Nagashima Spaland

Nagashima Spaland would have been the one single reason for a coaster enthusiast to visit Japan, and it would have been one coaster in particular that would attract us there. That coaster is Steel Dragon, which when it debuted in the Year of the Dragon, 2000 (hence its name) was the tallest longest and most visually imposing coaster in the world. In 2003 a wheel fell off and struck a person walking under the ride and it has been closed ever since, and there was no way we were going to be riding it.

Gutted! This is also the last picture I took of the coaster that day, imposing or not!

Nagashima Spaland opened in 1966 and was formed after WWII when the remnants of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were put together on a new site. Actually that's not true at all, I made it up. The city was formed by a group of warrior monks opposed to the rule of the Samurai. Over time a series of fortresses and heavy defences were erected to keep them out. Fortunately for us the monks have all died (admittedly this happened hundreds of years ago) and instead of big high walls there were open gates welcoming us in.

There were however other big high structures, such as the giant pirate ship that I didn't get to ride at Toshimaen and was hoping to ride here. When I got to it, it was closed. Arrrrggghhh!!! I'm not going to get to ride this after all. Crap! This was more upsetting than the coaster not running.

First ride today was on Jet Coaster which sounds pretty exciting until you realise that "Jet Coaster" is Japanese for "Roller Coaster". So we would be riding a ride called "Roller Coaster", which doesn't sound that exciting after all!

The ride was actually a lot of fun even with passengers reluctant to put their hands up in the air fully!

The parks tower ride was alright but unlike most parks where these are typically the tallest structure in the park, this was dwarfed by other rides around it. There were 3 towers, but only one was running. I'm guessing one would shoot you up, one would shoot you down and the other would shoot you up and down. There used to be a fourth tower where they would just shoot you but due to it's unpopularity they got rid of it.

Once again the park was empty making it possible to get around the park with the limited time that we had. The concept of an ERS is pretty much unheard of in Japan, in fact the idea of wanting to repeat ride is pretty rare too. So for a trip with very little exclusive riding time it was great that the attendance in the park had been so low.

As with the Giant Pirate Ship, Toshimaen had a shuttle loop coaster, which we didn't get to ride. At Nagashima however this was running and pretty good it was too.

As you can see we didn't even have a full car here; I think the train was a quarter full but still a lot of fun.

Third coaster of the day was The Looping Star coaster. I've ridden 2 of these before; one in Margate, which was my first coaster, and another at Budapest last year, which was actually the same coaster relocated. So depending on how anal you are this would be my third or second coaster of this type.

The coaster was super smooth, not bad for a ride that was reaching 25 years of age. Once again being a German ride Tim took delight in proclaiming how good his nation's engineering was.

This turned out to be the best coaster in the park, even with plenty of other coasters in the park to challenge it.

I'd first ridden one of these first-generation drop towers at Magic Mountain in the early 1990s and I remember, very vaguely due to the concussion it gave me that it wasn't all that exciting. When I revisited the park in 1992 I rode it again and quickly realised why I had hated it the first time. So I was a bit hesitant in riding this one, but gave it a go just to see if Magic Mountain had a bad one. They didn't, this one was smashed my head just as badly.

The park does have mirror-image mouse coasters, which are a lot of fun as two cars head towards each other then hairpin turn away at the last second. However on the day we were there one half was not running so the effect was lost unless you strapped a mirror 10ft in front of the car and pulled it towards you at the right time.

Even with it running at 50% it was still quite an enjoyable ride. We couldn't complain about the left-hand side not running, because you would think if there was one coaster that we'd be miffed at not riding it would be the 300ft steel monster behind it (which you can't see because I was making sure that coaster remained out of every shot I took in the park).

Don't look at that red track in the background and instead focus on the girls riding the mouse coaster. The girl's vest reads "I love rock", not anything else in case you thought this was another example of the true meaning of a phrase being lost in the translation. It makes perfect sense when you read it carefully.

Unlike this T-Shirt which doesn't make any sense whatsoever. "Ease long fatigue with this. Glimpse. One know how to spend the people enjoy. This time no more furious". Exactly! Couldn't agree more.

This is the park's water splash ride, which was superbly soaking and definitely refreshing after the disappointing splash at Parc Espana's log flume ride, proof that they do do wet wet rides in Japan! Very few locals were brave enough to ride without a poncho. I'm not aware of any of the group who did wear one. Proof that we're the complete opposite of the East perhaps?

White Cyclone is the big wooden coaster in the park, big being an understatement. When this park says they're going to build a big ride you know they're going to mean it! Clearly they don't have any height legislation around here.

The coaster looked like a lot of fun, certainly the people on it were seemingly well into it. Unlike a lot of the other coasters in the park this was running nearly full trains, which I took to be a sign of how good and popular this ride was.

The park wasn't just full of coasters, there were plenty of other thrill rides to absorb the queues that just weren't happening. In Japan, the coasters might not work but the shuttles do!

This was just a normal chair swing but the unbalanced loading tipped it to make it a waveswinger. That's what happens when you put 4 people on the same side! The downside to having an empty park.

So it was off to ride the White Cyclone ride and we did have a slight queue to join and wait in. As it turns out the reason why there was a queue and why it was running with nearly full trains was that there was just one train in operation.

The ride was a lot of fun but different in style to the last two wooden coasters at Tobu Zoo and Nara Dreamland. It was more in-line with the other big white coaster at Yomiuriland, which coincidentally was called White-something. There was an older vibe to this ride which I prefer over to the modern air-time machines.

However this one was pretty rough, which I don't like in my coasters. The one at Yomiuriland was the preferred ride, but on looks, this one was easily the most impressive. I did some research on the internet to find out just how much wood was used in the construction of this ride; the answer is "a lot" apparently, and I'm not in any position to question that.

From a distance it looked like everyone was enjoying the ride. Up close as it came back into the station it was more obvious that people were in two minds about it. The ride can handle three trains and after we'd ridden it they put on a second, which apparently ran a lot better, although I didn't get to try it out. Too much other stuff to ride.

This is Ultra-Twister, a very weird looking ride indeed, where instead of running on tracks, the coaster runs inside them. I had seen pictures of this before but didn't realise that for starters it had a vertical lift hill.

Then a near vertical lift drop into the first section of the ride. Quite a rough drop from what I recall.

The ride is in two sections, the top path takes you out to a piece of switch track which drops you into the twisting section on the lower part where you return backwards back to the station.

This picture is from the station and does show the rails that twist the car around but doesn't show the car.

This picture isn't from the station but does show the rails that twist the car around and does show the car.

This picture is from the station but doesn't show the rails that twist the car around but does show the car.

This picture isn't from the station and doesn't show the rails that twist the car around and doesn't show the car. (OK Enough already! Get back to sensibility)

The park has more conventional coasters like the corkscrew. I believe that somewhere out there, with all the corkscrew coasters in the world, there has to be one that runs smoothly. Add this one to the other list of ones that run badly.

I remember riding in the front and having my ear smashed in through some of the inversions, just one ear mind. So like when you attack a drunk mate and shave one eyebrow off so he has no choice but to shave the other one of himself, I had to spend a few minutes punching the uninjured ear so that the balance was re-aligned.

It's obligatory shot through the corkscrew wasn't quite as clear as some of the other parks I had taken pictures of.

The park does have rides for the kiddies, although I wouldn't say Nagashima Spaland was a children's park by any stretch. This ride is a coaster by any squeeze though as we experienced trying to get in it to ride. Having walked a lap of the park I thought it would be a good time to give the huge wheel a go.

Here's the big splash making a big splash so I guess its alright to refer to it as a big splash. Ah crap I was trying so hard but that infernal red coaster managed to sneak into the shot.

Here's the Looping Star and it's more obvious from up here how curvy and twisting this coaster is. It doesn't look the same from ground level.

At one end of the park is a huge water park, which had admittedly pulled a lot of people away from the main park. It did look pretty busy in there, and I'm not going to complain about the people not being in the park, although if you've read all the pages so far you'll think I go on about it too much.

The first half of the White Cyclone coaster. It was way too big to fit all of it in shot.

The second half of the White Cyclone coaster. It was way too big to fit all of it in shot.

The bit in the middle of the White Cyclone coaster that sits between the two halves. It was way too big to fit all of it in shot. If you're questioning how half + half + another bit being too big then that's how big the coaster was! White Cyclone, it defies fractions.

The most intense ride in the park however was the Giant Frisbee, where you sit facing outwards and whilst rotating, swing in a pendulum manner. The ride produced plenty of G-Forces and brought about a rush of blood of to the head, and when they were done handing out Coldplay CDs I went on for another go. Tim however wasn't up to it and went for a wander. Tim has a weakness!!!!!!

Ultra Twister and the Corkscrew. The kiddy coaster is hidden in the trees behind that ride. We weren't staying at the hotels next to the park unfortunately. I'm sure there would have been some great views out of the hotel windows here.

More pictures of White Cyclone trying my damnest to show how big this ride is. This wasn't a good attempt.

Nor does this but it does show the first drop quite well!

Good coasters have helixes, but this has good helixes but isn't that good so go figure.

This is the same helix in the second half of the ride and whilst I haven't captured the energy of the train as it goes around the helix, I have shown lots of wood, for all your wood lovers out there.

The giant frisbee in front of the giant wheel in front of the giant wooden coaster and with the giant ship and the giant not running coaster you have to think whether the plans that the park use are using the wrong scale.

OH MY GOD!!! The pirate boat is running. Wooohooo!! Just to show the height difference between the original and the giant version I got both in shot. It makes me wonder if a normal-sized pirate ship has the same effect on little people as a giant pirate ship on normal people!

As it turns out the pirate ships were undergoing testing but would be open within the hour. Unlike normal pirate boat rides, they don't run this on a regular cycle but at four intervals in the hour. We were due to leave the park soon so there was only going to be a single opportunity to ride it and we would be cutting it fine even if we did.

This is the park's haunted walkthrough and it was really really tame, so a couple of us took it upon ourselves to hide within the attraction and scare other people walking through it. I actually managed to freak some locals by standing on a rope bridge facing away from them and refusing to move. Quite a lot of fun really! Having killed some time in there it was time to run back to the ship.

I couldn't wait to ride this thing and those of us that waited were prepared to be late back to the coach to ride it. One of the trip organisers, who had to leave to ensure people were back in time, didn't get to ride this.

I won this monkey in one of the park's games and it was only fair that he got to ride with me.
So how was the ride?

Pretty damn awesome but it's so big that a lot of the effect is lost. The ship is so large that your peripheral vision is taken up with the other rows on the boat. Can't fault the height though. I'm not a big fan of small ships but I am a HUGE fan of these! I want one in the UK.

Even the monkey liked it!

Nagashima Spaland is a great park but literally overshadowed by the big red machine that isn't running. Seeing that monster of a coaster and not being able to ride it does taint the day a little bit. The parks does have plenty of other rides however, I managed to miss some of them. This had been the first proper thrill park on the trip, tailored to adrenaline junkies rather than families, and was more to my liking than the Disney parks in that aspect. There was little or no theming here however which degrades the experience a little.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Peter Fleischmann said...

Steel Dragon 2000 Re-Opened about a year after your trip in Sept 2006.

10:46 AM  

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