^I wonder if you can buy one of those Bondage Bears on E-Bay? Derek, you have your work cut out for you.
And now, moving right along . . .
Chapter 3: From the Final Frontier to the Wild Frontier—Space World and Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
Parks with their own train stations were the order of the day—one a port to the infinite cosmos, the other an outpost on the edge of nowhere.
The Final Frontier is a rather colorful, goofy place, if Space World is any indication. This well-themed, somewhat off-center tribute to man’s exploration of the trackless void was one of the highlights of the trip. Yes, you will believe that a giant, rubber-headed bunny has conquered the universe!
And the bunny has some pretty decent coasters, too.
Venus—This was one of my favorite coasters of the trip. It’s intense, twisty layout reminded me of Flight of Fear (only without a launch), and it’s a lot of fun (especially the loop in front of the park’s very own space shuttle). This was yet another coaster with a launching ritual, this time involving the drumbeats from Queen’s “We Will Rock You" (but no "Go, go, Venus!"). I guess they couldn't get the rights to the songs by Bananarama or Frankie Avalon.
Zaturn—This is the Japanese version of Thorpe Park’s Stealth. It’s an Intamin rocket coaster with good airtime over its high hat and unfortunate brakes on its bunny hill. The launch is pretty cool, thanks to pulsating (and rather warm) lighting in the station and some throbbing, “heartbeat” music to hype riders up. Fun, but I wish it had another trick or two.
Black Hole Scramble—This is Space World’s version of Disney’s Space Mountain—an indoor coaster with lighting and painted murals to depict the infinite void. It’s a fun ride, if not particularly thrilling, and you have to walk through a bizarre complex ruled by a space bunny to find it.
Titan—I think Arrow’s Ron Toomer heavily invested in Advil stock, then got into coaster design. This hyper has a great first drop, but the rest is a twisted study in pure pain.
Space Coaster—You can ride either backward or forward, on the same train, on this family coaster. The backward cars are the most fun, but “space” is simulated by cruising through a green, rather aromatic plastic tunnel. And, in yet another ritual launch, you have to join the ride ops in wagging your fingers in the air and saying “boogie woogie woogie.” (As for why, I have no idea.)
Clipper—A kiddie coaster with “space shuttle” trains and a long, twisty layout. Better than average.
Space World also has a great flume ride with rocket-shaped boats, a strange, coaster-like spiral drop, and a very wet splashdown at the end. The Alien Panic Evolution walk through was a great space-oriented haunted house. And let’s not forget the giant Space Eye Ferris wheel, or “Holey Rusted Wheel of Twirling Terror.”
The group came back down to Earth at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, which from the train station looked like an ancient fort bordering a trackless wilderness. It was a bit of a walk to the park’s amusement section, which featured Jet Coaster, a decent Togo with a twisty layout, station flyby, and a blue-and-pink color scheme, and a frigid Arctic walk though. But the real attractions of this place were three things you’d never see in the States: an obstacle course over a creek of rather fetid water, some rather dangerous roller slides, and a go-kart track with an “offroad” section complete with huge rocks, potholes, and water.
Apparently there’s not much danger of litigation on the Wild Frontier.
Next up—cuteness, desolation, and roughness, along with a cautionary tale of random cluelessness