Yomiuriland

8th September 2005

It seems likely that Yomiuriland has never had a group of one hundred and seventeen gaijin arrive at their gate for park opening before. The staff were evidently startled when they saw just about all, including myself, making a beeline to Bandit as the tallest coaster in the park. Unfortunately it was closed for its daily inspection. The fact that this hadn't been done before the gates opened didn't make for a particularly good first impression. Fortunately, things improved rapidly when we approached Bowwow Coaster (#611), a kiddie coaster from Hoei Sangyo. The ride was less than two months old for our visit, and had probably never run with a train full of adults before, let alone several consecutive trains full of adults. This made for a lot of entertainment for all; our group, the general public, and most of all the ride operators.

Overview

The Standing and Loop Coaster (#612) quickly became a favourite of the group, not least because it has a feature found on only a handful of roller coasters worldwide; one of its two trains is a stand-up model and one is a standard sit-down version. TOGO-built stand up coasters are not known for their comfort factor to say the least, and the sit down models are scarcely better. Nevertheless, I enjoyed both versions of this ride. The stand-up train suffered from a little more vibration than the sit-down model, but it wasn't enough to hurt the overall experience.

I would probably have come away with a better overall impression of the park had I not made the mistake of riding in the back seat of White Canyon (#613). The train was ready to dispatch other than those two seats when we arrived at the station. It seemed odd to me that nobody would have gone for the back row, but on riding it I quickly found out why. The painful restraint system and extremely rough tracking in places conspired to make a coaster which I found impossible to enjoy. It certainly had an out of control feeling, but not in a good way; it felt like the ride was going to injure me. Fortunately, it failed to do so.

We were walking back across the park when we noticed that Bandit (#614) was now open. It was with considerable trepidation that I boarded the ride. This would be my second experience of a TOGO coaster with a two hundred foot lift hill, and my memories of the positively awful Manhattan Express were not far from my mind. Fortunately, I need not have worried. The ride did have a few rough spots, predominantly when turning corners, but for the most part it was a smooth and fun experience.

Nobody seemed to have any idea what the SL stood for in SL Coaster (#615). The ride was unusual from the perspective that the lift hill was at the end, the terrain being used to great effect. The journey began with a brief drop into a brake, which stopped the train altogether. Bearing in mind that this was only about five seconds out of the station, it seemed odd to say the least. Why not use the speed for something instead of burning it off? The reason became clear later on, however; after two helixes, all the riders on the right hand side of the train got walloped in the torso by a tree branch hanging right over the track. Consequentially, we decided the SL must refer to smacked liders!

Dark Ride

The Mystery World dark ride felt like the sort of attraction normally found at a travelling fair, and was utterly missable other than for one special effect at the end of the ride. The car was shaken very violently for about five seconds, leaving me with a category one headache for a few minutes after disembarking (though to be fair, the heat was as much of the problem as anything else). The Haunted House walkthrough was largely missable too, although I elected to make it more interesting myself by scaring another trip member who had been talking loudly a few corners behind me. He jumped out of his skin. I was highly amused. The House of Terror walkthrough was probably the best of the three dark attractions, but still weak in comparison to those experienced at Tokyo Dome City.

Though I could see from a distance that the Ferris Wheel did not have air conditioning I chose to do it anyway, as there were clearly some good photo opportunities available. There were plastic fans on board for passengers to utilise, but these were only of limited utility; the sun shining through the windows was pretty effective at roasting the occupants. Even as I write this, on the coach heading towards the next park, I am still melting due to the air conditioning here being no match for the climate. Plastic fans don't stand a chance.

Though much of the park is on a flat area of land, it does feature two side by side tower rides, placed for maximum effect on the top of a small hill. The power had been turned down on the Crazy Hyuuuu shot tower, so the ride itself was nothing special. However, the view it provided of the park, with the Tokyo skyline in the background, was close to magical. I only wish that I had had my camera on board for photography, but a no loose articles policy was (understandably) in effect. It is considerably harder to turn the power down on a drop ride, and for this reason Crazy Stooon was considerably better.

As I disembarked, I noticed someone up on the nearby bungee jump attraction, so I decided to watch him ride. This turned out to be a time consuming decision; he was clearly having second thoughts, while a small crowd of Japanese onlookers, presumably his friends, stood in the shade to watch. The general consensus among the other club members in the area was that the operator should just push him off, but this did not happen. In the end, another person went up the tower to ride, and the first person made his jump. He seemed pretty happy when his bungee cord was disconnected. I guess he was just glad to be alive. As such attractions go this one looked particularly safe, with a large air mattress at ground level. One could probably have jumped safely enough without a bungee cord, though I wouldn't suggest anyone try.

Bungee

 

Tokyo Dome City

8th September 2005

Our intrepid tour organisers managed to sort out a return trip to Tokyo Dome City for those who hadn't bailed out of Disneyland. As might be predicted the majority of the group made a beeline for Thunder Dolphin. I felt no need to join the running of the bulls, and instead made my way at a relaxed pace to the coaster I had yet to do, Linear Gale (#616). As the first Intamin impulse coaster, this ride was particularly interesting to me. However, the power had clearly been turned way down; though fun, this ride was simply too slow to be exciting. George described in in rather memorable terms as Linear Slightly Windy Day, which is about accurate; as it was the train made it less than half way up each tower.

I paid ¥600 for a ride on the parachute drop so I could get a decent photo of Thunder Dolphin. It was a little darker than I would have liked, but my pictures nevertheless turned out okay. After an hour or so of continuous photography I'd had enough, and decided to go back for one more ride. With careful arrangement of the queue it was possible to engineer a front seat ride for what I fully expect to be my last ride on this coaster for the foreseeable future. It was well worth it.

 

Tokyo Joypolis

8th September 2005

This park was known as Sega Joypolis at the time of this visit.

Amusement arcades have always been interesting to me, particularly classic games which can now be enjoyed again thanks to the MAME Project. Even still it seems improbable that I'd have bothered travelling to Tokyo Joypolis were it not for the presence of Speed Boarder (#617), proudly advertised as the world's first sideways coaster. Having ridden it now, I fervently hope that it will remain the world's only sideways coaster. There is something fundamentally wrong about going into a turn sideways with only a soft restraint. The inevitable is precisely what happens; riders necks takes the brunt of the force. While the coaster certainly has novelty value, it also has serious pain value. The ride was, in a word, horrible; once was more than enough.

Joypolis

Having been the first on board I was left with a fundamental dilemma, namely how to pass the remaining two hours we had in the park. My first step was to upgrade my entrance ticket to allow unlimited access to all the attractions. This seemed a better plan than paying for individual rides. With that accomplished, I decided to try out the three simulator rides on the top floor of the complex, namely Wild Wing, Wild Jungle, and Wild River. All three used basically the same motion platform, surrounded by a large panoramic screen. The narration was in Japanese and thus I cannot account for the precise plot, but the basic theory was a plane, jeep, and speed boat respectively moving at a fair speed through imaginative scenery. Collisions with passing objects, sudden drops, and changes of direction were all featured in abundance.

It was approaching half past seven at this stage when my stomach finally told me enough was enough. I was not going to be doing anything else unless I put some food in. My lunch had been mostly worthless, and as such it had basically been twelve hours since I'd had a proper meal. I left Joypolis to explore the nearby shopping center, and selected small restaurant that helpfully had pretty pictures of all the menu options making it easy for me to order. It was a really good meal, and the price was very reasonable. It is in some ways fortunate that I can't get food like this at home, or I'd probably eat out all the time.

Back at Joypolis, I came across a particularly interesting attraction. Based on the movie of the same name, the Lost World was a computer game with a light gun for shooting dinosaurs, mounted on a motion base with additional special effects added in, such as something which lands heavily on your foot just as a dinosaur attacks you. Unfortunately the capacity was fairly limited, with just four riders every five minutes or so; with better throughput it could easily be more popular. With that done I finished up my night with Aquarena, a virtual fish tank constructed from touch screen televisions. Any one of these fifty inch plasmas would have looked perfect on my wall at home; if Sega wish to donate any of them when they decide to retire the attraction they have only to let me know!

2005


Yomiuriland

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Tokyo Dome City

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Tokyo Joypolis

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