TR: Asia Day 2: Fuji-Q Highlands

TR: Asia Day 2: Fuji-Q Highlands

Post by David H.--REMOVE » Sat, 22 Dec 2012 01:21:44


The original photo trip report was posted here with over 40 pictures and
some more comments on them:

http://SportToday.org/#p1240647

So, for my first full day in Japan, I went to one of the biggest amu***t
parks in Japan, Fuji-Q Highlands. For those who don t know, Fuji-Q
Highlands is one of those parks that coasters fans hate, but absolutely
must visit on every trip to the area. The reason we can t skip the place is
because if you were name the 10 or at least 20 most notable coasters in all
of Japan, then Fuji-Q had 4 of them. Frankly no other park in all of Asia
could make that claim. The problem is that the park is run so poorly that
it becomes an exercise in frustration to visit the park. The main reason
for the frustration is that the rides are run poorly, with ride ops that
are clearly in no hurry to get a train out in anything resembling a
reasonable amount of time. Then you have a ton of rides with a pretty low
capacity, at least for a park of this size. Add in some of the largest
crowds of any non-Disney or Universal park in Japan. And then throw in a
bunch of ludicrous rules that slow up ride loading even more. And you ve
got a recipe for pure frustration. At least if you re a westerner, used to
better standards. The Japanese apparently don t mind waiting in
ridiculously, needlessly long lines. They re used to it. But if you re a
coaster nut, you absolutely HAVE to go to Fuji-Q Highlands in you re in
Japan. In fact, back when I was just planning a quick stop in Japan, it was
the second thing I added, after the Tokyo Disney parks.

There s pretty much only two ways to actually have fun at Fuji-Q. You can
go with a fun group like TPR, so that when you re annoyed and frustrated,
you re still with a fun group that makes it all better and eats up all that
time you re in line. Or you can buy their version of fastpasses. Lots of
them. With the cost of this huge trip, I wouldn t be able to afford TPR s
Japan trip for 2013. So I had to opt for option 2. But more on that in a
bit.

If you try to plan a trip to Asia on your own, you ll quickly find out that
it can be challenging. A lot of companies and amu***t parks don t even
have English websites. And when they do, they re often painfully out of
date. (The bus schedule that the English web site of one park in Taiwan
pointed to was from 1999!) In some cases, I m not even sure that they were
ever actually accurate! There s one piece of advice that Elissa gave me
when I was planning this trip that turned out to be VERY good: NEVER trust
the English websites of anywhere in Japan. ALWAYS check the original site
in their own language. The problem is that the web sites for a lot of parks
put their directions to the park including infor about the trains and
busses -- in graphic pictures. Google Translate isn t going to help you
with that, when you know there s a train from somewhere that will take you
to a bus from somewhere else, but you don t know the names of those places.
This is a lot of what intimidated me about visiting Japan back in 05, but
in that time, I ve gotten smarter and more resourceful and more stubborn,
too! Armed with Google Translate and Babylon and a lot of time on search
engines, I made my plans. Or at least I tried to!

To get to Fuji-Q Highlands without a car, there s a bus that leaves from
the Shinjuku station and goes to the Mt Fuji tourist area, with stops at
Fuji-Q Highlands and elsewhere. With help from Elissa s past Japan trip
reports and Fuji-Q s site, I was able to find out the info and reserve
tickets on the bus company s website. The odd thing, though was that their
website returned an error whenever you tried to buy a ticket for the first
bus of the day, which arrived at the park at right about opening time. It
wasn t because the bus was sold out, because it gave this error for that
bus on ANY day I tried. The problem is that the second bus, which I had to
reserve, because it was the only option, arrived at the park about an hour
after the park opens. Anyone who s been to any busy park knows what a bad
idea that is, because all of the rides will already have long lines! At a
park like Fuji-Q with long lines AND bad operations, that hour could cost
you 3 hours in line! To make things weirder, the bus company s website also
let me reserve a ticket for a bus that was 45 minutes AFTER the last bus
listed on the schedule. Hmmm. Since you actually buy your bus tickets at
the bus station, I knew I d have to get there a little early to try to
clear this up. And to try to get on that earlier bus! And just to
complicate things, the bus station is several blocks away from the train
station, though you can get there indoors, in underground tunnels. So, if
you re going yourself, allow extra time.

When I got to the bus station, it turned out that, yes, there was return
bus at the time my reservation was for, even though it s not listed on the
schedule, which was good, because that gave me nearly an extra hour at the
park. And there was an early bus, but it was sold out. I begged with the
agent to try to get me on that bus, and she managed to pull it off, since
someone supposedly hadn t shown up. Woo hoo! I was on my way to my first
major park of the trip.

So, I get to the park pretty quickly, and based on advice from others,
headed to their new coaster Takabisha. The line was only an hour, which was
considerably shorter than it would be for the rest of the day. Takabisha by
Gerstlauer is almost two coasters in one. First there s a launched section.
Then there s the typical Eurofighter with the beyond vertical lift hill.
Along the way, there are a ton of swoops and turns and inversions. While I
wouldn t rank it as highly as some people, who have said that it was a top
10 ride, it will probably make my top 40, whenever I figure it out after
the trip. And given that I ve ridden over 800 steel coasters, that s pretty
damn good!

I also experienced another weird quirk of the Japanese. They ve VERY
service oriented and very polite. But the rules are the rules, and they
will STRICTLY enforce them, no matter how illogical they may seem, or even
if they really make any sense under specific circumstances. But they'll do
it with a big smile and many thank yous. For instance, I understand their
policy of NOTHING in your pockets on coasters, for safety reasons. But does
it really make sense to hold up the whole train for a Kleenex in someone s
pocket? Seriously? I hope to never get injured by a flying Kleenex!

One other problem with going overseas is that the advice you get from
others isn t always up to date. If someone asked on here about advice for a
trip to Cedar Point, he d probably get advice from someone who was there
last week. But with Japanese parks, the info is often from a year or two
ago, when things may have changed. This turned out to be the case for
Fuji-Q Highlands. In the past, they didn t start selling their fastpass
tickets until well after the park opened. So, most of the advice I got was
to head right to their new coaster, Takabisha, and ride that once, then go
get fastpasses. This turned out to be bad advice. By the time I got there,
the line for Takabisha was already an hour as I mentioned. But I d soon
find out that they now sell fastpasses right away, and you can now buy
pretty much as many as you are willing to pay for. (They used to have
limits and sold tickets for different rides at different times.) After an
hour in line for Takabisha, the tickets for their 4th Dimension coaster
Eejanaika were sold out something I d pay for all day, waiting in line!
The good thing, though, was that I could buy the fastpasses for everything
else. So I bought two for Takabisha, and one each for Fujiyama, Dodonpa and
the Haunted Hospital walkthrough, all for specific one-hour time slots,
that I tried to schedule well. They re expensive at $12.50 each, but it s
totally worth it to avoid 2+ hours of frustration in a slow-moving line.

I headed over to Fujiyama next, armed with my fastpass, to finally get a
full ride on this thing, even though I ve had a t-shirt for it for seven
years! You see, in 2005, I got stuck on the lift hill of Fujiyama, almost
at the top. After an hour, I got evacuated from it and even made the local
news in Japan! (Weeks later, I d wait on a table of people back at home who
saw us on the news!) So, I was e***d to finally get a ride on it, even if
I d heard that I hadn t missed much. I actually ended up enjoying it more
than I thought, and decided to go get another fastpass, while they were
still available, because I didn t enjoy it enough to wait in line for 90
minutes for it! So, I went back and bought another fastpass for it, and
another for Takabisha. I tried to get another one for Dodonpa, but they
were sold out by then.

Basically, the rest of the day was spent trying to get on rides in my
allotted one-hour fastpass times in between waiting in 2+ hour lines for
Eejanaika. I headed over to the Haunted Hospital next. It s one of the
longest haunted walkthrough attractions in the world. They use a large
building, and take you on a convoluted maze up and down stairs and down
hallways and emergency wards and patient rooms in a hospital setting. Along
the way, patients and other scary creatures jump out at you. The only
problem for me was that they send you in your own group, because they take
your picture first. Since I was alone and a guy - and white one at that --
not as many of the actors would waste their time jumping out at me,
preferring to save their strengths for groups of screming Japanese girls.
Still, it s a long attraction (over 30 minutes to walk through it all), and
it s very well done.
...

read more »

 
 
 

TR: Asia Day 2: Fuji-Q Highlands

Post by Alan Conceica » Tue, 25 Dec 2012 12:10:50

Been reading this series up through the Day 3 updates.

Quote:
>>So, I get to the park pretty quickly, and based on advice from others,

headed to their new coaster Takabisha. The line was only an hour, which was
considerably shorter than it would be for the rest of the day. Takabisha by
Gerstlauer is almost two coasters in one. First theres a launched section.
Then theres the typical Eurofighter with the beyond vertical lift hill.
Along the way, there are a ton of swoops and turns and inversions. While I
wouldnt rank it as highly as some people, who have said that it was a top
10 ride, it will probably make my top 40, whenever I figure it out after
the trip. And given that Ive ridden over 800 steel coasters, thats pretty
damn good! <<

How smooth was it? I wasn't big on Mystery Mine (the biggest Eurofighter
I've been on) in large part because its not quite as smooth as I'd probably
desire.

Quote:
>>Theyre expensive at $12.50 each, but its totally worth it to avoid 2+
>>hours of frustration in a slow-moving line.<<

I'm just glad it exists. The negative reviews I've heard of Fuji-Queue have
been one of the reasons I've been reticent to plan a big amu***t park trip
to Japan. Who wants to spend thousands of dollars to be annoyed and know its
coming?

Quote:
>>I headed over to Fujiyama next, armed with my fastpass, to finally get a

full ride on this thing, even though Ive had a t-shirt for it for seven
years! You see, in 2005, I got stuck on the lift hill of Fujiyama, almost
at the top. After an hour, I got evacuated from it and even made the local
news in Japan! (Weeks later, Id wait on a table of people back at home who
saw us on the news!) So, I was e***d to finally get a ride on it, even if
Id heard that I hadnt missed much. I actually ended up enjoying it more
than I thought, and decided to go get another fastpass, while they were
still available, because I didnt enjoy it enough to wait in line for 90
minutes for it! So, I went back and bought another fastpass for it, and
another for Takabisha. I tried to get another one for Dodonpa, but they
were sold out by then.<<

Can you give a little more description on how Fujiyama rides? Its funny that
so many people now have been on it within the circuit of enthusiasts but
I've never really heard a breakdown of the ride.

Quote:
>>From there I headed to Eejanaika, an S&S 4th dimension coaster with cars

that flip. Its legendarily rough, but I really liked the one 4D coaster
Id ridden (X at Six Flags Magic Mountain) a whole lot, so I was interested
to see what Id think of it. Unfortunately, it would take over 2.5 hours in
line to find out, although at least 30 minutes of that was due to the ride
breaking down something it would do all three times I waited for it!
Unforutnately, that means sitting in a long, barely moving line with
annoying commercials playing on the video screens in the line, along with
the Eejaneika theme song. I can still hear it in my head two months later
(Eejanaika, Eejanaika. Eejanaika, Eejanaika. Fuji-Q Highland-ah.) I spent
much of that time listening to Doctor Who audio stories and catching up on
Facebook on my phone. The fact that I waited 3 times for it probably tells
you how much I liked it. S***that. How much I LOVED it. I was smart
enough to sit on the inside seats, because I know that they rattle your
body a lot less. But I really loved the intensity of the ride, and the
whole flipping thing is still enough of a novelty for me that I really love
it.<<

I think there's a tolerance level with the 4D coasters. X2 was rougher than
hell but the movements are really interesting. I remember yelling "This
sucks so bad and it's great!" riding the thing.

Quote:
>>From there, it was pretty much trying to fit in the waits for Eejanaika in

between the fastpass times. It was a really odd dichotomy. Id walk up to
two coasters and ride them with virtually no wait. Then sit in line for 2.5
hours for one ride on Eejanaika. I still love Dodonpa, with its massive
ejector aitime, though Ive now ridden a bunch more coasters with airtime
that equals or surpasses it. (NTaG, anyone?) <<

Really? OK, maybe I really should go to Dallas for a weekend.

Actually really enjoying the TR series, and I hope they keep on being
written. So many of the TRs out there lack any descriptive element to it and
pictures, while they can say a lot, only say so much.

 
 
 

TR: Asia Day 2: Fuji-Q Highlands

Post by David H.--REMOVE » Tue, 25 Dec 2012 15:34:34

On Sun, 23 Dec 2012 22:10:50 -0500, "Alan Conceicao"

Quote:

>Been reading this series up through the Day 3 updates.

>>>So, I get to the park pretty quickly, and based on advice from others,
>headed to their new coaster Takabisha. The line was only an hour, which was
>considerably shorter than it would be for the rest of the day. Takabisha by
>Gerstlauer is almost two coasters in one. First there s a launched section.
>Then there s the typical Eurofighter with the beyond vertical lift hill.
>Along the way, there are a ton of swoops and turns and inversions. While I
>wouldn t rank it as highly as some people, who have said that it was a top
>10 ride, it will probably make my top 40, whenever I figure it out after
>the trip. And given that I ve ridden over 800 steel coasters, that s pretty
>damn good! <<

>How smooth was it? I wasn't big on Mystery Mine (the biggest Eurofighter
>I've been on) in large part because its not quite as smooth as I'd probably
>desire.

I didn't really find it rough at all.  But I'm fairly tolerant of roughness
for a good ride.  But it certainly wasn't Vekoma rough, that's for sure!
;-)  It's probably not super smooth either.  Probably a bit smoother than
Mystery Mine, if I can recall correctly.

Quote:
>>>They re expensive at $12.50 each, but it s totally worth it to avoid 2+
>>>hours of frustration in a slow-moving line.<<

>I'm just glad it exists. The negative reviews I've heard of Fuji-Queue have
>been one of the reasons I've been reticent to plan a big amu***t park trip
>to Japan. Who wants to spend thousands of dollars to be annoyed and know its
>coming?

Absolutely.  It was the day I was kind of most looking forward to AND most
dreading on the trip.  And the ONE and ONLY thing that made it tolerable
was the fastpasses.  Well, that and some pretty decent rides, and
spectacular mountain scenery, including Mt Fuji.

But now that they both have fastpasses AND offer them in a reasonable
manner, it's probably possible to have a fun day at Fuji-Q, as long as you
don't mind paying a lot of money for it.

Apparently, as recently as 2 years ago, according to Elissa and others on
the last TPR trip there, they had this stupid setup where they didn't open
the fastpass booth with the park and would only sell fastpasses for two
rides at a time.  So, you basically had to sit there waiting for the
various fastpasses to go on sale -- which kind of defeats the purpose of
getting them, if you're sitting waiting forever for them!

Now, I can't say for sure when they opened the booth, since I went straight
for Takabisha, on what turned out to be bad advice.  (If I'd gone straight
to the Fastpass line, I could have avoided 7 hours in line for Eejanaika!)
But by a little over an hour into the day, they were selling all the
fastpasses you'd care to buy.  It was probably a 15 minute wait for the
queue to buy them, but it saved me 7-10 hours in lines!

- Show quoted text -

Quote:
>>>I headed over to Fujiyama next, armed with my fastpass, to finally get a
>full ride on this thing, even though I ve had a t-shirt for it for seven
>years! You see, in 2005, I got stuck on the lift hill of Fujiyama, almost
>at the top. After an hour, I got evacuated from it and even made the local
>news in Japan! (Weeks later, I d wait on a table of people back at home who
>saw us on the news!) So, I was e***d to finally get a ride on it, even if
>I d heard that I hadn t missed much. I actually ended up enjoying it more
>than I thought, and decided to go get another fastpass, while they were
>still available, because I didn t enjoy it enough to wait in line for 90
>minutes for it! So, I went back and bought another fastpass for it, and
>another for Takabisha. I tried to get another one for Dodonpa, but they
>were sold out by then.<<

>Can you give a little more description on how Fujiyama rides? Its funny that
>so many people now have been on it within the circuit of enthusiasts but
>I've never really heard a breakdown of the ride.

Honestly, I'm not one of those who pays attention to every detail of a
ride.  I'd be bad at breaking down just about any ride, unless I rode it
like 20+ times.  Bus basically, I'd probably compare it to a really big
Cyclone.  With some big drops at first, then more low to the ground
elements afterwards.  The early part of the ride is quite good.  But once
it gets to the lower elements, the turns just aren't put together right,
and a few of the transitions are pretty painful!  

It was actually better than I expected.  I originally only bought one
fastpass, but decided to go back for another (plus another Takabisha, and I
tried for another Dodonpa, but they sold out right in front of me.)  So, I
at least wanted to ride one more time.

- Show quoted text -

Quote:
>>>From there I headed to Eejanaika, an S&S 4th dimension coaster with cars
>that flip. It s legendarily rough, but I really liked the one 4D coaster
>I d ridden (X at Six Flags Magic Mountain) a whole lot, so I was interested
>to see what I d think of it. Unfortunately, it would take over 2.5 hours in
>line to find out, although at least 30 minutes of that was due to the ride
>breaking down something it would do all three times I waited for it!
>Unforutnately, that means sitting in a long, barely moving line with
>annoying commercials playing on the video screens in the line, along with
>the Eejaneika theme song. I can still hear it in my head two months later
>( Eejanaika, Eejanaika. Eejanaika, Eejanaika. Fuji-Q Highland-ah. ) I spent
>much of that time listening to Doctor Who audio stories and catching up on
>Facebook on my phone. The fact that I waited 3 times for it probably tells
>you how much I liked it. S***that. How much I LOVED it. I was smart
>enough to sit on the inside seats, because I know that they rattle your
>body a lot less. But I really loved the intensity of the ride, and the
>whole flipping thing is still enough of a novelty for me that I really love
>it.<<

>I think there's a tolerance level with the 4D coasters. X2 was rougher than
>hell but the movements are really interesting. I remember yelling "This
>sucks so bad and it's great!" riding the thing.

I didn't actually find X that bad, though I haven't ridden X2.  I was also
smart enough to stay on the inside seats, which I also did with Eejanaika.

Like you, I find the movements really interesting, if only because they're
so different from what you get on almost any other coaster.  And after 1000
coasters, I really value some diversity and new expereinces more than most
other things.  That said, despite both X and Eejanaika being in my top 20,
I found Dinoconda in China to be more rough and painful than those, though
others disagreed with me.  I suspect that it really varies from ride to
ride on those.

Quote:
>>>From there, it was pretty much trying to fit in the waits for Eejanaika in
>between the fastpass times. It was a really odd dichotomy. I d walk up to
>two coasters and ride them with virtually no wait. Then sit in line for 2.5
>hours for one ride on Eejanaika. I still love Dodonpa, with its massive
>ejector aitime, though I ve now ridden a bunch more coasters with airtime
>that equals or surpasses it. (NTaG, anyone?) <<

>Really? OK, maybe I really should go to Dallas for a weekend.

Yes.  Absolutely.  Take the most extreme moments of airtime you've gotten
on Hypersonic or Dodonpa or El Toro (SFGAdv) or anything else, then put
like 6+ of them on one ride.  Admittedly, they're not quite as prolonged of
a moment, because of the shape of those S&S hills, but they're as extreme.
My thighs were sore for 3 days after a night of ERT on NTaG.  But in a good
way.

Quote:
>Actually really enjoying the TR series, and I hope they keep on being
>written. So many of the TRs out there lack any descriptive element to it and
>pictures, while they can say a lot, only say so much.

Yeah, I think TPR is in shock form the sheer number of words I'm posting!
This TR series is kind of a hybrid in styles between TPR and RRC.  First
there's the more descriptive narrative of the day, which I've posted here.
Then there are lots of photos with snappy quips, in the TPR style.  That
said, it's probably worth clicking on the links to see the pics.  My old
camera sucks, but the trip was pretty cool. so even with a crappy camera,
I'm bound to get some good and interesting pics.

Well, I can guarantee you that the series will go on until at least day 10,
because I've written up to there for TPR.  I've slowed down a bit, because
I've been working a lot before the end of the year, when everything slows
down in the restaurant.  In fact, I need to finish the latest update
tonight.  That takes me through the first leg of Japan and a few days into
Korea.

I'm going at about the rate of 1-2 updates a week, though I hope to speed
back up as work slows down.  With a 45 day trip, and some days taking 2
updates, so they're not massive, it's gonna take a while to get through it
all.  Hopefully, some of you will find it worth it.  And hopefully by the
time we get to the China part of the trip, it won't turn into a major
anti-TPR flamewar. At this point, I think we all know what everyone thinks
of them.

 "With the first link, a chain is forged.  The first speech censured,
 the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us
 all irrevocably."  -Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
                     "The Drumhead", _Star Trek: The Next Generation_