Fuji-Q Highland has one of the most impressive ride lineups of any park in Japan. However, if you ask someone to talk about Fuji-Q, chances are that they talk about soul-crushing lines, painstakingly slow dispatches that make Six Flags look like Disney, and incomprehensible weather policies. For this reason, I went in with extreme trepidation.
The day wasn’t perfect, but we had a (dare I say) great day at Fuji-Q. It just required a beautiful weather, an early arrival, several skip-the-line passes, careful planning by Robb and Elissa, and some luck. But most importantly luck. Another TPR member visited a few days after us and had a much different experience.
Fuji-Q’s operations matched their dubious reputation. We visited on a weekday, so the park wasn’t particularly crowded. Despite this, the major coasters all were posting waits around 60-90 minutes. The only coasters with average dispatch speeds had laughably poor capacities. The coasters with improved capacities countered with glacial operations. I shudder to think what this place is like when it’s actually crowds.
Two other operational notes. First, choice seating wasn’t allowed on any coaster except the kiddie coaster (of course that would be the case
). Second, loose articles were strictly forbidden on any attraction that traveled more than 10 mph. Fortunately these fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo are free and are positioned right before the loading area so you still have your phone as time seemingly stands still in the dark depths of Fuji-Q’s queue lines.
We knew going in that Fujiyama would be closed. It was a bummer seeing the self-proclaimed “King of Coasters” down for maintenance. I’m not going to lie, I’m intrigued by a Togo hyper. By all accounts, the finale literally tries to kill you, but after loving Surf Coaster and Bandit, I hope I can experience this monstrous coaster during a return trip.
With skip-the-line passes in hand, we were guaranteed at least one ride on the big 3 coasters assuming the weather didn’t screw us over (a big if with Fuji-Q). That being said, we were advised to rope drop the attraction we cared most about. Without question, for me that was Do-dodonpa. Eejanaika (if it was like X2) would probably be my favorite, but at least I could ride that stateside. There’s nothing quite like Do-dodonpa left in the United States.
Do-dodonpa probably had the fastest dispatches of any coaster in the park; however, there’s only so much you can do when the train holds just 8 people. We probably waited 10 minutes and were miraculously assigned the front row. I was both excited and terrified by the raw power of the launch. Yes Top Thrill Dragster is slightly faster, but Do-dodonpa reaches its max speed in a third of the time. That’s insane!
With all loose articles tucked safely away in a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo, we rolled into the launch tunnel. The ride’s theme played on loop as anticipation mounted. Then a recording exclaimed “Launch Time” (yes it was actually in English). 3, 2, 1…and holy guacamole! I felt like I was rammed by a NASCAR. The launch was so powerful that it caused my stomach to drop, a feeling only Xcelerator has been able to replicate.
The rush of wind wasn’t quite as intense as expected due to a windshield, but you can definitely tell you’re flying. I definitely regret missing arguably the most intense and painful moment of airtime from the former top hat, but the vertical loop is really smooth and has a copious amount of hangtime. The turns are pretty shaky, but the spacious shoulder bars and shock-absorbing tires yields a bouncy experience that never becomes painful.
Do-dodonpa’s launch was every bit as good as advertised. Honestly the coaster could have launched right into a brake run and I would have been satisfied. But it also threw in an impressive loop. There are definitely more complete coasters out there, but few offer the absolute adrenaline rush of Do-dodonpa. 9 out of 10
We briefly contemplated saving our skip-the-line passes for later in the day, but we decided to use them just in case a single drop of rain fell from the sky and caused all coasters to go into Orphan Rocker mode. That made Takabisha the next stop. I was assigned the back row and was hoping the coaster was on the smoother side like the Smiler. As a precaution, I leaned my head forwards to avoid any bashing.
The ride started with an intense indoor drop and a hangtime filled inversion. That was followed by a launch. On paper, Takabisha has one of the more impressive accelerations out there. Reaching its top speed in 2 seconds is nothing to snuff at. But after riding a coaster next door with twice the acceleration, Takabisha’s launch merely felt decent. I guess it’s all relative.
It’s impossible to remember the sequence of inversions. What I do remember is that the banana roll and loop were funkily profiled and pulled some good Gs. Then there were also one or two tiny hills with quick pops of air. But the strongest pop of air was on that beyond vertical plunge. I was worried the holding brake would kill the air like Dare Devil Dive, but those fears were unnecessary.
Takabisha really is two coasters spliced together much like the Smiler or Twisted Colossus. Having the breather in the middle is a bit different. But do I care? Not one bit! Both halves are a whole lot of fun and the experience feels noticeably different having a launch versus a beyond vertical plunge. The coaster was also pretty smooth considering it runs the gambit of inversions. A few of the transitions were a bit abrupt, but leaning forwards negated any pain.
I’m excited the long delayed Meadowlands Mall will have a clone of this coaster. It will sure beat riding an Orient Express to get my coaster fix in February. 9 out of 10
Most wild mice have wretched capacities to begin with, but Fuji-Q’s takes their mouse to another level. Rather than the standard 4 person vehicles, Fuji-Q’s Mad Mouse has 2 person vehicles. Oddly this was the one coaster where loose articles were permitted and actually required to come with you, bags included.
It didn’t rattle as much as Hamanako’s Jungle Mouse, but it didn’t track as smoothly as its Mack or Maurer brethren. The hairpin turns in the second half were extremely powerful (borderline painful), but outside of that, the coaster didn’t offer any thrills. I think I prefer the more standard mice. 4 out of 10
We happily bypassed a 90 minute queue at Eejanaika and walked right into the station. It was a two train wait, which took 20 minutes. Why? One, the train is in typical Fuji-Q fashion shortened. While X2 has 7 rows, this only had 5. Two, multiple operators came by to check every single part of the restraint individually. Three, the ride has one of the strictest loose article policies I’ve ever seen. Everything must leave your pockets and all riders even have to remove their shoes.
Eejanaika had the potential to be the best coaster on the trip. On one hand, X2 ranks very highly for me and I heard Eejanaika is faster. On the other hand, I also heard Eejanaika is rougher. The moment of truth on the ride’s comfort would come at the base of the first drop. Would I love the sheer insanity of a flip at the base of a 200+ foot vertical drop or would I be crying uncle? Thankfully it was the former.
Diving towards the ground Falcon’s Fury style is ridiculously intense on its own, but having a wild flip at the bottom really makes this one of the top drops in the world. Yes the train shook a bit (occurred on all valleys), but at no point did my head hit against the spaced out restraints.
When I name my favorite inversions, I usually say zero-G rolls. However, I always forget how ludicrous raven turns are. Those things pull the Gs of a pretzel roll and are usually accompanied by sudden flips on the 4-D coasters. But just when I think the raven turn is my favorite inversion, Eejanaika followed up with a breathtaking zero-G roll where the seats simultaneously invert. The result is absolutely disorienting and also yields some sustained hangtime.
The one dead spot on X2 is the far turn, but Eejanaika has different profiling and hauls through this element. That’s followed by another crazy zero-G roll with flipping and that’s followed by yet another nutty inversion, the final raven turn. The whip on this element is incredible, especially if you’re assigned the back row. Then there’s one last barrel roll into the brake run that makes Kumba’s zero-G roll seem like child’s play (and I absolutely love that inversion so this is no insult).
I hit the brake run absolutely speechless. This is definitely one of the most intense coasters on the planet. It’s baffling how all the crazy flips can be incorporated onto a coaster this massive, but Eejanaika succeeded. It’s not perfect since it does rattle noticeably at the bottom of each element. For me, this didn’t cause any pain, but I know others didn’t have the same opinion. I think if you like X2, you’ll love Eejanaika. Likewise if you hate X2, you’ll want to see this ride burn. 9.5 out of 10
Nagashimasuka is a mouthful to say or type, but it’s one of the top 2 river rapids rides I’ve ever ridden. The queue looked short, but it took about 20 minutes thanks to the smallest rafts I’ve ever seen. We had two adults in our raft and I’m not sure if we could have comfortably fit anyone else. They were selling ponchos for 100 yen ($1) in the queue, but we foolishly declined. How wet would we get? Famous last words.
The ride begins with a massive lift and it was followed by a ridiculously steep plunge. It looked like one of those vertical slides where you question if it’s safe to even go down. And like all rapids rides, the drop was followed by a colossal wave that doused the entire raft. Instead of moving into a slow river, the raft then moved down a long chute more akin to what you’d find on a water slide. That too culminated in a massive splash.
But there were still two more drops waiting for us. There was a double down and the Hafema whirlpool of death. The former was actually slower than expected, but the latter was pretty scary. It feels really wrong getting laterals on a rapids ride, but that’s exactly what happened. Both drops also offered soaking splashes and there were a few geysers and sprayers at the bottom for good measure.
If you don’t want to get wet, stay far, far away from this ride. Three TPR members saw how wet we got and they immediately bailed out of the queue. However, if you don’t mind being soaked to the bone (or aren’t stupid and purchase the poncho), this truly is one of the best rapids rides in the world. Only River Quest can match it for thrills and maybe Popeye for the overall experience. 10 out of 10
The nicest themed area of the park was the park’s Thomas Land. Barring a miracle from Kennywood, I can confidently say that this puts all of the US Thomas-themed areas to shame. I watched an unhealthy amount of Thomas the Tank Engine growing up, so the area was rekindling fond childhood memories.
It also helps that the area has a legitimate dark ride in Thomas’s Party Parade. Maybe party means something different in Japan, but all of the trains looked too sad and depressed to be attending a party. Nonetheless, the sets all looked fantastic and there was this weird rotating platform in the middle of the ride that wasn’t something I’ve seen on a dark ride before. 8 out of 10
And for the most embarrassing moment of the day, you have two contenders. First there was the Rock n Roll Duncan kiddie coaster that was ridiculously slow even by kiddie coaster standards. Second there was Everybody Twist. Basically it was one of those kiddie roundabouts, but the difference here is that they give all riders a tambourine. How could you not get into dancing to the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song?
Fuji-Q has also hopped on the trend of installing one of those flying theaters in Fuji Airways. The queue videos and preshow videos were odd. Prior to boarding, you are told that you’ll ride on the wings of a plane. Because riding inside the cockpit is too mainstream? And for good measure the test riders are shown to be aliens and the safety briefing is given by a dude with hair styled like Mt. Fuji.
The cruel irony is that Fuji Airways was the only time I saw Mt. Fuji all day. You’d think it’d be impossible to miss a volcano over 12,000ft in size, but Mt. Fuji was ducking behind thick clouds all day. Meanwhile the ride video featured several scenes around the iconic peak. The ride was extremely well done outside of the transitions being a random black fade. 9 out of 10
SFNE’s former Time Warp was one of my favorite flats growing up. While it looked similar to the Zamperla hawks out there, Time Warp was a rare Vekoma Air Jumper and offered far superior hang-time thanks to the restraint design. I never thought I’d ride one again, but I was stunned and excited to learn that Fuji-Q had the exact same model still in operation.
While SFNE’s was called Time Warp, it had positively no clock theming. Meanwhile their old Double Trouble (Chance Inverter) had clock theming yet only ran one side. Alternatively, Time Warp ran both sides. So it’s a longtime joke that SFNE mixed up the two names, but the more I think about it, I honestly think it may be true!
But back to Panic Clock, this ride actually had incredible clock theming. We were lucky enough to be seated on the end and it reminded me why it’s the best inverting swinging ship out there. The cycle wasn’t overly long, but the hang-time was everything I could have wanted. The one other element I forgot about is that the individual arms tilt at the start of the ride to create the clearance with the floor. I can’t think of another ride that does that. 8 out of 10
For the most part, weather was on our side but a gentle breeze was wreaking havoc with three rides- the star flyer, the sky roller, and the hamster coaster. I queued for Tentekomai (sky roller) twice, but both times the wind gave a 5-10 mph howl and shut the attraction down. Guess I wasn’t getting my 40-50 flips today.
Once it opened, Voyage Dans Le Ciel (hamster coaster) remained open. This is a funky looking suspended coaster that looks like Pteranodon Flyer with much cuter cars. Because of the 1-2 person capacity per car, we waited just south of a half hour. That ended up being our longest wait of the day at Fuji-Q, which is a pretty remarkable thing to state.
The ride didn’t swing as much as I had anticipated due to frequent braking. It also doesn’t offer any large drops. But it does offer some nice views of the midway below as you slowly fly overhead. 5 out of 10
I was also able to get second laps on all three of the major coasters. I still had my skip-the-line pass saved for Do-dodonpa, but Robb and Elissa also had some extra passes available for Takabisha and Eejanaika. I’m really appreciative since I had actually considered queuing again normally for the latter since I liked it so much.
Two other closures were the walkthroughs- Labyrinth of Fear and Ultimate Fort 2. I believe that someone said one of them may be rethemed before it reopens, so I guess that’s an item to look forward to on a return visit.
The park also boasts an S&S drop tower and a Huss giant frisbee. Unfortunately I ran out of time to experience both. I almost rode the latter, but the painfully slow unloading policy would have caused me to potentially miss the bus. The park wouldn’t let you unload until all oncoming riders stored their loose articles in their fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo. Policies like this are what I can see leading to frustration on a busy day.
All in all, I had a very pleasant day at Fuji-Q. That being said, it may not have been possible without luck, excellent planning by Robb and Elissa, luck, good weather, and luck. It’s unfortunate when operations can negate such an awesome ride lineup, but based on the past experiences of the rest of the group and even others who visited mere days after us, they certainly can have that effect.
But based on my single day at Fuji-Q, I came away smiling. The skip-the-line passes were absolute saviors. That allowed us to enjoy the thrilling rides and attractions instead of painstakingly timing some of the world’s slowest dispatches. For that reason, I definitely would return to Fuji-Q on a return trip to Japan. I’ll just make sure I plan accordingly.
I mean their operations can't get any worse, right?
Edit- Thank you to Ccron10 for clarifying this isn't actually VR goggles, but rather you can sit down and watch a POV of the coaster. That makes a whole lot more sense. I wonder if it'll load slowly and make you empty all your pockets for the full experience.