Yomiuri Land, Tokyo, Japan
I went to Tokyo for a week with my wife and our goals were to go to Tokyo Disney, do sight seeing and do some shopping. We succeeded at all three objectives and went to Yomiuriland as a bonus.
Yomiuriland is located on the west side of the greater Tokyo area and is reachable via two train stations: Keio-Yomiuri-Land and Yomiuriland-Mae. Depending on where you're coming from in Tokyo, look on Hyperdia and see what is the shortest route. In our case, Yomiuriland-Mae was close to where we were, so that's the route we used. From the platform coming to Tokyo, exit and walk to the left. Cross over the railroad track using the elevated walkway. On the other side, turn left, go under the walkway and cross the street. Bus no.1 bus stop as a small waiting line and that's the one you'll use to reach Yomiuriland.
Advice in Japan: buy a SUICA or PASMO IC card when you arrive and load it up with a lot of yens. You can then tap in and out of the transit system and it will deduct your fare without you having to figure out the cost and buying specific fare tickets. It can also be used in convenience stores. It even works with the Tokyo Disney monorail!
Yomiuriland is currently hosting an illumination event that sees the whole park along with Bandit covered with lights. They come on at 16:00 and it was worth the visit. In the waterpark over the wave pool, they do a fountain and light show every 15 minutes and it was quite nice. They currently have on the english website for the park an option to do a guest survey for foreigners and when you do, you get 200 yens off coupons to screenshot on your phone. You then show them to the cashier and its a nice little discount.
Bandit, the world's first hypercoaster (sorry Magnum, you only came to be when Dick Kinzel saw footage of Bandit), is running really well and is a blast from the past. It is a Togo steel coaster currently running two seven car trains at once. The cars still have shoulder harnesses, which remained after the original trains were replaced around 2012, but the harnesses are not an issue. The ride is reasonably smooth and except for one small rough spot entering the helix, tracked great.
The ride is very, very forceful, with the long rampy first drop leading to the horseshoe turn and straight into the powerful helix. The reason for the shoulder harness is apparent there: there is an impossibly close headchopper with an helix as you go around the helix. Exiting the helix, the train starts doing those rising turns and hills that for a 1988 ride, seem quite advanced. In the front, you get nice airtime, so try to time your place in the queue so that you can get a spot near the front of the train.
Eventually, you arrive at the deepest point of the ride: the valley drop. Bandit may only have a 167 feet tall lift hill.... but the bottom of that drop is 256 feet BELOW the crest of that lift hill! Officially, it goes 68 mph, but on that cold march night with a warm ride, it felt like it was going much faster. The shape of the drop is fascinating, as you really feel the G and aspiration as you go into the valley. Rising out of there, the train goes around a fast curve and into the mid course brake run. Well, the track is flat and the brake brackets are still there, but years ago, the park removed the brake calipers. You exit quickly and dive back into the valley and head back to the station with another rising turn and hill and into a short tire drive lift hill that is there in case the train runs slow. The final brakes conclude what is now one of my favorite hyper coaster. I rode it 3 times and I got lucky enough to get the front.
Beside Bandit, the park has seen a transformation after the failed Twist Coaster Robin that only operated a few hours. From what I can see, the old White Canyon plot is mostly empty and they've been building up the area near the entrance with new job themed pavilions.
Momonga Standing and Loop Coaster was replaced with a new Proslide Ridehouse play structure, which is perfect since the waterpark is not that big and hasn't had an addition in years. The Intamin Looping Starship is still in front of that and I am not sure how long it will last.
The first job pavilion I visited was the Space Pavilion, with the new for 2021 Lipovitan Rocket Luna roller coaster. It is the first Suspended Gerstlauer and I have to say I was dissapointed. Capacity was low, but that's on part for this park: they load two four passenger cars at once in the station and dispatch them at the same time. One engage the first lift hill and the other wait at the bottom of the lift before advancing. The ride itself is a lot less than I was expecting: lift hill, two helixes in a room with screens on the walls, brakes. Second lift hill, the drop and turn outside the ride before another mid-course brake. A final helix in a room with screens around and a last scene with a screen while you're stopped constitute this ride. Its barely a step above say Pteranodon Flyers at Islands of Adventure and worst: it already vibrates a lot in the curves. Its odd, as the Gerstlauer Bobsled usually track well, but this one, essentially a suspended Bobsled track worst than... Bandit across the park.
The car pavilion sponsored by Nissan has activities for kids and an electrical car ride outside, but we ran out of time to do the electrical car ride. Its an upcharge even with the unlimited ride wristband.
The next pavilion is the delicious one: Food! Sponsored by Nissin, it's an Hafema four person rapids ride where you take the role of... an instant noodle bowl. After loading in the continuous moving station, you proceed to the lift hill. After the lift hill, you go around a curve and immediately do the first drop. Stopping after, you have an interactive dark ride scene on a screen over your head and you need to push buttons on the center console.
Continuing, the raft squeals around a spiral helix drop before splashing again and then goes outside for the turn around the tea kettle. A second dark ride scene concludes the experience. It is odd, but like most Hafema rapids I rode, is more akin to a flume ride with round boats than an actual river rapids.
In addition to the raft ride, they offer a build your own ramen noodle bowl experience for a reasonable 400 yens. You decorate the paper lid, then pick a sauce, condiments and then they seal it. It was a lot of fun building your own UFO bowl!
The Fashion pavilion houses Spin Runway, a spinning Gerstlauer coaster. Themed after the creation of clothes, the ride starts with a short dark ride section before proceeding to a spiral lift hill. It uses a center frame to push the cars up, similar to how Mack did it for Eurosat, Euromir and Spatiale Experience. The ride is short, but has some good spins and fun stuff to look at.
The line were at least an hour for each job pavilion ride, so I used their "Smooth Ticket" to cut the lines there. Near each attraction, there is a ticket vending machine that takes cash only. You can buy a 1000 yens entry ticket (if you only bought admission to the park) or under that option, you will see many buttons with 30 minutes periods. Like, 10:00-10:30, 10:30-11:00 and so on. You insert cash, then select a time and push the button the number of times you need Smooth Tickets. They were around 800 yens each when I was there and were well worth it. I got immediate access to each ride.
Leaving the park to head back to our hotel, we went the Keio-Yomiuri-Land route, which is spectacular: you take a skyride over the park, beyond Bandit and then go down the hill to arrive near that train station.
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