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My 2016 travels around the world

Posted: 9/23/16 at 3:38:41 PM
Views: 1848

Hello everyone, I haven't posted on this board in forever, but seeing AirBear nice post about his trips this year inspired me to write something similar. I've been quite busy writing detailed history articles for my blog and along the way, I found myself a new "Bucket List" coaster wise.

I started my travels in January with a long weekend in Paris. What was interesting is that I met a friend there who had not been to a theme park in years and I had managed to convince her to do a single day at Disneyland Paris/Walt Disney Studios. Much to my surprise, she really enjoyed it and had a great time.

Disneyland Paris is currently getting a full rebuild in preparation for the and as a result, Big Thunder Mountain and Peter Pan's Flight were closed for long refurbishment periods. My friend had a great time on Ratatouille: The Ride and it was her favorite attraction at the resort. What is Ratatouille? It is a trackless dark ride that combines screens and real scenery, like a Spiderman. The Rat ballet is impressive and even with its high capacity, the line was long, but we still managed to grab fast passes before they ran out.

Space Mountain over there is still my baby and it was in magnificient shape effect wise. Still a rough ride, but I know every curve and bump in the track and I can ride it all day.

We had fun going around Paris and my friend was thankful I guided her along as she previously relied on taxis while we made it with trains, subways and buses. Hotel wise, we stayed in Val d'Europe, behind the large mall there and we were 30 minutes away from Paris or 3 minutes away from DLP by train.

La Ronde opened in May and while the relocated from SFSTL Chance Falling Star was delayed, the Phoenix (Larson Flying Scooters) was a blast. Unfortunately, the dumb VR grinded operations on Goliath to a halt and it is unacceptable to see a B&M Hyper with 3 hours waits due to 8-9 minutes dispatch!

I attended the Phobia Phear Coaster media event at Lake Compounce. Magnificient and fun ride and the park threw quite a party.

Next, I went to Japan in June and for kicks, I decided to do parks and areas I had not really explored before. I landed at Tokyo Haneda International Terminal and had my two weeks Japan Rail Pass processed there with no wait. Next, I took the bus to ANA domestic terminal and had an uneventful 2 hours flight to Fukuoka (airport code is F-U-K, yes, I kept my luggage tag!). From there, I did the completely empty Greenland park using the Shinkansen bullet train and a bus. The heat was so scorching it killed my phone battery and I had to buy a nice camera the next day in order to continue taking pictures.

Greenland is a terrain park with a bunch of old Japanese and Western coasters. Gao is among the world's longest coaster, but it does not do anything. The Togo-Sansei racing coaster is quite odd as one side has Stand-Up trains and the other brand new shoulder restraint and on board audio equipped sit down trains. The ride is smooth and a lot of fun and shows that inversions are not necessary on stand-up coasters. I tried the Carnival games as they were included in my "Free Pass" (wristband) and they were varied to say the least. Cork gun, archery, plate breaking, etc.

The same day, I had lunch for 2,50$ US at the Family Mart convenience store with delicious fried chicken before grabbing another train. 2 hours later, I arrived at Space World where I only had an hour to ride the 3 coasters I was missing and reride Zaturn (clone of UK's Stealth launched coaster). Sadly, the flume with an helix was closed, along with the rapids.

The Titan Arrow Hyper Coaster is still a disaster with its new Sansei open cars. The indoor coaster was like a two lifts Disneyland Space Mountain with cute theming and a long layout. Zaturn is a magnificient ride... but operated so poorly rerides were out of the question.

The next day, I made it to sleepy Beppu, a resort town in the eastern part of Kyushu island. The heat was still insane and the rain was insane. I still took the bus to Kijima Kogen and I rode the coasters as they opened. Since I was unsure the rides would open at all, I went with individual tickets and it paid off. The main ride there is Jupiter, Curtis Summers last ever coaster and the first wooden coaster to run Intamin wooden coaster trains. The ride was quite bumpy, but the pre lift run was as good as many coasters in their entirety and the airtime excellent. In nicer weather, I could have reridden a lot as it only had one bad spot after the mid course brakes and the train inside padding made it tolerable. I attached a picture of the current seats on it.

After Kijima Kogen, I stopped at an electronic store and picked up a nice camera and a limited edition Japanese Nintendo 3DS. In preparation for the olympics, Japan offer tax free shopping right at the store for foreigners and I save 8-9% on my purchase.

The next day, I took the train and stopped in Himeji. My goal that day was to start working seriously on my bucket list: riding every Inverted Roller Coaster from B&M in the world. The local Central Park is a drive through safari with a small amusement park section. Ruling atop its tall hill is the 1994 magnificient Diavlo, a BTR with highly customized supports. The lift hill is shorter than other BTR and you start by nearly hitting trees on the drop and then the first loop was built inside trenches in the ground. The ride was rusty, but the trains freshly rebuilt and the ride ran so good it temporarily sat at the top of my favorite Inverted Coaster.

I then made it to Osaka and based myself there. Along the way, I had a washed out visit to Hirakata Park where I could only ride the Intamin family wooden coaster and the Giant Drop before the park shut down due to rain. I also attended a wrestling PPV presented by NJPW which was AMAZING.

I went to Universal Studios Japan and thanks to figuring out how to buy Universal Express and admission in advance on the Japanese website, I had a great day for the most part.

Flying Dinosaur is the newest B&M Flying Coaster and it is amazing, but like Tatsu, the bottom of the Pretzel Loop shake like there's no tomorrow sadly. I wanted to ride Hollwood Dream again... but the park modified the restraints by moving the go/no go sticker and the result was on the first run, I was lucky enough to have a fellow guest push hard on the restraint to get that one last click (which placed it as two clicks further than what you'd see at a SF or CF park). The second time in the Backward train? No way I was going to fit without any help and the ride operator only looked at the bar before unlocking me and telling me to leave the station. I was then held hostage by them for 20 minutes "as their supervisor wanted to see me". Turns out it was for a complimentary Universal Express.... not valid at Flying Dinosaur or Kyary Pamyu Pamyu XR The Ride. Gee, its like being kicked off say TTD or Millennium Force at CP and being given a readmission pass for Gemini!

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu XR The Ride was a temporary VR makeover of their Mack indoor spinning coaster. They only loaded the front seats and locked the rotation. What you had was an INCREDIBLE experience with on board audio, insane video quality and something that put any other VR experience to shame. Loading was not slowed as they sat guests first, then installed the headset and then you were dispatched with no slowing down of the omnimover style loading station.

Jurassic Park The Ride there is a mirror image on paper of the one at IOA... but the final T-Rex is much more incredible and put even the famed Yeti at Expedition Everest to shame.

I will continue later with musings on the rest of Japan, CP, Kennywood and SFMM...

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Re: My 2016 travels around the world by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/23/16 4:40:46 PM
Great report. You really do travel the world. That's very cool. I wish I had the financial means to do so, but we do get to a ton of parks in US and Canada. Can't wait to read your report on Kennywood, it's my home park.
Re: My 2016 travels around the world by Absimilliard Absimilliard Profile at 9/24/16 3:46:23 AM
Thank you for the kind words FrontRow. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to travel as much as I want to.

After Universal Studios Japan, I ventured out to Parque Espana in Shima. Shima is located in the Mie prefecture and Parque Espana is a modern "Trolley Park". How so? Like Hirakata Park in Osaka, it is owned by the railroad company that service it and it is located near the end of the line.

So Kintetsu owns the park and the railroad... but they are not part of the wider JR group and that meant the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on it. It came up to around 80$ US for the round trip ticket from Osaka and the train was a Super Express with minimal stops and no transfer until Shima. The park is 10 minutes away by bus from the station and as you approach by train and then by bus, you can see the impressive presence of Pyrenees, the huge B&M Inverted Coaster that rules over the park.

How to describe Pyrenees? Imagine if you had a 148 feet tall, 62 mph BTR. The course starts like a BTR XL with huge Vertical Loop, long Zero G Roll, Huge Vertical Loop before diving to the ground and into a left hand turn into a trench. This leads to a snappy and intense Cobra Roll and then the ride signature visual: the spiral that treads the second Loop. This lead to the Mid Course brakes that barely touch the train and this is followed by a sharp drop. The ride lone flat spin and last inversion follows and then the ride turns over the first drop. The train then gains a ton of speed as it gradually drops low to the ground before surprising riders with a good airtime hill and it ends the ride.

The ride is a gem and my new favorite Inverted Roller Coaster. It is smooth, intense, has airtime and is really long. What more can you ask?

The park second big coaster is an odd Mack Mine Train that has insane helix and curves. It use the same ride system as the equally insane Euro-Sat at Europa Park if you're familiar with it.

So even with those two great coasters, the park still felt.... sad. Great entertainment played to no crowds, pretty dark rides that people don't ride and things are so bad they condemned the indoor part of their huge water dark ride. The boats are now rerouted around the outdoor portion. Talking with a local lady, it seems the park has crowd issues.

On the way back from Shima, I stopped in Matsusaka for dinner. Are you familiar with Kobe Beef, the brand of beef that is so expensive in the US and Canada? Sadly, turns out 99.9% of "Kobe Beef" served in North America is fake stuff passed at the real deal's price. Japan has a few prefectures with famous beef and Matsusaka is the best of them all. They are smart as quantities are so limited you pretty much have to go to the city itself to score the beef.

While researching this trip, RocketNews24, a great english language japanese news site talked about how they found a local Korean BBQ restaurant in Matsusaka that served the real deal at cheap prices. So I stopped in the city and walked 10 minutes to the restaurant, using google maps on my phone. It was worth it as the beef is to die for and the price was reasonable since you pick as much meat as you want on the conveyor belt going around the restaurant. Best steak I ever had? Easily and worth a trip to Japan on its own...

This concluded the coaster part of my trip and I spent a lot of time doing video game things around Osaka and Tokyo. Osaka has "Den-Den Town", a street with a ton of video games and computer stores. It felt dirtier, grittier and was less expensive than Tokyo more touristy Akihabara.

In Tokyo, I explored Akihabara and went to the Capcom Cafe north of Tokyo, Capcom Bar in Shinjuku and Artnia, Square-Enix cafe and store near Shinjuku.

My return flight was by Tokyo-Haneda and it was again perfect.

Early in July, I attended the media day at a local waterpark. Super Aqua Club near Montreal bought the first Proslide RocketBLAST/FlyingSAUCER in North America and built it on a hill in the park. The ride has 4 FlyingSAUCER turns and two uphill sections. It is incredible and as good as Wildebeast at Holiday World. I guess Jeffrey Seibert and the Six Flags high brass came to try it before purchasing Thunder Rapids at SFFT?

In July, I met a fellow roller coaster friend at Cedar Point and Kennywood. I landed in Pittsburgh and started my trip with my first ever visit to Conneaut Lake Park. What to say? The park was lively on a Saturday and had a good crowd attending. Blue Streak had that one pot hole near the start, but beside that had frightening ejector airtime. I ate in the park as I want them to survive and encouraged them.

Next, I drove to West Mifflin and stayed the night there. Kennywood was busy on a Sunday, but me and my friend used their "Coaster VIP Tour" line cutting scheme to ride all the coasters and some flat rides. I arrived at opening and figured Exterminator would have the longest line. So I sat at the entrance and was on the first Rat of the day. Its a fun ride that like the Dragon at my home park (La Ronde) is a dark ride that happens to use a roller coaster as its ride system.

The three wooden coasters sadly did not live up to expectations. Thunderbolt was smooth and had some good laterals..... but that was it? I was left wandering how it still rank so highly in polls as it felt like it did not do much. Jack Rabbit has great airtime on the Double Dip, but that's about it. Racer was fun for the racing, but there is no airtime.

Sky Rocket is a fun ride and fits in well with the rest. Phantom's Revenge was a blast and I ended my night marathoning it. Its in my top 5 and dare I say, is probably my favorite Hyper Coaster. The rides at night were insane and looking at it, I felt sad I never got to experience the original Steel Phantom.

The park is gorgeous at night and is among the prettiest in the world.

Cedar Point, Cedar Point... I was expecting a sterile slab of concrete and except for Frontier Trail, that's what I got. Millennium Force? Blah. Top Thrill Dragster? Blah, etc. I had a two days ticket, but at 7 pm, I had enough of the place and left. I caught a earlier flight the next day instead of going to Soak City. The last straw was the Roller Skater. Explain to me why a family roller coaster with no negative G's need shorter seat belts than Top Thrill Dragster or Millennium Force?

After visiting Cedar Point, I now understood why Knotts back in 2005 was terrible: it was an horrible mishmash of a great theme park being cemented by Cedar Fair to make it another Cedar Point.

At the end of August, I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain, Hurricane Harbor and Las Vegas.

Six Flags Magic Mountain was like my previous visits: nice employees, good operation and unlike Cedar Point, I did not feel like a prisoner being served garbage while paying 15$. My meals at SFMM were delicious and much better than the only thing I dared to try at CP: their "famous" fresh cut french fries.

My ideal ride would be a RMC coaster with Premier Rides lap bars. I loved Full Throttle because of the restraint and insane hang time in the loop. I hated Twisted Colossus because my body is simply not meant for those horrible lap bars. The first go around was bad enough and I was hoping for a lift stop and evac on the second lift... Roaring Rapids at Six Flags Magic Mountain soaked me to the bones and until other more famous rapid rides, it does not need water effects or waterfalls.

Hurricane Harbor was better than the reviews on TripAdvisor lead me to believe. There were no crowds and the only closed slides were the two tube slides on Black Snake Summit. I loved Bonzai Pipeline and the orange Proslide Superloop is among the greatest water slide I ever tried.

In Las Vegas, we stayed at the Linq which was fine for the price we paid. We visited the Shelby Factory/Museum and Kount's Kustoms. I did the #CoasterCred promo at the Adventuredome and New York-New York and scored a really nice t-shirt.

El Loco at the Adventuredome is a winner. The untrimmed 90 degrees drop has insane airtime and the lap bar restraints are quite comfortable. Canyon Blaster on the other hand was WORST! than The Roller Coaster at New York-New York! As part of the #CoasterCred promo, I also had to ride the simulator and 4 flats in the Adventuredome. End result is that the Inverter is still pointless, Chaos is fun and the DiskO a good flat ride. The SlingShot "freefall" is a neck breaking embarassment of a ride and I can't believe they have not ripped it out yet.

Speaking of The Roller Coaster at NY-NY, it was my first time with the Premier Rides trains and I have to say it improved things a lot. I really like the ride for some reasons.

For the rest of the year, I will be going to IAAPA in Orlando in November. Only parks I plan to hit are Wet n Wild to take a lot of pictures and say my goodbyes and Islands of Adventure.

* This post was modified at 9/24/16 3:47:47 AM *

Re: My 2016 travels around the world by mugen828 mugen828 Profile at 9/26/16 2:20:25 PM
Wow so much traveling!

I too, wish I could travel like that. Amazing.

Thanks for writing this out, it was a pleasure to read. Hopefully I get out to Japan one day to see all of what you wrote about.

I also have similar sentiments about Cedar Point, but I think overall it's a fun place.

Kennywood has been on my list. I have no excuse next year!

* This post was modified at 9/26/16 2:20:41 PM *

- mugen828
157 Coasters -- Favorite Coaster -- Nitro (SFGAdv)
117 Steel -- 40 Wood -- Home Park: SFGADv
Re: My 2016 travels around the world by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/27/16 1:35:08 PM
Great report. Kennywood is my home park and I actually agree with you on their wooden coasters. They are very classic, unique, smooth, and good rides, but none of them are in my top 25. I feel the same way about Phantoms Revenge. I like that coaster, but it's not even in my top 25 steel coasters. I wish I did like it more, because I have ridden it several hundred times. For me it was underwhelming the first time I rode it in 2001 and my last rides on it this year were the worst rides I ever had on it. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, many enthusiasts do.