Fuji-Q Highland, Japan
I met up with Isaac in Shinjuku and we took a bus down to Fuji Q, which was about a 90 minute drive. We were smart enough to get return tickets, and because we were going down and back, the bus company sold us our tickets to Fuji Q at the station at a small discount, negating the need to buy them at the gate the next morning (This would prove to be really important). Once we arrived at the station, we took the local (very cute) train to the main station, found a free shuttle that took us to another station, and hopped a cab to our pod hotel for the nite.
One of the things I'd wanted to do while in Japan was stay at a pod hotel, so this was another thing marked off the list. It was comfy, and convenient, and I would definitely do this again, but not for more than a nite or two.
The next morning we had to get to Fuji Q highland early. I've read nothing but horror stories from both coaster enthusiasts and non enthusiasts, locals and visitors about how terrible the operations at Fuji Q are, and how long the lines are. During the day, those horror stories would prove to be correct, and they make any poorly run park in the U.S. look like a walk in the park. So the plan was to get there and be close to the first ones in line. We woke up from our hotel, headed to the station, stored our luggage, and headed back to the cute local train. We arrived about an hour before the park opened, and I was shocked (and didn't quite believe) that we were the first ones in line.
In order to get to do all of the major coasters, we were planning on quickly exchange our tickets, then once the rope dropped, literally running to the middle of the park where the very limited express passes could be purchased for rides. Express Passes are sold at the resort, online (but only on the Japanese site), and a few local convenience stores, which means they sell out very quickly on the morning of. So at 8:20, we were able to exchange our passes and, even though they were letting in resort guests early, we were at the front of the rope for the rope drop. Once the park was opened, it was go time.
EVERYONE runs, either to whatever coaster they plan on hitting up first, or towards the middle of the park to buy express passes. We were at the back gate, so you had people in the front gate all heading to the Express Pass booth. Isaac sprinted, and though I tried to keep up, I just couldn't do it. So I briskly walked as quick as I could after the first initial burst, and was happy to see Isaac being the second person in line when I rounded the corner. Score! I had read online that the people at the express booth don't speak english, but both the person managing the line (Where they mark off each ride when it's no longer available to buy passes for each time slot) and the girl at the booth spoke english fine, and we quickly bought passes for the four main roller coasters available, 2 for the 10am hour, one for the 11am hour, and one for the noon hour, all for around 1000¥ each.
So at this point, we were ahead of the game, and had an hour before our first 2 coasters. The lines were already packed for the major coasters at about an hour and a half for each, and the park hadn't even been open for 20 minutes. Thankfully, our first ride was on the Wild Mouse coaster.
Mad Mouse-The Roller Coaster Database doesn't list the manufacturer of the ride, so I'm not sure who made it, but it was a first for me. The layout was different, and I liked it. The cars were small, fitting only 2 people side by side. It looked like it would be a little rough, but I actually really enjoyed it, and it was a walk on for our first ride.
Next we walked over to the Ferris Wheel for a ride, which gave great views of the park, surrounding town (which is beautiful), and of course, Mt. Fuji. Since we decided to skip the Mt. Fuji tour, any chance to take photos and view the mountain were welcome, and Fuji Q offers that in spades.
Next up we headed to Pizza-La, the park's Giant Frisbee, to take a spin, since it had no line, and we missed the giant frisbee at Nagashima. These rides are always fun. Three rides in the first hour was not only kind of shocking, but put us ahead for the rest of the day. Up next we headed to the park's newest coaster, a Gerstlauer Eurofighter with both a launch & a lift.
Takabisha-First off, this is probably the best Eurofighter I've ridden. We show up and present our pass and make our way to the station. Once you board, you roll out of the station in to a dark indoor section, where there are dips, drops, an inline roll, all in the dark, before you drop down into the launch. It was all amazing, especially in pitch black. Once you're catapulted out onto the course, traversing 3 inversions (including my first banana roll), and then you end up at the bottom of the vertical lift. Once you're at the top, the ride slowly creeps down the incline, before being let go into the beyond vertical drop, then you get thrown thru 3 more inversions (dive loop, top hat, immelman), along with some hops and turns for good measure. This ride was fantastic, and I wish a US park would add something similar.
Immediately after that it was time for us to hit up Fujiyama. This was the tallest & fastest coaster when it debuted, and is loosely based on the Coney Island Cyclone. Though they have 3 trains (Chrome, Gold, and White), only 2 were running, and very slow at that. Thankfully we had the Express Pass.
Fujiyama-The first drop is tall. I'm not sure if it's because of the surroundings, as this is far from the tallest coaster I've been on, but it seemed massive. And the first drop was great. Then you head up into a slow turn around, which drops you down and in a mad dash thru the course. There are hills, turns, and trick-track hills on the course. Parts of it are rattly, but honestly, especially for a Togo coaster, the ride is really fun!
At this point we were already halfway thru our Express passes, and the other 2 were at least an hour apart. So we hung out around the park, had some food and drink at Mos Burger, and got our tickets for the Haunted House. Yes, THE infamous Fuji Q haunted house, set in a fake abandoned hospital. Its an upcharge, but totally worth the price. The park had other haunts going on for halloween that we didn't bother with, especially since the lines were long, but I didn't want to miss this.
The nice thing about getting several things done our first hour, and having Express Passes for the major rides meant we could have a nice leisurely day at Fuji Q Highlands, and not be bothered. And the park is actually rather nice. It reminds me somewhat of Waldameer, but with a few gigantic coasters. Such a shame that the operations on their major rides are so poor. Eventually, it was time for our next skip the line pass.
Eejanaika-Okay, first things first, I love me some X/X2, and when this ride was announced as the second 4D coaster, I watched the construction and have wanted to get to Japan to ride it for a very, VERY long time. The layout looked like an improvement over X, with an overbanked turn at the turnaround, and a 'full-full', a Zero G roll with the seats making one full rotation. So we made our way up into the massive station, and it honestly took a good 20 minutes to just load and be on our way (and they have a better loading system than X2 does, so I see no need for it to be this long). Eejaniaka lived up to my expectations. Yes, the outside seat was rough, but the ride is incredible, if you like these things. The first drop is just like X2, as is the raven turn, but the rest of the ride is significantly different enough. I do want to get to China eventually to ride the version there, and I loved Arashi, the freestyle 4D, but I'd love to see a park contact S&S to build a new full scale 4D based off of what they've learned thus far, with better restraints from the free spins. It was definitely worth the wait.
We walked around and Isaac did some shopping for gifts before we headed over to our final Express Pass coaster. This was another ride I'd been excited about for many years, and even though it recently changed, I was still looking forward to it. Dodonpa was the second Thrust Air 2000 launched coaster, and I was in love with the first, Hypersonic XLC, but Hypersonic is long since gone. And one of the features of Dodonpa I was looking forward to was the tophat airtime. Alas, earlier this year S&S modified the ride now known as Do-Dodonpa, removing the top hat and adding the worlds tallest loop. On the bright side, they made the ride faster at launch. Oh, and the station was really cool.
Do-Dodonpa-We were in the back of the train. You roll out in to the launch tunnel, and there's a recording of a hype man who does a countdown. Once you hit 'one', the train launches at incredible speed. Do-Dodonpa is no longer the fastest roller coaster on earth, but it does have the fastest acceleration, hitting over 110mph in less than 2 seconds. And boy is that launch incredible. The new restraints are really comfy, and the trains are very roomy. After the launch, you go down into another lighted tunnel, then around a very large curve and then up in to the very large loop, which had massive hang time at the top. After the loop you dive into another tunnel, up on to a straight away to bleed off speed, then hit the brakes and you're done. A quick easy credit with an amazing launch.
So at this point we had completed the major rides at Fuji Q and had time before our ticket to the Haunted Hospital thingamabob. The rapids ride looked really cool, but it was an hour wait. The only other coaster we were interested in was the small suspended coaster that had about a 35 minute wait, so we got in line for that after we sat for a bit.
Voyage Dans le Ceil-This is themed to some French cartoon. Basically you board a cloud with the bunnies (?) on the front and are lifted up the first. The single car then floats around the lower end of the park, goes around the drop tower, has some airtime and swinging moments, then back to the brake run and you're done. Another quick credit.
There is a viewing area in the middle of the park that you can climb for views of Mt. Fuji, so we made our way up there next and spent the next 30 or so minutes taking photos of the mountain and surrounding park & town. Mt. Fuji really is massive. On my next visit, I'd like to do a cruise on one of the 5 lakes around the mountain, and perhaps climb to the top from Station 5, but alas, this time it wasn't mean to be.
We made our way back down from the viewing hill and headed to the Evangelion attraction. This was mostly just some sets you could pose with, but in the last room, there was a rather large head from a mecha that made great use of projection mapping. Video and photos don't do it justice, it looked really cool, and lots of people were in watching each sequence. But I've never been into Evangelion, so seeing one was enough for me.
Instead, it had been a few hours, and I was hungry, so I had some Mt. Fuji Pizza from Pizza La. After that we went to ride their Soarin' rip off, which is a Fuji themed flight. It was very well done, with breeze, smells, and nicely done fly overs of Mt. Fuji. The wait wasn't terribly long either.
Then we went down to get in line for the haunt. For years I'd heard about how well done it was, how scary it was (Most haunts really don't scare me, but they do put me on edge), so I was looking forward to this one. We were put in to a group of 4 (Isaac & myself and a male/female couple), but not before our 'initiation'. Even with a timed ticket, you have to go thru the hospital 'gates' and get in to a queue and wait. Eventually a decent sized group is pulled together and brought into a dark room where a video is shown to set the mood.
The video tells the story of what happened at the hospital (In Japanese!), and you find out that three people go into the abandoned hospital that did experiments on people, only to eventually succumb to whatever evil lurks there. Once that is over, you're lead down a hallway, split in to smaller groups (ours of 4), given a flash light, given the instructions (In Japanese! But pretty basic for me to understand), and then let loose. The haunt is 3 levels, the main floor, upstairs, and a basement. There aren't a lot of people in at a time, and there aren't a lot of actors, but the maze doesn't need it to be scary. You go up and down several times between floors. Scares are done mostly after you've passed the area where the person is waiting (either in the dark or behind a wall), and they're far more effective, as the zombie Stops then half runs towards you. I was jump scared more times than I usually am in a maze. They claim that it takes up about 45 minutes, but it 'only' took us 30 minutes to go thru. The lone couple behind us caught up, and we kind of caught up to the group in front of us, but as the leader, I slowed us down, so as not to have too big a group to scare. At one point, you turn your flash lights in and you're left in more of a dark portion. It is really well done, and on a high level of production, just as good as anything at Knotts or what I'd seen at USJ's HHN.
At this point we had to head to our bus to as not to miss our ride back to Shinjuku, as this was the last bus of the day. We took some photos, bid adeau to to Fuji Q, did some shopping in the large resort gift shop, and made our bus in plenty of time.
Once we arrived back in Shinjuku, we decided to head to another Onsen in Tokyo. This one was older, but the facilities were just as good, with hot tubs, warm tubs, cool tubs, saunas, steam rooms, relax rooms, and more. And after nearly 2 weeks of being on the go, it was a welcome change to get some rest and relaxation. The U.S. needs to learn to Onsen. We got back to our base hotel room before midnite and I was out like a light.
Super Evangelion Mechwardo attacks puny humans from his containment cell.
Great TR again!
You made out quite good at the park and you were lucky to ride the Suspended Coaster. In two trips to the park, I still haven't been on it.
My last visit was last January in the middle of winter and it was cold! There was snow on the ground... and yet, both water rides ran. Insanely, Eejanaika was a WALK-ON and I rode it twice with just a station wait. I really loved it.Takabisha was a 20 minutes wait and Dodonpa was still getting transformed and was closed. Fujiyama opened with one train at 14:30 due to the cold and it had a huge line. Luckily, I was right next to the kiosk selling the front of the line passes and I scored one for Fujiyama for 10 minutes later. I got an amazing back row ride on it.
I rode the Mount Fuji i-Ride twice and I was rolling on the floor from the hilarious preshow video. Basically, its an over the top airline safety video and from flying so much and working for an airline, this was right up my alley.
The ride is an "i-Ride" from Brogent Technologies and it is listed as the Panoramic Flight Simulator on Vekoma website. The story here is that Vekoma represent Brogent who is from Taiwan and Brogent also sell their products on their own. The ride is similar to Soarin' like you said, but it also is like Back to the Future/Simpsons Ride in that you board on 2 or 3 levels the ride vehicles. The one at Fuji-Q went inside an old simulator building and they put 4 units of 10 riders on two levels inside. In the US, FlyOver America at the Mall of America is also a Brogent Technologies i-Ride. Last, the units are capable of 6 "DOF" or Degrees of Freedom, the same as a Star Tours or Simpsons ride simulator. Soarin' at Disney can only do 3-4 types of movements.
The Evangelion building used to house an indoor coaster: the weird Zola 7 shooting coaster-dark ride. They removed it around 2008-2009 and replaced it with that you experienced.
The Rapids ride is very unique and is from Hafema. Hafema are the ones who did the legendary River Quest at Phantasialand and this version use compact 4 passenger rafts with a long traditional lift hill. What did it replace? An Arrow Log Flume that featured the same Spillway Drop that Kennywood Log Jammer had. I know about it because I rode the old flume a week or two before it closed in 2007 and I rode the pedal monorail around the ride to take pictures of the Spillway Drop.
Great TR. Very informative. I am so jealous!!! Although I was familiar with Takabisha I wasn't familiar with the other coasters in this park. Looks like a great lineup. If I could afford to travel farther than the UK Fuji-Q would be my #1 choice. And this got me looking at Nagashima. I didn't even know that Morgan had actually built a giga coaster.
Nagashima was the overall better park. I’d like to go in a nice weather day. Fuji Q has potential to be terrible if you don’t arrive and get skip the line credits. It’s a very charming park and I really liked it, but ops are bad and we shelled out almost $200 just to get the major rides without 3 hour waits. In the grand scheme of planning a trip that basically cost around 4 grand that’s nothing, but rerides would have been nice.
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