Boats ahead on the Japanese highland plateau

The History of Kijima Kogen Park

On a high plateau (Japanese Kogen) far above the Japanese spa town of Beppu – which attracts several million visitors every year, mainly due to its large number of hot springs and the associated public baths, the so-called onsen – lies the Kijima Kogen Park (城島高原パーク).

Starting out as a small go-kart track, Kijima Motopia Land was created in 1967. With the longest go-kart track in Japan at that time, new visitors were quickly attracted to the plateau. After a change of ownership in 1971, a swimming pool and a bowling alley were added to the resort. In 1982 the park name was changed to Kijima Kogen Family Park and the following year the looping coaster Super LS Coaster was opened.

In 1987, West Japan Nippon Korakuen Co, Ltd. (operator of the former Kōrakuen stadium and today’s Tokyo Dome) took over the park. In the course of this, the park was renamed in 1992 to Kijima Korakuen Yūenchi (engl. Amusement Park), in connection with a large expansion of the amusement park area and the opening of Japan’s first wooden roller coaster. In 2007, the resort was sold to Morgan Stanley, after which it was operated under the resort brand Centleisure for several years. In 2012, Kijima Kogen Operations Co, Ltd. was established as part of a restructuring process and renamed Kijima Kogen Park.

Tour of the park

If you enter the park, you will find yourself right on the beautiful Main Street of the park. To the left is the indoor playground Toy Kingdom and to the right the souvenir shop of the park, where you can buy mainly the most popular souvenir of the Japanese: cookies from the region.

Super LS Coaster

Of special interest, however, is the big roller coaster directly in front of us: The Super LS Coaster (actually L&S, for Loop & Screw) by Meisho. Wonderfully embedded in the landscape, the train takes you through a loop and two corkscrews.

But before I tell you too much about the route in the introduction I would suggest that we climb the stairs to the station and get on the train. After leaving the station we spend some time on the lift hill. At the top we leave the hill on a ramp with a minimal gradient and make a short right bend. High above the arcades we cross the first valley and start the big shot. In a wide right bend we increase more and more speed, whereupon the train disappears in a pit. Continuing with the same gradient, we now rush through a short straight section with our eyes now always on the next element. Mercilessly powerful we cross the following valley before we find ourselves headfirst in a loop. This is also passed with a lot of pressure. Afterwards the train shoots up a steep slope of a camelback. This camelback brings us with light airtime into the right sitting position for the next inversion figure. In a wide left turn along the minigolf course we slowly increase in cross slope before we are in the starting position for the two corkscrews. Two headstands later we are slowly pulled towards the station in a left turn. We cross the loop and dive down on a longer straight for the last time. Between the two corkscrews we are pulled up to the station level and shortly after into the final brake of the ride.

The Super LS Coaster keeps what its name promises and surprises you all the more with the excellent transfer of its built up speed. In addition, there are three overhead elements that are beautiful to ride and the generally very good ride characteristics of the layout, which ultimately invite you to ride it continuously.


But before we dedicate ourselves to this activity, we first go on an exploration tour to the lower levels of the Kijima Kogen Park. Passing a beautifully designed children’s driving school and the neighbouring footbath (one of the typical Japanese onsen, just for feet) we are drawn to the wooden roller coaster Jupiter. We were told right at the entrance that the ride would not run today – but we didn’t know the reason for that yet. In fact, we thought that the freshly renovated trains were the reason for this and not the death of an employee (during routine work) only a few days before. Of course, such an accident should not happen and the outcome is tragic – so it’s perfectly understandable that the ride was not in operation until it was approved by the local authorities. On site, of course, it was necessary to overlook the loss of a ride – very difficult especially if one person wanted to ride all wooden coasters in the country. In general, however, one thing can be said about Jupiter: The ride looks (if you see it at all) extremely delicious; the first drop seems absolutely wild and in general the track with its 1600m seems to be extremely dynamic.


I will certainly stand in front of the roller coaster again at some point in the near future. In the meantime, however, we are drawn into the labyrinth Mars, which is actually subject to an extra charge. On two missions – one rather sporty, the other one for thinkers – it goes over several levels, peppered with various tasks through the wooden building. There are three stamps to find for the stamp booklet and if you have passed both missions, you even get a golden sticker. Indeed a fun for the whole family, which might be a great idea to be introduces into serveral western countries.

Poseidon 30

The same applies to the covered water ride Poseidon 30 – whereby the roof of the boats should only be offered as an option for the water-shy park guests. Built by the manufacturer O.D. Hopkins, the Spillwater stands out above all for its impressive wave, while at the same time the passengers and spectators are not getting wet at all. For a water ride this does not sound very impressive, but who am I kidding? It’s about boats. The boat, which at that time fulfilled an involuntary abort criterion of the onride veteran Stilbruch on his Japan trip.

Actually, it’s quite simple: Put your foot on the roller in the floor space and push your harness when the boat hits the wave and you will survive without any insury; promised ;-). We were patiently taught how to do it and after we survived it we were happy to get back on board again and again during the day. However, if something would have happened, it would have been the conceivably most unfavourable tour course. But as it is already said Tidal Wave in the English theme park Thorpe Park: “What is the worst that could happen? Well, it is advertising for Dr. Pepper, but still – this is the only way to start a Japan tour.

Ice World

Survived, but with the best will in the world hardly or not at all refreshed, we were now drawn to a very special attraction: the nicely designed cold store Ice World. With a temperature difference of more than 60°C, we walked in very small steps through the cold chamber cooled down to -30°C and past all kinds of beautifully designed scenery.

Sky Pallet

The next special feature of Kijima Kogen Park was the nearby Giant Ferris Wheel Sky Pallet, where, in addition to the normal gondolas, you can also experience the ride in a kind of open-air gondola at right angles to the direction of travel. Secured by a shoulder restraint, the ride experience intensifies almost automatically, but the field of vision is limited to only one side. Thus, it is a pity that such gondolas are much too rare.


More often, also in Japan, you can find free fall towers. The local example is called Newton and like an apple, it drops you from a tall height to the ground. The Japanese have an interesting understanding of safety, and although they put additional padding everywhere, they do not use it in free fall towers; even the belts known from Europe to secure the safety bar are simply missing. This results in an even more intensified overall experience that can only be topped by the extremely creative gondola design.

A similarly creative design can be found on the nearby observation tower, which has a stork design and works like a Flying Island ride. From up here you have a wonderful view of the plateau with all its rides, which we will now take a closer look at.


Through a small children’s area, including a dragon roller coaster by the manufacturer Zamperla (a small oval with a central downward helix) and past the large paddling pool, which is used as a skating rink in winter, we were drawn to the upper level. Here you can find all kinds of classic flat rides, such as a teacup ride, a horse carousel and a wave swinger, but also rides such as a sea storm ride, a flying carpet and a large swing boat.

360° 3D cinema

Of particular interest was the 360° 3D cinema, where a typical Japanese horror film was shown in the afternoon. Accompanied by all kinds of effects, the film worked extremely well and the 3D effect was also great – which is why we were drawn back to this kind of cinema again and again during the rest of the tour.

Flash Battle K and Shooting Pirates

The same is true for interactive games, like Flash Battle K, where you had to hit buttons – which are spread all over the room – like crazy to score as many points as possible. With the same premise, but conceived as a classic interactive theme ride, Shooting Pirates presents itself to park guests. Similar to the dark ride Capitán Balas of the Spanish amusement park Isla Magica, the ride goes through an elaborately designed pirate theme in small round chaises. The ride is very impressive, but it is also incredibly short and the end comes very fast.

Roller Skate Coaster

Right next door you will find the laser labyrinth (extra charge) and the children’s roller coaster Roller Skate Coaster in the classic roller skater layout of the manufacturer Vekoma. Accordingly, the ride offers some racy curves and helices, perfectly tailored to the young park guests who like to get on and off.

Moon Parade

At first sight, the Monorail Moon Parade looks similarly familiar, at least until you get into the car. Instead of using electricity, you drive along the track with a combustion engine, and the best part is that we can steer. We can only control the speed, but for everything else there is a very long go-kart track directly under the layout.

Gold Rush

Now let’s get to the last attraction of Kijima Kogen Park and my 450th roller coaster: Gold Rush. Nestled in an artificial rock massif, the ride is, at least in the front part of the train, incredibly brute and wild. After the lift ascent, you curve through the layout level by level, starting with a tight left turn, which immediately leads into the first, very flat drop. Interestingly, the ascent is much steeper and the hilltop is very narrow, so you get in contact with the bar and experience some airtime. After a left bend, the game is repeated again on a small scale. After a wide right bend a short dip follows, after which we gain a lot of momentum on a shot. During this we dive into the rock massif, always with our eyes on the coming evil. As if we did not deserve it any other way, we climb a small ascent, the crest of which is once again very narrow and then leads into a curve. Absolutely surprised by the enormous interplay of all forces, we leave the cave under loud laughter and devote ourselves to the rest of the course. Over a powerless camelback we reach another turn-around curve, on which we are now forwarded parallel to the station. In a left-hand bend we cross under the hill we just passed, and with a constant lateral inclination we now cross a short straight line, as well as the last bends in the direction of the station.

I did not expect much from the Gold Rush roller coaster, but it is truly a rush of the senses. Rather rusted than covered with gold dust, the ride convinces with its slick ride characteristics and its, at least in the front part of the train, absolutely terrific transitions. All in all, the Gold Rush roller coaster is a great family roller coaster, which fits perfectly into this amusement park.

Pictures Kijima Kogen Park

Conclusion Kijima Kogen Park

The Kijima Kogen Park was a very special amusement park for me, as it was not only the first one I visited in Japan, but also my 100th visited amusement park! Therefore, it is even better that I really liked the park very much. The atmosphere of the park reminds in large parts of the Danish amusement park Tivoli Gardens, which is also due to its absolutely great gardens. The rides all know how to entertain, which is why I would like to come back sooner than later, definitely not because I miss a ride on the wooden roller coaster Jupiter but rather because I would like to explore the area around Beppu. The hot springs are really appealing to me.


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A visit to the Crazy Horse

Cavallino Matto

After staying in Rainbow Magicland near the Italian capital for almost too long, we reached the Tuscan amusement park Cavallino Matto at 4 pm on time. To my own surprise, the visit was a little cheaper thanks to the afternoon ticket and free parking.

In a good mood we went straight to the park of the Manfredi family, who have owned the Crazy Horse, Cavallino Matto, since 2006. However, the park was founded as Parco Gulliver as early as 1967, and was more a playground with pony rides and mini-golf than a leisure park. In the 1990s, more and more larger rides, such as the Colorado Boats log flume, moved into the park. However, the park didn’t gain in attraction until the Manfredi family took over and expanded it.

Rock ‘n’ Roll

I did not become aware of Cavallino Matto until 2012, and thus certainly earlier than most amusement park fans, when the Swedish amusement park Liseberg had its old Rock ‘n’ Roll monster from Schwarzkopf replaced by a brand new one from Gerstlauer, which in turn moved the old one to Tuscany. Here it was given a new environment, whereby the old theme is still used musically. In contrast to the comparable ride in the French Nigloland, the ride here is also very easy to turn thanks to the lack of partitions between the seats, which in combination with the general duration of the ride made for an all-round successful ride.

Topo Zorro

Opposite it is the children’s roller coaster Topo Zorro, a rather rare variation of the Italian long runner Brucomela with a helix instead of a straight downhill run. In contrast to the C&S-built ride Tren de Potosi from the Spanish Isla Magica near Sevilla, the waves in the upper part of the ride are quite round, which unfortunately makes the ride a bit less exciting.

Shocking Tower und Yukatan

Just a few metres further on, the first end of the Cavallino Matto amusement park is reached, where two rides venture beyond the ever-present treetops in a larger square. While the 55m high Shocking Tower from Soriani & Moser easily manages this, the gondola carrier of the Technical Park Typhoon Yukatan only reaches beyond the treetops in full swing. This makes the otherwise rather tame ride a very exciting experience.

Project 1

Passing a children’s driving school, as well as the Baia dei Bucanieri – a splash battle of SBF Visa – in whose courtyard the ship swing Nave Pirata is located, we went to the formerly largest roller coaster of the park: the L&T Systems ride Project 1. Here we also came across the exemplary handling of the park for the first time, according to which the train is sent onto the track immediately with enough passengers or after a certain time interval with only a few willing passengers. Especially on empty days this ensures sufficient rides on all relevant rides without having to pay attention to eventual closing and opening times.

The ride begins with a right turn towards the lift hill, which takes you up to the maximum height of 16m at a fairly leisurely pace. In a shallow right turn above the tree tops, you slowly but surely head towards the ground. Here you immediately pass through a long valley, after which you make your way to the sky with a similar gradient as you did on the descent. This also happens in a right turn, but the tree tops can only be seen from below. A smaller slope takes you to the other side of the ride, but there is now an uphill bend to the left. Parallel to the lift hill there is now another drop, whereupon the station is crossed in another left turn. This is followed by the last descent and a final bend, until the nice, but not necessarily exciting, ride in Cavallino Matto ends.

Wild Mine

Also from here it is only a few steps to the next bigger attraction, which for us was not the nicely designed dark ride Safari Adventures, but the wild mouse Wild Mine, also from L&T Systems. The ride is similar to its counterpart from Mirabilandia, but a bit smaller and has two hairpin bends less. Thus, the upper part of the ride goes through only five serpentine curves just before the funny interplay between steeper gradients and further hairpin bends starts one level below. Due to lack of space, the two successive gradients are slightly smaller, but this doesn’t hurt the funny mouse, especially since we didn’t have to wait an hour or rather a second for the ride this time.

Speedy Gonzales

Directly next door is the small roller coaster Speedy Gonzales, which we also knew from Mirabilandia. However, it seemed to be bigger there. Instead of just one lap through the layout of a simple figure of eight, the train set made its guided way over the track twice.

Colorado Boats

In addition to an electric horse-riding track and a 4D cinema, this area of Cavallino Matto also features the large, apparently home-made, Colorado Boats log flume. After leaving the station, you can take a little boat ride through the canal before you reach the first conveyor belt which takes you up to the top. Shortly after that the first shot is taken, whereupon the contact with the cool water is immediately established. Although the run-out area is very short, the boat glides very smoothly into the next curve whereby the speed is somewhat slow. No wonder that it is forbidden to change the natural speed of the boat. Of course we followed this advice written in German with pleasure and so we bobbed with the boat through the further course of the channel. A short time later we reached the second lift and thus the second and also biggest shot of the ride. Now the return to the station could be done properly moistened, but since no photo of the ride has been taken yet and this should best be taken during a descent, we climbed a hill a third time, but this time a remarkably small one. Fortunately, this hill is quite harmless and the boat trip through the forest ends shortly afterwards with a sufficiently pronounced degree of wetness.


On a brand new site, separated by a small public road, the newest and largest roller coaster of the Cavallino Matto amusement park rises to the sky. Although the Freestyle roller coaster is considerably older than any other ride in the park, the former Sky Rider from Canada’s Wonderland has attracted the park’s attention in all the forums. Almost like in 1985, the construction of the Stand-Up Coaster was eagerly awaited, which is the second ride of this type in Europe next to the Shockwave of the English amusement park Drayton Manor. Moreover, it is the only larger roller coaster of the Japanese manufacturer Togo in Europe, which is all the more reason to make a pilgrimage to the small, friendly amusement park in Tuscany.

While on most roller coasters the experience starts with the ascent of the lift hill, the access to Freestyle is already quite adventurous. Admittedly I didn’t understand the whole procedure at the first run, especially as the shoulder bar waistcoat couldn’t be opened completely, but this improved steadily from ride to ride. And actually it’s quite simple, because you only have to pull the nipple through the flap and turn the small crank to the top, then you see an arrow and press on it and it opens or closes. Actually you only have to push the loose harness forwards. But hopefully the person to your right doesn’t do the same at the same moment (which is very likely). When the harness is opened, place yourself onto the seat, close the harness and adjust the height of your seat. The seat is then locked in position and if necessary readjusted by the staff. The staff must be praised for their quick reactions and for allowing even a mentally handicapped and partially paralysed boy to ride in the course of the day.

As soon as the train has been cleared, you can take the lift up to a height of 27m at a leisurely pace. Up there, you take a turn above the green of the forest. In a curve you pick up more and more speed before you plunge down to the ground without hesitation. With extraordinary strong pressure you pass the first valley and immediately afterwards in a similar manic way the loop of the ride. After that you pass the following valley without any regard to losses before the train rushes up a camelback. Here you take off the floor in the front part of the train. However, with the best will in the world, the madness is not over, because the train now pushes through a narrow downhill helix, which is equipped with immensely high pressure. The now compressed legs are brought back into shape on the following hill by the negative forces; but the madness still continues. On a supposed straight line the train is now tilted to the left before it uses a right turn as a turning manoeuvre. Two and a half small hills, which get bigger and bigger towards their end, are the finale of this exciting ride. With the last hilltop the braking distance is reached and after another curve also the station, where you immediately feel the urge for another round.

The Stand-Up Coaster Freestyle is certainly one of the most intense roller coasters in Italy and also in Europe. The way the roller coaster stresses you in the helix is insane and almost uncomfortable, but in combination with the airtime moments during the ride it is extremely worth experiencing. If you can thankfully do without taking off on the first drop, then a ride in the front part of the train is recommended. Unfortunately, the ride characteristics are not the best, but the safety bars are almost negligible because they hardly touch your body; that’s why Dominik, who was rather displeased with the excellent Invertigo from Movieland Park, wanted to take one lap after the other, while one or two laps less would have been enough for me. But one can also be infected by such a passion.

Pictures Cavallino Matto

Conclusion Cavallino Matto

Cavallino Matto was the most sympathetic amusement park on the tour, so despite only two hours in the park we really had a lot of fun here. All in all, we had quite a few repeat rides on Freestyle and were able to ride everything without any problems due to the good waiting time management; only the strict approach to the Yucatan swing prevented a final ride on the stand-up coaster, which we had grown to love until then. So the ride just above the tree tops was the crowning glory of the tour through beautiful Italy.

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Entering the adventure park

Avonturenpark Hellendoorn

Originally I had planned to visit the Avonturenpark Hellendoorn during my first proper theme park tour in 2009, but the park was not open at Easter. Even on later trips to the Netherlands, the amusement park was only characterised by much shorter opening hours and constant days off. So it was definitely time to visit the park on a weekend in the middle of the season.

Wild Waterval

A little underdressed compared to the weather, after all, various weather reports predicted sunshine and pleasant temperatures instead of very fresh climatic conditions with permanent drizzle and other kinds of rain, I went straight into the park after the obligatory ticket purchase. Past the monorail, the path leads straight to the first highlight of the Avonturenpark Hellendoorn: The Mack log flume Wild Waterval.

As one of the first log flumes of the manufacturer, this ride still has a functional double loading station. Placed in a dugout, the ride leads purposefully in a long curve and past the station towards the first lift hill. On the now higher level, you can bob along wonderfully before you rush through the channel in a surprisingly wild way. In a shallower current you approach the second lift, which takes you up to the maximum ride height of 12m, whereupon the only shot of the ride follows. Well moistened, one completes the remaining meters of the ride, which can be described as a really good log flume.


Already in sight of the log flume is the Tornado, a roller coaster of the same name from Vekoma, of which three rides were built. This is a modification of the whirlwind model, which was very popular in the early 80’s. Apart from minor changes, mainly the first corkscrew was replaced by a loop.

After you have boarded the quite spacious train, the first generation of the manufacturer, in the curved station, after a short curve you can complete the quite steep ascent in the lift. At the top you can enjoy the view only for a short time before you go down in a long right turn. This is followed by a wonderful powerful looping just before the second inversion figure is reached in a comparatively hardly inclined curve. With a proper transverse inclination it goes overhead in the corkscrew a second time, after which another curve along the first gradient is completed. On a diagonal through the ride, the braking process takes place before the ride enters the station at a leisurely pace. Unfortunately, a second round was spared despite a minimal number of visitors.

I had previously heard and read many negative things about the ride, but I am very surprised how well the ride is maintained by Avonturenpark Hellendoorn. Not only was the appearance more than alright, but the prophesied ride characteristics turned out to be simply wrong, there was absolutely no sign of a nasty blow during the barely inclined turn above the station and the rest of the track was also running perfectly, so that in the end I was even slightly disappointed to have to get off after only one lap, despite the aforementioned lack of demand.

Sungai Kalimantan

Funnily enough, half of the amusement park has already been explored by now. Thus, we went straight to the second corner of Avonturenpark Hellendoorn. Along the way there is a large part of the Sungai Kalimantan, a rafting ride from Bear Rides with some special features. At the beginning the queue goes through a beautiful designed area before it goes along the unsightly elevated concrete gutter towards the ugly double loading station.

The ride starts along the queue with a few bends before we immediately enter the big wave pool. Here the waves are relatively tame, but it’s a nice feature that can be seen from outside. The next is a hairpin bend, a thoroughly strange and for a rafting course thoroughly untypical track element, which is also not very interesting from a technical point of view. Passing waterfalls and lush vegetation the route leads into a completely foggy and illuminated tunnel. Afterwards you can admire the unaesthetic supports from below. A subsequent lift ride takes you back to the station.


After the descent from the station of Sungai Kalimantan, you will find yourself directly in front of the Donderstenen, a Force Two roller coaster by the manufacturer Zierer, which you can find in Potts Park or the Tier- und Freizeitpark Thüle. Basically it is a very solid roller coaster, but unfortunately the ride is not very exhilarating. The visual design here at Avonturenpark Hellendoorn is quite original, but unfortunately the aesthetics are easily ruined by the surrounding attractions.

Discovery Club

At the bottom of a dead end street, the Discovery Club is an interactive dark ride in the cellar of an old mansion, which in former times could probably be entered through the main entrance. For several years now, however, the pre-show of the ride is skipped and you enter the house through a side entrance with a turnstile. The cellar can then be reached by stairs or a lift. In the station the round carriages are waiting for you, which are also used by Capitán Balas in the Spanish amusement park Isla Magica. The ride leads past countless movable interiors and is very nicely designed. Unfortunately, the interactivity with the other players like in Capitán Balas is not possible, because water-spouting effects cannot be triggered.


Apparently below the Bellas Snackbar is a very special roller coaster by Vekoma, at least as far as its design is concerned. The outer appearance and a large part of the queue of the Rioolrat reminds of the roller coaster Raptor Attack of the English amusement park Lightwater Valley, only in small and not so impressive. After the descent the way leads quickly towards the station, where the channel rat is already waiting for you.

After a small bend to the right, you will immediately enter the lift of the ride. At the top there is only a very shallow gradient before you go up and down towards the ground in a wide right helix in the manner of a Bayernkurve. After a short left-hand bend and a straight line, the track leads out into daylight in another right-hand bend before entering the building again and immediately hitting the brakes. As with the Donderstenen, a second lap follows.

The Rioolrat is a thoroughly nice ride, whose layout is very reminiscent of a Zierer Flitzer. Compared to similar rides, the repetition factor of the ride is surprisingly low, which is due to the comparatively long waiting time.

More rides and the Aquaventura Slidepark

Visually, the long boat ride Jungle Monster, the small Top Spin Montezuma’s Revenge, the Enterprise Tarantula Magica and the Dino Sky Pedalo monorail, as well as the Aquaventura Slidepark form a visual unit. However, the rides and water slides in this area did not open until 12 o’clock. This is a pity, because I would have liked to test at least one of the HUSS rides, but the lack of rides and the rather mediocre portfolio of the park made it very difficult to continue the visit as long.

Pictures Avonturenpark Hellendoorn

Conclusion Avonturenpark Hellendoorn

Avonturenpark Hellendoorn is a nice little park, but the entrance fee is a little too high. The design is partly quite nice, but mostly the complete opposite, although the condition of the rides is generally very good. However, I can do without another visit in the next years.

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