Nasu Highland Park (Nasu, Tochigi Japan)
6/25/2005 - Chris Belson
Date: Saturday, 25 June 2005
Park: Nasu Highland Park (Fantasy Pointe?)
Weather: Upper 80‘s, humid and overcast, scattered showers
I took the Keikyu line to Shinagawa, transferred to the Yamanote line for Tokyo Station, then boarded a Tohoku line Shinkansen for NasuShiobara, transferred again to the Tohoku JR line one station and changed to a bus for the park. Total transport, round-trip was about $130. Entry and free pass was 4900 yen ($45)
I had many issues this day from lost train tickets, forgotten change, left my CC at home, etc. I missed the bus I wanted, causing me to arrive back home almost two hours later than I had planned. I was pretty stressed and I almost gave up on this trip, but I’m now less than five coasters from hitting #400, so I forged on. Here is my thoughts on the park and coasters, minus my headaches. A huge “domo arigato gozaimasu” goes to the park manager who helped me shortly after I arrived at the park.
I arrived at Nasu Highland about 11:15, and proceeded to the Dragon, a small trailer-mounted powered-coaster, but I don’t think that it is an actual Go Gator, so I took a spin. Two round trips, basic helical course, but surprisingly quick.
Next up, I climbed up to Panic Drive’s elevated station. Neon pink and mint green, with blue and yellow antique car trains, this custom mouse is a Meisho creation. The four passenger cars roll out of the station, dropping slightly and curving around 180 degrees to the left on it’s way to the lift. From the top the train drops through another left turn and rises up into two standard switchbacks before dropping again. The car rises for one switchback, followed by two 225 degree turns. After dropping slightly and rising again, the train hit’s the breaks before a final 180 degree left turn into the station. There was one trim brake that engaged when I rode with two other adults, but allowed an unchecked ride when I rode alone. Not particularly thrilling, and without even the slightest pop of air, the saving grace of this mouse was that it wasn’t a cookie cutter coaster.
After Panic Drive, I checked out the LEGO display nearby. The best part was a showing of the CG animated short; LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick. This 5 minute, zero dialogue film has appearances by most of the cool characters in ep. III, but no boring bits. It is hysterical at times, and was a highlight of my day. The website shown was treehouseanimation.com, maybe it’s available for viewing online.
Also in this area were a miniature railroad and flying Dumbo-like ride.
Next up I hit a curry / pasta buffet (1600 yen) that didn’t do anything special for me before heading across the stream that cuts through the park and hitting F2: Fright Flight. This Vekoma SLC wasn’t too rough, but I did ride defensively, just in case. With a fresh coat of paint in purple and aqua, with yellow and pink in the station, this was the best looking SLC I have ever seen. (I think this was about my 12th one!) Two trains, the orange and black one operating, and the yellow and black in the barn
Also in this area were: River Adventure, (rapids ride, but closed) Top Gun, (Top Spin) Salsa, (Rok n Rol, mentioned recently on this board) a 50 meter Ferris wheel an Enterprise, a walk-through called “Hell Ship” a 3D theatre and Go Karts on a very slick tri-oval.
Next I worked my way down to Batflyer, which I believe is the only operating Caripro suspended coaster left. Up to two riders sit on wide bicycle seats, with a seat belt and a cage around your lower body, the position wasn’t particularly comfortable. You roll forward about 4 feet before slamming into the stop on the elevator-lift. Ouch! At the top of the lift you roll forward again, and swoop around a large diameter curve picking up a surprising amount of speed before hitting a trim brake, Ouch again! Curving around again towards the station, you hit another trim (Ouch!) before stopping in the station. In all it is over in about 40 seconds, and although it was an interesting concept, the application left a lot to be desired, IMO. BF also had a fresh coat of paint, purple track with black supports.
Continuing down the slope, I passed under a giant jukebox and through a 50’s themed area complete with vintage autos, diners etc. Next I passed into Coaster Plaza, the location of the park’s final four operating coasters and the SBNO Lightning Coaster. (It really looks like a Schwartzkopf, but RCDB lists it as built by Meisho, but designed by Anton.
First I hit Thunder Coaster, (Lightning’s brother?) another Meisho coaster, also with a fresh coat of paint, lime green with white supports. The cars had a cool black and green jagged paint job. Lightning isn’t as rough as either an Arrow or Vekoma corkscrew, but there isn’t much to it besides the two screws. One odd feature is a trim brake on the first drop!
Next I hit the large red with white supports Camel Coaster. (I don‘t get the name either) The lift heads towards the 50’s area before turning at the top and behind LC and Big Boom to run it’s out and back / double figure-eight path. With ramp like drops and hills, there wasn’t much air at either end of the train, but the pacing was great, picking up speed almost all the way to the end. The transitions were a little abrupt, but in the back you can see them coming and prepare yourself. Not amazing by any means, but certainly enjoyable. Yet another Meisho this was the only one that didn‘t get new paint yet.
Next up was Big Boom, Meisho again, in blue and white, and a train that looks at least 50 years old! The lift hill is by far the slowest I’ve ever experienced making even Leap the Dips seem fast! One minute and twenty seconds after engaging the chain, creeping up the hill, grade changing slightly throughout the first third of the hill, eventually you do actually crest the hill and coast slowly around a high turn around before dropping at between 75 and 80 degrees! In the front you float down the drop. In the back, you are pinned to the OTSR’s for a full 4 seconds of what felt to be about -2 G’s. BIG DIFFERENCE! At the bottom of the first drop you are pressed into the seat as you rapidly turn from falling to rising. In the front, there is a bit of air as you crest this hill, but it is over quickly before you drop down into the single vertical loop. After the loop, you rise up into the turn back towards the station. Up here you hit a trim before the drop, during the drop, and two more before the station.
The last coaster, Spin Turn Coaster, is a new addition as well, and Meisho did a great job working it over, around and through both BB and TC. This bright yellow track with white supports weaving through the other two coasters really makes this end of the park look like a big spaghetti mess of track. The ten car trains have individually spinning cars, and I ended up in the second car in the train. The lift hill has an odd rollback stop system I have never seen before and I couldn’t figure out how it works. I’ll be sending a batch of photos to Duane at RCDB, and he tends to use most of what I send, since I seem to get to some out of the way parks. I’ll let you all know when/if he posts the shots I took at NHL, including a good shot of these rollback stops. As for the ride itself, its not particularly fast, and there isn’t any air at all, but the cars spin freely all the way from the bottom of the lift (I went up sideways as I was the only person in my car, which was a little uncomfortable, but at least the lift was much faster than Big Boom!) to the end of the ride before being straightened out as you enter the station. The spinning isn’t crazy fast like some spinning mouse can get if loaded right, and not as slow as the spinning on a controlled spinner such as Euromir at Europa park. This made for a comfortable sensation, but I was surprised that I could easily reach the side of the car behind / next to me as I spun. The admonition to keep your arms inside the coaster at all times definitely should be heeded on this ride!
As I had almost two hours to kill before the next bus, I re-rode all of the coasters, and hit a few rides I wouldn’t ordinarily ride such as the Space Shot, Dark Castle, Sky Balloons, (like parachutes, but the cycle lifts you to the top twice and the drop is much slower.) Go Karts, and the Water Coaster (actually just a log flume).
There were actually many other flats such as teacups, double inverter, a scrambler / octopus with an alien theme, a beautiful double-decker menagerie carousel, frog hopper, flash dance, a very well maintained wave swinger and a few others, plus the kiddie rides near the carousel. Additionally, there were some Japan only attractions such as two different fishing areas (one stream and one pond) a stag beetle hunting cage, a foot-spa, Shetland pony rides, and two different styled gardens.
All in all, I was impressed with Nasu Highland’s cleanliness, theming (6 zones, but some blended into others), very nice landscaping and gardens, as well as efficient and friendly ride ops. (OK, the last are practically standard at all amusement parks here in Japan, but I like to mention them as a plus anyways.) The only detractor for me was that the park is a little bit difficult to navigate, but that is mostly due to the slope of the park and the small ravine running through part of it. All of this is tied together by the near constant presence of the park’s mascot, Woopy, a bird whose type I can’t begin to guess who wears a stars and stripes bow tie. Although the coasters aren’t particularly amazing, they are mostly unique, and I had a pretty good time in spite of some afternoon rain and those other headaches.
Who is running out of parks to visit in Japan! Nagashima Spa Land, Parque Espana, Mitsui Greenland, Kijima Amusement Park (if I want the last woodie in Japan) and three coasters that were either closed when I went or not open yet: Linear Gale, Space Mountain and Raging Spirits is pretty much all I want to hit, and two of those parks will likely require plane tickets instead of train, gulp!