thrillseeker4552 wrote:Awesome report! I can't wait to see what RMC does with White Cyclone, like you said there is lots of potential there.
Thanks! In terms of the coaster being renovated, I think the only two that had better layouts may have been Mean Streak and New Texas Giant. I salivate at the prospect of RMC using all 5500+ feet of track again.
xVicesAndVirtues wrote: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.
Thanks! For the American free spins, I haven't noticed much of a difference if I ride alone or with others, so I honestly don't think weight is all that big of a factor. It definitely is on the ZacSpins though.
I think it's all about those magnetic fins. It's sort of odd since there are two of SFNE's that are guaranteed to induce flips, but one of them almost seems to inhibit flipping.
JordyC wrote:Another excellent report! Steel Dragon 2000 is defenitely on my bucket list. The park seems to have a very good line-up, and RMC White Cyclone will make it - if not already - world class.
Thanks! This really is a case of the rich getting richer. You can already make a compelling argument that Nagashima Spaland has Japan's best coaster collection, so this tips them over the edge.
A Spanish themed park in Japan? You bet! At first it seems odd that a Spanish themed park is located in Japan, but is it really any odder than the Brazilian themed park we visited earlier on the trip? While Washuzan Highland’s theme didn’t extend beyond a few flags and a samba show, Parque Espana went all out. The park is an absolute beauty and really does a good job transporting you to another place.
As you can tell, the sun was dominating at hide and go seek today.
I may be in Japan, but this really does look like it belongs in Spain.
The whole park simply looked, as they'd say in Spain, excelente!
To say the weather forecast was grim was an understatement. Basically it was non-stop, unrelenting rain for the entirety of our visit. Outside of Disney and Universal, Parque Espana probably had the most indoor attractions of any park on the trip. So there was plenty to do. The only issue was that the park’s star attraction, Pyrenees, was outdoors.
They also had a pretty cool looking mine train in Gran Montserrat that was also closed due to the rain, but that coaster wasn’t the reason for TPR members performing an anti-rain dance. We were told Pyrenees would reopen if, and only if, the rain completely stopped. We just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
Would we get on Pyrenees? We just needed an anti-rain dance and some help from Robb.
The mine train was also allergic to the rain.
The park did offer one indoor coaster that was unaffected by Mother Nature. The official name is Steampunk Coaster Iron Bull, but look at that sign and tell me what you see. Basically everyone agreed that it said “Tronbutt”
Does that look like Iron Bull or Tronbutt?
Going in, I knew little about this coaster other than the fact the previous iteration was a seriously screwed up and uncomfortable attraction. I braced for the worst, but the coaster bit wasn’t all that bad. Those who rode the former incarnation noted that Tronbutt was no longer pitch black on the inside, which enabled everyone to brace for the jerky transitions.
But the highlight was the complete WTF of the show sequence. Halfway through the attraction, you come to a grinding halt. Now I don’t know Japanese (and I don’t think that’d help), but I believe we were melted down in a furnace. The sequence culminates in a blast of smoke and you start rolling out, only to be immediately braked. Well that was a buzzkill. Moments later we restarted and went up a lift hill. There was a tiny bit of coaster left, but the sequence’s placement and execution was strange.
In the event the rain persisted through the afternoon, we were offered Tronbutt as a replacement for the Pyrenees film session. Tronbutt is definitely a flawed coaster. The coaster bits while tolerable don’t offer too much in terms of thrills. But the show sequence is so odd that it’s simply stupid, laughable fun. 5 out of 10
I don't exactly know what transpired in there, but at least it was dry.
Since there wasn’t the star attraction to distract us, we hit almost every attraction in the park. That started with Castillo de Xavier. The most impressive thing about the attraction was the exterior. Now I love a good Disney castle as it’s straight out of fairy tales. Instead this castle payed homage to the historical castles found throughout Europe. The inside was basically a massive art museum. Admittedly I’m not an art person, but if you are, this would definitely be an E-ticket attraction for you. 5 out of 10
What's in the castle?
It was a museum that would give art buffs a stiffy.
Enthusiasts can have heated debates about the world’s best coaster. Do you prefer the ejector air of Expedition GeForce or the relentless speed of Millennium Force? But there’s one debate you cannot have- the world’s best escalator. Parque Espana has that locked down.
The infamous escalator was everything I dreamed it would be. It was long, boasted an impressive light show, and played an infectious tune that you just couldn’t get out of your head. The amount of lights is absolutely gratuitous, but it’s impossible not to smile at the absurdity of it. If you have never seen the video of this amazing escalator, definitely check out TPR’s old video. It truly is a sight to behold.
Most rides don't even have a lighting package this elaborate.
The back half of the park used to boast an impressive boat ride called Adventure Lagoon. It’s impossible not to notice this hulking show building that I presume this attraction used to occupy. Instead, the lagoon is now home to Feliz Cruise. The boat ride had basically every single water effect you can imagine (geysers, sprinkers, waterfalls, etc) and some miniatures like Disneyland’s Storybook Cruise. 6 out of 10
I really wanted to type Feliz Cruz.
That is a massive show building! RIP Adventure Lagoon.
Choquy’s Mystery House was an odd fun house. It started with a well-executed spinning tunnel, gravity-defying crooked room, and wacky mirrors, but that quickly devolved into a gallery of paintings of this random bunny in different outfits. I presume this bunny is Choquy? 5 out of 10
Mirror mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?
Whenever a park boasts something similar to a Disney ride and actually pulls it off well, I hesitate to call it a rip-off. Don Quixote’s Magical Flight is another instance of this as it’s a ripoff of Peter Pan’s Flight. However, I actually think it’s a better ride than Peter Pan.
You ride in the familiar suspended pirate ships and even fly over a city in the finale, but the rest of the attraction has more up-to-date and detailed animatronics than Peter Pan. If this attraction weren’t located in the very back of the park, I definitely would have ridden it more often. 8 out of 10
It'd be impossible to have a Spanish park without Don Quixote.
It's like Peter Pan's Flight. Except without the hour line and more up-to-date animatronics.
One of the dark ride’s closer to the front of the park was the Nutcracker. In many ways, this was the Cliff’s Notes version of the famous Christmas story. The entire attraction featured the familiar tunes and rather than relying on detailed animatronics, the attraction uses a dazzling array of Christmas lights to draw your eye. It’s a unique style for a dark ride, but I do prefer the traditional sets. 6 out of 10
Christmas in June?
Good thing they built the ride before Disney developed their Nutcracker movie.
Another odd attraction at the park was Alice in Wonderland. I was expecting a Disney dark ride ripoff a la the version at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but instead we were treated to a weird walkthrough. At the start, we were given a magic wand and gathered the experience would be something close to MagiQuest.
I haven’t seen Alice in Wonderland in a while, but I don’t recall the film covering time travel, ghosts, or gargoyles. Yet this attraction featured all three prominently. The finale had us battling off fiends with a variety of explosions and then we were required to cast a spell to open the exit door. Failure to do so would have rendered us prisoners in the labyrinth for all eternity. It was definitely aimed towards kids, but as a big kid at heart, it was an enjoyable walkthrough. 6 out of 10
Or maybe Parque Espana simply doesn't care what Disney owns.
Avada Kedavra, Abra Kadabra, let's go 88 miles per hour and see some serious doo doo.
Parque Espana is one of those rare parks home to multiple shooting dark rides. We started with the lesser of the two in Circus Adventure. The park has a really vibrant indoor kids area themed to a circus and the anchor attraction is this suspended shooting monorail where you take aim to targets fixed on the building’s back wall. It really is odd seeing a shooter this exposed.
It’s also pretty odd how close you are to the targets. The ride felt analogous to sitting inches from a TV screen. For this reason, the targets felt considerably larger. It also made the attraction more difficult than anticipated since you had less time to react and hit each target. It’s not the best shooter in the world, but it was a creative use of space. 6 out of 10
This is definitely one of the oddest shooters out there.
And it's not just because this fella is on the roof of the building.
Battala del Alcazar was the superior shooter. The ride used the familiar Senyo ride system seen at Cosmoworld and Hirakata, but it was much better executed. This one eliminated the pointless 3D screens and instead went all in on the physical sets. There were countless targets to take aim at and some impressive animatronics such as a dragon that I’d estimate to be at least 30 feet in height.
One of the little touches I love on shooters is for targets to have different point values. Alcazar achieves this by placing some bonus targets on the attraction. These targets have a bluish hue and were typically located in the back of a scene. Hitting this target would open a door and reveal several bonus targets that increased my score at an exponential rate. With the main coasters closed, this was the attraction I rode the most. 8 out of 10
As ominous as this looked, would you believe they were playing upbeat music?
There was another coaster open. Credit whores could sleep safe and sound knowing the Kiddy Montserrat had no problem speeding (at like 15 mph) through the rain. I of course gave it a whirl and it was strong for a kiddie coaster. The seats were comfortable and the final helix was a bit better than expected. Still, I preferred to ride the indoor attractions. 3 out of 10
At least one of the outdoor coasters was operating.
Or I preferred to ride the outdoor attractions that were supposed to get us wet. While the mine train was closed, the log flume sharing the same mountain was open in Splash Montserrat. The mountain alone was impressive, but fake rockwork was adorned along the entire length of the trough. It was a small touch, but one that showed the park’s attention to detail.
The drops were just ok and the ride itself didn’t get us any wetter (but Mother Nature sure did), but it was still one of the park’s best attractions, particularly on a day when we couldn’t park ourselves on Pyrenees or Gran Montserrat. 7 out of 10
Splash Montserrat didn't have much of a splash.
But it did have the montserrat (mountain).
With time to burn before filming, we hit three random attractions. The first was a high-energy kids character show that taught us the alphabet. It also showed me that the park has a million mascots. 6 out of 10
I learned my alphabet all over again.
The second was a decent tea cup attraction themed to tomatoes. The cups followed the figure 8 layout of a PTC crazy daisy, except these cups could be manually spun. The only issue there was that the constant changes of direction negated the user-propelled spinning. Still, it did help me get a few extra spins over the course of the ride. 5 out of 10
These are probably the oddest themed tea cups I've ever seen.
Third, we also rode the park’s Train. It more or less circled the main ride area and didn’t offer any views we hadn’t already gotten, but it was relaxing and protected from the rain.
Speaking of the rain, it did appear to be letting up. Optimistically, we parked ourselves by the entrance of Pyrenees hoping for a miracle. Just as it appeared the rain would stop and we saw specks of blue poking through the clouds, the rain picked right back up and squashed our hopes. Well…I guess we’d be filming Tronbutt.
But not so fast! Robb was able to get Pyrenees open for TPR for filming at the end of the day; this is one of the many reasons why TPR trips are worth every penny. The forecast showed the rain stopping right at park close. As long as we didn’t mind potentially being covered in grease, the park was willing to open the awesome looking B&M for us. Soiling an outfit was the least of our concerns.
All the enthusiasts rejoice!
The first drop had that old-school B&M kick to it and the subsequent vertical loop had me seeing grey. That’s followed by the signature element on any invert, the zero-G roll, and Pyrenees didn’t disappoint. This one was every bit as good as Montu’s. Then came another great vertical loop. In many ways Pyrenees was reminiscent of a Batman the Ride on the steroids that jacked Bane up to superhuman size.
Then came the cobra roll. For whatever reason, cobra rolls are either incredibly intense or smooth and forceless. There’s no happy medium. Fortunately Pyrenees is firmly in the former. The snap is really violent (in a good way). I just had to lean forward to avoid bashing my head, but that just made the element even more disorienting.
That was followed by the most intriguing element, a ridiculously tight upwards helix that threads the vertical loop. The visuals and uniqueness alone were impressive, but it was also every bit as forceful as it looked. It reminded me of the leg-numbing forces of Silver Bullet’s final helix. Mock that coaster all you want, but that final helix is actually pretty intense.
The transition off the brake run is incredibly tight and abrupt, so this is another point I wisely leaned my head forwards. Then came a snappy corkscrew and an odd finale. Pyrenees travels down this gradual ramp that feels more in place on a jet coaster. However, you feel a surprising amount of speed as you dip into a trench and then fly over a sneaky airtime hill.
Pyrenees really is one of the best inverts in the world and I’m very thankful we had the opportunity to ride it. The only inverts I’d consider better are Nemesis and Montu, and it isn’t too far behind since it’s only a smidge less forceful. Along with the forceful ride, it’s remarkably smooth with only the two aforementioned spots having any hints of headbanging if you don’t lean forwards. 9.5 out of 10
Pyrenees was a supersized Batman the Ride, which basically means it was amazing.
The helix threading the loop looked really cool.
Parque Espana really is a beautiful park. It’s a shame some of the beauty was dampened by the unrelenting rain, but the park compensated by offering an extensive range of indoor attractions. But the star among coaster enthusiasts will always be Pyrenees. That really is a standout attraction.
And I'll leave you with the only picture containing a blue sky.
Until last November I was a Legoland virgin. Despite my childhood love of Legos, I had a difficult time sucking myself away from the Orlando or Southern California parks. Then there’s the Discovery Center in Somerville, but they have the Chuck E. Cheese rule to keep out single adults. But I finally spent a half day at the Florida park and outside of bad weather and some lengthy queues, had an enjoyable visit.
With almost 2.5 weeks in Japan, I had less of an issue sacrificing a day at Legoland Japan. The approach to the park was like a bizarro, more kid-friendly CityWalk. Visitors are funneled past restaurants, shops, and arcades until they see the unmistakable, multicolored brick design of the Legoland Hotel adjacent to the park’s main entrance.
It says Maker's Pier, but all I can think of is CityWalk.
I just missed it, but that dragon breathes smoke.
We arrived about a half hour prior to opening and it was immediately apparent this would be one of the busiest park days of the trip. There was already a sizable line of excited kids queuing with their parents. This was a bit concerning since one of the downsides of the Florida park was the shockingly low capacity of many attractions and Japan had several attractions in common.
Considering how early we arrived, it looks like it may be a bit busy.
One of the biggest differences from Legoland Florida was the size of the park. In terms of acreage, Legoland Japan is almost 1/8 in size to the Florida park and it certainly feels as such. While that does limit the park’s availability to expand and caused the park to quickly feel more crowded, it did have an auxiliary benefit.
The Florida park’s themed areas look fantastic, but some of the walkways between these areas are relatively barren. In Japan, there isn’t a single dead spot. Everywhere you look, there’s a beautiful Lego facade or character figure ripe for family photo ops. This is easily the better looking park in my opinion.
Just look at this level of detail.
Everything is awesome when you're at Legoland Japan.
We figured we could either rope drop the coasters and queue for the dark rides or vice-versa. We went with the former as we figured the latter would be more likely to have covered and/or themed queues. Did we start with the Dragon? Of course not. Us credit whores started with Dragon’s Apprentice. At least we can joke that it was technically unique.
It was a variant of the all-too-familiar Zamperla kiddie coaster. Per RCDB, this one is identical other than the absence of the “airtime bump before the turnaround prior to the station.” Since the Zamperla kiddie coaster isn’t exactly an airtime machine, I didn’t notice its exclusion. I did however notice the adorable dragon figure and castle in the center of the helix. And it seemed slightly smoother too. 3 out of 10
I had to rope drop a coaster.
To my defense, it was technically customized.
See? No airtime hump.
The longest queue I had at the Florida park was for their Dragon coaster. I actually enjoyed the little roller skater, primarily because of the dark ride segment, but the one train operations and lengthy ride time resulted in a painfully slow moving line. That’s why I was shocked and ecstatic to see two trains and no line for Legoland Japan’s Dragon. Maybe I should have started with the dark rides…
The indoor section seemed almost identical to Florida’s and that isn’t a bad thing. However, the coaster was markedly better. The first drop was longer than expected and a few of the helixes actually had some force to them. We’re not talking I305 or anything, but it was a really smooth and enjoyable coaster.
Dragon was a pleasant surprise and I much prefer this to Florida’s extended roller skater. I know Japan’s technically is an off-the-shelf design too, but it’s considerably more exciting and it was unique for me. Having a medieval Lego dark ride would be good on its own, so tacking on a decent coaster too is a nice bonus. 7 out of 10
It's hard to tell, but there are two coasters in this photo. They're just next to each other with the same color scheme.
The coaster bit actually had some solid helices.
Due to time constraints, I skipped Florida’s Rescue Academy. That wasn’t going to happen again at the Japan park. It would have been criminal to skip out on such a signature Legoland attraction. I hesitate to call this a ride since it feels more like a game or a workout. For those unfamiliar, you power a little firetruck similar to a mine cart down a track and put out a small fire by rigorously pumping.
The two of us scoped out our competition. We were outnumbered. But we had a major advantage, we were both legal to drive somewhere other than the Legoland Driving School. For that reason, we crushed the competition. It was fun anyways, but it’s extra fun to win. 7 out of 10
Speaking of the driving academy, people here didn't mistake a stop sign for a yield sign.
Next came the two dark rides and we finally caught up to the crowds, as both Lost Kingdom Adventure and Submarine Adventure were posting half hour waits. One of the coolest things about Legoland parks is that they have building stations in the queue line for the little ones while parents wait in line. It’s obviously fitting for Legoland, but this is an incredibly cool addition I wish more parks had.
Lost Kingdom Adventure was my personal favorite attraction at the park. It was pretty short, but the stylistic 3D Lego targets all looked fantastic and I always appreciate a dark ride with targets worth different amounts. The one odd thing is that the vehicles had a toggle for spinning yet it didn’t do anything. I’d say my vehicle was broken, but I didn’t notice anyone else spinning either. 8 out of 10
Without Ninjago, this was my favorite ride in the park.
They look ready for their adventure.
Submarine Adventure was not what I was expecting, and I mean that in a good way. I was expecting a cute little dark ride past Lego sculptures of fish, octopi, and whatever else you’d find in the ocean. What I wasn’t expecting was a tour through a full-fledged aquarium. The fish were diverse and plentiful, which resulted in a really cool ride. 8 out of 10
Following in the footsteps of Captain Nemo.
I'm sure Nemo's sub was just as bright and also constructed of Legos.
I totally expected the Lego figures. I wasn't expecting the real fish too.
We had built up a bit of an appetite, so we pounced on the pizza and pasta buffet. The spread was pretty similar to what I had encountered at the Incredible Pizza Company, except the food tasted a bit better. I’d say it was pretty average pizza and pasta overall, but very good for a buffet.
So much pizza to choose from! I skipped the tuna and corn though.
With attraction waits swelling, it was time to visit Miniland. It was really cool to see locations specific to Japan. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but the most interesting thing (for me at least) was comparing the Dontonbori I had visited days before to the model. I think Legoland nailed it. They even had the non-functional Ferris Wheel (that zany rectangular wheel was unfortunately down while we were in Dontonbori).
Dontonbori is basically the child of New York City and Venice.
How do you think they did?
This Ferris Wheel may look fictional...
But it's real. It just hasn't run much since its inception.
While on the topic of Dontonbori, they also have this weird rock wall built on the structure of an Intamin drop tower that was built on a building.
Look at this beautiful and clear shot of Mt. Fuji. I should have gotten this view while at Fuji-Q, but the clouds had other plans in mind.
I love how the Observation Tower looks part of the city.
At least I can say I got to witness baseball in Japan. Sort of.
And they had a random theme park too with a few rides running.
For our last attraction, we decided to view the park from above on their Observation Tower. We probably had to wait 3 or so cycles for the colorful tower. The cycle was relatively short, but it was really neat seeing Legoland from above. From there, you can really see just how compact the park is, so it’s impressive how many themed areas they were able to cram into the park. As a bonus, the park is right on the water as well. 8 out of 10
Time for a bird's eye view of Brickland.
This bridge is quite the backdrop for the park. It's massive (the bridge that is).
Until I have kids, Legoland will never be a full day park. They just don’t have the thrill rides I’m looking for and I completely understand why they don’t. However, it’s an enjoyable park to visit despite the crowds. I really do like the theming and they have some solid dark rides.
I'm going to begin by saying that I'm sure Higashiyama Zoo has a nice selection of animals. However, I didn't see a single one. After finishing up early at Legoland, Robb recommended that we check out this nearby zoo. If it's talked about on TPR, it's almost a guarantee they have a coaster, and in this case they had three.
Only a coaster enthusiast would visit a zoo and not see a single animal.
A SoCal connection.
The zoo admission was surprisingly cheap. As a bonus, for 100 extra yen (or $1) we could add a visit to the nearby Higashiyama Sky Tower. We immediately suspected the rides were an additional upcharge and we were correct. And it totally makes sense since the rides are in a completely different area than the zoo. Honestly, you wouldn't have any idea you were at a zoo otherwise outside of the main entrance saying so.
Washuzan Highland trained me well for these stairs.
Our first stop was the zoo’s most unique ride and arguably one of the oddest coasters (if you consider it one) in the world- Slope Shooter. The only way I can describe it is imagine driving a go kart down a well paved version of Lombard Street (that super windy road in San Francisco). The vehicles were certainly a tight fit, but it was well worth it for this quirky ride. And the oddities started right from the get go as the workers manually push the car to the lift.
The turns look impossibly tight and we were terrified it'd be an uncomfortable experience, but fortunately it was really smooth. The turns did however provide some nice laterals. And then there's a surprise ramp (I really hesitate to call it a drop) midway through to boot. If a manual start wasn't enough, all that stops you from flying through the station is the operator. It's nothing special in terms ot thrills, but it's a decently fun ride and I can't think of anything else out there quite like it. 6 out of 10
Out of control soapbox derby car or coaster? You can choose what you call it, but it's fun either way.
It may look like the car will t-bone the wall.
But it smoothly navigates the turns.
Those tires serve as trim brakes.
These three staff members manually brake the ride. And I'm not talking about a giant level a la the Coney Island Cyclone either. They literally grab onto the car and pull it to a stop.
One last shot courtesy of the Sky Tower (sorry for the sun).
The next stop was a far more familiar type of coaster, particularly for anyone who has frequented Japan. And that would be the Jet Coaster. It didn't appear overly tall at first glance, but the coaster is built on a hill and uses the terrain decently well to pick up speed. Pressed for time, we only got one ride in the back.
The first drop was a rather boring curved drop, but the second drop actually had a really good pop of airtime. Then the coaster meandered around as jet coasters tend to do before traversing two hills at the very end that gave some tiny pops of air. The cars were some of the most cramped I've seen for an adult coaster, but outside of that, the coaster was comfortable and smooth. 6 out of 10
Jet Coaster has a modest looking lift.
But it's built on a hill and uses the terrain pretty well.
The amusement section really is isolated from the rest of the zoo.
And completing the trifecta of terrain coasters is the Bear Coaster. That sounds all big and mighty, but this is more of a teddy bear. This is a pretty slow and uneventful powered coaster, but it is smooth and has a unique layout thanks to the terrain. It's just a shame it doesn't go any faster than an antique car. 2 out of 10
The kiddie coaster also used the terrain. I can't say it used it well though.
With only 10 minutes left, I had a tricky decision whether or not I'd reride a coaster or try one of their walkthroughs. But then I saw an odd flat in the distance that rendered the question moot in Flower Storm. This flat can best be described as the child of a scrambler and paratrooper, or a four armed offshoot of my beloved Venture Rides Cobra. The cycle was short and the speed wasn't anything to write home about, but there was at least some solid swinging by the vehicles. I'm glad I gave it a whirl for its uniqueness, but not sure I'll rush back in line if I ever visit again. 6 out of 10
9 months prior a scrambler and paratrooper met at a bar...
They also had some of your typical flats, but I didn't have time for those.
The zoo had officially closed by this point, so we exited through the main entrance to visit the Higashiyama Sky Tower. This skyscraper is quite the sight. For one, it's massive. 440 feet is plenty impressive on its own, but it's also perched on top of a hill. Second, the extremely modern architecture looks like something out of a futuristic sci-fi film. It's a stark contrast to the zoo’s older buildings and rides.
The sun wasn't paying me any favors as I tried photographing the zoo from above, but I was able to admire the view of the nearby cities (Toyota, Nagoya). The observation deck offered 360 degree views of the area. It also felt extremely weird to find that the elevator was self-operated with no security. The only other tower with a similar set-up is Knoxville's iconic Sunsphere.
I can't believe this was only an extra dollar to add on.
We went 440 feet up to the observation deck.
From there, you could see the zoo.
I think this is Toyota?
I believe this is the Nagoya Dome based on the resemblance to the structure at Miniland.
And being Japan you can of course see a massive Ferris Wheel off in the distance.
The Higashiyama Zoo was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. I'm sure animal lovers could make a full day of the zoo, but coaster enthusiasts can knock it out in less than an hour, especially since lines weren't an issue for us even on a sunny and beautiful weekend day.
This wasn't at the park, but I found a Garrett's at the train station and it made me very happy.
Hamanako Pal Pal may sound like the name of a children’s toy, but it’s actually an amusement park. It’s one of Japan’s smaller ones, but they do have some noteworthy attractions- dark rides and Togos that look like death machines but are somehow quite fun.
Instead of having a covered "Main Street", Pal Pal just has an indoor hub.
And it includes a bunch of awesome IP based games.
We decided to work our way up to the Mega Coaster by first starting with the Mini Coaster. Basically the coaster looks like a mouse, except the hairpin turns are replaced with standard turns. It was smoother than expected and one hill had a tiny bit of air, but outside of that it didn’t offer too much in terms of thrills. 4 out of 10
This looked like a wild mouse minus the hairpin turns if that makes sense.
Mega Coaster looks like a hybrid of Manhattan Express and Great Adventure’s Viper. Those are two comps that do not bode well for a coaster. The single ride operator was incredibly enthusiastic. He was checking wristbands, checking restraints, taking our photos, and thanking us for riding. The latter raised our level of concern to code red.
But somehow this Togo doesn’t kill you! The turns were a bit bumpy, but even with the accordion restraints, the ride never was a headbanger. The first drop is pretty solid; it has no air but it’s parabolically shaped and gives a nice stomach dropping sensation. But the highlights and smoothest parts of the coaster were the two inversions.
The dive loop really whips the train through it and the final “heartline” roll probably isn’t perfectly heartlined because Togo, but it does have some nice hangtime. Then the final helix almost seemed like Togo wanted to hit 90 degrees, but bailed out right before. Wait did I just enjoy a Togo looper? I think I did. It’s a hodgepodge of elements that Togo has butchered on other coasters, but somehow the sum of the parts works pretty well here. 7 out of 10
It looks like we'll be pulling 4 Gs.
The Togo gods showed mercy today.
Even this wonky inversion somehow didn't hurt!
I can't believe it combined the bad parts of Manhattan Express...
and the bad parts of Great Adventure's Viper to be a good ride.
If one Togo death machine wasn’t enough, meet Wild Storm. Basically it’s the illegitimate child of a paratrooper and an enterprise. It begins as an oversized paratrooper. But the swinging just keeps ramping up in intensity, eventually going beyond 90 degrees! That’s terrifying on its own, but especially cool when the counterswing has a sneaky footchopper with the ride’s scaffolding.
Just when you start to question if the structure was meant to handle these kinds of stresses, the seats lock in place and you get a series of inversions. It’s basically a slower version of the Zamperla Endeavors. It’s definitely a wonky ride, but it’s a thrilling cross of two increasingly rare flats. 9 out of 10
This may look like an innocent paratrooper, but look how much those cars are swinging.
Then the cars lock and complete full inversions.
The thermometer was just a smidge above 90 degrees, so the Log Flume was a must. Thankfully the park was deserted since they ran even less logs than Lake Compounce and I didn’t think that was possible. I counted two. Fortunately this is one of those rare Hopkins super flumes like Daredevil Falls, so at least the logs seated 8 people.
The layout was more involved than expected. The flume was built on a hillside and included three tiny dips and a tunnel in route to the climactic final plunge. The final plunge was pretty large and even had a pop of air in the back to boot. The flume had everything I wanted plus one unwanted thing, splash shields. I was actually hoping to get wet on such a hot day, but it wasn’t to be. Still it was easily one of the park’s best rides. 8 out of 10
Pal Pal's flume was much more expansive than expected.
And this would have gotten us wet too if it weren't for those meddling shields.
There was one last credit in the Jungle Mouse. The coaster looks like it was built out of toothpicks a la those old Herschell mad mice. But unlike the Herschell versions that look sketchy and ride fairly smoothly, this one felt like I was riding on square wheels. The result was a slow, bumpy jaunt that I had no desire to reride. 2 out of 10
Now I know what enthusiasts mean when they say something has square wheels.
Does he look amused?
Do you know those wooden Chinese puzzle boxes? Hamanako Pal Pal basically has the living embodiment of one in the Three-Dimensional Maze. The goal is to collect three stamps. The maze is a 4-5 story wooden box that’s 90% mental and 10% physical. For a family park, the maze was pretty challenging.
The correct route involved a series of sliding doors, crawls, and climbs over bungee cords. I’ve done a few of these mazes at FECs, but this is the first I’ve done that spanned multiple stories. It took me almost 15 minutes as there was a seemingly endless amount of dead ends. Unlike mirror mazes where completion feels like a birthright, I actually felt accomplished completing this one. 9 out of 10
I sure am glad smoking isn't allowed in this all wooden building.
The goal is to collect 3 stamps. Sounds easy, but it's actually quite hard!
There are all sorts of random obstacles like this.
Pal Pal also boasted an impressive collection of dark rides for a smaller park. Unfortunately I was turned away from the Haunted House for not knowing Japanese, but that wasn’t an issue on the other three.
Pirates Adventure was one of those Desperados shooters that are popping up pretty frequently. The aim felt a little off on this one, but since I was the only rider, it was easy to compensate. It’s a pet peeve of mine that shooters have some type of aiming mechanism and Pirates Adventure satisfies that with a numbered pointer. As much as I love physical set dark rides, I have to admit the screen based ones are sometimes superior. 7 out of 10
This is a very well dressed up Desperados type shooter.
For whatever reason, I kept think this guy reminded me of SpongeBob's Patchy the Pirate.
An example of a shooter Pirates Adventure was superior to was located next door. Dragon Fighter was a shooter with physical sets much like the one at Cosmworld. Except this one was way too short. I think it had a total of three scenes. Still it looked nice and is worth a ride. 6 out of 10
Whoever makes this shooter is making a killing in Japan.
Last but not least there was Palpal Stadium. I had no clue the ride even existed prior to my visit and only rode it after hearing the park had (what could only be described by others on the trip) a low budget version of Toy Story Mania. I was intrigued and came out pleasantly surprised.
I don’t quite think Toy Story Mania is the right comparison since it’s not really a shooter. Instead you have a single button. You mash that button to compete in four games- 100 meter dash, hurdles, swimming race, and space race. The design is cartoony and kid-friendly, but admittedly I lost to a computer. If you talk to Ricky Bobby, it’s only fun if you win. But I still had fun coming in second since it was such a weird and interactive ride. 8 out of 10
99% of interactive dark rides use guns. Not this one.
Instead you strategically mash this button to jump, swim, and run your way to first place.
The area with Palpal Stadium had a large chunk of the parks flat rides. Most were pretty standard such as a Ferris Wheel (of course supersized for Japan), Carousel, and Pirate Ship, but they also had a modestly sized parachute tower that appeared much larger because of its location atop the hill.
For the park index.
I ran out of time, but the scenic views from this cable car are something I plan to experience next time.
While Hamanako Pal Pal isn’t quite in Japan’s top tier of parks, it definitely has enough unique attractions to warrant a visit. You have some solid dark rides, a neat flume, a wild flat, and one large coaster. And beyond the rides, you also have a picturesque setting, a huge arcade, and some of the nicest employees you’ll find anywhere.
I have always been fascinated with the look of those "roll caged heartline rolls", but never got to experience one.
A little late to the party, but Pyrenees looks like bae. I love how it starts as "giant BTR", then has all those extra elements added in. As a huge B&M Invert fan, this one is absolutely goals for me whenever I make it to Japan. The snappy cobra roll has me longing for Ice Dragon.
These pages are in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Cedar Fair, Legoland, Merlin Entertainment, Blackstone, Tussaud's Group, Six Flags, Universal Theme Parks, the Walt Disney Company or any other theme park company.
photos and videos on this website were taken with the permission of the park by
a professional ride photographer.
For yours and others safety, please do not attempt to take photos or videos at
parks without proper permission.
You need a sense of humor to view our site,
if you don't have a sense of humor, or are easily offended, please turn back
Most of the content on this forum is suitable for all ages. HOWEVER! There may be some content that would be considered rated "PG-13." Theme Park Review is NOT recommended for ages under 13 years of age.