Japan 2004 Trip Reports!
The following trip reports were originally posted on Westcoaster.net.  We originally wrote these as a 'daily diary' log of our trip.
After many requests, I have put them all in one place!  If you have any other questions about Japan parks, please email me!

Thursday Morning - Before Tobu Zoo
Well, time for another day! And today is the "Togo Looping Mouse" day!

As for line jumpers...it's non existent. I think we may have seen 5 or 6 people over all 4 days that were meeting up with their family, but we never saw any real 'line jumping'. Everyone here is so organized and patient. There is no pushing up to the front to be the first in line, etc. Although, having said that, the one thing we did see is when the gates to TDL open, everyone *RUNS* and I mean SPRINTS down main street. But still, in an 'organized' fashion. No one pushing or trampling...just running! It's weird!

As far as photos, yeah, we've taken a crapload of photos! I think I've posted about 1% of the pics I've taken, and I've already got like more than 2 hours of video!

The Internet isn't that expensive. I paid $12 per day at the Hilton, and the dial up here is 10yen for 3 minutes. Prices really haven't been that expensive overall. Other than the hotels, which was $1000 for the 3 nights at Disney and $1000 for the 5 nights here in Shinjuku (which is actually very comparable to a Disney deluxe or a room in any big city), prices haven't been that expensive. Two combo meals at McDonalds are $10. Not too bad. We're really thinking that, like most thinks coaster related, the stories have been exaggerated probably to scare other people away from coming out here so less people can get these credits! We'll give you the 'straight dope'....it's not that expensive, and it's not that hard to get around. We're going to do a VERY detailed "How to get around Japan and ride coasters" update with all our research when we get back to help other people do trips here!

Believe it or not, here is what's on our TV right now:

This is some kids TV program and right now he's riding ASKA at Nara Dreamland! 
They've put some numbers on the side of the coaster and he's having to yell them all out as he goes by!

Thursday Morning - Tobu Zoo & LaQua 1st Visit
Click HERE to see our complete Tobu Zoo Photo Update
Click HERE to see our complete LaQua Photo Update

So today we went to "Tobu Zoo Park" which is a little zoo/amusement park about 45 minutes outside of Tokyo by train. This place reminded me a lot of Flamingoland or Lightwater Valley in the UK. Nice little park with one side of it being all animals and the other side being all amusement rides.

We got to the park around 10:30am and we were a little worried about crowds since today is a national holiday "Autumn Equinox." Lucky for us, though, the park wasn't crowded at all.

We bought our all-rides park ticket (called a 'free pass' here) for about $45 each and we were on our way.

The first surprise of the day: Regina. This is an Intamin wooden coaster built about 5 years ago. For some reason we had all thought this wasn't a full-sized ride and was going to be more on the "junior" size. We were totally wrong! It's about a 130ft tall woodie and must have been at least 4000 feet long...and it was GREAT!!!

It was cool stepping into Intamin woodie trains again, although these were two-benchers, not three like Colossos. The ride was really cool. Had a bizarre layout, and a decent amount of airtime in both the front and the back. This was kind of on par with something like "MegaZeph." Definitely a good woodie, and we had no idea we'd come away really liking this ride!

In the train station, there was a billboard size ad for the ride, which pictured a mostly naked woman laying on her side, and her body turning into a coaster at all the right 'curves'. It said something in Japanese at the bottom that we pretty much translated into "come ride the curves of Regina!" Anyway, she was pretty hot! RCDB has a picture of that bill board HERE.

The second surprise of the day....we rode the Togo Looping Mouse...and it was AWESOME!!!!

The whole time walking up to this ride we were like "OMFG...what are we doing???" "This looks JUST like Windjammer..." Then we got on the ride and braced ourselves for impending doom...but it never came! The ride was very smooth and a hell of a lot of fun! It was a little quirky since the 'mouse part' went in all different directions, not just your typical zig zag. And we didn't expect the 5 foot 2nd lift hill right before the mouse part. It was totally a "Oh, crap, the train doesn't have enough speed to get up this hill....add a little lift here!" I've totally done the same thing in RCT!

The park has an Intamin Giant Drop and we took a ride on that. For some reason no one was riding it! I don’t know if it just scares people too much or what, but we thought it might have been closed because we didn’t see it running, but when we got there it was just because no one wanted to ride! We saw people walk up, look at it, and walk away….weird.

After that, we went over to the animals side for a little while. Saw some Camel Toe, check out the penguins, and dodged monkey poo!

After that, we made another lap around the park and we rode the most psycho "Magic Carpet" I have ever...EVER been on! OMG, this thing was INSANE! There was more airtime on this than an Intamin hyper!!!

Overall, the park was a lot of fun and we only needed about 4 hours to do everything multiple times. So we decided to make a small pit stop on the way back to the hotel. Where did we go? Where else? To ride....


Korakuen is only about 15 minutes by train on our way back to the hotel and even though we were going on Monday, we figured we might as well stop by and take a ride on Thunder Dolphin just in case it's raining on the day we go and we miss it. *cough* Rabid Disney *cough*

Here was the last surprise of the day....Thunder Dolphin isn't very good.   Not to say it isn't a 'fun' ride...but it's certainly my least favorite of all the Intamin hypers. Now we only rode once, in the back, so I'm hoping that when we go on Monday we can get a front seat, or nearer to the front, since they assign your seats. The ride reminded me of the "Intamin version of Pepsi Max." Much smoother than Pepsi Max, a MUCH better first drop with some good airtime, but the rest of it kind of meanders around the outside of the mall and does all these funky twists and turns that, while the look interesting from off the ride, aren't very interesting while riding.

There are a couple of bunny hills that looked like they would be awesome, but there wasn't any airtime on them at all. I'm really hoping this ride has the Six Flags Holland Goliath syndrome and is much better in the front seat.

Overall, I'd say it's better than Goliath, Titan, the Arrow hypers, and a 'trimmed ride' on the Morgan trio, but a trimless ride on Steel Force would rank higher than Thunder Dolphin.

Click HERE for our "La Qua Trip Report - Part Two"

Ok, on to some more pics:

Here’s coming over the lift of Regina at Tobu Zoo Park which turns out to be a GREAT woodie!

Togo Looping Mouse…I just don’t get it…this ride was AWESOME! How is this possible?!?!

Robb and Dan ride the “Sky Love” together!

Thunder Dolphin…fun ride, but my least favorite of the Intamin hypers.

Thursday Night
Tonight we decided to venture out a little bit into the Shinjuku area. Shinjuku is very much the "Times Square" of Tokyo, but instead of a couple of 
blocks of pretty lights, it goes on for several square miles. This is the area that you see in most movies, and we even went into the Park Hyatt hotel where they filmed Lost in Translation. Here are some pics we just took:

The Shinjuku area of Tokyo - The photos don't do this place justice.

Everywhere you look there are restaurants, amusement centers, pachinko, etc...

If you thought Times Square or Vegas had a lot of lights, you HAVE to see this place.

Friday - Fuji-Q Highland
Click HERE to see our complete Fuji-Q Highland Photo Update
Today we went to Fuji-Q. Now we have been told by several people that "Fuji-Q is the Magic Mountain of Japan, whereas Nagashima Spaland is the Cedar Point."

So far, the analogy has totally been true! At least for Fuji-Q. We got to the park about 20 minutes before opening to find many people standing around with blank looks on their faces as to where to buy tickets. We were the same way. Basically, they don't open the doors to this large shop that leads you to the ticket booths until about 5 minutes before the park opens. Nice....what a great start!

Upon entering the park, we see that Dodonpa isn't open with the park, Fujiyama is running one train, Douple Loop is running one train, dispatches are as slow as possible, lines are extending out into the midways, line jumping is going on, the place looks kind of run down....yup...it's the Magic Mountain of Japan!!!

First of all, I want to mention the wacky system of getting your "Free Pass" (Japanese for pay-one-price ticket). You get your ticket from the booth, then you have to go get your picture taken. You put your ticket into this self-service machine that takes your picture and converts your ticket into the "Free Pass" which you wear on your shirt. So everyone in the park has these personalized tickets attached to them! It's actually pretty cool. Would have been better if all the machines were working, but we do we expect, we're at the Magic Mountain of Japan! =)

First up was Fujiyama, only running one train (they did put on a 2nd later, though...) and we had to wait about an hour thanks to some painfully slow dispatching. By random chance, we ended up in the front row! The ride was a disappointment. It was rough, tracked like you'd expect a Togo too, the transitions were rough, and overall this was one kick-ass looking ride that went totally limp. *sigh*

Next up was Dodonpa. Spent another 90 minutes in line for yet another ride that didn't live up to the hype. Wow, this place really IS Magic Mountain! Overall, the ride was good, but weird. The launch was good, although Elissa thought it was great, both Dan and I didn't think it was that much better than XLR8R's. The high speed turn was REALLY rough! OMFG! We both looked at each other...WTF is this?!?! It shuffled and bounced and sounded like the train was going to rattle itself apart. Then came the airtime hill....OMG! What can be said about this? This was the single most impressive moment of airtime I have EVER experienced! And as impressive as it was, there was something 'not right' about it...it was almost too much airtime if you can believe that! All three of us agreed that it hurt and it was actually 'uncomfortable airtime'. I'm glad I experienced it, but I have to say that nothing about the ride made me want to jump back in line...at least not a 90 minute line.

Then came the best part of the day...at least for Elissa...she got to ride her hamster coaster!!! The Hamtaro suspended coaster! She was very happy. Not only is it just the coaster, but there is an entire Hamtaro hamster themed area!

After that we went over to the Thomas the Tank Engine section, which was probably the nicest part of the park. Rode their kiddie coaster "Rock N Roll Duncan" and checked out all their kiddie rides which were very "Legoland-ish" in quality. Very nice!

Back over to the dumpy part of the park, we had some crepes, laughed at the "Squid on a stick" , rode a couple more crappy coasters, tried some ramen noodles (which rocked!), and it was time for us to head on.

Tomorrow we're doing two parks, Tokyo Summerland and Toshimaen. I'm looking forward to getting the last "Arrow Suspended" coaster credit that I need (at least as far as I know), and riding another Schwarzkopf shuttle loop!

Back at our hotel we found a really great Indian restaurant, but first we noticed the "Fishing Restaurant." Try to picture a very large full service restaurant with all the tables on an elevated section in the middle and around the perimeter of the tables is a pond. In that pond is YOUR DINNER!!! You're given a fishing pole and you get to catch YOUR DINNER!!!! Once you catch a fish, one of the servers grabs it in a net, and it becomes YOUR DINNER!!! The place was packed! If I liked fish, I'd totally try it! Has anyone seen anything like this in the US?

And now what you've all been waiting for....today's pics! Yay!

Fujiyama looks impressive, but it wasn't really...

Yummy! Check out those awesome food choices at Fuji-Q Highland!

That hill on Dodonpa produces so much airtime that it hurt! And we're still not sure if it was in a good way or not! 
We'll know if we have bruises tomorrow...

The best part of the day...Elissa rides the hamster coaster!

Saturday - Tokyo Summerland & Toshimaen
Click HERE to see our complete Tokyo Summerland Photo Update
Click HERE to see our complete Toshimaen Photo Update

Today’s update will be a little bit longer today since we visited TWO parks! Both of these parks are some of Tokyo’s ‘smaller’ parks, but they were both very cool.

First we went to Tokyo Summerland, which is actually mostly a water park, but they have a number of amusement park rides and coasters there also. A large section of the water park is indoor, similar to the place that collapsed in Russia! It was really impressive, though. A huge wave pool, water play area with a bucket and several slides all in this climate controlled area.

Of course, like traditional Japanese, they all took their shoes off and left them right at the front of the pool entrance. That’s actually one thing to note about Japan is the level of trust everyone has and the lack of crime. We were told that Tokyo was a very safe city and you don’t need to worry about pick pockets or leaving cash in your hotel, etc. So far it seems very true. We see bikes unlocked in front of businesses all over the place, kids leave their gameboys attached to their backpacks when they are left, and for the most part, people respect others property. Something that’s very nice to see.

Anyway, back to Summerland….

They have two coasters here – an Arrow Suspended coaster, which was very bizarre and a lot of fun, and a Vekoma corkscrew…which was neither fun or cool or anything! The Suspended has cute little themed cars like birds and a really large straight drop! It reminded me of a tamer version of PKI’s Top Gun. But it was cool! The Vekoma corkscrew was exactly like Knoebel’s except for a vertical loop instead of the first corkscrew.

They also had a first generation Intamin freefall which Dan and I rode and cursed Joey during it. =)

So after Summerland we traveled about 45 minutes by train to “Toshimaen.” This park is kind of like a city park, but with rides. It’s a very nice setting and the park is well kept up. Both of these parks were like an opposite of Fuji-Q highland. Nice looking parks, well kept up, VERY clean, good operations, and no lines! Today sort of made up for the hell that Fuji-Q was yesterday.

Our first stop was “Cyclone.” This was a really messed up bizarre-o coaster and one of those things that we made this trip for! It looked nothing like any coaster we’d ever seen. The trains with in the shape of wooden logs, and the seats were carpeted! The ride had no restraints other than a loose seatbelt and you felt more like you were sitting on your living room sofa instead of a roller coaster! It reminded us a lot of Blackpool’s Roller Coaster, except steel. There’s some pics of it down below.

After that was the Schwarzkopf shuttle loop. These rides are always cool! This one has it’s loop partially enclosed I’m assuming to reduce noise, but it looks really cool. One interesting thing about this one is that it’s a fly-wheel version, however it IS braked on the way back to the station. That was really odd since I thought all fly-wheel versions weren’t braked on the way back. Oh, well…it was still really fun!

The Arrow Corkscrew was next and what can I say? Any day where you have more than one Arrow ride you KNOW is a sign of quality! =) It was cool to see this coaster had the ‘newer’ Arrow trains like Canyon Blaster and Drachen Fire. It was pretty typical Arrow crap, though.

Toshimaen had a bunch of flat rides includes this HUGE pirate ship that was easily twice the size of any normal one. The weird thing is that ALL of thier flat rides were located on top of buildings like shops, arcades, or restaurants. We figured that maybe this area must flood or something because all of their major rides, other than the Top Spin, were elevated at least 10 to 15 feet in the air.

After this we did some grocery shopping….at Toys R Us!!!! There was a TRU right next to the park so we had to go check out the wacky toys and cool video games we don’t have in the U.S. We noted that those kids ‘play food’ sets includes fish and sushi! It was so cool! The highlight was finding all the Frito-Lay products! Elissa and Dan grabbed Lay’s Potato Chips, Doritos, Pretzels, and more! The people at the check out looked at us kind of weird…..ok….weirder than normal!!!

We’re back in our hotel now and we’re going to check out more of the Shinjuku area, maybe Dan will get propositioned by a hooker again! “You want a massage?” On to today’s pics and there's a few more than normal since we did two parks....

Tokyo Summerland had a ride called the “Flush Dance”. It didn’t do too much, but the name was cool!

Here’s the Arrow Suspended called “Hayabusa” which I’m assuming means some kind of bird or something….
Look at that big straight drop!

This one’s for Joey! I hope you appreciate it, man! 

Check out this water park! Look at how crowded it is! The entire complex was impressive.

This is ‘Cyclone’ at Toshimaen. So far this was the most screwed up ride we’ve been on…but it was REALLY cool!!

Toshimaen’s Schwarzkopf shuttle loop is partially enclosed. It was way cool!!!

This one is for Gregg and Jim! You guys should be on the penguin bus!

Saturday Night - More Shinjuku photos
Tonight we ventured out into Shinjuku again and got more pics for you all!

Here's another photo of the Shinjuku Park Hyatt (the hotel from Lost in Translation.) 
The photos don't do it justice as the place just looks f***ing awesome!

All over Tokyo they have these Sushi restaurants where all the items go by on the conveyer. 
When you see something you want, you take it off. When you are done, they add up your plates, and each plate color represents a different price! 

This I don't get. The 7-11s and Circle K's make sense to me because they are nationwide chains...but AM/PM mini market?!?! And they are all over 
the place in Japan!

Well, you all asked for it...here it is! Photos of the "Fishing Restaurant!" As you can see people are busy catching THEIR DINNER!!!!

Click HERE for Page Three of Japan 2004 Trip Reports

Click HERE to see our complete Japan Photo Update

Click HERE to read our "Japan Travel Guide"

Click HERE to return to Theme Park Review


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