Revenge of the steel dragon
Featuring Peter Rabbit
Yesterday we went to Nagashima spaland, an amusement park located in Nagoya suburbs. Of all the people who were interested in going with me, only three courageous girls actually woke up and came...Indeed it takes about 2 hours to get there and we really wanted to be there for the opening at 9. I woke up at 6, which is really tough for a saturday!...
The park's pet is the nice Peter Rabbit:
However I think it's a bad choice and that dear Peter had better go to Disneyland...because the coasters here are particularly impressive!!! Several of them are "normal" but many are just taller, scarier than their counterparts in France. Most notably one of them that is worth the entrance fee itself...
Unfortunately, Japanese people really don't like rain and as soon as there are a few drops, they simply stop all rides! And because we were really unlucky, it started to rain right when the coasters were about to start running. Moreover it rained most of the day, so we didn't have much choice about our rides. On the other hand, there were so few people that we never needed to queue.
Seriously, I wonder how they make money. Not only do they close the rides for no sensible reason, but before reopening them they perform several test rides before deciding that those three raindrops are definitely too dangerous...It was a saturday and I seriously wondered whether there were more clients or employees...
Now for the pictures! There are plenty of rides, I'll just show a small selection (the most interesting ones in my opinion).
We started with the Ferris wheel:
It's huge (almost 300ft), and it's especially impressive for people who are afraid of heights like me. After that, we headed to the "Star shot":
It's very simple: starting at ground level, you're launched up to the top of the tower (about 230ft high), then it's a freefall almost all the way down. The best part is at the top, when your stomach stays there while the rest of your body starts to fall down...
The giant frisbee (didn't do it, I hate combined rotations): the arm swings while the frisbee spins...and the arm goes quite high !
Next comes the white cyclone, a beautiful wooden roller coaster, wonderfully designed. It has 4 great drops, plenty of curves, several dives into the "white tree forest"...It's pure fun! We managed to do it again in the afternoon and it was awesome! The pictures are average, the second and third ones were taken from the ferris wheel while it was raining, and the last one during the ride. But you can get a feel of the complexity of the structure:
Two pictures from the ferris wheel, since we did it again in the afternoon as the sky was clearing out. Yes, everything looks really tiny:
Here comes the highlight, the best of all...Look at the "mountains" in the background of the following pictures:
That beast is called "Steel dragon 2000". When it opened in 2000, it broke all records with notably an amazing 318ft height!!! It's even taller than the ferris wheel, so look at the pictures again (and they weren't even taken from the highest point) and try to think that you have the same view from the top of the dragon...before falling. The dragon is now the third tallest in the world, but it keeps its length record with an outstanding 8,133ft. The "funny" thing is: in 2003, there was an accident due to one of the trains losing a wheel. The ride was then closed for 3 years and it just reopened last month!
Of course, we were scared to death but we came for it. It would have been a shame not to ride the dragon so we overcame our fear, especially considering that it only opened at the end of the day...and we did it! To put it simply: it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!! The first two drops are really scary, then comes a second part not nearly as high but frigging fast, and finally the tail of the dragon: a series of waves with lots of good airtime.
Upon finishing the ride, we all wanted to do it again!!! I also wanted to go one step further, so I sat at the front and recorded the ride! I need to reencode the video because it's too large, I'll keep you posted and I may even upload it on youtube. Sure, the camera work isn't very good, but it's not easy to hold a camera while running at 95mph. To be honest (I'm a bit perfectionnist), I wanted to ride it a third time to shoot a better video, by filming the park during the climb for instance, unfortunately the park was closing and we couldn't get to do it again.
I was about to forget: right next to the park is a wonderful onsen where we went to relax afterwards. I'll talk about onsens more thoroughly, since they're very typical from Japan (and a great experience as well!...)
To close this post, I highly recommend you check out this site. It has really nice pictures of the rides, with interesting comments on the dragon's construction cost for instance...