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Dodonpa Review, Fuji-Q Highlands, Japan

Dodonpa is a beast.

It’s by no means what typical thrill-seekers define as a top ten roller-coaster, but it also holds a special place as one of the last of a bygone era where manufacturers pushed ride design into the unknown and beyond in the pursuit of the ultimate thrill.

While Dodonpa may no longer hold its title to being the world’s fastest roller-coaster, it does continue to uphold a little known claim to fame in the world of roller-coasters. It’s acceleration, at a whopping 0-172kph in two seconds, gives it the title of the world’s fastest acceleration by a country mile. It hits tops speed faster then today’s formula one beasts and it definitely beats anything you’ll see on the road past or present. It does this by using more hot air then an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians to push riders out of the launch tunnel with chest-buckling force. To say the launch is unexpected or intense is an understatement, I liken it to having the wind knocked out of you, albeit for a brief moment. What you’re left with when you leave the launch tunnel is a few moments of high-speed bliss, enough to take in what’s going on, but not enough to contemplate what’s up next.

Dodonpa takes a sudden dip into a gigantic curve around the lower half of the park. While it may seem majestic, the pneumatic aircraft tyres (an anomaly amongst modern high-speed coasters) essentially jiggle and bounce you around the course before hitting the top hat. At this point, you’re going a little too fast for the forty-something metre vertical spike that lays ahead. As you hit the first half of the tower you’re greeted with a few sets of “kachunks”, gigantic friction brakes that jolt you with a sense of hurried urgency before you hit the crest of the top hat. When you hit the top and are ejected from the seat, it’s when you realise Dodonpa is a ride not to be reckoned with. It’s negative g-force is unlike anything else i’ve experienced. It felt too fast for its own good, in a surprisingly amazing, out of control kind of way. Racing down the other side of the top hat you’re being pushed so far away from the seat and into the lap bar you start to appreciate that the ride has an abnormal amount of padding resting between you and the restraint. Before long, you’re racing into a final turn and into the brakes.

As far as thrill rides go, Dodonpa is an endurance game. It’s nothing like it’s modern predecessors, and that’s a great thing. Undoubtedly, there’s a plethora of thrills that are taller, bigger and faster, and even more enjoyable then Dodonpa. To me Dodonpa is like a V8 Corvette. Its loud, it guzzles fuel and it’s a questionable purchase in comparison to something more practical like a much more economical four cylinder Mercedes. But the Corvette, much like Dodonpa, isn’t about practicality, it’s about the pursuit of the feeling you get when you put your foot down and push something to the limit. And just because something faster or more high-tech comes along doesn’t necessarily mean the older model still can’t take the new kid on the block to town. Dodonpa then is something worth appreciating. Its comfort and noise are serious caveats, but for all its faults the sensation of that launch is still unparalleled.

Hot Tips

  • Buy a fast pass for this ride or risk missing out
  • Ride the front It’s one coaster you’ll need to to take it all in. You won’t regret it.

Getting to Dodonpa

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

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