Good Job at the Theme Park

Yomiuriland

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.

Bandit

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 onride.de) 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.

Hashibiro-Go

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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Togo-Mania at Greenland

Greenland

The Greenland Resort has been located in the middle of the Japanese coal-mining area since 1964. Once founded by the Mitsui Mining company as a subsidiary, the holiday resort has been repositioned again and again over the course of time and, after the Mitsui Group left, is now operated solely as Greenland (i.e. without the prefix Mitsui). In addition to the eponymous theme park, the resort consists of two hotels, a golf course, a bowling centre, a pachinko hall, several restaurants and the obligatory hot spring.

The gigantic Ferris wheel already catches everyone’s eye on the way in, but when the first roller coasters join them, it’s a picture that makes your mouth water. So we hurry up to the entrance to pay the entrance fee and the free pass at the cash desk. You then exchange the voucher for the Free Pass in Greenland for the corresponding wristband for permanent rides – alternatively, as in most Japanese theme parks, you can pay for the rides individually. Greenland is therefore a classic Tivoli park, but it has more parallels with the world’s oldest amusement park, the Bakken in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Milky Way

We start our tour counter-clockwise, but immediately turn away from the Grampus Jet and Ladybird Coaster, which are very busy in the morning, and walk at a brisk pace to a very special double attraction, which takes us on a lively trip through the Milky Way, either standing up or sitting down.

Early in the morning, we were spoilt for choice on Milky Way between the Altair stand-up coaster (the blue side) and the Vega sit-down variant (the pink track). However, as boarding for Vega was just starting, the first ride was to be on this ride. As soon as both trains have been dispatched, the journey can start immediately.

The first step is the classic chain lift to a starting height of 38m. At the top, there is a leisurely right turn before the madness takes over. Parallel to the stand-up track, you now shoot towards the abyss, which really gets you out of your seat. While Altair says goodbye to us in a right turn, we race over an airtime hill and immediately over a slightly inclined turn. But we don’t have to wait long for Altair, because the train is already coming towards us on the exit. After we have taken enough of a run-up, the train tries to throw us off on the next airtime hill without any consideration. But a highlight rarely comes alone and after Togo has already proven that they are the kings of negative forces here, the same applies in the positive direction. With proper pressure on the body, one now performs a downward helix to the lowest point of the layout. From there, a slightly inclined ramp leads back up to the station level, but not without being briefly lifted out of the seat once more. After the short duel, Altair joins us again and parallel to each other, there is a short left turn and a small hill before we reach the braking section and, after a short turn, the station.

If Vega already sounds so good, I’d best tell you what the rascal from Altair is up to, shall I?! All right, after we have moved towards the ground with only slight airtime and said goodbye to Vega, we now also pass a rather high airtime hill and take off in a familiar manner; however, the subsequent downward helix is just as delicious. With a lot of pressure on your feet, you leave the helix on a short ramp, which immediately turns into the turning curve just below the turning curve of Vega. Here, the train of the sister track comes towards us in a grandiose moment of pure (riding) joy. With much more pressure than Vega, we pass through the forest of supports of the turning curve before we are mercilessly transported into the shoulder restraints in the most insane airtime moment of all time. With what feels like 20 cm of free space, measured it could even be a little more, between the foot and the train floor, you fly over a tiny little hill before going up another hill. At the top, you have a short breather, but your head is rather in the process of correctly classifying what you have just experienced by taking a short left turn to end up parallel to the sister track again. The aforementioned left-hand bend follows, followed by a combination of small hills and block brakes, which comes along leisurely, but in the end can’t help but knock your socks off again.

In the end, what else is left but to fall mercilessly in love with Togo? Both Milky Way tracks are simply wonderful to ride. There are outstanding airtime moments, just as there are extremely punchy passages. On top of that, Vega’s train is also an oversized Bluetooth speaker – what more could a roller coaster fan want? Probably a buttery smooth ride and a non-existent waiting time? Don’t worry, the Greenland has thought of that too, although at least the second point was a bit of a downfall and later in the day we only had the Vega sit-down pearl at our disposal.

Danger in a Maze

Well, you know what I mean and so far we’ve only covered one ride, so let’s move on: The next attraction on our tour is the interactive maze Danger in a Maze, where you have to stop a bomb at the last second. The circuit is very straight forward, even if it means you have to wait a little longer at a door. The design of the ride is exactly the same on the inside as it is on the outside, making it an absolute must-do.

Splash

Also in this category, with outside temperatures well over 30°C and sultriness present, is the splashy water ride Splash. Now some people will think to themselves “hmmm, I know this generic name from somewhere” and they will be amazed that they have also seen the design of the ride before. One could even assume a common park friendship between the Dutch amusement park Duinrell and the Greenland, after all the ride, in both cases built by O.D. Hopkins, already opened there in 1992 and the Greenland followed suit a year later.

Unlike the day before and Duinrell in general, however, there was no possibility of taking a seat in a covered boat here, but the wise Japanese had thought of everything and so there is the possibility of borrowing a rain poncho for the duration of the ride. But if you think this will cost you money, you’re wrong at Greenland, where you can even let off steam with the free pass at the individual game stalls; the emphasis here is actually on the rental, because after the ride you hand the rain poncho back in so that it can be dried by the staff. As a spillwater fan and generally environmentally conscious person, you have no choice but to thankfully do without the poncho, even if Greenland (and I would wish this of all other amusement parks) cuts out the revenue from the sale of the full-body condoms. When you meet the future passengers after the ride, refreshed and extremely wet, you are rewarded by the irritated and at the same time enthusiastic looks of the Japanese and may even high-five some of them; a wonderful feeling.

Sphinx Coaster

Although the Greenland is a huge amusement park, the distances to the next attraction are usually not so excessively far, so we ventured a ride on the Sphinx Coaster with a slight touch of wetness. This family roller coaster is characterised above all by its marginally existing gradients, which already make a simple Big Apple look very steep. But while the worm coasters are quite tame, the Japanese flat coaster builds up quite a high speed towards the end, which is conveyed amazingly well especially by the flat descents.

Panorama Mountain

Past the water park, where interestingly almost all the slides are designed for an adult audience, the Skylift cable car takes you up to Panorama Mountain. All safety mechanisms on the gondola are dispensed with. Additional padding on the roller coasters? Sure! But cable cars with safety bars? We Europeans sometimes tend to exaggerate when it comes to safety.

On Panorama Mountain, in addition to the Horror Tower, which tells a local horror story but is not very scary on the way through the two floors, there is the Witch’s Flying Chair chain carousel and the mountain station of the Super Slider summer toboggan run. Interestingly, it seems that luges are not very common in Japan, which is why the staff are happy to explain in great detail how the bobsleds work to the waiting passengers. It’s just a shame when these passengers listen but don’t really understand how to accelerate in the end. So I was allowed to spend most of the descent behind a lurker, while Nicolas joined us only towards the end of the ride.

Dragon Mountain and Spin Mouse

Back in the valley, the trail leads us towards the Reverchon Spin Mouse. Along the way we pass the Karakuri Castle Maze and the station of the suspended monorail Sky Ship before entering the Dragon Mountain rapid river. This was built by Bear Rides and, due to the non-existent degree of wetness, can unfortunately only score points through its embedding in the landscape.

Well, let’s get into this beloved old friend from France, which someone from Parques Reunidos will please take a closer look at – but I’m anticipating something here, so I’ll just explain what I mean. On the Spin Mouse, all the wagons are loaded at the same time, but then sent out on the track at a fast pace. What in Spain, however, quickly leads to a waiting time beyond 90 minutes with a normal mouse (Vértigo in the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid), is quickly resolved within three to four cycles here. The real difference lies in the efficiency of the Japanese staff, not in the theoretical capacity of the ride, which is roughly the same in both cases. The ride was also extremely fast-paced and thus thoroughly entertaining.

Legend of Salamander

Passing the go-kart track, we are now drawn to the north entrance of Greenland, near which the interactive dark ride Legend of Salamander is located. Here, you shoot at worm-like creatures while generally completing a rectangular course. For us, this dark ride, built by Senyo, became the epitome of typical Japanese shooter themed rides, as the opponents are mostly the same and the record on such rides cannot be beaten without months of training.

Panic Jungle

The biggest advantage of a ride on Legend of Salamander, however, was the air conditioning, which saved us from the raging heat outside, because stupidly we had long since dried out again and the rapid river also didn’t help. It’s a good thing that there is an extremely inappropriately named log flume in Greenland, the Panic Jungle. So we got into the boats of Senyo, a manufacturer we now knew and loved.

After leaving the double station, you bob along leisurely towards the first lift hill. This takes you to the middle level, but no drop follows. Instead, you approach a hall and pass through a sparsely decorated corridor. Back in daylight, you bob past some animal sculptures, make a right turn, pass under the second lift hill and approach it in another right turn. This one is then considerably larger and leads you directly into the ride’s only shot. Wetted, but not particularly wet, you leave the run-out area and immediately tackle the way back to the station.

Haunted Shrine

Due to the lack of cooling, another dark ride was needed as soon as possible, so we entered the acoustically optimised Haunted Shrine. Equipped with headphones, the car takes you through some wonderfully designed scenery that charmingly reminds you of the Geister Rikscha from Phantasialand. Unfortunately, the Haunted Hospital creepy walkthrough right next door no longer exists. Instead, there is a hospital attraction based on an anime, but we did not test it.

Goku, Super Viking and Gyro Storm

However, we tested the numerous rides in this corner of the Greenland theme park. While the Star Flyer Goku offered the familiar Austrian lookout ride experience, the Super Viking ship swing offered solid ship swing ride fun with both sides cheering each other on. A completely different experience, on the one hand boring on the other absolutely insane and grandiose, was offered by the Gyro Storm by Togo.

But how does this conflict come about? I’ll have to go back a bit and give a basic description of the ride, but if you’ve already read this far, you’ll be interested. Okay, so the Gyro Storm in very simplified terms is a ride similar to the Enterprise, i.e. a centrifugal force-based somersault carousel, but it doesn’t go very fast. The gondolas swing freely, but can be locked at any time, and depending on which position you are in at that moment, the rest of the ride can be extremely fun. In the best case, this happens when you are at the highest point of the ride inside the wheel and thus first race through the station upside down for a few laps. At some point, the gondolas are released again and a wild swinging session ensues as the ride draws to a close.

Lift

You can then lean towards your own end on the Lift, because where the Sky Lift was already scary enough, this inconspicuous chairlift goes even further. As already mentioned, the Japanese like to dispense with unnecessary safety precautions, but where such precautions are already in place, they add a corresponding safety factor on top. Apparently nothing has ever happened on the lift, which is why they have even dispensed with side barriers. As a means of transport, the lift now leads us in the direction of Greenland’s largest roller coaster, so it is a real shortcut.

Sky Jet

On the other side, however, we first climb into the overlong, multi-level self-controlled diesel monorail Sky Jet before we turn away from the dinosaur ride next door for dramaturgical reasons. To be honest, we now make our way back along the attractions that you didn’t get to see through the lift.

Luxor Magic

The first attraction is the interactive fortune-telling attraction Luxor Magic, where you can find out all kinds of things about your future happiness in love, your career and, of course, your health by making a few decisions beforehand on your way through the burial chamber. The data is stored on a small plastic sword and evaluated towards the end. If everything has worked, you get your future printed out in a practical A4 format.

Crystal Maze and Ice World

Right next door is the old Crystal Maze mirror maze, which unfortunately only offered the tried and tested. More interesting, however, is Ice World, a concept we have already experienced at Kijima Kogen Park, that is much loved at temperatures well above 30°C. Although the temperature inside was only about -25°C, the walk through the nicely designed cold store was quite refreshing.

Small Java

In the spirit of Avenue-Q, according to which we are all a bit racist, we recommend a look at Small Java. Similar to the Cabane de Robinsons in Disneyland Park near Paris, there is a tree house here and all kinds of things are depicted. The main difference are the sculptures of the animals, as well as those of the indigenous people. Here at the latest, the bridge to Denmark was perfect, Greenland is the Bakken of Japan! Although the island of Java is not Africa by any stretch of the imagination, the attraction is similar to the racist African-themed ride in the former Sommerland Syd and thus actually to any of the old dark rides with an African theme in Denmark. Of course, the whole thing is again something to smile about rather than really meant maliciously; it’s just that it was a different time and nowadays it’s simply outdated.

Black Hole Coaster

Back at the starting point of our short detour, we are now confronted with the longest wait of the day, namely 30 minutes at the indoor roller coaster Black Hole Coaster. Thanks to the covered queue, however, the wait passes relatively quickly with pleasant temperatures and fitting European 90s sound.

Once you have boarded the Zamperla train of the Meisho roller coaster, the ride can begin immediately. On a shallow ramp, you slowly build up metres of height along the wall of the hall, which you then immediately descend in a fast-paced left-hand helix. In a long left-hand bend, you cross a light tunnel and again gain a few metres in altitude. A change of direction follows and immediately a downhill helix to the right. Another change of direction under strobe lights then leads to the outer area of the ride, which is, however, hidden by the elaborate façade. Here you then creep through an upward oval helix, which then turns into the final downward helix, whereupon the quite acceptable ride ends.

Ultra Twister Megaton

But an acceptable roller coaster is not a superior roller coaster. As we’ve already learned here at Greenland, every roller coaster from Togo is a superior roller coaster, but can the manufacturer’s third ride also back up this statement? Let’s find out at Ultra Twister Megaton.

As soon as you have stowed your things in the locker in the station, you first go to the actual entrance area of the roller coaster. There you board the slowly rolling backwards car and close the shoulder restraint. The ride operator then locks it in place and you approach the transfer element at the rear end of the track. As soon as the car is in position, the element is turned by 90° degrees, followed by the ascent in the vertical lift. Having reached a height of 30m, the car crosses a terribly narrow crest and immediately plunges down a wonderfully rapid 85° gradient towards the ground, so that an intense airtime sets in at every seat, but especially in the last row. The following valley is passed through with indescribable pressure, but the adventurous interplay of vertical acceleration is far from over, because this is followed by an airtime hill as it is written in the book. A heartline roll, which couldn’t be more beautiful, follows at an extremely high speed. Stirred and not shaken, you then take on a small incline before you reach the first braking section of the ride. But from here on, caution is advisable, because now you are slowly moving towards your doom. At some point the brake of the next transfer element will engage, but you don’t know when and at the worst possible moment you will hit your knee – which, funnily enough, can happen quickly in any row, so watch out!

After the transfer element has done its job, we are now released backwards into the lower level. Here you build up some speed before the second role takes place. As soon as you have reached the station level, you complete role no. 3 before you reach the second braking section and soon the station.

Although the second part now seems a bit uneventful, it’s great. In general, this roller coaster is great, terrific and insane at the same time. The ride experience is significantly different in each row, whereby the last row is simply the most convincing with its insane airtime in merciless interplay with the pronounced forces in the valleys; so try it, when you’re here! Another thing you should definitely try, however, is to spend at least 10 laps on the roller coaster. It’s fun and it’s exciting, not only for you but also for the Japanese staff. When you have completed a certain amount of time, you can look forward to a photo that will be published on the roller coaster’s website or used on Twitter. You can also immortalise yourself on a small wooden stick, which will then be hung up in the queue. You can imagine how we spent our time in Greenland, because we had enough of it and, above all, definitely never enough of the Ultra Twister. We weren’t the only ones, but we didn’t leave it at 10 rounds. Where do you think you’re going? No, we set the daily record, until at some point the staff didn’t want to let us ride any more, because of the photo session, of course. What a lovely evening.

Ferris Wheel Rainbow

After the outstanding roller coaster, we turn our attention to the outstanding Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel Rainbow is not only the most stylish Ferris wheel I have ever seen in person, but also one of the most impressive steel constructions I have ever seen. However, we were a little surprised by the two queues, although we queued for the much shorter one and eventually got the normal gondolas.

Nio

At the foot of this giant, or one level lower, is one of the oldest roller coasters in Greenland, but one would automatically think it was much younger. We’re talking about the Suspended Looping Coaster Nio, which has already been in existence for 20 years on an open area right next to the big show stage. The ride then offers the familiar ride with good ride characteristics in the roll-over and the Sidewinder, but a little wobbling in the two in-line twists. All in all, a very passable SLC that you can get on more often.

Ladybird Coaster

Passing the Green Stadium, where Kamen Raider or another Japanese children’s series was just playing, we now turn to the two roller coasters that we had left out at the beginning. The small Ladybird Coaster convinces us with its outward banked curves, the generally nice powered coaster ride and its staff, who pointed out the big coasters to us.

Grampus Jet

One of these is the suspended coaster Grampus Jet, in true style with the original Arrow trains and thus in direct contrast with the roller coaster Dream Catcher from the Belgian amusement park Bobbejaanland, which, as is well known, uses more modern Vekoma trains. In fact, the ride differs significantly due to the larger mass.

For this purpose, we take a closer look at the route. After leaving the station and being led to the lift hill, we eventually reach the top level of the layout. Here we enjoy the view for a while before plunging into the depths for the first time. With surprising pressure, we now cross the first valley, whereupon we make a sweeping right turn. After a change of direction, we take a wide left turn in the best Bavarian curve manner, which narrows steadily towards the end. Alternately, we swing through a downhill helix to the right, to the left and to the right again, always taking a small incline in between. But where is the difference to Dream Catcher? So far, definitely in the intensity of the ride, also the swings are more pronounced so far. What the Belgian Dream Catcher can do better, however, is to release the passengers into the final brake, because the Grampus Jet is a little sluggish there. Without much swinging, the passengers reach the station at the same time and the great ride comes to an end.

Gao

Let’s move on to the last roller coaster of the Greenland theme park, the all-dominating dinosaur Gao. In typical jet-coaster style, this roller coaster serves the Japanese audience to perfection and also boasts what is probably the most imposing support structure of any roller coaster in the world: A real oversized framework dinosaur. So what are we waiting for? Off we go on the 4-minute adventure ride.

After strapping on your bar, like on the roller coaster The Ultimate from the English amusement park Lightwater Valley (although this is not the only similarity), we immediately climb steadily but slowly to the starting height of 40m. At the top, we take a slightly inclined turn and quickly pick up speed. A little too fast, probably, because a battery of friction wheels slows us down on the following straight. But that doesn’t matter, because the ramp down into the valley is much flatter than the previous lift hill, which gives us plenty of metres of track to create a breathtaking feeling of speed. In the valley that follows, the G forces are quite high. With momentum we pass the back of the dinosaur. We cross it carefully and almost as fast as the French Anaconda in the Walygator Parc crosses its hills. It’s good that we regain our momentum on the descent and that the next valley is no less hesitant. On the next hill we head for a left turn, whereupon we cross a large part of this part of the park at a lofty height. At some point we plunge towards the abyss in a right turn, once again enjoying the speed trajectory optimally designed by Meisho, before we rapidly take another turning curve at a lofty height. What follows now can hardly be described in words, but is amazingly similar to the second part of the insane roller coaster The Ultimate. Before that, however, a second friction wheel battery tries to slow us down a bit, but this doesn’t necessarily tame the next part. Instead, we now race towards the dinosaur. After a short left turn, we run parallel to the first drop. After a short hill, we even venture under the aforementioned drop extremely abruptly and with a lot of kinks. Another left turn immediately leads us parallel to the lift hill, whereupon one tyre battery after the other is reached shortly afterwards. In a wide right-hand bend we reach the final braking section and shortly afterwards the station.

Gao is great! Although the route is actually predictable to the point of being unpredictable, it still manages to surprise very often. The ride characteristics are okay, but the bar construction makes it a bit rougher than one would wish. But that doesn’t matter, because if there’s one thing that Meisho roller coasters do well, it’s conveying the speed of the ride, and once again that’s done amazingly well, which is why you’ll want to get on the dinosaur of Greenland again and again.

Pictures Greenland

Conclusion Greenland

So we have finally arrived at the résumé of the amusement park. It took quite a while, but I hope you can now imagine the size of this park. Greenland is not necessarily a beautiful amusement park, but it is a Japanese amusement park as it is written in the book and for that reason alone it is great, superb and worth a visit. There are three roller coasters that absolutely stand out, several very good rides and a bunch of other very good coasters. On top of that, the additional attractions are huge, so you won’t get bored here in a hurry, especially since there’s also the Togo Ultra Twister Challenge.

 


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Stand up when you get to Drayton Manor!

Drayton Manor Theme Park

Close to the English town of Tamworth, in a small town called Drayton Bassett, is the Drayton Manor Theme Park. The animal and amusement park offers some interesting and rare rides and can almost be called a showcase for the Liechtenstein company Intamin due to its impressive number of rides by the company.

When you enter the park through the main entrance you will immediately see the flagship of the park on your left. The Thomas Land consists of several smaller attractions and has been designed to match the children’s series Thomas and friends. The park was one of the first in the country to use a well-known IP – an unparalleled success, even though the amusement park is now often reduced to the Thomas Land.

Thomas Land

Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster

Among the larger rides in the Thomas Land area is a suitably designed train ride which has its second stop in the zoo area of the park, as well as the small Gerstlauer roller coaster Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster. The ride itself starts with some curve changes before you climb up the lift hill to start the fast paced ride, which has a very funny turn around. For children this junior coaster is simply fantastic, furthermore the Troublesome Trucks Runaway offers an excellent smooth ride.

Maelstrom

Opposite the Thomas Land is the visually very appealing Intamin Gyro Swing called Maelstrom. Compared to swings of various manufacturers, a ride on the Gyro Swing is surprisingly brute and absolutely brilliant. The airtime, as well as the acceleration are simply breathtaking. A great fun!

Bounty

Interestingly, there is another swing in the park, but it was not until a few years after Maelstrom that it found its way into the park. We are talking about the boat swing of the park, which again comes from the manufacturer Intamin. The ride called Bounty also accelerates very fast, but it has a much more family-friendly ride program.

Beside a typical English horse carousel you can take a quite interesting round trip with the well established Chance Rides C.P. Huntington trains. During the ride you will not only get good impressions of the main attractions Shockwave, Stormforce 10, Splash Canyon and G-Force, but you will also learn that the park used to be operated according to the Tivoli system.

Stormforce 10

The last attraction of the themed area known as Fisherman’s Wharf, which could also include Maelstrom, Shockwave and the rafting facility Splash Canyon below, is the Stormforce 10 whitewater ride.

After you have taken a seat in the boats the journey can immediately begin. Joyfully approaching the first shot, you are stopped shortly before and a gate closes behind you. The following effect is absolutely unexpected and surprising and ends as expected in cool water. Passing waterfalls we head towards the first drive up, where a turntable is waiting at the end to start the short and rather nasty backward ride. The problem of this is not the level of wetness, but the force with which the boat is braked, so the ride is definitely not for someone with a weak back. After you have turned around once again and passed under the station, you’ll be heading out into the lofty heights again and eventually reach the final shot at a snail’s pace, which will bring the ride closer to its end with a double drop.

The ride built by Bear Rides is not only unbelievably photogenic, but also simply unique due to the built-in effects, which is why you should not miss it.

Splash Canyon

Meanwhile, the rapids ride Splash Canyon offers a dry ride, which amusingly is declared to the passengers as a soaking wet one. The rapid ride itself is nicely designed and has, similar to Thorpe Parks Rumba Rapids, a very active wave pool. If one is lucky enough to be wetted by one of the numerous rapids, one can surely also be happy about the water jet shower at the end of the ride, if it catches one at all.

Shockwave

A few meters above the turntable of the rapid ride is the station of the only Intamin Stand-Up Coaster in Europe. After you have left the beautifully designed queue to Shockwave with all its stairs behind you and a train is waiting for you, you can try to get on your seat in some way, which is quite funny to watch, especially with small children. After the seat has been lowered slowly so that you are standing on your feet again and the two split bars, as well as the standing row, are locked, you slowly move towards the lift.

The rather strange first drop ends in a wonderfully intense loop, whereupon one tries to pull the ground from under one’s feet in a zero-g roll. The feeling to roll over the Splash Canyon is simply ingenious, especially as it increases the fear of losing something from your pockets during the ride. The two corkscrews that follow are the crowning glory of an all-round balanced ride, which in the end should not be any longer. The ride feeling is really something different and so it is a pity that there is only one ride of this kind in Europe. Due to the empty queues during the visit, the rides on Shockwave were unfortunately only held in the first row, so the ride sensation of the other rows could not be included in this review.

G-Force

In the direct vicinity there is a roller coaster of German production, which unfortunately doesn’t form a unit with the surrounding attractions. Rather, it represents something completely different and thus formed the basis for the theme area Action Park at Drayton Manor Theme Park. The musical background in the queue to G-Force, which takes the floor level of the station building, is outstanding and creates a great unity with the roller coaster. As soon as you have left the stairs behind you can take a seat in the Maurer Söhne X-Cars and wait for your passengers for a few minutes if necessary.

After leaving the first downhill run behind you, you go up the strangely shaped lift to do an even stranger but ingenious downhill run. On the following hill you can experience a lot of airtime before the Cuban Eight completes the ride. Contrary to the Sky Wheel from Skyline Park or Abismo from Parque de Atracciones de Madrid, G-Force offers a completely satisfying ride, which also has a very smooth ride. Unfortunately, there is also the problem with the bars, which from time to time adapt to the human body in a rather unpleasant way and thus spoil the ride, as one hardly gets any air.

Pirates Adventure

A little bit off the beaten track is the Pirates Adventure boat theme ride from Mack Rides at Drayton Manor Theme Park. The ride itself is beautifully designed, but – like most pirate themed dark rides – it lacks that certain something that only Disney can do. Unfortunately, the effects are rather sparsely set, the lighting is too dark in some places and the background music is as little dominant as the undisguised hall ceiling.

Ben10 Ultimate Mission

The newest roller coaster of Drayton Manor Theme Park is the smallest Boomerang variation by Vekoma, which is completely dedicated to the cartoon network series Ben10 Alien Force. Why they decided to go for the second, much weaker series remains a mystery to me, but the roller coaster Ben10 Ultimate Mission can convince from the beginning of the cue. The ride is fast-paced and especially during the forward ride quite intense. The backward part is unfortunately rather gentle, but if you consider for whom this roller coaster was created, this is absolutely acceptable.

The Haunting

Passing the 4D cinema of the park, where this year a film about the little prince is shown, we take a small path to a small mansion, where a research team is already waiting for us, so that we can watch the paranormal activities of the house a little bit closer. The story of The Haunting is brought closer to you through video recordings in a container in front of the mansion, but the other pre-show rooms also contribute well to the story. The main room seems to be quite small compared to other Vekoma installations, but is designed very well. Unfortunately the music during the ride is slightly monotonous but full of atmosphere. The compressed air effect simulating bats flying around did not work everywhere and the effect at the end of the ride is just unnecessary. All in all The Haunting is a really good Mad House by Vekoma, but unfortunately it can’t match the Hotel Embrujado from the Spanish Parque Warner, which is the closest comparison.

Wild West Shoot Out and Drunken Barrels

If you slowly climb the neighbouring hill you will find the interactive theme ride Wild West Shoot Out next to the beautifully designed Intamin Drunken Barrels, which unfortunately were broken at the time of the visit. This small dark ride, manufactured by Zamperla, offers an absolutely worthwhile ride, which is not only beautifully designed, but also has some funny effects.

At the top of the hill there is a restaurant, the Grill Inn, which is not only open to park guests and will probably not be very popular until some time after the park closes. Also the beautiful, although from the outside rather plain, park owned hotel can be found here. If the cable car would be running, one could play a round of mini golf at this place.

Apocalypse

At about half height of the small ascent is the entrance to Apocalypse, one of the best free fall towers in Europe. The 54m heighted tower offers five lanes, two of which each have the normal gondolas and the stand-up gondolas with corridor. The last gondola is a stand-up gondola without corridor. For the real freefall tower lovers, of course, only the stand-up gondolas are suitable, as they enhance the experience. But it should be said that also the normal gondolas are completely convincing. While the stand-up gondola without corridor is simply outstanding, the stand-up gondolas with corridor are a little strangely designed. After closing the bar, one has to move upwards here, so that at some time, one stands in the right position that was also approved by the personnel.

Apocalypse is similar to the freefall tower La Lanzandera from the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid and in contrast to the bigger versions like Huracan Condor from the Port Aventura Park it is simply convincing. The fall is breathtaking and intense, but unfortunately, the gondola on the Intamin Giant Drop is brought to the tilt position quite early during the ascent.

Pandemonium

One level lower, next to the Ferris wheel, is the Fabbri Pandemonium, named Pandemonium. This is basically a beautifully designed and much larger version of a Cataclysm ride made by the same company. Like the Flying Oil Pump from the Zoo Safari- and Hollywoodpark Stukenbrock, the degree of freedom of this upside-down swing is simply high, which guarantees a fun ride with a lot of hang time. By the way, during the ride you have to be very careful not to scream, as the park does not want to make itself unpopular with its neighbours and points this out quite clearly.

Flying Dutchman

The latest Intamin ride at Drayton Manor Theme Park is a flying swing variation called Flying Dutchman. Here you fly through the air in small boats attached to steel cables, which is very relaxing due to the inclination of the seats.

Buffalo Coaster

The last roller coaster at Drayton Manor Theme Park is the Zamperla Powered Coaster Buffalo Coaster. The ride itself isn’t that spectacular, but it’s quite satisfying, because the ride is not as slow as it looks on video. But the track is very unconventional and can show some bizarre peculiarities.

Drayton Manor Zoo

The zoo area in Drayton Manor Theme Park is quite large and is located away from the park’s rides. Here, one can discover not only game animals, as one often finds in theme parks with animal enclosures, but also more exotic animals. Remarkable is, besides the large number of owls, the enclosure of the meerkats and the lemurs. Both animal species were quite astonished about what the other animals were doing in their environment. The zoo itself is well comparable with the zoological gardens from the Tier- und Freizeitpark Thüle, but also with the one from Chessington – World of Adventures.

In the back part of the zoo you can find a Thomas Museum, which is basically just a bigger model railway, as well as some attractions that fit the theme, but also Drayton Manor’s version of Cedar Fair’s Dinosaur Alive can be admired here. Although the animatronics idea has been left out from the beginning and there is no upcharge fee, the little tour with all its presentations is worth the time and is even more impressive than Nigloland’s Dinosaurs Aventure, which can score with animatronics.

Pictures Drayton Manor Theme Park

Conclusion Drayton Manor Theme Park

Drayton Manor Theme Park itself is a good theme park with, at least in Europe, quite unique attractions. The smoothness of all attractions is comparatively high, and with minor exceptions, every ride is a sight to behold. It would be nice to see how the park will develop in the next few years, because there is clearly still a lot of potential. So I will definitely come back someday!

 

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