Visiting Fuji-Q Highland in Japan

By Kristofer Palmvik ·

Fuji-Q Highland near Mount Fuji, Japan, is the largest amusement park in Japan.

It is also a park where most of the large rollercoaster proudly display a Guinness World Records certificate (although none that is current), which is not that common after all.

So let me share some of my observations after visiting the park with a group of friends and family from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning this week.

🎟️ Tickets

Entry to the park is free. You can add a fee to your 1-day pass to get in 15 minutes earlier.

Inside the park you can either pay per ride (¥500-2000) or get a 1-day pass where unlimited rides on most attractions (but not some special things, like a large slider) are included. Prices vary during the year.

Early entry and possibly 1-day passes for your stay is included for guests at Highland Resort Hotel & Spa located next to the entrance.

🥸 Facial recognition

Fuji-Q use facial recognition for entry and ticket validation. After registering before entering the park, you will just need to scan your face to ride.

It works surprisingly well and removes the need for paper wristbands.

The facial scanners are placed a bit too low for a normal height westerner though, so you might have to kneel or duck to get your face within the camera frame.

⏳ Waiting times and queues

Fuji-Q is sometimes referred to as Fuji Queue due to the slow operations and the long queues.

But this is definitely not always the case. My last visit to the park was in April 2012, and just like during my last visit the park sometimes feels like a ghost town.

I understand that peak season and weekends with perfect weather are different. But off-season and with forecasted (but absent) rain the park just has So. Much. Empty. Space.

During our visit the queue time was typically around 10 - 20 minutes for the larger rides.

I would say that even with a low number of people in the park the sometimes inefficient procedures the staff follow still causes queues to build up.

Near the station platform you scan your face for ride entry and go through the metal detector. You are then given a number that corresponds to the row in the train. Staff really try to keep groups together and sometimes manage to fill empty stray seats too. Typically all the riders for two trains are taken through the pre-ride safety briefing together in a separate room or area.

The briefing includes the operator pointing at a sign with instructions such as “Look forward” and “Hold on”, demonstrating a chant that includes these instructions, and then expecting everyone to clap and chant along.

Sometimes this becomes almost comical, like when our completely non-Japanese speaking group were the only riders going through the briefing. Naturally we listened and clapped and chanted to the best of our ability without understanding a single word.

During our visit the staff would load one train and wait for the other to arrive back at the platform before sending it off. This obviously slows down the flow.

On late Sunday afternoon guests started traveling home, which left the rides virtually without any queue. Still, it takes a while to go through the safety briefing and loading procedure. You are never allowed to instantly re-ride by staying in the car or turning around on the platform.

On Monday afternoon the number of visitors increased, mostly groups of trendy Japanese youth. This increased the waiting time up to 40-60 minutes, which was a sign for us to do something else.

🧷 Loose items

Fuji-Q has a strict policy that you are not allowed to bring any items on the ride. This includes watches, phones, glasses, headwear, and even items stored in a closed pocket. Instead you have to leave everything in the free station platform lockers and put the lock wristband around your arm.

To enforce the rules you have to go through metal detectors and pat down your own pockets. Somewhat surprisingly this applies not only to extreme thrill rides, but also kiddie and water rides.

Since you cannot use your camera or phone on the platform it is obviously hard to take pictures there. I’m not sure if a body mounted camera would be accepted, but I guess not.

On the positive side the free station platform lockers make it really easy to bring a small bag with your valuables, accessories, and drinks.

🗣️ Language

Visiting the park if you don’t speak Japanese works great, as all signs are written in both Japanese and English (or sometimes easy enough to understand Engrish).

The staff know the most important words and instructions too, but don’t expect any deeper conversations.

🏨 Staying at Highland Resort Hotel & Spa

Staying at the official hotel next to the entrance was worth it for us, perhaps even for the fantastic view of Mt Fuji and roller coasters from the breakfast restaurant.

Our reservation for two nights included early entry to the park as well as 1-day pass (free rides) for three days.

Hotel guests are able to register their face inside the hotel at 8.30 and then queue up with the (relatively few) other hotel guests to enter the park early at 8.45.

There are usually two rides open between 8.45-9.00. The park then officially opens 9.00 for everyone.

🎢 Eejanaika

The 4D coaster with the most number of inversions in the world is a really fun and unique experience. The car follows the twisting track while the wing mounted seats rotates in a predefined pattern. Sort of like an enormous Zac Spin.

Despite its age it is still a surprisingly smooth ride that I really like. Be warned that it can feel like a bit too much with all the inversions, depending on your tolerance to rotation.

In addition to the usual restrictions you are not allowed to wear shoes.

Eejanaika had scheduled maintenance Monday to Friday this week, when a large crane was brought in to reach the highest sections of the track. Thankfully we got some good rides during Sunday afternoon.

🎢 Takabisha

Once known as the steepest roller coaster in the world, featuring a 121 degree dive.

The first part of the track includes an acceleration up a steep incline combined with a few twists and turns that feels a little bit rough.

Then it’s time for what you all came here for: a completely vertical lift hill (more like climbing up a wall) and then the record breaking dive.

The second part, after the dive, is a lot smoother than the first. It features a few loops before you are back at the station.

🎢 Fujiyama

This coaster is a classic thanks to its 1996 opening world record height of 79 meters, as well as the beyond beautiful view of Mt Fuji (on a clear day).

The first drop is great. Unfortunately halfway around the track the fun and excitement is replaced by pain. It shakes and vibrates and gives your neck the treatment I usually associate with old Vekoma coasters. Ouch.

If it was only possible to get off in the middle I would happily ride Fujiyama many more times.

🎢 Zokkon

The most recent addition to Fuji-Q is an Intamin family coaster opened last summer. It has a nice theme and features a reverse section combined with three accelerations.

The cars are designed to look like motor cycles with handlebars to hold on to, although you sit in a normal seat with a seatbelt and lap bar.

Each seat has onboard audio playing both a catchy soundtrack and sound effects that integrates well with the track.

This quickly became my favorite in the park. It is smooth and while not extreme it is still very enjoyable overall. You can easily ride it multiple times in a row.

🚧 Demolition of Do-Dodonpa

The demolition of Do-Dodonpa, once the fastest roller coaster in the world, is well underway. The large curve and the loop still stands while the structures around the station area were disappearing by the hour during our visit.

It will be interesting to see how the reclaimed space throughout the park will be used once the track is completely removed.

Currently a large number of paths seem to be blocked leading to detours to get for example between the entrance and Eejanaika.

🎠 Other rides

Apart from the large roller coasters there are a number of other rides too. A drop tower, a Ferris wheel, a swinger and a tower swinger, as well as a few more.

The water rides were a welcome break during the hot days. This includes an extremely short log flume, which basically only goes up and down into an enormous splash, and a more elaborate river rapid rise where you are guaranteed to be soaked.

🌟 Summary

All in all, Fuji-Q is a park I would highly recommend to visit if you happen to be around Japan. Avoiding the peak season and weekends might be a good idea though, since you will still be waiting.