Alexander: On the final day of the East Meets ACE tour we were blessed with great weather and two parks with 5+ credits each (plus a bonus culture credit in the form of an unusual Ferris Wheel in downtown Osaka).
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Our first park of the day, Himeji Central Park, appeared closed upon our arrival. It actually was open, but we were the only ones there!
Like, for all intents and purposes, this was “Whole Park ERT” for us; we didn’t see any non-ACE members until we left for the day!
Himeji Central Park is a small park despite its impressive ride lineup. It’s situated in a scenic (and isolated) farmland valley.
Half of the coasters are in the lower section of the park; the other half are up on a large (exhausting) hill.
Somehow, this tiny unassuming park wound up with a Batman: The Ride clone in 1995. They don’t seem to have added a whole lot since then, but all the rides are open and well-maintained.
First cred: Labrynth, a delightful and freshly-painted wild mouse-esque coaster.
If you squint you can make out the train of the park’s massive Camelback Jet Coaster.
Giant Ferris Wheel: check. Suspended Monorail: check.
It’s Diavlo time!
Dispatches on Diavlo took an eternity because they had one single operator grouping guests, checking restraints, and operating the control panel.
The trains have been freshly outfitted with magenta accents, but the track could use a little TLC. Ride wise, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Batman clone.
Although, because of the park’s hilly terrain, the first drop and loop are partially buried in the hillside, while the back half of the ride is substantially elevated.
Nature is taking back the long-unused Diavlo overflow queue.
Like Nagashima Spa Land, a real highlight of Himeji is their Intamin 1st Gen Freefall.
We actually marathoned this one; with pretty much no line, how could we resist 5 consecutive rides?? (Hint: we couldn’t).
Like Labyrinth, Freefall sports a fresh and colorful paint job.
The station isn’t quite as solid as Nagashima’s, but it still looks great. I can’t believe non of the U.S. installs were built with sloped roofs that follow the track.
I really became enamored with Intamin 1st Gens on this trip. These being my first rides on new (for me) installations inspired me to start counting them as credits (per my FREEFALLS ARE CREDITS hot-take manifesto in the Nagashima Spa Land update).
Why is Michael smiling?? Because he’s on Freefall of course! How can you not smile??
After my obsessive Freefall photoshoot, we went to procure the other credits.
Ok, just one more. 😉
Oh, here’s a better look at Labyrinth. Cute, right? We’ll actually be riding another similar coaster later today.
Here’s Hurricane, a terrible Senyo POS looper.
Hurricane was actually rescued from another park in 2007. Not sure why.
I’m not exactly sure what we’re walking on right now; some kind of fortress?
Like I said, this park is just remarkably scenic (despite a lot of the park itself not being much to look at).
The Ferris Wheel could use some lovin’. Based on how nice Freefall and Labyrinth look, I’m sure a fresh coat isn’t far off.
Perhaps one of Himeji’s claims to fame should be this surprisingly well-landscaped Wacky Worm.
From Camelback Jet Coaster‘s station, queuers can admire some of the park’s quaint entry buildings.
Japanese-style Jet Coasters are very fun. As long as your expectations are in the right place, they’re irresistible!
We wandered into Himeji’s arcade and found some…interesting…stuff.
Stop #2: Hirakata Park!
Another day, another crazy hillside park.
First up: Elf, an Intamin junior woodie! (all the way up this park’s steep-ass hillside).
Most of Hirakata’s major attractions are wedged into a small valley, which required several up & down staircases to reach from Elf.
One of the best flumes of the trip is here! Not sure who built it, but they did a great job!
Red Falcon is an exemplary Japanese Jet coaster with trains that look like a very convincing imitation of Arrow Looper rolling stock.
Crazy Mouse is a standard spinning wild mouse that doesn’t actually spin! Crazy, right?
Red Falcon is a giant, beautiful coaster. The trains will fool you into thinking there’s a corkscrew or two along the way, but such is not the case!
There’s an Intamin Giant Drop here! That’s two kinds of Intamin drops in one day! My cup runneth over!
Hirakata had a surprisingly large roster of attractions: major water rides, cute dark rides, interesting flat rides, and a healthy collection of coasters.
I see you, Elf! According to RCDB, “Elf” actually stands for “Episode of Little Fairies.”
After your ride on Red Falcon, you can grab a bite to eat at The Falcon Café. No, falcons are not on the menu.
Rainbow Giant Wheel! Maybe Himeji should paint theirs like this.
The log flume was the only thing we rode twice at Hirakata. The park joins a unique rank of parks wherein the log flume is actually their top attraction! (Mall of America, I’m looking at you)
Up next is a VERY important credit: Korottuck. RCDB had long listed the ride as being named “Peekaboo Town,” but it was later discovered that “Peekaboo Town” is actually just the name of the kiddie area. (It’ll always be “Peekaboo Town” to me – tell me that isn’t the cutest coaster name imaginable).
ACE Meets East’s tallest attendees are the newest residents of Peekaboo Town.
Our fearless leader, Alex, is prepared to lead a tour of Peekaboo Town!
BONUS CREDIT! chain-lift cycle raceways are credits. FITE ME, M8.
Last credit of the trip! It’s Fantastic Coaster Rowdy! (squee!)
Like a slightly larger version of Labyrinth, Fantastic Coaster Rowdy is a cozy, mouse-like ride with small trains. Great ride!
Hirakata has a PONY KIDDIE WHIP. Are you guys seeing this? This is amazing.
Hirakata has something relatively unique for a Japanese park: River Rapids!
This things are ubiquitous among Western parks, but in Japan they’re a much rarer find. Hirakata’s reminded me of Bigfoot Rapids at Knott’s Berry Farm: a gentle, surprisingly dry double out-and back.
Time now for our LAST RIDE OF THE TRIP!
(this isn’t it. This is just a cool rock-climbing wall)
After the official closing ceremony for East Meets Ace, we set out into downtown Osaka to enjoy one of the city’s quirkiest modern landmarks!
Fun Fact: my favorite food, takoyaki, was invented in Osaka and is the city’s official dish!
No, the giant crab is not the last ride of our trip either.
Behold! The Don Quijote Oblong Ferris Wheel! You are looking at the world’s only (?) ovular Ferris Wheel.
To access the wheel, you must visit the top floor of the Don Quijote discount department store (easier said than done).
We made it! Time for a ride!
This very special Ferris Wheel was actually constructed in the 90s. Due to various mechanical setbacks, the ride sat dormant for over TWENTY YEARS. Miraculously, the wheel opened for the first time in July.
With vehicles that swivel/rotate independently for loading/unloading and wheel rotation, the Don Quijote Wheel is an engineering marvel, even 20 years after it was first built. With such a lofty design concept, it’s no surprise they ran into major problems at first.
We’re so grateful that the wheel is now open. It’s an amazing attraction for Osaka, and a must-ride for tourists and locals alike (now if only the Don Quijote in Tokyo could do something about the dormant Intamin Half Pipe on their roof!)
One last look at the night lights of Osaka!
What an amazing attraction! Japan may be FULL of Ferris Wheels, but this one is a real gem!
While this day concluded our amazing trip to Japan, it does not conclude our Japan coverage! We still have some of our BIGGEST Japan updates yet to come!
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