Benyland is not home to any particularly spectacular coasters, and in all honesty there is precious little there for anyone beyond the insufferable credit whore. That said, it can easily be combined with Sendai Highland for a day trip, making it a quick way to clock up a lot of coasters in one day. We took the train to JR Sendai station and connected to the W-2 bus, though it is worth noting that many of the local routes go past the park. Enthusiasts retracing our steps should listen carefully for the stop for the zoo, announced in both English and Japanese part way through a generic looking village. The park itself comes into view no more than ten seconds before the stop, and it is easy to miss if one isn't paying attention. We had good information ahead of time and despite that came very close to overshooting; you have been warned!
The junior coaster at the park is Jet Coaster (#595), and as befits the name it is a large ride that does very little. The lift hill is perhaps ten metres high, and this leads to roughly three hundred metres of track that is for the most part a slightly sloping descent back to the station. The top speed of the ride is no more than ten miles per hour, and the only interesting portions of the layout are the points where it travels over (and then under) the Cork Screw. A few hills on the course would have helped immeasurably, though it seems unlikely that the train would have had enough potential energy to crest them.
The best ride in the park turned out to be the Yagiyama Cyclone (#596), a custom steel coaster from Arrow Dynamics. The ride hardware is essentially the same as that found on Adventure Express and Diablo, albeit without any theming; instead, the rails have been painted in a deep blue that looks surprisingly good with white supports. The ride layout uses almost all of its potential energy, to the point that it doesn't actually need a brake run; under normal circumstances the train rolls back into the station at walking pace.
We were somewhat less taken with Cork Screw (#597), a bog standard Arrow installation that felt like it was still running with the original wheels delivered twenty four years ago. The only really positive thing was the amusement value of the instructions for riders in the station, pictured above; the first section could easily be captioned along the lines of Please take large pole and insert into head. Caricatures in ride instruction sheets are not unusual in this country, but this one could not be described as such; it was just a poor drawing open to deliberate misinterpretation by those who are easily amused.
3rd September 2005
The local train station for Sendai Highland is Sakunami, broadly defined as the middle of nowhere. Instructions on the wall gave a phone number we should call for a free shuttle service to the park. While waiting for the bus to arrive, I attempted to fill my water bottle from the water fountain nearby. Much to my surprise, on pressing the button I was treated to a water jet that shot ten feet into the air, hosing down the power cable overhead. It would have utterly soaked me had I not jumped out of the way. This had the potential for absolute hilarity; it was fortunate that I hadn't put my head over the fountain before turning the water on.
Martin described this park in quite memorable terms, which i feel compelled to reproduce. It's as if someone took all the worst coasters in Japan and dragged them up into a hill in the middle of nowhere for a bet. He had, however, based his assessment on just two of them, as inclement weather had prevented him from riding the powered coaster and the wild mouse. The reader should not underestimate how important it was to both George and I that we ride the coasters Martin missed, no matter how awful they might be, purely because he had failed to do so. As one may gather, there are very few adults involved in coaster clubs.
Sometimes it is impossible to know when Martin is telling the truth; he has said positive things about back rows of certain coasters that have, on riding, proved to be malicious and potentially actionable falsehoods. Nevertheless, after riding Loop the Loop (#598) we both came to the same conclusion; in this case, at least, Martin had been entirely truthful. The ride was a complete failure of a shuttle loop, one which deserves to be melted down at the first available opportunity. To refer to the wheels as square does them an injustice; rectangular would be a better word. The only enjoyable portion was the lift hill, a two and a half minute opportunity to stare at the sky.
Old wheels from this ride were probably recycled on Mad Mouse (#599), which was probably the roughest such ride I have ever experienced. Amazingly, this was the ride that hadn't been included in the worst coasters in Japan assessment. Once was without question enough. We also did a single ride on the powered Dragon, our fourth Zamperla Dragon in a week.
Given what we'd experienced thus far we were not expecting much from Hurricane Coaster (#600). Much to our surprise, however, it turned out to be a respectable ride. The single airtime hill and descending helix were handled remarkably well, and though the layout was short it was nevertheless a pure delight when compared against the earlier simulated car crashes. It was definitely the best choice in the park for my six hundredth coaster, and we managed to squeeze in a second lap before the weather closed in bringing our day to an early conclusion.