Experience Japan's roller coasters in the comfort of your home

People on a ride on the new roller coaster "Hollywood Dream the Ride" which runs over the Hollywood theme park Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

With the lack of foot traffic during coronavirus lockdowns, many companies are coming up with ways to stay engaged with their customers. Rather than saying “we’ll be back soon” or “we can’t wait to see you again”, these Japanese theme parks decided their best course of action is to take video recordings of their roller coaster rides and share them on social media. We have found a few listed below for you to “take the ride” at home!

1. Flying Dinosaur (Universal Studios Japan)

A featured ride in the Jurassic Park area, Flying Dinosaur is a suspended ride where “an out-of-control Pteranodon will seize you from behind and pull you high into the sky, with nothing but air space between you and the ground!” It is also the world’s longest flying roller coaster track, boasting a total course length of 1,124m.

2. Hollywood Dream - The Ride (Universal Studios Japan)

Very few roller coasters have reverse seats and Hollywood Dream - The Ride is one of them. Before entering the attraction, you will get to choose if you want the standard front-facing ride (shown in video above), or an out-of-the-ordinary back-facing ride (shown in video below).

The actual ride also allows you to choose an upbeat soundtrack as background music to go with the experience. Although these videos do not come with any sound, it probably means we can play any music we like while watching them.

The scariest part is when you are being brought up the initial ascent and you see nothing but the ground leaving further and further away from you…and wham, you are dragged down by the pull of gravity!

Universal Studios Japan has also very kindly uploaded a night-view front-facing version. Riding roller coasters at night can be a little more daunting than in the day, don’t you think?

3. Thunder Dolphin (Tokyo Dome City)

If you have been to Tokyo Dome either for concerts or other events like baseball games, you would have noticed there is an amusement park just beside it. Unlike franchise theme parks, Tokyo Dome City’s admission is free and charges per attraction, which is ideal for people who want to take a specific ride or have limited time. They also have a one-day pass for visitors to enjoy the whole park all day.

Labelled as their signature ride is none other than Thunder Dolphin, with a top speed of 130km/h. Like a dolphin among a sea of buildings, the ride has a wavy course and lets you fly between buildings.

4. Japan’s Oldest Roller Coaster (Hanayashiki)

This nearly 70-years-old roller coaster is situated in Japan’s oldest amusement park called Hanayashiki, originally opened as a flower park in 1853. Located at Asakusa, Tokyo, Hanayashiki is currently home to as many as 24 attractions suitable for families.

Looking at the video gives you a rough idea what to expect from Japan’s oldest roller coaster. The train chugging up the first ascent took almost a minute, and the rest of the track is the simplest depiction of the law of conservation of energy. It may not have the thrill factor most adults are seeking but your little ones may very well enjoy this family ride.

5. Surf Coaster Leviathan (Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise)

Part of the beauty of roller coasters is that they have wonderful views. Giving you a scenic view of the deep blue Tokyo Bay, Surf Coaster Leviathan is Japan’s first roller coaster that travels over the ocean. As you take your position in the car called Blade, you will set off on an adventure over the waters to battle the legendary sea serpent monster Leviathan.

On the Hakkeijima island in Yokohama, Tokyo, you will also find a dedicated hotel and an aquarium besides this amusement park.

6. Bandit (Yomiuriland)

Located 35 minutes by public transport from Shinjuku, Yomiuriland is “Tokyo’s largest amusement park that offers cherry blossoms in the spring, pools in the summer, illuminations in the winter”. Claimed to be Yomiuriland’s steadfast number one roller coaster, Bandit is a ride that lets you experience the seasons through the forest, with a maximum speed of 110km/h and a total course length of 1,560m.

Yomiuriland has also featured a number of their rides filmed in 360 degrees on their YouTube channel, including free fall attraction Crazy Hyuuuu and Japan’s first Mega Disk’O Hashibiro GO!. Simply look for “360度動画” which means 360 degrees video in the video titles.

Having seen all these virtual rides, which ones have you been on before, and which would you like to try when the theme parks reopen? Let us know in the comments below.

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