China + Japan 06/19 – Nagashima Spa Land

Day 3 – Nagashima Spa Land

Oh no, back here again. It almost feels like home.

Rocked up before opening time to find an unnervingly large queue forming outside the entrance plaza. It looked worse than it was however, as there were gates shut before the actual ticketing area.
Soon enough those gates opened and all concept of a queue quickly dissolved as people from everywhere homed in from all angles, cutting past those who had been politely waiting at least half an hour before opening. Typical Nagashima Spa Land, nothing like the rest of Japan.
Followed the hustle and bustle into the ticket booths, got a wristband fairly promptly and headed in.

#1 Hakugei

Straight to the whale.

Ah man. The early stages of this day were doing absolutely nothing to change my mind about liking this park. The operations were as dire as to be expected. A single train dispatching every 6 minutes. An average of 4 empty seats per train due to their dumb row assignment methodology. I was there in the first 200 people and it took me an hour to get on it.

Logistics – there’s a member of staff in the cattlepen area who hands out blue and red wristbands and rattles off a speech in rapid Japanese to every person. The purpose of this wristband is to get you into the locker area which is situated under the station, which you pass through both before and after the ride. Upon reaching the station you give up the wristband, basically to stop people getting off the ride and cutting through the lockers again for another go. It’s an improvement on their other rides in that it saves having locker faff within the actual station, while loading the train, but it still seems to take just as long with all the various batching procedures and airport scanners for tissues in your pockets that lead up to it.

So thankfully the ride was amazing. Enough for me to put up with all that many, many times, coupled with the fact it was the sole reason I was there in the first place. Lets see how many RMC name drops I can squeeze into a review.

It’s got one of the stronger pre-lift funky sections which are always a laugh, closest to Twisted Colossus. A big lift hill looking out at the rest of the park or over the water. A zippy little corner at the top before an up and over drop, like a third of a Wildfire. And then it begins.

It’s got length. It just goes and goes with equally good elements from start to finish, unlike Lightning Rod.
There’s some really strong airtime in there, never quite as intense as Twisted Timbers, but it’s beautiful blend of sensations between each element, more like a giant Wicked Cyclone.
The stall only felt particularly significant towards the middle of the train similar to Joker’s little one, it just hits it too fast at the ends of the train to give that really magical upside down moment.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as the speed is quite surreal at times, watching it offride brought back memories of Railblazer. It just doesn’t look like the train should be travelling that fast through those elements, it’s unnatural.
It’s a gorgeous ride to look at as well – that blue and white, like a giant Twisted Cyclone with much prettier trains.

There, think that’s all of mine. Let’s take a moment to behold this creation.

In all seriousness though, I loved it. It’s a hard layout to learn even over a few laps – the scream inducing airtime on some of the hills that you forget are even there. The out of control feeling I’ve been missing on some of these things is present in the exit of the first outwards banked turn thing as it twists and throws you down a double down. This bit gave me ‘poorly prepared on Skyrush’ levels of uneven pain into alternate single legs when sitting towards the back. I’ve missed that too.
There’s some pretty vicious laterals out in the overbank near the end that makes it better than your average filler corner and the hills either side of this really kick ass. Possibly the best hill of the whole thing is chucked in right at the end of the ride as well, a wonky little hump hidden in the structure that was also scream inducing. Every time.
Fantastic stuff, well worth the trip.

They decided to add the second train during my second queueing, bumping the wait time up to about 90 minutes. Dispatches did drop to 3 minutes so it was an improvement later in the day, but the queue just grew and grew throughout the morning. Well that’s 2 rides in 3 hours, what else has this place got again?

Took some courtesy laps on the decent stuff around, starting with Steel Dragon 2000. This was operating surprisingly well with its 2 trains. It seems to have lost its limelight within the park for now against the new boy, I wonder if that is just newness or genuine appreciation for a much better ride. Time will tell.

Pretty much how I remember it. The lift is good for the openness on the left side and the way it goes on forever. The drop doesn’t feel like 300ft and isn’t very good. It bounces through the first 2 valleys quite ferociously and there’s absolutely no sensation in either of the big hills. The corners are huge and rather pointless, bit of wind in your face – ‘yeah man, can’t beat that sensation of speeeeeeeed,’ it’s like Fury 325 all over again.
Then it gets fun, awkwardly adjusting itself into the midcourse. Even though it brakes quite hard at this point, the following hills are all decent and seem to go on forever. I imagine it has to have the most consecutive straight airtime hills on any ride in the world and it is pretty joyous for that.
A slight shudder, a ghost from my past, hit me as I stepped onto the exit platform. Getting onto this ride was all too easy this time.

Token lap on my ride. Ultra Twister makes me happy. It’s such a weird and complicated looking death machine but also so simple. How many rides come off of one of their rails every lap just to get through the station? And the fact they had terrifying vertical lifts (and drops) 100 years before anything else claimed fame about it.

Acrobat next. Still as good looking as ever. They were operating the other station today, so that was a novelty. Never together though.
I forgot how intense this thing was. Pretzels are amazing of course, but the turn immediately after was so forceful that, to be graphic, my salivary glands failed me. I spent the rest of the ride dealing with that while it meandered around, never living up to the start again.

Time for the rest of my body to fail me, Arashi is one of the few rides in the world that still scares me. I regret it every time, sitting down in the seat with the rigid restraint uncomfortably biting into my collar bones. Feet dangling as it drags you vertically up. Why did I do this again? Oh no. OH NO. OH… *words gone*. It’s too intense to shout.
The initial moments of it flipping after the lift are like no other ride. It’s so far out of my body’s control that I don’t know what to do with myself. I go into survival mode – all I can do is sit there, hold on and exist through it, hoping to be alive by the end of it. But it’s nothing like SLC survival, it doesn’t hurt, it’s just pure intensity.
I love it anyway. Whether I enjoy it is a different matter.

They’ve got this new shooting dark ride that appeared opposite the whale which I thought was cool, diversifying their lineup a bit. Then I found it was upcharge. ‘Wanna do something other than queue 90 minutes for rollercoasters today? Well you’ve gotta pay for that.’ I still don’t like this park.

Time to calm down on the wheel. The views just got even better.

Would have been riding Hakugei ’til I bleed, but the operations just wouldn’t allow for it. The pain was stronger from the queueing than from the ride, though the waiting did die down a little as the afternoon went on. At least it was amazing enough to keep me there ’til the end of the day. I’d had strong ideas of leaving the park early if things had stayed how they started.
As we learnt from Hershey, always persist.

Day 4

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