Fuji-Q Highland: An Exhilarating Day Trip from Tokyo
If being projected head-first toward the ground in a free fall sounds appealing to you, then start planning a trip to Fuji-Q Highland. The first time I visited the amusement park was in January of this year. I had never before ridden the kind of crazy attractions that Fuji-Q is known for, and starting with the famous Dodonpa, a "cannon ball" wagon launched at 172 kilometers per hour was, well...surprising. Take a breath before the ride starts, because it reaches this speed in less than two seconds! It's not hard to believe that when it opened in 2001 it was named the world's fastest roller coaster.
And what about the famous Fujiyama, which opened in July 1996 as the tallest (79 meters) and fastest (130 kilometers per hour) roller coaster in the world? During the climb to its peak, which provides plenty of time for fear to build up, you can see Mt. Fuji. It’s almost enough to make you forget the monstrous descent that follows this beautiful rise. Personally, I liked the wonderful Fujiyama because the course is long with lots of twists and turns.
If you want a break from the roller coasters, take a walk through the haunted hospital. Friends of mine told me that the experience was terrible, and it’s true. You must have strong nerves to go there. Imagine yourself in a horror movie in which you are the hero. You are sent into the dark corridors of the haunted hospital with your friends, but usually you end up being joined by the group behind you (it’s impossible to advance with fast, sure steps) and you finish in a group of some 10 people hanging onto each other and screaming at the slightest noise. And shrill cries from the front groups won’t help to calm your fear, trust me. The scenery and atmosphere are very well done, but I will say no more because you have to discover for yourself what awaits you!
After this experience you will be delighted to spend some time in the cute Ham-Taro softly circulating car to recover from your emotions.
Getting back to the thrills, Eejanaika is arguably the best of all the rides at Fuji-Q. It is listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the attraction with the most inversions (14 in total). This “4th Dimension” roller coaster is only the second of its kind in the world, and surpasses the first in speed, length and height. To summarize, for two minutes and 10 seconds, your brain is disconnected, you no longer know who you are, where you are going, or what is happening. Your body is projected, tossed, turned on itself, flown… in short, it’s great.
your brain is disconnected, you no longer know who you are, where you are going, or what is happening
If you really want to suffer, however, you will be surprised to discover that the worst experience but also the funniest is the Mad Mouse. Despite its innocuous appearance, you will be blindsided by the extreme violence of its many turns.
If the weather is nice and warm when you visit Fuji-Q, I also recommend you try the Nagashimasuka, a yellow raft which goes along a waterslide. If you don’t want to leave a soaking mess, remember to take a plastic coat at the entrance, as you will inevitably get wet, and not just a little bit (I tried it without a plastic coat, and it was not a good idea).
During my recent visit, I was lucky enough to be able to ride almost all the attractions, which is not possible on weekends, holidays or during the Golden Week, as the park gets very crowded (except in winter). My advice is to go on a weekday as I did on my second visit. There were more people than in winter, but certainly not enough to prevent us from doing every main attraction twice.
Here are a few pointers to get the most out of a day trip to Fuji-Q Highland:
- Take the first bus at 7:10 a.m. from Shinjuku station.
- Eat breakfast, as you will need strength (just don’t start with the two attractions where you are upside down).
- Dress comfortably with shoes that are easy to remove (you won’t need them on Eejanaika).
- Take something to keep yourself occupied in the queues.
- Start your day with Dondonpa, as it’s the quickest one everyone wants to go, so begin with this attraction directly at the opening of the park will make you avoid one-hour minimum wait.
- Don’t wear a watch or jewelry, as you will have to remove them for each ride.
- If you have long hair, tie it up.
- Don’t forget to breathe.
Getting there: Fuji-Q Highland can be reached directly by bus from Shinjuku station. The trip takes about an hour and 40 minutes (more if traffic is bad).
Admission: You can purchase a special package that includes a one-day pass and a roundtrip bus ticket for ¥7,300; admission only costs ¥1,400 for adults and ¥800 for children aged three to 11; a one-day free pass is ¥5,200 for adults and ¥3,800 for children
Open: Mon–Fri, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sat, Sun and hols, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. (opening hours also change with the seasons; check the website for the most up-to-date details)