Trip Report: Tobu Zoo Amusement Park

 You would think that with an amusement park only 20 minutes from my apartment, I would have been here before. You'd think wrong. It took me well over two years to take the train a few stops north to visit Tobu Dobutsu Koen, or Tobu Zoo. I've heard great things about their two big coasters, but that's the problem - the park doesn't have very much to offer me beyond the two key attractions.
From Tobu Dobutsu Koen Station, it's about a 10-15 minute easy walk. Entering from the east exit, closest to the train station, you're greeted by a couple small shops.
 Photo op! Have your picture taken in front of the hippos!
 Right next to the entrance is a large lake, with a view of a couple rides. The drop tower is closed right now.
 There's a train that goes from one end of the park to the other, and you see a station in the distance near the children's coaster. The track that goes off to the left continues to the park entrance.
 A cycle ride goes over this small lake, and Regina, the wooden coaster, towers in the distance.
 After passing the closed drop ride, you come to the ride area where you can board that cycle ride.
 Across from the station is a building that houses Galaxy Walkers, which is a mirror maze and game. You can either memorize a card or the mass of a ball, and then have to match it after navigating the maze. I did the ball game and won. You don't really get a prize.
 The park has an old Ferris wheel next to the cycle ride. It's non-operational and I'm guessing will be removed from the park in the somewhat near future.
 Music Express. I see a lot of these.
 Convoy, something else for the kids.
 Poor, lonely cycle ride.
 The first coaster I reached was Ladybug Coaster. It looks like ladybugs. Are you surprised?
 It's a standard kid's coaster, but they've planted several shrubs to probably give the illusion that you're a ladybug buzzing through a garden.

 In addition to the train and a bus, this structure holds a third transport ride. You'll see more on that later. Beneath it is some carnival-style games.
 And a few steps away is one of my new favorite coasters!
 This. Is. Kawasemi. It's awesome. Intense. Exciting. Small.
 Yes, it has a first drop of less than 100 feet, and doesn't quite reach 60 mph. But this coaster proves that good things can come in small packages!
 The carousel next door is a good place to watch. There's a path that goes around the carousel so you can see the coaster from a different angle:
 It sits over the water, but that's not why it's so good. Kawasemi is smooth and comfortable, but it also has strong forces both positive and negative.
 The picturesque carousel, also set over the water. Tobu Zoo has a lot of little lakes.
 Behind the transport ride/carnival game building, there's yet another lake.
 Have you ever wondered what teddy bears taste like? This is kumasan no kasutera. Kasutera translates as sponge cake.
 This building houses carnival games, Japan-style.
 Music games, with Japanese instruments!
 Ball toss games, with Japanese food!
 And Kawasemi!
 Moving on further west in the park, you get to a new area.
 The most important ride in this area is the new powered "Diggy and Daggy's Tram Coaster" kids coaster.
 It's not exactly thrilling, but it does give the park four coasters.
 Rockin' Tug. I've never been on a Rockin' Tug.
 I think these are pretty cool - fire trucks (and police cars?) that shoot water at a wall. It would be better only if there were points but then it wouldn't be for little kids anymore, would it.
 Here's a closer look at that transport ride. Up to four riders squeeze into a box topped by some mechanical sea creature. It moves at about walking speed, but it's good if you're tired or want to get a different view of the park. I'll take a ride later.
 Maybe I'll get steampunk octopus creature.
 Is this supposed to be a Dutch village?
 Tea cups!
 The train terminates at this kids area around the middle of the park. Instead of forming a loop, the train just runs back and forth on one line, and they turn the locomotive around at each terminus.
 Remember the old, closed Ferris wheel? They've essentially replaced it with a new cheese-themed Ferris wheel. Too bad you don't get free samples of cheese every time you ride.
 You can only see these cows by riding the Ferris wheel. They're hiding on the roof.
 The area around the Ferris wheel seems to mostly be pretty new. There are a few small rides on one side.
 The other side, however, has what looks like an old but still fun kids play area.
 Looking back east toward the large-ride area.
 We have yet to see Regina, the wooden coaster. I'll talk about it soon.
 In the newer area in front of the Ferris wheel, there's a small "farm" train.
 Next to the new kids coaster area is a large play area that's much better than that dirt-and-concrete-tube area seen earlier.
 There's the new kids coaster area. Can you spot the tea cup ride, Rockin' Tug, coaster, and Dutch buildings?
 Old time cars ride around another barnyard!
 There's a nice pond here, too, with the beginning of the zoo off in the distance.
 Goodbye, Ferris wheel!

Let's see animals. Enjoy the photos.

 Okay, back to the rides. Here are some views from that aquatic monster transport ride.

 There are hundreds of carp in the lakes, and there are several places to buy carp food. The monkey exhibit has monkey food, too, that you can toss to the animals.
 Somewhat out of the way is a space jet ride, and a theater with a Kamen Rider show. There's some work going on in this area.
 Finally, here's Regina, the park's wooden roller coaster.
 Like Kawasemi, I was pleasantly surprised by Regina. It's somewhat bouncy and rough, like most wooden coasters are, but not painful.
 It's certainly one of the best wooden coasters I've been on. I'm not sure if it's the best, though it has some good, fun moments.
 Goodbye, Regina. Maybe I'll name my daughter after you. If I ever have a daughter.
As I was leaving I snapped another picture of the ladybug coaster and this little ride. Yes, that is a sushi-mobile. I don't know how fast it goes.
 I rode Regina about 10 times, and Kawasemi well over a dozen. They are both outstanding rides, and I'd love to ride them all the time. The park is quite close and it's not too expensive to get there. Annual passes run about $200, though, and I can't see myself staying long enough on each visit to warrant coming back more than four times in a year. The two absolutely amazing coasters should be at the top of any coaster fan's list when visiting Japan. But without a good collection of other thrill rides the park isn't full enough.

It looks like they have been trying to improve the park lately, with the new kids rides areas. But I'd love to see some new good thrilling rides here. The website indicates that the drop ride is in the process of being removed. It doesn't need to be a Six Flags or Fuji-Q, but the park is in a good position to attract lots of visitors from the Tokyo area looking for some excitement.

Kawasemi is now my favorite coaster in Japan, but Tobu Zoo doesn't have enough to be my favorite park. But, again, it is a must-visit place for coaster fans.

From Tobudobutsukoen Station, it's a simple but somewhat-lengthy walk to the park. Don't forget there's a zoo here, and if you do more than just ride the coasters you can spend four to six hours here on a slow day. The park is usually open 9:30-17:00, or somewhere around that time. It does close occasionally, so check the Japanese-language website for specifics. Admission including a free pass is 4800 yen; admission only is 1700 yen.

No comments:

Post a Comment