Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea, Taiwan!

Day 25, parts 1-3: Lots MORE Shanghai CreHoing/sightseeing
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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby Gilly » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:20 am

And then they say Italian operations are bad... I would completelly lost my mind sitting there
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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby David H » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:01 pm

^ Yeah, it was really frustrating. But a few factors mitigated that somewhat. First off, the park was pretty dead, at least by Western standards. I mean, it was never more than two train wait for anything, and that's with one train going out every 10-15 minutes. So, even with such poor operations, the wait was never much more than 20 minutes or so. Also, the park was open until 9 PM, so, even with flying in that morning and stopping at the other park first, I still had plenty of time there. And I really didn't have any other plans for the day, other than possibly walking around Hakata a little. So, I didn't feel stressed or rushed to get everything in, like I might have felt on a slower or more busy day.

Still, it's frustrating waiting so needlessly. I mean, I'm used to getting excited to ride when I sit down in a coaster train. At Space World, I knew that I wasn't going to ride for at least another 5-10 minutes!

But they get away with it because the Japanese never seem to mind waiting. It's definitely a cultural thing. I'm not sure if it's because they as a rule don't generally question anything and just accept that this is how things are. Or if they're just used to accepting how things are and waiting for everything and genuinely don't mind.

It shows in the behavior of Japanese both in parks and elsewhere. For instance, in the US, if there were an empty seat, someone would try to ride in it. Or at least ask. But they don't in Japan. And someone will ask to sit in the front or the back rows, because they want to sit there, and who not ask, even if it means waiting an extra train. They very rarely do that in Japan. They're conditioned to just go where they are told to and not even ask for anything else. I saw this again and again across Japan. And if I would ask for anything even slightly out of the ordinary, like no sauce on some food, they would seem genuinely confused. Like when I asked to have my ice cream cone in a cup at McDonalds, and they said no. It's just not how it was done, and the clerk didn't even understand why I would ask. It's very different from the American standard of giving the customer whatever they want, no matter how unreasonable the request. And it probably doesn't hurt their business, because that is how it's expected to be. And it's not like you can just go somewhere else, where they'll accommodate special requests.

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby David H » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:18 am

Day 6: Fukuoka, Japan. Mitsui Greenland.

Of the three major parks I was hitting in Fukuoka, Mitsui Greenland was added last. My priorities were the woodie at Kijima Kogen and the theming and Intamin and Arrow coasters of Space World. But Mitsui Greenland is probably the biggest amusement park in Japan that I hadn’t been to, so if I could add it, I wanted to. And when I rearranged some of my trip to allow another full day in Fukuoka, it was mainly to add this park. I originally planned to visit this park on Sunday, my last day in Fukuoka. With the threat of rain being able to close either or both of the other two parks that were higher priority, this would have allowed me to rearrange things and replace the other park or parks with Matsui Greenland. But just before the trip started, I discovered that the park had changed their scheduled hours for this weekend since I had last checked them, and was staying open until 11PM on Saturday, which was a big deal, since they’re almost never open that late, and were originally supposed to be open until 5 PM that night! They were doing some sort of nighttime celebration of the end of summer that night which they advertised as being about all of the night lights in the park, and which I’d later find out included a quite long fireworks show. Plus, having the park open so late might allow the possibility to visit two parks that day if I got rained out of one of the other parks, even with the parks being so far apart.

Mitsui Greenland is a very big park, both in terms of the number of attractions and rides and in physical size. There is even a section up a mountain that you take a chairlift to get to. And another chairlift across a park of the park, which has been nicknamed the “chair lift of death” on TPR, for reasons I’ll go into in a bit. Depending on how you count your coasters, they have anywhere from seven to ten coasters, with two powered coasters and a pair of coasters, with one sitting and the other standup. They also have a good collection of dark rides and walkthrough attractions scattered all over the park. Plus the usual assortment of flat rides and water rides, few of which I’d have time for that day. They even have an archery range, something I’d see at several parks in Asia. To be honest, they don’t have any coasters that are so good that you’d go to the park just for them, but the whole collection overall is decent.

An interesting side note for those I work with, the park is near the city of Kumamoto, famous for its oysters, some of the most popular in my restaurant, although we get them farmed from Washington state. But they're orginally from near here.

To get to Mitsui Greenland, you can take the JR Kagoshima line (the same one you can take to Space World, but in the other direction) about an hour to Omuta station. From there, there is a bus to the park that should take about 20 minutes. But since the park was open extra late, I had to take two different trains back to Hakata, because the last direct one from Omuta leaves at about 9PM. If you want to take a taxi and not wait for the bus, the Tosu station is actually somewhat closer to the park (which means a cheaper taxi), but the bus doesn’t go there.

Since the park was open so late, I took the opportunity to sleep a little late. And, of course, when I got to the Omuta station, I’d just missed the bus. Who plans these bus schedules anyways? You’d think that if you run a bus whose primary function is to get people from the train station to an amusement park that you’d run it AFTER the train from the largest cities in the area arrives, not just before it arrives, right? I’d run into this wonderful scheduling again several times in Asia. So, I used the time to pick up some snacks at the local store while I waited, since I might not have time to eat at the park.

Once I got to the park, I saw that it was much busier than I’d hoped, although it really wasn’t as busy as I’d feared either. But with so many coasters and dark rides, this day was going to be tight, even with the late closing time. It turned out that with so many rides there, only the top coasters and the alpine slide actually had significant lines. I had planned to start at Gao, the biggest coaster in the park, which towers over the entire middle area of the park, but it had a line that was over an hour long, so I decided to get some of the smaller coasters out of the way. I ended up pretty much taking a route around the entire park going clockwise, starting with Grampus Jet, one of the few Vekoma suspended coasters left out there. It was nice, but nothing special, which would be the case with pretty much all of the coasters at the park. I would have ridden the Ladybird powered coaster, but since there was somewhat of a line for it, and since I don’t count it as a coaster (coasters need to coast to count in my book -- it’s in the name!), I skipped it. But I was pleased to discover that the Milky Way pair of coasters, with one standing and one sitting, had pretty different layouts. Different enough to count twice in my book. I only count racing coasters once if the layouts are essentially the same with minor variations. But these were different enough to count them. That made up for not getting the powered credit!

From there, I went around the park, making my way to the first chairlift. But the chairlifts at Mitsui Greenland are an attraction unto themselves. Since they have no lapbar or restraint of any kind, they’re scarier than any other attraction at the park! It says something about the Japanese that they even let little kids ride by themselves, since the Japanese aren’t stupid enough to do anything that will make them fall off the ride, unlike Americans – who would undoubtedly sue the park into oblivion if they fell off the ride, entirely of their own doing. The main charlift is a regular sized charlift fairly high off the ground, which made me nervous. But the smaller chairlift in the park was MUCH scarier because the seat was TINY, even though the ride never went terribly high. I’m talking my fat ass barely fit on it at all, and there’s nothing whatsoever to hold you in. And then there’s only the bar that goes between the seat and the top to hold only – for dear life! Look at the pictures and see what I’m talking about!

In any case, I got up to the top of the park and enjoyed the view and the horror Tower. Then it was time for the alpine slide. Normally, I’d go pretty fast on these things, but with one of the longest lines of the day (45 minutes or so), the ride was croded enough that you couldn’t get up a really good speed before you’d catch up to the person in front of you. Which was actually good, because I had visions of the accident that Scottish Steve and TPDave had – and their extensive bloody scars – on this ride!

I basically made my way around the park, deliberately leaving the Vekoma SLC for last, because even though it was probably the most popular coaster in the park, I’ve ridden so many of them – and would ride many more (both real and Chinese knockoff) on the trip to come. So if I ran out of time, it made sense to leave out a coaster I’ve essentially ridden many times, especially since it had one of the longest waits in the park. This would actually turn out to work out very well for me, because during the fireworks, the queue went from about an hour to essentially ZERO! The longest waits for the day were for Gao, the huge coaster that didn’t really do very much, but had a really cool dinosaur façade around its main lift hill, and Ultra Twister, which had a long line because of its low capacity, with 6-seat cars. The weird thing about Ultra Twister is that you could buy a stick of wood that you could write your name or a slogan on, which they would display in the very slow moving queue. And they also posted computerized pictures of the Ultra Twister champions who had ridden the most times, and the number of times each had ridden. The winner had ridden over 200 times, which is about 190 more times than I’d ever need to ride an Ultra Twister. They’re nice, but over 200 rides on one?!?

A quick note on park operations. While they weren't super efficient, they were a whole lot better than at Space World the day before. Of course, they only ran one train on everything (except for the mouse), no matter how many they actually had! It's Japan, after all.

So, I managed to get on just about everything I wanted to except for the SLC and was about to go on the Chair Lift of Death, but it was shut down. I was really disappointed, because it was one of those crazy Asian rides you’d never see back home in the US, Luckily, it turned out that it was only down for the fireworks, which I didn’t even know about at that time! The fireworks show was quite good and quite long. Around 30 minutes, which is among the longest fireworks shows I’ve seen at any park! Clearly, the show was the major draw for the day, since afterwards, the park CLEARED OUT. I was smart and headed to the SLC anyways, but there was literally no line! Woo hoo! All credits done! And the chair lift of death opened up, So I got to experience that, and rode it both ways.

Overall, Mitsui Greenland was a really nice park, with a nice collection of rides. I'm glad I managed to get there, though I wouldn't be in any hurry to get back there. Who knows if or when I'll ever get back to Fukuoka.

I managed to get through everything I wanted to an hour or so before the park closed, so I headed back to Hakata early. I was worried how I’d get back, since the busses were supposed to have ended many hours earlier, and with so many people leaving the park (although I stayed nearly an hour after the mass exodus after the fireworks), I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find any taxis. Luckily, the city or the park was smart, and they actually ran busses as long as the park was open! Unfortunately, traffic getting out of the park was hell, and took and extra 20 minutes or more to get back to the train station. Since I was already cutting it close to make the train, and the next one was an hour later, I was getting nervous. It didn’t help that bus drivers in Japan drive about as slowly as someone in a wheelchair! So, even when we passed the traffic backup from the park, we never drove much more than 15 mph or so! Of course, that made me miss my train by about 3-4 minutes, dammit! So I was stuck sitting at the station for nearly an hour. I find it odd that with the busses in Japan generally being owned by the various train companies which are SO efficient and on time that the busses in Japan run so DAMN slowly.

I could have used that extra hour of sleep, since with the threat of rain the next day, I needed to get up very early to catch my 2.5 hour train and 30 minute bus to Kijima Kogen to be there at opening.
Asia '12 - Day 6 - Fukuoka 001.jpg
Taking the train through the countryside of Fukuoka and Kumamoto.
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I wonder if you can actually buy these dragons in the park's gift shop?
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You gotta love Japanese t-shirts! They love their Enrish, even if they have no idea what it means or that they have the word booby on them!
Not quite a boob credit, but close! Sorry, Robb!
But at least I have Slowly life now!
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Grampus Jet, one of the few Wekoma suspended coasters left.
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It's nice when a park has the room for a little nature amidst the coasters and rides.
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I didn't have time to wait for a train for the pictures, but I did manage to snap one from way over here.
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The Ladybird powered "coaster". I didn't have time to wait for it, since I don't count it.
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I wish I'd had time to ride the wheel to get some nice pictures of the park and the surrounding mountains. Luckly, I'd be able to get some good pictures from a distance from the upper section of the park.
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Gao's giant dinosaur towers over the park.
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Gao sprawls all over the middle of the park. it's pretty fast, but doesn't do all that much, in terms of forces.
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You have to be really patient and have a lot of time to spare to catch a train on a coaster in Japan. Neither of those describes me!
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A first look at ... THE CHAIR LIFT OF DEATH! Is my fat ass really going to fit on that tiny seat? That tiny Japanese girl barely fits!
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Milky Way. One side is stand-up and the other is sit-down.
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To me, that's not enough to count them as two coasters. But, as you can see, the the profiles are very different. Yea, two credits!
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Gao and Milky Way.
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Sphinx. Pretty nice theming for a family coaster, eh?
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You can see Gao from anywhere in the sprawling park.
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Mitsui Greenland is nicely spread out, with mountains all around it.
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Spin Mouse, which didn't spin too much and had a surprisingly short queue.
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The alpine slide. I wonder if I can find any of Steve or Dave's blood?
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The big chairlift up the mountain. note the lack of any lapbar or restraints. And the lack of stupid people falling to their deaths.
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They even let little kids ride alone! Never in Americe! Then again, they wouldn't run with no lapbar in America!
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A nice view from the chairlift.
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This view gives you some idea of how big this park is. That's not even half of it!
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Inside the Horror Tower on the mountain.
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A head in the head.
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This might actually be the safest way to use a squat toilet!
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Ohh, sexy!
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The view from the upper part of the park.
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That's a long line for an alpine slide! And that's not even half of the queue!
That's the Horror Tower behind it.
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Apparently, they left the loop from the Atomic shuttle loop coaster when they shut it down in 2009. Such a tease!
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Spin Mouse behind the rapids.
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The Panic Jungle dark boat ride.
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Scary!
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I always thought that this was a weird idea for a ride, but they're all over Japan. But usually, they're taller than this one.
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Megaton! Aka low capacity Arrow pipeline.
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Something to read while you sit in line forever!
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I'm not sure I'd be proud of having ridden a pipeline coaster 210 times! Hopefully, he did it on days with no wait!
I wonder what the 390kg signifies?
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Megaton! The sun went down while I waited in the queue.
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The long queue for Gao. I can't put it off any longer. You walk through a dinosuad mouth.
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The park also has an ice house.
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The park decided to throw a fireqworks show in honor of the American who came thousands of miles to visit their park! Thanks, guys!
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Actually, it was an end of summer celebration.
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It was actually a pretty nice fireworks show. At around 30 minutes, it put Tokyo Disney's 5 minute show to shame!
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After the fireworks, most of the poeple in the park left. Which meant the SLC which had had an hour wait all day was now walk-on! I actually forgot to take any pictures of it! I could probably just post a picture of any of the doaens of other SLC's in the world, and no one would know the difference!
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The wheel lit up.
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At long last, the CHAIR LIFT OF DEATH. I was holding on to that pole for dear life! Seriously, look at the size of that seat. That tiny girl barely fits. I was all panicking on the thing, and she's just sitting there casually checking her watch.
Last edited by David H on Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:54 am.

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby cfc » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:48 am

The haunted toliets in that walk-through were hilarious--looks like they've added to them a bit since I was there in 2007.
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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby gisco » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:30 pm

Looks like it was a little more crowded then when we were there. Of course it was like 8 million degrees out which might have kept the crowds down.

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby SharkTums » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:22 pm

8 million degree weather > 1 hour plus lines for crap! ;)

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby Meteornotes » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:24 pm

^Very true! Our day at Mitsui Greenland in 2007 was one of the hottest days I've ever experienced. I still loved the park, though, and would really like to go back there.

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby David H » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:29 pm

I think the main reason it was busy was because the park heavily promoted that day as a last weekend of summer promotion. They stayed open much later than usual (until 11PM, something rare for Japan, outside of Disney or Universal for Halloween) and had a LONG fireworks show, as well as lights all over the park, which they heavily promoted. They even had lighting all around the alpine slide, though it wasn't lit when I rode it a couple of hours before sundown. Plus, it was a Saturday in the Summer.

Luckily, the large number of attractions spread the queues out, with only the bigger attractions having longer lines. Basically, Gao, the SLC and the pipeline, plus the alpine slide had long lines of 40-60 minutes each. Nothing else was much longer than 10-20 minutes maximum. And I didn't end up waiting for the SLC, because no one was in line at the end of the fireworks. But for the alpine slide and the pipeline, the queue was mainly because of such low throughput. If the coasters at the park had been good enough to ride many times, I wouldn't have had time. But since they weren't, I had plenty of time for everything, even though I arrived a couple of hours after opening, since they closed at 11 PM.

Despite being summer, it wasn't all that hot. I suspect that the typhoon that I'd just missed a few days earlier cooled things off quite a bit. Plus, whatever weather systems had had them predicting rain for all weekend, until things cleared up at the last minute.

Perhaps the more moderate weather (still in the 80's, but for southern Japan in the summer, that's quite cool!) helped bring out more people to the park as well?

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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby Nrthwnd » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:46 pm

Mitsui Greenland Sept.2007 - not so good, even with walk-ons.

Mitsui Greenland June2011 - much much better.

Crowds and temp-wise.
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Re: Photo TR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea

Postby RoCo » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:10 pm

Damn, I am SO READY for the Japan trip next summer. Enjoying all this so much; thanks again!
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