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!

Sunday - Yomiuriland
Click HERE to see our complete Yomiuriland Photo Update

Today was Yomiurland! We had heard that this was a nice park, and luckily the place lived up to the hype. This is probably the nicest of the Tokyo city parks with a nice setting up on a hill. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the best today, so we didn’t even get to see the nice view from the Gondola’s that you have to take to get up to the park.

It was pretty easy to get to, about a 20-minute train ride from Shinjuku and a 10 minute Gondola ride up the hill. We were worried that most of the coasters would be closed because we saw Fuji-Q close all the coasters even in a light mist. But then we realized that it’s because Fuji-Q sucks and Yomiuriland kept all the coasters open even when it was wet outside.

First up was Bandit, which is kind of a ‘mini-hyper’ coaster. It’s actually more like a really big mine train. It was pretty decent toward the front of the train, but we took one ride towards the back and it was very brutal. This ride would have been much better with just lap bars, but the OTSR’s kept it from being a really good ride. It covers a lot of ground and has some good floater air over some of the hills. Nothing major, but overall a ‘fun’ ride.

The “Standing and Looping Coaster” was another ‘bizarre’ moment of the trip. This is a Togo coaster with one stand up train and one sit down train!
And the shocking thing was, neither one of them was rough!!! This was actually a really decent ride. The system works almost exactly like the loading station for Mr. Freeze where there is one side for the stand up train and one side for the sit down train. The only difference is the station tracks for both trains are connected so when one moves over the both move. But they did a pretty good job of dispatching so it didn’t seem to matter.

White Canyon was the RCCA woodie and it was seriously one of the worst coasters we’ve ever been on. “Rough” is an understatement for this ride. It was bone-jarring, and I’ve never gotten tossed…no…THROWN around so much on a coaster! It was really hard to get footage, but I managed! =) The funny thing was they kept saying that this coaster is “A copy of a coaster from America…” and there was a U.S. and a California flag out front. We both thought “No wonder why it sucks!” =)

As for the rest of the park, we did the kiddie coaster there, took some pictures of their Tumble Bug, rode a couple of funny-bad dark rides, ate some hamster-on-a-stick, took some pictures of funny signs, and had a pretty good day despite the bad weather.

There were a couple of notable moments: Dan slipped and fell and it was pretty damn funny…not as funny as Dave falling at Dorney Park, but close. And Elissa used the men's restroom today! Yes, it’s true! She DOES have a huge schlong! But the real reason was that there were no “Western Style” toilets in the women’s restroom, just the Japanese-style ‘squat’ toilets, so she had to sneak into the men's room to use a familiar toilet! It was still pretty damn funny.

Oh! They had this one really messed up flat ride called the “Rockin’ Roller.” Never seen anything like this before and it looked bad-ass, but it actually was pretty tame. It reminded me of a modern version of a ‘double Ferris wheel’ but it didn’t do too much. There’s a photo below. Has anyone ever seen one of these before? On our way back, we did some exploration around Tokyo, but I’ll get to that later…for now, on to some pics of Yomiuriland….

Here is the mascot for Yomiuriland. It looks like a cross between a dog and a…um…we have NO idea!

The first drop on Bandit. Good ride…like a mine train but much bigger!

Here’s the “Standing and Looping Coaster”. The Standing side is currently loading.

Here is Elissa running out of the boys restroom because there was no “Western” style toilets in the women’s. 
We told her “Be like the Japanese women and just squat and pee!”

White Cyclone has the Morgan trains complete with roll cages!  

Some of the English translations are awesome. Here is the sign from the Gondola. 
“The Wish Of The Emergency….” WTF?!?!?! LOL!

Sunday Night - Akihabara "The Electronics District" of Tokyo
After Yomiuriland we decided to do a little exploration in Tokyo. Our main stop was to be “Akihabara” which is the famous “Electronics District” of Japan. We had heard stories about going here and being able to find all kinds of cool stuff. Everything from strange gadgets to electronics that we wouldn’t see in the US for years.

We walked around for a good couple of hours and we must have looked in a few dozen shops and while the area and the products on display were VERY impressive, there wasn’t all that much that ‘wowed’ us. Most of it was the same stuff over and over again, cameras, calculators, video games, and cell phones, and most of it not as advanced as we were led to believe. Most of the video and still digital cameras were the same models we have in the US.

One area that the Japanese really are advanced in are cell phones. The phones here are VERY cool! All of them take photos, and from what it looks like fairly decent photos. Most of them have high-res screens and I see people playing games that look comparable to the Game Boy Advance! And they are EVERYWHERE! Each store we saw must have had at least 100 different models of phone on display. And there are these little “ATM-looking” kiosks that you can plug your phone into and download and print photos too. They are really into their phones here!

The other thing we saw a lot of what in-car DVD/GPS systems. These also are everywhere! In fact, the other day while we are on the bus home from Fuji-Q we saw a truck driver who was: Watching TV, on the cell phone, and smoking…all at the same time! In America, there would have been an accident within seconds, here…that seems to be the norm!

There were some other cool restaurants in this area, one where the chef prepares your food about ½ way, and heats up the plate so you can mix and cook it the rest of the way yourself. They bring out this sizzling hot plate, hotter than any fajitas plate I’ve seen, to your table and you fix it up the way you like. It kind of reminded me of a Mongolian BBQ type of place, but one step further!

Some other random notes about Japan….

It really is a ‘cash based’ society. It’s kind of odd…with all the technology, there is very little credit card usage. So far, the only parks that have taken credit cards have been Disney and Toshimaen. Every place else has been ‘cash only’. A lot of the restaurants are like that too.

We have not gotten lost! I just wanted to take this time to point out and thank my woman (Elissa, not Dan!) for all the pre-planning she’s done. We’re a week into our trip and we not gotten lost at all…not even close! If anything, we’re ahead of schedule thanks to the awesome train service they have in this country. In comparison, by this time on ACE’s Europe trip two years ago, that awful, awful bus company that ACE hired had us lost at least three times that we can think of! And we PAID for that service! (I still can’t believe people were tipping them! Here’s a tip for you…DON’T GET LOST! YOUR A FREAKING PAY-FOR-HIRE BUS DRIVER!!!!)

There are almost no trash cans here….anywhere! Yet the country is practically litter free. The people here seem to take very good care of their surroundings and it seems that because of this, it’s one of the cleanest places we’ve ever been. You don’t see people eating and drinking while they walk or on the subways, you’re constantly seeing the ride ops wipe down all the seats of a train before the next group of people get in, the restaurants are always spotless and I have yet to walk into an un-flushed toilet. While it’s very nice to see, it’s also kind of depressing as it reminds you how thoughtless and careless most Americans really are.

We also haven’t seen ANY police! Not a single one! Here we are in the largest city in the world, staying in the heart of the city, with hundreds of thousands of people walking the streets much like Times Square, and you don’t see a single cop. You also don’t hear any sirens anywhere. So far we have only seen one ambulance the whole time we’ve been here. It’s such a nice culture. If it wasn’t for the language barrier and all the fish, I don’t think we’d ever leave! =)

Here’s something interesting….No Domukum (sp?) We have been into hundreds of shops, seen just about every popular character: Disney, Hamtaro, Gundam, everything…but not a single sign, not a trace of Domukum. We began to wonder…is this REALLY a Japanese character??? Or is it one of those “American made” Japanese character? We’ve been looking for stuff, but nothing is anywhere! Not at Toys R Us, small thrift stores, anime stores, nothing…nowhere….

Japan seems to be sleep deprived. We have seen people fall asleep on the trains, in queue lines for rides, in the stations, and even randomly walking down the street we saw this guy stop mid-step and fall asleep! WTF?!?! Dan and I nicknamed this dude “Statue guy”, since he turned into a statue mid-walk! What is it about the Japanese where they don’t seem to get enough sleep!

The vending machines are EVERYWHERE! They have tons of stuff in there. All kinds of drinks, food, and random stuff. (No Dave, we haven’t seen the used panties vending machines yet!) And with as much random vending machines everywhere…around each corner, and the train stations, everywhere you look…this is no trash.

Coke is it here! Thankfully, this is a very ‘Coke-centric” country. You don’t see Pepsi products very often, and when you do it’s very few. There also isn’t many “diet” drinks here, which has really annoyed Dan! Although, when you look at the people, there are very, VERY few that look like they need to be on a Diet so why make them suffer by drinking that crap? Another interesting thing is that the parks don’t seem to have a deal with one soda company. We have seen Coke and Pepsi products both in one park on several occasions.

Restaurants here are very easy because they all have a display case at the front showing you most, if not all of the items on the menu. They have very realistic looking plastic food up front, and some of the dishes are even staring at you (there’s a lot of fish with the heads still on!) All the menu’s have pictures of what you’re ordering. We try to order in our broken Japanese, but when all else fails, we just point and say “kore Okudasi” which means, “I’d like that one, please….”

Ok, so on to a few more pics from our adventures tonight!

Here is the station for Akahabra, the famous electronics district in Japan!

The Japanese seem to love the DVD/GPS consoles for their cars. 
They are everywhere, and for some reason don’t seem to distract drivers like they do in America!

Here is an example of the ‘plastic food in the display case’ you see at the front of all Japanese restaurants.

Here’s another one of those ‘sushi on a conveyer’ places. 
The Sushi Chef (hamming it up for us) is in the middle and he’ll take requests if you don’t see what you want floating by.

Here’s the place I talked about above where they give you the food in the blazing hot pan and let you cook and mix it how you like it. 
This looked and smelled GREAT!

I’m hanging with the homies at McDonalds!

Monday - LaQua - 2nd Visit
Click HERE to see our complete LaQua Photo Update

Well, we made it to Nagoya and yes we have internet access so there will be more updates! Yay! Today will be a shorter update for several reasons, we only went to one park, the weather wasn't good, and we had a 2 hour bullet train ride to Nagoya, so there's not too much to report.

It rained all day long, not heavy rain, but light rain, so Thunder Dolphin and Linear Gale were closed all day long at La Qua. It's a good thing we got on Thunder Dolphin a few days ago! We're going to go back on Saturday as we have included contingency plans for certain parks (this being one of them) in case we got rained out of something we wanted to do. We had about a 6 hour block of free time at a "Tokyo Park" just in case. Another "plus" about doing a trip on your own instead of an organized trip!

We did manage to get in two credits as the Spinning Mouse and Geo Panic were both open. Now, we didn't know much about Geo Panic before we rode it other than it was an indoor coaster. One thing Japan has plenty of is "WTF?!?!?" type of rides. This one is right up there! It's almost on the WTF level of "X:\No Way Out" at Thorpe Park. First off, the trains are VERY weird as it has OTSR's that are attached to the lap bars that come forward on you. (Picture your typical Schwarzkopf type restrain, but with an OTSR bolted on to it!)

The coaster is all indoors, except for one VERY small outdoor part which kind of looks like if they took the tunnels off of Disaster Transport. But there are several straight and slow parts where lights flash, there is a mirror room, you see a bunch of neon hoops, and I think there was a volcano with heat and steam!!!  

It made NO sense at all!!! It was just plain weird! We're going to ride that again on Saturday when we have our wristbands since we didn't want to pay $8 to ride again!

The Mauer Shone spinning mouse was just 'ok'. It was the same model as the California fair circuit and it left little impression on it. It was more brutal than the Reverchon version, and we'd rather ride one of those.

After the park, we walked around the Tokyo Dome center which is a very nice mall and weird strange shops and an "American Baseball" themed restaurant. Naturally, with Dan's Baseball obsession, we ate there. The food was actually VERY accurate! We had an Onion Blossom which was just like the one at Outback, the seasoned chicken wings were very good, and they had this kick-ass garlic bread spread! Food has NOT been a problem at all while we've been in Japan.

Next we headed back to Shinjuku to grab our luggage from the hotel and went to Tokyo station where we were to get on the bullet train. This was our first one of the trip and it was a very cool experience! It is 380km from Tokyo to Nagoya and the bullet train took just two hours to get there. It was pretty damn fast!

Nagoya is 'ok'...but it's like going from Times Square in NYC to Costa Mesa in California! There's everything we need, but it's not like the awesome area in Tokyo where we just spent a week. Once nice thing is the hotels aren't as expensive. We're at the "Comfort Inn" for about $50 per night. A nice change from the $200 per night Tokyo rooms!

A few more random notes about Japan....

McDonalds - There are so many of them...seriously, there are more McDonalds here than in America. And the food is MUCH better! We've actually eaten quite a bit of McDonalds so far (and if you've ever done a trip with Elissa you'll understand why), and we have ALWAYS gotten blazing hot fresh food! Every time! There certainly is a higher quality standard here with ALL food in Japan. Stale fries would be unacceptable. And the service is GREAT! Even at McDonalds!

Service - I'll continue on this subject....but the service in Japan is like nothing I've ever seen anywhere. They cater to your every needs and it's not just in restaurants. It's everywhere. People are the most helpful, the most polite, and the most patient I have ever seen. You don't see any people getting annoyed with you, impatience, bad attitudes, anywhere. It's very refreshing! One thing that's gotten hard to accept is that you don't tip. At all! We tried at the Disney restaurant and the woman gave us the tip back. I tried to tip the taxi driver tonight and he wouldn't accept. It's hard to get used to, and it's unbelievable that the service is so much better than anywhere I've been in the world, and yet they don't get anything extra out of it! One odd side note on the service, though, is they don't bring your check to you at the restaurants, you have to ask for it, and you don't pay the server, you pay at the cashier. And this is everywhere. I'm used to having to ask for the check because this is also how it is in Europe (in fact, most everywhere else but the U.S.), but having to pay at a cashier "Denny's style", even in nice restaurants is new to me. I actually like this better because at least I'm not waiting around for some idiot server to pick up my credit card and return it!

Click HERE to read our Trip Report for "LaQua - 3rd visit"

Anyway, on to today's photos

Today we were back at La Qua, but the weather sucked, so no Thunder Dolphin or Linear Gale today. 
Hopefully they will be open when we come back on Saturday.

Here is a shot from the footage I took of Geo Panic. This is one f**kED up ride!!!

This drum game is all over Japan! Every arcade has 2 or 3 of these and they are always full. It's even more popular than DDR! 
Why did the U.S. never get it?!? It's really fun! It's made by NAMCO and does anyone know what it's called???

We got to ride our first Bullet Train from Tokyo to Nagoya!

The Japanese culture is very polite. People actually follow the signs here and you don't hear any cell phones on the trains!

Tuesday - Nagashima Spaland and Universal Studios Japan
Click HERE to see our complete Nagashima Spaland Photo Update
Click HERE to see our complete Universal Studios Japan Photo Update

Today was probably the most 'insane' day we've had on the trip so far! We started out at Nagashima Spaland and ended up at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, which is a good 250 mile round trip from where we are staying! Let me explain....

The day had an early start...had to catch like a 7:30am train out to Kawana to get to Nagashima. Now, we had no idea what to expect from Nagashima, other than we knew Steel Dragon and the kiddie would be closed. When we arrived at the park, we saw this HUGE list of closed rides including the Shuttle Loop, Ultra Twister, the Giant Frisbee, and many others. We were NOT amused!

Fortunately, that was the closed rides from yesterday when it was raining...and today it was some of the best weather we had of the trip so all those rides ended up opening!

Some people compared Nagashima as the "Cedar Point" of Japan, and I can see why. There are a lot of similarities you can draw, but we kind of saw Nagashima as more of a "retro" Cedar Point. Like this is kind of what Cedar Point must have been like before Mantis was built, but about the size of Knott's Berry Farm.

The coasters are nothing special. In fact, our favorite of the day ended up being a Togo coaster!   Their Ultra Twister was ultra smooth, and it has the vertical lift, which was total "Togo death machine" cool!

The woodie was very much like Mean Streak...VERY impressive looking, but doesn't do too much. I got POV of it so I'm sure you all will see it at some point! The shuttle loop was braked on the way back to the station, and this was another fly wheel model, so I'm beginning to think that our US versions are very lucky they operate non-braked.

They had one really bizarre, messed up ride "BobKart." It was new for this year, and imagine a cross between an Alpine Bobsled and a Go-Kart...you get "Bob Kart!" The track was very similar to an Alpine Slide, and so were the cars, but they were more modern looking and you controlled a lever on the side which sped up your car or slowed you down. They were powered by this metal wire that reminded me of the things that hang off the back of Bumper Cars, but this one bent over and attached to a track that ran along side the circuit. It was weird, and cool! There's a picture of it below.

We totally conquered this park in about 2 hours...and like seriously conquered it! Rode all the coasters, the Giant Frisbee, the Ferris Wheel, Bobkart, went around and took pictures of the "wheel-chuckin Morgan crap pile" and we were all like "WTF do we do now??!?!"

Thanks to our awesome JR Rail Pass (Japan Rail operates about 75% of the trains in Japan) we had the ability to hop on just about ANY JR train service around the country. We had planned Universal Studios as a 'bonus park' if we had time since it wasn't too far from where we were and today seemed like a good day to try and get there.

The craziness comes in when we realize that it's about 150 miles from Nagashima (by way of Nagoya) and then we'd need to take the train back that night, another 100+ miles! So we hopped back on our train towards Nagoya, changed to a bullet train to Shin-Osaka, which then took us to Universal. Luckily, thanks to the awesome Bullet trains, the major portion of the travel only took about an hour. It was the busses and taxis that sucked up more time!

We got to Universal about 4pm and they had a great deal on the after 3pm pass, so we got that. We knew we'd only have a few hours, but at long as we got the credit there (Snoopy themed Roller Skater), Spider-Man, and Jurassic Park, we'd be pretty happy since we knew everything there was a clone of what is in Florida.

Now, let me just talk about the park for a moment....USJ is a VERY cool park. It looks awesome and it looks VERY new....it also looks *EXACTLY* like Florida's Universal Studios. I mean, so much like Florida's that it was creepy. The only major differences was the covered "Main Street" area and that the rides were located in different locations...but the locations were exactly the same! For example, Jurassic Park is where MiB should be, Spider Man is where Mummy should be, instead of a Fivel area, there is Snoopy, etc, etc.... But walking around the park, it looks JUST like Florida's park!

Let me get some of the annoyances out of the way first, because this park had some very frustrating things to it.

1. They stop selling Express tickets at 4pm. Not because they run out, just because they stop selling them. And the whole time, it seemed like no one had them! WTF?!?!

2. They don't offer single rider lines on any of the rides that it says they offer them for. WTF?!?!

3. They post that all rides close at 6pm, even though the park is posted at closing at 7pm, then we also found out that they keep random rides open until 7pm, but don't post that. WTF?!?!?!

Seriously, it was VERY frustrating! Luckily, we managed to get on everything we wanted to and more, so we won't complain too much, but it wasn't without headache and hassle!

First off we got the credit (of course!) and I have to say the Snoopy area looked GREAT! This is one area that was a huge improvement over Florida's kiddie area. In fact, most of it was indoor, much like the Ariel section of DisneySeas, but this area was actually *MUCH* better. The Roller Skater was easily the most themed kiddie coaster we've ever seen. Beyond the cute theming of Gadets. The coaster was themed to Snoopy's tour around the world. and every turn around was themed to a different location and there was an animatronic of Snoopy on a movie crane with a camera that followed the train around the helix into the brake run. VERY COOL!

We wandered around and took more pics, creeped out at how much of a clone of Florida this place is, and rode Jaws. It's an EXACT clone of the Florida version. Next up was Spider-Man...it's an EXACT clone of the Florida version, except for the programming on the cars was much weaker. Then we rode Jurassic Park, which was pretty much an exact clone of Florida, but a mirror image. A few VERY minor differences, but a clone for the most part.

One thing I will say is that the park seemed to be very popular! It was good to see a fairly large crowd for a random Tuesday where most people are at work or in school.

Some people had said this was the best of the Univeral's. I disagree. It is a VERY nice park, and probably the 2nd best park in Japan behind Tokyo Disneyland (I like this park better than DisneySeas), but it's not better than the Florida Resort.

I wish we had more time, but everything else other than Backdraft is a Florida clone: Shrek 4-D, Back to the Future, Terminator 4-D, E.T., etc, etc....and I can ride all those in 3 weeks without having to wait in lines...

We decided to get more pics and go have dinner at the Wolfgang Puck in City Walk then head out for the night.

Now for the crazy part! Something happened to the train service tonight and all trains were either delayed a couple of hours or stopped all together. There were people camped out at the Universal rail station!

This was not a good sign especially since we had to catch a bullet train in less than an hour at a different train station that was about 4 stops away! So we start trying to figure out where taxi's are and the whole thing looked like a segment out of the Amazing Race!

Here we were running through the crowds trying to communicate with information centers, receptionists at the Universal hotels, etc to try to get information on where to get a taxi. Finally at the 2nd Universal Hotel there was a really nice front desk clerk that took us downstairs to the taxi stand, and put us on our way to Shin-Osaka Station. We then took one of our most insane taxi rides ever down the scary back roads of Osaka where our tiny taxi cab could barely fit without almost hitting the curbs!

We made it.....

Anyway, it's late now and we have to be up in about 7 hours to try and get to Parque Espana tomorrow to ride Pyranees. The weather is not looking good, so we'll see....

On to today's pics!

Here's a good overhead shot of Nagashima Spaland. 
You can see the Looping Star, Shuttle Loop, and that Wheel-Chukin' Morgan ride!  =)

White Cyclone looks really bad ass, but it's not....

This shirt gets the award for the "Best Worst English Translation We've Seen Yet!" It sucks they only had this shirt in kids size. 
"Please Nuderstand This Difference" WTF?!?!?! 

Here you can see the covered Main Street area of Universal Studios Japan. This looks as cool in person as this photo!

Wait a second...I thought Mummy was supposed to be here!  

"Hey Joey! How's it going?" 

Click HERE for Page Four 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

These pages are in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by Busch Entertainment, Cedar Fair, Legoland, Paramount Parks, Tussaud's Group,
Six Flags, Universal Studios, the Walt Disney Company or any other theme park company.

Disclaimer!  You need a sense of humor to view our site, 
if you don't have a sense of humor, or are easily offended, please turn back now!