Land of the Rising Fun. September 3rd, 2005 to September 16th, 2005. A joint trip put on by the European Coaster Club and the American Coaster Enthusiasts.
First off, there was a lot of negative things said before this trip even began. The cost and the schedule were criticized. The schedule that the public knew about was preliminary. I ended up riding 70 coasters in 22 parks over 14 days. We visited at least 1 park every day. Most days there were 2 and some times 3. We were rained out of 2 parks the first day of the trip and we were able to go back to one of those parks a few days later and get the credits. The other park I went back to on the 2 extra days I spent in Tokyo after the tour. As for the cost, I feel that I got my moneys worth. It truly was the trip of a lifetime. I went on this trip not knowing anyone. I met a lot of great people and made new friends. Could it have been done cheaper? Maybe, but the hotels were outstanding and we had great breakfast provided every day. I think they did an outstanding job moving 117 people around Japan. The best part was I didn’t have to make any of the arrangements; I just had to show up.
Japan was an amazing country. I would go back in a heartbeat. Elissa, When are you going to start taking deposits for 2007? The people are super friendly and very courteous. The service is outstanding and there is no tipping! A lot of the parks in the US should go to Japan to see how parks should be run.
Saturday, September 3rd and Sunday September 4th.
I had to get up at 4:30 A.M. to get to the airport. My flight out of Fresno to Tokyo via San Francisco left at 7:00. I was able to get a seat in an emergency row. It was a middle seat but on a 747 there was a space of about 6 feet to the next row of seats. I flew United. The food was good, remember, I’m a member of ACE so I will eat anything. The 3 movies they showed sucked. I spent the 10-hour flight from San Francisco to Tokyo just reading a book I brought along and listened to my iPod. I didn’t even try to sleep.
I was very curious on how the jet lag was going to hit me. As soon as I boarded the plane to Tokyo, I reset my watch. I planned to not sleep until Sunday night. It was like 4:00 A.M. in Tokyo when my flight took off. I landed just before 2:00 P.M. At that point I lost track of West coast time. I think the excitement of being in Tokyo kept me going. I didn’t go to sleep until 10:00 that night. I figured it out later I was up for around 26 hours. Jet lag never bothered me on the tour but it did hit me when I came home.
I took the shuttle bus from the airport to The Radisson Miyako Hotel in Tokyo. The people loading the bus were very efficient There were 5 of them taking our bags and checking our tickets. They all lined up and bowed to the bus as we were pulling out. At the hotel, a gal took my bags, walked me to the front desk then showed me to my room. It felt odd not tipping.
Nothing was really planned for the first night so I joined a group and we headed out into Tokyo. We decided to go to the Tokyo Tower do a little sight seeing and get dinner. The Tokyo Tower is the Japanese version of the Eiffel Tower but not as big. I think it is 250 meters to the top. The view was great but I forgot to bring my camera. On the lower levels they had a food court. I chose the Elissa friendly restaurant, McDonalds for dinner. Some of the others jumped right in and got Japanese cuisine.
After dinner we headed for Aqua Stadium to ride Galaxy Express 999. The first coaster of the trip and it was just so so. The cost was 1000 yen, which is a little under $10.00. You have to sit thru a pre-show. It’s all in Japanese so I have no clue what it is about. Evidently this ride is based on some popular TV show. After the pre-show you board the train. It is a quick launch out of the station with an immediate uphill right hand turn and then into a loop and a few more turns and your back to the station in under a minute. Not worth a reride.
Monday September 5th
First stop was Hanayashiki. A nice little compact park with the oldest coaster in Japan. The park crams a lot of rides into a small area. The coaster just circles the park and is nothing special. They have a drop tower, a dark ride and a little maze among other things. The bumper cars were cool. You competed against each other for points. A red or blue spotlight would shine at different locations. The first car to run over the spot would score a point. I think blue you got a point and red would take one away. Each car had a sensor on the front. You would get a lot of full speed head on collisions racing for the spots and they didn’t yell at you for doing it.
The next stop for the day was to Toshimaen. Unfortunately it had started to rain. The 3 coasters were all closed. We did ride the dark ride and the carousel. The carousel was cool. It had three ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings that rotated at different speeds. It turns out the carousel is somewhat famous. It was made for the Kaiser of Germany around WWI. It was later moved to Coney Island and when the park closed there in 1968 it was moved to Toshimaen.
We moved on to LaQua, home of Thunder Dolphin. The rain was still falling so Thunder Dolphin and Linear Gale were both closed. We did go on the indoor rides. I hated Geopanic. The restraints were horrible. Did ride it twice to be sure and didn’t like it either time. Spent most of the time riding Maihime, a spinning mouse. 3 of us tried different seats in the 4 seat cars to try and get the optimum spin. We must of rode it 7 or 8 times.
After dinner it was back to the hotel. This would be the only day we would get rain that closed the coasters. We were 3 out of 8 today on credits.
Tuesday September 6th.
Today was Disneyland Tokyo. The rain was still falling but it didn’t matter. Everything was still open and there were no crowds. We got multiple rides on everything with very little wait. Getting a fast pass was not necessary. We did get a Fastpass for Space Mountain and then rode Buzz Lightyear and some of the other rides while waiting for our time slot. It turns out the wait probably wouldn’t have been more then 20 minutes anyway. We got on Gadgets Go Coaster and Thunder Mountain. After getting the credits out of the way, I had to convince my roommate to go on the Winnie the Pooh ride. He was a little skeptical at first but it turned out to be the best ride of the day. We ended up going on it three times. The Honey Pots you ride in do not run on tracks but sensors in the floor control where they go. It is really cool and the room with Tigger is hilarious. The car bounces, the scenery bounces and Tigger bounces all at the same time. Why did California have to put in a crappy version? We had dinner in the Blue Bayou and were like the only ones in there. The only bummer of the day was they canceled the fireworks because of the weather.
We were 3 out of 3 credits today.
Wednesday September 7th.
Tokyo DisneySea was today’s stop. The weather was much better today, except for a late afternoon down pour. When it started to rain we just ducked into a restaurant and had lunch. It had stopped raining by the time we were done. The park was pretty cool. Very well themed. We rode Journey to the center of the Earth a number of times thru out the day. Never more then a 15 to 20 minute wait. It was almost a walk on at night. The Indiana Jones ride didn’t open with the park so we got a Fastpass and came back later in the day. Raging Spirits, there newest ride was the most crowded. There was an hour wait. We decided to do the single rider line because we didn’t care if we rode together and we didn’t want to waste an hour in line. This is were it gets really strange. We were walked down the single rider queue, got to the end and found 10 others from our group and one Japanese guy in front of us in the single rider line. They proceeded to take people from the single rider line, 2 at a time and put them in the front. They filled the other three rows with people from the regular queue. When they came to the Japanese guy, they put him in the back and my roommate and I in the front. I don’t think they get the concept of the single rider queue. We came back to the ride later in the day and used the single rider queue again to see if things changed. This time they split my roommate and me up. I got the front row alone and he was put on the next train in a row by himself. Go figure. The ride by the way was rough. Checked out the rest of the park. Saw their Tower of Terror. It is coming along nicely. Rode the other coaster, Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster. It is pretty much like Gadget from the day before, fun but nothing special. Their simulator ride Stormrider, was pretty good. They had a translation in the pre-show so we knew what was going on. All in all it was a good day but again no fireworks because of the weather. 2 credits today.
Hanayashiki. First TOGO of the trip. Japan's oldest coaster
Toshimaen's cool Carousel
Picture for Robb
La Qua - Maihime
The castle is so damn big, I couldn't get it all in the picture!
Wow! Those are some really great photos. I find some humor in the Walt photo with the "Disneyland 50th" sign as it's too bad that the park that the celebration is for doesn't have that awesome castle behind it!
--Robb "Sorry, couldn't resist the castle joke!" Alvey
It is hard to explain just how awesome Japan is. The people are so friendly, efficient, smart, polite, it's just great!
I had my reservations about some of the things that the ECC/ACE trip did, but I'm glad everything worked out for the best. I'm really interested to see how our upcoming 'winter' Japan trip works out to see if that might be something to think about for the future. I think we'll also look into splitting the 2007 Japan trip so that we can do some 'new' parks, as well as the 'staples'.
Thursday September 8th.
First stop today was Yomiuriland. The park sits up on the side of the hill. If you take public transportation to get to the park, you get dropped off at the bottom and get to take a tram to the top. Since we came in charter busses, we were dropped off at the top. We got there before they opened and the weather was clear and hot. There was hardly anybody in the park. A group of what looked to be about 1st graders was there but they were not riding any of the rides we were on.
The first coaster of the day was a kiddy coaster. All I can say was cha-ching, Credit! We then went to the Standing & Loop Coaster. The only unique thing here was that one train was standing and the other sitting. We rode both ways and again nothing special. At least it was better then the kiddy.
On to the first woody of the trip, White Canyon. It was memorable, not because it was good but because it was so rough. The cars looked like they had roll cages on them. Maybe that was because they might come off the track. It was funny to see the California flag on the structure. It was in a lot worse shape then when Robb & Elissa took a picture of it the year before.
Bandit was next up. Not a bad coaster. The layout was spread out and the cars looked like carved out logs. We ended up riding this one a lot. There were a few rough spots but you did catch some air in a few places. Since there was hardly anybody there, it was like ERT. They did make you get out and walk around though.
SL Coaster was very strange. It looked like it was going to be really cool. The station is on the top of the hill so the lift hill is at the end of the ride. You drop in 2 stages out of the station but they almost brake you to a stop after the first little drop. It just kills the momentum and the fun of the ride.
After getting all the credits in the park we did rode their Wheel to get some pictures and ride their dark ride. I think they are supposed to be scary but none of them were. They had both a shot tower and a drop tower. Rode both of those for the view.
Spent about half a day at the park which was more then enough because of the lack of crowds. We then changed our itinerary a bit. Instead of going straight to Sega Joypolis, we went back to LaQua. We stopped there for about an hour. They gave us 2 tickets, one to ride Thunder Dolphin and one for Linear Gale. We were able to pick up 2 of the lost credits form the first day.
We rode Linear Gale first. I was unimpressed. It seamed forceless. Not worth reriding. On to Thunder Dolphin and the strange things ops do. Before riding TD, they make you take everything out of your pockets and I mean everything. Even the park map had to be taken out. Now here is the strange part, my roommate could leave his glasses on and he didn’t have a strap. Map in pocket NO, glasses with no strap OK. I don’t get it. Here is another ride that looks like it could be really cool but is not. Your pulled up the lift hill really fast and you get some float time on the drop but that is it. At least it looks cool coming thru the hole in the building.
Sega Joypolis was the last stop of the day for Speed Boarder. Another weird ride. It’s indoors and it is kind of like a mouse but you sit sideways. Low capacity and we didn’t want to pay to reride it. Joypolis was pretty cool. They had a number of games and simulators to ride. It is located in a mall so there were plenty of places to look around and eat at.
Not a bad day 8 out of 6 credits. Picked up 2 extra at LaQua.
Their idea of theming, a bubble machine on the kiddy coaster
Sitting or standing, your choice.
Look how close your head comes if your in the front of car 2 to the back of car 1 in the loop
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