From Sega Retro
|Location: 神奈川県横浜市中区新山下１丁目１４番１８号, Japan|
Yokohama Joypolis (横浜ジョイポリス), later Joypolis H. Factory Yokohama (ジョイポリスH.FACTORY横浜), was the first Joypolis indoor theme park opened by Sega. Alongside the earlier Osaka ATC Galbo, the park was one of the original two locations opened under the Amusement Theme Park concept in 1994, becoming the company's flagship amusement venue during the mid 1990s. It has since been closed permanently and demolished.
As far back as the late 1960s, Sega had been opening and maintaining numerous "game centres" in Japan. Operations of these were generally small-scale, however by the mid 80s, several companies in the amusement industry were establishing branded chain stores and re-evaluating long-term ambitions in the field. Spearheaded by Hayao Nakayama, Sega of Japan's amusement divisions began working towards opening increasingly bigger venues that would further assert their position in the amusement industry; alongside this, R&D teams started developing technologically advanced interactive attractions for them. Early work involving these was undertaken with the short-lived En-Joint concept in the early 90s, and the creation of the prolific Sega World game centres and entertainment venues.
Also inspired by the success of Disney's lucrative theme park business, competition soon came from Namco, with the launch of their Wonder Eggs theme park in February 1992, as well as Taito's large Cannonball City facility the following year. Whilst also focused on the development of new large inner-city game centres that included Roppongi GiGO and Sega Pasela, Sega opened the smaller Sega World Hakkeijima Carnival House centre on the grounds of the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise theme park in Yokohama during May 1993. Alongside coin-operated arcade machines, the centre contained a small number of mid-size attractions developed by the company, most significantly an AS-1 unit and 8-player Virtua Formula.
In the following months, both attractions were also deployed at new overseas Sega centres including Sega World Bournemouth and Sega VirtuaLand as initial steps part of a wider plan - after the opening of the first overseas Sega-branded amusement venues during 1992, the company publicly unveiled their intent to create 100 indoor theme parks across the world by the end of the decade under the Amusement Theme Park concept, with the goal of expanding customer bases and establishing them as a rival to the likes of Disney. 50 of these were provisionally earmarked for Japan, with Osaka and Yokohama soon cited as the locations to receive the first parks.
Three months after the launch of the first Amusement Theme Park venue, Osaka ATC Galbo, Yokohama Joypolis was opened to the public on 20 July 1994. Located on a 11,946m² plot of land in the Yamashita Park area of Yokohama, its site encompassed a main 8,250m² indoor theme park building ran by Sega, three additional facilities housing other businesses, and two visitor parking lots. Projected to make ¥3.6 billion and attract 1.2 million visitors in its first year of operation, the park charged ¥500 and ¥300 entry fees through a card system, with individual attraction fees costing between ¥100 and ¥800; this model was followed by subsequent Joypolis parks and retooled for the overseas Sega World locations.
At launch, the main building was dedicated to the park's seven major attractions located throughout most of its floor space, and over 200 coin-operated arcade machines, many of which were stationed on a mezzanine sub-level between the first and second floors. Mad Bazooka, VR-1, and Rail Chase: The Ride made their public debuts at the park on opening day - due to their large sizes, the construction of all three would not have been feasible at any other location up to that point in time. VR-1 in particular, utilising the advanced Mega Visor Display headsets, provided much of the basis for one of the park's central themes, futurism. Supporting the three new attractions were a further four that had been debuted at other large amusement venues in the previous months, such as Astronomicon and Ghost Hunters. Other features of the park included its aforementioned roster of coin-operated arcade machines, a SegaSonic & Tails souvenir shop, and fast food restaurant Cafe Blanca, in addition to several other facilities situated outside of the park building which also served food and drink, including two McDonalds outlets.
Initial reviews of Yokohama Joypolis appear to have been mixed to positive, with several praising the innovation of VR-1's Mega Visor Display headsets. After the launch, Sega took advantage of the venue's large size and capacity for organised events to hold numerous examples of them, including notable Virtua Fighter and Sega Rally Championship tournaments; these officially-held events were communicated through magazines handed out inside of the park like SegaJack, and would become a key aspect of subsequent Joypolis centres. A Skate GSJ skateboarding meet was also held at the park in the following months.
Although initial returns from Yokohama Joypolis are thought to have surpassed expectations, with claims made that it made roughly ¥4 billion and attracted 1.75 million visitors in its first year of operations, its flagship status was later superseded by Tokyo Joypolis in 1996, and the venue subsequently struggled to create similar numbers. One factor attributed to this was the fact that the park, situated away from the central districts of Yokohama, was a fifteen-minute walk from the nearest subway station, something which was later rectified in 2004.
After a period of downtime, the park reopened the following year on 25 July, with its ground floor level undergoing a partial refurbishment in the process. Under the new name of Joypolis H. Factory Yokohama, its operations were now assisted by media personality and businessman Hiromi Konzo, who at the time was developing several sports-themed leisure centres in Japan. A small number of new leisure attractions, such as go-kart tracks, were added to support the main Sega-developed examples in place since 1994, which had since received software and theming updates.
Yokohama Joypolis closed permanently at the end of February 2001, changing admission fees to ¥15 and ¥10 to scrap payments for its attractions and arcade machines in its final weeks. The closure occurred in the midst of a restructuring at Sega, which also led to several other Joypolis venues as well as the overseas SegaWorld London and Sega World Sydney going defunct, a scrapping of the plans for 100 theme parks across the world, and the eventual discontinuation of the Amusement Theme Park concept, with managerial problems and cashflow issues cited. Whilst some of its auxiliary facilities continued trading, the space the main building formerly occupied subsequently became warehouse storage, and its former grounds have more recently been redeveloped to house a block of flats.
Yokohama Joypolis was themed around a conceptual story involving a fictional professor, "Dr. Chrono", and the "B.U.R.P." (Basic Universal Reflector Prism), a device which, in its physical form, involved the escalators linking the floors of the centre together. "Dr Chrono" was first used for Osaka ATC Galbo and would go on to feature in the other two Galbo locations, though subsequent theme parks opened by Sega would abandon the concept.
- Main article: Yokohama Joypolis/Magazine articles.
Promotional video for Rail Chase: The Ride
Promotional video for VR-1
Promotional video for Mad Bazooka
Promotional video for Ghost Hunters
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/yokohama/home.html (Wayback Machine: 2001-06-06 01:27)
- Leisure Line, "March 1996" (AU; 1996-xx-xx), page 51
- Edge, "November 2002" (UK; 2002-10-10), page 53
- Press release: 1993-07-04:Sega Takes Aim at Disney's World
- Press release: 1994-02-21:Sega!
- Press release: 1994-08-15: Shisetsu-nai Inshoku Tenpo Shirīzu'Joiporisu' 120 Man Hito o Shūkyaku e
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/yokohama/guide.html (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-15 21:02)
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/yokohama/data.html (Wayback Machine: 1996-12-24 10:53)
- File:VirtuaFighter2EternalBattle VHS JP Box.jpg
- File:Yokohama Sega Rally Time Attack Festival.jpg
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- File:Segaworld Trocadero '96 Promo Video.mp4
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/yokohama/access.html (Wayback Machine: 1996-12-24 10:53)
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/news/news994/jpnews990725.html (Wayback Machine: 2000-04-10 21:21)
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/news/news2000/jpnews0308_2.html (Wayback Machine: 2001-02-10 03:45)
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/yokohama/home.html (Wayback Machine: 2001-02-11 15:34)
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/news/news2001/jpnews0208.html (Wayback Machine: 2001-06-29 22:24)
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/yokohama/home.html (Wayback Machine: 2001-06-29 22:24)
- Sega Magazine, "1997-03 (1997-03)" (JP; 1997-02-13), page 19
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega/atp/yokohama/story.html (Wayback Machine: 1996-12-24 10:53)
- http://www.sega.co.jp/sega_e/atp/yokohama/story.html (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 13:04)
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