DAVID'S MEGA TR-2005 PART 5: JAPAN PART 2

DAVID'S MEGA TR-2005 PART 5: JAPAN PART 2

Post by David » Tue, 31 Jan 2006 11:51:22

DAVID'S MEGA TR-2005 PART 5:  JAPAN PART 2

DAY 6:

        It was Disney Day, what I had been looking forward to for
years!

PARK 46: TOKYO DISNEYLAND
DAY 6 AND DAY 16

        I ultimately visited the park twice, ten days apart.  The two
visits were vastly different.  One was with the tour, the other solo.
The first visit started with ongoing rain, some of it heavy.  It kept
the crowds away.  This was a good thing as Tokyo Disneyland is one of
the most attended parks in the world known for heavy crowds and long
lines.  If it had to rain somewhere, this was the place.  Things run
in the rain.  Had poncho did travel.  The second visit was a beautiful
day at the start of the Halloween season.  The park had crowds, but
was still manageable.  I shudder to think of what I would have found
if I had gone on Respect for the Elderly Day, as I had originally and
unexpectedly scheduled.

        I had done my homework on the park, thanks to Japanese
language guidebooks (with some English especially titles and map
captions) I picked up at Japanese language bookstores in New York and
Honolulu.  I had identified 43 attractions and prioritized them into
Critical, Highest, Important, If Time and Can Forget categories.  I
had 24 of the attractions in the top three categories and they were my
goal.

        I also knew that Haunted Mansion would be down on the tour
visit due to installation of the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay,
and that the Riverboat would also be down.  Both would be available
for my return visit.  After the tour group day, I had found out that
both the Railroad and Star Tours would be in rehab.  I planned
accordingly.

        First impression of the park, after getting out from under the
awning over the still Victorian architecture of the World Market
stand-in for Main Street USA, is that the park is a hybrid of Anaheim
and Orlando.  The castle is Florida's.  While Adventureland is long
and larger than its two predecessors, the area around Pirates is New
Orleans Square and the Tiki Room is the WDW building.  Tomorrowland is
California's circa the 1970's and my first ever visit there.

        I will discuss the attractions in the order we hit them, with
mention of impressions from the second visit.

        Initially, we marched through Adventureland to get into
Frontierland for a coaster credit.  Frontierland seemed to have
features of both American predecessors.

        First up was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Critical).  First
visit, rode three times.  Originally, we had planned to ask to ride
the back, expecting them to load from the front.  Everything was
opposite, so front seat rides were possible.  Considering what
happened in California, this could be considered the death seat.
Somehow, I had more confidence in the Oriental land Company
maintenance. ;-)  The ride is not Paris' but still good on par with
Florida's.

        I learned a valuable lesson regarding Fast Pass the second
day.  I caught the parade from a spot close to the entrance to BTMRR.
I thought that after the last parade float passed, I would quickly get
on the stand-by line and through before the rest of the post-parade
crowd descended.  The line was reasonably short.  However, everyone
who was in their Fast Pass window immediately after the parade
descended on the ride, grinding the stand-by to a halt.  The Fast Pass
arrivals were not staggered as usual because of the parade!

        Splash Mountain (Critical) was also like Florida's, with the
cohesive narrative.  It is, as would be expected, in Japanese.  Unlike
Florida, however, the hopping Brer Rabbit works.  This was one of the
rides that had an interesting quirk on my second visit.  On every
single boat ride, without trying, I ended up sitting alone in the
first row.

        We wandered into Fantasyland, which had the old tournament
tent facades that California used to have before the mid-80's redo.
We rode Peter Pan (Important), and apart from the language issues, it
was indistinguishable from the American versions.

Next up was the Mickey Mouse Review (Critical).  This requires some
back-story.  This ride used to be at WDW.  It was there on my one and
only visit as a child.  It was one of my more vivid memories of the
place growing up.  The experience stuck with me.  It was also the only
thing sorely missing from the Magic Kingdom on my next visit as an
***.  I had wanted to relive the experience for over a decade (I
know, sentimental!).  I also knew that being "ancient" and having been
in Tokyo Disneyland since it opened, it might not be there forever.
Thus reliving this was a major priority.  I couldn't do anything about
the language, but I was able to make sure to sit in the general
vicinity of where I sat last time, per my memories: somewhere right of
center in a middle row.

        The pre-show instantly brought back memories.  I hadn't
previously recalled the anthropomorphized sound effect narrator, or
the 1970's visuals.  It all came back.

        The show itself was the cute animatronic Disney character
orchestra I so remembered.  It was still evident that the ride
originated between Jungle Book and Robin Hood based on the characters
present.  The music was identifiable even though the characters,
except for Mickey at the end, all spoke and sang in Japanese.

        If I hadn't had this reason to go back to it on the first time
visit in Japan, I might have skipped it easily.  Instead, I did it
once on the first day, twice on the second.  This was a good idea as I
have some inclination as to what is likely to happen to it:

        Right now, a similar themed attraction, Disney characters in a
musical number review, is playing in WDW in the form of Mickey's
Philharmagic.  This is also a theater attraction.  Being a 3-D movie
instead of revolving animatronic scenes, I can imagine it has a much
lower maintenance cost.  It also involves newer, and more popular,
Disney properties such as Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  The R&D
has already been done.  How much longer until Oriental Land Company
orders up a version to replace their clearly dated Mickey Mouse
Review?  The old attraction only plays to a ? full theater even on
busy days.  When this happens, I doubt MMR will find its way to Paris
or Hong Kong.

        While I caught the Mickey Mouse review before it was too late,
I did miss out on another only in Tokyo attraction I had wanted to see
for years.  When I was a kid, I picked up at the old Barnes & Nobles
(when they only sold remainders and overstocks), the Abrams EPCOT
book.  I devoured it.  The Japan chapter went into great details about
the Meet the World show that was going into the pavilion.  The book
was published before EPCOT opened, and the ride was never installed.
Instead it went into Tomorrowland in Tokyo Disneyland.  I so wanted to
see this.  Unfortunately for me, the attraction was closed just a
short while ago and now I will never, ever, get to see it.

        The next "Critical" ride was Winnie the Pooh.  I've heard and
read nothing but superlatives about the experience.  I was OK with
Florida's and disappointed with California's.  Here, the buzz was
square on.  I was blown away.  The seeming randomness, with the
control if you observed correctly, of the movements was incredible.
The moving forwards, and backwards, the seeming randomness of the
arrangements of the three cars that traveled together, and the
bouncing in the Tigger scene was incredible.  

        The Heffalumps and Woozles scene, with the chaos of two loads
of vehicles in the room at once, was an experience in itself.  You
entered the room and circled another car full of characters, while the
preceding cars moved on to experience a firing cannon and one of two
trick mirrors.

        All rides the first day, somehow, we kept getting assigned to
the first car.  This proved the lack of randomness as we got the same
exact position in the blustery day room and the hopping room.  We got
the same mirror, of the inflating bee sucking honey through its snout,
and never got to see the other.  On the second day's ride, I was again
being directed to the first car.  I politely explained my desire to
experience a different car, and the cast member was gracious enough to
direct me to the second car.  I got to see the second mirror, with an
inflating elephant sucking honey through its trunk.

        One thing about the first and second day visits to this
attraction.  On the second, more crowded day, the ride cycle was
faster.  You zipped between scenes, were crammed in with nine, not
six, vehicles in the Heffalumps and Woozles room and only got to
experience a mirror or the cannon, not both.  They actually designed a
dark ride that can increase capacity on busy days!

        We wandered into Toontown, which is kind of a mirror image of
the other one, and rode Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin (Highest), which
is exactly like California's, but in Japanese.

        While there, we got the Gadget's Go Coaster credit (Critical).
The name and the train may be like California's, but the track is like
Goofy's Wiseacre Farm in Florida.

        We moved next door to the retro Tomorrowland and finished up
the "work" of getting the credits on Space Mountain (Critical).  This
was exactly like my first experience on California, right down to the
old effects.  It was still fun in the dark and not a bad ride
experience.

        Star Tours (Important) was fun and unique solely because it
was in Japanese.  I didn't bother with it in French when in Paris.  I
wanted to do it the first day, knowing it would be down on the second.

        With some time before a Buzz Fast Pass matured, we went over
and quickly went through the Raceway (If Time).  Typical for these,
except it loaded, and had, two parallel tracks.  The left had left
hand drive and the right, right hand drive.  I drove correctly on the
right.

        With Fast Pass, we did Buzz Lightyear.  I haven't experienced
California's yet, but Florida's was similar.  Here, Buzz, naturally,
spoke Japanese.  To my dismay, I only scored a measly 5500, making me
L2!

        We rotated back into Adventureland and onto Pirates of the
Caribbean (Highest).  It is more California's then the abbreviated
Florida's.  However, the PC police never descended on this.  Here,
appropriately, pirates chase wenches not food, and a wench is hiding
in the barrel!

        Next up, the Jungle Cruise (Highest).  Knowing full well that
people who sit up front often end up the ***of cast member jokes, we
sat in the back.  Neither of us had the desire to see a bunch of
giggling Japanese staring at us not knowing what was so funny.  The
cast member, although speaking Japanese, seemed to have done a good
job.  All the usual effects and scenes were present, including
Schweitzer Falls.  I said under my breath, the backside of water line.

        A trip on the Railroad (Important) was next.  The ride would
not be available on the later visit.  This railroad does not encircle
the park, it just goes around and through Adventureland and
Frontierland.  So as to keep it a ride and not transportation
requiring government railroad control, it only has the one
Adventureland station.  The person I was riding with kept wondering if
it would have a Primeval World.  It did.

        Tiki Room Get the Fever was a unique show to this park.  It
was neither the abbreviated version of Walt Disney's original playing
in Anaheim or the Under New Management annoyance playing in Orlando.
It had a hip hop beat and a different set of master of ceremony birds.

        Finishing off Adventureland was the Swiss Family Treehouse
(Important).  It had good views, even of things outside the park.  It
was nice to have an original neither converted to Tarzan nor hit by
the PC police.

        The next thing was to experience something unique to this
park.  The Florida castle has a restaurant.  This version of the same
building houses the Castle Mystery Tour (Critical).  It is escorted by
a host, who only speaks Japanese.  This annoyingly makes it hard to
follow.  It seems to involve a castle tour being hijacked by the
Disney villains, led by the king from the Black Cauldron (telling of
when it was designed).  Good battles evil.  Good triumphs thanks to a
guest shooting off a magic sword deactivating a reanimating skeleton
army.  That guest gets a medal in the final scene.  The first day
visit was beset by too many people on the tour.  We were towards the
back and most of the scenes had played out before we could get to them
and see what was going on.  I made sure this didn't happen on the
second day.

        It's a Small World (Highest) was the Florida version.  It had
the big Asia section and only a Cowboy and Indian at the exit of the
White Room to represent us.  At least in Paris they downplayed Europe
and had a North America Room.

        Pinocchio (Important) was just like in California, except in
Japanese.  Also, I could swear that the ride was going at a much
faster clip.  The same exact thing could be said for Snow White
(Important).

        We took the raft to Tom Sawyer Island (Important).  It seemed
like California's- before the lawyers got to it.

        The Country Bears (Important) came up next.  The person I was
touring with pre-trip via e-mail and at the hotel kept sounding me out
about how important it was to me.  I had included it on a must-see
list I posted on the list serve.  Once I explained it was Important,
not Highest or Critical Priority, she was satisfied.

        While touring the World Market stores, we hit the final
attraction, the Disney Gallery (Important).  The Gallery is here
rather than in New Orleans Square, as in California.  It had an
exhibit of drawings and maquettes of the dogs and cats of Disney
feature animation.

        The first day, we explored every nook and cranny, checking out
the menus of every restaurant.  Lunch that day was at Caf Orleans.  I
had a Cajun Chicken Sandwich.  Dinner was at the Space Place Foodport
where I had a Smoked Salmon Wrap.

        The Space Place Foodport was a perfect spot to catch the
Electrical Parade.  This was much longer than the American and French
versions and included floats of the newer features, especially the
Pixar.

        The parades were great the first day.  As crowds were light,
you could just stop where you were and watch.  The second day had the
infamous crowds lining the walkways hours in advance.  For the daytime
parade I was able to get a last minute spot by BTMRR.  The night
parade had no room in the standing sections.  If you tried to stop and
watch from the walking sections, cast members efficiently moved you
along.

        In terms of purchases, that first day I just got a book and a
Space Mountain picture frame that was on clearance.  I was
disappointed in the complete lack of T-shirts.

        My second, this time solo, trip to Disneyland was the day
after the tour.  I had the pleasant surprise of finding the train ride
from the hotel was short and only 290 yen.  However it did involve an
extremely long walk to transfer in Tokyo Station.  On arrival, the
parking lot was filling up rapidly.  The ticket purchase line was
short but the entry line interminable.

        On entry, my first stop was Haunted Mansion Holiday
(Critical).  I have never been able to get to Anaheim at the right
time to catch this.  Thus it was a real treat.  The overlay and
installation of full animatronics from Nightmare was incredible.  The
fact that you can see much of the original mansion scenes underneath
is just right.  From Zero dressing the tree in the library to the
gussied up ballroom to the shaking bugs in cages with gift cards for
Oogie Boogie was a sight.  I grabbed a fast pass on entry and went
right in on stand-by.  I would ride it three times, twice using Fast
Pass.

        Haunted Mansion is interesting in that it is in Fantasyland.
The building is exactly the same as the Liberty Square one in Florida.
In Japan, horror and ghost stories are part of their fairy tales, so
the Tokyo location fits.

        About the Fast Pass:  Timing things right and getting another
as soon as I can, I was holding, at one point, three different fast
passes.  I had a Pooh for 12:40-13:40.  At 12:40 sharp I grabbed a
Splash Mountain for 13:20 to 14:20.  At 13:20 sharp I got a Buzz
Lightyear for 18:40 to 19:40 and had ten minutes to spare to get back
to Pooh.  The system worked well.

        Another attraction I was only able to see the second day was
the Riverboat (Important).  It was good to see, and take photos, of
the differences from the other parks.  I took my usual top level bow
position.  I don't think the other parks have an Indian funerary
scene.

        The second day was also special because in the ten days
between visits, all the Halloween decorations went up.  The park
looked incredible with the extra orange and black bunting, ghosts and
pumpkin heads.  Most of it was in the hub, the castle, Frontierland,
Fantasyland, and Toontown.  It required even more photos.

        There was a special Halloween parade.  All the floats were
bright and orange.  Characters were in costumes.  They had a Pumpkin
Museum of Art float with Scream, the Thinker and the Venus de Milo,
all with their heads replaced by pumpkins.

        Lunch was Chicken Curry at the Hungry Bear Restaurant and
dinner was a Chicken Sandwich at the Plaza Restaurant.

        In addition, I made use of the unique popcorn flavors and had
some curry popcorn and some soda popcorn.  I also walked out of the
park the second day with a Martian souvenir cup full of soda.

        The second day shopping was mainly for gifts.  I also managed
to snag a Tokyo Disneyland Halloween 2005 T-shirt, the only shirt for
this park I would find.

        I have recently seen on line that there is a CD for the
Halloween 2005.  This was not available on my visit and Amazon says it
was released on October 4th.  While I'm pissed, it is available from
Amazon.

        Over two visits to Tokyo Disneyland I successfully did
everything I had wanted.  Of the 43 attractions, I did 25, everything
I had highlighted as Critical, Highest and Important Priority, plus
one from If Time.  I didn't bother with the Diamond Horseshoe review,
Dumbo, the Carousel, Tea Party, Jolly Trolley, Micro Adventure (it's
HISTA in Japanese people), Star Jets, the Penny Arcade, the Omnibus,
the Shootin' gallery, the Canoes, Minnie's House, Mickey's House, Chip
'N Dale, Donald's Boat, Goofy's Bounce House, Toon Park and the
Starcade.

        On the second, crowded, visit, through the judicious use of
Fast Pass, timing things right and being a theme park commando, I
achieved the following: Haunted Mansion Holiday, It's a Small World,
Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder
Mountain Railroad, Mickey Mouse Review, Winnie the Pooh, Splash
Mountain, Space Mountain, the Riverboat, Castle Mystery Tour, Buzz
Lightyear and the Gallery.  Things like this can be done.

        Unfortunately, due to the weather, the fireworks were
cancelled both days.

        The park did live up to expectations.

        However, I know our group was probably not even a blip on
Disney's radar.  We were probably just another group visit, and I know
they get plenty from Korea and China and other parts of Asia.  Still,
it would have been nice to have seen about making arrangements for a
special English guide for the Castle Mystery Tour.  I know I floated
the idea on the list serve.

Coasters: 148
New Credits: 82
Japan trip coasters: 13

Return?  Of course.

DAY 7:

PARK 47: TOKYO DISNEYSEA

        This was the park whose opening started the whole Japan thing.

        Ironically, it would also be the first park on the trip to
which I did not return.

        The rains were gone, a considerable attendance was there for
the day, but it was not problematic.  We were catching the edge of a
Typhoon and there were considerable winds.

        As with the first Disney park, I had done my homework.  I had
identified 21 attractions and prioritized them into four instead of
five categories (combining Highest and Important).  I had 12 of the
attractions in the top two categories and they were my goal.

        The entry of the place was interesting.  This is the first
time Disney put an icon outside the gate.  The Aquasphere with the
cascading water was right there.  You walk through the arches under
the hotel and come onto Mediterranean Harbor.  Across the water is a
smoking volcano with a Renaissance fort underneath.  The park
certainly meets its buzz, it truly is the most beautiful of parks.
Unfortunately, it is a little short on the attractions side.

        The park had a brand new attraction which required prompt
attendance.  Fortunately for us, it was one of the credits.
Unfortunately, it was at the extreme rear of the park.  A forced march
got us to Ragin Spirits (Critical).  Many of those on the tour got on
the line, which stopped moving as the ride went down.  The
announcements were in Japanese and we had a hard time figuring out
what was going on, and how long things would be.  Some of the locals
started evacuating the line, others stayed.  We stuck it out and
rewarded with an experience on a steaming pile of crap.  I can't
believe Disney did this to their parks again (after Paris).  It was a
rough, ridiculous looped ride with painful restraints and transitions.
And this is while brand spanking new.  I rode in front and next to
back.  While this made a T-shirt eligible, and one actually was
available, I didn't desire to have one.

        Then it was time to truly explore this incredible park.  We
entered the volcano and Mysterious Island to get to the first true
highlight:  Journey to the Center of the Earth (Critical).  It is as
incredible as you might have heard.  You sit in a Jules Verne tech
burrower that is actually a Test Track type vehicle.  Unlike Test
Track, these are reliable.  You go deeper and deeper into the Earth,
first seeing rock strata and then the various subterranean fauna,
ending with a confrontation with a very large animatronic Lava
Monster.  This is followed by the fast speed up out of the mountain
onto the bridge.

        Mysterious Island has a second excellent attraction: 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea (Critical). Unlike the old sub rides in the
American parks, and their maintenance problems, here they went dry for
wet.  The water is between layers of the windows and the scenery is
dry in the darkness.  You are given control of spotlights in the
vehicle.  It is extremely realistic.  Each vehicle has seating for two
at the large front window and seating for two at both of the much
smaller side windows.  At least for the people at the sides, scenery
is symmetric and you don't miss anything.  Still the experience up
front is much superior.

        Near Mysterious Island is Mermaid Lagoon, themed to the Little
Mermaid.  Outside there are a few attractions.  One of these is the
second coaster, Flying Fish Coaster (Critical).  The trains are themed
to the Flounder character.  Otherwise it is your basic junior coaster,
this one from TOGO.

        The bulk of Mermaid Lagoon is inside a building.  The fa?ade
is coral.  The inside is atmospheric to being under the sea.  The
ceiling is rippling water with the keel of boats.  There are several
kiddie type rides and a gift shop inside a whale:  You enter its
mouth, the lighting is in its ribs.

        The next land was Arabian Coast.  The Sinbad ride (Critical)
was an un-narrated boat ride through several scenes of the Sinbad
stories.  It was told using miniature scale settings and characters.
Ultimately, it seemed a cross between It's a Small World and Pirates
of the Caribbean. The people I was with didn't enjoy it at all. I
kinda liked it.  Everyone liked the scene with the angry monkeys.

        The other attraction in this land that seemed worth doing was
the Magic Lamp Theater (Highest/Important).  We didn't know what to
expect.  It started with a lame live action magic show (the magician
was really bad) followed by a 3-D movie involving the genie from
Aladdin and the magician's assistant.

        Re-entering Lost River Delta, we passed by Ragin Spirits to
get to Indiana Jones (Critical).  While simplified from the California
version, it is still incredible.  The queue is multi-leveled.  You
don't have the random chambers at the beginning.  You don't have the
fire effects.  Instead of the Mara you have the Crystal Skull.  What
you do have is the smoke ring that the Imagineers couldn't get to work
in time for Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom.

        We migrated into Port Discovery and got to StormRider
(Critical), one of the most annoying simulators ever.  The pre-show
had an English translation on a screen.  Unfortunately, at one point
early on, a prop drops down right between the audience and that
screen.  Then a hundred people are escorted onto a storm chaser
flight.  I know, huh?  The view of what is going on allegedly through
the windshield of the plane is marred by obvious scan lines.  At one
point, the cabin decompresses and the storm blows into the plane, as
in, you get wet.  The safety video had one interesting feature: in
involved white and black pilots, not Asian.  Attraction being prepared
for Epcot anyone?

        Also in Port Discovery is Aquatopia (Highest/Important).  It
looks like bumper boats but the cars follow a programmed course and
don't collide.  A choice is provided for a wet side or a dry side.  We
opted for wet and stayed dry.  Apparently the water effects weren't
running because of the wind.

        As of this writing, American Waterfront is without major
attractions.  It is mostly restaurants and stores split between a New
England section and a New York section.  The latter is very urban
looking.  McDucks is a major store.  There is an incredibly themed New
York Deli, detailed to the degree of having Matzoth on display.

        The major current structure in the land is singly the greatest
example of programmatic architecture Disney has ever attempted.  A
true building, surrounded by a moat, is sitting there in the shape of
a full size cruise ship.  You can explore all the levels.  Inside,
there is only a restaurant and a bar.  Walking the decks was
especially fun, considering the wind. ;-)

        Already dominating the land is the Tower of Terror under
construction.  The building looks huge, out of scale to the
surrounding buildings.  I hope they are using reverse forced
perspective on this thing.

        We finally got to Fortress Explorations (Critical), the before
mentioned Renaissance fort.  It was a disorienting multi-chambered
outdoors funhouse.  There were cannons you could fire.  They were fun.
Chambers held an orrery, a camera obscura, illusion glass, and DaVinci
type artifacts.

        We returned to Mermaid Lagoon and the Mermaid Theater
(Highest/Important).  The show was stylistically interesting with
advanced puppetry.  Unfortunately, it was very short.  It kind of
involved the songs from the set-up parts of Little Mermaid and ended
abruptly without the story's resolution.

        The final attraction on my list was the Electric Railway
(Highest/Important).  Well it looked interesting.  It was closed most
of the day due to the wind.  At night it opened up, we rode it.  I
still don't know why I bothered.  It truly was just unimpressive
transportation.

        We had the time, so we caught a show: Mystic Rhythms.  It was
a tedious and dull Aztec themed cirque du soleil wannabe.  They
wouldn't let us out before the show ended.  I had to feint a bathroom
emergency to get extracted.

        As at Disneyland, we had hit each restaurant and checked out
the menus.  Lunch was at the New York Delicatessen where I had the
Smoked Salmon Bagel.  Yes this native New Yorker traveled to the other
side of the planet to have Cream Cheese and Lox on a Bagel in a theme
park in Tokyo!  I just had to.

        Dinner was interesting.  At Caf Portofino, I had a Corned
Beef and Chicken Salad.  It was good.

        We took a break at Ikspiari, using the monorail.  It was
interesting to see their version of Downtown Disney (it's a mall).  

        At DisneySea desirable merchandise to buy was lacking.  I did
manage to get a park T-shirt.  This would be the last park where I
would find appropriate T-shirts.

        Tokyo DisneySea was truly a beautiful park with at least two
ingenious attractions.  The other attractions, unfortunately, left
this Disneyphile somewhat wanting.
This was without bothering with the If Time and Can Forget attractions
of the Transit Steamer, Venetian Gondolas, the Carousel, Big City
Vehicles, Scooters, Jumpin' Jellyfish, Balloon Race, Whirlpool and
Ariel's Playground.  These were basically transportation and kiddie
rides.

        It was then time to turn attention to the regular amu***t
parks of Japan.

Coasters: 153
New Credits: 84
Japan trip coasters: 15

Return?  It's Disney, of course.

DAY 8:

PARK 48: YOMIURILAND

        It was time for the blitzkrieg of Japanese parks, sometimes
three in a day that would cover the next week or so.

        First up was this park, I believe owned by a newspaper chain
(the Daily Yomiuri?).  After a long bus ride, we gathered on the hill
above the park and were able to take pictures of the place spreading
out beneath us.  It was quite noticeable that the place was not very
large or very shaded.  It had two midways at right angles to each
other.  Access was via a steep staircase.  There was also a gondola
access from a different area that we didn't use.  

        As we had approached the park, many noted a fascinating
looking drop tower or observation tower.  Unfortunately, this proved
to be outside the park, and was actually a cell phone tower.

        At the park, it was just us and a few school groups.  Unlike
in America, these were uniformed moppets who traveled in a line behind
their escorts and were easily avoided.

        This was the first park we had wristbands.

        The first ride of the day was SL Coaster.  I'm not sure, but I
think SL must stand for "So Lame!"  The thing sputtered.  It braked
every few feet.  On the return run, those sitting on the right were
thwacked by bamboo.  I saw it coming, so I ducked my head and only got
it in the arm.  Luckily, it didn't break the skin.  Later on, they
shut the coaster down and, I'm kidding you not, staff members were
walking the track with machetes.

        Next up was Loop Coaster MOMOnga.  This ride has two stations,
one track.  It alternates through a track switch between a standing
train and a sitting train.  Naturally, one wants to ride both for
completion.  This one trick wonder is from TOGO, and surprisingly, the
stand-up part is not a ballbuster.  It was quite a good ride.

        Then came WanWan Coaster, a typical cute kiddie coaster, good
for one ride.

        Landog was the park mascot.  Many Japanese parks have these
cute animal vehicles that you can mount, put some coins in, and ride
down the midway.  Here, they were in the form of Landog.  I raced a
Brit down the midway on these things with some local lovelies rooting
us on.

        There was some mention of the park having a powered coaster.
Dragon Coaster was anything but.  It looked more like a turtle.  Each
car had a bar attached to a central point and the track was monorail.
There was no way anyone in their right mind could finesse this into a
credit.  I still rode it.

        The Ferris wheel was the last I rode on the trip.  They were
ubiquitous and thus no longer special.

        Many people extol the virtues of one particular coaster in the
park: Bandit.  Sure, it is an impressive looking hypercoaster.  You
stand before it, track its course with your eyes, and it promises to
offer up good airtime and laterals.  While on the ride you can tell
where they were supposed to be.  However, all you feel are the OTSR's
digging into your shoulders.  Still not as bad as TOGO's American
installations, but it is a major disappointment.

        White Canyon was the first taste of Japanese wood on the trip.
Now, the Japanese came late to the game with regards to wooden
coasters, yet no one with experience taught them the meaning of
maintenance?  What a rough piece of crap.  The telltale joke was the
shredded California flag*** off this thing.  Yep, that sure
explained it!  (I speak from reputation as I've only ridden the
southernmost wood in California.)

        The House of Terror was a lame walkthrough.  There were more
of the stretching necks.  There were some cheap guillotine effects.
You walked on a vibrating floor while a backlit silhouette of a
centipede moved back and forth overhead.  Don't get me started on the
dancing dinosaur skeleton relief.

        Mystery World was an interesting dark ride, provided you
weren't of African descent.  Every stereotype of primitive Africans
was here.  One notable scene involved dancing Egyptian girls and a
mermaid.  The finale was good.  The car stopped, magic fingers
vibrated beneath you, and a volcano erupted.  The cars said they were
made by TOGO.

        Haunted House was another walkthrough, this one Japanese
themed.  The fa?ade looked like a teahouse.  Inside you had the usual
i.e. the damned girl spirit, figures coming out at you in a bamboo
forest.  This one was easy to get lost in and was, in fact, quite
good.

        This was a day where a meal bar for lunch worked well.  There
was no food I even felt like eating available.

        The park gift stores had some interesting keychains and I
bought three: one with landog, one with a scorpion in Lucite to go
with a belt buckle and bolo tie I already own, and one of a little
character in a coaster car.

Coasters: 155
New Credits: 89
Hold your head high and climb aboard kiddy coasters: 17
Japan trip coasters: 20

Return?  In reality, the park is not that easy to get to on your own
and doesn't have any outstanding coasters.  Next visit, I'll probably
pass.

        Next, we returned to Tokyo Dome City to get in Thunder Dolphin
and Linear Gale, as I previously described.

        This visit I picked up my first two cake tins:  one with
Thunder Dolphin and a miniature of the Dome itself.  That store took
credit cards.

PARK 49: SEGA JOYPOLIS

        The next part of the tour was the Palette Town area and Sega
Joypolis.  It was iffy if we would get to do this.  They had had a
fatality on one of their rides and the entire park was shut down
pending investigation.  The park reopened shortly before our time
there.

        The park is a large multi-level arcade with some rides and
lots of simulator attractions.  The sims were expensive and I didn't
feel like splurging.

        There was an interesting spin 'n puke that simulated X-treme
sport half pipes.  I didn't feel a need to ride this.

        There was one coaster, Speed Boarder.  Individual two seat
cars, facing sideways to the track, runs a tight course simulating a
speed board race with the appropriate signage.  Part of the course
runs out of the building.  The restraints are restrictive and the ride
is not at all comfortable.  Some might say it was brutal.  I only rode
once.

        The rest of the complex was a huge mall that we explored.
There was another ***ania.  There was a two level "Chinatown" with
stores and restaurants.  The conveyor belt Dim Sum looked interesting,
but with my dietary needs and no English guide, it wasn't a good idea.

        We explored, basically looking for something interesting,
cheap and agreeable for dinner.  The periphery of the complex on the
outside was also lined with stores and restaurants.  There was a pet
store selling French Bulldog puppies for 50,000 yen.  Bringing a puppy
into the USA is not easy, and at those prices, they probably came from
puppy mills in China or Russia.  Caveat emptor!

        The restaurant search continued.  Some places would take too
long, or were too expensive.  The Korean restaurant looked promising
until we saw the menu.  As no one in our group wanted to try Assorted
Innards, or Strip of Abdomen, or Fresh Horse, we passed.

        Ultimately, and for the one and only time this entire trip, a
meal was had at McDonalds.  I know, it's embarrassing.  Many on the
tour were filling up the place.

Coasters: 159
New Credits: 90
Japan trip coasters: 21

Return? If I want to splurge on all those simulator experiences or try
conveyor belt Dim Sum, perhaps.

DAY 9:

        This was the morning of getting up at 4:30 to be on the bus by
6AM for a 3 hour bus ride.

PARK 50: NASU HIGHLAND FANTASY POINT

        This is a very nice colorful park with playful architecture
and mostly friendly staff.  It is another park where the entrance is
uphill from the bulk of attractions.

        The visit had a SNAFU.  This was our first scheduled morning
ERT.  Naturally, a demand arose for a "quick" rest stop break on the
way to the park.  By the time we got there, most of the ERT time was
gone.  Plus, not all the coasters were open.

        The park has some interesting buildings.  There is an arcade
in a house of cards.  There is a raft ride in a Mayan temple.  There
is an entire 1950's America themed section with a giant jukebox and a
drive in restaurant with cement mock up convertibles to sit in.

        Most of the coasters are in the back in "Coaster Plaza."  This
is literally a coaster fanboy wetdream come to life.  Picture multiple
coasters' tracks weaving and intersecting each other with only color
coding to differentiate them.

        First up was Thunder Coaster (Green Coaster), a Meisho
corkscrew.  Well, it looked like an Arrow corkscrew and it rode like
an Arrow corkscrew.

        Next came Big Boom (Blue Coaster), also from Meisho.  This
ride was basically just a single drop and a single loop.  However that
first drop had significant ejector air time.

        Spin Turn Coaster (Yellow Coaster), again a Meisho, was
unique.  The train consisted of independently spinning cars, each
themed as a cartoon automobile.  The cars were a little cramped.  The
ride itself was extremely fun.

        After doing these three coasters in Coaster Plaza, we
backtracked to two of the coasters we passed on the way in as they
weren't opened yet.  Knowing these two to be slow loaders, we wanted
to get them in before lines built.

        Bat Flyer (Lavender Coaster) was a Caripro batflyer.  I had
earlier experienced the one at PKI for the first time.  It is a brain
fart of a design.  Slow loading as many people just can't fit and have
to abort.  Those who can fit have to contort themselves in and out.
Once off the lift and onto the track, it is an OK few seconds.

        Fright Flight (Purple Coaster) is a Vekoma SLC.  It is by far,
not the worst of these I've ridden.  It's not the best either.  One
time, one credit, move on.

        We returned to Coaster Plaza for the final ride, Camel Back
Coaster (Red Coaster), yet again Meisho.  It was long, sharp and fast,
but not much on hills and elements.  What was there was spoiled by
unnecessary OTSR's.  It was still fun.

        Nearby was Lightning Coaster (Black and White Coaster).  This
was, unfortunately, SBNO.  I learned later that on opening Spin Turn
Coaster, the new ride sucked up so much electricity, the park had no
choice but to shut this one down.  It's a shame.  It looked really
nice.  There was an impressive helix.

        Elsewhere in the park was Dragon Coaster (Turquoise Coaster).
It was a powered kiddie.

        The final credit was Panic Drive (Aqua Coaster), a Sansei wild
mouse.  The cars were shaped like old Duisenberg's.  The layout was
mouse-like.  As the cars took turns, the ride made an unusual noise.
Ultimately, I figured it out.  This was the first coaster I came upon
that actually squealed like a pig!

        One thing can be said about the park and its coasters:  This
truly is the land of the OTSR's.

        The park had an indoor Legoland with scenes of Tokyo that was
a nice diversion.

        Dark castle was the best dark ride yet by that point of the
trip.  It was quite elaborate and multi-leveled.  The queue went
through a changing portrait gallery.  Scenes included a silhouette of
a monster chasing a girl, an upturned carriage, a troll/gargoyle
holding a girl and a head, a graveyard scene with its own version of
Madame Leota, faces that move in portraits, a very steep drop and a
good guillotine effect.

        There were other dark rides and walkthroughs.  However, these
were upcharge as in hearing ride ops continuously say, "Wristband No!"

        There were two vehicles on tracks around the park rides, one
pedaled, one powered with a yoke.  These went around several coasters
and offered good photo-ops.  It was on one of these I spotted a girl
with a T-shirt saying:  "You aught to be juicy!"  Ah, the Japanese
butchery of the English language.

        The park had the best amu***t park food of the trip.  There
was an ala carte Tempura house.  As I held the tongs over the trays of
Tempura, I couldn't tell quite what was what.  An elderly gentleman
was in front of me in line.  I said "Semimasen" and showed him my page
about not eating pork and shellfish.  He spoke English and told me
certain things were shrimp and squid while others were pumpkin and
other good things.  He was quite helpful and I was able to build a
plate of delicious Tempura.

        There was nothing worth buying in the park.

Coasters: 164
New credits: 98
Controversial: 6
Coasters denied me: 16 (Lightning Coaster)
Credits thus missed: 15
Hold your head high and climb aboard kiddy coasters: 18
Japan trip coasters: 29
States: 19 (Tochigi prefecture)

Return?  If I can find my way back here, sure.  It was a good
selection of coasters with a Tempura house.  Maybe Lightning coaster
will reopen.  Maybe I will try the upcharge darkrides.

Next up, more Japan.

Remove NOSPAM to contact me.

Proud to be an Attraction Traveller:
Amu***t and Theme Parks
Zoos and Aquaria
Historic Sights
Museums
Urban Centers and Urban Hiking
Unique Commercial Sights
Americana and Kitsch

I know, its a euphemism for "tourist" but I don't care!