Fujikyu Highlands park in Japan opened to the world the park's newest steel coaster in the winter of 2001 and completely blew away thrill seekers--Literally. Dodonpa is the second ride ever at any park to use the power of compressed air to launch riders off. Coming from S&S Power and following the initial 'Thrust Air 2000" model to arrive on the scene, the only other ride to utilize this technology was HyperSonic XLC at Kings Dominion which blasted passengers off with an acceleration of 0 to 80 miles per hour in 1.8 seconds. HyperSonic's successor at Fujikyu Highlands takes acceleration to a whole new extreme with an initial launch of 0 to 107 miles per hour in just 1.8 seconds. At the time it first opened, Dodonpa broke both the world records for speed and acceleration for a closed-circuit steel coaster (see our Special Listings for the new record holders). And as if the launch isn't enough to satisfy the need for speed, Dodonpa immediately dips off of the launch area into a highly-banked wide-radius curve, followed by a completely vertical 17-story ascent as well as decent. Preceding the construction of the coaster, Fujikyu did away with their shuttle-looping Moonsault Scramble, the ride with the only Pretzel Boomerang inversion in the world, to free up enough room for Dodonpa in the densely-packed park, and threaded other portions of the track over pathways, through tunnels and around existing rides to further enhance the one-hundred-plus mile per hour speeds to give the ultimate thrill experience to the riders of Dodonpa.
Once seated in the 4-row, 2-abreast, 8-passenger train, riders must secure S&S Power's unique lap-and-leg restraint to firmly hold them in place. Once clear for takeoff, the train moves from the loading station and rounds a 45-degree turn to the launch area. Air dried and compressed, launch mechanism clicked into place underneath the train, it's time to let the train fly. All at once, the train rockets forward, accelerating at a record 67 miles per hour a second until the 107-miles an hour of speed are achieved. Dodonpa reaches the end of the launch strip in no time and dips downwards at breakneck speed, simulating a jet's takeoff from an aircraft carrier. Speeding ahead, it's around the steep banking of the first 180-degree U-curve next and whizzing through a glass tunnel. Within seconds, the train reaches the centerpiece vertical hill and begins an effortless 90-degree vertical curve to the sky. Shooting upwards, Dodonpa hits the crest of the hill and rounds a wide-radius transfer of 180 degrees. After staring at the sky on the way up, riders get a good look at the ground as the white track leads down - straight down. After leveling out, the coaster quickly banks through a left-hand turn followed by a right-handed turnaround into the final brakes.