beats the chicken tenders and fries I get at Six Flags.
I'm certainly not getting this at a Six Flags.
The day culminated with awesome filming sessions on Acrobat, Steel Dragon 2000, and Arashi. I learned just how painful it is to ride a B&M flyer on a full bladder, especially when you’re waiting on the brake run, so I made sure to correct that before moving onto Steel Dragon and Arashi.
The filming session afforded everyone the opportunity to choose our seats on Steel Dragon 2000, which was a welcome perk. It enabled me to ride in both the front and back cars. Oddly enough, the smoothest row was the very back. While the other rows had the aforementioned vibration at the valleys of the first few drops, it was glass smooth in the very back. Combined with the extra floater air on those two drops as well, it was hands down (or up?) my favorite seat on the coaster.
The day ended with Arashi and this is where that crazy TPR video was born. Seeing the reactions of first-time riders was priceless. Heck, seeing the reactions of repeat riders was awesome too since almost everyone was coming off laughing. It’s impossible to explain just how much this coaster wrecks your equilibrium, but it does it in the most entertaining way possible.
When a giga isn't a park's most intense coaster, you know you have a truly crazy ride.
Nagashima Spa Land was one of the most anticipated coasters of the trip and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Steel Dragon 2000 was as good as I could have hoped and the supporting cast of coasters and flats really makes this a destination for thrill seekers. I’d be hard pressed to visit Japan and skip out on this park.
I had no idea that there was any way to "tweak" the spinning abilities of an S&S Free Spin, but I have wondered a few times why some of the newer ones seem to only get 2-3 flips on some rides and I've always chalked it up to weight distribution. Arashi looks awesome.
Great report, really love the photos and now I'm anticipating SD2K way more than I ever was.
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