Monday, June 17, 2013

Tokyo DisneySea

We were woefully unprepared for our day at Tokyo Disney Sea in that I did not do any research about the Park. The night before we asked Masumi for advice about must-sees at Tokyo Disney Sea. She told us we had to do everything because it is all so different from other Disney parks. Her preference is for the shows, which was a challenge for us due to the language barrier. I did find it amusing, though, when I heard Lumiere speak Japanese with a French accent during an outdoor show! More on the language-barrier later.

So it was onto the rides. Almost as soon as we entered the park we bumped into Gepetto, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, and the villains from their movie. They were a lot of fun. The characters reminded us of the ones in DisneyLand versus the ones at Walt Disney World. Nothing against them in Florida, but most of our magical character interactions have been in California. Each character made us feel special. After waiting a while, that is a nice feeling.

Unfortunately a few minutes later I realized I had the new camera in the wrong setting. 

Wait, that’s not a ride. Hmm…

After yesterday’s experience with Space Mountain where we told Ashley she would like this version of the ride because it is smoother than the versions in Florida and California, yet she really didn’t like it  we’ve taken to pre-screening rides first. Don rode “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and picked up fast passes for later. He talked me into doing it, but not Ashley. It was a very mild ride with a lot of theming. I joked that it was the opposite of Space Mountain because it goes inside the earth and instead of into outer space. In truth, though, this was much gentler. We use seat restraints as a guide. This one uses a loose lap bar. That makes it a fairly easy ride.

We walked through Mermaid Lagoon. What amazed us most was how Tokyo Disney utilizes the vertical space. I quipped that is much easier to do when you are not worrying about being ADA compliant. I noticed overall strollers are smaller at Tokyo Disney than at Disney World and Disney Land. More parents seem to carry their babies than push them around in strollers. I only saw a handful of wheelchairs, and only two ECVs. The place is designed for people with two working legs.

The overall theming is amazing and stunning. Don and Ashley compared it to EPCOT, but it was even more than that. The theming reminded me of Universal Studios in Florida (where Harry Potter World is located). The theming is that intense and believable. The use of large walls separated lands which transformed each section into the next. There are clear changes in the path to indicate when you have left one Land and entered the next one.

At Masumi’s encouragement, we had lunch so we could see Duffy’s Show at the Cape Cod Cook-Off. The wait for the food was much longer than his show, but we are glad we did it. The plot was very light. We figured it out without a language guide. The food was okay. A thought on the food – here the choices are as a “set” or “single.” Set is like a value meal – drink and often a salad or dessert includes the meal, the single is just the item itself. They always seem to have cups and a water fountain so you can just have a glass of water. So far my stomach has been fine with the water (it gets upset in Bethlehem, PA and the south end of my own town, so I wasn’t sure).

Duffy is huge here! “Duffy who?” you ask. Duffy is Mickey Mouse’s stuffed bear, lovingly made by Minnie Mouse. His line is often an hour long. In California and Florida, his line is moments long. There are spots along the way that have little chairs for Duffy to sit in so you can take a picture of Duffy having adventures. We want to return tomorrow to take pictures with Ashley’s stuffed critter – Bialashu the panda bear.

Overall I was in awe of the theming in the American Waterfront. They a section dedicated to early 20th century New York City and another part for New England. This and the Mediterranean Harbor were the most photogenic and stunning areas from an architectural standpoint. Much of the entire park is extremely photogenic just by itself, again like EPCOT.

The line for Toy Story Mania was nearly 2 hours. We were tempted, but we skipped it the first day. The next day we booked it to Toy Story. Don waited in one extremely organized line for 45 minutes to get FastPasses, while Ashley and I waited in a different (also organized line) to ride the ride. The line was just like the one in Florida (mostly indoors). We came back mid-day to ride it again. Then Don and Ashley rode it a third time while I took pictures with Bialashu (the stuffed panda, see the one above).

Raging Spirits – based on the name and the nearby location of lockers, I really
thought this was going to be a water ride. I was wrong. Don went first. I was chicken. He did single rider and felt that took way too long. He liked the ride. I went back alone later. I also did single rider, but made out fine. There is a tiny loop they make a big deal about. Had I realized it was a wooden coaster, I would have been on it much sooner. The only wooden coaster than intimates me is the one at Hershey Park. This ride had a height maximum of 195 cm (6’ 5”). We cleared.

The three of us rode Jasmine’s Magic Carpets together. I believe Dumbo could take some lessons from the Magic Carpet. The line moved much faster than Dumbo in part because we were queued up according to which carpet was ours. No mad dash to get the golden carpet, or whatever the equivalent is (yes, I know the golden vehicle is so 2005).

The two tiered carousel was fun, but Ashley was a little disappointed she missed out on one of the Genie-style “horses.” The cutest thing was seeing a little Jasmine riding a Genie “horse.” Once on it, it did not feel like a two-tier carousel as you didn’t see the other layer. It was even hard to photograph both parts together. At least doubling it up made the line move faster.

Ashley kept asking to ride the boats. We went at 1:15, only to find out they were on a lunch break. There are three ports, we chose the one closest to us I the Mediterranean Harbor not knowing where we would end up (they probably said, but it was in Japanese). We skipped the first port in the American Waterfront. Okay, it must be a full circle tour. But wait – we stopped at the second one in Port Discovery. Not quite where we wanted to be, but we didn’t really have a choice. There was a running commentary in Japanese that we had no hope of understanding. It came across as random to us, but I’m sure it was not.

Aquatopia looked more fun from a distance – looked like bumper boats. Once
on it we discovered there is a track you follow so it is not random. With its name we thought it would be more of a race – like Autotopia.

I went back to Disney Sea at night alone. There is something about Disney that makes it feel safe enough for a woman to travel alone at night. I made out fine. This time I asked cast members for English guides before going on an attraction with words. It was different in DisneyLand where we know the spiels from familiar rides. When I rode Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage the cast member gave me a cartoon sheet I could not read in the dark, but I had the boat all to myself. It was quite amusing. At the Magic Lamp Show a cast member gave me my own gadget so I could see the subtitles. It was programmed in advance so it did not work very well with the ad-libbing that was happening.  The 3D show was not nearly as entertaining as the Hyperion Theater version of Aladdin.

I enjoyed Fantasmic! I've never seen the version in Florida, but the one in California is amazing! While I enjoyed seeing Murray the dragon (isn't that his name?), I missed the scenes Mark Twain and Columbia. I know the story well enough that there wasn't a language barrier, for once.

I rode the DisneySea Electric Railway. Nice high view from up high. I’m glad I finally had a chance to do it. I rode it in both directions and switched sides to get different views.

One of my favorite surprise favorite activities was riding a gondola through  
the "canals of Venice." It reminded me of being in the Bellagio in Vegas and riding a gondola in the real Venice. It was also fun hearing a little bit of Italian even it if was wrong (way too much daylight for buona sera), but it was still good to hear. 

I found one word sentences work best: Water. English. Add Konnichiwa and Arigato and life is really good. We still had some language barriers, but it is Disney so it was possible to find people to help us.

Saw some non-Asian people today. I felt like asking them where they were from and how long they are staying, but left them in peace.

Ashley had a group of Japanese teenage girls ask to have her picture taken with them. Reminded me of the days the Japanese tourists would ask Ashley (who was often dressed as Alice in Wonderland- -- a big character here) to pose with them. This time she was just wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt and shorts. Come to think of it, the group was dressed similarly.

Came back from Disney Sea to find Don and Ashley sound asleep. They fell asleep as I left. I should be resting up for our last day at Tokyo Disney. From here we move onto Nikko where we will be staying in a ryokan. I'd be surprised if we have WiFi service for the next couple of days.

For the real Disney fans who still want to look at more Tokyo Disney pictures, follow this link to my Shutterfly account.

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