Trip Report: Rusutsu Resort Amusement Park, Hokkaido

What do you do if you're a ski resort in Hokkaido with nobody visiting in the summer?
 You could just have a big green park. But body will stay at your hotel for that.
 Build an amusement park! Rusutsu Resort has Hokkaido's best amusement park, just a couple hours from Sapporo.
 The first roller coaster reached from the hotel and shopping area (a little bit of a walk, mind you) is a standard inverted coaster.
 There are tons of these SLC coasters in existence. They're all really painful and they have the same layout.
 But their curves are attractive.
 If the ride was as nice as it is well-landscaped, I would ride it multiple times.
 I've been on one of these that wasn't painful at the time. Or maybe I could just handle the pain better back then.
 Anyway, there's a drop tower in the middle of nowhere, with a shuttle loop behind it!
 The coasters are very accessible here, with paths walking under and next to them.
 This version is a bit different from the ones I've ridden before, using a lift of some sort and then dropping the ride through the backwards portion of the ride. And it has shoulder harness.
 So yeah, that drop tower is there too. It gives some good views of the park and the mountains.
 There are several little areas in the park, and moving to the next one gets me to this thing. I don't know what they're called, and I don't think I ever saw one in the US. But I've seen several now in Japan.
 The seats can rock back and forth freely, and the whole thing spins around somewhat slowly. For most of the ride, every time your seat passes the operator's booth, the seats lock and spin upside down, as you see in these pictures. If you can time your reactions correctly, you can get the seats to keep spinning/rolling for quite some time. One time I rode this I managed to spin the entire ride!
 This is a haunted house walkthrough. It wasn't too exciting, but are they ever?
 There are some kids' rides too. I didn't go on any of them.
Magic Carpet rides can be pretty fun, too. Visiting parks like this all over Japan have allowed me to try a lot of rides I usually don't see or generally pass on in the US.
 Here's a wild mouse coaster. It's more of a kids coaster, similar to a roller skater. The train looks like a mine cart on this one.
 With a nice view of the Ferris wheel, this other wild mouse stands by itself between two sections of the park.
 People were still riding the coaster, though. Oh, I forgot to mention: it's a sneaker. Because the other coaster is a mouse.
 The Ferris wheel and a few other rides wait at the top of a hill. I'm not ready to go up there yet...
 If Disneyland in Tokyo is too far away for you, just come here. They have elephants that fly! But they aren't Dumbo, of course. That would be wrong.
 After you ride an elephant, you can go hunting. It's just like Africa!
 Once you have your fill of African animal murder, just stand on this little black conveyor belt. It'll take you all the way up to the Ferris wheel!
 You aren't supposed to turn around while riding the belt, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of the view, with the drop ride and shuttle loop framing the mountain and clouds.
 And the wild mouse sneaker's layout is more visible here.
 Right next to the Ferris wheel is one of these things. They go round in a circle and the wheel lifts up, similar to an Enterprise ride. The cars swing freely though, and can be a little wild if the whole ride spins at just the right speed. I rode this one quite a few times.
 On the other side of the park, there's a Top Spin ride. Sadly, it was closed all day. I would have probably ridden it a dozen or more times.
 There are a couple other coasters in the park. Here you see a very boring "jet coaster" - a Japanese roller coaster which goes kind of fast but isn't really scary because the curves are so soft.
 They have one of these Ultra Twisters. I was really hoping to get on this one, too, but it was the only coaster closed the entire day. It's unique because it's an Ultra Twister, but also because the ride continues forward the entire time. Most Ultra Twisters go forward on the top, and backwards on the bottom. I'll have to try to return to the park sometime to ride this!
 Also, way in the back corner of the park, there's a stand-up coaster. It, too, was closed for a large portion of the day.
 From the Ferris wheel, I also got to take a nice picture of the shuttle loop running.
 The jet coaster reaches the top of its lift as seen behind the stand-up coaster. I thought I had seen the stand-up coaster running, but they were just testing at the time.
 There's a corkscrew ride, too. This park has eight coasters, I think. I certainly got my money's worth on this trip.
 This one is quite plain - a simple drop, the two corkscrews, and you're done. It was quite painful, too. I only rode once.
 After riding everything once, I spent my day going between a few different rides - the spinny rocking ride, the stand-up coaster once it opened, and this one - the Enterprise-like ride. It proved to be quite popular, as there aren't many non-painful but thrilling rides in the park that guests can ride multiple times.
 There was a giant warehouse or shed with a bunch of inflatable things.
 I wish I was a kid again. I'd be all over these things!
 Photo opportunity! Except, I was by myself. Oh well.
 So it was back to the stand-up coaster, which was running most of the afternoon. Riding this stand-up coaster means there's only one more stand-up coaster in Japan I haven't been on, located near Okayama. I was going to ride it during my New Year's vacation, but it'll have to wait for a future trip.

 My admission ticket included one round trip on the gondola up to the top of the mountain. The top of this mountain really is the top - you can see a 360-degree view by walking around.

 I feel like I'm back in San Francisco! Okay, not quite. And this snack store was closed, anyway.
 There's a small shrine here. You ring the bell and pray. The two girls in the photo rang the bell kind of hard. I rang it even louder. It rings quite easily, actually. They were nice enough to take my picture in front of the view, and I took theirs.

 Despite being mostly cloudy, the view was good.
 Rusutsu is pretty close to Lake Toya, though it was much easier to get there from Sapporo due to a free shuttle bus. This could be Mount Yotei. I'm not entirely sure.
 Remnants of an old ski lift to the top of the mountain! At least, I think it's old. It doesn't look very usable from my vantage point, but then again with a little oil maybe it spins quite easily.
 The amusement park is tiny from the top of the hill.
 There's a nice vantage point of most of the park from one spot. By the time I finished exploring the top of the hill and taking pictures, I had about an hour to go before my bus left back to Sapporo.
 After a few more rides, I headed back to the shops. There's an animatronic band of bears that play a loop of about 5 minutes. I think I heard the same jokes and songs 3 or 4 times while browsing the shops and waiting in the seating area for a short while. The stores sell lots of Hokkaido snacks and some local goods/Rusutsu character souvenirs too.
 The shopping/restaurant area here is very heavily themed to different areas - the American street with the band, shops and restaurants...
 A Victorian-feel area with this Christmas store - quite out of place in Japan.
 And a European streetscape with a cafe and...
an indoor merry go round. This one has two levels. I'm not sure if this was included in my free pass or if there was an extra charge, but I didn't ride it. Also inside is a small arcade with several crane games.

The amusement park opens at the start of Golden Week (usually the last weekend in April) and closes in late October. Hours vary by the season, opening at 9 AM and closing as early as 4 PM in October, and staying open as late a 8:30 PM in the summer. All-day passes are 4800 yen, and if you make reservations ahead of time that includes transportation to and from the resort from Sapporo. There is a hotel on-site so it is possible to stay the night here. Summer transportation options aren't listed on the English website right now, but in 2013 they had a bus that left Sapporo around 8 AM, arriving around 10 AM, with a return bus leaving around park closing. Going off-peak, there weren't any crowds to worry about and I was able to ride everything I wanted multiple times in the six hours I was there - but of course a couple rides I wanted to experience were closed.

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