Fuji-Q Highland: Fun for Thrill-Seekers and Families Alike
Before Six Flags’ record-breaking coasters, before Universal Studios grew in popularity, there was an amusement park of such thrills and delight that it held records no place could break. Tallest, longest, fastest, and steepest once described the rides offered at Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, Japan.
Fuji-Q Highland was opened in 1996 and currently has over 30 rides and attractions, as well as a dozen delicious restaurants and shops. What sets this park apart from other parks is not only the thrilling rides, but also the location. It is nestled in a valley on the northeast side of Mt. Fuji, offering incredible views for anyone brave enough to ride to the top of the roller coasters.
Fastest and Steepest in the 4th Dimension
Once coined “the World’s Fastest Roller Coaster” in 2011, Dodonpa is the “melt-your-face” coaster every thrill junkie will want to experience. It can hit 172 km per hour (107 mph) in only 1.8 seconds with 2.7 G’s of force, just a fraction less than the 3G’s astronauts experience at liftoff. Today, it is still the fastest accelerating roller coaster in the world.
Takabisha still hold the record for the steepest drop in the world. After an agonizing slow climb to the top, and pausing for effect, you are dropped on the record-breaking 121°, beyond-vertical drop to what feels like your doom.
And if you have ever wondered about the 4th dimension, try the Eejanaika coaster. The seats actually rotate 360 degrees and inverts you 14 different times during the ride.
At any amusement park, long lines and waits are to be expected. At Fujikyu they seem to hold efficiency as a high priority so I noticed that on the popular rides they seem to be running more cars per ride than most parks I’ve visited.
For those of you too scared to ride after you’ve reached the front of the line, they provide a “chicken line” so you can chicken out without causing inconvenience to the other riders.
Of course, on their busiest summer days, the long lines for popular rides are unavoidable; but if you’re lucky enough to have a light drizzling rain during your visit like I was, you’re almost guaranteed to have few lines and low wait times.
Best Place for Kids
If you’re thinking about bringing kids, be ready for a day of endless play for them. Thomas Land offers a mini-park inside Fujikyu that provides hours of fun with the famous blue tank engine. There are also half a dozen more kid-friendly rides outside of Thomas Land that are sure to make for a great day, even if you don’t speak Japanese.
Water, Water Everywhere…
The most popular and well known of the many water rides is Nagashimasuka, a water coaster that has two giant gold colored maneki-neko (lit. “beckoning cat”), inviting you to ride. Nagashimasuka seats several people in a round dinghy and will have you spinning in circles as you go down the slide. You are given a poncho to wear but with all the water splashing everywhere you will get. This is a great ride to cool down on a hot day!
With a name like “Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear,” prepare to have nightmares after you leave this haunted house. According to the site, “those who experience it are beyond hope of being saved.” This maze of terror is almost a kilometer long and will have your screaming for the exit the whole time. And just in case you want to relive the horror, you can rent GoPro camera mounted helmets to record your screams.
However, don’t make the mistake I did in entering Mizuki Shigeru’s Ge-Ge-Ge Haunted Mansion if you don’t speak fluent Japanese. This is a scary and comical old-time radio show, which is played in a completely dark room as you sit and listen with headphones. Not a bad time if you know the language but otherwise you’re just sitting in a dark room.
Rides with a View
After the adrenaline rushes are over, what will be remembered more than the thrills are the incredible views. The best place to get a close up view of Mt. Fuji is atop the Fujiyama roller coaster. At 79m (239 ft), this used to be the world’s tallest coaster when it opened in 1997, and has been nicknamed “the king of coasters.” In addition to its height, it gives the riders an almost relaxing and smooth ride as they enjoy sights of this majestic mountain. This ride will remind you of the meaning of the park’s namesake and give you memories you’ll never forget.
These attractions and many more make up Japan’s most unique theme park. Try this Tokyo Disneyland alternative to get the true Japanese amusement park experience!
By train: Tokyo station to Fujikyu Highland station, ¥3800, 153 minutes
By bus: Shinjuku Station West Exit, approx.. 150 minutes
*I recommend visiting your local ticketing and tours office for special deals on bus tours, such as the “Q-Pack” offered through the park including bus and entrance fee
Option 1 (recommended): 1 day free pass ticket, adults ¥5,200. This option gives entrance to the park and unlimited access to the rides.
Option 2: Entrance ticket, adults ¥1,400 + cost of individual rides and attractions. This is best if you are only there for a couple of rides or just to watch your friends.