Nagashima Spaland, Nagashima, Japan
I would be remiss if I didn't include some photos of some of the non-coaster stuff I did. Again, check my website in a few days for pix and trip reports for the non-coaster trip (It was amazing).
This is part of the Kyoto Imperial Palace. It was the seat of Japan's government, and home to Emperors for Centuries. Also on the grounds are the Sento Palace (The current palace used for the Emperor & Crown Prince when in Kyoto), which we could tour the beautiful gardens, but not the buildings, and the Kyoto State House, which is a working state house (It was in use 2 weeks prior for visiting dignitaries).
This is Himeji Castle, considered the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture. It was beautiful. You can even tour the entire inside of the castle.
The torii gates on Mt. Inari in Kyoto. Rain couldn't keep us away.
Bamboo Forest on Mt. Inari.
Now on to more coasters...
Sunday was planned as our last non—Tokyo day. Our Japan Rail pass was done after that day, but again we wake up to rain. We talked and talked and decided to take the hour and a half transit trip to Nagashima and hope for the best.
You can see Nagashima Spa Land from a distance. It's often considered the Cedar Point of Japan, and really, that fits well as a comparison. On a peninsula. You go over a causeway to get to it. Can see the massive rides in the distance. Nagashima was very much a Cedar Point feeling park. Clean, large midways. Large coasters, new and old. Modern and classic flat rides. Water park. Hotel. Big ole’ Ferris Wheel (which just happen to be everywhere in Japan). We got there and honestly, it was mostly a worst case scenario. The rain was subsiding, but it was supposed to come back with a vengeance for the day. We didn’t want to pay $50 to go in and not ride anything, but there is a cheaper entrance fee and you can buy tickets.
Isaac and I discussed it, asked if Steel Dragon would be open (it wasn’t running), was told it was unlikely, and at the time, the only coaster that was running was Arashi, the new for 2017 S&S 4D Freespin. Then Acrobat, the Manta clone also opened up. I wasn’t happy, because this was the only chance I’d get at the park on this visit without spending way over budget to come back, and I wasn’t willing to do that. So we eventually decided to try to make the best of it, go in, and maybe get some credits and enjoy what we could of the park. I wasn’t happy, but there’s nothing you can do when the island is getting hit by a typhoon.
Once we got in to the park, we walked around and I took pics. The rain wasn’t falling, but it was misting. Our first stop was tickets and then Arashi, which was a walk on. This would be my first one of these, even though there are several in the states. I loved 4D coasters, but my last ride on Green Lantern at SFMM wasn’t great. How would the S&S version compare?
Arashi-We got on and I have to say I loved the restraints. I wish a park would order a more traditional 4D with these restraints. You go up the vertical lift and the first drop gets ‘help’ to make you spin in the form of a copper fin passing thru a magnet. It was great! I was really kind of frightened, as you get major spinning on this ride. It was disorienting, had airtime, and parts feel like you’re flying, just before you flip upside down. I loved it.
Everything in the park is well taken care of and most of the park looks freshly painted. A few years ago, they expanded the park into a new plot of land, moved their old Arrow Corkscrew closer to Steel Dragon (and put a kids area in Corkscrew’s old spot), moved their Ultra Twister into the new section, along with a slide ride, and then recently built a really nice looking Manta clone called Acrobat. It was open, so we headed there next.
Acrobat-I’ve yet to ride Manta, but Acrobat was really well done. There’s the drop then pretzel loop, but the rest of the ride is mostly turns, inline twists, and swoops, and it was fun. It evens Borrowed Manta’s water effect, which was nice. Lots of fun, better than the Superman clones, but I like Tatsu and Flying Dino better.
One nice thing about the park is that they were announcing when a new ride was opening, which we figured out after hearing an announcement about Ultra Twister, and then seeing it run, to which we hurriedly got tickets and walked over to ride. I’ve always wanted to do one, and there are still a few in Japan, so this was my chance.
Ultra Twister-The vertical lift is kind of overdone now, but these started the trend. The first vertical drop was really good, and the hill after had nice airtime. Then you do a heart line roll, which is weird within the cage structure of the coaster, before hitting brakes on the drop track, then dropping, another heart line, a rampy drop, and then another heart line roll before heading to the station. It was fun, and looks really good with it’s current paint job. I enjoyed it.
Another ride opening made me hopeful that since the rain was holding off we might have a good day. So a few minutes later as we were hanging around Steel Dragon to see if anyone was doing anything (We were told at the gate that it had been prepped to run before the rain, and there was a train in the station), I saw White Cyclone start to cycle, so I got Isaac and we went over.
White Cyclone-This ride looks beautiful, and is quite large, which oft leads to comparisons to the former Mean Streak at Cedar Point. Many people think it’s rough. Many others boring. Honestly, I went in planning to get the credit and be done with it, but surprisingly, I liked it. The first drop and hill were good. We had airtime on it, and though it was a little Janky at the bottoms of the larger drops, it wasn’t terrible and I thought it was a fun ride. There are two helices which add to the fun, and the ending is several hills. I don’t know if it just ran well because of the rain and cooler weather, but I thought it was highly underrated as a coaster, and a lot of fun.
At this point, one side of the mouse was running (It was dead, so no need to run both sides), the gigantic Viking ship was running, the Giant Frisbee was running, most of the flat rides, the mine coaster, and then eventually Steel Dragon, so we decided to pay the difference and get an all day ride pass to just ride everything open. Shuttle Loop was opening up, and I love a good Schwarzkopf.
Shuttle Loop-With so few of these left, I’m glad this one opened and I didn’t have to miss it like Jet Star, which never opened. We sat in the back of this fly wheel launched model and of course it was great. Nice launch, then the loop, spike, stall, backwards loop, backwards spike, stall, and you’re done. A dying breed, but still so much fun.
Japan is known for their meandering Jet Coasters, which seem to be everywhere. I didn’t actually ride more than one on this trip, and it was at Nagashima.
Jet Coaster-This was similar in some ways to Cedar Point’s mine train. There was some airtime, and a stretch of straight track over the water. It was really a lot of fun, and there was even some airtime. Plus, another credit.
After getting our wrist band, we headed to Steel Dragon, which was a 30 minute wait. First off, the music in the line is really obnoxious and annoying and I’ve spent over a week trying to forget it to no avail. But this was THE ride I came for, and now here I was, in line, ready to ride!
I was just getting in to coasters in 2000. I was already a fan, but had just discovered online coaster communities, so the four biggest rides being built that year were Goliath at SFMM, which would open early in the year and be the tallest/fastest traditional lift coaster in the world until a few months later, when Cedar Point was debuting Millennium Force. I thought it was kinda boring looking. No loops, nothing. And Kings Island was building the tallest, fastest, only looping wooden coaster! Millennium Force opened and was the tallest/fastest traditional lift coaster in the world, for a few months until Steel Dragon 2000 opened. And though it’s still the longest coaster in the world, Steel Dragon is no longer the tallest traditional lift in the world (That just happens to be not too awful far from my house in Fury 325). But I’ve now ridden all 4 of those major coasters from 2000 multiple times (and said goodbye to Son of Beast).
Steel Dragon 2000-The ride is impressive looking. You get in the custom built B&M trains, the second set of trains the ride has had. I thought the lift would seem longer, as it’s not steep, has 2 chains on the lift, and is over 2 minutes long, but once we were off, we were near the top pretty quickly. That first drop is amazing. There's some rattling at the bottoms of the drops, but it wasn’t terrible. The B&M trains are very open. Then you got up and get decent floaty air on the next hill. Then you go up and top down into a lateral filled twisted section of track that you speed thru at the end turn around. The ride is basically the length of the entire park. Then you head back to the station on a series of hills and tunnels, all giving decent floater airtime. I liked the ride a lot. It was better than Steel Force, but rides like Phantom, Lightning Run, and Steel Eel show that Morgan can give better airtime. But this ride is fun and still very impressive.
The mouse had been running, so we Got a quick ride on it now that we had wrist bands. It’s 2 standard portable mice, mirrored beside each other. Mice scare me, but I loved them, and it was another credit. Time was getting short and we wanted to do a few more things. The rain had held off and it ended up being a really great day. Overcast, but comfortable, with most rides operating. Next up was Corkscrew. This is a corkscrew clone, just like many before it, with a drop, turn, 2 inversions, and you’re done. And it’s still in the traditional blue/white color scheme. Just like the Myrtle Beach Pavilion’s and many others, it was a nice shot of nostalgia.
There was a walk thru haunted attraction by cork screw, so we did that next before heading over to the Ferris Wheel, which gave great views of the park and surrounding bay. I had wanted to ride the Giant Frisbee (They have a regular and giant version), but we didn’t have time. There is however, a flat ride at the park I was not going to miss. The world’s tallest (double) swinging ship ride, Viking. They had to wait for enough people, but it was really a lot of fun. It doesn’t swing as high as traditional swinging ships, but it’s fun. I thought it funny they have the Giant double swinging ships, a Galleon swinging ship, and an Intamin looping starship. This park has several similar rides. We hit up White Cyclone again for another good ride, and then I rode Arashi by myself (Isaac wasn’t ready for more). We were going to ride Steel Dragon one more time, but there were people in line with terribly strong perfume that were over by Cyclone, so we went and did another ride first. The park has a flat where you stand in little ‘Jet ski’ type vehicles, and it’s in water, and it’s basically a water whip where you can use the rudder to swing out. We rode it and it was great! I wish more parks had these!
Finally we got one more ride on Steel Dragon to end the night before heading back to the station. We really were fortunate that we were able to ride as much as we did. There was a lot of plans that changed towards the second week to accommodate weather, travel, etc. But we got a full day at Nagashima Spa Land, and it was worth it.
We ate a quick bite at McDonalds and had a teriyaki burger on our way back up to Yokohama, just outside of Tokyo, where we would be based out of for the rest of the trip. It had been a long week, and I was tired, so the Shinkansen back was a nice break. We arrived and checked into our hotel later Sunday evening.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
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