Nestled at the base of Mount Fuji in Yamanashi, Japan is a park as eclectic as it is innovative, a haven for theme park lovers and world travelers alike: Fuji-Q Highland. It’s a something-for-everyone kind of spot that still pulls off the act of being wholly itself. It’s a smaller park, so small that charm may be a word assigned to Fuji-Q, but I think that word undersells its grandness. Because this small park packs a punch. Boasting a “Big 4” roller coaster lineup and an array of non-coaster attractions (including two year-round haunted attractions), Fuji-Q Highland uses every acre of its land to produce a one-of-a-kind, immersive guest experience.
Bucket List Parks
In my months spent social distancing in Florida, dreaming of going back out to parks again, I developed this running list of places I just had to make it out to as soon as I could. Some are American parks, like Six Flags Magic Mountain and Silver Dollar City. Many were European and many were chains (see: Europa Park and Universal Studios Japan, respectively). But the first park that came to my mind, the one I daydreamed away at from my couch, was Fuji-Q Highland.
So why is this a Bucket List Park? More than that, why is this my number one Bucket List Park? And why should it be yours, too? The first (and most obvious) reason is the ride lineup. That “Big 4” I referred to earlier is no joke. Any one of these rides could be your next favorite coaster.
The "Big 4"
- Do-Dodonpa (previously just named Dodonpa prior to a speed increase and addition of a massive vertical loop in 2017) is a creation of U.S. manufacturer S&S. A compressed air launch coaster, this is the world’s fastest-accelerating coaster. (You’ll see that there’s a pattern with Fuji-Q Highland’s rides—that record being breaking records.) The ride is a punch in the face that you asked for, and perhaps the most intimidating ride at the park, even to the most seasoned of coaster enthusiasts. The ride opened in 2001 with a launch shooting from 0 to over 106 miles per hour in 1.8 seconds to 0 to 111.8 miles per hour in less than 1.6 seconds. (To put that in perspective, a Porcshe 911 Turbo S, one of the world’s fastest cars, boasts a top acceleration of 0 to 62 miles per hour in 2.6 seconds.) This is speed that is hard to even imagine, which is part of why this ride is so daunting—the unknowing of it all. American coaster enthusiast can try to equate the experience to, say, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, but that hydraulic launch coaster rolls in at 0 to 128 in 3.5 seconds. Nothing to turn your nose up at, sure, but still incomparable to the Do-Dodonpa experience. (An important distinction to make is that this is the world’s fastest accelerating coaster, not fastest coaster altogether; that title still belongs to Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, which clocks in at just under 150 miles per hour.)
- Eejanaika, another brain child of S&S Sansei, is a 4D, or 4th Dimension coaster that strongly resembles California coaster X2. This is a coaster model where riders are positioned on either side of the track, their rotating independently of the ride to create a beautifully scrambling experience. If X2 was most famous for being the ride that would bankrupt legacy manufacturer Arrow Development, Eejanaika was the light in the dark that said perhaps all hope was not lost. When S&S absorbed what was left in Arrow in the early oughts, they paid tribute to the beloved, if not financially impractical, 4th Dimension coaster model by debuting this iconic ride. With an improved design and construction plan, this coaster is rumored to be even wilder and more fantastic than X2, and is most guests’ favorite coaster at the park.
- Takabisha is the latest of the “Big 4” to hit the scene at Fuji-Q Highland. This Gerstlauer steel coaster held the title of the world’s steepest coaster, with a first drop descent of 121 degrees, until being dethroned by TMNT Shellraiser at the new Nickelodeon Universe in New Jersey. TMNT Shellraiser is an exact clone of Takabisha with one exception: its first drop is steeper than Takabisha’s by—wait for it—half a degree. Even with this coaster hitting the scene, Takabisha is still a record-shattering addition to Fuji-Q Highland, and riders of both these coasters stand by Takabisha being the superior ride. All that’s to say: Takabisha is still worth the trip.
- Though Fujiyama is not the flashiest of Fuji-Q’s coasters, it may still be its most iconic. Nicknamed "King of Coasters," Fujiyama opened as the largest roller coaster in the world in 1996, and though the landscape of the roller coaster industry has changed significantly in the 24 years since then, Fujiyama still stands as a beacon of innovation and one-upping that is absolutely still prevalent in the 2020 theme park scape. With 6,709 feet of track and a top speed of 81 miles per hour, Fujiyama is still one heck of a coaster. Though its manufacturer, Togo, does not have the best reputation in the states (perhaps I’ll talk about the infamous Big Apple Coaster, AKA the universally accepted world’s worst coaster, another time), this is a pleasurable and airtime-packed ride experience that can’t be missed on a trip to Fuji-Q.