Big Amusements in a strange Holiday Destination

The holiday resort of Ingoldmells is mainly characterised by its numerous holiday parks; after all, the first Butlin’s Resort in the country has been located here since 1936. In order to expand the resort’s offerings, the Fantasy Island amusement park was built in the 1990s, including a large indoor area with an arcade and a bowling alley. Since 2016, the park belongs to the Mellors Group, England’s largest fairground operator.   

Rhombus Rocket

The Rhombus Rocket powered coaster was the theme park’s first roller coaster. As was often the case at the time, the roller coaster was paired with a log flume to place two of its main attractions in the smallest possible space. The interaction with the log flume is still the ride’s greatest charm today. The otherwise very family-friendly ride by WGH Transportation convinces with its long helices and the big dip just before the station entrance. As is often the case on a good powered coaster, you ride the layout several times.  

Volcano, Sea Storm and Magic

The Rhombus Rocket roller coaster is surrounded by some wonderfully designed rides. In addition to a typical English Twister, the Sea Storm ride and the classic Magic formerly owned by German showman Ludewigt, the Space Shot Volcano by S&S, which shoots out of an artificial volcano, is particularly impressive.

Pyramid Attractions

The indoor area of the Pyramid is the big flagship of Fantasy Island theme park. Around the Mystical Dragon Mountain, which houses a really fast dinghy slide, there are numerous really nice attractions here. The cute oldschool themed ride Seaquarium and the brand new interactive dark ride Harrington Flint’s Island Adventure’s stand out positively. But a ride on the monorail Toucan Tours or the flying theatre The Guardian should not be missed. In addition, the Pyramid features the Jellikins Coaster, a roller coaster for very young park guests, which is a rather uncomfortable experience for most adults due to its enclosed cars. 


Until a few years ago, the entrance to the Millennium roller coaster was located directly in front of the pyramid. Nowadays, the waiting area is inside the pyramid, which on the one hand offers a clearly immersive experience, but on the other hand comes with the circumstance that you now call a largely unused station your own. Due to the lack of separation between entry and exit, one is held back in a small area until the last passenger of the roller coaster has passed it. Only then is the ascent into the station via the exit of the roller coaster. 

After entering the station, the train is quickly dispatched and sent on its way. Having reached a height of 46m, we immediately descend the first drop to the left. After we have smoothly passed the first valley, we immediately go through an unusually high loop – for an MK-1200. After a long straight, we skilfully change our direction in a sidewinder, but not without completing an oversized Bavarian curve above Ingoldmells Market – Europe’s largest weekly market. After a short climb, we plunge down once more and immediately into the ride’s second loop. The rest of the way around the pyramid is a little more relaxed as we glide over several hills before we move on to the grand finale. In a helix we are pressed into the seat for one last time before we reach the braking section of the ride and our ride soon comes to an end.

Millennium is one of the greatest roller coasters by Vekoma. Although the layout is not quite as imaginative as more modern rides from the manufacturer, the huge MK-1200 can convince with its pressure-rich elements and its fantastic ride characteristics. This ride is simply smooth. 

Family Roller Coaster and Wild River Rapids

On the other side of the pyramid, the big roller coaster Odyssey is joined by the small family roller coaster Family Roller Coaster and the water ride Wild River Rapids. The Spinning Raft from Reverchon is hit or miss, because the ride can very well get you soaked, but the likelihood of that is low. 


Originally opened as Jubilee Odyssey for Queen Elizabeth II’s golden jubilee, the ride is the tallest inverted coaster in the world to date at just under 51m. However, the ride, which was built directly on the North Sea, was rarely operated by the previous owner of the amusement park due to the high wind load, which gave the ride a questionable image. With the change of operator, the Odyssey also picked up speed again.

After leaving the 50m-high lift hill behind, the ride goes very steeply back down to the ground. With a lot of pressure we pass the first valley, whereupon a huge loop awaits us. Immediately afterwards, we shoot up a huge Cobra Roll, which turns us upside down two more times. In a very unusual way, we change our direction of travel once again in a huge turn. As if that wasn’t enough, a sidewinder follows immediately. We then circle the exit of the Cobra Roll in a large helix. Far from the ground we glide through a dip before we are turned upside down one last time in a corkscrew. With plenty of speed left, we reach the braking section of the ride and soon the station of the roller coaster.

Odyssey is a really strange roller coaster. The size of the ride speaks for itself, and the unorthodox layout is somehow appealing, but the rough ride characteristics don’t really make it fun to ride. 

Pictures Fantasy Island

Conclusion Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island is a thoroughly nice amusement park in a more than strange place. The large selection of rides and the very high quality are surprising and leave a very positive overall impression. Especially the attractions inside the pyramid stand out positively due to their immersive design. The rides outside the pyramid, on the other hand, are more classic and convince with their unique layouts. 


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Osaka’s home for little fairies

Hirakata Park

Hirakata Park originated as the Kikuningyō-ten exhibition grounds in 1912, with chrysanthemum-decorated figures and scenes being displayed in October and November of each year, before the last regular exhibition was held in 2005. The actual development of the amusement park took place in 1926, when the Keihan Electric Railway began operating the park and the first rides moved in. In 1944, the site was put to military use.

After the end of the Second World War, the site was unusable and the Kikuningyō-ten took place on another area along the Keihan Line. The return to Hirakata followed in 1949. Initially run as a city park, the site was again converted into an amusement park in 1952 as part of a tax reform.  The park has always been owned by the Keihan Group.

Magical Volcano

So off we go to Hirakata-kōen and into Hirakata Park. Right at the entrance, a beautiful and spacious rock massif with an integrated interactive attraction awaits us. Personally, I can’t describe the Magical Volcano any better than that, because it really is a lot of things in one; be it an exploration tour with integrated skill games or an adventure playground with a pre-show and storyline. It is relatively simple: at the start you are assigned a mission, after which you have to answer three questions. In the meantime, the volcano almost erupts and we have to throw softballs into its crater. Towards the end, you let your bow be evaluated by a machine and get a corresponding feedback. In our case, of course, this was a perfect score, but we had also received help from the staff. All in all, this is an attraction that we would like to see here in Europe.

Pachanga, Wonder Gaden und Athletic Try-It

Exhausted, but one experience richer, we head straight for the wooden roller coaster Elf. While there, we take a ride on the unfortunately very dry rapid river Pachanga and admire the animals in the Wonder Garden. Unfortunately, the number of enclosures is very limited – this is especially a pity, as Hirakata Park does a good job and the animals are all housed in relatively large enclosures. Meanwhile, on the other side of the main path, we wonder about the Athletic Try-It, a kind of modern obstacle course, before we are finally drawn into the woods.


Elf, short for Episode of little Fairies, is a medium-sized wooden roller coaster from the European manufacturer Intamin. So far so good, but the expectations for this wooden roller coaster were not as high as they should have been, thanks to its former sister ride Pegasus at the Dutch amusement park Efteling.

After a short wait, it was time to take a seat in the train car, which was then quickly dispatched. Following a short drop out of the station and a short right turn past the storage track integrated into the structure, we immediately found ourselves in the lift hill of the ride. Shortly after, the initial height of 18.5 m is reached, whereupon the train goes down the first small drop. This is followed by a longer turn to the right, where we gain a few metres in altitude. But before the view would distract us from the action, we plunge down the second drop. We are now pulled through the valley with gusto, whereupon we are pulled right onto the next hill. The ascent is quite steep at first and then a little less steep after an apparent crest. Meanwhile, we dedicate ourselves to another turn, which we leave parallel to the lift in a drop down to the ground level. Now we follow the route we have already completed by climbing another hill and also completing a turn. Instead of going straight down another drop, however, we now cross the ride in a diagonal, in which we naturally also head towards the ground.Once again with the funny transition from steep to less steep slope, we now dedicate ourselves to a left-leading turn, where we get momentum for the next ride manoeuvre. With a big bang we cross the following camelback and plunge straight into the dense woodwork. After a final turn, a short dip follows, whereupon we reach the final brake.

Elf is fun! With a good pinch of airtime and interesting incline trajectories, the small ride doesn’t need to hide from any larger wooden roller coaster – especially since the wooden roller coaster seems much higher than it actually is due to its hillside location. In any case, you can and should get on more often, it’s worth it.

Sky Walker and Truck

It would most likely have been worth getting on the Sky Walker Ferris wheel, but unfortunately it is currently being restored. The neighbouring Cycle Monorail was therefore not visited at all and we also had to do without a ride on the children’s roller coaster Truck in Peek-a-Boo Town, as the train belonging to it was missing.

Crazy Mouse

The fact that it doesn’t necessarily take a missing train to rob a roller coaster ride of its main feature can be seen on the Reverchon Crazy Mouse. It turned a bit too well, so it was decided not to release the spin of the cars anymore in order to reduce the ride’s intensity. As can be seen from the ride, this was not a good idea. The hairpin bends in the lower level are driven through in such a lousy way that in the end the pleasure completely falls by the wayside. A real pity, as Reverchon spinning coaster are actually great rides.


Whereby I should actually be a little less critical: The ride is quite okay and not being able to show a rotation as a spinning mouse is somehow special. Equally special is its location at a lofty height, elevated on a platform. This has the advantage that there are two other attractions underneath it. Besides the Little Witch’s Labyrinth walkthrough, the station of the Bassh log flume is located here.

The ride begins with a left turn that takes you under the plateau of the Crazy Mouse roller coaster. Past some animal sculptures and with the best view onto the tracks of the mouse one level higher, another left turn leads the boat directly into the ride’s lift. Due to the slope of the ride, you now spend some time in it before a short left turn takes you down just a medium shot. Without a single drop on your skin, a right turn follows immediately, after which you dash like mad through the channel. One S-curve later, you find yourself straight below the first shot, before you tackle a left/right curve combination and make your way towards the second and final shot. Once there, the descent is immediate and exhilarating. In the subsequent splashdown, every drop of water is missing and the score is close to zero. So we did something wrong, but unfortunately that’s what an amusement park with a dry log flume also does.

Red Falcon

So it’s time to ride a type of roller coaster that no one in Japan can do wrong: The classic jet coaster. The one here at Hirakata Park is called Red Falcon and has been wonderfully placed on the big slope. But before you can dare to take a ride, you have to squeeze into the cars, and that is simply impossible, especially for taller people in the back rows.

After a short straight section, the train takes you over a short dip into the ride’s lift. Typical for a proper jet coaster, this one is comparatively steep and you spend some time in it. But that’s not too bad, because it gives us more time to look at the city of Osaka. At the top, the train quickly picks up speed after a first, quite steep, small drop. This is followed by a long left turn before the first long descent. The train takes you rapidly through the first valley and over the top of a hill that bends slightly to the left. Far above the visitors’ heads, the train climbs another hill and passes the log flume.

After another drop, you then reach a tight right-leading turn before you throw yourself properly to the ground for the first time. From then on, parallel to the track you have just completed, the train races over another hill into an extremely funny element. Coming out of a very wide right-hand bend, you drive through a narrow valley with a clear cross slope, which is suddenly followed by a narrow right-hand bend just below the first gradient. As in a very shapeless Bavarian curve, this leads you over a short hill, into another valley. A wide left turn follows. After a very flat drop with an equally flat ascent, a wide 540° helix awaits you, which then releases you into the final shot. After the subsequent ascent, a rather strange transition into a curve awaits you and shortly afterwards the braking section of the ride is reached.

The Red Falcon combines many of the Japanese peculiarities of roller coaster construction, but is a thoroughly nice ride that you should simply enjoy. The ride distance of 1300m gives you plenty of time to whizz over the rather flat hills at up to 70 km/h – secured by a shoulder restraint. The view of the city of Osaka and its imposing location far above the rest of the amusement park benefit the ride immensely.


The very late braking on the Intamin Meteo freefall tower one level below is just as beneficial. As already experienced in the Kijima Kogen Park, people in Japan like to do without the secondary safety belt, so that here too the ride seems even more threatening and, in combination with the hard braking, can be described as absolutely ingenious.

In addition to the obligatory freezer, this time (quite small) in the form of a large refrigerator, there is also a very good spinning Disk’o from the manufacturer Zamperla on this level, as well as a kite flyer and a Zierer wave swinger, which was unfortunately undergoing maintenance on the day we visited.

Palm Walk

One level further down, you come to the Palm Walk and its integrated interactive dark ride Gururimori, as well as the Legend of Dark Forest (a mirror maze) and Makafushigido walkthroughs. The area has a lot of charm and is similar in concept to the City Walk at nearby Universal Studios Japan – except that it is integrated into Hirakata Park.

Octopus Panic and Haunted House

On the lowest level of Hirakata Park, you can mainly find various children’s rides, but also some classic rides and gems, such as the Octopus Panic sea storm ride, Japanese tea cups in Hello Kitty design or the child-friendly dark ride Haunted House, where you travel through the chirpy underworld with the Dororon travel company. Of course, the 3D 360° cinema right next door should not be overlooked.

Fantasy Cruise and Gnome’s Train

Meanwhile, if the hustle and bustle has become a little too wild for you, you should take a little stroll through Hirakata Park’s huge rose garden or venture out for a ride on the Fantasy Cruise round boat or the surprisingly long Gnome’s Train park railway. This area is an ideal retreat and invites any garden lover to linger, plus you have an exceedingly good view of Hirakata Park’s final roller coaster.

Fantastic Coaster Rowdy

The ride on the Fantastic Coaster Rowdy begins with a short right turn, followed by the lift hill. Once at the top, the lift makes a 180° left turn before the first drop follows. At a lofty height, the short-raced train now crashes over a camelback before it makes its way up again. Not at all rowdy, another tight 180° left turn follows and soon a very long right turn with integrated straight downhill. After a short right-hand bend, a very tight left-hand turn follows immediately, along with a shot. A left-hand and a right-hand bend join together like serpentines. This is succeeded by a final ascent into the braking section and soon the entry into the station, whereupon a ride not worth mentioning (as it is just okay) comes to an end.

Pictures Hirakata Park

Conclusion Hirakata Park

Although Hirakata Park is now over 100 years old, there are unfortunately no older rides to admire in the park; so they have always stayed up-to-date. This is understandable, but it does make the park a little less charming. It makes up for this with its green spaces, imaginative attractions and a successful overall ambience, which is why you ultimately feel very entertained when leaving the park.


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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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