"Himeji Central Park" A safari and amusement park that mixes nostalgia and newness

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``Himeji Central Park'' is nicknamed ``Himesen''. It is Himeji's representative leisure spot, with safaris, an amusement park, and pools and fireworks in the summer. The park opened in 1984 and is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary in March 2024. Himesen always provides a hot topic with its new...

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40th anniversary of opening! "Himeji Central Park"

Himeji Central Park opened in 1984 (Showa 59). This leisure facility is located in the mountains of Toyotomi-cho, east of Himeji City, and the site area of ​​the safari park and amusement park combined is the size of 48 of  Koshien baseball stadiums. It has become popular as a safari park that you can enjoy with your own car, and when it first opened, there was heavy traffic congestion on the surrounding roads.

↑Amusement park gate

40 years have passed since then. Himeji Central Park is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The self-deprecating commercial became a hot topic and won numerous advertising awards, and the jet course at an amusement park and the viewing method called a "ride" at a safari park were introduced on TV and YouTube, and recognition outside Himeji City is increasing. It is a leisure facility that is still evolving, and you can even see foreign visitors. If you're thinking, "Is that so?" or "I've been there before," I'd like you to reacquaint yourself with Himeji Central Park. Of course, it is also recommended for first-timers. In this article, we'll introduce you to a classic model course that takes you on a safari, an amusement park, and even a night pool at Aquaria, which is only available in the summer, before returning home after watching fireworks.

Himesen recommended model course ①: Start with safari

Himeji Central Park is full of ways to enjoy safari, amusement park, pool in summer, and skating in winter. You are free to choose how you want to enjoy it, but there are some recommended ways to enjoy it. Safari is recommended in the morning. It depends on the type of animal, but it's fine in the morning. Especially in the summer, the animals tend to spend a lot of time in the shade from the daytime due to the heat.

↑ The first gate to go through. Stop by the side until the park opens, pay the parking fee when the time comes, and pass

Speaking of safari in Himeji Central Park, "drive-thru safari". A safari in your own car is a great option for small children, elderly people who have difficulty walking, and even on rainy days. If you are visiting in a group or by bus, we recommend the Safari Bus. A bus with wide windows allows you to look at it from a slightly higher point of view. For those who enjoy the safari in their own car or those who only enjoy the safari, pass through the gate, turn left, and proceed toward the safari park. Those who enjoy safari buses, rides, and amusement parks go straight to the amusement park.

↑Car body for "Adventure Ride". with observation deck

And the hot topic safari is "Ride" (there are "Safari the Ride" and "Adventure Ride"). We board a caged bus, commonly known as an ``Olibus,'' which is full of excitement, and enter the beast zone, hanging meat that serves as a snack for tigers and lions. Doesn't it make your heart beat faster just by hearing it?

↑Snacks (meat) placed on the roof

The currently popular rides ``Safari the Ride'' and ``Adventure Ride'' are 60-minute safaris in a special vehicle called ``Olibus''. There are two differences. One is that the course is partially changed, and the types of animals approaching are different. The second is the shape of the bus. "Safari the Ride" is an early version with a cage on the ceiling. You can enjoy the power of lions walking around and eating food right above your head. The "Adventure Ride" (pictured) has an observation deck on the ceiling, so you can get the thrill of coming face to face with the tigers at the same height.

↑Inside the "Adventure Ride"

Both were standing in caged cars for 60 minutes. It shakes quite a bit. Even if it rains, there is no roof, so wear a raincoat and have fun. This time we will introduce "Adventure Ride". It is "Olivas" with an observatory. You won't know how much fun it really is until you actually experience it, but let's take a look at some pictures.

↑Cheetah discovered

The bus will proceed from the wild animal zone in the order of cheetah, tiger, and lion. A tiger wanders overhead in search of meat placed on the car body.

Seeing a tiger up close is still scary.

There are also white tigers.

I made eye contact with a tiger seeking meat. It's scary after all.

But if you look closely, it's pretty cute.

A lion will come for the meat that is hung on its side. A great presence. It's a little scary.

But it's pretty cute.

After the beast zone is the herbivore zone. The timid giraffes will also come to you. The giraffe feeding experience is also popular.

You can also see familiar zoo animals such as hippos, rhinos, zebras, camels, and water buffalo up close as they spend their time relaxing in the wide grassland.

↑A hippopotamus begging for food from his favorite keeper

A quick 60 minutes to meet many animals. What I introduced is an example of the hon. A ride where you can feel the animals breathing. It's a completely different experience than a zoo. Safari buses and rides arrive at the bus stop inside the safari park. You can enjoy the ``Walking Safari'' where you can enjoy walking as if you were in a zoo, or the ``Sky Safari'' where you can take a ropeway and see the safari park from above. Those who wish to return to the amusement park can board the tour bus from the bus stop. After enjoying the safari park, it was time for lunch. There are several facilities where you can eat at both the safari park and the amusement park. Although there is no specialty, there is everything from snacks to lunch, and you can spend a relaxing time as a cafe.

Inside the family restaurant ``Azzurro'' in the amusement park. You can eat udon, curry, and children's lunch.

Himesen Recommended Model Course ②: Go to the amusement park in the afternoon!

When most people think of Himesen, they think of safari. The local people of Himeji may be aware of the existence of the amusement park, but may be approaching its 40th anniversary without realizing how amazing it is. Actually, my memory also stopped at "Diablo." Today, Himesen's amusement park is a space that seems to be a mix of nostalgia and newness. It has become an amusement park known only to those in the know, and people come from far and wide to visit. There are five roller coasters, including Diablo (a suspended coaster with no feet attached, which was Japan's first when it was in operation), boasting a lineup comparable to that of a large-scale amusement park.

↑Venus GP started operations in 2022

Especially popular is "Venus GP". This is a large roller coaster with a vertical loop, and the load on your body is 5.2G, one of the largest in Japan. A high-speed drop after climbing to about 36m above the ground. It's an extremely experiential coaster that rises and falls, going round and round with twists and loops that you feel as if it's barely touching the ground, and you'll lose track of where you're going, up, down, left, and right.

It was designed by Anton Schwarzkopf, also known as the ``coaster god.'' Previously, it was the most popular roller coaster that had been loved for many years at Space World (Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, closed in 2018), and was relocated after the park closed. For this reason, there are people from Kyushu who visit every year out of nostalgia. There are many people who become addicted to it, and others who are so scared that they can't do it anymore. The coaster "Hurricane" is also a relocated group.

On rainy weekdays, Hurricane may be reserved for private use.

This is a relocated version of the Tornader that was previously located at the Kintetsu Ayame Pond Amusement Park (Nara City, Nara Prefecture, closed in 2004). Although the colors etc. have been changed, it seems that people who are familiar with it can understand it.

↑“Imorinsu” popular with kids

The old name "roller coaster" is still alive and well. ``Imorinsu'' is a coaster for kids, and it is one of the most popular coasters, as it can be ridden by children over 2 years old (children under 6 years old must be accompanied). There are also plenty of other thrilling rides such as the ``Great Poseidon,'' which has a rocking boat, and the ``Helios,'' which has a cute and heartwarming BGM but is actually quite hard.

↑Attractions for kids. Front "Paopao", back "Albatross"

Of course, there are also the nostalgic ``Party Cups'' and ``Merry-Go-Round.'' Moreover, there are two merry-go-rounds. The Ferris wheel is still in the top 10 in Japan (according to Himeji Central Park research).

In addition to rides, you'll wonder how many facilities there are, including animal shows and a 4D theater. You won't be able to enjoy it all in just one day.

Himesen Recommended Model Course ③: Lots of pool and fireworks in summer

↑Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park

Summer Himesen will open Aquaria, one of the largest resort pools in western Japan. Business hours in 2023 will be from July 15th (Saturday) to September 3rd (Sunday). The location is inside an amusement park. No special charges are required. With just an admission ticket, you can enter the pool, play at the amusement park, and even go on a safari. (The same goes for ice skating in the winter.) We recommend relaxing in the running water pool, and the wide beach pool will make you feel like you're playing on the beach. There is a rock pool with a great view, 5 types of slides, and a Pirate Kids Aquaria for children, so you can have fun and have fun with peace of mind. There is a fee, but there is also a family deck (large tent) and sun deck (limited quantity), limited to 20 groups (first come, first served), so you can enjoy the resort feeling.

↑Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park

At night, it's night pool time. It is a spot where you can take photogenic photos. Event dates: Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from July 15, 2023 (Saturday) to September 3, 2023 (Sunday), and 5 days (Obon period) from August 11, 2023 (Friday) to August 15, 2023 (Tuesday). : 17:00 - 20:00 (Only the beach pool, rock pool, kids pool is open), daytime pool reception closes at 16:00, various slides reception closes at 16:00 (slider does not operate during night pool), water release (flowing water pool) , slider, etc.) 16:30 (Please get out of the pool and move to the night pool area)

↑Photo provided by: Himeji Central Park

Himesen ends with fireworks. Approximately 2,000 fireworks will decorate the night sky with a display of lights and lasers. The music and other performances change on odd and even days, so it might be a good idea to come every week.

Midsummer Fireworks Festa 2023

Event dates: Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from July 15, 2023 (Saturday) to September 3, 2023 (Sunday), and 5 days from August 11, 2023 (Friday) to August 15, 2023 (Tuesday) (Obon period)

Event time: 7:50pm - approximately 10 minutes

Souvenirs are also full of unusual fun.

↑ Most popular souvenir “White chocolate tart cookies” (16 pieces, 1,080 yen)

Himesen also has unique souvenirs. Popular souvenirs are cookies and crunches, packaged sweets that are typical of a serious Himesen, but for those who can't be satisfied with the ordinary ones, try the ``Safari Cookies'' (800 yen). Contains one large chocolate flavored one.

Our original all-purpose sauce ``Perorin Sauce'' (710 yen) and ``Adult Perorin Sauce'' (870 yen) are also popular items with many repeat customers.

We have a selection of items that will satisfy those who want stuffed animals after interacting with the animals.

There are also many other original goods and products that you'll want just because you've come to Hime-sen.

↑Adventure Ride Netsuke (520 yen)

Himesen ticket information

Himesen is so much fun. Many people are concerned about the price. Please check the official website for more details, but I will briefly explain it. There are no tickets for just the safari park or just for the amusement park; the ticket is based on an "admission ticket." Fees vary depending on the date of admission. Admission ticket: Adults (junior high school students and older) 3,600 to 4,400 yen per day, children (elementary school students) 2,000 to 2,400 yen, infants (3 years old and older) 1,200 to 1,400 yen. Additional fees include parking fees (1,000 yen for regular cars), attraction fees, and safari bus ride fees.

Attractions can be purchased individually, but there is also an ``Attraction Free Pass'' (3,000 yen for adults). Venus GP is 1,500 yen per ride, so if you want to enjoy coaster-type attractions, the ``Attraction Free Pass'' is definitely a good deal. However, some rides may not operate during rainy days, so it is best to purchase according to your purpose. This is Princess Sen who can't play in a day. Once you come, you'll want to come again. If you come more than three times a year, we recommend the ``Annual Admission Pass'' (12,000 yen for adults) or the ``Annual Admission Pass + Attraction Free Pass'' (19,000 yen for adults). From 2023, a “Premium Annual Pass” (50,000 yen) that comes with a lot of new free benefits is also available. If you're thinking, ``I have to try it out before I decide whether to buy the annual pass,'' you can upgrade after you enter the park, so just give it a try.

How to get to Himeji Central Park

↑Himesen's 40th anniversary wrapping bus. The animal bus in this photo is used to shuttle employees in the morning and is also used as a safari bus during the day. (In some cases, we use buses that customers cannot board during the day as pick-up vehicles.)

Himeji Central Park is located in the mountains of Toyotomi-cho, east of Himeji City, but if you're driving, it's close to the Sanyo Expressway and Bantan Contact Road IC. However, public transportation is limited to buses.

To take the route bus, take the 74 route bound for Himeji Central Park from bus stop 14 at Himeji Station (North Exit). The park opens at 10:00 (9:30 in summer), so we recommend taking the first train at 9:30 (arriving at 10:05). The last bus on the way back (the bus stop is on the amusement park side) is at 17:00 on weekdays and 18:20 on weekends and holidays. The fare is 550 yen for adults one way. For foreign visitors visiting Japan, the Hyogo Amazing Pass, which allows unlimited rides for 1,000 yen per day, is convenient and economical. For details, refer to the official website Mobers (link: https://moberss.com/ja-JP/). During the summer vacation period (July 15th to September 3rd), on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and August 14th and 15th, in addition to regular buses, special direct buses (which do not stop at bus stops along the way) will operate. The bus departs at 8:30 from Himeji Station (North Exit) Platform 13. The return trip will depart at 20:20. This is the last train to Himeji Station, so be careful not to miss it.

(Writer Takashi Tsukamoto)

*This article is information as of July 2023. Prices are tax-inclusive. Product details and prices are subject to change.

Himeji Central Park

Address: 1434 Toyotomicho Kodani, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture

Phone number: 079-264-1611

Business hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (summer weekdays 9:30 - 18:00, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 9:30 - 20:00), reception ends 1 hour before closing

*There are changes depending on the day of admission. Please refer to the official website

Closed: Wednesdays, irregular holidays

*Changes depending on the season (closed in summer, etc.)

*Please refer to the official website as there may be temporary closures.

Admission fee: Adults (junior high school students and older) 3,600 to 4,400 yen per day, Children (elementary school students) 2,000 to 2,400 yen, Infants (3 years old and older) 1,200 to 1,400 yen

*There are changes depending on the day of admission. Please refer to the official website

*Separate attraction fee required Access car: Approximately 25 minutes from JR Himeji Station, approximately 5 minutes from Sanyo Expressway “Sanyo Himeji Higashi IC”, approximately 15 minutes from Bantan Access Road “Hanada IC” Bus Himeji Station (North Exit) 14 Approximately 30 minutes from bus stop 74 bound for Himeji Central Park to Himeji Central Park. Direct flights available in summer

*For details, please refer to the official website or Shinki Bus official website

Parking: Available (1,000 yen/vehicle), approximately 5,000 parking spaces available

Click here for the official website

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One-day bus ticket [Hyogo Amazing Pass] *Limited to tourists visiting Japan

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