Part 3: Expoland After some rainy days where we did some sightseeing in Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Nara and so on we travelled to Expoland, a park with 7 coasters, some weird but good dark rides, two water attractions and a lot of flat rides. This park missed a good theming and so it`s not the best atmosphere because you feel like you`re in a rundown park. That`s a real pitty because we liked this park and we think that they miss the chance to create a real good park. The best coaster in the park is the Inverted B&M Orochi, we liked this one very much.
The weirdest coaster is Daidarasaurus, which is the longest „coaster“ in the world. It takes 6.30 min to travel from the start to the end! You think this is great? No, it`s really boring. Because this coaster used to be a duelling coaster and now there`s only one car which takes the first track and then the second (and both are really boring).
They`ve some other crazy stuff too. There`s a house which looks like the entrance of a dark ride. Once inside you can see snow and frozen flowers – and you feel that it`s getting colder and colder. Damm, it`s getting real cold, and suddenly you recognize “yes, this is all for real”. This “dark walk through” has a inside temperature of – 32 degrees celcius (that`s – 26 fahrenheit). Another crazy ride is the splash boat wich is totally covered (that makes no sense at all). The other coasters are some kiddie rides, a Standing Togo (which was okay for us), an Arrow Corkscrew and a Wild mouse. All in all this park has a lot of things to explore, but lacks a good atmosphere.
Hirakata After Expoland we travelled to Hirakata, another Osaka park. This one is more for the whole family, with a great kiddie land and a real nice scenery. The first kiddie is a real small kiddie coaster, the second kiddie coaster is really large for a kiddie and the bigger Red Falcon coaster is really boring. The spinning coaster “crazy mouse” is called crazy mouse because it doesn`t spin, and I think this is crazy for a spinning mouse. The last coaster is a small Intamin woodie called “ELF”, which is really nice and smooth. We really liked this one.
The park other attractions are a rapid ride (do they take off this plastic sheets in summer?), a water ride where you don`t get wet and some nice dark rides for kids. Overall, this park was a little surprise because we didn`t expect this nice theming.
Nagashima Spa Land 90 minutes from Kyoto, in the middle of nowhere is this well known park. Nagashima has to offer the typical hot springs, a real big water park (which was closed in april) and the amusement park. It doesn`t has to offer much for the little ones, they`ll really concentrate on coasters (there`s just one dark ride and only some flat rides).The saddest part was to see this great looking Steel Dragon 2000. What a shame to see such a interesting ride closed for some years now. Please Nagashima open it again or sell it. The other 9 coasters are a big variety of coasters, like the Togo pipeline (I`ve never been on one and now I`ve to say I like it), the Schwartzkopf Shuttle Loop and Looping star (this one is really nice), two tracks of Macks wild mouse, a kiddie coaster, this lame Togo jet coaster (what the hell is this, a scenic railway where you can`t see much scenic?) and last but not least the real beautiful “white Cyclone” a big Intamin Woodie, our Nr. 3 woodie in Japan. On our day Nagashima was so empty, we even had to call someone to open a coaster we wanted to ride. Overall this park was well worth a trip, but we missed this special moments we normally have in good parks, and so Nagashima is just average.
Universal Studios Japan Okay, we`re from germany and so we don`t have the chance to visit Universal Studios every year (I think we`ve been some 7 or 8 times to the Universal Resort in Orlando and once in California). This was the reason to make a visit to this park in Osaka. They have a small City Walk (at the moment there`s a extension going on). The whole park looks real similiar to the one in Orlando, but the main street is covered (this is ugly) and the lagoon is a bit different. Also they`ve added some Islands of Adventure things like the Jurassic Park area and Spiderman (inside the mummy house). They miss Men in Black, the mummy and twister (but they have backdraft from California). They also has some shows (like Waterworld, Animal Actors...) and Shrek 4-D. So we really, really liked this park and think it easily can be the best of the three studios if they might add a good coaster (like Hulk or the Duelling Dragons) and something unique. But for americans on japan tour with no time to waste this park is not a must-see.
Nara Dreamland We`ve heard so much from this park, and so it was really no shock to visit this ugliest park in the world (okay we thought it is the ugliest park in the world until we saw DubaiDave`s last visit to Egypt). It`s really bizarre to see the Disney rail station, some kind of run-down main street and a castle. Also there`s this ugly Matterhorn and this unbelievable Jungle Cruise experience. At the time we wanted to ride the kiddie coaster we had to wake up the operator because he slept in his operator house (there were 8 visitor in the whole park). The Arrow “screwcoaster” was really not in good condition but the 1961 matterhorn bobsleigh was in so bad condition that my girl was the first time frightened on a coaster. The “fantasy coaster” was broken and so we missed this credit forever. But hey, there`s one thing which you don`t expect in such a crappy park – ASKA. Their last coaster addition (1998) is a brilliant woodie, once again from Intamin, and we loved this one. It`s so smooth and has amazing airtime for a woodie. This was our favourite woodie in Japan, and for me its one of the best woodies in the world (how strange is that – one of the best woodies in the world in this rundown park). One week after we came back to germany we read that Nara Dreamland will close on the 31st of august 2006. After our impressions this is no wonder. It`s always sad that a themepark has to close but I think this is a loss which is not to big. My only hope is that they`ll move Aska to another place, but I think Aska will end with its park.
here we go again - Expoland
the wild mouse - nothing special
okay, this one is really "beautiful"
oh boy, do I look stupid
okay this is the splash (looks normal) but...
first they gave us this sheet of instructions to read while standing in queue (which q ??? nobody else wanted to ride). These are safety instructions. Good that we can read everything!!!
and this is the splash boat, it makes no sense for a SPLASH?!?
the Togo standing coaster
this is the crazy Ice World!
a shot from above (you see parts from the corkscrew and Orochi)
Daidarasaurus boring track
Orochi by B&M
Hirakata -what a cute little park
nice themed area
I tried not to ride the lame Red Falcon
the not spinning spinning mouse
Red Falcon and the not spinning spinning mouse
the park was so empty that we could do a relaxed photo shooting while riding ELF
another nice themed area
this is a large kiddie coaster
another stupid thing - why they don`t wanna get wet???
please take it off for me, because I`m from germany and I`m used to rain
we put the camera on the ground and see what a beautiful shot it made
we actually rode it but made no pictures. We waited about 10 minutes for a ride op to open the gates. He was really shocked to see that someone would like to ride his attraction. They really tried to copy the Disney Jungle Cruise, but their waterways were dirty, the "jungle" was just the normal japanese forest, and all the animals (I think about ten animals?) didn`t move any part of their body. It was a long ten minute ride, no narration (maybe because we were the only guests - but I think they never narrate) and it was boring as hell.
So you really didn`t missed this bizzarre clon.
And yes, April is such a great month. If you can miss some hot weather and the opportunitiy to go to a waterpark this is the month to go!
You can expect spring temperatures (about 55 to 65 fahrenheit or 15-18 degrees celcius)and some rains (it rained four days of 21) but otherwise you`ll get the greatest scenery ever and great evening festivals. If you`ll like to see some temples this is the most beautiful time.
Isn't Sakura (cherry blossom) season amazing? I usually go to natural parks instead of amusement parks in the week or two that the blossoms are around, but Just driving around is enough as there are cherry trees EVERYWHERE!
I'm glad you like Hirakata, it really is a hidden gem. (Not for rides, but the theming is really quite surprising. I did that and Nara Dreamland the same day! There's a definition of contrast for you!)
A lot of the parks have a roof over their entrance plaza, (USJ, TDL, etc.) it really does rain a lot here!
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