Today featured rides on two significant coasters from my to-do list, yet it could almost have been considered an ordeal; it certainly wasn't enjoyable. There is probably only one park in all of Japan where that might happen; the appropriately named Fuji-Q Highland. The drive to the park proved quite challenging, and as a result it was almost noon when we approached the ticket desk. There was a prominent sign indicating that all the major rides had wait times of at least ninety minutes, and given that we decided to skip over the free pass for unlimited riding on the basis that we didn't have enough time to be sure of saving money over the pay-per-ride prices.
We decided to begin our visit with Fujiyama (#1696), a Togo-built coaster that at one point was the tallest ride of its type anywhere in the world. Trip reports online had led us to believe that the ride wasn't particularly comfortable, but to be honest there were no real problems other than the final few turns on the way back to the station. The first drop was particularly good, with floating airtime the whole way down. Apparently the ride was fitted with new trains recently, which may have improved the ride quality.
The newest addition to the park is Takabisha (#1697), and its inherent novelty value was immediately evident in the length of the wait. Though the signage indicated a two hour line, the reality was closer to three, resulting in some badly frayed tempers by the time we got to the station. We were abruptly assigned to the back row of a car (no choices allowed) and instructed to remove secured glasses, despite a clear demonstration from me that my strap held them firmly in place. Once in the car, a waist band seat belt (unique to this Eurofighter) was pulled tight enough to hurt, and the overhead restraint was closed with enough force to disembowel. It seems that the Japanese never complain about anything, as the operators didn't seem to know what to do when we did. Don't get me wrong; I'm all for being properly secured in a ride, but there's something very wrong when staff feel they need to restrict blood circulation!
The ride began with a turn into a pitch black tunnel, containing a small drop and heart-line roll, followed by a launch into several inversions. One of these is a world-first element which the community has dubbed a dog tongue based on its appearance; the track looks like it cannot possibly work properly, but it does, and sufficiently well that it could almost have been fabricated by B&M. From there comes a vertical lift hill, a holding brake at the top, the world record 121° drop, and a few more inversions.
The ride is brilliant, a superb piece of engineering, and a candidate for one of the best coasters in Japan. It is unquestionably the best ride Gerstlauer has turned out to date. It's such a shame that it has been built in an unmitigated crap-hole like Fuji-Q. It was obvious to us that the wait times today were entirely due to inefficient operations rather than sheer numbers of guests; we were after all visiting on a week day in school term. Eight seater trains should go out more regularly than once every two minutes!
Five hours, two coasters. What more is there to say?