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Takabisha Review, Fuji-Q Highlands, Japan

Takabisha is a modern day thriller, and the closest yet i’ve seen to an all in one thrill ride.

What do I mean by “all in one” specifically? It’s got a pre-launch dark ride section you literally barrel roll through, it’s got a huge launch, heaps of pops of airtime, inversions galore, even a break midway through to catch your breath before heading up a slightly nerve-racking vertical lift followed by a world-record holding 112 degree beyond vertical drop. All this in a single ride. Impressive? With a big caveat, it’s one of the most solid bang for buck rides i’ve been on.

Recently the world has taken a break from pursuing being the tallest or fastest so and so and instead have switched gears into being more innovative with what they can do with less money. The result? More then ever rides like Adventure World’s Abyss roller-coaster have started to pop up in the fray, offering riders something action packed from parks that traditionally have been unknown for buying big thrill rides. How is this happening? Long story short, ride designers & manufacturers like Gerstlauer (who produced both Abyss & Takabisha) have innovated by being ingenius with their design. Gone are long and expensive lift hills replaced instead by a vertical lift hill with a far smaller foot print. Also gone are your traditional roller-coaster trains, instead replaced by smaller, more agile eight-seater buggies that are able to whizz through tighter, smaller elements more efficiently. This means not needing to accommodate a large difference of g-force riders might experience at any given time between the front and the back of a more traditional train and thus being able to pack more punch in more quickly.

So then, what if you had a park that instead of having a small amount of funds had a huge stack of cash and chose to upscale small design and big bang for buck concepts into behemoth design and epic bang for buck? That’s the theory behind Takabisha, and for the most part, it plays off well.

Given it’s the park’s latest offering, after waiting what will feel like an eternity, you’ll be given a chance to board and ride into immediate darkness. Much like Abyss, you’ll plummet into darkness and straight into a barrel roll. It’s here where things get interesting. Where most coasters either offer a cool vertical drop or a neat, fast paced launch, Takabisha does both. Just as you’re seeing the light, you’re dropped into a launch and smashed out of the tunnel and into a myriad of upside down turns and crazy elements. They’re huge elements too, the launch allows you to hit a nearly thirty metre tall inversion right off the bat. But here’s where the trade-off begins. Little trains doing big inversions don’t handle the intense g-forces as well as larger trains with more room and as a result the experience is shaken into you at the bottom of every drop as you and the ride attempt to wiggle your way through every turn. It’s not enough to be a concern, but it is enough to distract you from what you’re experiencing, which should be one of the most endless back to back series of elements you’ll ever come across bar none.

By the time you’re nearly done, you’re given some respite and placed delicately onto the vertical lift hill where you’ll be offered one of the most brilliant views of Mount Fuji you’ll ever experience (trumped only by Fujiyama) before being placed on the edge of a 112 degree drop, essentially cutting back in on itself upside down before dropping you into the rest of the ride.

All in all it’s a fantastic coaster hampered by some bumpy roads in the middle. The good news? Bumpy rides are caused by many things that are easily fixed. Softer profile tyres, having a warmer track, riding later in the day and even not having a hangover (to which I admittedly had) are all things that can change the experience and what I might have experienced may totally be different for someone else. In which case, it could come close to being one of the ultimate coasters in the world.

Hot Tips

  • Buy a fast pass for this ride or risk missing out
  • Ride later in the day or without a hangover

Getting to Takabisha

Takabisha is located inside Fuji-Q Highlands, you can read more about Fuji-Q here.