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Spread across multiple levels of the hillside are a variety of modern flat rides and water rides. Pachanga Panic Control is a 1,300ft-long rapids ride while Bassh is the park’s log flume, which travels through a jungle landscape.


Hills & Thrills


Thanks to its close proximity to Red Falcon half way up the hillside, the 160ft tall Giant Meteor Drops freefall tower from Intamin is extra thrilling, offering terrific views of the park for those riders brave enough to keep their eyes open. The tower ride forms the centrepiece of the thrill ride section of the park. Right next to it is Kings Round and Round, a Zamperla Disk ‘O’ and Super Tomahawks, a double arm Ranger which provides the only inversions in the park. For those too scared to give Giant Meteor Drops or Super Tomahwaks a try, the Skywalker Ferris Wheel stands 260ft-tall and offers passengers un-obscured views of the park and the local neighbourhood.


The lowest level of the park is arguably the least picturesque and it is here that the majority of family rides can be found, including the unusual Adventure Safari. Riders on this unpolitically correct (to Westerners) experience board jeeps equipped with rifles and venture through the jungle shooting at animatronic elephants, tigers and other wild


animals. According to the park you are actually supposed to be shooting aliens(!) and not the animals, but this isn’t obvious and it feels more like a hunting trip. Also featured in this area of the park are Panic Racer, a Zamperla Demolition Derby and Burning Fight, a Fire Brigade by the same manufacturer. Hiirakata Park is also home to a collection of small animals including alpacas, squirrel monkeys and red pandas – fortunately not for hunting. Meanwhile many older guests enjoy the rose garden featuring 4,000 flowers of 600 international varieties. Flowers also feature in the Hirakata Chrysanthemum dolls exhibition each autum, where life size dolls are decorated in traditional costumes made from Chrysanthemums. Features such as these can be enjoyed for a modest entry price, rides operating on a pay as you go basis. Hirakata Park is a wonderful example of a traditional Japanese amusement park. It has something to offer every age and while it may never rival big budget venues like Universal Studios, its homely charm, scenic location, vast and unusual array of rides, should ensure the park continues to be successful. Long may it continue as the country’s oldest continually operating amusement park.


www.hirakatapark.co.jp


Giant Meteor Drops


Peekaboo Town


DECEMBER 2011/JANUARY 2012


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