Mini TR: Aqua Stadium / Galaxy Express 999
12 July 2005
Weather: N/A (Indoor park)
Total cost: 1240 yen for transportation, 2000 yen for two rides on GE9 and 957 yen for a cell phone dangle and a postcard.
This mini park at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is entirely indoors on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the new executive tower at the hotel. The upper floor is a small aquarium with a dolphin show and a sea lion show. The lower floor has a movie theatre, a motion simulator with six - ten person vehicles sharing one large screen, a very well themed swinging ship, a gorgeous carousel with marine animals, and my reason for coming: Galaxy Express 999.
The entry gate is very tall, and there is quite a bit of theming to this coaster. The Anime Captain Harlock is used throughout the entrance, a very cheesy animatronic display (about 2 minutes), and a short animated movie (another 2 minutes) setting you up for the coaster to come. (It's an interstellar space train that you ride.)
The two dark purple Intamin trains are 30 passenger trains and are articulated between each row of two seats. The restraints consist of the same seat belt / lap bar combination found on Intamin hypers before the ejection at SFNE.
You begin by rolling quickly out of the station by tires under the train (at least there's one in front of the lead car before you leave the station), and negotiate a banked, hairpin right turn before being boosted at 55 km/h through a single vertical loop. Many websites have touted Kanonen as being the first Intamin launched coaster with a vertical loop, but this coaster opened a full 15 days earlier, albeit to a whole lot less fanfare.
After the loop, the coaster makes a large counter-clockwise circle, a hairpin right turn through the eye of the loop, and a large clockwise circle before stopping shortly before the station, and then proceeding slowly into it.
The whole ride is over in about 50 seconds or so, and the ride has several star light effects and one projection screen, although I can't remember what was on it. (Less than 3 hours after riding, no less.) This reminded me of space mountain, but these stars were nicer than those, including a very colorful galaxy spiraling as you hurtle past.
One cool thing to note: As a space saving measure, the two large circles that the track makes actually are circling the dolphin show tank, although I could only tell by comparing the maps of the two floors!
Although nothing to be particularly excited about in this day of 100+ mph and 400 foot tall monsters, and there are coasters with more feeling and more inversions, but hey! This well themed, compact coaster is inside a downtown hotel's back tower! I wish I knew enough Japanese to get the whole of the story before the ride, and thus really get the full experience. This makes two launched Intamins without a tophat.