Good Job at the Theme Park


Basically, Yomiuriland can be described as a classic trolley park; after all, the amusement park, which opened in 1964, resembles many other Japanese amusement parks of that era and is thus located not far from a railway station. However, the park was not founded by a railway company, but by the influential Yomiuri Group, Japan’s largest newspaper publisher and owner of the Yomiuri Giants, among other things.

There is not much more to tell about the history of Yomiuriland. Many players of the timeless theme park development game Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic will have already noticed the name of the park in one of the loading screen messages, because Yomiruiland is home to the world’s first stand-up coaster, the Momonga standing and loop coaster. If you’re now thinking “Uiiiii, a stand-up, how great!”, you can also look forward to the former record holder Bandit. You are welcome to leave out the sarcastic undertone while reading, because this is about historically interesting rides that have also left their mark on other important roller coasters. So let’s stay objective and focus on Yomiuriland in its entirety.

At least that’s what we thought, until we noticed at the valley station of the cable car leading up to Yomiuriland that it was not running. Directly at the train station, a staff member pointed out that there was a bus service up to the park all day long. But do you want to take the bus in muggy, foggy weather? Of course not, and so we dared to make the ascent, which in the end turned out to be very short notice.

When we arrived at the ticket office, we showed our passports and promptly received a hefty discount. Meanwhile, in the entrance area of the park, the park mascots were playing football. It’s the little things that make a park likeable, and this was one of them. In general, I had a positive first impression, which was also due to the day-care centre at the bottom station of the cable car and other social facilities provided by Yomiuriland. One could almost think that an amusement park is a social employer. Of course, this statement is somewhat different in Japan than in Europe, because thanks to year-round openings, at least the financial basis of the employees is guaranteed. In contrast, the trend here is towards minimum wages and more and more closing days during the season. This certainly makes sense from the point of view of many business graduates; from my point of view, however, it is the wrong way.


I also find it stupid when you always try to tick off the highlight first. Where is the arc of suspense, where is the urge to discover something new for oneself in peace? So, fast, fast, fast in the direction of the Bandit roller coaster. Left and right of the path doesn’t matter for the time being. The steel colossus from Togo at least offers a feature that I would like to try out. The splashy dive through the greenery, as my good friend Daniel (Lacront at very nicely describes it, offers some tingling water effects during the ride that are not to be missed. Unsure which of the two queues would lead us into the wet and happy adventure, we first queued at the one on the right (at the stairs).

Excited and also a little tense, we forced ourselves and our belongings into the narrow cars, closed the shoulder restraints and waited for the train to be dispatched. A member of staff operated a wheel of fortune on which the words High and Low alternated. The pointer then landed on Low and the train started moving. A short time later, a water fountain shot up and the falling water pelted the front part of the train, where we were of course sitting. Shortly after, we reached the lift hill of the ride and began the ascent to the starting height of 51m. In 1988, the ride in Yomiuriland was quite a calibre, which shortly thereafter ushered in the era of hyper coasters.

Once at the top, we complete a short straight before the train now turns towards the green hell below. During the descent, we hear the ignition of another water fountain in the distance, which reaches an estimated height of 40m. What goes up, must come down and so we race through the falling water at breakneck speed. In a high 180° bend just above the cable car leading to Yomiuriland, we quickly change direction before venturing into the greenery once more. Without mercy, we now approach an extremely crisp uphill helix, in which we power our way upwards within one and a half laps. A short descent at the top plateau of the ride follows before we plunge into the thicket once more in another high banked curve. Interestingly, we pass a lower point than on the first drop. But the true height difference of the ride only becomes apparent shortly.

With beautiful pacing, we complete a short airtime hill and immediately plunge into a deep valley. We reach the ground level of the ride for the first time. By exploiting the terrain, this results in a height difference of an incredible 78m. We climb steadily up a long ramp and then, at the end of the ascent, take a completely unexpected turn to the right. A few years ago, we could have seen the sister ride of the German Bandit from Movie Park Germany in all its glory. After the short right-hand bend, we make our way through the large valley once more. We then leave this valley via a short airtime hill, whereupon a left turn initiates the return to the station. After a short straight we whiz up a final climb and soon reach the braking section of the ride.

Go, go, Bandit! The fast-paced ride through the greenery impresses with its elongated layout and wide descents, but also with its Japanese peculiarities. For example, such a compact upward helix is unfortunately rarely found in roller coasters of this size even today. The most important gimmick, however, is the upgrade of the ride experience by the water effects used. Once wet, there is hardly any reason to swap the wet and happy ride for a dry one.

Laser Atlethic – Temple of the Sun

Opposite the Bandit roller coaster station is the interactive walkthrough Laser Atlethic – Temple of the Sun, where you can play tomb raider in the best Indiana Jones style on several missions of varying difficulty. As the name suggests, each course offers a mix of different skill games and a laser maze. In the teamwork variant, for example, you first have to pull yourself over a gorge with a roller board, then cross a laser maze and solve an oversized version of a ball maze in the last room. Of course, the whole thing takes place under time pressure and there are penalties for interrupting the light barrier. It’ s a wonderful fun experience that could also be implemented in various smaller amusement parks in Europe.

Animal Rescue – The Invasion of the Mekanchura

Directly below the Maze is the interactive dark ride Animal Rescue – The Invasion of the Mekanchura, which had to be pointed out to us first; after all, who would have the idea of simply following a rather renegade-looking path? Well, the station of the SL Coaster used to stand down here, but otherwise this corner of the park in Yomiuriland has been deserted. Thematically, you chase down poachers during the ride and capture them with nets before you are attacked by spiders yourself at some point and have to shoot your way out. The ride is quite entertaining and enjoyable.

Animal Coaster

If you follow the paths uphill again, you will end up in the family area around the park’s big Ferris Wheel. Here you will find several themed rides, including the snazzy Wanpaku Railway Oliver and the Animal Coaster. The latter is a variant of the historic Tumble Bug ride, which can still be experienced in a similar way in Kennywood Park.

Giant Ferris Wheel

In addition to a theoretically great view of Yomiuriland and the surrounding area, the Ferris wheel has foil-covered themed gondolas in addition to the normal gondolas, complete with matching background music. So you might think that the ubiquitous theme of “High & Low” in Yomiuriland would be about various Japanese metal groups. But in fact, according to the podcast Die Achterbahnreisenden, it is about Japanese gangster groups from various films. The whole thing culminates in High & Low Land, including a museum on an event area in the park.

Flag Street

Passing a children’s train and a carousel, we are now drawn to Midway Flag Street, a somewhat aging area with a variety of iconic rides, walkthroughs and restaurants.

To the left is a double feature consisting of a vintage car ride with a dinosaur theme and a bicycle pedal track running above it. Directly behind it and leading once around the entire area is the first go-kart track of Yomiuriland, which in turn consists of two tracks of different lengths.

Wan Wan Coaster Wandit

On the right side of Flag Street, the children’s roller coaster Wan Wan Coaster Wandit by the manufacturer Hoei Sangyo awaits us. The ride on the small roller coaster begins with a right turn out of the station. This is immediately followed by the lift hill that takes the train to a height of 5.5m. In a steep turn to the left, you quickly approach the bottom and then pass under the lift. In a 180° helix you then gain height metres again and cross the first curve of the ride. On a straight with integrated hills, you now make your way across the ride for a few metres before the return to the station is initiated via another turn. After another lap, the nice ride comes to an end.

Right next door is a Japanese compressed air jet ride with additional water effects, similar to a very primitive version of the Flying Fish from Zierer, where the park guests can aim water cannons at the passengers. Somehow, the Japanese are even crazier than the English when it comes to water, but interestingly enough, they are said to be somewhat afraid of it.

Hero Training Center Mission 8

There are also two walkthroughs directly opposite each other on the Midway. In addition to a classic Japanese house of horrors, there is also the Hero Training Centre Mission 8, which is quite something. You have to master task after task in several stages and rooms. These vary between games of skill, endurance games and puzzles. It’s just a shame that there are milestones in between that you have to pass. Although we seem to have figured out the card game, we probably did it completely the other way round and therefore got kicked out. It’s a real pity, because this attraction is also absolutely outstanding and could be established in an European amusement park. Since the fan scene has suddenly been overwhelmed by Karls Erlebnisdorf theme parks anyway, how about this? Another idea they announced in numerous interviews has already been implemented here in Yomiuriland by a German company, but more on that later.

Looping Starship

For now, it’s time to indulge in the looping craze of the late 70s and early 80s, and what could be better than a Looping Starship from Intamin. Just like in Nagashima Spa Land, the queen of the overhead ship swings convinces with its fast acceleration cycles and the terrific hangtime at the highest point of the ride.

Standing & Loop Coaster Momonga

One level higher, we experience the same game on a roller coaster. The Standing & Loop Coaster Momonga has a special feature, as the ride is able to accommodate two different types of vehicles. For this purpose, the station was divided in two, with both sides parallel to each other. A transfer element then pushes the respective side onto the central lane, whereupon the fun can begin.

After leaving the station, we immediately climb the lift hill of the ride. Having reached a height of 25m, we briefly enjoy the view before the right-hand bend we are currently in becomes more and more of a descent. In no time at all we find ourselves in the valley and are loaded with wonderful G-forces. Immediately we enter the loop and circle the lift hill once in the vertical plane, which has a nice visual effect, especially in the stand-up version. This is followed by a wide horizontal loop. After a short valley, there is an almost equally wide left turn, which represents the turn back to the station. Soon the brake of the roller coaster is reached and the ride is over. Now you are quickly pushed back to your loading side so that the other side can be sent on its way.

The Standing & Loop Coaster Momonga is not the most exciting roller coaster and especially compared to later rides of the manufacturer it is absolutely harmless. Nevertheless, it manages to perfectly embody the zeitgeist of the era. In short: It is simply cult and, especially because of the alternating operation between stand-up and sit-down cars, it is a very interesting ride. If you can live with that, you can switch back and forth between the two variants; it was definitely fun.

Crazy Hyuuu and Crazy Stooon

Passing the wave swinger Milky Way and the water park Water Amusement Island (WAI for short), which for a small entrance fee offers a Lazy River, two children’s landscapes, a diving tower, a large wave pool and a total of three sliders (although only the Spiral and the Straight Line Slider, a kamikaze slide, are included in the entrance fee; the large rafting slide, however, is covered by the free pass), you head towards the Lan Lan area with its sea lion show and the two S&S towers. While the Crazy Hyuuu tower shoots you to a height of 60m, Crazy Stooon drops you down with a supposed -2G; however, it was nothing compared to the force of Flamingo Land’s Cliff Hanger tower.


Directly opposite, another product of the manufacturer S&S was once supposed to open. Unfortunately, it only took a short time for the Robin Twist Coaster to have its first accident. After this, the ride was immediately shut down and dismantled a short time later. Thus, El Loco shares the dubious record of the shortest operating time of an S&S roller coaster with the Ring°Racer at the Nürburgring. In the meantime, a round ride, the Mega Disk’o Hashibiro-Go, has been built in its place.

Good Job Attractions

Those who have always wanted to jump down with a bungee cord can do so from a 22m-high platform for a relatively low price. We, on the other hand, now turn our attention to the Good Job Attractions industrial theme area, which can be reached from here via an entrance across the water park. In fact, we had to look for quite a long time here and finally took the entrance near the main entrance.

Here, Yomiuriland suddenly presents itself to its park guests as highly modern, clean and absolutely imaginative. Especially in comparison to the really run-down Flag Street, this is a very, very, very big contrast, which is also reflected in the doublets of rides. In addition to a modern bicycle pedal track, where you go on a crime spree in a video game, there is also a modern go-kart track, which bizarrely still partly runs along the old go-kart track. In addition to some nice children’s rides, there is also a very interesting game of skill in the outdoor area, where you have to influence the course of oversized marbles. Lovely!

The remaining rides are integrated into themed industrial halls. These are divided into the Fashion, Bungu, Food and Car Factories. Similar to an expo, you are immediately drawn into the respective theme when you enter the respective hall. The industrial charm is more like a child’s idea of an industrial plant, which is very good for the whole area.

In the Bungu Factory, for example, another game of skill awaits park guests in Yomiuriland, while Fashion World can boast the Spin Runway roller coaster, a spinning coaster from the manufacturer Gerstlauer. Things get really crazy on the Splash U.F.O. round boat ride, which is themed around the protection of the Nissin Yakisoba U.F.O. factory, which produces ready-made ramen. You can also accompany your own dinner during production. Last but not least, the Car Factory offers the opportunity to design your own car and then test-drive it on an interesting track.

Splash U.F.O.

Let’s now take a closer look at the two large-scale rides in this area. In the Food Factory we will board one of the boats of the compact Hafema mini raft ride Splash U.F.O. As in the Fuji-Q Highland, only boats for a total of four people are used in the ride. In retrospect, we should have realised by now at the latest what was coming up. But since the people in front of us had not got out particularly wet, we dared to take a ride without a rain poncho on the last day of our trip to Japan. In fact, the ride became tremendously entertaining due to the resulting tirades of escape from Nicolas’ side.

But back to the beginning. As soon as you have boarded the boats and been secured by the staff, the ride can begin. The station conveyor belt pushes us onto a small rotating platform that turns 90° in succession. A small film is shown on a ceiling projection, to which we can react with the buttons in the boat before we are pushed into the ride’s lift.  We follow the production chain of ramen noodles up a few metres before the villain with the teapot on his head wants to eat us. We escape and slide down a 180° helix in the process. Shortly after, a crisp descent follows. In a short block area after the run-out we are stopped and another story segment is projected on the ceiling. A 570° downward spiral follows, with additional water cannons on the side of the channel sending the boat into an extremely violent spin. After a leisurely descent, we find ourselves in the classic rafting channel of the ride. Accompanied by several rapids, we leave the building and make a short turn around the outside of the ride. Back in the hall, a few more metres of rafting follow before we stop again in another block area. Now, with the help of the U.F.O. Ramen Man, we have to defeat the villain once and for all. Shortly afterwards, the ride ends and the ramen dish is saved.

So, dear team of the Karls Erlebnis-Dorf parks, please build something exactly like this. You don’t necessarily have to take over the interactive component, but I’m sure you could find a use for it somehow. These mini raft rides from Hafema are already a class of their own and are unfortunately far too rare outside Japan.

Spin Runway

However, you don’t necessarily need a rapid river for a successful factory tour, a spinning coaster will do. At least that’s how you can describe the Spin Runway roller coaster. After a really beautifully designed and partly interactive cue, we lock our valuables in a locker and immediately take a seat in the familiar Gerstlauer chaises. The ride begins immediately, very similar to the roller coaster Maskerade from the Wiener Prater, with a darkride part through some serpentine curves. After this, we reach the ride’s lift. In this case, however, it is a drum lift. During the ascent, we can play a little mini-game in which we have to collect as many items of clothing as possible for our chosen mascot. Wildly pushing around does not help at all, everything has to be coordinated with the other occupants of the car.

Once at the top, we complete a hairpin turn and slowly pick up speed. After the countdown 3,2,1 Speed Runway we throw ourselves into the first downhill helix under numerous light effects. After a short valley, we gain a little bit of altitude again before we skilfully reduce it in another downhill helix. This is followed by a somewhat longer stretch above the station, which is skilfully exploited by the car’s spin.

A block brake is followed by a brisk combination of a downward helix in a clockwise direction followed by an upward helix in an anticlockwise direction. Shortly afterwards we find ourselves on the runway of the fashion show and the braking section of the ride. Only a few moments later, the station is reached and we can get off.

Spin Runway is not a really long spinning coaster, but it is an insanely well staged one. Before the ride, I was already afraid that it would be a direct sister ride to the extremely weak roller coaster Maskerade from the Wiener Prater and accordingly approached the ride with very low expectations. But I was wrong; the ride was great. Although the chosen elements were also used in the ride in question, the ride on the Spin Runway offers a much more immersive experience. The rotation of the car itself could be a little faster, but that is the only real criticism of the ride. I would definitely have liked to go on one or two more rounds here.

Back in the daylight, Nicolas was suddenly recognised by one of the Achterbahnreisenden, who themselves were discovering the country for themselves with a large group of enthusiasts. While we just had our last day in Japan, it was still one of the first for them. It was nice to talk a bit, although none of us expected to meet other German roller coaster tourists in Japan.

Pictures Yomiuriland

Conclusion Yomiuriland

Yomiuriland is an amusement park that looks really run-down in places, but it always stands out positively with its selected novelties. They do their best and it shows. In general, I liked Yomiuriland a lot, but I can also understand if you don’t really like this park. The selection of rides is good and the interactive walkthroughs are quite something. The amusement park also finally had some halfway usable merchandise to offer and so I left the park with a plush of Detective Conan in my luggage.


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Hybrid Leisure Land Amusement

Tobu Zoo Park

The Tobu Zoo Park opened its doors for the 80th anniversary of the Tobu Railway in 1981. Five years earlier, the operating company Tobu Leisure Planning Co., Ltd. was founded, which still operates the park today as a 100% subsidiary of the Tobu Group. A mixture of amusement park and zoo was selected prior to the park’s opening, with these being built separately at the eastern and western ends of the park. In 1990, the Tobu Zoo Park was expanded to include the Tobu Super Pool water park near the western entrance.

Coming from Tokyo you can take the Tobu Railway. From the Tobu-Dobutsu-koen station there is a shuttle bus to the eastern entrance of Tobu Zoo Park at regular intervals, but the park itself can also be reached easily by a short walk. If you enter the park from this entrance, you immediately find yourself at a lake, which you can also explore with pedal boats. This is the starting point for the internal bus line Animal Boo Boo and the park railway Tayno-No-Megumi.

If you follow the paths, you immediately find yourself in Liberty Land, a loose collection of rides along a slightly wider Mainstreet. Next to a merry-go-round, a small children’s ride, a pedal track and a music express there are two walkthroughs and two roller coasters.

Galaxy Walkers and Tentomushi

The interactive mirror maze Galaxy Walkers makes the beginning, in which you can save the world on two different missions. Not far from here, the ladybird ride Tentomushi makes its rounds on the figure eight-shaped course of the well-known Zierer roller coaster. As usual this is great fun for young and old.


The highlight in this area is the Kawasemi roller coaster. Built on the site of the former Mount Rocky Coaster, the ride uses most of the existing foundations – some modified to withstand the existing forces – for an extremely dynamic ride.

As soon as you take a seat in the train, the journey starts immediately with the rapid climb to the top of the lift hill. In a 69° steep drop the train shoots towards the ground. The 31 m difference in altitude is soon overcome and the train is on its way at a top speed of 85 km/h. With a wonderfully pronounced pressure you now speed through a curve close to the ground with a 78° cross slope, before you take a rather steep and 22 m high turn just below the lift hill. On the following 20 m high airtime hill you are lifted out of your seat by negative forces in a beautiful floating airtime. After another curve close to the ground, a series of very wild turns follows. Here you change the direction of travel three times in fast intervals with simultaneous ejector airtime. This is followed by another curve, adjoining two straight airtime hills. In a turn similar to a Bavarian curve, you then approach the station, whereupon the adventurous journey soon comes to an end.

Interestingly, I liked Kawasemi much better than its European counterpart Piraten in the Danish amusement park Djurs Sommerland, which is just slightly younger. What I hardly liked back then, in extremely adverse weather conditions, was really a lot of fun here. So much so, in fact, that I was always happy to get in. The turns, the airtime and the available pacing make the trip very entertaining and invite you to several repetitions, preferably without interruption. This is also possible without any problems, as the way from the exit to the entrance of the ride is wonderfully short.

Airlift Sky Fish Express

Should you be able to tear yourself away from the ride at any time, a visit to the neighbouring scary labyrinth of the Event Plaza is a good idea. A trip in the Monorail Airlift Sky Fish Express is a little less nerve-racking. The nice ride far above the paths of the park even serves as a means of transport within the amusement park Tobu Zoo Park.

Diggy & Daggy’s Tram Coaster

Shortly afterwards, we land in Heartful Town, the third stage of the Heartful Land theme. While the park that has already been explored may seem rather run-down, the children’s area, which was completely renovated in 2014, has a much more positive appearance. There are numerous typical Japanese children’s rides as well as the Diggy & Daggy’s Tram Coaster roller coaster.

The roller coaster built by Hoei Sangyo is characterised by an oval-shaped layout with a central downward helix, very similar to the dragon roller coasters of the manufacturer Zamperla. Spraying mist during the passage of the supporting structure adds a little extra value to the ride, but otherwise the Diggy & Daggy’s Tram Coaster is a nice children’s coaster for the youngest park guests.

The Zoo

As mentioned at the beginning, Tobu Zoo Park is a mixture of a leisure park and a zoo, which is why it is called Hybrid Leisure Land. The zoo itself consists to a large extent of far too small enclosures without any attempt at species-appropriate animal husbandry. The Monkey World is a very bad place, where the individual monkey species are displayed without any mercy in far too narrow cages.

The same applies also to the enclosures of most big cats (with exception of the lion enclosure), the elephants and the brown bears. I don’t expect any immensely large enclosures like in the English amusement park Flamingo Land, but surely the size of a German inner city zoo can be reached. Interestingly, the Hirakata Park with its few animal enclosures shows that this can also be taken for granted in Japan. And so the impression of the park becomes increasingly distorted the longer you stay in the zoo.

Nevertheless, there are also rays of hope in the zoo, which hardly matters anymore. The rhesus monkey mountain is large enough, the aviary with native animal species is very nicely designed and the savannah landscape with gazelles, giraffes and zebras is similar to that in Erlebnis-Zoo Hannover. So there is a lot of potential to run a magnificent zoo; but in the current state I advise everyone not to set foot in here.

Emma’s Cheese Windmill

The Heartful Farm, which was the first stage of the Heartful Lands, is worth a visit. This beautifully landscaped farm area houses the tractor ride Piggy’s Tokotoko, the Horn’s Farm Railway and the Emma’s Cheese Windmill Ferris Wheel. The latter was built in 2013 and allowed a smooth transition between the old and new wheel. Remarkably, two giant wheels stood in the park for one season. The new wheel has air conditioning on each individual gondola, a sound system and wheelchair access.

UFO Dome

After passing the Heartful Garden, a large botanical garden, the way leads us into the Pleasure Land. Next to a telecombat and a very nice wave swinger featuring water fountains (very similar to Monkey Swinger in the English amusement park Chessington – World of Adventures) there is the 3D cinema UFO Dome, in which a typical Japanese horror movie was shown this season. Interestingly, this cinema is actually a motion simulator made by Intamin. The installation is still operated in the tried and tested way, even the pre-show is used – only the movements of the two-seater gondolas during the main film are missing.


The main attraction of this area is the wooden roller coaster Regina. With a total length of 1330m and a height of 37m, this is a real colossus to explore. Since most of the ride was built on a concrete foundation above a larger lake area, the roller coaster within the park is known as the Wooden Water Coaster. But don’t worry, you can only get wet if it rains during your ride.

After climbing the stairs to the station, the Intamin train is ready to be boarded by the willing passengers. A short time later the train is dispatched and we leave the station in a short drop towards the lift hill. When we reach the top, we immediately cross the hilltop and plunge down the First Drop. Without shake, rattle, but with quite a lot of roll, we race with 90 km/h through the first valley and immediately up the first hill. The ascent is quite steep at first, but then it bends off into a rather flat ramp; which results in an interesting interplay of forces. In a wide 180° left turn we keep the gradient angle of the ramp, whereby the next drop is initiated surprisingly fast. After the next powerful valley follows a beautifully designed camelback. This is followed by another ascent, which also leads to a wide turn. This time, however, the descent starts at the summit crossing. The train now runs rapidly along the front side of the track, before we master the ascent into the block brake of the track in a double-up.

Without any deceleration we leave the brake into a 500° right leading downwards helix. Quite quickly we increase speed and decrease altitude. With a pronounced speed we climb a short incline at the rear end of the layout just below the first turn. In a right turn we promptly follow the same curve. Consequently, parallel to the first drop, we plunge to the ground one more time and make our way to the other side of the track in a series of steadily rising hills. One last dip and some short hops later we reach the braking track. Across the transfer track and another turning curve we return to the station.

Regina is a first class wooden roller coaster with absolutely remarkable ride characteristics, as the track is completely smooth. There is really nothing to claim here, the ride is good. The layout doesn’t offer big airtime moments or even remarkably wild manoeuvres, but the layout has a nice flow over a really long distance.

Pictures Tobu Zoo Park

Conclusion Tobu Zoo Park

The Tobu Zoo Park is a very good amusement park and a terrible zoo at the same time. The park can be placed in the midfield, as a successful mixture of animal and amusement park can be experienced in many other places in a much better quality. The improvements in the zoo give at least hope, even if the experience for the park visitor stands above animal welfare. The innovations in the amusement park are all worth seeing and indicate a promising future for the park.


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¡Viva España!

The History of Parque España

It is an indisputable fact that the Japanese are always enthusiastic about European culture; places like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, for example, are considered one of the hotspots of any trip to Europe and restaurants from all possible regions of the Occident – in a selection that one would wish for more often in Europe – are extremely popular and sometimes very exquisite. One could therefore make the assumption that the same explains Parque España.

In order to improve the utilisation of its railway line, the railway company Kintetsu planned several resorts along the Shima Line, among which the resort at the terminus was to have its own amusement park to meet the increased needs of tourists – a modern interpretation of a classic trolley park.

It is strange that the amusement park that most closely resembles a typical park in our favourite holiday destination is located in Japan and that there is no similarly themed amusement park in Spain. It is even stranger if the reason for this decision was that the theme of the resort was simply hardly or not at all known to the Japanese at the time of the planning and it was only chosen because of the similar weather conditions. Major media events, such as the Summer Olympics in Barcelona and the 1992 Expo in Seville, then generally suited the park so that it could successfully start its first season in 1994.

After just a few weeks, the park welcomed over one million visitors. By the end of its first season, it had attracted 4.2 million visitors – an unparalleled success, one might think. In fact, things were a little different at Parque España, because its initial success was immediately followed by its decline. Already in its second season, the number of visitors dropped to about 3 million – not unusual in itself, as this is usually followed by a stabilisation of the figures – but in the following year the number of visitors dropped by another 500,000. The opening of the Pyrenees roller coaster and the dark ride Viaje Aventurero de Don Quijote counteracted the trend for a short time, but it could not be stopped. It was not until 2000 that the decline stagnated for the first time for several years at around 1.6 million visitors. In 2005, the numbers for the entire resort once again dropped in the double-digit range, but again they were able to catch up until 2008. Then in 2009 the number of visitors dropped by 13.4%, in 2008 by 7.2% and so on and so forth. It remains to be seen whether Shima Spain Village will be able to maintain its position for much longer and whether the number of visitors will actually stabilise at some point.

Tour of the park

But enough of the doom and gloom, we are going to Spain after all. So bring out the red wine and your best Brandy; you probably already have the tapas to go with it, and if not, I’ll now present you with a few delicacies. However, if you’re short on wine, you can also reach for your favourite cervesa.

We enter the Parque España via the Avenida de España, the covered main street of the park, and immediately feel like we are on the Iberian peninsula. The effect is intensified on the Plaza de Cibeles, where we immediately see ourselves in the middle of the Spanish capital. Unlike the original, the large square here is not lined by the town hall, but by facades of various Spanish buildings and a bullring.

Steampunk Coaster Iron Bull

Where recently the train was forced into the arena on the Matador bullfight coaster, an iron bull now rolls impressively through a machine hall. The Steampunk Coaster Iron Bull is by no means as memorable as its design. Secured by shoulder restraints, we first ride through a short left turn and immediately climb the ride’s first lift hill. In an increasingly steep left turn, the bull plunges 12 m to the ground and reaches a top speed of 52 km/h. After this, we quickly climb a hill and before we know it, we are in a downward helix, whereupon the track runs close to the ground along the wall of the hall. Continuing in a right-hand bend, we now cross the section of the first slope and plunge towards the hall floor once more. Passing through a backdrop, we then climb another hill, whereupon we reach the show part of the ride.

During the time in the block brake, the steam train is supplied with hot coals for the rest of the ride. A progress scale is displayed and finally we are given the green light, just like a classic accelerator coaster; only the launch is missing. Instead, we move forward a few metres before the brake brings the train to a halt out of the blue. A very slow turn follows, after which the second lift hill is reached. The train also leaves this hill in an increasingly steep curve and immediately reaches the floor of the hall. After the subsequent left turn, the braking section follows and shortly afterwards the station and the ride, which was quite entertaining until the show part, comes to an end.

El Circo Pierrot

Hidden behind one of the other facades is the covered and very nicely designed children’s land El Circo Pierrot, including an interactive dark ride on the hall ceiling, which is not to be missed.

However, if you are drawn to Madrid, you can step through a portal onto the Plaza Mayor. Just as impressive as the original, it is adorned with a multitude of bars, restaurants and shops; of course in a rather high-priced segment. A visit to the Plaza Mayor is perfect for a cervesa or an afternoon siesta.

Those who want to find out more about Spain outside the visible architecture can do so in the spacious and extremely worthwhile Castillo de Xavier museum. Here, a tour through Spanish history, art and crafts awaits the interested visitor.


Meanwhile, a completely different image of Spain is conveyed in the musical show ABCDEspaña, in which typical Spanish customs and terms are conveyed by the park mascots using the ABCs. In doing so, they fall back on the Spaniards’ favourite form of entertainment – in my view very authentically – because well-choreographed shows always go down well. All in all, the show is extremely enjoyable, quite entertaining and even the sound was very good.

We leave the upper plateau using (disco) escalators and descend to the Plaza Colón, a beautifully designed area where two dark rides and a short walkthrough await visitors.

Casa Misteriosa de Choquy and Feliz Cruise 

While the Casa Misteriosa de Choquy is a black-light funhouse with the mascot Choquy, the quiet dark ride Feliz Cruise is characterised by the fact that it was once a much more interesting state-of-the-art water ride with a pirate theme called Adventure Lagoon.

It is rather disappointing when an elaborately designed ride with vertical lift, incline and normal lifts is converted into a simple canal ride for cost reasons and the former station is then marketed as an almost independent pirate ship attraction. Although the Feliz Cruise with its dioramas is anything but bad, it leaves a bad aftertaste if the large (dark ride) hall is simply left unused.

Viaje Aventurero de Don Quijote

But anyone who thinks that a visit down here is therefore no longer worthwhile is very much mistaken, because the second of the two dark rides is quite something. On the Viaje Aventurero de Don Quijote, the adventure ride of Don Quixote, guests can expect a fabulous flight through the adventures of the Spanish knight, represented by the mascots of Parque España. The ride system is similar to that of the dark ride Peter Pan’s Flight from Disneyland, but it does one thing better than the other copies: it beats the original by miles! As much as I was amazed by it after my first ride, I liked the subsequent repeat ride just as much; a genuine insider tip.

Bosque de Cuentos

Through the Bosque de Cuentos, a kind of fairy tale path, and the Calle de Santa Cruz, a typical Spanish street with several restaurants, mock shops (including prices in €) and small exhibitions, we ascend to the Avenida de Carmen, where the Carmencita is already performing its predatory game. In fact, this allusion is quite valid, because the Parque España offers a flamenco show, which, however, charges a fee and features cast dancers from Spain. This would be legitimate if the park itself was not already one of the most expensive in the country.

La Suite del Cascanueces

Instead of the show, we dedicate ourselves to the Suite del Cascanueces by the Russian composer Tchaikovsky – instead of ballet, however, an extraordinary dark ride awaits us, in which the story of the Nutcracker is taken up, accompanied by a lot of coloured lights.

Castillo de Hielo and Alice in Wonderland

Passing the Castillo de Hielo, one of the typical Japanese freezer walkthroughs, which I have absolutely no memory of, we now head to the Plaza del Fiesta, the main theme park part of the park. Here you can see the Alice in Wonderland interactive walkthrough attraction, a boat swing, a balloon race, tea cups, a carousel, a 360° cinema and the station of the Tren Fiesta.

But you can also marvel at the main attractions of Parque España here. The first is the double ride consisting of Splash and Gran Montserrat, one of the early versions of the popular combination of roller coaster and log flume.

Splash Montserrat

The ride in Splash Montserrat starts with a wide turnaround, which you enter in a short right turn. The lift then takes you up quickly so that, similar in construction to the Europa Park’s Tiroler Wildwasserbahn (Tyrolean log flume), there is a medium-sized shot ride that releases you onto an elaborated level. Here you bob along the channel and the artificial rock massif for a little longer. Always with a good view of the course of the Gran Montserrat roller coaster, the canal zigzags straight ahead until you take a similarly constructed right-hand bend towards the second lift hill. Once you have reached the top, the big of the two shot rides immediately follows. After a final (almost non-existent) splashdown and the return to the station, the far too dry whitewater ride comes to an end.

Gran Montserrat

Five years after the opening of the Eurosat roller coaster, the Mack company was able to open another ride of this roller coaster model, but this time as a classically designed mine train. Gran Montserrat is therefore a very special ride in two respects, which we will now take a closer look at.

The ride begins with a left-hand turn into the first of the two lift hills. After reaching the starting height of 20m, we immediately plunge to the ground in a steeply descending right turn, reaching a speed of 66km/h. With a lot of pressure we cross the first valley, whereupon we gain height on a flat ramp leading to the left along the log flume. In a serpentine fashion, we now make a right and a left turn above the water ride, whereupon we plunge down a flat ramp to the ground and whiz over it in a wide right turn. After a short climb, we immediately reach the second lift hill parallel to the first.

Once again at 20m, we now disengage a little more leisurely and as a result dedicate ourselves to a flat downhill straight with a subsequent 180° helix. We change direction with momentum and reach the ground again after a left-hand bend, which is now quite steep. After another extremely pressurised valley, a relatively tight right turn follows, which takes us far up. High above the log flume, we now pass through a straight and then two downward helices, which are lined up in the shape of a figure eight and are first passed through to the right and then to the left. We then reach the final brake of the ride.

Gran Montserrat is a nice family roller coaster that is extremely fast and punchy in some places. In short, the Mack Rides Mine Train is quite appealing – just don’t make the mistake of comparing it to indoor roller coasters of the same design. The ride characteristics are particularly positive, as they are smooth and hardly distinguishable from modern rides by the manufacturer.

Batalla del Alcázar “Adelante”

In the immediate vicinity of the mine roller coaster is the entrance to the interactive dark ride Batalla del Alcázar “Adelante” by the Japanese manufacturer Senyo. As always with this type of dark ride, you shoot at worm-like animatronics and other enemies, but the highlight of this ride is that the passenger gondolas can additionally be moved transversely to the direction of travel, which has enhanced the already very great ride even more.

Kiddy Montserrat

Parque España’s newest roller coaster is the Kiddy Montserrat children’s roller coaster, which, despite its name, does not ride through the artificial Montserrat mountain range. With a height of 8.5m and a length of 216m, the Mosaic Salamander takes you through a shallow left turn after the lift hill, followed by a wide right turn along the station. This is followed by a downward helix with an ever increasing radius before the station is reached again and the rather nice jet coaster ride ends.


Let’s now turn to the last roller coaster of Parque España, the B&M Inverted Coaster Pyrenees. With a height of 45m and a length of 1234m, the ride is the top dog of the park and a real eye-catcher. But can the elongated inverter live up to the high expectations of the ride?

After passing through the deserted queue, we are immediately assigned to one of the front rows. After some time, the gates are opened and the train is quickly processed, so that we meet again in the lift a short time later. We cross the pre-drop with full vigour and immediately plunge towards the ground. What follows is an interplay of extremely pressure-rich valleys and beautiful loops, which are connected in the middle by a relatively tame zero-G roll. This is followed by a very long left turn close to the ground, which then turns into the Cobra Roll. We perform this inversion figure with the best of devotion and are turned upside down twice during the process. We pass through the next valley at high speed and immediately dedicate ourselves to the ascent into the block brake. We go through a long right-hand bend that narrows more and more towards the end and finally wraps around the second loop in an intense helix.

Without reducing the speed in the block brake, it pulls us towards the abyss one more time, whereupon the world is turned upside down for the last time in an exceedingly rapid corkscrew. Now we cross the track of the first drop in a left turn and pick up speed on a very long straight for the return to the station. With a lot of momentum we shoot over the queue and after a tight turning curve we soon find ourselves in the final brake and the station.

Pyrenees is a very nice inverted coaster of larger construction, but unfortunately its peculiarities do not convince me personally. During the ride, there are simply far too many parts of the track that are only meant to stretch the ride, and the long downward ramp before the final hill just seems strange, both visually and in terms of the ride. However, that doesn’t mean that fans of the manufacturer’s big inverted coasters won’t get their money’s worth – the ride is perfectly fine.

Pictures Parque España

Conclusion Parque España

Parque España is a beautifully designed amusement park, but its best years are long behind it. Although the park has some top-class attractions, overall Parque España simply lacks the attractions to justify the high entrance fee and the time-consuming journey to the park. This is a pity, because the idea of running an amusement park with authentic food and appropriate cultural offerings of a country far away from the country in question is quite charming; but perhaps as a European visitor, one simply associates Spain more as a holiday destination and consequently feels a little more in tune with the theme than the Japanese tourists, whom the park is known to miss out on.


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