Korea + Japan 09/18 – Tokyo Dome City + Tobu Zoo

Day 13

I woke up today feeling an awful mixture of sadness that today was our last day in Japan and dread for just how insane today was going to play out.

Tokyo Dome City

After a solemn but quick train journey, we arrived at Tokyo Dome City, the home of Thunder Dolphin.

I had it in my head for some reason that Tokyo Dome City was going to be a large amusement park next to the legendary Tokyo Dome, when actually it feels much more like a collection of rides inside of, outside of and on top of a massive mall. For this reason finding the entrances to attractions was a lot more confusing than you’d imagine.

Following a confusing search, which was constantly interrupted by screaming at Thunder Dolphin, we found the ticket counter, which was hidden in a line of standard looking shops.

Thunder Dolphin – You know how in this report I keep bringing up coasters that in my head have a legendary status, well most certainly among them is Thunder Dolphin.

As a huge fan of Expedition GeForce and Goliath, I was extremely excited to see what Tokyo’s own Intamin monster would ride like. The outcome unfortunately aligns with exactly what I had previously read online, that it is infact nowhere near in the same league as the other Intamin Hyper coasters.

Thunder Dolphin’s first drop is by far the best part of the coaster, providing an awesome out of seat experience during the whole descent. It is from the bottom of this drop however that things take a turn and Thunder Dolphin becomes an Intamin Jet Coaster.

While it is still an amazing experience to fly over building tops and through massive Ferris wheels, you can’t help but be disappointed when knowing what this ride hardware is normally capable of.

Thunder Dolphin looks visually outstanding and provides an experience I very much doubt you’d be able to replicate, sadly as an Intamin Hyper though, it’s a let down.

The Dive – Next up we rode the park’s shooting dark ride, which you ride standing up, different if nothing else.

Wonder Drop – Tokyo Dome City’s log flume attraction and it was absolutely evil! Water braking redefined and probably the wettest drop on a conventional log flume ever.

Big-O – The park’s famous spokeless Ferris wheel, where we got lots of lovely pictures of Thunder Dolphin. Rather awesomely it featured touch screens and could play videos in multiple languages about the park’s attractions.

After a few more laps of Thunder Dolphin, we left the park but kept our wristbands on incase we found time to return later today, we didn’t…

Tobu Zoo

The train ride to Tobu Zoo took a good 45 minutes and really did feel like it was in the middle of nowhere.

The park is apparently a 20 minute walk from the station, so we jumped on the bus that departs from just outside.

When we got to the ticket counter, an older Japanese women told us that Kawasemi wasn’t operating. When we replied with, “oh ok, that’s what we came for, so thank you but we won’t be coming in”, a younger women jumped on her phone and told us to wait. She then informed us that engineering were going to try to open the coaster. Now I can’t be 100% sure they opened Kawasemi just for us but I do strongly feel that’s what happened.

With that we bought entry only tickets and while Heartline and his wife went to check out the zoo, I went to scope out Kawasemi.

Almost as soon as I arrived outside the completely deserted entrance area, engineering smiled and gave the thumbs up to the ride team.

Now we have a problem, we have entry only passes and as far as we can tell you have to walk all the way back to the park entrance to get wristbands, or not…

After explaining the situation to the Kawasemi ride op, he walked us to a games counter, where an incredibly friendly lady sold us some wristbands.

Kawasemi – Kawasemi is an Intamin Mega-Lite, a coaster type and layout I praised immensely based on the wonderful Piraten at Djurs Sommerland.

Though it turns out riding layout clones that don’t live up to the first example you rode can quite seriously harm your perception of that first coaster.

Piraten, from memory blows the aforementioned GeForce and Goliath out of the water, it is a coaster I rode over 10 times and literally only stopped when I started to go blind, so yeah, it was awesome.

Then earlier this year I went to Nigloland and rode Alpina Blitz, same layout as Piraten but built by Mack. While a very good coaster, it came no where near how awesome I viewed Piraten. Is Alpina Blitz considerably worse despite having the same layout with better trains? Or was I wrong in how I rated Piraten in the first place?

And now we come to Kawasemi.

Literally the exact same ride, trains and all as Piraten and while it was clearly better than Alpina Blitz and had hints of what I remember lapping up on Piraten, it ultimately once again failed to be as good as I remember Piraten being. Is Kawasemi considerably worse despite being the exact same as Piraten? Or was I wrong in how I rated Piraten in the first place?

Though I won’t deny it was seriously cool on one of our laps to be the only 2 people on Kawasemi, a Mega-Lite almost to myself, I just wish the ride type hadn’t been seriously weakened by this point.

Regina – From an Intamin Mega-Lite to an Intamin woodie, sadly not a prefab…

Regina falls in with woodies that are exactly meh, such as Loup Garou and Mammut.

The best part of the whole ride is that it has a removable extra cushion for every seat, plus I won’t deny it’s a pretty looking coaster.

Tentomushi – I’m just happy to be able to say I’ve ridden Tentomushi.

After this we rode the park’s Ferris wheel and had a real quick dash around the zoo. With the right people in your group and with no deadlines, I’ve no doubt you’d be able to spend a lovely day out at Tobu Zoo. See the animals, ride Kawasemi, then chill out looking at the nice scenery, this place keeps everyone happy.

From here we went to the Tokyo Pokemart, followed by a free to visit observation desk, before we collected our bags from the hotel and made our way to the airport.

The airport monorail was laughably poor compared to what you’d picture when you hear Japan and monorail in the same sentence.

Day 14

Our plane back to Korea was due to take off at just after 2am and at first I thought I was coping quite well but that didn’t last. I can’t remember the flight at all, not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though.

Once back in Korea we collected our Music Bank tickets from the most agressive Korean man ever and then once again boarded the airport to Seoul city train.

Falling asleep despite your best efforts not to is a horrible experience but that was me for the entire journey, it was tough. Though it was funny watching the Koreans opposite me do the exact same thing on their morning commute, I felt part of the team.

We arrived back at the Seoul Station K-Pop Hotel at about 8am and despite telling Heartline during the booking that I very much doubt I’d be able to sleep during the day, as soon as my destroyed body hit the mattress I was out.

The reason for the aforementioned crazy flight and sleeping during the day, was today, as with every Friday in Korea, was Music Bank.

Music Bank is a weekly Korean music show where the currently promoting K-Pop artists all perform their latest singles, then based on statistics around album sales and on the day voting a weekly winner is crowned.

Because it’s so hard to truly know in advance which artists will show up, it’s a bit of a risk just how good each show will be. Last time around, no less than 5 bands I was a fan of ended up showing up, with 2 of them being among my absolute favourites, it was a truly amazing experience.

This time around things were a bit less exciting, with (G)I-DLE being pretty much the only band I had heard of beforehand. Either way it was still a really good show.

For the record, (G)I-DLE used more pyro in their set than Tokyo Disneyland used in their castle show, still bitter…

With this being our last weekend, we now had full reign to spend all our money and fill our suitcases. So after Music Bank we went to Myeondong, Seoul’s biggest shopping area and started ticking off the K-Pop albums we came for.

After going to sleep I was awoken by sirens wailing, knocking on the door and shouting. Waking up thinking the hotel was burning down, it ended up being Heartline, “feel like going to Lotte World again tomorrow?”, “…yes! now I’m going back to bed.”

Thanks for reading, click here to read the final part of this trip report, where we visit Lotte World again and experience the best part of the trip (nah the 2nd best) [nah the best] {nah the 2nd best}…

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