I was recently invited to Highland Resort Hotel & Spa, which just so happens to be the official hotel (and spa) of Fuji-Q Highland (Japan's premier amusement park that is not completely cartoon and/or movie themed). After scrutinizing my boss to see if she was jerking my chain when she asked me if I wanted to visit Fuji-Q on business, I feigned professionalism and calmly accepted the assignment (while inner me jumped up and down and giggled like a 5 year old). And thus, I was off to Fuji-Q on a somewhat sunny Saturday at the end of April.
Scheduled to roll out at a somewhat lazy 10:10 a.m., I arrived at Tokyo Station in time to pick up a snack for the bus and made my way to the Yaesu Exit to search for my bus stop. The bus stops for the highway buses are pretty clearly marked with LED boards, but if you're having trouble locating yours, just find one of the platform attendants (they're dressed like security guards and often toting those nifty orange light sticks). Show one your ticket or just say "Fuji-Q?" while shrugging, and they'll point you in the right direction.
My chariot was awaiting me at stop #1, and the LED board confirmed the departure time, final stop, and major stops along the route, which included my destination. The Fuji-Q logo (cartoon Mt. Fuji with a "Q" on top) on the side of the bus was also a helpful clue.
On the bus itself, I was pleasantly surprised to find it more than adequately comfortable for my impending couple hour trip. Being a solid 6 ft. 1 (about 185 cm.), it is not uncommon for me to find my knees digging into the back of bus seats in front of me. While it may not have been the Ritz-Carlton on wheels, the space on this bus was more than sufficient for the relatively short ride. As we pulled away from the platform, the automated announcement system trumpeted our departure (and upcoming stops) through the cabin in several languages (including English, of course).
After a few brief stops to pick up/drop off other passengers, a rest at one of Japan's lovely highway rest areas (seriously!), and a wee bit of traffic, the monitor at the front of the bus's cabin shown bright with the words I had been waiting for: Next stop Fuji-Q Highland.
The bus pulled up right in front of my accommodations for the night, Highland Resort Hotel & Spa (who also happened to be my hosts for this trip), so I decided to stop by the front desk to drop off my stuff before heading to the amusement park. Stuff dropped off and Fuji-Q day pass in hand (available to hotel guests at a discount by the way!), I was off to the park...which happens to be literally right next door! Awesome.
Admittedly, I was a bit late getting myself to the park, despite its proximity to my lodgings, and I passed through the gates somewhere south of 3:00 p.m. Unfortunately, this only left me with a couple of hours, but with free admission to the park included with my stay and my hosts at Highland Resort Hotel & Spa graciously comping my Fuji-Q free passes, how could I resist?? (Editor's note: Please refrain from hate mail.) I managed to get myself on to a few coasters, including the classic "King of Coasters" Fujiyama, the gravity (and common sense) defying Eejanaika, and the face-flattening speedster Dodonpa. As the park started winding down and having not yet ridden the latest addition to the park's landscape, Takabisha, I made a mental note and grudgingly retired for the day.
Making my way back to the hotel, I decided to take a break in my room before dinner.
The large variety of indoor baths was great -- my personal favorite being the jet baths -- and the open-air bath was fantastic. I even stopped off for a sweat in the sauna before washing off once more and heading back to my room.
After my incredibly relaxing soak at Fujiyama Hot Spring Spa, I was ready to get some serious shut-eye. My room was a comfy twin on the Mt. Fuji side of the hotel. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate during my visit, and I wasn't actually able to see the iconic peak. On a random note about the room, I really loved the shower, which I used the next morning. The water pressure was excellent.
After getting more than my fill (perhaps not the brightest idea with a day of roller coaster-riding ahead), it was time to take full advantage of the priority early park entry. Another perk of staying at Highland Resort Hotel and Spa is that guests can enter the park (again, free) 30 minutes before it actually opens. The rides are not available until the official opening time, but the early admission gives you plenty of time to pick a ride and place yourself right at the front of the line.
As luck would have it, even after the park officially opened, it wasn't very crowded that, and I ended up being able to ride without having to wait in line much. This included about four trips on the aforementioned Takabisha, which just so happens to currently hold the world record for steepest roller coaster...as well as the key to my heart (though my favorite will always be Eejanaika).
After a full morning of running around the park and riding as many coasters as possible, it was -- sadly -- time to head home. I had reserved a highway bus for my return trip as well, and the bus stop was again conveniently located right next to the park and hotel. After a brief wait in the indoor waiting area (a lifesaver on cold and/or rainy days), the fantasy was over and it was back to the real world in Tokyo with me.
- Bus from Tokyo in the mid to late morning (Yay for sleeping in!)
- Check in at Highland Resort Hotel & Spa, drop off your stuff, and head to the park (Yay for free admission!)
- Pay separately for each ride you want to ride for this day -- chances are you won't have time to justify needing a free pass on this day
- Head back to the hotel and have dinner
- Fujiyama Hot Spring Spa (Freeeee!)
- Chow down at the breakfast buffet
- Hit up the hot springs again
- Snag a free pass for the rides at Fuji-Q for a discount at the hotel front desk
- Assemble in the lobby for early (and free!) admission to Fuji-Q 30 minutes before the park officially opens
- Ride to your heart's content!
After that, the sky is the limit. Return to Tokyo, continue on to scenic Lake Kawaguchi, or...?