After yesterday's wash out it was hard to be cheerful at the weather this morning. It was overcast in Sendai, but the forecast for where we were heading was considerably worse; at least ten hours of rain with intermittent thunderstorms. We did look at the possibilities of replanning the day to go back to Nagashima Spa Land, but the transportation from where we were was simply not suitable; the earliest we could have been back there would have been almost noon, and there would be no guarantee after all that effort that that ride would even be running.
We were mentally resigned to the fact that today would be another opportunity to look around a closed park, all the more so when we arrived in Yamagata during a torrential downpour. Grumpiness was rife in the air as we made our way from the train station to the bus stop. The information desk advised us how to get there; it was eight minutes walk away. When the bus arrived the journey took about twenty five minutes, and in fact we would easily have overshot the park had I not spotted a coaster out the window. The route did not actually pass the park; rather, it went down a side road a few minutes walk away. Independent travellers should be careful.
Arriving at Lina World was a thoroughly surreal experience. There were a good number of cars present in what was evidently the staff car park, but the main car park was empty. More to the point, the ubiquitous Japanese ferris wheel was ominously still. There was, however, a steady tinkle of park music coming from a speaker system in ear shot. Sure enough, the park was open, even if the only two guests in the park were two crazy tourists.
The Japanese are so helpful it's almost embarrassing for me as the foreigner. In this case, the lady at the gate used her few words of English to tell us that, yes, the roller coasters were open, though we'd get wet (no problem!). It occurred to us later that a park in Yamagata probably wouldn't open more than three days a year if they didn't run their rides in the rain. Even stranger, when we said we were only interested in the coasters she was able to sell us a cheap ride ticket that would allow us each to take four rides, significantly cheaper than the regular pass which we were about to go for. If only parks in other countries would treat their patrons in this fashion; the park couldn't be making money today yet here they were giving us cheaper admission than we were otherwise prepared to pay for. Needless to say, I made a point of buying my presents for home in the park gift shop. Then, on the way out, they handed us free umbrellas!
Since there were no other guests in the park the ride operators were hovering around the place waiting for us to come over to one of their charges. As soon as we approached anything, someone came running over to check restraints and press the required buttons. All the rides had clearly been started up, though; anything with lights on board was flashing merrily away, and anything with a hydraulic system had its compressor running. The power consumption of the various machines alone must have cost significantly more than our admission tickets, and that completely excludes staffing costs.
At any rate, the three coasters in the park can be identified by one main factor; they are painted purple and yellow. Telling them apart isn't easy either, as two of them have their track wrapped together. There is a powered Angel Coaster too, though this was understandably down as heavy rain and powered electrical rail do not mix. Or rather they do, but the resulting effects are probably not ideal for renewal of park insurance policies.
Fitting knees into the available space on Super Coaster (#955) proved an interesting gymnastic challenge, but a rewarding one at the same time, even if three decent sized drops represented practically the entire coaster.
Japan is a country of odd experiences, but it was about to get even stranger for us. Scramble Coaster (#956) has wild mouse style cars that can seat two Japanese people with inline seating. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no way that George and I could fit in the same car; we tried, but it just wouldn't work. The ride could not be run with only one person on board for reasons that remain elusive to me. In any European country this would be a roadblock to riding; they'd say no, and that'd be that. This is Japan, however, and people are helpful. The operator got on his radio and summoned two park employees, one to ride with each of us. We think that neither had been on a coaster before, but both seemed to enjoy themselves. The ride was certainly not a beginner coaster, with some very sharp turns taken at considerable speed. It was a lot of fun, though we didn't think it'd be fair to look to ride a second time!
The final coaster of the day was Jet Corster Discovery (#957), and no, that's not a typo. Or rather it is, but it's one the park made on its sign, and so I feel duty bound to transcribe it. This was the longest ride in the park in terms of length, and had some pretty sharp forces too. Crucially, it had that most precious of commodities on coasters in this country; leg room.
We used our last ride vouchers on the Carnival Fantasy dark ride, filled with dancing marionettes from various important countries; five countries of Europe, Brazil, China, the USA, and, er, Tahiti. It would be fair to say that this ride was not exactly the highlight of the park.
A word to the wise for future trip planners; Lina World and Sendai Highland are both on the JR Senzan Line. You'd be hard pressed to spend a full day in either, but the two can be combined quite successfully.