When you learn about Nagashima Spa Land, you inevitably come across the Joyful Waterpark or Jumbo Ocean Water Pool and its immense number of water slides. With the construction of the Boomerang Twist water slide in 2013 at the latest, the park is also internationally known and should therefore not be left out; but more on that later.
The water park is open from the end of June to mid-September. Entrance is via the theme park and accordingly requires a ticket for both parks; an offer with a free pass for the rides and both entrances is quite affordable. As the park is very popular in summer temperatures, a visit during the week is recommended; the capacities are available but are not always fully used even on busier days.
No wonder, that my visit to Joyful Waterpark had the longest waiting times of the entire tour. Even worse when, on your first visit to the theme park two days earlier, there were virtually no waiting times at all in the entire resort. But hey, you learn from your mistakes and with a bit of bad luck you immediately commit another, more fatal one; you should not underestimate the sun in Japan and so I trained mercilessly for being an Englishman.
But before I distract you too much with the existing boundary conditions of the visit, let’s rather go straight into the Joyful Waterpark. To the right is the huge changing hall, to the left the covered children’s area and the showers. The Japanese visitors now make themselves at home on the car park style terraces and we turn our attention to the first slides, or sliders as they are called here.
The two UFO sliders are the first, although only one of the two Space Bowl slides was in operation. You quickly pick up speed via a short steep curve before shooting into the funnel and then doing lap after lap, under the enthusiastic gaze of the Japanese, before eventually plummeting into the water pool. While most visitors only managed two laps, people were always amazed when someone spent three or more laps in the funnel. In fact, it’s not that difficult if you stick to the recommended sliding position. After more than five rounds, however, I too fell through the middle at some point and landed quite ungently in the pool. It was great fun, and as a bodyslide with a deliberately unintentional landing, it gives you much more adrealine than comparable tube slides with their continuing slide out of the funnel.
Across a bridge over Lazy River located in the front of the park, where the future swimmers were just doing warm-up exercises with the lifeguards, we go to the three Water Tubes. This slide complex consists of two bodyslides, each with a downward helix, and a very, very, very steep turbo slide. Waiting times were quite long due to the alternating operation of the two types of slides, which had a negative effect especially on the only operated helix tube. The slide is quite fast and very wild due to the plummeting exit. But the highlight of this slide complex is the steeply sloping slide in the middle, where you lose contact with the slide surface without mercy and thus experience a large part of the slide time in the air. Of course, the splashdown at the end of the slide is all the more brutal, but the airtime here is clearly unparalleled and rewards the slider, even with somewhat longer waiting times.
Passing the large water play area Japaaaan, we are now drawn to the Spiral Sliders, five open bodyslides of older design – including two for children and three for adults. All of them feature a multitude of helices and jumps. And they are quite something! Here, you swing quickly up the channel, constantly get splashes of water in your face and take off in the jumps. The finish of the slides is flawless, which makes the slide experience even better. It is therefore a little strange that the Spiral Slider is described as a beginner’s ride to the Tornado Sliders. If the waiting time wasn’t also relatively long, you wouldn’t get me off here so quickly. In this sense, I had a great time.
Right next door is a small pool that is supplied with water from the nearby onsen, so even the non-nude can experience an onsen. Those who are more into action, however, can let off steam in one of the two non-swimmer pools in this corner of the water park. There is also a larger paddling pool here.
Past the large wave pool, which interestingly (like the two lazy rivers) is cleared from time to time – probably to prevent the bathers from exhausting themselves – we now head towards the three kamikaze slides called Free Fall Slider. Interestingly, only the two highest slides were in operation, which at first glance seemed logical, but I would have preferred to take the middle slide on the way there. I don’t really like kamikaze slides and this one also uses a rectangular slide profile, which is already not an advantage on other slides of this kind. But when it finally went over the edge and the adrealine rush set in, all worries were forgotten. The water descent was also quite gentle, so I have no choice but to say: this Kamikaze slide rocks and it rocks hard.
Opposite is a double ride consisting of the Surf Hill and Wild River slides. Surf Hill is a mat slide where, in a very classic way, you race against several other sliders over a number of hills. Directly behind it starts Wild River, two crazy river rides with a rather boring course that is, however, really convincing. Here, the course descends steadily over several wild drops and obstacles before the terrific finale is introduced parallel to the mat slide. This is an unexpected surprise, especially in comparison to the visually impressive ride in The Boon water park of Hirakata Park, which was just okay.
The second Lazy River starts its round right next door. While the front of the two current channels is open and has no other highlights, the rear one is largely located under the Big One family raft slide and thus offers a rather unusual perspective.
The double Family Raft slide Big One is the second largest ride in the Joyful Waterpark and unfortunately does not live up to its name. The curves are all rather shallow; you hardly rock up and there are also none of the extremely strange moments of proximity between the passengers. There is an extremely large drop in the middle, but that doesn’t make the slide any better. However, since there is capacity, the waiting time is still manageable.
Unlike the significant slide tower Tornado Slider, where half of all slides were closed and none of the bodyslides were operating. While it was still easy to get rings in the early morning, the tower’s entire queue was filled by the afternoon at the latest. This consists of a large number of open and closed slides, most of them with using tubes. It is hardly possible to reproduce a single slide in words, due to the structure itself, and so you slide down a multitude of helices and jumps.
However, since I only tested one slide here, I can’t give a detailed overall experience of the big slide tower. However, I have to say that the slide I tested, the Black Hole tube slide, was rather average. So, all in all, nothing bad, but of course I can’t say whether the other slides are better or worse. I would have liked to test them all, especially the extremely fast-looking turbo tubes.
Let’s move on to the largest ride in the Joyful Waterpark, the aforementioned Boomerang Twist. Consisting of the elements Family Boomerango and Manta, this giant from WhiteWater West offers a quite extraordinary slide experience; which is partly due to the extremely compact construction of the ride.
The ride in the round boats begins at about the height of the block brake of the Steel Dragon roller coaster. You leave the station via a short dip and immediately tackle a combination of curves at a lofty height. After a 180° turn and a longer, steadily descending straight, you plunge down a rather steep incline. In the valley that follows, you cross a large surge of water, but it doesn’t seem to slow the boat down in any way. As if possessed by madness, you race up the Boomerango and reach a considerable height. Back in the valley, you dash along a gently ascent before you cross the crest and throw yourself towards the ground once more. Actually, it’ s only the boat that wants to do this, your body is still too sluggish for that and prefers to spend some time in the air. In the following Manta element, you swing back and forth a few times and are continuously kept happy by the water sloshing into it. After this, you dive into a short tunnel, make another turn and are then carried back to the ending position by the current.
The Boomerang Twist is the best water slide I have experienced so far. The ride is extremely fun and simply overwhelming due to the elements used. Especially the passage between the two main elements, which is able to maintain the adrealine rush absolutely skilfully, is absolutely top class and makes many other water slides look old. I would go so far as to say that this slide is the best attraction in Nagashima and every amusement park fan should and must have experienced it.
But for that, you have to be prepared to spend your time on more than just a large roller coaster from the manufacturer Morgan and, if necessary, to be very willing to suffer a little longer waiting times and many closed water slides. Joyful Waterpark is a very cool water park that I would have loved to experience empty. The chance was there, I just didn’t take it – but as I said at the beginning of this report, you learn from your mistakes. So next time I will go straight to the water park, because a visit here is definitely worthwhile and should be planned when visiting the resort.
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