Korea + Japan 09/18 – Fuji-Q Highland

It rained pretty much all journey the next morning. This place has somewhat of a reputation for ruining everyone’s day in the slightest of weather conditions. I almost welcome it at this stage.
It had stopped raining on arrival, and the car park was dead. Promising.

Try not to crash the car on the way in.

Day 10 – Fuji-Q Highland

That’s quite the entrance, even if it isn’t the actual entrance. I didn’t know they had a Disney village style area to walk through first.

Some screens near the ticket booths said every ride bar some irrelevant ones I didn’t know of will open today. Promising.
There was a big queue for the final entrance, waiting for the flood gates to open. Where did they come from?
Their new ride entry system scans your face (after you awkwardly crouch to fit it in the screen in front of you) as you enter the park and then remembers if you have a ride pass or just an entry ticket. It’s kinda cool.

The gates opened. Now run. Which one, which one? That one?

We entered what was apparently already a 45 minute queue for Do-dodonpa. It was pumping out 8 people every couple of minutes on its 2 trains, moving alright. Then it started to rain. It carried on running for half an hour or so. Then they ceased operations, but Suzuka Circuit style, telling everyone to wait for the weather to get better again. So we wait.
An hour passes. They test another couple of trains. I think we’re moving again? Oh, nope, they’re evacuating the queue through the station and giving out exit passes to come back later, alright then.

Well that’s 2 hours gone and we haven’t achieved anything yet. Takabisha is directly opposite and we had watched that get evacuated too. Eejanaika had never moved at all.

So EVERYONE in the park was at Fujiyama, and what choice do we have but to join them?
Joined the back of a 3-4 hour queue, cowering under shelters from the moderate rain (not pictured above). They tested both trains on this ride in the morning, but it was only running one now and it’s so slow. It’s a long ride. It’s a long train. It’s a long loading procedure. Taron’s queue record is about to be smashed.
The more depressing part was that no one really joined the queue behind us, so we weren’t particularly gaining anything, just endlessly shunting the back of the queue forward, with nothing better to do.

Park-wide announcement: “Ladies and Gentleman, we are pleased to announce that Takabisha is now open.”
People had already been gathering over there as the rain eased off again, but I took a quick wander over to see that it was as bad as what we were currently in. It was. Probably not worth bailing for.

Park-wide announcement: “Ladies and Gentleman, we are pleased to announce that Eejanaika is now open.”

What do we dooooooo? Run then. If we get there quickly, we’ll be straight on it right?
Wrong. Ran straight into another 2 hour queue. This place baffles me.

They have fastrack machines outside the major rides in this park that show all available time slots for the day for ~£10 a pop. There were still some selling for right now and we knew we had to get something done.

So we walked straight into the station, putting the face recognition things to the test for the first ride of the day. It works well, maybe UK airports should invest in some.

The ride was operating 2 trains and actually running quite well with its 4 pen system that lets everyone deal with their locker and shoe removal faff in their own time. Our time had come.

I forgot how terrifying the restraints are on S&S 4D coasters. A jacket for your arms and nothing for your lap and legs which can just jump around as they please. They’re shouting “Eejanaika” and playing dispatch music, oh no. The seats just freely tilt you almost onto your head as you leave the station, that’s a thing now? Oh no.

#1 Eejanaika

Second time in a week I’ve been proper scared on a ride, half dreading what’s to come and holding on tighter than ever. I like that.

What I said about Dinoconda doesn’t really apply here, which is that it all felt designed around pointing you down the first drop and the rest was an unplanned mess.
This one either rides better, or I was less physically wrecked by the trip I was on.

The first drop itself felt a lot less sustained than I remember, but the remaining insanity of the layout was so much clearer and more well defined, and I loved it.

There’s almost nothing else out there in the world of rollercoasters that can do these things to you, holding you upside down and in all sorts of weird positions while you fly through inversions at ridiculous speed and height.

It does bounce your lower half around, but only through intense moments of change and not roughness, and on that final twist both my legs were clear above the lump in the middle of the seat, so I now fully understand how some riders end up with their limbs completely swapped over.

#2 Fujiyama

Back to Fujiyama then, the king of queues. This was still on 1 train and running terribly, with everyone ploughing through the train to the locker section in the station and faffing with that forever.
Took another age, but we got there in the end.

Every major coaster at this park is so iconic, but they also come with the stigma of ‘it could be an absolutely terrible ride.’ This one made 2 for 2 though, I liked this Togo Hyper a lot.

Its a stupid layout, namely the 250ft drop into a 200ft flat turnaround, but it’s full of surprisingly good forces and having just a lap bar only enhances that. There are no words to describe the last section of the ride which was just hilarous in execution, but it was never rough and never felt like a waste of potential, unlike certain other coasters of this size.

Dodonpa was also back up and running by this stage, we had been watching it from the queue of Fujiyama and the speed it leaves that tunnel just doesn’t look real. Time to use those exit passes.

Walked straight up the exit and immediately onto the ride, with a couple of bows and nods on the way. That was way too quick, I’m not ready for this ride.

The whole park is full of a bunch of anime girls at the moment, with them being mascots on various rides. All of them were on a giant screen in the station here.
I’m scared again, this keeps happening.
Oh no, we’re in the train, with those new offensively large restraints. I’m keeping myself sane by enthusiastically singing along to the tune it plays while the ride turns the corner into a tunnel.
Dun dun, dudun dun! Oh no, we’re on the launch track.
Dun dun, dudun dun! Oh no, the anime girls are shouting about launch time.
Dun dun, dudun dun! Oh no, they’re counting down.
Dun dun, dudun dun! Oh… no?

#3 Do-Dodonpa

Well I’ve officially broken myself when it comes to launches, because this was nothing special. For the most powerful in the world, it felt no more significant. It rides fine? Again we’d bigged it up to be this stupidly intense and rough ride, but it just kinda floats around the layout of one massive corner on its silly tyres.

The only slightly questionable part is the jolt in the entrance to the newly added loop. Where once it had a straight element, they now had to find a way to angle it for an entry and an exit, but it’s not bad.

The loop is alright I guess, I like these massive ones where the train takes up a tiny proportion of it, and you get a slow moment at the top to appreciate that. Would have preferred to try the original airtime hill obviously.
I think the best bit was the little lurch downwards the track does at the end of the launch section which feels like an afterthought: ‘oops, we’d better change the elevation a bit here.’ Otherwise meh.
3 for 3. We didn’t dislike it at least.

We had had enough of Qs by now and were getting rather hungry so we bought the fast track for Takabisha and again walked straight onto it. I like that every major ride here has its own little jingle with the name in it, helping to build character for the legends. Can’t really comment on how this ride was being run. More 8 seater train nonsense with lockers. Who knows how many they were running, but they did seem to be doing some two-halves of the ride duelling when we were watching it earlier.

They’ve done something to these trains. It’s still a Gerstlauer Eurofighter, but it’s way less offensive somehow. It feels wider. It feels less bulky. I didn’t instantly regret putting the restraint down.

Ugh, that start again? The drop out of the station into the slow roll. At least it doesn’t lurch you downwards into the launch. Can’t think of much that stood out about what follows, just a bunch of very large inversions that don’t try to kill you.

The world’s steepest drop behaves weirdly though. It acts like a holding brake and then keeps inching and teasing you downwards before finally releasing. Well that was a thing.
More huge inversions. Brakes. 4 for 4. Have we just completed Fuji-Q without dying?

We were pleased by the fact they had a Mos Burger on park, as it’s something we quite often have in Japan, but they managed to ruin it here by having a reduced, overpriced menu. Bah.

#5 Mad Mouse

A bit of fuel was consumed, then into the queue for the next cred. It took far too long and was by far the roughest ride in the park. Felt like the car was scraping something the whole way round and it hurt my brain. The Formula Rossa of wild mice.

Couldn’t be arsed to queue for what was formerly known as the hamster coaster yet, so went round to Thomas Land.

Thomas’ Party Parade is their fun little Thomas the Tank Engine dark ride, which is really well done for what it is and a welcome change from the feel of everything else in the park.

#6 Rock’n’Roll Duncan

The smallest coaster in the park. I like the fact it has a fake transfer track. +1.

#7 Voyage dans le Ciel

For some reason, the queue here had completely emptied by the time we came back, so walked straight onto the final cred of the day.

The ride is now based on their French dog mascots, Lisa and Gaspard, who have their own shop and museum back in the village.

It’s a bit of fun and punches you hard in the stomach on the brakes.

Fuji-Cat is better though.

So now we’ve actually completed Fuji-Q. With rain. Take that Nagashima.
I won’t praise this park for the queues, because they’re just awful. There was no way around paying extra for 2 of the 4 major attractions and in a way we had to get lucky with the exit pass on Dodonpa as well. This was a quiet day in terms of guest numbers and everything just default ends up on queues of 2-3 hours, which gives you no opportunity to truly… enjoy? any of their offerings. It’s an ordeal, or maybe even a ritual.
But facts are facts. It rained, it rained hard, they kept going, they stopped, they compensated. It stopped raining. They reopened everything. There’s a lot of parks out there that just don’t do that and are a lot worse in comparison, so well done lads.

There were a couple of hours left before close now and we would have to leave a smidge early to stand a chance of getting the car back in time. Let’s suck up one more fastrack and maybe one more big queue?
All fastracks are sold out now. Ah.

In the end we just went for Eejanaika, and while we were there, announcements were playing throughout the park declaring the closures of other queues ensuring that they weren’t still running past midnight or something stupid. The queue here was moving incredibly well for what it was but the timing was tight, it was tense. It was so very worth it.

Night had fallen and Eejanaika was just fantastic. Disorientating and intense, it had me doing a quiet scared laugh to myself the whole way round, I couldn’t find the words.
By far the best ride of the trip and exactly what this hobby is all about.

And now we’re running again. Gotta get that car back to Tokyo.

Hit a bunch of traffic on the return journey and completely forgot to factor in a petrol stop as well. They’re crafty in Japan and give you a list of 3 fuelling spots near to the drop off point which you have to use before returning, as well as provide a receipt to prove it. But we made it.

Oh, we still never saw Mount Fuji. There was always a cloud in the way.

Here’s another famous sight instead.

Up next – typhoons.

Day 11

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