DAVID'S MEGA TR-2005 PART 6: JAPAN PART 3

DAVID'S MEGA TR-2005 PART 6: JAPAN PART 3

Post by David » Tue, 31 Jan 2006 11:56:03

DAVID'S MEGA TR-2005 PART 6:  JAPAN PART 3

PARK 51: TOBU ZOO

        This was the first of two part-zoo/part amu***t park
facilities.  These were not like Bush Gardens Tampa or Disney's Animal
Kingdom.  The two parts were quite segregated and not intermixed.  

        This would also be the first time I ever visited a zoo and saw
no animals.

        Well, that's not entirely correct.  From the amu***t park
section, there was a tree, outside the grounds, that had a roosting
flock of Ibis.  I did take a picture on maximal zoom.  It just wasn't
in the zoo.

        The buses parked at the zoo end.  As a group we were escorted
to park buses that took us to the amu***t park end.  On the walk
back, we passed an interesting poster for Regina, their woodie.  It
was a half woman, half coaster.  Many of us took pictures.

        The rides, foods and shops were supposed to stay open till
6PM.  In reality they all closed up between 5:40 and 5:45, screwing
some people over.  I missed one indoor "something" because of this.
It was called Star Crossed Meteor Attack.  What it was, I don't know.

        This was our first evening ERT.  Supposedly it was for all
three coasters.  In reality, it just came down to Regina.

        Regina is an Intamin pre-fab wood coaster.  I had never
experienced one of these before.  It was an overall good ride, a lot
of fun with a good amount of airtime.  I rode rows 1,2,3 and the back
and I can say it is best up front.

        Crazy Mouse is not a traditional mouse track.  It is a snappy
TOGO with mouse cars.  One part goes through the mouth of a cat's
face.  It was good for a few rides.

        Lady Bug aka Mini Coaster Tentomushi is a Zierer medium
Tivoli, fine for one ride in back.

        A fourth coaster was quite evident.  Mount Rocky Coaster was a
sizeable rusting steel structure just sitting there SBNO.

        Other rides included Sky Love (just keep saying the name).  It
was a suspended monorail to another amu***t area.  Above the track
was either a Dumbo or a Pegasus "flying" your car.

        Strange Street was an interesting haunted walkthrough.  There
was a hall of faces.  You came upon backlit silhouettes of a man with
a buzzsaw and of one with an axe. There was a moaning corpse.  You
walked over a coffin and later a woman's body dropped in front of you.
There was a tilted room to navigate and a rolling floor to get over.
Looking into bathroom mirrors, decaying faces stared back at you.  A
portrait gallery had not only the requisite following eyes but also
whispering voices.  A hallway had bats overhead.  A room full of doors
had one that led on and the others brought you back into the same
room.

        Afri-Cart was a Jeep go-cart whose track took you through
Jungle scenes.

        There was a haunted swing that was typical.

        This was the last of the Tokyo parks on the trip.

Coasters: 167
New credits: 101
Coasters denied me: 17 (Mount Rocky Coaster)
Credits thus missed: 16
Japan trip coasters: 32
States: 20 (Saitama prefecture)

Return?  Well, Regina is worth it and I would like to see the zoo and
find out what Star Crossed Meteor Attack was about.

DAY 10:

        This would be the most insane, hectic day I can ever remember.

        We got up early and loaded our luggage onto trucks.  We took
the buses to Tokyo Station and left them for good.  Miraculously we
all got into the station on one group gate access for the Shinkansen
(Bullet Train) to Osaka.  We were even given a little time to explore
the station.  Amazingly, no stragglers were left behind!

        The bullet train was very smooth.  Allegedly, it hit 180mph.
You couldn't feel it, and you couldn't tell looking out the window.
The train was interesting.

        At the Osaka end we boarded a new set of buses, which had
toilets, and headed out to the next park.

PARK 52: EXPOLAND

        The park is built on the remains of a World's Fair/Expo.  The
Fair icon is still there.  It truly does look like an "Angry Theme
Park G-d" as some have described it.  I now have a keychain of it.

  The park is visually peculiar in that the coasters seem to all be
painted white.  There are some interesting spin'n pukes.  Although
sizeable, the park is an easy to navigate oval.

        The group I was with had made the decision to hit Expoland
fast and hard, get the coasters and dark rides in, and head out on
independent side trips to other parks in the area.  That made the stay
high pressure.

        Inside the gates was Wild Mouse, an unimpressive,
unspectacular standard Mack Wild Mouse.

        Daidarasaurus was just bizarre.  How do you improve a boring,
does-nothing mediocre steel racing coaster?  Well you could link up
the two tracks into a single ride with a fly through of the station
back onto the lift hill for a second go.  Now you get a very long
mediocre does-nothing ride that is a real mess.

        Space Salamander is an Arrow corkscrew that makes other Arrow
corkscrews look great in comparison.

        Then there is Orochi.  It gives a dj vu feeling.  Close your
eyes, or imagine the track to be green not white, and you can swear
you are riding Raptor.  That is if you forget about the pathetic
loading and operations and the subsequently slow moving line.  Yes,
this is a B&M Raptor clone.

        The first thing I should say about Fujin Rajin II is:  OMFG!
OMFG!  OMFG!

        Fact:  Fujin Rajin II is a TOGO stand-up nonlooper.  Fact:  It
is colored white.  Fact: It rolls and it coasts and is thus a roller
coaster.  That about sums up the nice things that can be said about
this thing.

        You go through most of the coaster and everything is OK.  Then
you hit the final helix, or as I called it, the Helix of Doom!  I
don't know how many positive-G's it pulled, but everyone's knees
collapsed under them.  Now, imagine that rigid locked bar/bicycle seat
under your groin on most stand-ups, especially TOGO's.  Now, imagine
that bar giving way, in a manner of which I never imagined they were
designed, as you are bodily pulled down by at least a foot after your
knees give way.  Now, think of what body part of the human male is
first in contact with the bar.  I think you can put the rest of the
dots together.

        I only needed to ride it once.

        The park had not one, but two kiddie coasters:  Mini Coaster
and Family Coaster.  Both credits were obtained.

        Then came the darkrides.  The Dark is a strange walkthrough.
First, you are given an electronic candle and shown to a computer
station where you answer some questions, including your date of birth.
Then you walk through some dull monster scenes, put your candle in
another computer station and get a printout with your horoscope and
maybe a biorhythm.  It was in Japanese.  I tried to scan it and use a
translation matrix on it but, as per usual, got gibberish.

        Another ride put you inside a capsule simulator that was on a
circular track.  You couldn't see where the track went from the
station.  All the visuals were a film on the screen inside the
capsule.  The ride seemed to be pointless.

        There was another Japanese style dark ride that included the
usual doomed girl spirit.

        There were some upcharge dark rides.

        I missed the Ice House.  These are big in Japan.  Sub-zero
walkthroughs with frozen scenes.  WDW had one in Epcot courtesy of
Coke.  These are great on a hot humid day.  This one wasn't upcharge,
and in the rush, I totally missed it.

        There was an interesting parachute spin 'n puke at the front
of the park that we passed on due to time.

        One of the things I wanted to do on this trip, thanks to the
Robb & Elissa videos, was the stay-dry Chutes ride with the Plexiglas
covered boats.  I forgot it was in THIS park, never saw it, and thus
missed out on it.

        What wasn't missed out on was the concession stand by the
Orochi entrance that had bottles of Diet Sprite.  It was the only Diet
Sprite I saw anywhere in Japan.

Coasters: 174
New credits: 108
Hold your head high and climb aboard kiddy coasters: 20
Japan trip coasters: 39
States: 26 (Yamanashi, Nagano, Gifu, Shiga, Kyoto and Osaka
prefectures thanks to the bullet train)

Return? Well, I would like to take a more relaxed turn through this
park and catch those things I missed.

PARK 53:  KOBE PORTOPIALAND

        This park was not on the official itinerary.  Most on the trip
wanted to catch it since we all heard how great the coasters were and
how the park was closing in a few months.  It wasn't part of the trip
as the schedulers thought it was closing earlier in the evening than
it actually did and that there wouldn't be time.  This really should
have been checked on beforehand and verified.  The park could then
have been included.

        Still many cut Expoland short and went over to the park in
small groups and independently.

        Unfortunately, the directions to the park involved a monorail
and three trains, the last leg being down.  With poor directions due
to the language barrier, a small walk was required to get to free
busses that took you to the park.  With the poor directions, we almost
walked in the wrong direction until a young Swede corrected us.  This
still cost a lot of time that could have been saved with the tour
buses.

        Anyway, Kobe Portopialand was great.  It is on one very large,
square, elevated deck.  In the middle is a waterway with a decorative
pirate ship used as a set piece for shows and a prop for a boat ride.
The corners involve park entrances, three coasters and a Ferris wheel.
There were signs up announcing the final seven months.

        We knew we weren't staying as we had another thing on the
agenda.  Thus we bought enough tickets to get the credits.

        First up was BMR-X.  This is a Schwartzkopf, in a fake
mountain.  It is singly the best coaster of the trip, and the best
Schwartzkopf ever.  It is a great airtime machine, very fast, going
through and around the mountain with rock effects and village scenes.
It was great.  Too bad I could only get the one ride.

        Double Loop is another great Schwartzkopf installation that
runs really smooth.

        Finally the Munchner Autobahn is a Mack bobsled.  These are
fun rides.  I liked this one better than PKD's.

        We passed some other interesting things, including a dark ride
and an ice house without doing more.  We did go into the gift shop on
the way out to verify that there was nothing of interest to buy.

        To tell the truth, with hindsight, I should have given up the
rest of the day and stayed put.  I should have marathoned on the BMR-X
and done everything possible in this park.  Our navigator, who knew
where we were going and how to get to the hotel was gung-ho about the
next step, and frankly, at the time, I was eager too.

        To look at the glass half full, I did get to experience this
park and ride the two great Schwartzkopf's and the Mack bobsled at
least once in my life.

        Now if only these coasters, especially BMR-X with its
mountain, are sold and reinstalled somewhere accessible.

Coasters: 177
New credits: 111
Japan trip coasters: 42
States: 27 (Hyogo prefecture)

Return? I would love to.  Unfortunately, I will never get the chance!
I would have liked to have seen it in the daylight.

PARK 54: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN

        I was traveling with a group containing one mega-Universal fan
who was going to get to this park come hell or high water.

        With more complicated trains, we got to the park with under an
hour before closing.  Insanely, we pay 4000 yen each to get in, for
one coaster.  This would basically outdo the $17 credit at Kiddieland
in Chicago.

        On entry, we catch the tail end of the show on the lagoon and
make a B-line for the coaster.

        Snoopy's Great Race is an indoor junior coaster in the Snoopy
Studios section.  It was an OK ride.

        We quickly got to the next worthwhile ride, Jurassic Park.
This was a mirror image of the Florida installation.  I don't know
about the California.  In fact, I haven't been to USH since it
expanded to be more than just the tram ride and some shows.  The
Japanese version has one thing better than the Florida, all the
effects work.

        There was still some time before closing.  We thought we could
get one more attraction in.  Unfortunately, closing time in Japan is
hard.  It doesn't mean the queue closes at the given time.  It means
the ride closes, and everyone had better have cycled through by then.
Thus the lines close early.  We got to Spiderman to find the cast
members with heir arms X'd in the closed gesture.

        We weren't being chased out of the park, so we took a walking
tour.  The place is designed like USF except some attractions are
different.  There are things unique to IOA and USH here.

        The front part of the park has a covering, like the Japanese
Disneyland.  Shrek 4-D is here, but it shares a theater with a Sesame
Street 3-D.  Also at the front of the park are ET and their version of
the Monster Music Review.  The pathway that should take you to ET and
the kiddie sections, here, takes you to the Snoopy Studios.  I guess
this is consistent.  Also back there is the Old West section with the
Animal Actors Stage.

        Then you reach Amity, with Jaws, on the wrong side of the
lagoon.  Where Men In Black should be is the Waterworld show.  Then,
where you would expect to find the Amity section is Jurassic Park,
themed heavily as in IOA.  It has a Discovery Center building, but it
only houses a restaurant.

        San Francisco is where it should be, complete with a Lombard's
Landing.  However, appropriately for Japan, there is no Earthquake.
In its place are Backdraft and a Chinese restaurant.  In the back is
where this park has its Back to the Future.

        New York is also in the correct location, complete with
Finnegan's Bar & Grill.  Grammercy Park here was decorated for
Halloween.  Glaringly, the fa?ade behind which should be either Kong
or the Mummy, is Spiderman.  Where either Ghostbusters or Twister
should be, is Terminator 3-D.

        Outside the park is a compact Citiwalk.  In a shop, I bought a
guidebook and a CD for the park.  Our Universal fan wanted at that
point to have an elaborate sit down wait-service meal.  It was very
late, with over an hour of trains to get back to the hotel.  I knew if
I didn't get back soon and get to sleep, I'd effectively lose the next
day, which was an important one.  I also needed meds.  Thus, we had to
part company.

        We got to the Miago Osaka (a Radisson affiliate), and our
luggage was already waiting for us in our rooms.

Coasters: 178
New credits: 112
Japan trip coasters: 43

Return?  I've only had a tantalizing tease of the place.  I want to
spend a day here, and see it in the daylight.  On the other hand,
visit all three American parks and you've basically seen all the
attractions.

DAY 11:

PARK 55: NARA DREAMLAND

        Well, let's see.  Disneyland opens in 1955.  A Japanese
businessman visits the place and falls in love with it.  In 1961, he
opens his own version in Nara, and keeps up with Walt's additions, at
least from the start.  His version is a cheap rip-off (or homage).  In
1982, the real thing opens in Tokyo.  The locals know what is what and
the business dries up.  Now in Nara, is a dying ghost town of a
Disneyland rip-off (or homage).  The scuttle***is that the place
will be gone in two years.

        I wanted to experience this place for myself before it was too
late.

        The entrance has an elevated train station above a topiary
spelling out the park name.  So far so good!  Flanking the train
station are double arched pathways into the park.  Disneyland has
single arched, but the earliest publicity paintings had double arched.

        From the entrance, you could see the hotel at the other end of
the parking lot.  The building looked deserted.  The roofline was
lined with inverted swastikas.  I know that it is a traditional
Buddhist fire sign.  It is still disconcerting.

        "Main Street USA" is a line up of decrepit stores selling junk
and unappealing restaurants.  In Japan, restaurants have plastic food
on display to entice you.  The plastic food here only repulsed you.
Who wants dusty and faded food?  Anyone?

        One door opened into a room with hospital cots and screens.
Must have been first aid, but it still was odd to see.

        The Center Streets contained eyesores.

        The hub had a fountain with a female statue.  Behind the
fountain was the castle, which did look good.  The castle forecourt
had cement statues of Abraham Lincoln (not animatronic) and Napoleon
(why?).  The only things inside the castle were restrooms.

        First stop was Aska, along with BMR-X, the best coaster of the
trip.  This is an Intamin woodie that truly is, love at first ride.
What an incredible experience; a sublime airtime machine in the form
of a fast twister.  I rode it in the first two and last two rows and
every ride was excellent.  Row 2 does seem to be the sweet seat,
though.  I couldn't get enough of this ride, which is clearly, and
without a doubt, a top ten wood coaster.

        Aska is sitting close to where Space Mountain would be.  The
rest of "Tomorrowland" was depressing.  There was a SBNO monorail
sitting there, rusting away on its track.  Instead of Autopia, there
was an antique car ride, short on vehicles, on a field overgrown with
grass.  There was a cheap looking mini-log flume that was the closest
thing the park had to Splash Mountain.  A Skyride was here.  The
gondolas went through the mountain.  It was running.  However, no
passengers were allowed on board.  It was just for show.

        Their version of the Matterhorn, called Bobsleigh, was in the
correct spot.  This ride involved a lift hill through the hollow
mountain, then an unspectacular course around the outside, dipping
into a bit of mud instead of water at the end.  I know the Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn is a friend of mine.  You sir, are no Matterhorn.

        Instead of being in a non-existent "New Orleans Square," their
"Haunted Mansion" lies at the foot of the mountain.  It was a
walkthrough involving some rather cheesy scenes.  Some local girls
were going through it with us.  They explained that what we were
seeing was traditional Japanese "omri" (monsters).

        At the other side of the castle, where the entrance to
Frontierland should be, is an Arrow corkscrew.  It is called***
Coaster, yes I said:***Coaster.  The name is the best part of the
ride.  Just as I said Space Salamander made other corkscrews look
good.  Screw Coaster makes Space Salamander look good.

        Behind the castle, naturally, is "Fantasyland," involving a
field of kiddie rides and spin 'n pukes.  Most of these were not
operational.  In fact, a good section of the area was roped off behind
police tape with a sign in Japanese.  My translation came to:
"Fantasyland is closed for your enjoyment."

        Behind the barrier was a tiny three seat infant-scaled train
on an undulating track.  We figured it must be the world's smallest
powered coaster.

        What was operational was Kids Coaster, a Big Apple/Preston
Wacky Worm.  They only gave you one revolution.

        Instead of "Frontierland," there was Adventureland.  The
attraction was called: "Adventureland."  This was their poor man's
"Jungle Cruise."  It was long, and somewhat elaborate.  The animals
were cheap looking and there were some more unflattering African
stereotypes.

        Also in "Frontierland" was Fantasy Coaster, a dull mine ride
made interesting only by a solitary thatched structure on the track
the train traversed.

        The entire area of the park that should be "Adventureland" was
taken up by a closed waterpark.

        The final thing we did was the train around the park.  The
station explained that the trains were real and had a prior life.
They had formal passenger cars, with benches.  You had to look out
windows, which limited the view.  Instead of Primeval World, there was
a non-PC 1950's style Cowboys and Indians diorama.

        Bottom line  A run down ghost town of a park with a top ten
wooden coaster!  At least that top ten woodie, Aska, would be my 400th
coaster!

Coasters: 183
New credits: 117
Hold your head high and climb aboard kiddy coasters: 21
Japan trip coasters: 48
States: 29 (Nara prefecture)

Return?  I don't think it will be an option in the near future.
Still, Aska alone is worth the trip.  If the park does close, I hope
Aska is saved and relocated somewhere accessible.

PARK 56: HIRIKATA PARK

        The park is lovely.  However, it is extremely unfriendly,
especially if you have special needs.  A little trouble walking, or
tired for that matter, you will be faced with steep inclines and
stairs everywhere.  Thirsty, and for whatever reason have to avoid
sugar and/or carbs?  Well, there are no water fountains anywhere and
not a single concession has anything diet.  It got so bad, that out of
frustration I sharply asked a clerk at the KFC "Misoo dokodeska?"
(Where is water?)  That shamed her into getting me a cup of water.  It
may have been "Ugly American" for me to do, but that was a better
choice then end up hospitalized in a foreign country with either
dehydration or lactic acidosis.

        The first coaster was Elf, another Intamin woodie.  It was no
Aska, or Regina for that matter.  It was an OK ride.  It gave some air
up front, none in back.  It certainly wasn't the worst wood of the
trip.  

        Elf would be a fine name, in and of itself, for a coaster.
However, here, it is being used as an Acronym for Episode of Little
Fairies.  I think I prefer Elf.

        Peekaboo Town was, yippee, another kiddie credit.

        Crazy Mouse is a standard Reverchon spinning mouse.  It is
crazy in that the pins are locked and the cars don't spin.  The story
is that, allegedly, the patrons prefer it that way.  Again, crazy!

        Red Falcon is a nonlooper that doesn't do much.  It does have
some fast banking.

        The final coaster has the strange name of Fantastic Coaster
Rowdy.  Well, one out of three ain't bad.  It is a coaster.  I
wouldn't call it fantastic or rowdy, though.  It is a mediocre ride
made bad by its operations.  Two trains, forever stacked in the
station.  They don't fill the one before they empty the other.

        The park was good for other attractions:

        Gnomes Dreamy Musical was an animatronic puppet show with
annoying cutesy songs, in Japanese, and a film about a dragon.  The
songs were stick in your head, small world, types.  I wish I had an
mp3 of them to torture people.

        Next door was Legend of Gnomes, a shoot them up dark ride.
This was the first of several of this particular model.  You sit
effectively in a moving booth, two on a side.  All face to the side of
the oval track and have a gun aimed at scenes inside the oval.  I
loved these, I kept scoring well.  This one was themed to gnomes.

        Legend of Luxor was odd.  You climbed into and were sealed
into a standing sarcophagus.  You extended your hands out of holes
onto shelves and looked out of a slit that turned into a monitor.  You
watched as mummies and other Egyptian horrors threatened you.  A
scorpion came by and actually stung your hands.

        There was a cute but ultimately uninteresting circus themed
dark ride.

        A haunted dark ride involved more Japanese elements- tomb
stones, monsters, zombies, damned women and decapitations.

        With Freeze Zone, I finally got into an ice house.

        There was an orb game involving holding an orb while
navigating a maze.  It was incomprehensible due to the language
barrier.  We aborted it.

        At the entrance was an interesting mountain, supposedly called
Magical Lagoon.  We walked around it, there wasn't much to see.

        The store had some interesting items.  I purchased a magnet
from Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away) and a bank with the park logo and
one of the characters from Gnomes Dreamy Musical.

Coasters: 188
New credits: 122
Hold your head high and climb aboard kiddy coasters: 22
Japan trip coasters: 52

Return? Mediocre coasters in a park with poor services does not
instill a desire to go back.  

PARK 57: FESTIVAL GATE

        Upon return to the hotel, many of us got on the subway to get
another credit.  There was some issue as to whether or not the place
was open.  Some reports were that it had closed for good.  We learned
that much there was gone, including a powered coaster, but the main
attraction was up and running.

        Thus many of us went to this failed mall, with its shuttered
stores.  We noted the closed carousel.  Taking an elevator upstairs we
found the coaster.

        Delphis the Coaster was a fine nonlooper.  It was a little
rough, but it was fast and had some nice set pieces such as Atlantean
temples.  I traveled with someone who matched my efficiency.  Thus we
got their first, and had a front seat ride in a train to ourselves.
On return to the station, others from the tour had formed a line.

        While there, we grabbed dinner at another Mos Burger.  I had a
grilled chicken sandwich.  

        After dinner, we learned that the coaster had closed for the
night.  Yet some stragglers from our tour were still arriving.

Coasters: 189
New Credits: 123
Japan trip coasters: 54

Return?  Not much of a reason.  I have the credit, and besides, the
place with the coaster is dying.

DAY 12:

PARK 58: PARQUE ESPANA

        The day started with another SNAFU.  Someone stuffed the
toilet on my bus.  I was up towards the front and didn't smell
anything.  Still, two rest stop breaks were required and we lost an
hour at the next park.  This hurt as that extra hour was sorely missed
at closing time.  I, personally, needed another hour to get my fill of
the park.  

        We pulled into the park's hotel where our luggage was sitting
in the lobby.  We dropped our hand luggage off as we were losing this
set of buses and entered the park.

        The park is beautiful.  It is well designed and well
landscaped.  It is a little sprawling.  The theme is, naturally,
Spain.  This is carried out thoroughly and convincingly.  There are
Spanish designed courtyards and plazas everywhere.

        The park also has its own set of characters, anthropomorphized
animals loosely linked to the characters from Don Quixote.

        The park hotel has its own entrance.  This leads right to
Pyrenees, the B&M inverted.  It is a great ride with smooth inversions
and a good sequence of elements.  I rank it right up with my favorite
inverteds such as Montu, Alpengeist, Raptor and Talon.  I don't put it
to the top of the list as it did have two jarring transition moments.

        Gran Montserrat is a Mack mine train through a fake mountain.
It is a fun ride.

        Next came a big disappointment and a FUBAR moment.  Coming
upon the third coaster, the famous indoor Bullfight Roller Coaster
Matador, there was a sign that it was down.  I was really looking
forward this.  Was there a mechanical problem?  No.  Was there an
incident? No.  These I can understand, they are out of people's
control.  What was going on was that it was down for scheduled routine
maintenance.  COME  ON!  The park knew we were coming well in advance.
They knew a group of 120 people were traveling half way around the
world to ride their THREE roller coasters on this specific day.  They
knew this large group had reservations in their hotel.  All this, and
they still scheduled routine maintenance for this time period, and not
either before or after (considering the season, emphasis on after).
At least they could have given advanced warning.  There wasn't even an
apology.

        That left doing the other attractions.  First up was Museo
Castillo de Xavier.  This was a museum of Spanish History.  I guess if
you are going to have a Spanish themed park in Japan, you should teach
the Japanese about the Spaniards.  This is reasonable.  The captions
and signage were all in Japanese, so I had to provide my own
translation.  The room with Cro-Magnon men I called Spain in the
Renaissance period.  You get the idea.

        The park is geographically on two levels.  To get down to the
lower level, you need to take a nearby escalator.  If you saw the Robb
& Elissa video, you know this is just not any escalator.  It has a
catchy musical loop and a synced light show.  The official name is
Cave of Sun.  It sucks up time as it just makes you want to keep going
up and down, up and down, dancing to the music.  I can still pull the
music up from memory.  I just cannot identify it.  I don't know if
this is a known composition or is unique to the park.  I've been
trying to find this out and have googled everything I can think of to
no avail.  I would love to have an mp3 of the music.

        Once in the lower park, there is Choky's Mystery House, a
walkthrough involving one of the park mascots playing games.  It is
mostly flats against the walls.

        Adventure Lagoon is a fantastic boat ride.  You cross a lagoon
with cannon fire and enter a show building.  Moors attack a village.
You pass a shipwreck in ice with a survivor giving a warning.  Then
you are undersea and enter a treasure room guarded by a giant.  The
finale is a round chamber with a dead end until a drop opens up and
you head back down into the harbor.  It is well done and very
effective.

        Don Quixote's Magical Flight is a dark ride with Peter Pan
type suspended ship vehicles.  Inside are 3-D scenes involving the
park characters filling roles from Don Quixote's imagination.  You are
at a bullfight, you are under the sea with "loving" fish, and you are
flying over the park itself.

        Then came the long climb back to the upper park.  At least
there were things to see along the way.  There was a shopping street.
There was Bosque de Cuentos:  Plaster statues of fairy tales with
descriptions and voice-overs in Japanese.  I kept screaming out
"Espanol por favor!"

        The Shining Luminous Castle Sparkling Carnival Ride was
another dark ride.  This one took the vehicles past musical scenes
involving Christmas lights, tunnels, flowers, dressed mannequins.  It
was quite bizarre.  

        The Musical Circus was a real head trip.  I don't think any
written description can do it justice.  Although I have never taken
LSD, I now think I now know what a "trip" is like:

        You sit in a circular theater.  All around is a scene
involving singing and dancing happy animals led by a hopping rabbit.
Then the entire theater floor descends and you move underground
through black light images in tunnels and ascend into another round
theater.  Here demons threaten you, led by a particularly brutal one.
You descend again, move forward, and enter a third theater.  Here
there is a 3-D claymation film involving the rabbit fighting the demon
and an angel (I think) rescues the audience.  Again it's descend, move
forward and ascend into the final scene.  It ends with more happy
singing and dancing animals and the rabbit.  I guess, once again, good
has won over evil.

        Splash Montserrat was your basic log flume that went around
the same mountain as the Gran Monserrat coaster.

        Batalla del Alcazar was another of the moving booth shoot them
ups.  I scored well again, shooting up monsters.

        Flying Don Quixote is one of the rare Island in the Sky rides.
I believe there are only three in the world.  Another is in Florida at
Cypress Gardens.  These are large circular platforms that are lifted
into the air on a huge armature.  Great photo-ops are provided.

        More time was spent in the psychologically ***ive Cave of
Sun.

        Ironically, the last part of the park we came upon, was the
actual covered entrance "Main Street"

        The shopping was good.  I got post cards, a tin of cookies
with the park mascots, and a park CD.  With the CD, I was hoping for a
track to have the music of Cave of Sun.  It proved to be a parade CD
and didn't have it.  There were some higher end merchandise stores in
a well themed Mayor Plaza.  One store had fashion.  I found a unique
pattern, of which I had never seen before, on a silk Italian necktie
for 1400 yen.  I bought it.

        The park closed, and I wished I had another hour for a few
more spins on Pyrenees, and another "trip" through Musical Circus.

        That evening the hotel threw us a magnificent buffet dinner,
combining Spanish and Japanese cuisine.  There was paella.  There was
Sushi.  The total amount of food available was set on the line and no
more was coming.  Therefore, control of the food access had to be
controlled to be fair.  It was done by tables.

        After dinner, some people retired to the karaoke bar.

Coasters: 191
New credits: 125
Coasters denied me: 18 (Bullfight Roller Coaster Matador)
Credits thus missed: 17
Japan trip coasters: 56
States: 30 (Mie prefecture)

Return?  Definitely.  The place is great and there is still a credit
waiting.

DAY 13:

PARK 59: NAGASHIMA SPALAND

        We left the Hotel Espana with our luggage in trucks heading
back to Tokyo.  We all had carry-ons with changes of clothes and
toiletries.

        It was another bus ride closer to Tokyo.  Unfortunately,
another late arrival cost us time at the next park.  Fortunately, it
didn't matter as we had more time then we needed.

        Nagashima Spaland is the Cedar Point of Japan?  I don't think
so.  It is small, uncomfortable on a hot oppressive day such as we
had, and visually unimpressive.  That is except for one infuriating
white elephant.

        This is the park of Steel Dragon 2000, the once world's
tallest hypercoaster that has been closed for years after having only
run for 18 months.  This is the stupid ride that threw a wheel into
the waterpark and killed somebody.  There was some info that the ride
would be reopened in time for our trip.  That was incorrect.  There is
an issue with the superstitious locals.  There is an issue with
contract problems with Morgan.  There is an issue in that the park
doesn't own the ride.  It is owned by a leasing company who is paying
the park penalties for its being closed and who may want to just s***
it.  Anyway, it dominates the park, looks impressive, but would be
better ridden.

        Available to ride was Ultra Twister, my second of these TOGO
models.  They are not very comfortable but are interesting.  If the
Astroworld one is truly ending up at Six Flags America, I will
definitely do it again.

        Corkscrew is an Arrow corkscrew that at least wasn't bad like
the ones at Expoland and Nara Dreamland.

        What can be said about White Cyclone?  It sure is a rickety
wooden thing when ridden upfront.  There is airtime.  The rear is a
chiropractor's dream with no air.

        Wild Mouse consists of a pair of Mack wild mouse coasters.
Only the right side was running.  It is typical of the model but
overly braked.

        Looping Star is a rusty, poorly maintained Schwartzkopf with
the Sooperdooperlooper type restraints.  It was a disappointing
Schwartzkopf.  

        Shuttle Loop was yet another of these Schwartzkopf models to
be experienced this season.  Not the best.  Not the worst.

        Children Coaster was a typical Zierer medium Tivoli.

        Jet Coaster's station was very well hidden.  Once found, the
ride proved to be a mine ride that really didn't do anything.

        Near the station of Steel Dragon 2000 was a ride of a type
I've never seen before: Bob Carts.  These were electrified sleek carts
that ran in a trough.  It was an excellent experience.  I want one of
these near me.

        Free Fall was a first generation drop ride.  It was marred by
a jarring brake at the end of the brake track just before the drop
down to the return track.  It was excruciating

        Haunted House was one of the best walkthroughs of the trip.
It was quite elaborate with 18 different scenes involving all the
standbys of the young woman, the decapitations, the stretching neck,
plus a whole lot more.  I liked the scene of a revolving door swinging
open to show you a garroted man.  I liked the scene of a priest
leading a group in prayer, whose members slowly turn their heads in
unison to look at you.  There was a ghost in a storm involving a
double paned window with Styrofoam blowing between to simulate a
blizzard.  Pepper ghosts where used.  The finale ends with a giantess
pulling open sliding doors and blowing in your face.  Overall, it was
excellent.

        The center of the park was dominated by a pair of giant
swinging pirate ship rides.  These weren't running.  A third, normal
sized, was running.  This was dwarfed by the other two.  Now consider
how large is the normal sized.

        Basically, after all this, we ran out of things to do with
plenty of time left before returning to the buses.  This was the only
time this happened on the trip.  Five hours was too much for this
park.

        Plenty of time was spent in the gift shop which had a full
line of Steel Dragon 2000 souvenirs.  Why would anyone want to buy
something for a SBNO coaster?  The famous T-shirts for the coaster
with the butchered English were available, but only in children's
sizes.  I did buy a labyrinth game with a park map on it.

        We then went to the hotels.  We stayed in single rooms in
businessmen hotels, that to be honest, were in a seedy part of town.
This had to have been the red light district.  It was difficult to
find a place to eat.  We traveled in groups.  Mine ended up in a
downtown mall where we found Popageno Italian Buffet.  It served its
purpose and was educational.  This was the Japanese interpretation of
Italian cuisine as opposed to the American interpretation.

Coasters: 199
New credits: 133
Coasters denied me: 19 (Steel Dragon 2000)
Credits thus missed: 18
Japan trip coasters: 64

Return:  Only if Steel Dragon 2000 reopens or is replaced with
something as impressive.

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!