By Eriko Fukui
With a pristine location near the base of Mt. Fuji, Fuji-Q Highland theme park offers fantastic views from towering rides that will please even the most extreme thrill seekers. Fuji-Q Highland is the most famous theme park in Japan for adventurers and boasts some of the fastest and highest roller coasters in Japan. Less than two hours from Tokyo, Fuji-Q is the perfect stop on a weekend getaway to Mt. Fuji and five lakes area.
The most important part of Fuji-Q for most will be the rides. Fuji-Q does not disappoint for roller coaster lovers, with four major roller coasters that are a must ride for unique reasons.
Fujiyama (Fear factor 8/10) - The king of roller coasters and the tallest roller coaster in the park. On a global scale Fujiyama is the 8th tallest, 5th longest and 10th fastest. The build up to the near 80 meter peak of the roller coaster is both good and bad. On the good side you have a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji on the left. On the bad side you know you are about to drop 80 meters at over 130km/h. After the buildup and fast drop this is a really fun roller coaster with nothing too crazy and ample length.
Dodonpa (Fear factor 7/10) - Once the world's fastest roller coaster this ride still boasts the highest acceleration in the world and launch will take you from 0 to 172 km/h in mere seconds. Dodonpa is a good first ride as it is near the entrance and stretches out across the entire park so you can get a brief view of what's to come. Dodonpa is known for speed but does have one peak over 50m that will send you up fast and back down even faster giving you a feeling of being launched through the air.
Takabisha (Fear factor 9/10) - You may be a bit confused when you first see this coaster. The newest of the big four, Takabisha has the world's steepest drop at 121°. This means that after taking a 90° ascent up you will go out a bit and then drop downward and inward at the same time for over 40m. There are also 7 loops and twists to follow this doozy. On a clear day, this ride provides one of the best views of Fuji you will ever have with what seems like an eternal pause at the top right before the 121° drop.
Eejanaika (Fear factor 10/10) - This roller coaster will spin your body more than any roller coaster in the world, so for those who can't handle extreme twists and loops you should stick to the teacups. The fastest and highest "4th dimension roller coaster" in the world, your seats rotate 360° forward and backward while you take loops and twists from heights up to 76m. As a bonus, your lower body will have no anchor so you are hurtling through the air with legs flailing freely for the duration of the ride. Enjoy.
Aside from roller coasters, Fuji-Q is known for a few unique theme attractions that are enjoyable with a group of friends.
Super Scary Labrynth of Fear - With an experience time of nearly 50 minutes, this is the longest (and second largest) haunted experience in the world. After an introduction video explaining how the hospital became overrun by zombies and ghosts, your group is released into the corridors with a single dim lamp. Walking through the dark halls, your heartbeat will rise as the screams and surprises start to come in frightening and unexpected ways. We even found a few groups of strangers that had banded together into a "supergroup" as they were too scared to go proceed alone.
Ultimate Fort - The goal here is to escape from a labyrinth of puzzles and challenges requiring brains, brawn and luck. There are several levels you need to pass to escape, but you will likely run out of time as the successful escape rate is less than 1/100,000 (yes only two groups in over 250,000 attempts!). There are several hidden clues, secret doors and traps that change frequently (I got stuck behind a wall alone when our group lost). Great for those who enjoy a good puzzle and don't mind losing.
The major attractions listed above, there are numerous other rides and areas around Fuji-Q worth mention.
If you like heights: Tondemina allows you to fly back and forth while rotating in a circle and drops you much higher than your standard viking ship (best before lunch). Tekkotsu Bancho swings you in the air (in pairs) rather peacefully with great views. Red Tower takes you up quite high and drops you in a free fall. PaniClock starts out like a viking ship, then turns up the thrill going in full 360 rotation. There is also a large Ferris Wheel for a peaceful way to pass the time.
If you thought this was a water park: Nagashimasuka ia a large tube ride for up to four that is enjoyable for all ages. The Great Zaboon is a splash mountain esque drop ride. Poncho available for rent for both of these rides.
If this is a family outing: Fuji Airways is an exhilarating (but not overbearing) 4D theatre that gives you the experience of flying from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji and viewing the mountain from different heights and seasons. Thomas land has several small rides and activities, and in the main park there are tea cups, a merry-go-round, an ice skating rink and Mad Mouse, a small, jerky roller coaster. There is a large Evangelion exhibit as well that you can walk through and view models and a near scale replica of one of the large suits.
Tickets to the park are about JPY 5000 for adults and slightly less for children depending on age. Right outside Fuji-Q you will find a French quarter that has several French shops, restaurants and a miniature Eiffel Tower. There are a few hotels nearby and some amazing hot springs in the area if you need to relax after all the excitement. Package deals can often be found that combine hotel, park and bus ride.
Access: For an extended trip, I recommend driving as there are many stops you will want to visit around the five lakes area in Yamanashi. By car you can get to the area in just over an hour from Shibuya. Taking the Chuo Highway Bus Fujigoko Line is convenient as well and takes less than 100 minutes.
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