Fuji-Q Highlands-The Audacious Family Park
My family and I love Fuji-Q Highland, and we aren’t even amusement park people. I think we might be the only family in Japan that has never been to Tokyo Disneyland. Fuji-Q Highland is the exception. We have been twice. Both times in winter, and both times loved it.
The English website is very comprehensive, so I’ll just tell you why we like it, and give you a couple of tips and suggestions.
The first thing we like is that it’s at the foot of Mount Fuji. “Fujisan” towers over “Fuji-Q” Highland, so, as you zip around the park on one of the fastest roller coasters in the world, stumble terrified out of the “Haunted Hospital”, or happen to glance up as you are ice-skating around a light-up winter wonderland, there it is. The approach to Fuji-Q is also very scenic, with nice views of the mountain and surrounding “Five lakes” area.
The second thing is the roller coasters. My husband loves roller coasters. The four record holding roller coasters: “Eejanaika, the fourth dimension roller coaster” that holds the world record for most number of spins, DODONPA (one of the fastest in the world), FUJIYAMA, “The king of roller coasters” and TAKABISHA (that holds the Guinness record for steepest drop in the world), are just his speed. Both times he has ridden all four of them by himself, and smiled like a kid for the rest of the day.
You can pay an extra 1,000 yen (per roller coaster) to get to the front of the line if you don’t want to wait. That sounds like a lot, but if you are short on time, and have the cash it’s worth the money. My husband did it last time, and it allowed him to spend more time with our family, instead of waiting in long lines for the roller coasters that were too scary for the rest of us.
There are lots of smaller roller coasters and thrill rides too; no matter what your age, or fear threshold, there will be plenty that are just right for you. My kids, nine and eleven, love the Mad Mouse roller coaster and some others that I realize are not on the “Attractions” page of the website. They are on the downloadable map though.
If you go on “Nagashimasuka”, the splash-ride with the giant gold cats (Maneki Neko), in winter, BUY THE RAIN COAT (100 yen)! You will get soaking wet if you don’t. In summer you might want to get wet, but in winter it could really spoil your fun.
There are winding, tree-lined paths between the attractions, and plenty of benches and places to sit and wait for friends or family members if you decide to split up and meet later.
You can buy crepes and kebab from little food trucks or eat in the main food court, where in addition to the usual junk food they have a local type of ramen and other Japanese specialties. There are vendors that have treats like “tayaki” and green tea, ice cream, and drink machines where you can buy hot and cold drinks sprinkled around the park.
Another thing we like about Fuji-Q is the “walk-through” attractions; Adventure Land of Kaiketsu Zorori where you can enter the "World of the Stories" created by Yutaka Hara, the author of a popular series of children’s books featuring the famous fox, Mizuki Shigeru's Ge-Ge-Ge Haunted Mansion based on a very popular anime inspired by Japanese folklore, EVANGELION:WORLD, also based on a popular anime series, and our favorite on this last trip, Ultimate Fort, billed as “The most difficult maze ever created, with a successful escape rate of only 1/1,000,000”. (Our family only lasted ten minutes, but enjoyed every second of it). Lastly, there’s the Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear. Here’s where I can really give you some valuable pointers.
- It’s long (fifty minutes to an hour).
- You have to do a lot of walking up and down stairs and down long corridors. I found myself resenting the physical effort required.
- It’s really scary for kids. My kids freaked out after the orientation, and bailed on us. My husband and I completed the whole thing. My husband, who loves roller coasters and scary movies and who I have never seen scared, was terrified. I was feeling smug until I wet my pants running down a corridor screaming.
- If you, or someone in your group does freak out, you can say “Retire” to one of the (actually, quite kind) psycho killers. My kids were screaming “Retire! Retire!” with tears running down their faces when one of the “maniacs” politely showed them to the exit.
- There is a vending machine that sells “charms” in front of the entrance. They are 500 yen, and (I really wish we had known this), if you show your charm to the maniac chasing you, he will back off.
- The Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear costs an extra 500 yen even if you have the day pass. You buy your ticket from the same vending machine at the entrance that sells the charms. That’s 500 yen if you want to be scared to death, 1,000 yen if you just want to be scared half to death.
As night falls, the whole park lights up in brilliantly colored lights and in winter the water feature in front of the food court turns into a lit-up ice-skating rink. It has become a fledgling family tradition to rent ice skates (1,000 yen) and skate around for an hour or so after dark, taking in the lights before we head home.
Throw in gift shops with unique souvenirs and cool T-shirts, a Gaspard and Lisa replica of a “Paris neighborhood” with an upscale gift shop, “French Bistro”, and “French bakery” (near the entrance), a bowling alley (just outside the front gate-pay separately), and an on-site hot spring hotel, and you have an authentic Japanese theme park that is jam packed with culture, thrills and fun for everyone in the family.
There is a really good package deal from Tokyo called “Q-PACK”.
It includes a round trip express bus ticket from Shinjuku and a day pass to the theme park. 6,700 yen Adults (18 and over), 6,500 yen Students (12-18), and 4,250 yen Children (3-12). Reading the fine print I see that you can book your return ticket for up to seven days after your departure. That means you could spend a night or more at the on-site hotel and explore the area around Mount Fuji. The hotel website has a good list of surrounding attractions.
If you are already planning a trip to Mount Fuji, this could be an inexpensive (and fun) way to get there. Considering there is so much to do at Fuji-Q, it would make sense to stay at least one night at the hotel (room rates start at 12,000 yen) and return to Tokyo the next day.
If you are on a budget, just taking the round-trip bus and squeezing in as much as you can in one day is also well worth the effort, a very good deal, and if you go on even one of the record-holding roller coasters you will have bragging rights for a lifetime.