The first Friday of the trip served up not one, but two considerably wicked amusement parks, both in Yokohama (Japan's second most populous city and a part of the Greater Tokyo Area). It was a choice pairing because Cosmo World and Hakkeijima Sea Paradise together are a terrific way to fill a very full day; there are gobs of unique rides and attractions between them. And – for those of us who pay too much attention to such things – both parks have taken royal beat-downs by my homeslice, The Notorious G.
Sea Paradise gets stomped into rubble during Godzilla's kick-ass resurfacing out of Tokyo Bay in 2002's Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Gojira tai Mekagojira). It's a brief sequence, but there's lots of the classic running and screaming and popcorn-dropping and pointing and weeping, and the park's major aquarium structure is kicked aside like so much balsa wood.
Cosmo World is the arena for the final rumble between Godzilla, Mothra and Battra (sort of "Evil Mothra" until the end when – SPOILER ALERT – Mothra and Battra team up to defeat Godzilla and we learn that Battra was really here to protect the planet from a huge meteor so, despite all outward appearances, was actually not evil) in 1992's Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (Gojira tai Mosura). The park's massive Ferris wheel gets ripped off its moorings and used as a blunt-force weapon; it's pretty sweet.
(Here's a fact I just learned: King Kong vs. Godzilla, from 1962, is still the most financially successful of Toho's Godzilla franchise, which kind of blows my mind, like, really? Anyway.)
Under grey skies, we started the day at Cosmo World.
There it is, the legendary Cosmo Clock 21! When built for the YES '89 Yokohama Exposition, it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel (since upstaged) and the world's largest clock (a record that still stands, apparently). Those buildings in front of the wheel, shrouded in miles of blue tarp, would be the major 2014 park expansion rendered in the billboard concept art below.
This is all new retail space, if I remember correctly, and should be open by now.
Cosmo World does not have a ton of real estate to exploit, but they pack and stack a lot of goodies into the main area, called "Wonder Amuse Zone," including the two major credits, the yellow Spinning Coaster and the pink Diving Coaster: Vanish.
The major wing of the park is across the water from Yokohama's Landmark Tower, famous for its Godzilla-kablooie cameo in 2001's Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Daikaiju sokogeki). (Let me tell you, THAT movie is freaking awesome. One of the best.)
Mr. Kitagawa, of Senyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. (the ride manufacturer that also owns and operates Cosmo World), was our amazing host and guide for the day. We arrived before the park opened to the public and the staff walked us through just about all the major attractions, one by one, total red-carpet treatment. They put us on this stock Reverchon spinner first, which was fun, but rather ordinary compared to everything else at Cosmo World, so I'm glad we knocked that out right away.