Thursday started relatively early again, because I had to catch an 8AM bus to Rusutsu Amusement Park, a journey which took about 2 hours. Rusutsu is Hokkaido's biggest park both in terms of land and ride selection - they have eight coasters and a decent selection of flat rides. Plus my day pass ("free pass") included a round trip ticket on the cable car to the observation area at the top of the mountain.
I'll simply say that I had a good time there, although it would have probably been 100 times better if the only two rides they had closed all day were the number one and three rides I was looking forward to riding. Regardless, I managed to entertain myself most of the day although I had about an hour at the end of the day where I had decided I was ready to leave but needed to wait on the bus. Had those two rides been open I'm sure I would have been busy all day.
Today's park was Hokkaido Greenland, a smaller park with four coasters and a large selection of smaller flat rides. There was an issue early in the morning so I spent a couple hours exploring Hokkaido University. It had a beautiful campus and some nice buildings.
Again it took about 90 minutes via two buses to get to the park from Sapporo Station. Buses to the park (from Iwamizawa Station) run about once every couple hours or so, which means it's important to plan your schedule. Taking the bus to Iwamizawa Station might take a little longer than the train but a free pass plus round trip transportation is cheaper than the train.
The park was absolutely dead. At the most (in the afternoon, when I left) there were 12 cars in the parking lot. I saw other people occasionally but never had to wait for them. (If you're wondering, there was a decent number of guests at Rusutsu but I never had to wait except for the prior riders to get off.) I came across a blog where someone else mentioned (about 5 years ago) how empty it was and I too am a surprised this park is still open. One of the coasters and the best ride in the park (the Rotoshake) were both closed today. Rotoshake has been closed for a long time and I expected that. I was a little disappointed that GO-ON was closed too.
The main problem with Greenland is a lack of reride ability. There just isn't anything in the park that I'd like to ride twice. In fact one of the coasters (the only other big one) gave me a massive headache. That said, I had a good time for a while there and there are several haunted house/mirror house attractions which I am starting to enjoy more and more. I guess the park caters more to families with elementary aged children. There are probably bigger crowds when school is out, and it seems like they have several shows on Sundays.
I left the park after trying pretty much everything (including both putt putt courses - I had two honest holes in one - and all three go-kart tracks). That was about three hours at a slow pace. After
returning to Sapporo, I did some souvenir shopping this evening and took it easy (I'm still sore from yesterday's rides and that one coaster today.)
I go home tomorrow (Saturday) after seeing most of a Fighters game, so I will probably write my food article tomorrow at some point!