Watch the video (by Ken)! Read the review (by Karen)!
Oh, there were some amusements all right! And some things that left us unamused. Warning: this review comes from a Western standard of amusement park enjoyment. We have been to our share and then some of US theme parks. Japan is, well, different.
We were turned on to this park when we saw reviews of the brand new coaster that opened in July of this year. Takabisha is now the world record holder for steepest coaster. This had to be a part of our Mt. Fuji area itinerary. How could we not try a world record jeto coaster?
You could day-trip this park from Tokyo, taking an early bus directly to the park. We were staying in nearby Kawaguchiko and took the Retro Bus to the park station. Getting in was a breeze, after paying the $56.50/person admission. (That was with a coupon!!) You can pay a lower fee, about $13 and then pay only for the rides you go on. All the big coasters are $13 each, so unless you only want to do 1-2 rides, you are best getting the all park “free” pass.
The park opened at 9am, and we arrived at 11am, thinking we had plenty of time to enjoy the rides before the 8pm closing time. TIP: get there right when it opens and run for your favorite ride.
The Japanese appear to be a hugely patient group of people, waiting to enjoy their roller coaster rides. I am used to waiting up to an hour for a really good roller coaster. How about 2 hours, 15 minutes?! Our first ride was Takabisha. Knowing it was a new coaster, we expected a wait. Over two hours, well, this must be a great ride, we thought. One reason the wait is so long is that the ride runs only two 8-person cars at a time. It was finally our turn. Quick start, through a dark tunnel, twist, turn, climb up (yes, mid-ride) then the steepest drop, more turns, twists and it ends. While Ken enjoyed the ride, I (Karen) was completely underwhelmed. It was very cool going up at a 90 degree angle, yet the steepest drop was pretty tame.
Having one ride under our belt, we ate some quick lunch and then headed to a kiddie-style coaster to allow our stomachs to settle. The Great Fluffy Sky Adventure was a painful 30+ minute wait. We watched the slow line get slower as one worker left his post, leaving one girl to handle the tickets, pointing people towards the lockers and getting them into the fluffy cars. At this point I am beginning to see the great inefficiencies in how the Japanese approach amusement park management. One the upside, one person can leave the line to get food and drink or use the bathroom, as long as you have a group holding your spot. That was helpful.
We thought about going on the water ride and then were very confused when we saw the locals putting on head to toe rain jackets before boarding the boat. It’s really a water ride people!
Instead we rode Fujiyama, a world record coaster that was named the tallest in 1997. It was a perfect, classic steel coaster. Tall, fast and fun. And an almost 2-hour wait to get on the ride.
Time was running short, so we dashed over to the other world record coaster, the 4-dimensional Eejanaika, which roughly translates as, “Isn’t good” or “What the hell”, depending on who you ask. It was definitely in the what the hell department! Having never been on a coaster that can turn and spin you in 4 different ways, it was quite shocking. Totally worth doing, yet having to wait two hours and watching a video of Power Ranger rip-offs doing lame things, was super exhausting.
Having an hour left in the park, we opted for the tame ferris wheel. My neck was a wreck from that last ride, so slow movement was in order. It was a fantastic view of the park and of the dark Mt. Fuji. Folks we’re still climbing the mountain, so you could see the path, by the lights from the the houses.
The day had come to an end. Was is worth it? Sure… most coasters are. Just be sure to bring a huge amount of patience and be ready to lock your bags and shoes in lockers for most of the rides.
Or better yet, go to the park that is still our favorite: Cedar Point in Ohio. Lots of fun rides… and you’ll actually get to go on them, as we proved in this video. Until a world record holding ride in some far-flung location changes our mind, Cedar Point remains on top!