I'm glad folks are enjoying this trip report. It's nice to know when one's nonsense is appreciated.
Moving right along to a short update.
Five Miles from the Epicenter: Hirakata Park
Some of you may recall stories of TPR being shook around bit at a train station during the first “official” park visit of the 2018 Japan Trip. Later, we got much closer to the where the earth-shaking action began at Hirakata Park. The quake’s epicenter was a mere five miles or so from the place, but Hirakata didn’t look any worse for the wear.
So, what exactly is Hirakata Park? It’s the fairy-tale realm of fairies, dwarves, elves, trolls, and a wizard who looks like Gandalf as portrayed by Bing Crosby.
For you youngsters, this is Bing Crosby. He's known for warbling "boo boo boo," narrating Disney's version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," singing "White Christmas," and playing lots of golf.
In other words, it’s a family park--and a very nice one, at that. This was my second visit to Hirakata since 2013, and it didn’t seem to have changed much. ELF (Episode of Little Fairies) was still an enjoyable Intamin family wooden coaster; Red Falcon was still a “Jet Coaster” with some funky, neck-snapping transitions; Fantastic Coaster Rowdy still tried to kill us; and the spinning coaster still doesn’t spin. There was a funky “refrigerator” walk through that I don’t recall from my last visit with TPR.
Here’s a quick look at Hirakata.
The park’s neighborhood looks as funky as some of its attractions.
Very nice entrance, though.
Hirakata is an oasis amid urban sprawl. Or is the urban sprawl an oasis surrounding Hirakata? Those fairies are tricksy, you know.
“Hello. I’m a little fairy. I hope you enjoy my episode.”
Time to ride some magical fairy wood.
"Phew! Thank god those creepy coaster enthusiasts are done . . .
. . . oops! Spoke too soon. There they are taking photos."
Up the enchanted fairy lift hill they go.
Whee! The best episodes happen . . .
. . . on magical fairy wood!
There are a few little “episodes” on this ride, too, involving some rough transitions.
Red Falcon towers over the non-spinning spinning coaster.
Even though it’s bumpy and jerky in a few spots, . . .
. . . I kinda like Red Falcon. Nice views of the park and city.
I think the kid likes Peekaboo Town. Just a hunch.
Hmm--this looks like an Intellivision graphic of a tree squatting and taking a dump.
Have you ever peeked in a stranger’s fridge?
You can walk through one at Hirakata. How old is that piece of cake, one wonders.
“Oh crap! Someone get me an ice pick, or we'll never get outta here."
You know that blue juice bar is going to taste just like that fish head.
If you ride the dolphin, you must hug the dolphin.
“Ew! I just not comfortable with this dolphin-hugging stuff!”
If you do not hug the dolphin, you must passionately embrace one of these creatures.
“I want in on some of that sweet dolphin hugging!” (This is a “family” haunted house ride--FYI.)
Fantastic Coaster Rowdy: Not so fantastic, but pretty damn rowdy.
Our ice cream may not be completely frozen, but it is “coolish” and won’t taste like the fish head in the fridge walk through.
This is a pretty violent message for a kiddie ride.
“Yep. And after slayin' that ol’ Balrog, I sneaked in a quick nine holes at Pebble Beach."
Dan wished for his own Shinkansen, and Bing Crosby Gandalf made it come true!
Mr. Kitagawa is the one on the right. He’s with the Sanyo ride company, and helped with TPR’s days at Cosmoworld and Harikata.
A very nice park to wile away a few hours. That’s all for now.
Cedar Point, but with Katsu Curry: Nagashima Spaland
Japan’s rainy season forced us to change our plans a bit as we moved from Osaka to Nagoya. Originally, we were supposed to hit Legoland, Parque Espana, and Nagashima Spaland. But heavy rain was forecast for the Spaland day, so that park swapped places with Espana, which turned out to be a wise move (the Spanish-themed park had more indoor attractions and was a better fit for a very rainy day).
So off we went to Nagashima Spaland, which is sometimes called the “Cedar Point of Japan,” thanks to its large line up of coasters, expansive areas of concrete without a lot of shade, and “close the rides in the rain” policy.
But the CP parallels don’t stop there. Spaland has its own answer to Millennium Force in Steel Dragon 2000, a hypercoaster more than 300 feet tall that rambles over a layout more than one-and-a-half miles long. It’s going to have its own Steel Vengeance when RMC finishes converting its gigantic wooden coaster White Cyclone (shades of Mean Streak). Heck, there’s even an old Arrow Corkscrew there.
So, if you’re into big coasters and flat rides in Japan, Nagashima Spaland is the place to go.
This was my third visit to the park with TPR, but Spaland has changed a bit since I was last there in 2013. There were two new coasters: Acrobat, a B&M Flyer, and Arashi, an S&S Free Spin. I’m not a huge fan of flyers, but Acrobat was a good one. Arashi was my first experience with a Free Spin, and this one lived up to it--lots of flipping and spinning. I enjoyed it, but it’s one of those coasters that I can ride once per visit, then I’m done. From what others have said, Arashi was much crazier, and more intense, than the Free Spins built in the United States.
This was also where I had my first katsu curry of the trip.
Gotta love Japanese country-fried steak.
I’ve always enjoyed Spaland, despite the lack of shade. Robb arranged after-hours filming sessions on Acrobat, Steel Dragon, and Arashi, which were great. Thanks again, Robb!
Speaking of food, Japanese parks love to sell snacks, like cookies and crackers, themed to coasters. Nagashima Spaland takes this to the next level, with all sorts of bizarre food items publicizing their major attractions. I’ll show you some of those goodies as we check out the park.
Let’s see . . . some big coasters, katsu curry, a haunted walk through . . . yes, I think having a “good time” is a possibility.
Powdered Toast Man has teamed up with Bun Basher, Cookie Crusher, and Ice Creamer. Together, they’re FANTASTIC FOOD 4CE!
Pastor Robb leads us in worship at the Holy Sanctuary of Steel Dragon 2000.
First you ascend toward Heaven, only to be plunged back to Earth as a sign of humility.
Spare these humble sinners your wrath, o’ mighty lizard of steel!
Be not distracted by the temptations of the water park! Therein lies ruin!
You were warned! Look at the water park, and you plunge to your doom!
OK, I’ve got the the Tomato Pretz communion sticks that stand in for Steel Dragon’s body. What do we drink to represent his blood?
Read this sign very carefully and follow its directives to the letter.
I’m not a big fan of flying coasters in general, but I like Acrobat and Manta.
This makes perfect sense . . .
. . . as they’re pretty much the same ride (only with bats and mantas).
I was feeling a bit queasy after riding Acrobat, but I wish I’d tried one of these things later (what ever they were).
Arashi is Japanese for “storm.” The ride is well named, as I felt that I’d been spun around in a tornado. It almost makes the park’s Ultra Twister look sane.
Hmm--I look blissfully stoned here on the Bobkarts. (Photo by Brad Roach. Thanks, Brad!)
Ultra Twister ruptures the space-time continuum with brief, but insane spinning.
The trains even look like futuristic time-travel vehicles.
What? A Japanese amusement park with an enormous Ferris Wheel? How unusual.
Eye-to-eye with the Space Shot and Steel Dragon.
The Ferris wheel provides a good view of what’s happening with White Cyclone.
Chunks of it have been removed.
This photo’s a bit blurry, but if you look closely, you can see blue harbingers of things to come.
Weep not for this bumpy old helix.
Hmm--this reminds me a bit of the leftover parts of Rolling Thunder at SF Great Adventure.
Now that would be a thrilling jump.
I didn’t ride the Free Fall, for which my back is grateful.
But these poor, unfortunate souls . . .
The old haunted walk through is still fun--especially when it’s full of screaming Japanese teenage girls.
When I was here in 2013 with TPR, the Arrow Corkscrew was in pieces.
Did all that refurb work help? Eh, not so much.
Aw, this ride is sponsored by an adorable kitty. What could possibly go wrong?
Aghh! Stupid cat!
Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loops are always fun, though. More to come from Nagashima Spaland.
More photos of rides and snacks at Nagashima Spaland.
Always dress for the job you want. Buy this if you want to be a "supervisor" at Spaland.
Nothing says "sexy" like this pair of underwear. Yes, you'll be scoring with all the hot women in no time with gear like this.
That’s a lot of detail packed into one coaster shirt. Is it desirable to have a bat fly out of one's groin?
“Pudding Omelette” sounds like a video on Porn Hub.
These cookies are very happy to see me.
“Yeah, I’m the sheriff here, pilgrim. And this town don’t much cotton to fellas who make our cookies too excited. You best be movin’ on.”
Don’t be shocked if this is the actual name of the ride when it opens. Spaland has never been known for its originality when it comes to names, although Acrobat and Arashi are steps in the right direction. Maybe they'll go with "Great White Cyclone Hybrid Whale Coaster."
Bad, bad juju!
What’s the story here, anyway?
It looks like one of those cook-your-own-meat restaurants.
RMC’s new “Evel Knievel” element up close.
Always the innovator, that RMC.
Time for a little after-hours filming on Acrobat.
“Wow! That was fun, Nathan. I could really go for some . . .
. . . Acrosnax!” (This message in no way constitutes paid advertising for Nagashima Sapland or the Acrosnax Corporation.)
“Snacks? Did somebody say ‘snacks’”?
Hmm--I think I’ll pass on the Acrosnax until my stomach settles down a bit.
Time to pray some more at the Holy Sanctuary of Steel Dragon 2000. Sarah is anticipating the Rapture.
Looks like we have some true believers here!
I was content to photograph others riding Arashi.
“My God! What is happening to me?”
All the flipping and spinning! It opens portals to evil dimensions!
Yes, these people have seen abominations no one should ever behold.
Soon, their minds will snap.
And madness will take them all!
These two have embraced their insanity.
Look toward Steel Dragon! Only he can save you now!
There is no hope for any of you now.
To ride Arashi is to enter the gates of other dimensions . . .
. . . where you can enjoy some maple-flavored snacks for your “relaxing tea time and your happy talking time.”
Yes, this shirt sums up the Arashi experience perfectly. That’s all for Nagashima Spaland.
Great report as always! So much Japanese weirdness. Nagashima Spaland looks fantastic. I may be one of the few people actually excited for the Final Fantasy ride. I have spent a LOT of time over the last 25 years playing those.
The girls had a slight bummer of a day at Nagashima SpaLand as they took out the big interactive Pokemon attraction. It was in the large arcade building near White Cyclone. I can only hope that they had to take it out for some RMC goodness and not just for no reason. That Arashi ride was insane, truly the *correct* way to run it, not like how some parks have them pretty neutered.
So how does Steel Dragon 2000 compare to other giga/hyper coasters? I've heard good things about the B&M train upgrades but have never really heard anyone compare the ride to something like Millenium Force/Fury/SROS/Steel Force/Magnum/Apollo's Chariot etc. I think it finished in the 40-50 range in the Coaster Poll so I'm guessing it's pretty good, just curious how it compares to some similar coasters.
^^Arashi caught me a bit off guard after reading reviews of the the U.S. Free Spins. it's crazy fun, but a bit much for me.
^Steel Dragon is a good ride, but not on the level of Millennium Force. The B&M trains are an improvement over the old Morgan "bathtubs on wheels," but it's still a bit shaky in the helices. I think it's better than the old Morgan Hypers in the U.S., and I like those.
great report Chuck. . .love seeing another perspective of the TPR trip, as there's all kinds of interesting stuff one can get into during the free time!
wonderful photos, and the food all looks delicious! (and I TOTALLY understand the regret of not trying an item because the opportunity came after riding something that might cause food to not sound like a very attractive option at the moment)
Great photos Chuck! Apologies if this has been answered in other threads, but did Steel Dragon's max-height restriction prevent anyone from riding? As I understand it a 185cm limit (a hair under 6'1") came with the new trains. I'd like to know ahead of my trip next year.
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