Pyrenees in Japan: Part 11 of our Inverted Coaster Series

(Note: all pictures in this article were originally courtesy of Flex.  The author visited Parque Espana in June 2016 and updated the article with new pictures)

In 1997, Parque Espana in Shima, Japan ordered from B&M the world’s longest Inverted Coaster, a record that amazingly stood until 2014.  The site selected were a thin and long strip of land to the left of the park entrance that could also branch out toward the entrance, so B&M went to work and came up with a layout that combined the best of Raptor and Batman: The Ride. The park is themed after areas of Spain and owned by Kintetsu, a large Japanese consortium.

The queue entrance is a stone chalet with the ride name on it:  Pyrenees.  You then go through the covered queue and reach the station, your typical metal box, but the park took care to cover the sides in carved stone, making it appear like the station belong to a mountain stone.  You board the white train and each of the three train has black seats and a different color of shoulder restraints.

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The ride entrance building. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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The ride entrance building and the spiral staircase leading to the mid course brakes.

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The waiting line behind the facade.

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Sign at the entrance of the ride. Note the 130 cm (51 inches) height restriction and the age restriction (10 to 60 years old).

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A look at the ride from across the park. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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A look at the lift hill and drop, behind the Carousel and dark ride building.

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The loading station. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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A look at the train with its modified restraints.

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A close up of the seats. The restraints were repainted and very shiny. The black pad was added to make sure smaller guests do not hit the head on the harder parts of the harness.

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What is this picture? The brown wheel in the foreground is what the train rolls on in the maintenance area and the white bar is what unlocks the restraints.

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A close up of the pad. The ride is not equipped with modified (double seat belts) seating.

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Above the V shaped frame, you can see the brake pads and a sensor.

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The operator console. The green portion on the left is what the operator will use in every day operation and the red part is used to shut down the ride and turn it on and off. The yellow console on the right is for maintenance operation.

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We went outside the park to shoot some pictures and came across the backside of the station.  You can see the back of one of the maintenance track and the stone facade.

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A look at the maintenance area from the station.

The ride track is white and the supports a beige color rarely seen on roller coasters.  After climbing the 147 feet lift hill, the train drops to the right like a giant version of the mirror Batman: The Ride.  It then goes through a tall loop, a long zero G roll and another giant vertical loop.  After, the train dips to the left in an intense turn that take us below grade.  A fast and intense Cobra Roll follows and what follows is completely unique:  a 360° spiral that go through the second Vertical Loop.

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The lift start. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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The train going up the lift hill.

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The train nearly at the top of the lift hill.

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The train going down the first drop.

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The first Vertical Loop.

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The start of the ride and the Flat Spin. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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The first loop and the Flat Spin in front of it. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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The Zero G Roll with the drop off the mid-course brakes.  The station is the mountain under the Zero-G-Roll. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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The Zero-G-Roll viewed from the other side of the park.

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The second Vertical Loop, behind the trees.

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The second Vertical Loop with the spiral going through it. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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A wide shot of four of the ride inversions.

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The intense and snappy Cobra Roll. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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The Cobra Roll above the trees.

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The train whipping through the Cobra Roll.

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A close-up of the second Vertical Loop.

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The train going through the Spiral.

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The train about to enter the mid-course brakes.

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The train going through the Spiral in the middle of the second Vertical Loop.

 

The train is slightly slowed on the mid-course brakes and then drops to the left in a sharp drop that leads to a stretched out flat spin.  A banked 180° turn then take us back the other side and the ride execute something that had never been done before on an Inverted Coaster: an airtime hill over the queue.  The ride then concludes with a right hand turn into the final brakes.

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The mid-course brakes.

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The intense drop off the mid-course brakes.

 

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You can see the airtime hill right over the entrance building. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.

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The Flat Spin.

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After the post Flat Spin turn, the train goes below grade.

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The bottom of the airtime hill.

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In this picture, you can clearly see where the track goes below ground.

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The airtime hill.

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The turn that leads to the final brakes.

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The last curve of the ride into the final brakes.

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The final brakes and pusher tires that control the train.

This ride is not well known outside of Japan as it is not near any major cities and going there using public transportation implies using at least one railway and a 15 minutes long bus ride.  The ride though is a gem and is considered among the top roller coasters in the world for those lucky enough to experience it. For those visiting the park, the Kintetsu railroad line coming from Nagoya and Osaka goes through Matsusaka, famous in Japan for its beef.  The writer stopped in Matsusaka after visiting the park and can state the beef is incredible and worth a trip on its own for those who enjoy steak. If you would like more information on Matsusaka beef, please send us an e-mail.

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