Trip Report: Himeji Central Park

Himeji itself ended up being a bust. I didn't realize it until too late that Himeji Castle was under reconstruction, and thus covered by giant scaffolding. That is, by far, the most important reason to go to Himeji. There are other things to do in the area, but I figured if I returned for the castle I could do the other culture credits at that time too. So I skipped ahead and skipped over to Himeji Central Park.
 Sure, with a name like Central Park it sounds like a small public park. Perhaps it would have a carousel.
 And it does. A nice decent-sized carousel
 And if it had a carousel, then it would probably have a couple other rides. And it does. Here's a small pirate ship, and you can see a ride in the background too.
 But Himeji Central Park has a few big coasters for us thrill seekers too. Just go behind that little kid's ride there...
 There are two coasters near the park's entrance. The bigger one in that area is Hurricane, a coaster with one loop and two corkscrews.
 Oh, yeah, this park has a Ferris wheel, too. But I'll get there later.
 Ahh, yes. The corkscrews. You might expect this ride to be really rough, and you're only half right. It's not horribly brutal, but I was glad I braced myself for it and I ended up riding it only once.
 Yes, Ferris wheel. I see you.
 There's a second carousel right next to the loop! If your children aren't afraid by the occasional roar of a coaster flying only meters away...
 Ahh, a train of victimsriders heads up the lift.
 I don't recommend putting your hands up on a coaster like this. You've been warned.
 It's a long walk up a gradual incline to the back of the park. I suppose if you wanted to have a picnic, this would be the place to do it.
 Finally you arrive at Labyrinth, a wild mouse style coaster. Sort of. It's more of a regular coaster designed by an amateur in Roller Coaster Tycoon. It has lots of hairpin turns and drops but it doesn't really feel or look like a wild mouse coaster.
 One of these things! Free Fall rides are fun during the free fall portion, but after that they're really rough! Most of the ones in America have disappeared, but Japan's amusement parks keep them running.
 The park's best ride is all the way at the back. Past another big lawn.
 This is Diavlo. Or Diablo. It is an inverted B&M coaster that is very similar to the Batman coasters at Six Flags. Actually, it is the Batman model. But that is a pretty good layout even if it's very familiar to me, so I rode it a few times.
 What do businessmen do during their lunch breaks? They sit in front of Diavlo. Actually, those are high school boys in their school uniforms.
 Through the first loop...
 The heartline spin...
 Second loop...
 Corkscrew. There's another one or two inversions in there too. A great ride!
 Okay, Ferris wheel. You win. Show me what fabulous views you provide! There's Hurricane, again. Or most of it. But what's important here is the last coaster to show you, creatively named "Roller Coaster" and it's just as exciting as the name is creative. Notice all that flat, straight track in the background? Yeah, you'll just go down a mild drop, roll around the front of the park for a while, and come back to the station.
 Here's most of Diavlo. You can almost see it has some good ground-hugging elements but the best ones at other parks (on the right-hand side of the coaster) are elevated a bit more here.
 That big space between the front and back of the park has a few other small rides off to the side.
 Around the world in 80 days!
 Another Hurricane train on its way up.
 And the back of the park with the freefall ride and all of Diavlo.
 There's a water park here too, but it wasn't open. Japan's water parks generally have short seasons - for example, it's past 80 degrees here now and Tobu Zoo's water park doesn't open until July.
 Free Fall again. When I was younger and my body could take the beating better, I could ride this over and over again. Not any more.
 Here you can get an idea of the strange layout of Labyrinth. This ride is screaming to be enclosed as a dark ride coaster with some special effects on walls and such.
 Ride the duck! I didn't.
 Another view of Labyrinth.
 The front of the park is pretty empty, but that gives an okay view of Roller Coaster. I don't know how this thing manages to get up to 65 km/h.
This motion simulator is no longer dynamic. The park is known for its drive-through safari; you can ride a safari bus if you come via public transit. The safari park and amusement park can have different hours, and they vary depending on the season. Both are open 10:00-17:30 or longer, though during off-peak times they close one day a week (usually Tuesdays).

Admission is kind of complicated. The safari bus is 800 yen and admission is 1550 yen. A free pass that doesn't include admission is 2800 yen. So a full, all-inclusive day at Himeji Central Park gets pretty pricey. There are all kinds of offers and packages and other details that make things more difficult if you want to add in the pool in summer or ice skating in winter.

Access is via bus #74 from Himeji Station, which runs three times a day on weekdays and hourly on weekends and holidays. Return buses follow a similar schedule. Ask for details at the Himeji Station tourist office.

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