Nagashima Spa Land
Kuwana, Mie, Japan
“It feels like visiting a Six Flags park during the 90’s… in a good way”
The two biggest players in the Japanese theme park industry are Disney and Universal. Their resorts are located in Tokyo and Osaka and many theme park enthusiasts want to combine these parks in one single trip. That’s super-easy, by the way. Thanks to Japan’s fabulous high-speed rail network, large distances can be covered in no time. While travelling between Tokyo and Osaka, your train will probably stop at Nagoya station. Honestly… Nagoya isn’t the most exciting city on Earth. The city centre is grey and there’s not much to see. However, one of the country’s largest amusement parks is only a short bus ride away. So please disembark the Shinkansen at Nagoya station and walk to the nearby Meitetsu Bus Center. From there, you’ll be on your way to Nagashima Spa Land.
Nagashima Spa Land offers 11 roller coasters, including world record holder Steel Dragon 2000. If you’d like to read about my experience with the longest coaster on Earth, I’ve got some bad news. Due to strong winds, Steel Dragon 2000 remained closed during our visit. This was rather disappointing, but luckily we managed to ride every other coaster with no queue at all. Weekdays in April are apparently very quiet at Nagashima Spa Land, so we got private rides on most attractions.
A private ride on two Schwarzkopf coasters… that feels like heaven. Nagashima Spa Land offers a Looping Star and a Shuttle Loop, both classic coaster models. The smoothness of these rides is remarkable and I like the fact that they use a lap bar instead of an over-the-shoulder restraint. Other classic rides include the Corkscrew, a double Wild Mouse and an old-fashioned Free Fall. I’d like to compliment Nagashima Spa Land’s maintenance crew for keeping these senior rides in great condition.
The most beautiful coaster at Nagashima Spa Land was undoubtedly White Cyclone, an impressive white Intamin woodie. The ride was 1.7 kilometres long and 42 metres tall, so it’s simply enormous. And although the ride felt rather shaky, I enjoyed every moment of it. White Cyclone was a typical wooden coaster with some roughness, great airtime and a strong out of control feeling. White Cyclone was closed in early 2018 and then got transformed into Hakugei, one of the planet’s largest RMC hybrid coasters. I’m sure that the ride experience will be even more thrilling and awesome, but I’m afraid the ride will lose some of its beauty due to the transformation.
Nagashima Spa Land offers the world’s longest roller coaster, one of the world’s most beautiful coasters and one of the most bizarre roller coasters I’ve ever seen: Ultra Twister. I used to think that this coaster type only existed in Roller Coaster Tycoon, but there are a few of them in Japan. This Togo pipeline coaster seems odd and the train looks like pure science fiction. The experience is actually not that good: it’s a bumpy and very short ride.
Those of you who want to ride every single ride at a theme park, will need more than one day at Nagashima Spa Land. The park is enormous and there are a ton of rides. Nostalgic attraction lovers will adore the old-school Intamin Free Fall, the number of flat rides is huge and there’s a large kiddie area in the southern half of the park. By the way: be sure to ride the Ferris wheel for the best possible views on White Cyclone/Hakugei.
WORTH A VISIT?
During our visit, Nagashima Spa Land was building Acrobat, a flying coaster with a layout similar to Manta at SeaWorld Orlando. Thanks to this addition, the park will once again confirm its status as Japan’s coaster capital. The other famous thrill destination in Japan (Fuji-Q Highland) may have the most legendary coasters, but the atmosphere and operations at Nagashima Spa Land are superior to those at Fuji-Q. Nagashima Spa Land is a great amusement park with a few nice roller coasters and a good amount of thrill rides (they even have 3 swinging pirate ships!). Staff are excellent, queues are short and the park is impeccably clean. This is actually the perfect coaster break if you’re travelling between Osaka and Tokyo.
Do you regret the fact that there aren’t many Ultra-Twisters left? Do you think that this is Japan’s coaster capital? Would you be interested in riding 3 different swinging ships in one amusement park? Share your opinion in the comments section at the bottom of this page.