Yomiuriland – Home of Bandit, the Original Mega Coaster

Alexander: We’re back in Tokyo to check out one of the city’s largest parks, Yomiuriland. Located next to the Yomiuri Giants baseball stadium, Yomiuriland has an enormous spread of quirky and notable attractions.

– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you! –

Big Ferris Wheel = we’re in the right place!

Bandit makes a massive impression upon entering the park.

First order of business after procuring Bandit quick passes: MomomgaStanding and Loop Coaster.”

As the name implies, riders both stand and loop on Momonga. Originally debuting in 1979 as a standard coaster, a prototype stand-up train was added to the Togo looper in 1982, making it the oldest stand-up in the world.

Behold, Yomiuriland’s beautiful Intamin Looping Starship. You’ll see a lot of pics of this thing in this report because, frankly, I’m obsessed with it.

And then there’s Bandit, which *looks* amazing. If it had trains like Fujiyama, it probably would be.

But unfortunately, Bandit’s over-the-shoulder-restraints and peculiarly-small seat molds (complete with a very obtrusive “seat horn”) really hinder the ride.

Bandit is credited with being the original hyper-coaster-style ride. With a drop of 167ft, nearly a mile of track, and a record-breaking speed of 68.3mph, Bandit‘s remarkable dimensions were the inspiration for Magnum XL 200 (CNN coverage of Bandit’s opening day grabbed the attention of newly-promoted Cedar Fair President Dick Kinzel). Cedar Point originally considered Togo for the project (among other designers), but the relatively weak USD at the time made Arrow Dynamics the more cost-effective choice.

BONUS CREDIT: Yomiuriland features the first of a few “cycle railway” rides on our trip, which are very popular in Japan. Many include lift hills, drops, brake runs, and even shallow inclines. If Alpine Coasters are credits, then so are these. ^_^

There are a lot of great coaster names in Japan, but Yomiuriland’s kiddie coaster is one of the best: Wan Wan Coaster Wandit.

Yomiuriland’s colorful dog mascot is omnipresent. You never know where he might pop up!

Bandit, despite its awesome size and length, only ran one train on our visit. 

Even at 30 years old, it still places in the Top 5 for Japan’s longest, tallest, and fastest coasters.

While coaster helices often read as a waste of space to most enthusiasts,  Bandit’s helix is an alarming focal point. Steady banking of the track attempts to prepare riders for being slammed into the upward spiral at a good 40-ish mph.

A recent expansion of Yomiuriland features factory-themed major attractions with lots of detail and surprises! Definitely a clever way to expand your park while honoring local noise restrictions.

Inside the Fashion Factory is Spin Runway, a remarkable custom Gerslauer spinning coaster that opened in 2016.

An elaborate larger-than-life queue features tons of artifacts related to clothesmaking.

I’m surprised it took this long for a doorway themed to a fly to appear. This would be a great gimmick for a night club.

The wait for Spin Runway was tedious (we later realized that quick pass distribution was doing serious damage to the standby queue), but at least there’s a lot to see in here!

Take selfies with a “fashion camera” and turn yourself into a work of art!

Say cheese!

As we played around with the cameras, we could hear Spin Runway all around us. Turns out the queue is actually in a tunnel surrounded by coaster track.

The ride really stood out to us. SPOILERS AHEAD!

It starts with a great dark ride sequence that follows the process of fashion being made from raw materials (lots of practical effects and audio animatranoics!). You then approach a spiral lift hill (a la Zamperla Volares) enveloped by a cylindrical screen upon which riders play a video game (with color-coded buttons on the lap bars); the object is to dress the Yomiuriland dog (or his friends) in the fashions of your choice. A thrilling coaster sequence follows (with more effects, black-lights, sounds, etc) and culminates with a runway show-themed brake run. AMAZING STUFF, GUYS.

Next door is the Nissin factory, where an outrageous spinning raft slide / rapids ride awaits! Like Spin Runway, you follow the processing of raw materials into the product of interest (in this case, it’s Nissan’s UFO-brand instant ramen). YOUR RAFT IS THE BOWL OF INSTANT RAMEN, GUYS. There’s also a video game component where above-raft screens (situated at 3 of the ride’s block sections) host a heated battle against a villain themed to a metal fork. Probably the favorite ride of the day.

There’s also a car factory attraction where you customize your own vehicle (with body mods you install yourself!) and then take it for a spin! Plus a non-coaster-credit elevated railway thing and a kinetic sculpture that could be watched for hours on end.

Did we mention Yomiuriland also has a massive water park? Honestly, despite only having 4-6 coaster credits (depending on how you count), I think Yomiuriland wound up being one of the largest parks of the trip.

Check it out! It’s the backside of Momonga!

Despite the ride’s two trains and short duration, queuing for Momonga is a tedious process: each side of the ride’s sliding station has an independent queue, and only one side can load/dispatch/unload at a time.

In our heads we were picturing something like Mr. Freeze or Zombie Ride, but with only one actual sliding track platform (as opposed to Premier’s double platform system), Momonga feels like waiting in line for a 1-train op coaster dispatching at a glacial pace.

In Japan, it’s always ice-cream-o’clock.

Here’s a good look at the cycle railway/coaster’s vehicles! Yes, you’ll stall out if you don’t pedal part of your way back to the station, but a LOT of the ride is powered by gravity alone! #credit

Babe is madly in love with the fried potato-and-mayo skewer he found.

Oh look, another area of the park we haven’t even explored yet. They have a modern recreation of a Tumble Bug!

With all major rides and credits procured, a Ferris Wheel ride was definitely in order.

Like a lot of Japan’s regional parks, Yomiuriland has suffered from a sort of “amusement park slump” that was ushered in by a handful of industry-related incidents and an economic downturn.

Some really great Japanese parks have closed in the last 10 years due to various financial setbacks and expensive changes to maintenance regulations. Yomiuriland is one of few Japanese regional parks to not only stay afloat during these hardships, but actually grow their park with major attractions.

Alas, if you feel like Yomiuriland still has a few holes in their coaster collection, you’re not wrong – the park’s suffered from a major net loss of coasters so far this decade. A family coaster located in Bandit’s infield was retired in 2011; their woodie, the dreadful Togo / RCCA Cy-clone (with Morgan trains!) White Canyon, was demolished in 2013 to make way for a custom S&S/Sansei El Loco called Twist Coaster Robin.

On opening day, Twist Coaster Robin suffered a lift hill malfunction that resulted in a car sliding back down the lift and colliding with a car in the station. Though there weren’t any injuries, Yomiuriland suspended operation of the ride indefinitely. It was demolished in 2016, just days before the opening of Spin Runway.

The park opened White Canyon, their 6th coaster (7th if you count the cycle railway), for their 40th season. Twist Coaster Robin opened on the park’s 50th anniversary (insult, meet injury), and now, in its 55 year, the park has only Bandit, Spin Runway, Momonga, and Wan Wan. With the string of successes they’ve had since 2015, though, we’re confident the park will finally see long-term growth for their coaster collection. 

We hope you enjoyed this installment of “Ferris Wheel History Lessons”.

Wan Wan Coaster Wandit isn’t much to look at during the day, but at night the field of Christmas lights under the ride makes for quite the display. The train lights up too!

Despite my fascination with the space shuttle-themed Intamin Looping Ships, this was my first time actually riding one. The hardware brought back happy memories of Flashback at Six Flags Magic Mountain (I know having “happy” and “Flashback at Magic Mountain” in the same sentence is a shock for some of you, but 6-year-old me was nothing if not enamored with Flashback).

After my first ride on Patriot at California’s Great America, I couldn’t decide how I felt about counting it as a credit; I took the question to social media, and I was met with the overwhelming opinion that Vortex/Mantis and Patriot/Rougarou are unique credits per the dramatic alteration of the ride experience. Bearing that in mind, I couldn’t see why Momomga wasn’t deserving of the same treatment, so 2 credits it is! 

As if the black/white/blue paint job wasn’t enough, the perfect neon sign is pure Instagram goals.

This was actually Sean’s first Togo stand-up; we both enjoyed it a lot more than we thought we would, and agreed that the standing train is the superior experience.

I’ve ridden several of the pirate-themed Intamin Looping Ships, but this was only my second time actually seeing one of the space shuttle variety in person (the first was Six Flags Over Georgia’s Looping Starship, which I failed to appreciate at the time).

Basically we stood and took pictures in this exact spot for a good half hour as the evening turned to dusk. I mean, how could we not?? Look at these visuals!

Alright. Enough obsessing over “MomongaStarship Corner” – t’s time for us to depart!

I really enjoyed this park. My fingers are crossed that they build a major coaster some time in the next few years!

Actually, before they build a new coaster, they should really put new trains on Bandit. Please. I want to love this ride!

In the Yomiuriland gift shop you can buy your own personal Ferris Wheel or rocket ride!

Goodnight, sweet prince.

That concludes our visit to one of Japan’s most fascinating parks; whatever Yomiuriland has in store for the future, we at least know it’ll be compelling!

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