Alexander: Ohayo-gozaimasu! Welcome to “The Land of the Rising Sun”– Japan!
Our tour of Japan began in Tokyo, worked its way down through Nagoya, and culminated in Osaka. However, we really wanted to kick off our Japanese updates with our favorite (and perhaps the most topical) park of the tour, Nagashima Spa Land, located just south of Nagoya.
– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you! –
This was an important day. Not only was it my most highly-anticipated park, but Nagashima Spa Land was the day after Typhoon Trami – originally we anticipated a late opening with crippled operations.
Fortunately we were met business-as-usual operations. It makes sense, considering how frequent typhoons are in Japan. (Even moderate-sized ones like Trami).
Most folks in the 150-ish group of American Coaster Enthusiasts with which we traveled headed straight for Steel Dragon 2000, Nagashima Spa Land’s signature attraction and perhaps Japan’s most iconic coaster.
The astounding Giga coaster was lower on our priorities, however, due to horror stories we’d heard about a strictly-enforced height maximum that Sean and I both exceed. We still wanted to give it a shot, but we wanted to focus on the other major, non-height-restricted coasters first.
Challenging Steel Dragon 2000 for the title of Nagashima Spa Land’s most popular attraction is Acrobat, a near-clone of Sea World Orlando’s B&M Flyer, Manta.
While it lacks Manta’s stoney infrastructure and precious, pup-faced sea creatures, Acrobat oozes with curb appeal enough to distract visitors from the foreboding presence of Steel Dragon 2000, even if only for a moment.
There was a dash to access the major coasters of Spa Land. Despite the massive collection of rides, nothing in the park feels too far from anything else; everything fits snugly, like pieces of a puzzle.
Even in our haste, we took a moment to appreciate our first live glimpses of Hakugei (formerly White Cyclone), soon to be the first RMC Iron Horse outside of North America.
Surrounded with coasters on all sides is an Intamin First Generation Freefall, taking its rightful place as a sort-of nucleus among Spa Land’s rides.
First coaster of the day: Ultra Twister.
Yes, the ubiquitous Togo production model pipeline coaster was our #1 priority at Nagashima Spa Land. As fans of vintage steel coasters and radical design integrity, how could it not be?
Look at this thing. It has a lower set of wheels/rails just for the station, so that the right-side rail can vanish entirely for passenger loading. Remarkable.
Ultra Twister was our most-ridden ride of the day (with 4 total goes) and was easily one of our favorites of the trip.
The first drop is nothing if not a face-first version of the Intamin Freefall pictured earlier, followed by a scrumptious camelback airtime hill. The barrel rolls are great, and the mid-course “dump track” is delightfully bizarre.
New for 2017 is Arashi, the first S&S Free Spin in the Eastern Hemisphere (yes, RMC definitely has their flag in the sand here).
Arashi fits comfortably in the Japanese tradition of narrow-footprint coasters capable of popping blood vessels in your face (I’m looking at you, Ultra Twister). While USA Free Spins run on Weenie-Hut-Junior-mode, Arashi is programmed for at least one brain aneurysm per dispatch.
The gentle Acrobat pays for its prime hood-ornament locale by being the most isolated ride at Nagashima Spa Land.
The ride is meant to be viewed from all sides, and Spa Land left nothing on the table in that regard; I expect the midway to completely encircle Acrobat in the future. We’re still partial to Orlando and its snugly Sea-Pancakes, but a grade-A install for Nagashima regardless.
Leave it to Nagashima Spa Land to sport a priceless Schwarzkopf Looping Star and somehow distract us with even shinier toys first.
Nevertheless, Looping Star was an obvious highlight of the day. It was my first ride on the beloved production model, Sean’s 2nd (after his childhood Thunder Loop at Slagharen).
Of the 6 remaining Looping Stars (8 manufactured), Nagashima Spa Land boasts the only model still occupying its original location.
Thrity-six years in the same location would yield a larger volume of mature vegetation were it not for a steady stream of typhoons splintering most trees of size.
Again, somehow, someway, Nagashima Spa Land hosts another coaster of great significance to myself and Sean – overshadowed and relegated to 5th on our list of priorities.
The standard Arrow Corkscrew saw a new lease on life when it and Ultra Twister were carefully dismantled, refurbished, and reconstructed in new locations on the Steel Dragon side of the park. This remarkable shuffle occurred in 2011-2012, supposedly in order to reduce noise pollution near guest rooms. In place of the two coasters came an enormous new kiddie area.
With all the operating rides of import secured, it was time to face the inevitable disappointment of being denied rides on Steel Dragon 2000.
To our utter shock/delight, Sean and I boarded Steel Dragon 2000 without any question or concern for our height. It’s a splendid ride with a really wonderful post-midcourse (perhaps the only Morgan coaster where this is true). The B&M trains are a great fit and have earned the ride the moniker “Bolliger and Morgan”. Sorry Cedar Point, but Millennium Force looses hard in this Giga match-up.
After repeats on various favorites, we checked one of the park’s 2 Mack Wild Mice off our list.
The right-hand mouse was open for guests…
The left-hand mouse was closed for maintenance.
I can wait no longer.
DEMON DROP FREEFALL TIME IS NOW.
Honestly I struggle to think of a flat ride that delights me as much as Intamin 1st Gen Freefalls. And this one is particularly lovely.
This wild color scheme for Freefall says “I’m not merely the first drop ride – I am the only drop ride.”
My ride on Freefall was eyeopening: I was inspired to count it as a coaster. When dissected, it’s a roller coaster for all intents and purposes; It doesn’t coast uphill (a deal breaker for some enthusiasts), but several credits (particularly of the suspended single-rail variety) that are guilty of the same.
Now, I didn’t ask Todd (or any other ACE members on the tour), but I’d like to think I could bring most of my people over to the #FreefallsAreCredits team.
They’ve got lift hills, anti-rollbacks, brakes, and upstops. It rolls, it coasts, it drops, its got a good beat, and you can dance to it. WAKE UP, WORLD! This is your call to action! Add your Intamin Freefalls to your coaster count today!
Alright, I’m coming down from the soapbox for now; consider this a preamble for some more credit-count-campaigning down the road. Turns out Japan really likes their roller coaster gray-areas.
How about some more Looping Star appreciation? It was our 3rd favorite ride of the day, behind Ultra Twister and Steel Dragon 2000.
Japan is the promised land of 80s Six Flags / Intamin thrill ride collabs. The country is home to 3 Freefalls and the last 3 Space Shuttle-themed Looping Ships. Two of each are featured on this tour; the others are at Tokyo Summerland, which we wanted to visit but didn’t quite have time for. Next time!
There’s so many oddballs in this picture, I don’t know where to begin. That thing on the left is a Zierer Suspended Magic Carpet. The only other one I’m aware of is at Tivoli Gardens!
Perhaps the most overlooked major coaster at Nagashima Spa Land is Jet Coaster, a quintessentially Japanese ride of shallow dips, straightaways, and wide, unbanked curves.
Japan has a reputation for its collection of – for lack of a better word – uneventful “Jet Coasters”, but as long as your expectations are reasonable, they’re quite nice rides.
This is one of Spa Land’s more scenic rides; Corkscrew and Ultra Twister also used to have some nice tree growth before their move.
Speaking of which, here’s the amazing new kids’ area expansion that replaced the two coasters. Weatherproof and full of delights!
Peter Rabbit Coaster is next! I (almost) never count powered coasters (Japan marks my first exceptions to this rule; more on that in our Suzuka Circuit report!), but I enjoy riding them all the same.
Continue reading on page 2 for more Nagashima Spa Land and the new RMC coaster!