Korea + Japan 08/18 – Suzuka Circuit + Parque Espana
Flew from Busan to Nagoya the next morning and picked up a car from the airport.
After the hilarity of the expensive tolls on our last trip to Japan, we had pre-booked an auto toll card to come with the car which gives you a discount and lets you pay it all off at the end with a credit card, rather than eating into your fast dwindling cash funds.
Lets see how much we can rack up this time.
Day 4 – Suzuka Circuit
Was immediately reminded why I love this country as we pulled into the car park here to be greeted by the friendliest person in the world brandishing signs and maps about who wants the amusement park and who wants the race track? First one please.
It had just started to rain as we reached the ticket windows, where more sign brandishing occurred, in particular the one that said no refunds if things close for weather. Don’t get me started.
Headed straight for Rocky Coaster, which I didn’t know had 2 backwards facing cars out of 5. Bonus.
This also turned out to be my 600th coaster. I beleive I was originally planning for it to be something more significant at Gyeongju World but the many spites in Korea hadn’t allowed that to happen. It was nice to end up with something more quirky instead.
The rain got rather heavy but they continued sending a couple of trains in front of us before it died down for our lap.
Backwards! Jet coaster was rather fun, not knowing what was going on both from the direction of travel and the intensity of the weather blinding us. There’s a classic ‘stick a straight line in’ section towards the end which was particularly amusing.
The other cred was in sight – Adventure Drive. Supposedly launched by people’s screams. It sure is a weird looking thing.
The rain got rather nasty again but we were welcomed into the queue. Again, they persisted for a while, but then it got too much and they ceased operation.
It might be that they have the power of some super accurate weather prediction technology in these parks that rules all the ‘cop out for the day’ decisions we encounter, but here we were simply told to wait 30 minutes and they’d give it another go. Yes, that’s more like it.
Sure enough, around 30 minutes later, while watching the water park evacuate themselves cos it was too wet, the rain died down once more and they sent a couple of cars before starting to load again.
It rides as weird as it looks. Punchy little launches in between momentum killing moments. An unusually steep lift and drop combo is chucked into the middle of the layout. Screams don’t seem to do much. Bit of a laugh.
On to the first of a million shooting dark rides for this trip. There’s a particular Japanese style of these rides, I believe made by Senyo, with continuously moving, sideways facing, 4 seater cars and fixed position swivelling guns that shoot at red LED circles and the occasional screen. Some of them have quite impressive animatronics inside, but it’s all a bit lost on you when you’re concentrating on shooting. Hirakata Park had my first of these and it was quite novel. It now turns out they’re absolutely everywhere.
Netto’s Power Crystal Hunt was about drilling for crystals I believe (don’t know where I got that from). The details might have faded on me.
Remaining thing of interest was the new Duel GP.
Nobody knows whether it’s a cred yet, but it’s great fun either way.
There’s 10 cars you can end up sitting in, with amusing names and colours.
You pseudo-steer the car with the wheel if you sit in the front of the 2-seater vehicle. If you take any of the corners badly then you get a controlled 360° spin while continuing forward until it points you in the right direction again. The more spins you rack up, the slower you are by the end of the race, so losing can have the advantage of being more fun. This is all enhanced by on board audio of revving and screeching and statements such as ‘YOU WIN!’
Each person in the winning car gets a little prize card at the end along with an excitable thumbs up from the staff.
The straight section over the bridge and down the steepest slope cannot be influenced by riders and is completely controlled by the ride system, with no steering required (not that it’s ever really required). The slope itself has trims brakes, implying a little fall under gravity and the track itself is what one would call coaster track. I’d be half tempted to count it, but it’s lumped in with the wrong crowd on Coaster Count for now. I would have done both sides ‘just in case’, but it was fun enough to warrant another lap anyway.
Suzuka Circuit (as an amusement park) is an enjoyable little place with a particularly extensive lineup of family rides, well worth the stop off, but nothing spectacular for us to stick around for.
Due to the weather concerns at this point, we decided to phone ahead to the next park to avoid potential disappointment (and costly tolls) but, as lovely as they were, continuously trying to put someone on the line with a bit more English, they didn’t understand our questions.
So we risked it.
The final portion of the drive is a rather fun mountain climb before descending back down towards a lake, of which the park is on the far side. A massive B&M invert came into view, and it was rather distracting to me as the driver, glancing over at it repeatedly to look for any signs of life.
Signs of life were confirmed upon arrival in the car park, as a train was despatched. We’ve done well.
Picked up a nice cheap evening ticket from the entrance and headed in. Straight to Pyrenees.
Two of these in as many days now. How does it fare?
Even better for me. The ride starts off stupidly intense like a Batman clone but twice the size, the brutally fun snap is back in the cobra, then the unconventional second half gives it a bit of extra charm, with some weird meandering and a sort of air time hill to finish. Great stuff, potentially my favourite Invert.
Our second ride was just over the way.
An inoffensive family coaster with salamander trains.
Followed by Gran Montserrat, the rare species that is the Mack mine train. The sight of the double lift makes me shudder having done a stupid amount of Vekoma and Golden Horse equivalents.
This was really good though, it picks up a ton of relentless speed out of almost nowhere on both the drops and gets rather intense in the low to the ground, tightly banked curves, which are only enhanced by some good rockwork. It’s a shame it was only running 1 train, I believe they can duel it on the two lifts and it would have been even better with some interaction.
Potentially my favourite mine train outside of Disney.
A dark ride called Illumination Ride “The Nutcracker” was nearby and a decent experience. I forget the story, but the music was all familiar and legit.
There was one more cred to find, but we got lost along the way. It’s a pretty substantial park filled with a lot of other types of things to do with the Spanish side of the whole resort theme.
There’s lots of buildings you can pop into and read about stuff, as well as a full blown castle. They do 2 day packages here and there’s a on-site hotel, so it’s obviously enough to keep some people entertained.
Some nice views too.
There is another section of the park down at the bottom of some escalators.
Including Don Quixote’s Magical Flight, a Peter Pan style dark ride, though the station reminded me more of the Liseberg one.
Quite impressive, but also forgettable, inside. Something about a quest with this crew and riding seahorses.
Found the cred eventually. It turns out we had walked straight past it on the way in to the park, a huge building on the side of the entrance square. Great name.
The coaster section of the ride doesn’t do much, but it’s all indoors, which makes it kinda cool. There’s a big dramatic scene in the middle of the layout where the train stops, there’s steam effects going off and a screen counting up to something happening. Then nothing happens.
The train crests another lift hill which leads to a second half that’s as laughably pointless as Novgorod. Then it ends.
Found the second shooter of the day in Batalla del Alcazaar “Adelante”. Same style but with scary demons instead.
That was pretty much everything on the to do list. Enjoyed the rest of the time with rerides in the dark of the two major coasters, which only enhanced the experience of both.
They had a parade going on at the end of the day, followed by fireworks as it was a late closing event. I was impressed with the park overall. It’s got a bit of an aesthetic which sets it apart from a lot of parks in Japan as well as a couple of particularly standout rides, it’s just a shame none of these places are ever expanding their lineup.
A very successful day. Can the streak continue?