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MiscellASIAeous (the Wood and the Whale) - Part 3: Hakugei

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
I had some days spare in Asia while out in Singapore again and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Not enough time to do anything too major, though sadly there aren’t many places left out this way I could do for too long anyway.
With RMC consistently hammering into my rankings over the last 6 months, Hakugei was obviously the most major draw in the region. But it didn’t feel like enough - all that way for one ride… I don’t think I’m quite ready for that stage of the hobby just yet.

Hit some more China was the other idea, with new stuff up and coming all the time and the odd bits to mop up in between. But they’re so slow in getting things done - stuff that spited me over a year ago still not being ready and I couldn’t be arsed with the disappointment again for now.

If I can add one more major coaster to this trip, I’ll be happy.

So I took a gamble on some wood and booked three dirt cheap one way flights.

And in no way did it look like it was going to pay off.

I’ve been spited by Wood Coaster twice before. It’s about my most spiteful thing going. I got as far as the entrance the first time, after 90 minutes on a bus from hell and then being chased down by people trying to sell me plastic buckets and spades for a trip up the mountain. The ticket desk said it was closed. I walked away.
The second time I went I didn’t bother with all that, just phoned up 2 days in a row from somewhere nicer and got stuff about ‘it’s been raining the last few days so… you know… maintenance’. Yeah, I know.

Their website has become more fancy these days and has details in writing about their extensive maintenance schedules. Every Monday, every third Thursday of the month, every April (and from personal experience every January or every sight of rain either before or after). The world’s most closed coaster.
Avoid all that then, we’ll hit it on a Saturday in June.

As the day drew nearer, the weather forecast was just… terrible. 2 weeks of thunderstorms either side of the day I was going. It doesn’t make meteorological sense, but it’s China, so that’s that then.

Day 0 – Shenzhen

So I landed with the full expectation of just spending a rainy day in a hotel.

I’m obviously getting too complacent with the whole immigration/entry/getting around thing in China cos I expected to just walk in and get a transit visa on arrival.
There weren’t any staff available for this when I got there, so I spent a good hour standing around in ghost town airport waiting for someone to show up at the visa desk while the immigration helpers did their best to avoid contact with me after the initial encounter and a couple of other officers at desks eyed me suspiciously.
I thought the people I was waiting for were gonna be one of the official uniformed looking immigration officers that rocked up with their 7-Eleven instant noodle dinners and disappeared into an office to eat said dinners rather than acknowledging my existence, but it wasn’t them.
Instead some random/normal looking airport staff type woman appeared while chatting into her phone and asked to look at my passport. She looked at it and walked off again without saying another word to me, still on the phone. Clearly no one knew what they were doing and they don’t get many people doing it this way. I would say I’ve missed this fun, but it felt like a wasted journey to begin with.
She eventually reappeared with a friend and they bumbled their way through the process over another hour or so, constantly phoning people up, running off to somewhere else in the airport to get information on something, looking up something on the internet or chatting to other officers at the desks.
Got a stamp, got in. They were gone again before I could thank them for their swift service.
And now the metro is shut for the day. I do love a good taxi.

The faff didn’t end there as the hotel ended up being the first I’ve ever come across in China that doesn’t accept ‘foreign cards’. It’s 2am, give me a break, I want to sleep. It was a daytrip, so I wasn’t packing enough cash to settle that and do everything I wanted to do the next day but fortunately, as they bluntly told me, there was a cashpoint round the corner. Ugh.

It’s not actually raining though.

Day 1 – Knight Valley

Less than 3 hours later and I’m getting déjà vu from the previous time I was in this city, waking up stupidly early in the morning to check the ‘weather situation’ outside before deciding whether to bother with a 2 hour journey for nothing. It’s still not actually raining, but I’m too tired to care. Back to sleep.

Still wasn’t willing to commit to the extra journey on a whim at this stage, so waited til office hours and phoned the number we had some success with before. No luck, couldn’t get a human. Well, I’ve come this far, lets see if I can at least lay eyes on the damned thing this time, open or not. But I ain’t taking that bus again, someone can drive me.
The hotel staff were like whoa man, don’t do it, that’s gonna cost you £20. Their opinion was ignored.

It rained the tiniest of bits on the journey over to the park, but otherwise was just lots of low cloud in a regular mountainous fashion. Game over I thought, they’ll be doing their track walk now and instantly think ‘time to go home’.
Driver bloke was friendly enough to offer his phone number and a return journey as we got there, as it was a ‘remote area’. That’s a sound option. Could be returning in about 5 minutes.


Got to the ticket desk. There was a sign of closed rides up, which I don’t even remember existing before, more positive steps? Wood Coaster wasn’t on it. The woman with the tickets confirmed this. In we go then.


I think the following walk was my new peak in cred anxiety. I’ve been lied to by staff enough times now to still think It’s not open. I failed to pick up a map so didn’t know where I was going.


You keep climbing these escalators up the mountain, half of them broken, you still can’t see the ride for about 15 minutes of walking - I expected it to be dominating the hillside, but it’s insignificant in comparison to the size of the resort.
Passed a sign with ride specific opening times. The Wood Coaster is open from 10:00-18:00. Is this actually happening?

I joined the queue at 10 and there was a bunch of engineers on platform, with the ride making familiar GCI brake noises. It took them another half an hour, but it tested and it opened.


Ahhhhhhhhh. It was so good to get on it. That and the ride itself is… so good. I was a little worried as GCI have been a source of minor let downs for my last 2.5 years as well as reports of it having not aged well. But if there’s one GCI out there to rival the mighty Bamboo, it’s this thing.


Got everything I want from one of these – fast, relentless, buckets of airtime, goes on forever and aggressive - really, really, aggressive. Perfectly on the limit.


The layout is just majestic. Never mind the station flythrough that no queueing guest sees, there’s a bloody quad down passing in between the station and the brakes and it made me giddy with happiness. I loved everything about it so much.


And whose wonderful idea was it to stick a big GCI up here anyway. It did the Wildfire turnaround atop a mountain before Wildfire did. Stuff like that makes me love it even more.

There was a bit of jeopardy added to the whole experience (probably heightened it even more) in that the lift hill contained an assault of weird looking moths and other weird and not wonderful flying creatures that would crash into your face or land on you as you climb 200ft into a rainforest. Eww. I hate bugs.
I don’t even want to know what those things are doing to you at 60mph, but I ended up with one inside my shirt that looked like a leech at one point. So much no. But so much yes.
Have some more pics.










Just to tease me a bit more it also rained a little more during a queue for another lap. They made announcements about stopping if it got worse, but it didn’t, so they didn’t. Good for them.


Kinda wish the park ended there, but there was some other stuff to see. Stumbled into what I only knew as discount Waterworld. Sums it up nicely. Wasn’t the most professional of performances, but it was a laugh. The show ended to announcements of 'stick around to have a photo with the white man'. Think I’ll pass on that one.

Foolishly followed the crowd out of there into some underwater ride thing. Some aggressive announcements were being made about 80 seat capacity and 30 minute show intervals. It then turned into an old timey bumpkin scrum as the less refined guests started pushing and shoving to make sure they made it in. It’s only the second time I’ve seen this sort of behaviour (the first being that awful tour group at Fantawild Ningbo) so it’s far from the norm, but it is rather disgusting. We didn’t make it and left the queue rather than wait again. I’m sure it was nothing mindblowing.




From there it was a hot and sweaty queue for the cablecar up to the top of the mountain. Things only got sweatier when the greenhouse roof portion of the queue became home to two huge hairy moth things that were bigger than my hands. If they end up at Wood Coaster, I’m dead.






Some lovely views up top. Didn’t bother with any rides as the queues were too grim.


Did the funicular train back down, was completely empty in contrast to the cablecar for some reason.


Bobkart spited disappointingly, but got what I came for.

Got a friendly staff girl to lend us her phone so we could contact the driver man, as our Chinese SIM had conked out up the mountain. He said 40 minutes. This made an easy excuse for one more lap of the wood, as the queue was invariably 30 minutes for 30 people.

When he turned up we made an outlandish request to be driven to a mall in the city to get some food rather than straight back to the hotel, at which point he got all mopey saying he wouldn’t have bothered coming back for us if he’d known it wasn’t the full fare. Well thanks.

And that’s it for one long day in China. Seems like a lot of text for one ride. Good times.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
Great report @HeartlineCoaster; glad to hear you liked Wood Coaster after waiting all this time to get on it! Does it rank highly for you; judging by what you said in the top 10 thread (can't remember exactly, but something along the lines of coasters that surprise you) and what it looks like in POVs, it looks very much like your sort of ride?

Can't wait for the rest of your report, especially your thoughts on Hakugei!
 

Ben

Social Media Team
Social Media Team
Wood Coaster is sooooo good, sounds like we were there just after you (we went this Saturday)

With it being a holiday it was way more crowded and we ended up waiting 2 hours for Wood Coaster, but it’s so good I didn’t mind.

I was worried because I first rode it in 2011 and hadn’t done half the **** I have now, like Python and RMCs, but this still easily stacks up.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Does it rank highly for you; it looks very much like your sort of ride?
Oh yes, it's very, very much my sort of thing.

I was worried because I first rode it in 2011 and hadn’t done half the **** I have now, like Python and RMCs, but this still easily stacks up.
Great to hear, it's always reassuring to revisit something and find it's as good as it ever was, no matter what you've done since. Proves we do know what we're on about... sometimes.


Previously on my trip reports:
Challenge time. There’s a lot of smaller parks around Nagoya with not a huge amount going for them, but it’s always fun to see what you can mop up.
With the ‘bigger’ stuff out of the way, there was a few +1s to try and hit up. This was the first, but on arrival it seemed they had given up for the day, with a few locals hanging around just for somewhere to be, but no staff in sight.
Figured this may be a similar case for the other places and called it a day for creds, opting to go to a mall instead. No regrets.
So after landing in Nagoya again, we picked up where we left off on that day to clean up the rest of the area.

Day 2 – Akashi Park


Oh look, a Ferris Wheel. Hello Japan.

This place was cute, took a few minutes to work out where the tickets were sold as it didn’t really have an entrance, just a bridge over a road.


You knew that the whale in the trip report title refers to this ride, right? That’s why you’re here.


A quality piece of engineering.

Kariya-shi Kotsu Jido Yuen

This was the place that was closed by the time we got to it. It seems to have undergone some expansion since, including some new fairground rides and a new toilet block. Watch out Six Flags America.


Another quality piece of engineering.


Potentially Japan’s cheapest cred at ~36p

Sea Train Land

This place was a little more significant than I expected. It had another of those Senyo shooting dark rides as well as some other stuff, but I’m all burnt out on them.


Shame the cred is only a Zamperla thing. My 7th in as many months.


It’s a bit closer to the city and the day was now over, so felt like jumping on the wheel for a look.


Couldn’t quite see Steel Dragon from here. It’s somewhere after that second bridge on the right but there’s a lot of other weirdly tall stuff in the area.





That was fun.
It really was actually, something so chill about just driving around little parks with no anxiety.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Classic denial. Mate, you're mayor of that stage of the hobby! 😂
Fun reading, as always.
Two rides man, not one. Thats 100% different. ;)


Day 3 – Nagashima Spa Land

Oh no, back here again. Almost feels like home.

Rocked up before opening to find an unnervingly large queue forming outside the entrance plaza. It looked worse than it was however, as there were gates shut before the actual ticketing area.
Soon enough the gates opened and all concept of a queue quickly dissolved as people from everywhere homed in from all angles, cutting past those who had been politely waiting at least half an hour before opening. Typical Nagashima, nothing like the rest of Japan.
Followed the hustle and bustle into the ticket booths, got a wristband fairly promptly and headed in.


Straight to the whale.

Ah man. The early stages of this day were doing absolutely nothing to change my mind about liking this park. The operations were as dire as to be expected. A single train dispatching every 6 minutes. An average of 4 empty seats per train due to their dumb row assignment methodology. I was there in the first 200 people and it took me an hour to get on it.

Logistics – there’s a member of staff in the cattlepen area who hands out blue and red wristbands and rattles off a speech in rapid Japanese to every person. The purpose of this wristband is to get you into the locker area which is situated under the station, which you pass through before and after the ride. Upon reaching the station you give up the wristband, basically to stop people getting off the ride and cutting through the lockers again for another go. It’s an improvement on their other rides in that it saves having locker faff in the actual station, while loading the train, but it still seems to take just as long with all the various batching procedures and airport scanners for tissues in your pockets that lead up to it.

So thankfully the ride was amazing. Enough for me to put up with all that many, many times, coupled with the fact it was the sole reason I was there in the first place. Lets see how many RMC name drops I can squeeze into a review.


It’s got one of the stronger pre-lift funky sections which are always a laugh, closest to Twisted Colossus. A big ol’ lift looking out at the rest of the park or over the water. A zippy little corner before an up and over drop, like a third of a Wildfire. And then it begins.


It’s got length. It just goes and goes with equally good stuff from start to finish, unlike Lightning Rod.
There’s some really strong airtime in there, never quite as intense as Twisted Timbers, but it’s beautiful blend of sensations between the elements, more like a giant Wicked Cyclone.
The stall only felt particularly significant towards the middle of the train similar to Joker’s little one, it just hits it too fast at the ends of the train to give that real magical upside down moment.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as the speed is quite surreal at times, watching it offride brought back memories of Railblazer. It just doesn’t look like it should be going that fast through those elements, it’s unnatural.
It’s a gorgeous ride to look at as well - that blue and white, like a giant Twisted Cyclone with much prettier trains.

There, think that’s all of mine. Let’s take a moment to behold this creation.








In all seriousness though, I loved it. It’s a hard layout to learn even over a few laps - the scream inducing airtime on some of the hills that you forget are even there. The out of control feeling I’ve been missing on some of these things is present in the exit of the first outwards banked turn thing as it twists and throws you down a double down. This bit gave ‘poorly prepared on Skyrush’ levels of uneven pain into alternate single legs when sitting towards the back. I’ve missed that too.
There’s some pretty vicious laterals out in the overbank near the end that makes it better than your average filler corner and the hills either side of this really kick ass. Possibly the best hill of the whole thing is chucked in right at the end of the ride as well, a wonky little thing hidden in the structure that was also scream inducing. Every time.
Fantastic stuff, well worth the trip.


They decided to add the second train during my second queueing, bumping the wait time up to about 90 minutes. Dispatches did drop to 3 minutes so it was an improvement later in the day, but the queue just grew and grew throughout the morning. Well that’s 2 rides in 3 hours, what else has this place got again?


Took some courtesy laps on the decent stuff around, starting with the Dragon. This was operating surprisingly well with its 2 trains. It seems to have lost its limelight within the park for now against the new boy, I wonder if that is just newness or genuine appreciation for a much better ride. Time will tell.


Pretty much how I remember it. The lift is good for the openness on the left side and the way it goes on forever. The drop doesn’t feel like 300ft and isn’t very good. It bounces through the first 2 valleys quite ferociously and there’s absolutely no sensation in either of the big hills. The corners are huge and rather pointless, bit of wind in your face – yeah man, can’t beat that sensation of speeeeeeeed, it’s like Fury all over again.
Then it gets fun, awkwardly adjusting itself into the midcourse. Even though it brakes quite hard at this point, the following hills are all decent and seem to go on forever. I imagine it has to have the most consecutive straight airtime hills on any ride in the world and it is pretty joyous for that.
A slight shudder, a ghost from my past, hit me as I stepped onto the exit platform. Getting on this ride was all too easy this time.


Token lap on my ride. They make me happy. It’s such a weird and complicated looking death machine but also so simple. How many rides come off of one of their rails every lap just to get through the station? And the fact they had terrifying vertical lifts (and drops) 100 years before anything else claimed fame about it.


Acrobat then. Still as good looking as ever. They were operating the other station today, so that was a novelty. Never together.
I forgot how intense this thing was. Pretzels are amazing of course, but the turn immediately after was so forceful that, to be graphic, my salivary glands failed me. I spent the rest of the ride dealing with that while it meandered around, never living up to the start again.


Time for the rest of my body to fail me, on one of the few rides in the world that still scares me. I regret it every time, sitting down in the seat with the rigid restraint uncomfortably biting into my collar bones. Feet dangling as it drags you vertically up. Why did I do this again? Oh no. OH NO. OH… *words gone*. It’s too intense to shout.
The initial moments of it flipping after the lift are like no other ride. It’s so far out of my body’s control that I don’t know what to do with myself. I go into survival mode - all I can do is sit there, hold on and exist through it. But nothing like SLC survival, it doesn't hurt, it's just purely through intensity.
I love it anyway. Whether I enjoy it is a different matter.


They've got this new shooting dark ride thing that appeared opposite the whale which I thought was cool, diversifying their lineup a bit. Then I found it was upcharge. Wanna do something other than queue 90 minutes for rollercoasters today? Well you've gotta pay. I still don't like this park.


Time to calm down on the wheel. The views just got even better.





Would have been Hakugei 'til I bleed, but operations. The pain was stronger from the queueing than from the ride, though the waiting did die down a little as the afternoon went on. At least it was amazing enough to keep me there 'til the end of the day. I'd had ideas of leaving early if things had stayed how they started.
As we learnt from Hershey, always persist.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Hakugei with those blue skies is one hell of a beautiful looking ride. Fantastic!
 
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