Korea + Japan 09/18 – Tokyo Dome City + Tobu Zoo
Time for our final day in Tokyo. We started off by clearing some anxiety that had been building all week after telling ourselves we’ll get Thunder Dolphin one evening, but hadn’t actually managed it yet due to a combination of K-Pop and typhoons. So let’s do it.
Day 13 – Tokyo Dome City
Tokyo Dome is a confusing little place. Half shopping mall, half spa, split across many floors and a road, combined with a distinct lack of visitors first thing in the morning. Got lost in a lift for a bit, then picked up some wristbands from the lovely staff and headed straight to the main event.
It’s policy here at each ride to hold a sign in front of your face containing all the rules and regulations in English, for you to show some level of understanding and then nod your agreement before entering. I admire their commitment to procedure, as this also happens on rerides, just in case something serious happened to you on your previous lap.
There’s some locker faff in the station, but the ride was only ever half full at most, so it mainly involved waiting around for things to happen. They’ve got some sort of OCD despatch procedure which involves many complicated gestures and a speech, pointing at various buttons and lights, then the staff members, who are all doing hand signals for what appears to be facts about the ride – height, speed, drop etc. It all ends with the obligatory waving as the ride begins of course. Cute.
The familiar Intamin cable lift in the middle of a city is quite a surreal experience, but these things never give you too much time to think.
So it’s not fantastic.
It’s fun because it’s interesting and cool, just not so much because of the layout, which suffers quite badly from being very forced into these surroundings.
The first drop is very good, naturally. There’s also a speed hill that packs quite a punch, and the way it comes into the big drop through this hole in the building is pretty special.
The rest involves large banked corners at 150ft in the air, a failed air time hill, a 150ft drop into the brake run and most importantly – a ‘so dumb it’s funny section’ of slow wonky hills, also 150ft in the air.
Did a very weird shooting dark ride here called The Dive to finally break the trend.
It’s a standup, with elaborate seatbelts that we were told we didn’t need, in a car that holds 4 people in a square shape, facing outwards. It moves to the middle of each scene before activating said scene with lights, sounds and movement, then does a single rotation on the spot while you can shoot things. There weren’t many scenes.
Did the log flume for some reason.
Glad we did, as it has a little lookout post for the staff in the middle of the upper level meandering section, placed just so they can wave to you and tell you to watch out for the drop as you approach said drop. Cute.
The ride was also surprisingly wet, so good for the heat.
Went over to another section of the park looking for their Spiderman type dark ride, but it’s all closed off and has been removed from the maps. Spite.
Did the ‘Big O’ Ferris Wheel. A karaoke option is available, but we had the normal pod which has a touch screen that can read out stories about the history of the park in various languages. Good stuff, though they used to have a lot more creds apparently. More spite.
Headed out of the park after a final go on the Dolphin, but kept the wristband on. Just in case.
We then got reacquainted with the concept of ‘fare adjustment’ (having to pay more for your ticket after getting the wrong one) during a very long journey to the next place. Those damn Tokyo trains.
A friendly bus driver was waiting at the station exit and he showed us the marvels of the automatic change dispenser that is built into their buses, so you can always pay the correct amount.
On closer inspection, coulda walked the journey, but I’ll claim that we were preserving ourselves for the insanity of this particular day.
Well this is far more unassuming than I was expecting.
Got as far as the ticket window to see one of those dreaded signs with pictures and names of rides on it. It would appear that the Megalite and one of the small creds aren’t open. Please no.
Made friends with the staff lady, who explained the situation as “they’re doing their daily checks on the rides at the moment, it might open afterwards, but no guarantee.” This also included a phone call to the ride staff, which given how quiet it was, could well have been “open the ride for these lovely people.”
With no guarantee, we bought entry tickets only and wandered in for a look. Headed straight for the Megalite, where a man pretty much opened it in our face.
Right, how do we upgrade to a wristband then? He led us over to another super nice person who was making sure we understood the cost implications and how much we would have to ride to make the transaction worthwhile. “4 goes on the big one? Oooh, brave!”
So we had it to ourselves for the afternoon, which could have been amazing, but I’ve found again that they don’t all ride the same and the original is still far superior for whatever reason. We physically struggled to marathon Piraten due to its intensity, but there’s something lacking here and it’s just going through the motions more than anything.
The true highlight was the smoke effect on the brake run, along with more OCD despatch checks where two staff make a point of walking to the front of the station, looking out at the sky and/or lift hill, pointing and nodding. ‘Yup, no rain/the ride hasn’t fallen over yet.’
Right, creds. This was round the corner, a classic Tivoli medium. Done.
An older Intamin woodie loomed in the distance. Only wood of the trip, sadly. This’ll be interesting.
There’s always that fear these days that the next unsuspecting woodie will be cripplingly rough. This one was fine. A bit something and nothing in terms of what it actually did, the odd off the seat moment here and there, but with a functional shake and comfortable trains, so… ‘a bigger Elf’ or ‘slightly better than the Vekomas’, take your pick.
The final cred was indeed down, and remained that way. It had engineers on their backs under the station track most of the time. Ah well.
Another park, another Ferris Wheel. This one had stuff about cheese, including a narrating girl that was enjoying eating said cheese in a questionably pleasurable manner. Then it turned into anime music. Classic.
Slithered round the zoo for a bit, ending up at the complete opposite end of the park which had another entrance, but headed out the way we came to save getting lost, bus and all.
Don’t know why I imagined this place as a significant park. It was far more low key and in line with a lot of other places in Japan – friendly, but a bit run down and haven’t done anything exciting for at least 10 years. Grab them while you can.
Decided that was enough parks for now and headed back into the city for some other bits. In mental preparation for the following days, we completed our ritual of hitting every music shop in town, searching for stupidly rare K-Pop albums. A ritual that very often borders on the excessive.
Went to heal at the Pokemon Centre.
This one had a far more impressive selection than Osaka, along with some good displays, but no free gift sadly.
Decided to buy everyone’s favourite Pokemon for the soft toy collection.
No, this – https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Substitute_(move)
From there we went to the free observation deck in a government building. Night view wasn’t a great idea to be honest, a bit generic looking as cities. And still haven’t laid eyes on Mt. Fuji.
Normal people would go back to the hotel and sleep at this point, but we picked up our bags from the hotel and headed to the airport for our 2am flight back to Korea.
There was method to this madness, honest.