I know I tend to write a lot of text, which a lot of you probably skip over to see the pictures, but you might actually want to read my description of the park operations at Space World, because they’re damn funny. In hindsight, at least.
Space World is a park that seems designed just for me. I’m a sci-fi geek and a sucker for all the spacey theming, even if it’s cheesy. I’ve been to Alabama’s Space Camp and Texas’ Johnson Space Center, although I’ve somehow never managed to get to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, despite its relative proximity to many parks I’ve been to dozens of time in the Orlando area. I’ll have to fix that some day.
Space World is actually a pretty big theme park. It has 6 coasters, three of which are among the bigger coasters in Japan. It has a bunch of flat rides and water rides and a mini water park, plus a whole indoor dome filled with rides and attractions. It has some pretty good theming, even if it isn’t all exactly world-class. But they also have a full sized replica of a NASA space shuttle as the backdrop to one of their coasters, which is pretty impressive. They even had a small “space museum” with supposedly genuine moon rocks and models of moon rovers and space capsules and space suits and the like. And, of course, they have a whole slew of space themed cartoon characters with likenesses all over the park, including in their own musical shows, not to mention a bunch of actual genuine park merchandise – something that’s hard to find in Japan! Yeah, I FINALLY got a park t-shirt on this trip! And they stayed open until 9PM all weekend, too!
Unfortunately, it also has some of the most excruciatingly bad park operations I’ve ever seen, which really made it hard to like this place as much as I wanted to. The wait to ride a coaster can be absolutely interminable, even with only one train of people waiting! Those of you who visited the park with TPR were probably spared much of this, since you mostly rode during ERT. You have no idea how lucky you are! Be sure to thank Robb and Elissa profusely the next time you talk to them for sparing you normal Space World operations!
But if you go on a normal day, here’s what you missed: First they completely unload the train and make you wait completely outside the station until everyone is completely out of the station. With the elevated Titan V coaster, with its elevated station, that means waiting until EVERYONE comes down several flights of stairs. Then they start letting people up the stairs. They don’t actually open the gates until everyone is up the stairs and in the gate rows. Then they finally open the gates, and let people into the trains. Since this is Japan, you have to take EVERYTHING out of your pockets – yes, including Kleenex! They wait until everyone has everything in the cubbies and is sitting down. Then they give you the safety speech. But for some reason I can’t even fathom, this safety speech takes literally 5-7 minutes. I’m not exaggerating. I timed it several times. The ride op goes on and on and on, telling jokes and laughing as she’s going. I can’t imagine what they’re telling you that takes twice as long as the ride itself. (And about 5 times as long as the ride, in the case of the launched Zaturn!) And they continue to tell this 5-7 minute speech all day, even when it’s clearly the same people riding again and again, because there are less than 100 people in the park! It was one of the only times in Japan that I truly wished that I understood the language so that I could find out what the hell they were telling us that was so important that it took 5-7 minutes to tell us while we’re waiting to ride a damn coaster! At first, I thought that maybe they were telling funny stories about the coaster, and maybe people who are scared of it or some stats or something, but a person I rode with who could speak a little bit of English said that it was just safety information. Then, at long last, they actually check the restraints. Then they actually tell you a few more things! And then, just as you’re about to try to kill yourself, they actually send out the ride.
Oh, and don’t even TRY to ride with someone you’re not with! They’ll make you get up, even if the person you’re riding with doesn’t mind – even if they’ve invited you to sit with them. One ride op explained that it was because “Japanese too shy”. So 2-8 seats go out empty on every train, forcing more people to wait another eternity for the next train. And Lord knows, they will only ever run one train! As a result, since they count how many people to let up, and since they don’t let people pair up, that means that inevitably, there are 2-10 people waiting in the station for the next train, while everyone else waits downstairs, which is somewhat absurd. In fact, one of the funniest moments of the day came when a big bee came into the station with 8-10 people waiting for the next train and EVERYONE freaked out. And it wouldn't leave for at least 10 minutes. Which, of course, wasn't even one cycle!
After 1-3 minutes of actual fun, no matter how good the ride is, you have to decide if it’s worth sitting through all of this crap again to ride again.
The sad part is that I’m not actually making any of this up.
And those of you on the TRP China trip thought that the Happy Valley parks were bad!
Luckily, I liked the park enough that I was willing to tolerate all of this bull, although it annoyed the hell out of me every time I tried to ride Titan V and Zaturn. I’m not the most patient of people. And absurd stupidity like this that makes me waste lots of time needlessly frustrates the hell out of me! I’m still amazed that I walked away actually liking the park!
So, back to the beginning. To get to Space World, you take the JR Kagoshima line RAPID to the conveniently named Space World stop. Do NOT take the local train, or it will take you longer than waiting for the next rapid train would have taken! All told it takes an hour or so to get to the park from Hakata, or where you changed trains from Kashikaen Yuenchi. You can see the park from the train station, although it’s a bit of a walk. And you have to walk by most of the park to get to the entrance, though that walk is at least good for getting pictures of Venus GP and its space shuttle.
So, when I arrived at the park, I was happy to see the looping coaster Venus GP running. But instead I headed to the side of the park with Zaturn, the Intamin accelerator, and Titan V, the Arrow mini-hyper coaster, since they seemed more notable coasters to start with. (Remember, there was still the threat of rain, although it never materialized.) As I got to Zaturn, the sign said that it didn’t open until 1 PM. And the sign at Titan V said that it didn’t open until 2 PM. Great! Especially with the sky being overcast and there being the ever-present threat of rain. But I did the only thing I could do and headed to the next biggest coaster, Venus GP, a surprisingly good Maurer Sohne custom looping coaster, designed by Werner Stengel, and reminiscent of a Schwartzkopf looper. The funny thing is that while the park doesn’t allow anything on your pockets on the larger coasters, they make you ride WITH YOUR BAG in Venus GP! They even showed me a little hand sign in English that they had ready for the occasion that said that the centrifugal force would keep my bag in the vehicle! From there, I headed to the kiddie Togo coaster Clipper, which was surprisingly painless for a Togo, but otherwise unremarkable. Then I headed to Senyo junior coaster with the absolutely silly name of Boogie-woogie Space Coaster, which has the back half of its cars facing backwards. But the ride op during her schpiel kept trying to get everyone on the train to yell “Boogie oogie oogie!” with their hands waving in the air, both in the station, and during the ride, which was actually hilarious and charming. She loved it when I did it!
From there I headed to the indoor dome, since it hosted the indoor Black Hole Scramble coaster, which, you guessed it, wasn’t open yet. I walked around the various displays and kiddie play areas inside, and timed it well to ride the space simulator movie, which was so exciting that I think I fell asleep. When it was over, the coaster was open, which was good timing on my part!
From there, I headed back to Zaturn and Titan V and began the long waiting game through a handful of rides on each coaster. Zaturn is pretty much a clone of Stealth in the UK, which I liked. Or a smaller version of Top Thrill Dragster and Kingda Ka. But it’s a fun ride with a good launch, which had only a 1-2 train wait, although that meant around 20 minutes at this park! Honestly, I expected more from Totan V, since I usually like the Arrow hyper coasters. But this one didn’t do all that much. Not much airtime, not much laterals, long, boring helices, yadda, yadda. A decent ride, but nothing special. I walked around some more, and took a bunch of pictures, and got a few more rides, until I couldn’t stand it any more. I did the really neat alien haunted walkthrough, which had a couple of good surprises, one of which really got me. I did a few more random rides and headed back to the other end of the park to walk through the Space Museum, which had various displays of space memorabilia, as well as a display honoring the 45th anniversary of the Ultraseven show. I got a few more rides on Boogie-Oogie and Zaturn and decided to call it a day. Normally, I’d have headed back to Zaturn and Titan V, but I just didn’t want to deal with the operations over there any more.
On my way out, I happened to run into the last few minutes of the park’s “Space Disco Nights” show, which I mainly stopped into to get some pictures of the actual life-sized characters walking (well, dancing!) around. It was a corny show, with a buncvh of characters, along with some live singers, and dancers who went out into the crowd trying to get everyone involved. Harmless fun.
In the end, though, despite frustrating operations, I had a lot of fun at a quirky, well-themed park with some decent coasters. I’m not sure if I’d hurry back here if they didn’t add something major, but it was definitely worth the trip.
I headed back to the train and the ride back to the hotel . When I got there, I was hungry, since I hadn’t eaten all day. But it was late, and the front desk clerks said there were no restaurants open anywhere in the area, even though the area was full of restaurants. They said I‘d have to get food at a convenience store. But I didn’t accept this and pretty quickly found a pub food kind of restaurant that was open very late and had a good mix of Asian and western mediocre food. When I told the clerk about this, he was very surprised. You’d think this would be the kind of thing that they’d get asked once in a while? What was even more surprising is that the next night I’d notice that the restaurant RIGHT NEXT DOOR was actually open every night until 2 AM! How on Earth did they not know this? The standing sign is right at the entrance of the hotel!
Excuse, me? Is there a space themed amusement park around here, anywhere?
Even if the coaster isn't the biggest in the park, the impressive space shuttle makes Venus GP the most iconic coaster in the park!
Yay! It's running!
Wait. Is that Intamin track I see?
Pretty. AND educational!
Back to Venus GP. What the heck does the GP stand for anyways? They added it later.
Yeah, yeah. Everyone who's ever been here has this picture.
Wait? Helices with actual forces in Japan? I thought they were illegal!
Obligatory shot of the Clipper family coaster.
Watch out for aliens crossing under this bridge!
The dome that houses the Black Hole Scramble coaster and a few other rides and attractions.
These are supposed to be cute, but I think they're creepy!
Well, if the Arrow mini-hyper across the park isn't good enough, I can always simulate it's big brother from Vegas in here!
Indoor theming that's supposed to make you think you're in space.
Dinosaurs on a spaceship??? Wasn't that just done on Doctor Who? (Actually it was a week after this was taken.) At least it made sense on the show!
Finally, they opened the Black Hole Scramble coaster.
A pretty typical indoor coaster, with some space theming.
Sorry, but if you have problem with your heard, you can't ride. So stop fighting with your boyfriend!
Stay away, David. Resist the temptation! (The trampoline I dislocated my shoulder on last year at a park, was a standard trampoline, actually, not one of these bubble thingies.)
Zaturn had better be running by now!
Yay! it is!
THAT's what I waited through a 5-minute safety schpiel for? 45 seconds of ride?
Nice theming. And another mountain with clouds on it! I was wondering what it would be like to walk up there. (See day 6!)
How about you, Titan V? Are you running yet? After all, just because i haven't seen a train in over 10 minutes doesn't mean anything here!
Ah, there it is!
It's a decent drop, but not much airtime.
So, tnhey built this fairly big coaster, then hid most of it away back where hardly anyone can see it!
A nicely themed log flume.
I didn't know robots could go to the bathroom! See, Space World IS educational!
An Intamin at night.
The Space Museum. Another Doctor Who story title!
Typical space museum fare. A space suit.
And space monsters. Who smile and wave.
No, they're part of the Ultraseven 45th anniversary display, which took up over 1/3 of the space museum.
A moon rock that wasn't actually in the Space Museum, but in another building with a few other space displays.
Boogie oogie oogie! (with your hands up!)
Venus GP at night.
I'm not really a show person, but how can you pass up something called "Space Disco Night"? Too bad I missed "VICKI the LIVE!"
These gals went out into the crowd and really tried to get everyone dancing, especially the kids. The show had everything from park mascot characters to hot dancer chicks to live singers to a live band to a train!
Is it me, or does this guy in the bluish silver look like a Japanese cross between Bowie and Jagger?
The characters dancing, along with one hot Japanese dancer really putting her all into it! But I get distracted by the eagle character who really rocks that glittery dress and boa! Yes, I bought her stuffed character, along with the bunny in the space suit.
The kids seemed to love the confetti-filled finale.
Actually, it's goodbye, Space World. I actually did have fun here, despite my annoyance at the horrible operations.
Some sculpture thing outside the park on the walk back to the train station.
In the train stations in Fukuoaka, they had tons of ads for Universal Studios' Japan's newly updated kiddie section. but that's still five weeks away for me at this point.
And just a a touch of culture to round out this installment. A statue at the Hakata train station.
No, I didn't get to try Fukuoka ramen. The Fukuoka leg especially was quite tight, since the parks actually closed fairly late. 9PM for Space World on Friday and 11 PM for Kijima Kogen on Saturday (but that's the next update.) Once I got back to Hakata by train, it was quite late, and food options were limited. (Though not as limited as the hotel desk who told me I'd have to have conveneince store food would have had me think.) So, I was stuck with the Japanese version of pub food, which actually had quite a bit of western options. I did manage to get some meat on sticks on Sunday, just before most of the restaurants closed.
Honestly, I'm not all that adventurous of an eater. But I did make sure to try at least some new local food on various legs, like the famous Gyeongju bread (which was ok), Tapenayaki, Korean BBQ, etc. I didn't brave the stinky tofu in Taiwan though!
Venus GP was the first looper made by Maurer-Söhne after their purchase of the former Schwarzkopf coaster division from BHS - it's still using a lot from coasters like Jetline. Also there're similarities to the older Intamin loopers like California Screamin - both manufacturers hiring Schwarzkopf engineers and continued were they left off a few years earlier, with some founding Gerstlauer...
simon8899 wrote:Venus GP was the first looper made by Maurer-Söhne after their purchase of the former Schwarzkopf coaster division from BHS - it's still using a lot from coasters like Jetline. Also there're similarities to the older Intamin loopers like California Screamin - both manufacturers hiring Schwarzkopf engineers and continued were they left off a few years earlier, with some founding Gerstlauer...
Dou you have some pics of the parks flats?
You know, after a few rides, I was convinced it was a Schwatzkopf, actually, though I hadn't really remembered the details from RCDB. It definitely RIDES like an Uncle Anton coaster. It wasn't as intense as some of the crazier Schwartzkopfs, but it definitely had that feel, with some nice positive G's in the turns.
I'll have to see what other pics I have. I mostly took pics of the coasters.
Now that I think about it, there weren't actually a lot of flat rides. It was mostly water rides. I think several of the flats have been closed or removed. (According to the TPR park index.) It was mostly water rides, with a rapids and a really nice log flume, plus some water park rides. Most of the other non-coaster rides, were indoor stuff. A whole indoor kiddie area, though most of that was kiddie play areas. The bubble trampoline thing I posted a picture of. A 4D theater, showing the panda movie -- which I just relaized that I've never actually gotten around to watching in any of the languages it's been at the many parks I've seen it at. A simulator. A really cool alien themed haunted walkthrough. A drop tower is listed on the park index, but i don't actually remember riding, so it might be gone. And a ferris wheel. Plus the shows and museums. I think that's it.
The Space Disco Nights show was pretty silly, but decent for a park show outside Disney or Universal. I mean, it had a ton of characters, a live band, live singers, a troop of dancers, a confetti bomb and even a train. (?!?) I mainly just went inside to get some pictures of the characters, since they don't roam the park. Probably more than 3/4 of the people in the park were at the show. I think they only run the show in the Summer, because that's the only time they're open nights. I planned the trip to be in Japan for the last week of Summer/night operation of some parks to give me some extra time at Fuji-Q and the Fukuoka parks. I was worried that that would mean summer crowds, but luckily, it didn't. (Well, Fuji-Q is nearly always busy, but the fastpasses and the extra time made up for extra crowds.)
Last edited by David H on Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:04 pm.
simon8899 wrote:Do you have some pics of the parks flats?
Now that I think about it, there weren't actually a lot of flat rides. It was mostly water rides. I think several of the flats have been closed or removed. (According to the TPR park index.) It was mostly water rides, with a rapids and a really nice log flume, plus some water park rides. Most of the other non-coaster rides, were indoor stuff. A whole indoor kiddie area, though most of that was kiddie play areas. The bubble trampoline thing I posted a picture of. A 4D theater, showing the panda movie -- which I just relaized that I've never actually gotten around to watching in any of the languages it's been at the many parks I've seen it at. A simulator. A really cool alien themed haunted walkthrough. A drop tower that i don't actually remember riding, so it might have been down. And a ferris wheel. Plus the shows and museums. I think that's it.
David is correct in that there are not that many flat rides. I did make sure to get pictures of each of them for the Park Index in 2011, so unless they added something for 2012, TPR's Park Index lists all the non-kiddie flat rides.
Last edited by larrygator on Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:04 pm.
As usual, my analysis is free of charge! Original enough to not steal someone else's quote as a signature
SharkTums wrote:^Were the S&S Towers still there or did they pull those out yet?
I was just editing my last post to note that the index lists drop towers, but I don't remember riding them. And I don't have any pictures of them. So, I imagine they're gone. If they'd been there, I'm pretty sure I'd have ridden them. Not only do I like them, but for the view of the park and the surrounding mountians. And the park was slow enough that I'd have had the time, even with the park's operations!
What's up with the park taking out ALL of their flat rides, anyways?
Last edited by David H on Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:08 pm.
The rumor was that one of the towers had a somewhat serious accident. I don't think we've ever seen them open, run, or people working on them since we started visiting the park back in 2005. I do believe they were still standing though when we were there last year.
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