FAILED Roller Coasters - Do-Dodonpa at Fuji-Q Highland (Fastest Acceleration EVER)

FAILED Roller Coasters - Do-Dodonpa at Fuji-Q Highland (Fastest Acceleration EVER)

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- [Narrator] Epilepsy warning for flashing lights and colors. Do-Dodonpa at Japan's Fuji-Q Highland. First opening in the year 2000, this coaster still holds the all-time record for fastest roller coaster acceleration ever, going from zero to 112 miles per hour in just 1.6 seconds. However, just recently, it closed for good after passengers reported broken bones after riding. You may be wondering how a coaster that operated for over 20 years is a failure. Let's find out today on Theme Park Crazy.

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Our story begins in 1999, with the introduction of the Thrust Air 2000 roller coaster by American Manufacturer S&S Power. Built at S&S's testing facility in Logan Utah, this prototype coaster utilized an air-launch system to rocket passengers from zero to 80 miles per hour in 1.8 seconds. Similar to the system used on the company's space shot rides, it was extremely unique for the time.

The launch involved several massive air compressors, which filled a large canister on the launch platform with compressed air. Once released, the air would shoot against a piston connected to a steel cable. This cable was connected to a part known as a launch dog, which the ride vehicles would latch onto.

Once the air was released, it would push against the piston, pulling the launch dog and launching riders forwards. Its simple oval-shaped layout consisted of nothing more than a top had and a couple banked turns, but the sheer force of the acceleration made it unlike anything else at the time. This wasn't just your average thrill ride, it was an air force level experience that shot guests at a force once thought unimaginable.

At least on a rollercoaster. Those who got to ride it highly praised the launch's intensity, and naturally, potential buyers were interested in purchasing such an extreme thrill ride for their own parks. At the dawn of the new millennium, two buyers came forward to purchase this attraction.

The first was Paramount Parks, who opted to purchase the prototype straight off the testing grounds and modify it to fit within the space they had in mind. Though originally intended for Paramount's Great America in California, those plans fell through, and the coaster ended up at Virginia's Kings Dominion. This coaster would be known as the Hypersonic XLC, which we've covered before on failed coasters. The second park to give this concept a shot was Fuji-Q Highland in japan's Yamanashi prefecture. Fuji-Q wanted something especially thrilling to help define itself as a top coaster destination for Japan. And with this new-fangled coaster model, they sought out to go big or go home.

And thus, the development began for Dodonpa. While the Hypersonic XLC hit a top speed of 80 miles per hour, Fuji-Q officials likely pushed to go even faster, a goal shared by S&S founder Stan Checketts. How much faster? Well, around 25%.

Or in simpler terms, they went from zero to 80 miles per hour in 1.8 seconds to zero to zero to 107 miles per hour, once again in 1.8 seconds. This would not only break the record for the fastest roller coaster at the time, but it would hold the all time record for the fastest roller coaster acceleration ever, a record that not even the much-discussed Falcon's Flight coaster is set to break. To put it lightly, this record would make engineering the coaster a true challenge, especially since S&S had just gotten into the coaster market with this model.

Engineers worked tirelessly on this coaster, eager to have it ready for a 2001 opening. However, the development and construction of this ambitious attraction was fraught with challenges and delays. Engineering the ride proved to be as hard as sitting through a 2010s live action Adam Sandler movie.

Well, except for "Uncut Gems." That was amazing. One of the biggest challenges involved technical issues with the launch mechanism. More specifically, engineers encountered difficulties in fine-tuning the system to deliver the desired speed and acceleration desired, all while ensuring smooth and consistent performance. This led to delays in the coaster's opening as engineers worked tirelessly to overcome technical hurdles and optimize the launch. Another major issue arose from friction between the steel cables used in the launch system.

This friction lead to premature wear and tear. Because of this, engineers had to develop innovative solutions to prevent the cables from rubbing together, which further delayed the coaster's opening. Eventually, the crew was able to fix most of issues, and Dodonpa opened to the public in December 2001.

This opening was highly anticipated by the public. (singing in foreign language) - [Narrator] The ride experience went as followed. In the station, guests were greeted with the sound of Japanese Taiko Drums. This sound was where the ride got its name from.

Guest started off by boarding one of four trains. Each represented a member of the Dodonpa family. Father, mother, sister, and baby. Each one with a distorted face, stretched out with the power of the launch. Definitely some of the most creative train designs ever. That said, the designs were later changed to leopard, zebra, snake, and Dusty Rhodes.

Just kidding, strawberry. The strawberry and leopard designs, in turn, were later changed to a spectacular Cherry Blossom design and what looks like an elderly shoe with glasses. The latter of which was part of a unique advertising campaign for the park involving disturbing looking shoes.

After exiting the station, riders entered a tunnel. Here, the train would hook onto the launch system, and after a countdown, the train would shoot forwards, exerting insane G-forces on passengers. A long straight section of track would follow, before a lengthy banked turn to the right. Up next was the ride's signature element, a large top hat.

This element, like the one on the prototype, provided world-class airtime that launched passengers out of their seats, with only a lap bar restraint system keeping them in. After descending the top hat was a short banked turn to the left and an upwards straight section. Afterwards, passengers reached a block brake run, where they would have their photos taken. Oddly enough, this ride ends with two slow banked turns before hitting the final brake run. Thus ended the short but sweet ride experience. Almost immediately, this attraction became a bucket list coaster for enthusiasts all over the world for its record-breaking launch and its air time.

Though its speed record was broken two years later by Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster, its air launch was still much more powerful than Dragster's Hydraulic launch. Many enthusiasts compared the launch to being hit in the back by a semi-truck, and labeled it as a true heart-pounding sensation. But while this coaster was widely sought after, it still had its flaws. The main problem critics had with this coaster was the loss of momentum after the initial launch. While no one could deny the launch was world-class, the ride didn't maintain its speed that well afterwards.

Even worse were the rubber tires on the trains. During the initial design process, S&S realized that standard polyurethane wheels would generate way too much noise at such a high speed and acceleration. This would have made the coaster a much harder sell to parks.

So to reduce this potential noise, S&S decided to use the same kind of air-filled rubber tires found on aircrafts. This seemed all well and good, but there were two big problems. First of all, the inflatable tires were susceptible to being crushed by the high forces of the ride, making it the only coaster model capable of getting a flat tire. Second, the tires caused the trains to bounce along the track, not off the track, but enough to make the course uncomfortable for passengers. Many criticized the bounciness for being a buzzkill after such an exciting launch. Adding to the ride's problems was the launch system.

One important aspect of the system was its ability to adjust based on the weight of the passengers on board. This adjustment was crucial, but its accuracy was a mixed bag at first. Both underpowering and overpowering the launch lead to issues with the ride's performance. An overpowered launch, put excessive stress on the coaster's structure, especially on the top hat. On the other hand, an underpowered launch resulted in the coaster not achieving the desired speed.

This meant the train would barely crest the top hat, or even roll back. This is where the layout was inherently flawed, as the track section before the top hat was at a low point in the ride and pretty far away from the station. This meant there was no easy way to get the train back to the station if it didn't make the top hat or the loop. Most launch coasters start by launching passengers straight into the largest element. That way, if the train rolls back, they could just evacuate guests on the launch platform and roll the train back to the station.

But with Dodonpa, if the train rolled back, the ride would have to shut down for an extended period of time while the train was either disassembled off the track or winched back to the station. This is a lengthy process and the same kind of problem that the Mr. Freeze coasters still face today. Capacity was another problem the park faced. According to S&S, the top capacity of the ride, with four trains in operation, is 960 guests per hour, with each train only seating eight people. This, in addition to the occasional downtime led to extremely long lines. In spite of all these issues, the ride was still incredibly popular, and people were willing to overlook everything to experience that impressive launch.

As the years went on, the ride as a whole proved to be much more reliable than its sister attraction in Virginia, which ended up closing for good in 2007. As it stood, Dodonpa reigned supreme as a must-do attraction for thrill seekers, and it lasted all the way into the 2010s. But in 2016, park officials planned a major change for the attraction. That year, the coaster was closed for an unspecified refurbishment.

Behind the scenes, park officials decided they wanted to make the ride even faster. This was likely intended to put the coaster back in the spotlight and offer a fresh experience with the same overall ride. Plus, instead of spending something like the $32 million they invested in Takabisha, they could spend less than a third of that on refurbishing Dodonpa. To increase the ride's speed though, several changes were necessary. Believe it or not, the most notable change wasn't the launch itself, but rather the new set of trains. Aside from a new visual design and a new restraint system, we'll get to that in a bit, these new trains had a much lighter composition.

While the old trains were 4.6 tons, these new ones were over 1,300 pounds lighter, weighing in at just four tons. The lighter trains would therefore be launched at a faster speed without having to drastically change the launch itself. All in all, the new ride experience would be five miles per hour faster than before, and would from there on out go from zero to 112 miles per hour in just 1.6 seconds. But with higher speeds come greater forces.

Somewhere in the development process, officials realized the top hat tower would be unable to handle the increase in G-forces. So to put less stress on the track, and allow them to go faster, it was decided to replace the tower with a new vertical loop element. This new inversion was not only more suitable for the intensified experience, but it gave the ride something new for the park to market. After months of development and construction, the newly named Do-Dodonpa opened to the public on July 15th, 2017 with a grand re-opening. During this event, the first 1,000 people received a boarding certificate with the ride's new logo on it. I can only imagine what something like this would go for on Ebay.

Collectables aside, the new ride actually received a mixed response from enthusiasts. Many felt the ride wasn't a substantial improvement over the previous version, with the loop being seen as an inferior element compared to the airtime packed top hat. Moreover, many agreed that the ride didn't really feel that much faster than it was previously. Another criticism was the new restraint system. While the original trains had lap bars, these new vehicles had over the shoulder restraints. Most likely, these were intended to limit movement and reduce the risk of injury by keeping guests' upper bodies in place and against the seat during the launch.

Parkgoers and amusement bloggers criticized the restricted feeling of the new restraints, saying they heavily preferred the old lap bars. Not only did the coast now face criticism, it had to be shut down three times on opening day for around 30 minutes each due to mechanical adjustments. The next day, one of the trains got a flat tire, and it was unable to complete the loop. This was literally the same issue from before, just with a different element.

This flat tire caused the ride to be closed the following day for replacement and testing, before reopening on July 18th. Aside from these issues, it seemed like this coaster would have a renewed run at the park, and with an even faster acceleration, this only strengthened the resolve of enthusiasts searching for the ultimate thrill. Over the years, the coaster was pretty much the most sought-after one trick pony in the world.

Aside from the unbeatable launch, many still criticized the bumpiness of the rubber tires, saying most of the ride didn't live up to the hype. Still, the sheer force of the acceleration was enough to many enthusiasts book a trip to Japan. Unbeknownst to many though, this newly refurbished coaster was on borrowed time, and it would be less than four years before the ride's biggest problem made itself known. From December 2020 to August 2021, there were a reported 18 injuries sustained from riding Do-Dodonpa.

Worst of all, nine of those injuries resulted in broken bones. These fractures included chest, back and even neck bones. These are some of the most dangerous fractures one can get, and officials naturally responded to these reports with great concern.

The ride was closed down indefinitely in August, and an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the injuries. The reports of a roller coaster literally breaking bones led to an influx of negative press around the world, with the park receiving widespread backlash. Even Yamanashi governor Kotaro Nagasaki expressed anger that the park didn't report the injuries to the local government sooner. Unfortunately, one of the people who reported their injuries was also the subject of backlash.

In 2021, a 21 year old woman named Moeka went on a local news station to discuss how she fractured her C2 vertebrae on the ride. This bone is found in the neck close to the skull. Soon after her appearance, viewers accused her of faking her injuries. These viewers looked up her Twitter page, and saw photos of her smiling and enjoying daily life shortly after she claimed to ride the coaster. As a result, she received hateful messages blaming her for the ride closing, and even wishing death on her. In reality, Moeka didn't realize the extent of her injuries immediately after riding.

Though she experienced pain in her neck, she assumed it was whiplash from the ride, and went home that night after a visit to the hospital. She continued to experience pain until she found out weeks later that another rider experienced a broken bone. It was then that she visited the hospital and was diagnosed with a neck fracture.

The ride would remain closed for years as Fuji-Q officials worked with S&S to make the ride safer. Their aim was to completely erase the possibility of injuries. Not only that, but according to officials, they also wanted to erase the possibility of rollbacks while they were at it. Unfortunately, despite thorough evaluation and public demand for the ride to reopen, no such double solution could be found.

So on March 13th, 2024, the park announced that the ride would be closed permanently, with demolition swiftly beginning around that time. With all of that said, what exactly did cause riders to become injured? Well, unfortunately, people don't have security cameras inside of them to show exactly when one of their bones break. Actually, it's a good thing we don't have cameras inside of us, but, anyway... In this instance, the adrenaline from the ride experience could easily make it hard for those injured to tell when exactly they were hurt. Once again, Moeka didn't even know she was injured until weeks after she rode the coaster.

While one rider reportedly admitted to leaning forward instead of the recommended ride position of having their head back against the seat, Moeka stated she followed the rules exactly and rode in the correct position. We may never know the exact reason why people were injured, but that certainly doesn't mean we can't make an educated guess. While many news sources were quick to blame the high-speed launch, it wasn't said to be that different than it was before. Plus, if the injuries started in 2020, why did it take three years for people to start getting hurt at the same speed. Now, bear with me, because I think I found the answer on Reddit. I know, Reddit isn't exactly a top level source, but hear me out.

According to Reddit user Projektion, their personal theory was that there was a sudden jolt that occurred when switching from the old track to the new track that replaced the top hat. They stated that they personally rode the coaster in January of 2020, and noticed the jerk was already bad. Overall, they speculate the jerk got worse over time, which led to the injuries later that year. What we may be looking at here is a misaligned section of track that reacted with an already bouncy train to cause extreme discomfort for riders, and some injuries to boot. More likely than not, Fuji-Q realized that this ride had already brought them enough negative press.

Even with S&S's help, they couldn't figure out how to fix the coaster without spending beyond their resources or leaving any chance of an injury. The ride model itself has been discontinued for decades too, so at this point, the park likely found it better to cut their losses and replace the coaster with something new. In the end, Fuji-Q Highland would lose $4.1 million from the ride's closure, including the cost of demolition. Of course, many enthusiasts who never got to experience this coaster are already salty and disappointed. And how can you not be? Where else could you experience a world record acceleration like this without getting into a horrible accident? To sum it all up, I'd like to compare Do-Dodonpa to the story of Icarus.

Just like Icarus flew too close to the sun, Fuji-Q tried too hard to make an already insane ride crazier when they really didn't need to. They hoped the ride would be spiced up and fresh, but in the end, it turned out to be one of the biggest failures in roller coaster history. Now all that's left to do is decide whether Stealth or Maxx Force is now the highest-accelerating coaster on earth.

Now it's time for the Comment Shout-Out Program. This is where I take five random comments from my previous video and read them out. These comments come from my Top 10 Disturbing Dark Rides video. JustToast963 says, "I absolutely love 'terrible' dark rides, "so this video is on my bucket list." PillageMontage says, "Hey man, your upbeat attitude and great uploads "always put a smile on my face. "Keep going."

Thank you, Pillage. QuadMicoHybrid says, "I went to Oakwood on a school trip in the 2010s. "The Br-er rabbit ride at the time had failed completely, "and I was traumatized in the 'spinning rabbit room' "as their laughter had turned into a mechanical mess "of screeching and wailing. "The lights also flickered in there. "When I was off the ride, I needed a moment." SnowyOreo663 says, "I've been on Devil's Den so many times.

"My family comes from the area around the park, "and my mom and grandparents both worked at the park "when they were younger. "I remember loving the actual interior of the ride, "but hated the gum wall. "My cousins would always try and stick their gum on it, "and I would start squirming just looking at it. "I really hope the attraction does get to stay. "With everything at the park closing, "a lot of the town's history seems "to be vanishing with it too. "The rollercoaster at that park, "The Blue Streak, was my favorite.

"I apparently broke the record "by riding it 66 times in one day "back when I was 15 or so, "and that was before the ride had actual seat belts. "It was only a single lap bar. "My aunt's company helped demolish the roller coaster "after it was set on fire "and she managed to get a small piece of it "and send it to me, which I now keep as a souvenir. "Just the mention of that park or any "of the rides in it make me a little choked up, "knowing how important it "was to my family and my own childhood." And m-0-ths says, "The Phantasialand ride actually used "to be a childhood favorite of mine, LMAO. "I've basically seen it decay over the years.

"The Wizard of Oz section actually used "to be a section based on 'the birds.' "Also can confirm that it smells musty AF in there. "I rode it the last year before it shut down."

Finally, special thanks to new Hyper+ Tier members, Weston Blum, This Guy, and Charlie Lichterman. If you wanna see your words in my next video, leave a comment down below and it may be selected. Please note though that inflammatory or spam comments will not be read.

Thank you all so much and if you wanna support me on Patreon, you can do so once again at the link in the description. Thanks for watching everyone. Feel free to like, share and subscribe. You can follow me on social media on Instagram and Facebook, or you could check out my website at, and I'm on TikTok.

This is Theme Park Crazy and I'll see you all next time. (light upbeat music)

2024-03-31 08:38

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