Trip Report: Hirakata Park near Osaka, Japan

 Located halfway between Osaka and Kyoto, Hirakata Park is fairly small, and seems to be geared mostly towards families and children. As you can see, a couple groups were here to have some fun on the day of my visit, but they mostly stayed out of my way and crowds were pretty light.
 The first thing that catches your eye is this large mountain, which looks exciting but is just a place to walk around and explore. There is some kind of upcharge attraction inside, but it looked to be a game that required a good understanding of Japanese.
 Hmm. McDonalds. The park is terraced on a hill, and this particular path was flanked by a few restaurants, shops, and indoor attractions.
 A larger space further in the park has some outdoor rides, such as this double-decker carousel.
 Let's go for a nice train ride around the park, kids! Oh, look, a rock mountain! Wait, there's a giant face that's going to attack us! Ahhhh! You can get a glimpse of the first coaster sitting behind these tracks.
 Welcome to Fantasy Coaster Rowdy. It's not as thrilling as it seems. Mostly, the ride meanders back and forth and around the track without getting very fast. You could probably eat an ice cream cone and not get messy. Or play Jenga.
 I was even able to take a quick picture during the ride so you could see more of the rides in the plaza area.
 There really isn't much to this park as far as thrilling rides go. I was at the park all of about two hours, and that included making a couple trips around the park and trying some of the rides I'd normally ignore at other parks. Granted, with no lines, it's easy to finish everything fast. There is one wooden coaster, a rarity in Japan, and it's pretty good:
 It's called Elf. Or Wooden Coaster Elf. It's pretty fast and there are lots of nice quick twists and drops throughout the ride. It's pretty compact, going in and out of itself several times, and coming pretty close to the trees that surround it.
 Here's another look at the entryway and that mountain. It has a moat, too.
 Fantasy Coaster Rowdy. It really isn't as exciting as it looks. And it doesn't look exciting.
 Hirakata has a nice rose garden too, but you have to time your visit properly to see the flowers in bloom. They post details on their website.
 Here's another view of Elf. It really was an enjoyable coaster, and I rode it a few times.
 The park has two more good coasters, a drop ride, and a Disk'O.
 The large coaster here is Red Falcon. The track may be white, but the coaster trains are red. It's a standard Japanese Jet Coaster, meaning it's big and impressive looking but the thrill level is pretty low. Underneath it is the Crazy Mouse, which is fairly standard but enjoyable.
 Also hidden in a corner is the kid's coaster Rocco Korotto Uncle Frodo. I think this went faster than Rowdy.
With five coasters and a couple more thrill rides, the park has enough for coaster fans to be entertained for a couple hours. Unfortunately, even Elf isn't good enough to make me want to stay all day. But since it's fairly convenient to both Kyoto and Osaka, it's a good stop when traveling between them to add in some fun between temples.

The park generally opens at 10:00, closing at 17:00 or later. They close some days, especially during the off-peak season, so it's important to check the website. Admission with an all-day ride pass is 4400 yen; admission only is 840 yen. If you just want to ride each of the coasters once and do nothing else, it is cheaper to pay per ride (2600 yen plus admission if my math is correct), but if you add a couple re-rides to that list, it's better to just buy the all-day pass.

Access is pretty easy: Take the Keihan Main Line to Hirakatakoen Station and walk south about 5-10 minutes. The park is right next to the tracks and you'll see it on the right if you're coming from Osaka.

Note that the Keihan line doesn't serve Osaka Station; you'll need to transfer in one of various places using the Loop Line or the subway lines if you're coming from somewhere else in Osaka (total time from Osaka Station is under an hour). It also doesn't serve Kyoto Station, passing a little east of it. You can use the Kanasuma Line which becomes the Kintetsu Line to transfer, or cut your fare in half by using the JR Nara Line and transferring at Inari/Fukakusa Station or Tofukuji Station. From Kyoto, it takes about an hour.

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