MousePlanet Trip Report Editor
Tom Lynes - Tokyo DL and DisneySea (October 2002) - Offsite
- Time of Year: Fall
- Travel Method: Plane, Train
- Resort: Offsite
- Accommodations: Standard Room, 1 Bedroom Vacation Home, 2 Bedroom Vacation Home, Villa Vacation Home, Suite
- Ages Represented in Group: Infant, Toddler, Pre-School, Elementary, Teen, Adult, Senior
- TDL Experience Represented in Group: Veteran, Frequent, Infrequent, Rookie
- Comments: Tom decided to resolve this issue, "The big question: Is a trip to Tokyo to see the Disney Resort worth it?" I'll let you read on to see what his conclusion is. By the way, Tom provides a great list of tips at the beginning of this report and his summary at the end.
Tom Lynes -- October 2002 -- Tokyo Disneyland (Offsite)
[LIST][*]Where: Tokyo Disney Resort[*]When: October 28-30 2002.[*]Who:
- Tom, 26 - Six-time Disney Theme Park Veteran
- Ed, 24 - Disneyland Virgin.
Note: I put my list of Tips and advice at the beginning, for the benefit of those who don't want to read all 14,180 words of this trip report.
- The big question: Is a trip to Tokyo to see the Disney Resort worth it?
- Good Resources
- Background info
- Planning for Tokyo
- First Days in Tokyo
- Regarding SPOILERS
- Day 1 - Monday October 28, 2002 - Tokyo Disneyland
- Day 2 - Tuesday October 29 2002 - Tokyo DisneySea
- Day 3 - Wednesday October 30 2002 - Park Hopping
- Final Thoughts
- Standard tips written for the North American parks can be applied to Tokyo's as well.
- Get there early! On busy days they stop selling tickets early. The wait for Pooh's Hunny Hunt (2 hours for most of the day) is extreme, and if you're not in line to get a Fastpass within the first few hours or so of the park opening, you're out of luck.
- Exception: The wait at the very end of the day was much shorter. If you don't manage to get a FastPass, and can wait, check back a couple of hours before closing, as the wait time might be more reasonable then.
- If you can, buy your park-entry tickets on a day prior to your park visit, as lines at ticket booths were very long. This can be done at the downtown Disney Resort Ticket Center (http://www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/t.../rsv_map.html).
- Just like visiting North American parks, it's preferable to go during the off-season. Unlike North American however, most shows and parades are shown 365 days a year. Special Halloween and Christmas shows are of course seasonal, but you can see Fireworks, Electric Parade, DisneySea Symphony etc. on any weeknight. The parks are typically open 12 hours on even the slowest days.
- If you can afford it, stay in a Disney Hotel or one of the nearby official hotels. I would have really liked to be able to take an afternoon nap like I did in 1996. Of course, in Anaheim there are really cheap hotels within walking distance, not so in Tokyo. Not even an equivalent to Florida's All-Star Resorts.
- If you will be staying at a hotel away from the Resort, or will otherwise be traveling within Tokyo on public transit, definitely buy pre-paid subway and/or train cards. Even if you don't use the whole value, it can be worth avoiding the hassle of buying individual tickets for every trip you make. The subway pre-paid cards are called SF Metro Cards; the JR (Japan Rail) train pre-paid cards are IO Cards. Both come in values of Y1000, Y3000 and up, and are available from vending machines at major stations, usually next to the regular ticket machines. You put the money in first, and then select the card you want (change is given).
- Do some research, refer to web sites. With a theme park as busy as TDL and DisneySea you really need a bit of a plan. You don't have to have everything scheduled, but if you don't get there at opening, and don't know which attractions to grab Fastpasses for right away, you'll be spending a lot more time in line-ups than you need to.
- 3 or 4-day Passes aren't much cheaper than single day tickets.
- Therefore single tickets might be a better idea as:
- if it rains, you don't have to feel obligated to go to the park
- you can rest between Disney Days
- The downside might be a need to stand in a ticket line-up in the morning.
- Tokyo Disney Resort puts most of the music from their parades, shows, and atmospheric music out on CD. The Storybook Store in TDL's World Bazaar had a few CD's, and the Bon Voyage shop just outside of the park is said to have a good selection as well (I didn't check). I didn't see a lot for sale when I was there (nor did I have enough time for a lot of looking), but was able to order what I wanted from an online supplier (http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/special/disney/) once I was home. Handy for out of stock items or if you just don't have the time to track things down. I ordered the complete soundtracks for the 100 Years of Magic Parade & the Electrical Parade (Dreamlights), the Tokyo Disneyland Music Album, and the Tokyo DisneySea Music Album. All are excellent.
The big question: Is a trip to Tokyo to see the Disney Resort worth it?
If like me, you haven't been to a Disney Theme Park in a while, a trip to Tokyo is a no-brainer. Tokyo Disneyland faithfully recreates the original park and DisneySea is a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind park you can't find anywhere else. Journey to the Center of the Earth is a must see attraction. Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Disneyland is worth the price of admission alone.
If you've been to Anaheim or Florida recently, it's a tougher call. Tokyo Disneyland won't be much different, and as good as DisneySea is it can be done in under a day. The only 2 rides I really wanted to do multiple times were Indy and Journey to the Center of the Earth. DisneySea is about atmosphere as much as (if not more) it is about attractions. I'm a Disney Ride fan primarily, and I thought DisneySea was worth visiting. It just wouldn't hold my attention for five days like Anaheim Disneyland did in 1996.
If a trip to Tokyo is in your future, definitely make plans to spend at least a day or two at the Disney Resort. Depending on how limited your time is you could do a day at DisneySea, long enough to do just about everything, and an evening at Tokyo Disneyland, long enough to experience Pooh's Hunny Hunt and whatever else interests you. Since most of TDL is identical to its North American relatives you can safely skip most of it and not miss much.
My most recent Disney vacations were to Anaheim's Disneyland in April 1996 with three other friends, and to Florida's Disneyworld in March 1993 with my family. I'm 26 years old, from Vancouver BC, Canada. A major factor influencing our decision to go in 1996 was the new Indiana Jones ride. It seems there's always something new at Disney parks. Combine the new with all of the old favorites and the desire to return is usually strong. I haven't been able to go back since 1996 due to a combination of University, finances, and employment responsibilities.
Since discovering MousePlanet, other Disney fan sites, and reading David Koenig's excellent books on the park I've experienced a strong desire, one might even say need to go back to Disneyland. So, around April of 2002, I started asking if friends would be interested in another trip, and they were. I also convinced my boyfriend Ed that not having been to Disneyland was a severe character flaw worth fixing. (Ed did have a chance to stop by Disneyland as a teenager, while on a family trip, but being a sullen teenager he passed.) Plus, it'd be a heck of a lot of fun. The idea was casually discussed, with Florida being the more expensive but preferred option, due to the size and scope of the resort and all of the new attractions I haven't seen (Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Animal Kingdom, etc.). Disneyland was the second, cheaper choice due to a lack of new attractions since Indy and the fact that California Adventure's carnival rides and generally poor public reaction filled me with no overwhelming need to see that Park.
Okay, technically my first choice was to visit Tokyo to experience Tokyo DisneySea, a park that looked and sounded great, and has been praised extensively since its opening just over a year ago. Excellent features on MousePlanet (http://www.mouseplanet.com/tokyo) further fueled my desire to visit. But, an expensive trip to Tokyo didn't seem all that likely.
Then, opportunity arose. Ed would be taking a three week trip to Asia with his parents in October. Since he could easily swing by Tokyo, he proposed I join him there for a week. I debated it a lot during September, it would be a lot more expensive for flight and hotel than Anaheim would (I estimate 2 to 3 times as much for the entire trip), plus with only a week, and the Tokyo Disneyland requiring (in my opinion) at least 3 days, it would only leave 4 days to see the rest of Tokyo. However, the reputation of DisneySea and the chance to visit Disneyland again so soon, won me over and I decided to go.
Planning for Tokyo
I was set to meet Ed in Tokyo from Saturday Oct 25 to Saturday Nov 2. We decided to buy a 3-day pass, and go to the park Mon, Tues, and Wed. This schedule was decided on as we figured weekdays would be less crowded, I would drive Ed nuts if I had to wait any longer to get my Disney fix, and multi-day tickets at the Tokyo Disney Resort must be used on consecutive days. Thought about going on the 31st, as riding the Haunted Mansion on Halloween would be cool, but decided would rather hit the parks sooner. At one point I considered a 4-day pass, but that would leave only 3 days to see Tokyo. Ed thought I was nuts to even suggest this. He may be right, but there's something about Disneyland and thwarts my ability to act in a sane manner (but I do bring my brain with me, when I enter the gate).
Spending hundreds of dollars and flying hundreds of miles, to visit a foreign and exotic land, only to spend half the time there visiting a copy of the ultimate North American Icon would be considered strange by some people, but Disney fans probably understand.
Ed is a Winnie the Pooh fanatic, so we were both looking forward to Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Tokyo Disneyland's newest ride. I was looking forward to it because I had read it was a high-tech trackless marvel that elevates the classic Disney dark ride to new levels.
I was also looking forward to trying out Fastpass for the first time. Even before leaving, we argued about how to do things. Ed wanted to go for Pooh first, but I explained due to its popularity we should get a Pooh Fastpass and then hit Peter Pan, the teacups etc. during the early, less busy times. Since I have Disney theme park experience, it was decided (i.e. dictated) that I would be in charge, full-on commando mode if I were to have my way. I still have unpleasant memories of childhood trips, being forced to stop for breakfast by my mom when I wanted to hit rides when line-ups were short. Not this time. I would be doing things my way, and hopefully Ed would be willing to trust my lead.
Ed had some trouble with the Disney concept, tame rides but with amazing theming. He likes thrilling coasters. I love them too, but compared to Space Mountain there's no contest. No drops, but the stars and music in the dark make this my definition of the ultimate ride. While riding a typical log ride at Playland, Vancouver's amusement park, I told Ed "Now try and Imagine this being 9 minutes longer, and with a bunch of singing robot animals before the drop. Doesn't that sound great!!?" He did not seem any more enthusiastic than before.
Ed also couldn't understand why I would want to ride Indy 12 times as me and my friends did in 1996, nor why I wanted to repeat my Teacup experience. In 1996, one morning we rode the teacups twice in a row. The first time was fine, but the second time I spun it really really fast. Afterwards, the world was spinning, and I ended up sprawled on a bench, looking green and wanting to die so the pain would stop. It was bad at the time, but much to Ed's chagrin, looking back on this memory only made me want to do it again. And as I explained, "And now with Fastpass, I can experience intense nausea and a desire to die, without the inconvenience of waiting in line!"
First Days in Tokyo
I left Vancouver at 5:00 pm Friday Oct 25. A 10 hour flight (on Japan Air, very good) plus a 16 hour time difference meant I arrived at Narita Airport at 7:00 pm on Saturday Oct 26. From there it was about one and a half hours by train and subway to our hotel, the Asia Center of Japan (http://www.asiacenter.or.jp/). This was the cheapest hotel we could find, at 9500 yen (about $130 CAD) a night this was very cheap relative to other Tokyo hotels. The room was small, but perfectly comfortable. By the time I went to bed after 11:00 pm Tokyo time I had been awake for 24 hours straight. Staying awake as long as possible the first day/night is the best way to adjust to the time difference quickly.
On Sunday Oct 27, as per our plan, we visited the downtown Disney Resort Ticket Center (http://www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/t.../rsv_map.html). Here you can buy same-day Park admission tickets, open tickets and dated tickets. (Dated tickets may be purchased up to 1 month ahead). This would presumably save us valuable time the next day, and there were things we wanted to see in the area, such as the SONY building where we played with very advanced robotic dogs and tried out the latest in Digital Cameras, stereos, and cellular phones.
We bought 3-day "Magic Passports" for Oct 28-30. These cost 13,700 yen each, about $177 CAD. Tokyo Disney offers many ticket choices: 1, 2, 3, and 4 day passes, Disneyland Annual passports, Disneyland Starlight passports (good after 3:00 on most weekends), Disneyland After 6 passports (good after 6:00 pm on weeknights), and Tokyo DisneySea Prime Night Passports (valid after 5:00 pm on weeknights).
Multi-day passports must be used on consecutive days. At the time when you buy the ticket you must specify which park you will visit on day 1 and which on day 2. On days 3 and 4 can you park hop.
According to the official website, DisneySea was scheduled to be open on Monday Oct 28 from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. Disneyland would be open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. On Tuesday and Wednesday, both would be open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. We speculated the early opening of DisneySea on the Monday implied larger than usual crowds were expected. Since we didn't want to be up that early, and since Ed had never been to a Disney theme park it made sense to start with the original (or at least a copy of it!). So, we set our 3-day passports up to visit Disneyland Mon Oct 28, DisneySea Tues Oct 29, and would be able to park hop on Wed Oct 30.
Along with our tickets, we were given English maps (double-sided, these include both parks as well as a separate overview of the entire resort) and English/Japanese parade guidelines (rules of conduct). Full Guidebooks were available only in Japanese at this location, as far as I know. We would later get full English Guidebooks at the Resort Welcome Center.
Thanks to Joe's Tokyo Resort Photo Site (http://www.jtcent.com/) and MousePlanet, we had a pretty good idea of which rides were most popular, and which would be closed, info that is not available on the official site (http://www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/tdr/index_e.html).
Six and a half years later, I was finally just a day away from returning to Disneyland, my favorite place on Earth. It's a miracle I could even sleep.
About this trip report; I assume most people are like me, and are familiar with Disneyland and it's attractions. As a result, I generally only go into detail about attractions that are unique to Tokyo, so beware of SPOILERS if you don't want to know what their attractions are like. Personally, so-called Disney ride spoilers never bother me, as words cannot do them justice. For example, would a phrase like "The Haunted Mansion SPOILER is a slow-moving trip past animated graveyards and spooky ghost effects" really ruin that ride for anyone? I've marked some of the more descriptive sections with SPOILER warnings.
Day 1 - Monday October 28, 2002 - Tokyo Disneyland
We left our Hotel by about 7:25. We had beautiful sunny weather, not a cloud in the sky. This was nice as it was gloomy and raining the night I arrived. It was a 40 minute subway and JR train ride to Maihama station, gateway to the Tokyo Disney Resort. This entailed 2 transfers, and the use of 2 different lines. We had pre-paid fare cards, which are much easier than buying tickets on an as-needed basis. Depending on your travel plans an unlimited pass might be a good investment. As the train approached the station, Disney landmarks became visible: Space Mountain, Cinderella's Castle, Mount Prometheus. My excitement level was reaching a fever pitch. As we pulled into the station at around 8:25 we could see the lineups at the gates and throngs of people headed to join them. At this point I figured it would be a crowded day, with long lineups. I would be proven correct.
The Arrival - 8:30 am
Located very near the train station is the Welcome Center. We stopped here and received more English maps, English guidebooks for each park, and an English show schedule for the day, which the cast member printed for us. We walked to the main gate, a 5 to 10 minute walk, and got in line at about 8:30. Instrumental Disney music plays from speakers along the walkway, very nice, one of those things that makes you feel like you're not just strolling down another ordinary street. Music from Indiana Jones and Star Wars were in the mix as well. Many people had clearly been there a while, as they had mats spread out for their wait. We were glad we already had our tickets as the ticket lines were very long as well. We would discover on Wednesday, that the lineups on the right side of the ticket booths were a bit shorter. I guess most people just join the first line they see, instead of walking another 100 meters to the other side of the ticket booths.
Park Opening - 9:00 am
As reported on the aforementioned web sites, the gates opened promptly at the scheduled opening time of 9:00, not a minute sooner. A few minutes before this, characters came out and waved from behind the gates. I was too far back to get a good luck, so it felt like a cruel tease. I saw the tips of the heads of Chip & Dale, Winnie the Pooh and the entire Hundred Acre gang. Disney is very popular in Japan, and Pooh is in particular. At a convenience store I thumbed through an entire catalogue of Disney merchandise for every room in the home. Toilet seat covers, shower curtains, cutlery, you name it. The Pooh section of toy stores is typically large as well. There would be a lineup to greet Pooh all day. I don't blame them, Pooh is extremely cute in the flesh, uh, fur. Ed being a Pooh fanatic was standing on tiptoes, trying to see Pooh, and was finally showing some real enthusiasm.
Also as reported, when guests started trickling in, most of them started running. This was quite a sight, seeing hordes of people just storming into the park. Really neat to watch, and everyone seemed to be conscious not to bowl over others. Even parents with strollers set off in a sprint upon entering the park. We got through the gates at 9:10, and let me tell you, 10 minutes is an eternity when you've waited 6 and a half years to return to Disneyland. The area just inside the gates is quite spacious, with lots of greenery, and provided a large area where characters held fort all day long. Just inside the gates, by the World Bazaar Entrance, we first grabbed a locker, as we brought extra clothes in case it got cold later, another good idea. Lockers cost 300, 400, or 500 yen for a one-time use. The 300 yen lockers were big enough for our backpack and a few additional items. They seemed to only take 100 yen coins, so make sure you have enough of these handy.
World Bazaar and the Mad Dash for Pooh's Hunny Hunt - 9:20
We followed the crowd down World Bazaar, a covered version (due to Tokyo's wet weather) of Main Street USA. The roof takes away from the atmosphere a little bit, but is hardly worth noting. We knew the crowds were primarily headed for Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Tokyo Disneyland's newest attraction, which I believe opened about a year and a half ago. This was Ed's first time at Disneyland, he was impressed by the castle but there was no time for leisurely sight-seeing, as we knew Fastpasses for Pooh would run out quickly. Dashing through the park, and not taking time to soak in all the atmosphere is not the best way for the first-time visitor to experience the magic - however, Disney is about rides too, and minimizing time spent in lines also contributes to having a good experience at the parks. With that in mind, we joined the line for Pooh Fastpasses. The line was clearly long, and started to the right of the castle, outside of Fantasyland. A cast member held a sign up at the beginning of the Fastpass queue and it was quite easy to figure out where we needed to be. The sign, like all in the park, included Japanese and English text, and of course a picture of Pooh. The line moved steadily, but slowly, and everyone seemed fairly patient. At 9:45 we reached the Fastpass machines and got 12:25-1:25 Fastpasses. The standby line at this point was already posted at 110 minutes!
Tokyo Disney Resort Fastpass System
At Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, after getting a Fastpass, you can get a Fastpass for a different attraction once the current Fastpass time begins, or 2 hours after getting your current Fastpass, whichever comes first. If you want another Fastpass for the same attraction, though, the 2 hour rule doesn't apply; you must wait until after your existing Fastpass time begins. For example, in our case, because we got our Pooh Fastpass at 9:45, we could get a Fastpass for another attraction at 11:45 (two hours after getting our Pooh Fastpass). Or else, we could have waited to get another Pooh Fastpass at 12:25 (when the existing one began). But this was a moot point as Pooh Fastpasses would be gone well before noon.
Pinocchio's Daring Journey - 9:45 am
It was now 9:45 and I hadn't been on a ride yet. I'd been waiting over 6 years to return to Disneyland, and I needed a ride, any ride. With that in mind we got in line for Pinocchio's Daring Journey, and got on after a short wait. I love the Fantasyland dark rides, but Ed wasn't too impressed. It was no different than in any other Disney park. Pinocchio has always been my least favourite dark ride, so I figured it would be a good idea to build up to the really good stuff.
Haunted Mansion - 10:30 am
We then checked out Peter Pan, but since the wait was 40 minutes we went to the Haunted Mansion instead, which is located in Fantasyland in Tokyo. It had a posted wait time of 20 minutes. There was a great statue of two ghosts drinking tea amongst the tombstones, it was one of many elaborate Halloween decorations in the park. The tombstones were all English, and were the same cheesy and amusing descriptions as in the American Parks. Didn't see a Leota tombstone. We entered this ride at around 10:30. The stretching room narration is Japanese, and no one seemed too interested in it. Maybe because the voice-over just isn't as creepy sounding as the original? From the stretching room we joined the short queue for Doom Buggies. The Doom Buggie boarding room even smelt like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I told Ed this who asked "What? Really? What is it supposed to smell like?". I don't know why exactly, but it just felt like I was back at the same park of six years ago when I stepped into this room. The Doom Buggy is my favourite Disney ride vehicle, which I mentioned to Ed along with noting how high the ride capacity is, due to the continuous loading. The narration is Japanese, the songs are the original English, Leota speaks in English. The ride is otherwise the same as any other version. No matter how many time I see this attraction, I still love it, I consider it one of Disney's signature attractions and it is definitely timeless. This 20+ year old ride's visuals stand the test of time far better than the visual effects in 20 year old movies, for example.
Disney's Halloween Parade - 11:10 am
We got out of the Haunted Mansion and were just in time for Disney's Halloween Parade which started at 11:10 from behind the Mansion. Tokyo Disneyland asks that guests not stake out parade spots any earlier than an hour before a given parade is to start. (Apparently, guests of Tokyo Disneyland used to grab their spots at opening, waiting as long as 6 hours, tying up foot traffic). Makes sense to me, always hated sitting for two to three hours for a good seat.
Side Note: In 1996 when we saw the Main Street Electrical Parade (Farewell performance) it seemed people were constantly trying to squeeze into spots close to viewing time, instead of going to the back of the viewing area. I saw none of this happen in Tokyo. Overall, during my week in Japan I did get the impression that Japanese are more polite than North Americans. I know that the vast majority of North Americans are well-behaved in public, and I certainly didn't encounter more than one or two rude ones in Anaheim, but it seems there's always a few noticeable ones that inconvenience others. In Japan, such instances seem non-existent and it does make a difference.
I really liked this parade, it lasted about 10 minutes, featured about 5 floats and many costumed dancers, and the music was extremely catchy. Not necessary to spend an hour waiting, as the crowd was quite shallow and we could get a fine view from the back. The fact that I'm taller than the average Japanese person may have helped too The Disney Characters were very animated, and many had Halloween outfits on. Mickey, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Chip & Dale, Mike & Sully, the Country Bears, the Witch from Snow White and the three little pigs were featured.
Lunch at the Lucky Nugget Caf
We then shared lunch at the Lucky Nugget Caf in Westernland. Typical Disney fast-food fare. Breaded fish, chicken, and fries. I found that food in Tokyo was generally about 30% more expensive than home. Disney's food prices were typical of meals in Tokyo, but the portions were a bit smaller. I found the prices reasonable and the food good. We would not eat at any of the pricier sit-down restaurants. My one gripe was the drinks, a "large" coke cost 260 yen ($3.50 CAD), was more like a medium cup, and would typically be 50% ice. After walking around in the hot sun a larger drink would have been nice. Fortunately, water fountains abound, even in some of the longer queues, and some restaurants included water taps with empty cups available.
It was 11:45 so we were able to get Splash Mountain Fastpasses with a 2:35 return time. A few people seemed baffled by the process of obtaining their tickets.
Snow White's Adventure - 11:55 am
We got in line for Snow White's Adventure, with a 30 minute posted wait time. Tokyo Disneyland posted wait times would turn out to be extremely accurate, no padding here. Ed was whining about standing in line, but as I told him there was nothing better to do, and if we weren't standing in a line we wouldn't get to go on a ride. Anyway, we both observed that time spent in lines seems to pass fairly quickly at Disneyland. Snow White was identical to the original(s) and Ed was more impressed with this ride than he was with Pinocchio. The ride's title doesn't explicitly mention its "scariness", but a warning is posted for those with small children.
Pooh's Hunny Hunt - 12:30 pm
Now, it was after 12:25 and the big moment had come, the time for us to ride Pooh's Hunny Hunt and my first chance to use a Fastpass, ever! The cast member at the Fastpass entrance carefully checked and collected everyone's Fastpasses. People arriving at the wrong time were turned away without incident, and no one seemed to be wasting their time standing there waiting for their time to open. I really liked being able to get on a ride with a minimal wait, (not counting the initial Fastpass wait of course), and felt suitably privileged. The queue is made up of giant pages from a Winnie the Pooh book, all in English. We passed through in a matter of minutes and boarded our Hunny Pot. Each pot is 2 rows and holds 4 adults. We got the front row, yay!
I'm searching for words to describe Pooh's Hunny Hunt. This ride was astonishing, magical, fun, amazing, remarkable, enchanting, phenomenal. I remember riding Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye for the first time and my jaw just dropping. They had combined the ultimate in Disney Dark Ride atmosphere with an exciting thrill ride to create an experience light years ahead of previous Disney rides. My reaction to Pooh was similarly jaw-dropping. I had heard stories of how good this ride is, but they can't prepare a Disney ride affectionado for the reality. Disney Imagineer's have created the ultimate ride for everyone (well, there is a height requirement, so not quite everyone). This ride will amaze and delight young and old alike.
The first thing you notice, is the lack of visible tracks. Guests board one of three Hunny Pots, and all three leave the station at the same time. In the next room, they split up and a brief animated clip is shown. It's so neat to watch the cars seem to park randomly. The three cars then take different routes through the hundred acre woods. All the characters are there, and are in fine animatronic form. I loved the Pooh bear who hangs from a balloon, scoots through the trees above and knocks down Eeyore's twig house. Then it's onto Tigger's bounce room, an animated Tigger frolics on the screen and you bounce with him. From what I could tell, the section of floor directly beneath the cars bounces, and the multi-layered trees surrounding the screens move up and down adding to the effect. From there you enter Pooh's bedroom, which disappears into a star field as Pooh dreamily drifts to the heavens. Then it's off to Pooh's dream of Heffalumps and Woozles. In this enormous room I counted about 9 Hunny Pots with riders, as well as a couple filled with giant characters. The car seems to randomly scoot about and spin, but it does follow a pre-arranged course (scuff marks on the floor indicate the route) and depending on your car, you see different effects. We stopped in front of a mirror and a bee stuck his snout into the car, draining our precious hunny (similar to the hitchhiking ghosts of Haunted Mansion fame). The ride then ends with a trip into a giant hunny-filled cavern (complete with a very strong hunny smell) where a very well done animatronic Pooh says something in Japanese.
Why they aren't building this attraction in Anaheim is beyond me. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride being built in Critter Country doesn't sound like it will be much better than an average FantasyLand dark ride. While the addition will no doubt be welcome, I don't see it being a draw to the degree that Pooh's Hunny Hunt is. The presence of Hunny Hunt influenced my desire to visit TDL, and I would recommend that any Disney theme park fan who happens to be in Tokyo to take the time to do the same. I have no such desire to visit Anaheim for their new ride.
Shopping at Pooh Corner
We checked out the Pooh Corner for souvenirs, and it was packed wall-to-wall with people. Cashier line-ups were short, but there were constant buyers so the money was certainly being raked in. I should mention that TDL rides do not automatically empty into a gift shop, they just have one nearby. This can be nice, but I missed a few shops because of this. Shops for rides included a lot of ride-themed merchandise. We would come back for some Pooh tins later.
Souvenirs at the Resort
Tins are the most prevalent and popular souvenirs in the park. They range from 500 yen upwards, and most are filled with chocolate, candy, or cookies. In Japan, it is customary to bring back souvenirs for every family member, and these make for low-cost, universally appealing gifts. One nice thing is that most of the goodies come individually wrapped so you can open the tins and mix & match. A display version on the shelf shows you what is contained inside the tin (even if you don't read Japanese). Some of the cookies in particular are quite elaborate, such as the ones with "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" inscribed on them, with a picture of Pooh no less. Ed and I loved the train tins, which included a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad steam engine tin and a tin train car. Other souvenirs at the resort are typical: keychains, pens, postcards, toys, etc. Pins are few and far between, as is clothing.
We then headed over to look around Toontown. I preferred Anaheim's entrance, where it really felt like walking into a whole new world as you traveled under the train tracks. TDL's Toontown is more open, and feels like it's just another part of one big park, a feeling typical of most of TDL's various lands. Looked pretty much the same as Anaheim, with the same photo-ops (dog pound, really heavy barbell, etc). The main difference at the time of our visit was that outside each toon's house was a depiction of the character as pumpkin-headed statue. Halloween decorations abounded here. We checked out Chip & Dale's treehouse and Donald's boat, and then headed for Tomorrowland.
TDL's Tomorrowland is the same classic white-paint-job as the original in Anaheim, prior to the Tomorrowland redo. The StarJets remain elevated. This land looked fairly barren, and was not as crowded as other areas of the park. Star Tours was closed for refurbishment as expected (according to Tokyo Joe's website). I didn't see any notices at the park entrance warning guests of such ride closures, but perhaps the ticket booth did?
We decided to ride Space Mountain with a 45 minute stand-by wait. We ignored the health & safety warning that advised guests be free from fatigue or lack of sleep, not quite understanding the logic of that particular guideline. I discovered I don't like waiting in long stand-by lines for Fastpass attractions. They only let a dozen or so people in at a time every few minutes, so you spend most of the time standing still. Even in slow lines elsewhere you usually feel like you're constantly progressing, but not here. Once we got by the initial stand-by line we went up the moving ramp to another stand-by line outside of the building. Another few minutes here and then it was down the hallways to the final line, to board the ride.
Minor SPOILER Warning
Great ride as always, I always love that first moment when you emerge into the darkness with stars swirling all around. Ed found the ride extremely tense, waiting for the big drop that would never come.
This would become Ed's favourite ride next to Pooh, and it's always been one of my favourites too. This version gets docked a few points as it doesn't have the cheesy futuristic music that makes Anaheim's version just a little bit more fun (Yes I know the music isn't currently working, but it was in 1996).
Safety at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort
I'll mention here that none of TDL's rides include station gates. Cast members make sure guests stay behind the yellow safety lines. I was reminded of this a couple of times when one of my toes strayed over the line. Cast Members were generally constantly talking to guests (safety info presumably), all while making sure no one strayed over the line, and guiding guests into the ride vehicles. They all seemed to be doing a great job, I can't imagine keeping up that pace all day long and still being so friendly. I never noticed a guest requesting a specific seat on a ride, guests were always told where to go through voice directions and hand gestures. Even though I didn't understand Japanese it was still always still clear where I should go and which line I should stand in.
By now it was 2:00, and we picked up a 2:55 Fastpass for MicroAdventure, aka Honey I Shrunk the Audience.
100 Years of Magic Parade - 2:00 pm
We then caught most of the 2:00 pm 100 Years of Magic parade, which included floats showcasing Disney through the ages. The was a float dedicated to Mickey's black & white shorts & Silly Symphonies, A 50's diner float, Alice in Wonderland float, Cinderella and Prince Charming dancing in a castle, Mickey and the Toy Story gang on a castle float, the Bugs Life characters, an assortment of characters from recent animated films, and others, along with the requisite dancers. It was a bit longer than the Halloween parade, just as good, and really catchy music again to boot (FYI, I write about the TDR CD's briefly in the Tips section of this report).
The crowd level was quite noticeable at this point, particularly in Fantasyland where it was wall-to-wall people. Didn't have a problem getting around though. I think one reason for the crowdedness is that Tokyo Disneyland is smaller than North American parks due to the availability of land. It never seemed like a long walk to go from one end of the park to the other.
Splash Mountain - 2:50 pm
At 2:50 we rode Splash Mountain. This version has logs which seat 4 rows of 2 people, with lap bars. Again, same as the North American parks, with all dialogue being in Japanese but the songs included English singing. I liked the photo so bought a copy to go with my 1996 one. Cost 1050 yen I believe, about $13 CAD.
We grabbed a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Fastpass with an 8:15 return time. By now all Fastpasses were giving out really late times. The system seemed to work well, as on a very busy day we were able to ride all the popular Fastpass rides without spending half the day in a line-up. I missed the freedom of doing the best rides 5 or 6 times as I had on previous trips, but today was crowded and I was thankful for Fastpass.
We then headed over to see MicroAdventure. Across from us, Visionarium was closed down and a sign advertised the opening of Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters in April 2004. Or was it 2003? 2004 seems like a long time for what is presumably an easy port of Florida's Buzz ride. But hey, any excuse to come back is fine by me. We watched the MicroAdventure pre-show, which included English subtitles. The theatre itself included Headphones in the second-to-last row, which provided English and Chinese versions of the audio. I didn't particularly like this movie, I expected a film where the audience would be put in dangerous situations for 20 minutes, like the thrills portrayed in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids film series. Instead, it was mostly 20 minutes of characters talking to us, with the occasional 3D thrill thrown in. The physical effects in the theater were a nice touch, but I was generally unimpressed.
It's A Small World - 4:10 pm
At 4:10 we rode It's A Small World with a 10 minute wait. Fortunately, when I went in 1996 the ride was closed, no such luck this time. This ride is just as tortuous as the other versions, with that awful song that implants itself in the rider's head like some horrible parasite. Singing was in Japanese and English, I think. I was trying not to listen.
Dinner at the Plaza Restaurant in Tomorrowland - 5:40 pm
At 5:40 we had burgers and fries at the Plaza Restaurant in Tomorrowland. The burgers were Mickey shaped (both the meat patty and the bun) and were deemed photo-worthy. I also noted they use the same English Mickey Cups and plates as Anaheim had in 1996.
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin - 6:10 pm
At 6:10 we rode Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. It is exactly the same as Anaheim, including the devious line-up that looks short but actually winds its way slowly through the side of the show building.
Electrical Parade - 7:30 pm
We then watched Disney's Electrical Parade: Dreamlights at 7:30 pm from an uncongested area just in front of the castle, (which, incidentally, looked gorgeous all lit up at night). Same music as the Anaheim 1996 Electric Parade, but sounded a little bit updated. The parade seemed to consist of most of the same floats from the parade in 1996. Pete's Dragon remains my favourite. This parade is beautiful as always, and was Ed's favorite. My pictures turned out this time too, since I'm older and wiser and no longer dumb enough to use a flash. A tripod would work best, if you can find a spot for one.
Cold Weather at Night
By this time it was a bit breezy and incredibly cold. As mentioned before, TDL is next to the water and can get extremely cold at night. We were glad we had brought warmer clothing, which we had retrieved from our locker earlier.
We then rode Alice's Tea Party (Teacups) with no wait. Great fun. I then insisted we ride a second time, repeating 1996's nausea inducing Teacup mini-marathon. I didn't find the second time too bad, as we focused on getting photos of each other with the lights streaking by in the background. They turned out pretty good. I was fine, but Ed felt queasy for the rest of the evening.
The Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks, scheduled for 8:30 were announced as cancelled due to weather. Ed loves fireworks and was disappointed. I couldn't have cared less as I've seen fireworks too many times to be wowed by them. Plus, I didn't want to stand still in the cold.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - 8:40 pm
We rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with our Fastpasses. Ed was still queasy and didn't enjoy the ride. I liked it, but it feels disjointed. There are three lift sequences, followed by riding portions. Just as you start to get going it's onto another lift, making the ride inconsistent. Still great fun, and especially neat at night.
We then rode Space Mountain with a Fastpass we had apparently picked up at some point, I don't remember when.
At around 8:50 the Pooh stand-by line was down to 40 minutes, so we rode again. We got a different car and therefore a slightly different experience. Again, this ride is amazing. It really takes more than one ride to notice all the details.
Ride Closing Times
It was now around 9:40, most rides had closed their queue's so all guests would be done by the 10:00 park closing time. We headed back to the hotel. We went to sleep just after 11:00, our legs were tired from 13 hours of walking, and blisters were forming. Regardless, I set a wake-up call for 6:45.
Day 2 - Tuesday October 29 2002 - Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo Disney Resort Liner
We arrived at the resort (Maihama station) around 8:30. Judging from the resort map the entrance to DisneySea would require at least a 20-minute walk. Since we weren't sure how to get there and didn't want to walk, we bought a ticket for the Disney Resort Liner. The station was very close, just past the Welcome Center. The Disney Resort Line is run like any other of Tokyo's subways, and is not free to all guests, unlike North America's Monorail systems. We paid 600 yen each for 2-day passes. We got to the DisneySea main entrance at about 8:50, and the lines were noticeably shorter than the day before at TDL. It only took about 5 minutes to get through when the gates opened at 9:00. We again grabbed a 300 yen locker.
Entering Tokyo DisneySea
The crowds were smaller and only a few people seemed to be running for rides. We marveled at the Aquasphere just inside the main gate, a giant rotating globe/fountain. Atmospheric music played here, as in most areas of the park. We noticed right away that the theming in this park is much more elaborate and immersive than at Tokyo Disneyland. We passed under the Hotel MiraCosta (located inside DisneySea), past all the shops and towards Mount Prometheus, the park's enormous centerpiece. This volcano has an occasional fiery eruption, and is a huge wonder to behold. We knew that this volcano houses the park's most popular attraction, Journey to the Center of the Earth so we walked towards it, along Mediterranean Harbor. The presence of the Harbor unfortunately requires that you walk around it to get to the meat of the park, a minor inconvenience; I prefer Disneyland's central hub setup. We got 10:20 Fastpasses for Journey and entered the stand-by line for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, which was posted at 10 minutes. It took as long to walk to the start of the line as we spent in line. Six of DisneySea's rides use Fastpass, or about half the attractions. TDL by contrast has closer to 40 rides and still only uses Fastpass on 5 attractions.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Minor SPOILERS)
This ride is, of course, a simulated underwater voyage. Cars are suspended like Peter Pan's, and hold 6 people. Fortunately we were given the front seat, which I'd read is the best seat for this ride, as the other seats only provide a view out of one side of the vehicle. I had to hunch over to look out the viewport, as it was about a foot lower than where my head should be. When we rode the Anaheim Submarines in 1996, we found the ride to be dank and uncomfortable, the windows too small and the effects really out-dated. I'm not upset that they shuttered that ride. This new version at DisneySea is definitely an improvement, with elaborate sets and a better viewing experience (it is a little too murky at some points, however). Narration is Japanese. The bubbles in the windows simulate a dive sufficiently, but obscure the view a little too much for my taste.
Overall, I enjoyed this ride, it was reminiscent of the old version but sufficiently improved in order to make the experience new and worthwhile. Having said that however, neither Ed nor I had a desire to ride it again.
We headed for the Arabian Coast, which was a virtual ghost town. The theming here is amazing, and is like stepping into another land. If you've been to Las Vegas, you know how each themed hotel transports you into an immersive land in a very effective way. I would compare the level of theming and immersion at DisneySea to Las Vegas. This is a compliment to both vacation destinations.
We skipped the 2-story Caravan Carousel, as well as The Magic Lamp Theater which was easily the most popular attraction in this section of the park. We posed with a camel statue and just spent some time soaking it all up and taking pictures. So far, this day was much more enjoyable than our day at TDL, just because there weren't wall-to-wall people and we felt more relaxed. I was also delighted to be experiencing a new Disney theme park experience for the first time.
Sinbad's Seven Voyages - 9:50 am
At 9:50 we boarded Sinbad's Seven Voyages with no wait. This is a boat ride through Animatronic populated locales. The Animatronics are a bit bigger than those of It's A Small World, and are cartoony versions of people. They are very impressive; the eyes and mouths move; they gesture and motion and generally act like you might expect a human actor in their place to act. They don't look as realistic as, say, Pirates of the Caribbean's, but they are much more effective. Sinbad introduces each scene, but because all of the narration is in Japanese I couldn't follow the story being told. I really enjoyed this ride, and I think if there were an English version of this ride I would like it a lot more. Once I'd ridden it and marveled at the scenery I wasn't too compelled to come back. It would be nice if they could make an English text version of the ride available, so you could read it while waiting in line (not that I ever saw a line for this ride) and understand the story a bit more.
Lost River Delta
We then headed into the Lost River Delta area of the park, home to the large temple which houses Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull - 10:05 am
At 10:05, stand-by for Indy was posted at 25 minutes so we decided to ride. We were in line only 10 minutes. Walking through this attractions queue would usually take longer than the wait itself. I really like the queue, a big open Temple. Not as interactive as the queue in Anaheim, but brighter and more appealing. Of course, we never spent much time marveling at the details as the line rarely stretched back very far. There's an intro movie doubling as a safety spiel, with Paco replacing Anaheim's Sallah, English subtitles included. Ed was presumably curious to see the ride my friends and I liked enough to go on 12 times over 5 days in 1996, a record I had vague aspirations of beating. The ride was as expected, not much different than the original.
There aren't 3 different destiny rooms like in Anaheim, and as a result the intro chamber is bit more detailed. There were hundreds of little statues as part of the decorations, a detail we wouldn't even notice the first time. The chamber with the Crystal Skull cannot hold a candle to Mara, I thought it looked cheap, plastic, and tacky. The blue light beams from it's eyes were ineffective. The ride layout is the same as the original, we pass Indy and the huge gates while lightning streaks across the walls. I notice that fluorescent paint and dark lights were used extensively in this ride. I don't remember that from Anaheim, and thought a more realistic decorating scheme would be more appropriate for Indy. The main chamber is not as awe inspiring, due to the lack of fire and red. When you enter the chamber, a beam of light shoots out of the giant skulls eye, across the bridge, sending lightning across the rock next to the jeep. A very good effect, moreso for passengers on the right-hand side of the jeep. The Chamber is bathed in blue-green hues, and there is a whirling tornado. Music score is identical to Anaheim. Like Anaheim, Indy says different things each time and the jeeps movement's change. On our first trip we "stalled" in the dart room diminishing the effect of dashing through to avoid said darts. In Anaheim, this felt like real darts, and we instinctively would duck our heads, in Tokyo it just felt like air was blowing on me. A show effect they should definitely tweak. The ride ends with a skull blowing a smoke ring at the jeep (very cool) and the giant rolling boulder.
They also have an on-ride photo-taking machine during the drop below the boulder.
End SPOILER Warning
Overall, as great a ride as Anaheim's with a few nitpicky complaints.
We grabbed Indy Fastpasses in order to ride again at 10:55. I ate a yummy Yucatan sausage roll from Expedition Eats.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
We then headed to Journey to the Center of the Earth to use our Fastpasses, stand-by for this attraction was posted as 60 minutes.
To get to the ride, a dozen or so passengers at a time board elevators for the trip down to the center of the Earth, where the ride vehicles await. Lights and noise and heat in said elevators enhance the illusion. In fact, those sneaky elevators actually go up to the ride boarding area. A short wait later, we boarded our car. This ride uses the Test Track & Rocket Rods technology. The vehicles are very well themed, and I'm surprised they didn't design them to be roofless in order to include on-ride photos in this attraction. This attraction superbly combines an elaborate dark ride with some thrills, but, unlike Indy, not at the same time. The first portion of the ride is a slow trip past underground caverns, and all the exotic glowing mushrooms and crystals within. The scenery gradually becomes more threatening. After passing by lightning, fire, and an encounter with a large and elaborate animatronic monster, the vehicle quickly accelerates upwards, around a curve and then shoots up and out of the mountain, down a steep drop, and on to the unloading area. The dark-ride portion of this attraction was average, but Ed and I both loved the high-speed portion and especially the drop. It's a smooth drop but you get that neat feeling in the pit of your stomach each time. It's a thrill that is unique among Disney rides.
End SPOILER Warning
At 11:15 we rode Indy again using our Fastpasses. The stand-by time was up to 60 minutes at this point.
Mermaid Lagoon - 11:30 am
At 11:33 we headed to Mermaid Lagoon. Most of the rides are located inside this area, but before entering we rode Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster with a 10 minute wait. This is the same type of mini-coaster as Gadget's Go Coaster in TDL's Toontown (which we did not ride on this trip). It was not particularly enjoyable due to the cramped seating and dull ride, but since I'm not exactly the target audience, it's a moot complaint. Interestingly, I didn't notice a single child on the coaster.
Mermaid Lagoon is gorgeous, the outside looks like a giant Coral Castle, and gets my vote as the most photogenic area of the park. Even the no-smoking signs were a picture of an angelfish puffing away with the usual "no" symbol over it. Very cute.
We went inside long enough to grab Fastpasses for the Mermaid Lagoon Theater. Fastpasses for shows give you a very specific 10-minute window in which to use them, to accommodate the show schedule, naturally. Ours were good from 12:50 to 1:00 only.
Stormrider - 12:00 pm
We headed over to Port Discovery and rode Stormrider at 12:00 with a minimal wait. I was looking forward to seeing this new motion simulator ride. It had been a long time since Star Tours premiered and I was interested in seeing the next generation of motion simulator technology in use at Disney's most advanced theme park. Once inside, there's another wait during a lengthy pre-show sequence which sets up the plot. The pre-show spiel is a combination of pre-filmed bits and a live cast-member, who is also shown on several large TV screens, making her visible to everyone. One such TV includes English subtitles. We boarded the vehicle, which was extremely large compared to Star Tours, with a bigger screen. The ride was very disappointing. The on-screen action was murky and didn't create a lot of illusion of movement, and the physical movement seemed quite limited, likely due to the size of the theater. There were a few neat in-theater effects but I was completely underwhelmed.
We headed back to Mermaid Lagoon, pausing to take it all in while waiting for the Mermaid Lagoon Theatre show set for 12:50. There are 3 rides inside Mermaid Lagoon, as well as Ariel's Playground, a play-area with rope bridges, and caverns with interactive displays. We liked the playground and thought small kids would love it. The rides are just themed carnival rides, several of which are the same as those found in A Bug's Land at DCA. Being inside Mermaid Lagoon is like walking into a giant dark ride, the scenery is beautiful and the colors are incredibly vibrant. Disney takes a lot of criticism for the addition of these child-friendly areas, with their generic off-the-shelf rides and limited appeal to adults. In this case, I think it works. Kids will enjoy the pedestrian rides, and both kids and adults will enjoy the amazing themeing. The atmosphere is certainly better than what you find in DL's Snow White ride for example, and how many people actually go on that for the ride portion anyway? The addition of a classic Disney dark ride would be welcome, however.
Mermaid Lagoon Theater
We went to the Theater for the Little Mermaid Show. This show takes place in a circular theater, and begins with Ariel suspended in the center. She speaks in Japanese but all of the songs are in English. This show can be described as a very watered-down Cirque de Soleil (bad pun intended). That's not meant as a criticism, as this show is excellent. It uses some very elaborate and beautiful puppets controlled by actors on the ground, as well as suspended from the ceiling. Ursula was quite impressive. And besides, no matter how many times I hear it, I still love the "Under the Sea" song.
We headed back to Port Discovery and rode Aquatopia with a 10-minute wait. There are 2 sides for this attraction, you choose which you want via a fork in the line just before boarding. Both sides looked pretty much the same.
The vehicles look kind of like giant bumper boats and travel on a track which is about an inch or two under the water. This is meant to create the illusion of your vehicle actually floating. The ride tracks are too visible for this to effectively work, the best thing to do is force yourself to look ahead and not at the ground. The ride uses the same technology as Pooh's Hunny Hunt in TDL, and likewise here your vehicle will take one of several different routes each time. The vehicles "float" along, stop, spin, do circles, and zigzag past whirlpools and rocks and waterfalls. On our first ride I was disappointed our vehicle didn't go through the little cavern. Humph. The illusion of floating and the overall ride experience is actually better at night, we would discover later on.
End SPOILER Warning
Overall, the ride is quite fun for the whole family, in great Disney Tradition. Like most of the attractions at DisneySea they really tried to do something new and in doing so created a unique and fun ride, in spite of its flaws.
We grabbed Journey to the Center of the Earth Fastpasses, with a return time of 3 hours later.
I give in and buy my first Pin
We bought a really nice Journey to the Center of the Earth postcard at Nautilus Gifts, and I bought a Journey Pin. The last thing I wanted to do was get sucked into pin collecting. Fortunately the Tokyo Disney Resort has effectively ended pin trading and only issues a few pins now and then. I couldn't resist this pin though, it's a mountain with the Journey ride's logo, and the two halves slide open to reveal a little picture of a Disney Character. The character you get is clearly indicated on the package with an English sticker, but when I bought it the Cast Member made a point of opening it to make sure I would see what I was getting. Great customer service. I picked Donald, my favorite character. Never did see Donald this trip, outside of parades. I also bought a transparent Mysterious Island sticker. There's one for each land of the park and these are great for introducing sections of a photo album. I also bought a Donald Duck clacker thingy, which had a safety pin attached. I didn't realize when I bought it what it was, to me it was just a neat little thing that when you squeezed a lever, a plastic Donald jiggled and made a clicking noise. I found out later that the safety pin on it was meant to attach to a baby's diaper! Cast Members had similar toys at Character Photo spots to get little kids to smile. So, I bought a toy that was designed to amuse 2 year olds. Well, it amused this 26 year old too.
At 2:30 we rode Indy for a third time, with Fastpass again.
DisneySea Transit Steamer Line - 2:55 pm
At 2:55 we rode the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line, a boat (duh) that does a circle within the park, with 3 stops. Unlike the Disneyland Railroad in Anaheim, you have to get off at the next stop. Doing the complete circuit would mean waiting in line 3 times. There wasn't any wait to get on at this time. The boat traveled clockwise, between the Arabian Coast and Mermaid Lagoon, and through Mysterious Island and Mount Prometheus, letting us off at Mediterranean Harbor.
We spent some time doing some shopping in the numerous stores in the area. I also got a photo with Goofy in his DisneySea outfit near the main entrance. Upon seeing the photo later my friend Jason immediately called him "Pimp Goofy". Here you can also line up for a photo-op with Mickey and Minnie, looking very good in their DisneySea-specific outfits.
A note here on characters. While in TDL I perused a magazine that shows all the characters and their various outfits. The most popular ones literally have dozens, depending on which show or parade they're in, and which land. The number of costumes available to some of the characters surpass the number used by Cher in her farewell concert - and that's no small feat I assure you. DisneySea does not have the same cartoony feel as TDL, but the characters outfits are so well themed thatthey don't look out of place.
At around 3:45 we strolled beyond the shops down towards the American Waterfront. There's not much to do here so the area was quite quiet, which made it a good place for several characters to be walking about. This was a change from TDL the day before, where characters were relegated to the main entrance area, presumably due to the crowds. This area, with it's own quaint little shops was the closest thing to Main Street USA at the Tokyo Disney Resort. A few Christmas decorations had gone up, in preparation for Nov 4 when both parks were scheduled for their holiday makeover. (DisneySea did not have any Halloween Decorations in the park). Here Ed got a photo with Mickey, who looked like he was wearing a barbershop quartet type outfit. We got a photo together with Pluto (naked as always), and saw Scrooge McDuck (holding fort outside McDuck's Department Store, enjoying the sound of his cash registers dinging), the mice from Cinderella, and Chip & Dale.
DisneySea Electric Railway
We rode the DisneySea Electric Railway, which is a short electric trolley ride and not overly exciting, towards the back of the park. We rode Indy for a fourth time at 4:50 with a 15-minute wait. Hmm, the 12-times-on-Indy record from 1996 started to seem reachable. We exited and grabbed Indy Fastpasses with a 5:20 return time, but we would not use them.
Mystic Rhythms Show - 5:10 pm
At 5:10 we got in line for the 5:30 Mystic Rhythms Show. This rainforest themed show is excellent. The stage is decorated elaborately with vines and rocks and such. A live band provides music from the upper-sides of the theater. This show consisted of dancing and acrobatics, and had some neat special effects, like the men emerging from rocks, and the entire theater filling with mist in a matter of seconds. The costumes were spectacular and the (wordless) storyline was easy to follow. Like most shows, Ed was thrilled. I'm not a big fan of stage shows but I liked this one.
We dashed towards Journey to the Center of the Earth to use our Fastpasses. Before riding at 6:00, we grabbed another set of Fastpasses for 7:50.
Aquatopia Again - 6:15 pm
At 6:15 we rode Aquatopia again with no wait. The ride is much nicer in the dark, it is very prettily lit, and the floating illusion works better. Plus, our boat went through the little cavern this time. Yay. I'm sure Ed was pleased as my obsessive-compulsive tendencies probably would have dictated multiple rides until said cavern trip occurred.
At 6:30 we rode Indy for the fifth time with a 5-minute wait. They weren't giving out Fastpasses any longer. We exited Indy at 6:45 to find the entrance closed! We didn't know why as we couldn't understand the Cast Member's Japanese explanation. Perhaps since the crowds were so low the cost of running it were deemed excessive? This ride on Indy, incidentally marked my first notice of something that needed some fixing. The steering wheel on our jeep was patched up with a piece of duct-tape. The fact that it took this long for me to notice even a minor lack of proper maintenance is indicative of the pristine condition of the Tokyo parks. My only knowledge of the condition of the American parks comes from online info, but from what I've read, Tokyo is definitely ahead of the American parks in this department.
We walked over and rode Sinbad's Seven Voyages again at 6:50. This was a walk-on, in fact most boats were ferrying only 2 people.
Dinner at the Casbah Food Court
Dinner was found at the Casbah Food Court in Arabian Coast. Ed had tandoori chicken and I had a noodle dish. Both were good, and there was no wait nor a shortage of tables at this time.
We passed on the Magic Lamp Theater due to the 20 minute wait, figuring it would be shorter later. Instead, we rode Journey to the Center of the Earth with a 20 minute wait.
DisneySea Symphony - 8:10 pm
We headed to watch the 8:10 nightly showing of DisneySea Symphony. We got a spot along the water just on the edge of Mysterious Island; this was not an ideal location. We should have gotten a spot which would have offered a view of Mount Prometheus. We couldn't tell for sure, but the show seemed to include some images projected onto the mountain, plus the main stages are located on the water closer to the main entrance. This show was what you would expect, music, pyrotechnics, wizard Mickey. It was good, but does pale in comparison to Fantasmic. Due to guest requests, construction was ongoing to build seating for the various shows all around the Harbor. The Hotel MiraCosta is located right inside the park, so those guests with windows facing Mediterranean Harbor can watch from their nice warm rooms. Too expensive for my tastes though.
We rode Journey to the Center of the Earth for the fourth time at 8:20, using our Fastpasses, while grabbing yet more Fastpasses along the way.
Buona Sera Serenade - 8:30 pm
We were in and out quickly, in time for the 8:30 show Buona Sera Serenade. We hadn't heard anything about this show and wondered why they would have a second show so soon after DisneySea Symphony. As it turned out, this show was just the Disneyland Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks. A smarter person would have noticed the times for both shows was the same and made the connection sooner, but I'm not that person. The music for the fireworks was instrumental music from Disney films, with the Indiana Jones theme thrown in. I later read that DisneySea uses a different soundtrack for the fireworks, but I can't say for sure. The fireworks were good, and this was the only night of our 3-day visit that weather conditions allowed them to be shown. Compared to a few pictures of Anaheim's current Christmas Fireworks, Tokyo's appear to be less spectacular.
Magic Lamp Theater - 9:00 pm
At 9:00 we got in line for the Magic Lamp Theater, with a 15 minute wait. There is a preshow with an animatronic Snake in an Urn. The show itself combines live actors with a 3D film. This was my first experience watching a live-action/3D movie hybrid. Not understanding Japanese I wasn't too into it, but the rest of the audience were amused and seemed to enjoy it. I thought the 3D animated Genie was an excellent effect, far superior to Honey I Shrunk the Audience's 3D visuals, although I did have a superior center seat for this one. At one point, the 3D genie was controlling the live actor like a puppet, but I was so transfixed on the 3D animation it took me a minute to notice. The combination of show types was well done.
The Famous Gyoza Sausage Buns
Mysterious Island is home to the famous Refreshment Station cart which sells Gyoza Sausage Buns. The line-up for these is usually a minimum of 40 people long during the day. It was short in the evening so I had one. Very good, but not worth a huge wait. One would think they would expand the cart a little to move the line quicker, but I don't think they like cluttering up the walkways with small vendors, which are so prevalent in the North American parks. It was never too hard to find a quick snack throughout the park, however.
We ended the evening with a 9:40 ride on Journey to the Center of the Earth using our Fastpasses. At this point we were more than satisfied that we had seen everything we really wanted to in the Park, and anticipated that our third and final day would be spent exclusively at Disneyland.
Day 3 - Wednesday October 30 2002 - Park Hopping
For our third day, our passport allowed us to park hop between both parks.
We arrived at Tokyo Disneyland close to 9:00, and discovered if we kept walking past the first set of line-ups, the lines to the right of the ticket booths were a bit shorter. Nonetheless, we weren't through the gates until 9:15. We made our daily locker rental stop, and headed for the Pooh's Hunny Hunt stand-by line just as we did on day 1. The crowds were still large, but noticeable smaller than Monday. The initial Pooh Fastpass line was quite a bit shorter and we obtained 11:35 Fastpasses, almost an hour improvement on day 1.
Peter Pan's Flight
We rode Peter Pan's Flight with a minimal wait, knowing it would be our only opportunity to ride it without its typical 40-minute line. Definitely the best dark ride next to Pooh, and no surprises here, it's identical to Anaheim. Well, not quite identical. Our highlight of the ride in Anaheim was when our boat would swing near the exit and hit the wall. I'm not sure why we found this so amusing, but we did. Nothing to swing into in Tokyo, except black curtains.
Pirates of the Caribbean - 10:05 am
Pirates of the Caribbean was scheduled to reopen today from its rehab, according to Tokyo Joe's website. I can't say for sure if it was closed the previous days, as this was our first foray into that area of the Park. Passed on the Swiss Family Treehouse. It looked so short, barely off the ground in fact. Adventureland is definitely the most immersive land in the park, it feels much more isolated and unique than the other lands do compared to one another.
At 10:05 Pirates was a walk-on, with boats half-empty. Great ride as always, and the wenches weren't carrying plates of food, thank goodness. I didn't perceive any differences between this ride and Anaheim's, but I read elsewhere it's a bit shorter.
After the ride we browsed through The Golden Galleon shop. I like Pirate merchandise and there was a good selection. Didn't buy anything though.
Jungle Cruise - 10:25 am
At 10:25 we rode the Jungle Cruise with a 5 minute wait. For some reason they made sure each boat was fully loaded, even though there were 3 or 4 boats backed up and it seemed they could have moved people more quickly by sending out boats not quite full. The ride is basically the same as Anaheim's, but with the addition of a small temple and the continued use of a gun. The skipper seemed animated and into his role, but the guests didn't seem to be laughing. I guess they do a more serious spiel in Tokyo and skip the jokes.
Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour
At 10:50 we took The Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour, which is a guided tour through the basement of the castle, including several very nice three-dimensional displays, and a finale which includes an encounter with the villain from The Black Cauldron. I liked the use of a character from that movie, which I'm fairly fond of, as it's definitely one of Disney's least popular animated films, and therefore rarely acknowledged. The castle tour was dark and terrifying to young children. All of the children under 5 cried non-stop for the entire tour. Like many attractions, this one was in Japanese only and I subsequently found it boring. The scenery was nice but standing around listening to Japanese narration and crying children is not my idea of a good time.
We grabbed Fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Ed wanted to ride again as he didn't enjoy the first ride on day one due to Teacup-induced nausea.
Pooh's Hunny Hunt - 11:35 am
At 11:35 we rode Pooh's Hunny Hunt with our Fastpasses. Love this ride, really noticed the details and how well done the animatronics are. I said it before, but it "bears" repeating. A ride of this caliber would entice me to visit Anaheim or Florida, unlike the comparatively dull Pooh ride that is in Florida and will soon be in Anaheim.
Grand Circuit Raceway - 11:50 am
At 11:50 We went on the Grand Circuit Raceway (Autopia) with a 10 minute wait. Sensors in the cars stop them if you get too close to the one in front of you, so no bumper cars here. The track is 4 lanes wide, and is fairly dull. Hard to say why, but I liked Anaheim's a lot more. I think this ride would be more effective with narrower tracks and sharper turns and "driving" challenges. Didn't really get the feeling that I was in control, as I rarely needed to turn my steering wheel.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - 12:45 pm
At 12:45 we rode Big Thunder Mountain with our Fastpasses, stopping for Splash Mountain passes along the way. Ed liked it this time, but we both consider it our least favourite mountain attraction.
Tom Sawyer Island - 1:00 pm
At 1:00, we got on the raft for the quick jaunt to Tom Sawyer Island. Let me say, I loved this part of Disneyland as a kid, like no other. Visits to Florida's Island in 1993 and Anaheim's in 1994 did not impress me though, as the longer caves, my favourite element, seemed to be gone. I read with sadness David Koenig's update on the elimination of anything considered even remotely dangerous from Anaheim's Island (http://www.mouseplanet.com/david/tomsawyer.htm).
Well, I absolutely loved Tokyo's version. It's smaller than Anaheim's, but the fun is intact. There were adults and kids alike climbing the rocks enjoying the suspension and barrel bridges. Everything was as it should be, including the spinning and teeter-totter rocks. My highlight was Injun Joe's Cave, which was long and dark and windy. Exactly as I remember from my childhood (which apparently hasn't ended, but you know what I mean). I quickly ran ahead, waited for Ed to approach and then would lunge at him in the dark and scream, startling him. I would then duck around the corner and do this again. I found this to be incredibly fun. I made a point of doing the cave twice. I guess I see why Disney lawyers consider this dangerous, it would be fairly easy to bump into a wall if you're not careful. But, what a shame it is that the threat of lawsuits in the USA means that their Islands will never be as fun again as the one in Tokyo.
We grabbed some fried pork and chicken buns from The Canteen on the Island. They were a little dry but they were good, and all that running around and climbing through caves made me thirsty.
We left the island at 2:00, grabbed a 2:45 Space Mountain Fastpass, and bought Honey-Lemon Churros from Tomorrowland's Lite Bite Satellite. Like many people, a trip to Disneyland for me is not complete without a Churro. I didn't like the sweetness of the honey, but the lemon was good making for an overall excellent Churro experience.
We headed for Splash Mountain, but were forced to wait for the 100 Years of Magic Parade to pass by. Didn't seem to be letting many people across the parade route. Noted that Haunted Mansion had a 5 minute line-up so made a mental note to return after Splash Mountain.
Rode Splash Mountain with Fastpass and headed back to the Mansion. This was the day before Halloween so I had to go on this attraction. The wait had climbed to a mere 15 minutes, so we rode.
Made the decision to skip the Mickey Mouse Revue, an old animatronic attraction transplanted from Florida. I regret skipping this, as from the looks of the crowds its days may be numbered.
Space Mountain - 3:25 pm
At 3:25 we rode Space Mountain with Fastpass. We were in the front seat and we both agreed it's the best seat for this great ride.
At 3:55 we made our way out of the park, deciding we had done what we needed to and feeling that the less crowded DisneySea would be a better use of our time. We browsed the shops on the way out for last minute souvenirs.
Ed got in line to meet Pooh near the main entrance, and seeing the line was quite long I went to buy a tin while he waited. Oops! The line moved quickly and I missed Ed meeting Pooh, which he was very excited about. He was annoyed at me and I groveled many sincere apologies and regrets. We thought about lining up for Pooh again, but we saw Eeyore so went to him. Eeyore and I share the same gloomy personality so I feel a real bond with him. Got a cute picture of us leaning our heads together. I also got a photo with my other idol, Grumpy; Ed says that it's hard to tell who's who in the photo. The Dwarves were fun; at one point all seven danced in a circle holding hands. This was great to witness and Dwarves and spectators alike seemed to be enjoying themselves. Snow White was around as well. The front area of the park isn't too crowded, so getting a ton of character photos is quite easy. We also took photos of Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Jiminy Cricket, and the Mad Hatter. Also present were Captain Hook and Smee, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, and Goofy. Characters rotated on a regular basis. Mad Hatter was a fantastic face character, the American (presumably) actor playing him was delightfully funny and over-the-top flamboyant, mugging for the camera, complaining that he didn't warrant a line as long as Pooh, and just generally being outgoing and fun. Good makeup too. We spent about half an hour enjoying the characters and then left the park to board the Disney Resort line for the trip to DisneySea.
Back to DisneySea - 4:40 pm
We got to DisneySea at 4:40, Fastpasses for journey to the Center of the Earth and Indiana Jones had 7:40 and 7:10 return times respectively, so we got Journey Fastpasses due to its longer stand-by time. Lots of walking and backtracking to come to that particular decision!
Dinner at the Zambini Brothers' Ristorante
We had dinner at the Zambini Brothers' Ristorante. We both had pasta, which was good. Ed got a chocolate mousse which was also excellent.
Indiana Jones Marathon - 7:00 pm
At 7:00 the Indiana Jones Adventure had a 5-minute posted wait so we rode. Then we rode again. And again. Over the course of 80 minutes we managed to ride 7 times, tying the 1996 record of 12 rides, but in just 2 days! After each ride we wondered if it would be closed early again, as it was the previous night, but it was open until we left at 8:25. We spent more time running through the queue than we did waiting in line. There was one 15 minute wait at one point due to an unknown technical issue. By 8:00 the ride was a walk-on, and jeeps were being dispatched with 2 people only.
Journey to the Center of the Earth - 8:25 pm
At 8:25, with the Indy record tied and tradition met, we rode Journey to the Center of the Earth for the sixth and final time using our Fastpasses. The drop doesn't have quite the same feeling when you sit in the front row of the vehicle. We didn't feel like waiting for the ride again as the stand-by time was 40 minutes, so we got another Gyoza Sausage Bun and headed back to our hotel, an hour before closing time.
On the way out, near the main entrance, we watched as Mickey and Minnie Mouse visited with their last guests of the day. They really put some effort into their final visit, shaking the guests hands and giving them a farewell hug. It was the type of little moment that has always set Disney theme parks apart from the rest.
3 busy hectic days at the Tokyo Disney Resort were over. We were tired, our legs were sore, we had blisters and wind burn, but I would have gladly done it all over again. We were so exhausted from those 3 days we slept 11 hours that night.
- Tokyo Disneyland recreates the original Anaheim Disneyland extremely well, with no noticeable lack of upkeep, excellent customer service, and an overall level of entertainment that from all accounts exceeds the current North American parks standards.
- Tokyo Disneyland was extremely crowded, but it never seemed difficult to get around, and everyone seemed well behaved. Fastpass is great, as without it I would have no doubt had to wait in line for the e-ticket rides for hours at a time.
- If DisneySea continues to expand its list of attractions (and there is some visible land to do so) it could eventually rival Disneyland as the Greatest Place on Earth. For now, it's an amazing start.
- The level of theming and detail at DisneySea is amazing. It actually manages to make Disneyland feel kind of barren in comparison. Anyone expecting a large volume of rides might be disappointed however.
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02-21-2007 11:00 AM