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PTR: Tokyo Disney Resort


bkroz
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Hey everyone! I'm actually still here in Tokyo and the adventures at Tokyo Disney and the rest of the area are still ongoing, but I wanted to stop in and upload some pictures and tell some stories. Plus, in the orchestrating of this trip, I noticed that there's just not much information on the Tokyo Resort for us Westerners. People (including myself) are maybe turned off by the commutes through Tokyo, the language barrier, and the cost. While I'd advise you to not let the first two limit you, I realize it's still not possible for everyone to get here, so I'll do a little to help.

A few of these pictures are panoramas taken on an iPhone, so forgive the quality, but expand them to see them larger and in more detail (hopefully).

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Tokyo Disney Resort is comparable to the Disneyland Resort in California or Universal Orlando in that it's two theme parks (Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea) with a "downtown" area (here, Ikspiari), and three official resort hotels. The difference is, the two parks do not face each other. A monorail (operated as part of Tokyo's vast network of interconnected transportation systems) loops around the resort, with a stop for each park, Ikspiari, and for a number of partner hotels on the edge of the peninsula (I'm there at the Hilton Tokyo Bay).

First of all, the parks are massively crowded all the time. They're so incredibly popular that they sell a separate annual pass for each park to cut down on crowds. Waits can be hours upon hours during the summer and on holidays, and the shelves of the gift shops are literally empty every night at closing.

The Japanese love Disney. They sing along to the songs in every show, they laugh and scream on the rides, they hoard around characters like they're superstars, they take thousands of pictures, and through every second of it, they are ABSOLUTELY respectful, orderly, and genuine. There is absolutely zero trash on the ground, no line cutting, no graffiti, not so much as a piece of trampled chewing gum. Inside Disney and out, the Japanese are proud of their culture. The cast members are proud to be cast members, and the visitors are proud to be there.

They say, "gozaimasu." Indirectly translated, it means "I'm humbled." They say this when directing you to rides and directing you off, when saying good morning, and when serving food. Cast members and visitors are just unbelievably proud, happy, honored, and welcoming. Each and every morning, crowds stretch out of the parks of people waiting in orderly, happy lines just waiting for the turnstiles to open. It's absolutely unbelievable.

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Wednesday mornings, looking over the crowd waiting to enter Disneyland 30 minutes before the park opens.


FOR TOKYO DISNEYLAND PARK PHOTO TRIP REPORT, CLICK HERE.

FOR TOKYO DISNEYSEA PHOTO TRIP REPORT, CLICK HERE.

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I've re-done the DisneySea report with more pictures and more logical narration since I wrote the earlier post while I was there and just wanted to share the E-tickets as quickly as I could! Located in three posts below!

CLICK HERE

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What a wonderful report thus far! I can't wait to see the rest!

I've never undertood why most parks in other countries still have all of their signs in English. How does that work?

I'm wondering the same thing myself.

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What are the costs there? I know the dollar is weak against the yen, but did you buy a package (like at WDW--hotel/tix), or is everything ala carte? Are there fastpasses there? Great report--makes me want to plan a trip there!

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I've always heard that DisneySea is probably the most elaborately themed park in the world--and from your photos, I can definitely believe it! A friend of mine is doing a long-term consulting project in Tokyo and has been wanting us to come visit him--after seeing your pictures of Tokyo Disney I'm VERY tempted now :-)

Interesting about the signage being in English...I was at Port Aventura in Spain several years ago (back when it was owned by Universal) and the signs there were in English as well...

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Its pretty easy to see why english is everywhere, its essentially the only international language. No matter if you grow up in spain, germany, japan, brazil, etc... if you're in a situation where education is important (obviously in many parts of the world, traditional education is either not important or economically challenging), and a 2nd languague (and in many cases a 3rd or 4th language) is taught, English is viewed as the most useful language to learn beyond your natural tounge.

I'm surprised there's not Japanese as well, perhaps they felt it would be too cluttered, and left the most univeral language for a park that is going to serve mostly well educated people from many different cultures.

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I've never undertood why most parks in other countries still have all of their signs in English. How does that work?

Medford is right, as far as I can understand. Children get a kick out of saying "Hello!" to us, because I'm sure they all take English as a second language from a young age. That said, only about 20% of people we interact with speak in English. That's not to say they don't know it, but they speak in Japanese very quickly almost like a repetitive speil. They're very good at signing things, and they're entirely friendly and accessible and understanding.

Some people are excited to try out their English and say "Two? Six please!" and gesture toward the row. We've noticed that males tend to be even better - they're the ones who go out of their way to say "Hello" as kids and pre-teens, and the male employees say "Would you like the set or just sandwich?" when you order, etc.

What are the costs there? I know the dollar is weak against the yen, but did you buy a package (like at WDW--hotel/tix), or is everything ala carte? Are there fastpasses there? Great report--makes me want to plan a trip there!

The Japanese use yen, and right now is a great time to visit. For years and years and years, Y10,000 would get you about $86. For whatever reason, Y10,000 has fallen and will now get you almost exactly $100. That actually makes math really, really simple. A full meal (usually with a drink) is usually Y900 (or $9.00). Because of that great conversion rate, everything is cheaper than it would be in America.

Park tickets are really surprisingly inexpensive, but the format is very very structured. They come in 1, 2, 3, and 4 day passes. If you get a 1 or 2 day park, you pre-select which park to visit each day. If you get a 3 day ticket, then you pre-select Disneyland on day 1 and DisneySea Day 2, then you can park hop on day three. Same with a four day ticket, which I have. Four days is Y16,000, or $160. A 4-day parkhopper at Disneyland in California is probably up to $260 by now, that's really a steal. It takes a long time to get used to the denominations. I have a Y10,000 bill. Y1,000 ($10) is the smallest bill, so you have a coin for Y500 ($5) that's easy to confuse with the Y50 yen coin (which is 50 cents). It just takes a while to adjust.

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We did do everything a la carte.

There are Fastpasses for almost everything here, and even on mild days like yesterday, they are all always sold out by the end of the day. Luckily, the massive crowds waiting outside RUSH in first thing and get a Fastpass for one of the park's two or three signature rides, then are locked out of getting another for a few hours. Even when that waiting period is over, they usually get one for the OTHER signature ride that they hadn't previously gotten, so the return times for other rides usually hover at about an hour from present.

Its pretty easy to see why english is everywhere, its essentially the only international language. No matter if you grow up in spain, germany, japan, brazil, etc... if you're in a situation where education is important (obviously in many parts of the world, traditional education is either not important or economically challenging), and a 2nd languague (and in many cases a 3rd or 4th language) is taught, English is viewed as the most useful language to learn beyond your natural tounge.

I'm surprised there's not Japanese as well, perhaps they felt it would be too cluttered, and left the most univeral language for a park that is going to serve mostly well educated people from many different cultures.

There's a great presence of Japanese language too, usually just written smaller in themed elements. In "useful" places like guide maps, bathrooms, and menus, Japanese is prominent. I've heard that the owners of the resort, the Oriental Land Company, were adamant that they wanted to build a Western park and bring American style and spirit to Tokyo. The resort had two shows about Japanese history over time, but neither lasted. People seemed to want to be immersed in a different place that was authentic. I don't know - to me, if I were on a ride that was "set" in South America, I'd still want the signs to be in English and I'd be irked if it was SO realistic that the signs were in Spanish, but I don't know...

Also, its in a region of the world with many, many, many languages converging. All dialects of Japanese, Chinese, Mandarin, Korean, Cantonese, etc.

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Shows are entirely in Japanese with captioning in any of those above languages provided by little handheld translators. Half the time, employees bring them to you without asking because they're incredible. Honestly it's kind of a nonissue because sometimes it's fun to just watch the shows and understand what's going on without them.

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Thanks for those great photos, and a great report! Tokyo Disney Resort really is fantastic.

I had the opportunity to work for one of the engineering and constructions firms that helped design and build Tokyo Disney Sea. I can't remember exactly, but I was told the guard rails alone through Mysterious Island cost around $300 a foot. Also, the massive animatronics in Mediterranean Harbor that are the stars of the nightly show at Disney Sea are so complex they were designed by a department that normally focuses on nuclear power plants.

Enjoy your time in Tokyo! It's an awesome city in an amazing country!

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I have been to Tokyo Disney Resort 3 times, each time I have made my visit I remember the goosebumps felt as I entered the parks. These parks are without a doubt the best theme parks in the world, especially Disney Sea. There is no park that can even come close, not even actual Disney Parks (because believe it or not, Tokyo Disney Resort is NOT owned by the Disney Company). I always thought about making my TR for my visits to Tokyo Disney Resort but I just did not have the time to write it, there is SO much to write about and so many things to say about each park, each section, each ride and all its details. It was impossible for me to really exert the magnificent emotions and thoughts I had for these parks into writing.

What are the costs there? I know the dollar is weak against the yen, but did you buy a package (like at WDW--hotel/tix), or is everything ala carte? Are there fastpasses there? Great report--makes me want to plan a trip there!

A one day ticket is $64 for one park.

two day is $110

three day park hopper is $141

four day park hopper is 164

I've always heard that DisneySea is probably the most elaborately themed park in the world

It is!

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I always thought about making my TR for my visits to Tokyo Disney Resort but I just did not have the time to write it, there is SO much to write about and so many things to say about each park, each section, each ride and all its details. It was impossible for me to really exert the magnificent emotions and thoughts I had for these parks into writing.

Exactly. The parks are unbelievable. I could literally go on and on about how great every attraction is, from The Tiki Room to the Swiss Family Treehouse. There's no easy way to condense it, which is perhaps why there's so little written about the resort. But it's absolutely the best. I've said one or two times on this trip that they need to plop down a Six Flags Tokyo so the people here know how lucky they are and how the best of the best looks.

Plus, ya'll know that the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland is my #1 favorite ride, period. It's only sister ride is at Tokyo DisneySea... Instead of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, this one is the Temple of the Crystal Skull (unrelated to the movie, which came out years after the park / ride opened). We'll get to that shortly.

I'm heading out to another day at the parks, so expect more later! Thanks for your comments guys!

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I always thought about making my TR for my visits to Tokyo Disney Resort but I just did not have the time to write it, there is SO much to write about and so many things to say about each park, each section, each ride and all its details. It was impossible for me to really exert the magnificent emotions and thoughts I had for these parks into writing.

Exactly. The parks are unbelievable. I could literally go on and on about how great every attraction is, from The Tiki Room to the Swiss Family Treehouse. There's no easy way to condense it, which is perhaps why there's so little written about the resort. But it's absolutely the best. I've said one or two times on this trip that they need to plop down a Six Flags Tokyo so the people here know how lucky they are and how the best of the best looks.

Plus, ya'll know that the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland is my #1 favorite ride, period. It's only sister ride is at Tokyo DisneySea... Instead of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, this one is the Temple of the Crystal Skull (unrelated to the movie, which came out years after the park / ride opened). We'll get to that shortly.

I'm heading out to another day at the parks, so expect more later! Thanks for your comments guys!

Make sure you ride Poohs Hunny Hunt ride! By far one of the best dark rides.

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Love it! My uncle lives in Toyko 3 months a year for his job. I have plans of going with him as soon we can make it happen! Love your report and he has the park down to a science so its great to see your report! Im going to show him,he doesnt tell me nothing but to hurry up! :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Tokyo DisneySea opened in 2001, drawing inevitable comparisons to Disney California Adventure, which opened the same year on approximately one-quarter the budget. DisneySea is often revered as the pinnacle of Disney theme parks; what Imagineers can accomplish without the constraint of budgets and cutbacks.

The park is divided into seven themed “ports,” each with a distinctively place and time setting (a critical issue with California Adventure until its 2012 re-opening was that the lands were ambiguous and unidentifiable in their time period, where at DisneySea, every inch of detail is based in reality).

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Once you brave the endlessly long but highly-efficient and organized Japanese lines that begin forming hours before the park opens, you get into the entrance.

The entrance to the park is a wide-open plaza with the park’s icon, the Aquasphere, at its center. As you can see, it’s a giant rotating globe supported by a column of water. Water also rolls down the oceans and waves erupt out of the fountain and splash against the planet.

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The resort is currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary (“The Happiness Year”) and each park has its icon spewing out golden into the park. For DisneySea, that means waves of gold coming out of the Aquasphere and leading the way into the park.

The building beyond is actually the Hotel MiraCosta. The hotel is easily one of Disney’s most impressive. You pass under the hotel through the tunnel visible in that picture and into the park. While it’s beautiful from this angle, from the other side its look as an Italian city forms the backdrop of the park’s first land...

Mediterranean Harbor

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Mediterranean Harbor is like most Disney “entrance” lands in that it doesn’t contain any real attractions beyond gondola rides, shops, and restaurants. However, the scale here is massive. The backdrop of the hotel gives the land a massive scope and crazy kinetic energy. While people applaud Main Street, U.S.A. or Buena Vista Street for having fake conversations played over speakers from second floor windows, the windows of Mediterranean Harbor are filled with real people, lights actually turning on and off, and real conversations.

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The picture above is standing opposite the park entrance and looking back toward the entrance. The Aquasphere would be on the other side of the hotel. Notice Florence’s Duomo is hinted at in the distance – in fact, that’s the hotel’s lobby.

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So, passing through that tunnel beneath the hotel, you get your first glimpse of the interior of the park, with the massive eponymous Mediterranean Harbor separating you from the park’s centerpiece, Mt. Prometheus. Without a doubt, this is one of the most incredible and impressive park centerpieces. It famously stands the exact height of neighboring Cinderella Castle, or around 180 feet. Mt. Prometheus bellows smoke all day, and yes, it erupts with flames and rumbling bass every night.

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At the mountain’s base is Fortress Explorations, an ancient Renaissance fortress encased in the mountain’s cooled lava flow. The Fortress contains a Japanese-language only interactive puzzle game called Leonardo’s Challenge. Needless to say, I can’t speak Japanese, so we opted to explore independently. There are four floors in the fortress connected by bridges, spiral staircases, and hidden passages.

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The story of the fortress is that it’s a base of operations for S.E.A. the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, a Renaissance-era guild overseen by Da Vinci. One of the towers contains a pendulum; one tower has a Flying Machine to sit in. There’s a “Navigator’s Room” that contains those coin-operated RC boats, but with awesome little touches and an ancient style. The upscale “Magellan’s” restaurant is also in the fortress.

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My favorite element is inside the largest dome, the gold one. It’s the Chamber of Planets. We’re sure that part of Leonardo’s Challenge includes using cranks to revolve the planets around the sun and create a certain pattern, but for us, it was just incredible to see the planets rotating overhead in this massive chamber.

American Waterfront

Anyway, the first area you encounter when traveling clockwise around Mediterranean Harbor is... American Waterfront is divided into three sub-areas, all connected by a common time period and location (1912 New England).

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The first sub-area is The Big City, appropriately themed to New York’s waterfront district. It contains streets of incredible accuracy with department stores, eateries, delis, and old rusty fountains. My favorite element is the “New York City Waterworks” – a bathroom with a higher budget than the entirety of California Adventure’s Sunshine Plaza.

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“From the Mountaintops to Metropolis.”

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The two massive signatures of the American Waterfront are both in the Big City area. The S.S. Columbia is an incredibly large steam liner. The bottom floor hosts Turtle Talk with Crush. Deck C is an expensive prixe fixe menu restaurant, but you can still step onboard to explore the restaurant’s lobby (which is polished dark wood with brass statues and a real grand staircase than you can climb three stories).

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You can also walk along the full length of the ship’s external deck to the bow. In this practically unvisited area, there’s a shuffleboard court, massive ropes and masts, and a lot of photo opportunities of the bay area. As you can see, the harbors of DisneySea are separated from the real Tokyo Bay only by a dam... Or so it seems.

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Of course, the most recognizable icon of the American Waterfront is the centrally located Hightower Hotel.

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The Japanese, apparently, are not familiar enough with The Twilight Zone series, and rather than introduce it, the Imagineers behind DisneySea invented an entirely new storyline for their Tower of Terror, set in an entirely different time and place with an entirely original musical score and ride elements as well as building without a second’s thought the most beautiful of all the Tower of Terrors.

Set in 1899 (thirty years before the Twilight Zone incarnations, and on the opposite coast), we learn in the hotel’s grand lobby about the pompous millionaire behind the tower, Harrison Hightower III. Mr. Hightower was a distinguished but deceitful member of S.E.A. (the adventurer’s club behind Fortress Explorations) who was infamous for his “good will” missions to foreign lands where he’d make off with priceless treasures just before the locals could catch on. (Lord Henry Mystic, the much more benevolent host of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor, is also a member of S.E.A. in a crazy bout of cross-park continuity, though his treasures were acquired much more honestly).

Mr. Hightower’s questionable ethics came to a head on a trip to Africa where he was given a mysterious idol named Shiriki Utundu. And this time, the locals honestly didn’t seem to mind. New Years Night 1899, Mr. Hightower decided to return to his penthouse early after a night of brandishing his treasured Shiriki to every guest at his party. A drunken Hightower even put his cigar out on the idol’s head to prove that he didn’t believe in the curse that locals told him about.

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Needless to say, his ride to the penthouse was short lived. Shiriki’s glowing green eyes opened, and the elevator crashed. Mr. Hightower’s body was never found, but Shiriki appeared back on a pedestal in Hightower’s office without a scratch, where it continues to sit today, 1912.

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The buckled elevator doors in the lobby paint an unusual portrait – with a shredded cable within and occasional sparks illuminating “DANGER: OPEN SHAFT” beyond, the image of Hightower standing proudly before his hotel is a little bit of a juxtaposition.

Faced with the imminent demolition of the vacant hotel, the New York Preservation Society has begun conducting tours of the establishment to raise funds to save the tower, retelling the mysterious fate of Mr. Hightower, touring his collection of oddities, and even riding the elevator up to his penthouse. Of course, they advertise the hotel under the nickname it earned from locals – “Tower of Terror.”

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In place of the Hollywood Tower Hotel’s library, guests enter Hightower’s office where a stained glass window comes to life and tells the story of Hightower, before the real Shiriki comes to life and – in one of the creepiest / most disturbing / most upsetting elements of any theme park attractions – opens his eyes, looks down at the audience, scans the crowd, then laughs sinisterly before disappearing. I am not kidding, I can’t understand how Shiriki disappears. It’s one of the best special effects I’ve ever seen.



Of course, where he disappeared to is farther into the hotel, where he’s waiting. From the office, you exit into the vault (the equivalent of the boiler room / basement in the Twilight Zone towers) here stocked with the ancient artifacts Hightower’s accumulated, including two-story Egyptian statues, Renaissance paintings, Greek busts, and this Asian sculpture that I thought looks exactly like Aku from Samurai Jack?

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The ride itself is mechanically identical to California / Paris’ tower (so without the horizontal-movement “5th Dimension” scene of Florida’s) but contains new and outstanding special effects. One of the better details is that at night, on the exterior of the hotel, a green flash from the penthouse turns into a bolt of green lightning that shoots at whichever elevator shaft is about to fall. A really cool detail!

Here’s a six-second Vine video I took. That's lame, I know. Sorry.

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And of course, because every single thing in this park needs to be hyper-detailed and impressive, the gift shop inhabits what used to be Hightower’s grand pool, with planks of wood covering the dry pool and the former diving board used as a rack to display merchandise to remember and support the “Tower of Terror” tour.

The second sub-area of the American Waterfront is brand new – Toyville Trolley Park. At Disney California Adventure, Toy Story Midway Mania is placed (logically) along the midways of Paradise Pier in a beautiful, distinctly West Coast – Victorian boardwalk building.

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DisneySea, in its eternal non-struggle to be the best at everything it does, places Midway Mania in an equally impressive East Coast building based on Coney Island in New York, including magnificent Victorian towers, popcorn lighting, and a atmosphere that SCREAMS east coast boardwalk. As a salute to those famous piers like Luna Park, the entrance to the ride is through Woody’s open mouth.

Truthfully, this is one of the only blatant character-driven rides in the park, and it works because of its impeccable placement and styling. Impressive as always, but like most things at DisneySea, even more impressive at night.

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The third area within the American Waterfront is Cape Cod, reserved mostly for stores selling the park’s wildly successful Duffy the Disney Bear. At least he’s mostly contained to this section of the park. Another detail that’s too incredible not to note is how Mt. Prometheus purposefully takes on more of a Northeastern mountain look when viewed from American Waterfront, losing its sleek, lava-covered sides in favor of boulders, trees, and moss.
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Port Discovery
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Traveling clockwise from American Waterfront you encounter Port Discovery. This is really the only land at DisneySea that feels incomplete, especially given its potential. Disneyland Park in California announced a new land years and years ago called Discovery Bay, meant to be located on the northern shore of the Rivers of America. A sort of steam-punk, Jules Verne, agro-future port, it would’ve had an E-ticket Jules Verne ride and an aquatic-futuristic theme with a blimp hanger, red iron bridges, geysers, lighthouses, etc. (below):

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That theme actually was re-imagined in Disneyland Paris’ Discoveryland, which was the first Tomorrowland to incorporate Jules Verne, rocks, waterfalls, bubbling lagoons, etc. which then, in turn, inspired the much-despised 1998 refurbishment to Disneyland’s own Tomorrowland, casting the land in murky bronze and seafoam green. So oddly, Disneyland ended up with a warped version of a land loosely based on Disneyland’s own Discovery Bay concept. Here, the idea is given its own chance to shine, but its location right on Tokyo Bay leaves no room for show buildings, so the land feels two-dimensional and attraction-less.

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The entire background in that image is Tokyo Bay, it was just a hazy day.

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The land only contains two rides. On the far right of that picture under the gold dome is StormRider, a ride that Disney fans often criticize. To be honest, I couldn’t see why. It wasn’t magnificent to the point that I’d want it duplicated at any other Disney parks, but it wasn’t awful. The ride is a cabin-based simulator like Star Tours, only the cabin holds literally about three times as many people, restricting its movement mostly to bumps to tilting.

The story of the ride (and all of Port Discovery) is that you’re at the Center for Weather Control, where a new missile has been invented that dissipates storms. Your job, of course, is to fly into the heart of the storm, launch the rocket, and watch the weather clear. Of course, a stray bolt of lightning strikes down your fellow ship, and the missile you launch actually gets caught in the wind, reverses, and jabs right through the ceiling of the plane (in an impressive and terrifying special effect). All is, of course, set right in the end.

The second ride is just whimsical fun.

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You can see the futuristic-nautical look of Discovery Bay in the station for Aquatopia (a portmanteau of aqua and Autopia, Disneyland’s infamous car ride). The vehicles are LPS-controlled rafts that scoot around on the water, nimbly ducking in and out of caves, stopping, reversing, spinning, and choosing random courses. Because they’re controlled by LPS, there is no track, and the boats can “dance” around each other, coming within inches but never touching. They swirl around whirlpools, come right up to waterfalls before backing away, and spin wildly next to erupting geysers. It’s worth watching a video of them on YouTube just to see how impressive the technology is, and this ride is magnificent in how carefree and good old fashioned fun it is.

Lost River Delta
The next port is Lost River Delta, a South American jungle delta where active archaeological expeditions keep unearthing bad things.

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The land is actually contained on two islands connected by various bridges. One island houses a South American village of eateries and shops with popcorn lighting and housing for the local diggers. It’s very atmospheric and festive. This is also the location of the Hanger Stage, one of the live performance venues at the park. From the outside, it looks like a real seaplane hangar. From the inside, the jungle has taken over, with wild vines crawling throughout.

It plays a show called Mystic Rhythms in which the goddesses of fire, water, earth, and life all battle / get along. It was very loud and intense with incredible acrobatics and special effects, and not many kids were crying even though it was loud and intense enough to scare me, so maybe that’s a cultural thing.

The second island is where all the active excavations are.

One of the bridges to that side of the delta provides a fantastic nod to what you’re about to experience.

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No, not because Star Wars is here, but because Disney’s collaboration with George Lucas continues in Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, the ONLY sister ride to my favorite theme park ride on the planet, Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Disneyland.

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Instead of a rinky-dink little temple, the Temple of the Crystal Skull is a sprawling complex with a huge central pyramid. (Here’s also a shout out to you guys who asked if Tokyo has Fastpass).

The ride is actually identical to California’s except for a few small details (I would skip this unless you’ve been on the California version / care about this kind of thing):

1) The Forbidden Eye is in India with the lost deity Mara. The Temple of the Crystal Skull is in South America with... a Crystal Skull.
2) Instead of the famous “three paths” of California’s ride, there’s only one – toward the Fountain of Youth.
3) Mara’s weapon is fire, and the entire ride in California is illuminated in reds and oranges with lava pits and actual bursts of flame. In Tokyo, the Crystal Skull is all about the Fountain of Youth, so everything is in blues and greens. Instead of explosions of fire, the main chamber has a swirling fog Vortex, and green electricity crackles down from the skull’s eye and into The Vortex to power it.
4) Since Temple of the Forbidden Eye is set in India, you’re attacked by a cobra. In Tokyo, it’s a South American anaconda.
5) California’s features a really ineffective scene with a fog screen with rats projected on it. Tokyo replaces that scene with a carving that shoots a ring of fire at you as you speed through it.
6) In California, a few scenes lack depth. The “poison dart” room is just blacklight-painted skeletons on a black wall. In Tokyo, the “darts” come out of fully carved statues.

All that being said, I prefer California’s. The build-up about the “three destinies” and the constant warnings to not look into the Eyes of Mara are engaging and somewhat unsettling and provide for a great intro to the ride when you see three doors and wonder which you’ll get. And there’s nothing better than Mara’s eyes suddenly glowing, as he shouts “NO! FOOLISH INFADELS. You looked into my eyes...! Your path now leads to the Gates of Doom!”

I also love, in California’s, the grand reveal of Mara’s massive stone face with half of it corroded away into a skull, his “Forbidden Eye” shooting lasers... Ahh...

In comparison, the Crystal Skull does not speak, and actually a surprising amount of the ride is without musical score, which I think I also didn’t like much. Still it’s absolutely impressive, but it’s crazy to think that what is Disneyland’s star attraction could be recreated at DisneySea with even MORE quality and still not be even in the top three attractions at the park.

One thing I did wonder is whether the giant “Crystal Skull” face is present in “The Big Room” the way the giant stone carving of Mara is... The POV videos on YouTube are far too dark to tell if there’s a giant skull. I’m here to tell you, there is. And funny enough, it looks like it was made from the same casting that built Mara’s giant face, given away by the fact that it’s missing one eye and shoots lasers from the other! Who would’ve thunk it? I bought the on-ride photo (which wasn’t even $12 for a large picture) because it showed an artist’s depiction of the giant skull you cross the bridge in front of. Compared to Mara, below.

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The only other ride in Lost River Delta is Raging Spirits. The ride itself is absolutely beautiful and fits in the compact little corner of the land. It’s Intamin, but modeled after a Pinfari(?) roller coaster. It’s hard to make out distinctly through the mess of scaffolding and stone work through the ride, but the loop did not feel clothoid...

This ride is actually a let down. It’s identical to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril at Disneyland Paris, and is a very moderate roller coaster that doesn’t have a very worthwhile layout. The setting makes up for it in part, but the ride still doesn’t have a story. On the website, it explains that you’ve interfered in a battle between two gods (I’m assuming, fire and water). On the other hand, the “crown” of the idol that stands over the ride is missing a few blue stones, and it looks like the medallion hanging behind the idol contains one of them, so there’s potential for a story, it’s just not really there. But it is what it is, and it’s a decent ride.

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This is also a good time to mention the Japanese’s reactions. On every ride, they laugh, and gasp, and shout, and have the time of their lives in very authentic ways. If you were the kind of person who draws on the energy of the crowd around you, you’d be on top of the world at Tokyo Disney. I’m not like that necessary, but still found myself smiling and cracking up and having fun because they were having fun. It was great.

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(That’s a rcdb photo, but I have to show how magnificent it is. The massive show building for Indiana Jones is visible on the left).

The ride’s signature move is in the finale in which it dives under those stairs just as a massive cloud of fog blasts out.

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Notice the water-spirit dragon heads scattered around the ride.

Oh... And... Remember Mr. Hightower?

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Mermaid Lagoon
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From Lost River Delta, you can take one of two bridges. The first goes toward Mermaid Lagoon, a section of the park themed entirely to The Little Mermaid. The main attraction is designated “Triton’s Kingdom,” and is an entire indoor theme park in and of itself. It’s contained inside the pastel colored castle from the movie that’s built into a rocky extension off of Mt. Prometheus.

Outside, there’s a family flat ride called Scuttle’s Scooters and a Vekoma Roller Skater, Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster. Inside, the first thing you see is Triton.

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In typical DisneySea fashion, every inch is meticulously planned, so looking down the rockwork at the base of Triton’s statue reveals...

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And of course, you can enter Ariel’s Grotto later on. You turn the corner and begin your descent to the ocean floor along a massive ramp that looks out over...

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Literally, an entire indoor theme park. There are a half-dozen flat rides for kids here (including a clone of California Adventure’s Jumpin’ Jellyfish... Or is it the other way around?), a soft-floored water play area, and a massive complex to explore where you can enter Ariel’s Grotto (as seen from above earlier), Ursula’s Lair, and climbing nets. There’s also a restaurant, gift shops, and a theater-in-the-round show that has INCREDIBLE puppetry and crazy wirework.

If there were any land that I was worried about before coming to the park, it would’ve been Mermaid Lagoon. In such a realistic and detailed park, would it seem too casual or comic? But it doesn’t. It fits perfectly. When I was a kid, I would’ve begged to spend the whole day there.

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Arabian Coast

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Across from Mermaid Lagoon is Arabian Coast. The entire place reeks of curry, but otherwise it’s fantastic. Parapets and minarets everywhere, massive arabesque domes, incredible stone work. Just yet another environment that’s so incredibly thoughtful. I commented again and again that I could’ve spent all day at DisneySea if they didn’t have any rides. That’s the feeling you get here.

Pictured above is the two story Arabian Carousel in the center of town.

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This is the entrance to one of the park’s family dark rides, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. In a sense, it’s similar to It’s a Small World with hundreds of audio-animatronics figures along a slow-moving boat ride. There’s even a repetitive song written by Alan Menken, the man behind Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, and more. It didn’t start out that way, though.

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Originally, the ride was called “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad,” and while it still had Small World style figures (albeit with INCREDIBLE fluidity and realism, especially for their size), it was actually very dark. The scenes were intense and even scary. In one particular scene, absolutely terrifying, manic monkeys with black eyes prepared to throw spears and roll boulders off of cliffs to smash you. The ride was closed, retooled as a family ride with the new charming song, and re-animated. Now the monkeys shake instruments (not spears) and smile (though still terrifyingly); an evil whale becomes a smiling happy one; an enormous intimidating roc bird got lipstick; the evil sirens luring you to your doom become helpful mermaids pointing the way; an evil giant who used to dangle Sinbad’s soldiers over the water decided to play a Middle Eastern violin and sing along to “Compass of your Heart” instead.

And of course, in the new version, Sinbad is accompanied by his faithful tiger friend, Chandu, who has become a symbol of DisneySea along with Duffy and Shiriki Utundu.

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Even if you’re not interested in the great song or the cool story, it’s worth it to watch a clip of the ride just for the figure animation. They’re so small, but move so astoundingly!



And for anyone who wants to compare it to the
, sans Chandu, plus goatee on Sinbad.

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And who wouldn’t want a steamed bun Chandu Tail afterwards?

There’s also a Japanese language Magic Lamp Theater in which a really cool, smooth-talking cobra sets up a story about the Genie (he’s one of the seemingly random characters that the Japanese can’t get enough of – he’s in every single parade and makes appearances in crazy places, along with Stitch of all people). It’s a 3D movie and was very well done! I just couldn’t understand what they were saying. Oops.

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Along the streets of Agrabah there are restaurants and stores, including a little area of “midway games” that fit in perfectly, like getting the ball in the whicker basket. I’m stealing this picture, but the credit in on there – Abu hangs by his tail over the game and swings back and forth with one of the prizes in hand, like he’s going to steal it. (And big surprise: it’s Stitch.)

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Another borrowed image, but this is what I mean when I say that the character references are tasteful. Why wouldn’t Jasmine be represented via tile mosaic on the streets of Agrabah? She’s the princess!

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This cracked wall stood out to us... We wondered if local visitors would notice anything odd about it, too?

Mysterious Island
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Best for last. The central port at DisneySea is Mysterious Island. Based entirely on the work of Jules Verne and true to his novels about Captain Nemo’s hidden volcano base, Mysterious Island is by far the most impressive land I’ve ever seen in a Disney park (and make no mistake, it looks EXACTLY like the concept art, down to every fountain and lava flow. Absolutely zero budget cuts here).

As you can see from the concept art, the port is located entirely within a caldera of Mt. Prometheus, so as you walk on the oxidized copper paths along the outer edge of the caldera, you’re literally surrounded in rockwork. Literally, 360 degrees. The volcano and caldera, by the way, were designed by the team who would later reassemble for Cars Land’s Cadillac Range and Magic Kingdom’s Little Mermaid ride. As evident as the lava flows are from outside the volcano, they’re even more detailed inside, seeping all the way down to the water and yes, they steam all along, including constant hissing where they touch they water.

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The water, by the way, bubbles randomly, heated from the geothermal vents beneath which, according to the books, Nemo uses to power his devices. Every once and a while, huge geysers erupt from underneath. A full-scale replica of Nemo’s Nautilus is docked, and you can walk down ramps to peer inside. The only way into or out of Mysterious Island is through long, dimly-lit caves through the caldera walls.

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The land contains two rides.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a dark ride that follows in the spirit of Magic Kingdom’s ride of the same name and Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage, but without the costly, prohibitive, low-capacity underwater subs. Instead, you take the spiraled ramp down to the water’s edge and enter a cave inside the volcano where the subs pictured above are hanging over bubbling water.

The ride is actually a suspended dark ride, no different from Peter Pan’s flight except for the double-paned windows you look out through, which – though totally disguised in the station – contain a sheet of water. As your sub “dives” (a convincing effect due to the fact that you’re at the water’s surface in terms of height, and that the dark ride track dips) bubbles are released into the pane and remain throughout, adding a layer of realism to the world.

The ride is absolutely stunning. A family ride, but I’d call it an e-ticket. Incredible effects, beautiful scenery, a few terrifying moments, and a cool finale to explain your sudden ascent to the surface. It’s a multi-million dollar attraction that would be a staple at any other park, but here it’s just a great family ride. Photographs are impossible. Video is impossible. During the ride, a joystick controls a small light affixed to the outside of the sub so you can explore, but literally, I’ve never seen a video that shows anything. Literally, anything. At all. It’s just pitch black.

Here’s their promotional image.

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And yes, there’s a squid encounter.

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The second ride on Mysterious Island is Journey to the Center of the Earth, often heralded as one of Disney’s greatest rides ever. The ride uses the same technology as Test Track or Radiator Springs Racers – a slot-car style vehicle (in this case, disguised as a deep-earth drill) that travels through the tunnels bored into the mountain by the massive drill seen perched on Mt. Prometheus.

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Official promotional photo.

First of all, the space constraints inside the volcano make it literally a miracle that this ride exists at all. The course is so convoluted with incredible and unexpected elevation changes. For a very long time, we were convinced that the ride is actually located on the second floor of Mermaid Lagoon. I think it really might be.

After walking through the queue filled with Nemo’s blueprints of his inner-Earth explorations, you enter a “terravator” elevator that simulates a very deep descent into the Earth with perfectly orchestrated lights and sounds. And yes, the elevator really does change elevation.

When the doors open, you’re in the loading area – a massive cave with the clear markings of that drill from the mountainside and huge cogs and presses that expel steam into the chamber. The ride itself follows the plot from the novel magnificently, including a crystal cavern, an underground jungle of bioluminescent creatures, and a massive ocean under the Earth’s crust.

Of course, an earthquake diverts the course into an unexplored cavern full of real bursts of flame, oozing lava, and giant gooey eggs with spidery-creatures inside. Suddenly, you see a massive spidery leg start striking at the walls of the cavern you’re in and the rocks around you begin to crack.

You speed off deeper in the cave and, of course, come face-to-face with the molten creature who spawned those spider-eggs, and she’s not happy. I would safely bet that the Lava Creature is one of Disney’s most sophisticated animatronics ever, and the energy it takes just to power her has got to rival Animal Kingdom’s Yeti. Especially because the Lava Creature activates every 12 seconds. Because I don’t want to spoil her for those who don’t want it to be spoiled, I’ll put a photo here and a video of her
. If you think you’ll make it to DisneySea, I suggest against watching it, because she’s so massively impressive that you’ll hate yourself if you’re not surprised. Of course, if you’re the kind of person who hates spoilers, you probably stopped reading long ago.

Immediately after she lunges at the car, you accelerate to the ride’s full speed (maybe 50 miles per hour?) and accelerate in an increasingly tightly banked spiral up the cone of the volcano before you blast out of the side in a moment of SENSATIONAL airtime that you literally feel when watching the video, then accelerate around the caldera’s ring.

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So that’s DisneySea in a nutshell. It’s the kind of park you want to explore. Every nook and cranny contains some detail; a beautiful fountain; a puzzle... It’s the kind of park we haven’t seen built in a long time, where every element is considered. For people who like white knuckles thrills, it won’t satisfy. But in my opinion, DisneySea lives up to the hype as one of the most beautiful, intricate, and impressive theme parks ever built. It’s truly a marvel!

I’ll leave you with this collection of murals painted inside the dome of the Hotel MiraCosta’s Duomo recreation.

They’re the spirits that represent each port of the park, complete with the port painted in the background.

It’s worth zooming in to explore.

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TOKYO DISNEYLAND
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Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 (it was being designed and built alongside Florida’s Epcot). Many consider it to be a “best of” collection that represents the height of Disney’s design aesthetic circa 1980. By that, I imagine that they’re talking about how the park is an odd amalgamation of Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. It’s huge on a Disney scale – 115 acres, or roughly the side of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure put together.

It does follow the traditional Disneyland style layout of a hub-and-spokes, but with essential differences to ease the massive crowds that descent on the park. For starters, there is no Main Street, U.S.A.

World Bazaar
Instead of entering the park under the red brick Main Street Train Station, you enter into a huge, open plaza in front of a giant glass canopy.

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World Bazaar replaces Main Street, and while there are similarities in style, the atmosphere is just totally different. The shops and restaurants here are not limited to 1901 Missouri, but represent styles, architecture, and tastes that range from the late 1800s to the 1930s. Art deco and neon signs immediately stand out for people who are familiar with Main Street and its setting as the first few years when gas lamps and electric lamps co-existed. This isn’t your grandmother’s Main Street!

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The picture above also displays a unique perspective on World Bazaar. While all other Disneyland style parks force the crowd to enter the “Hub” in front of the castle before diverging out into the different themed lands, ain’t nobody got time for that at Tokyo Disneyland. Huge auxiliary corridors branch off from the middle of World Bazaar and go directly to Tomorrowland and Adventureland, as you can see on the map.

If you do continue straight, be prepared. The Hub here is HUGE.

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Tomorrowland

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Going back to Tokyo Disneyland being a little 1980s... Tomorrowland sort of gives that away. While other Tomorrowlands have been updated and diverged into crazy themes (a golden, European fantasy future in California, an alien spaceport silver sci-fi city in Florida), in Tokyo, it remains very geometric and simple, the same as it was on opening day. (Sorry for the terrifying half-apparated woman in the foreground - blame panorama). Those tall towers were a staple at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, too, until the 1995 remodel there.

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Displaying the old and the new, the blue and white building on the left houses Star Tours (which re-opened with the new 3D, Adventures Continue overlay yesterday) while the one on the right is Monsters Inc.: Ride and Go Seek. The far right is that auxiliary entrance to World Bazaar. Looking at the Star Tours building, it's obviously dated with the silver tubes and retro bridge overhead and the yellow-and-black warning stripes. But honestly, it works in Japan. It has a "Gundam Wing" anime type feel, and it fits.

And that continues through Tomorrowland. It’s very simple in places with geometric paintings on flat buildings. Other places, it’s gritty and industrial and, again, very 80’s.

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As you can imagine, there was quite a hub-bub around Monsters Inc. being located in Tomorrowland. Jury’s still out, I’m sure, but the ride inside is absolutely awesome. It’s totally original with no counterpart anywhere else.

To preface, let me say something that I noticed that may or may not be true or representative of Japanese taste. In shows and rides, we noticed time and time again a stark difference between America and Japan. In America, people want to hear the same story they’ve heard before. They want “Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” or to ride “Monsters Inc” or “The Little Mermaid” at California Adventure and be re-told the story of their favorite characters in a new medium. In Japan, the MUCH greater emphasis was on seeing your favorite characters in new situations, on new adventures.

Revue shows are HUGE in the parks, because people want to see all of their favorite characters in one fell swoop – they want Peter Pan to come out and do a number, then Stitch, then Genie, then Mickey. When they do have a ride dedicated to one intellectual property, they don’t want to hear the same story they already know, they want to do something new with their favorite characters. Even The Little Mermaid show at DisneySea and other single-IP shows always get awkward reviews from American visitors because they’re like “It was out of order... It just ended... There was no story...” The Japanese want to hear their favorite songs, but they don’t care to hear the whole story all over again.

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So I guess Monster Inc. Ride and Go Seek is an example of that. They could’ve built the ride from California Adventure – even a more advanced version. Instead, they opted for an original story about a massive game of Hide and Seek played at Monsters Inc. to gather laughs to power the city.

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You have a flashlight that shines a real light, and when you strike a Monsters Inc. hardhat helmet with the light, a monster is revealed. In parts, it feels like Men in Black: Alien Attack and Universal Orlando, but it’s so much genuine fun, and has full-scale sets and massive rooms. It’s really incredible. And there is no score – it’s just for fun.

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As well, it features full audio-animatronics whereas California’s rushed ride to replace Superstar Limo is 90% mannequins. A great ride.

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And a great poster in the exit.

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Space Mountain here is identical to California’s in terms of the track, but the ride experience has not been updated with California’s ultra-intense lift hill effects. Oddly, though, the ride does have a more updated queue with an ultra-sleek spaceship suspended in the launch bay, where Disneyland’s still features the original from the ‘70s. Also, Tokyo’s doesn’t have any synchronized on-board audio track, which is a key element of making the ride an E-ticket experience in my mind.

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Shows at Tokyo DisneySea are crazy. People line up hours head of time. That’s forced the park to institute a lottery system for the more popular shows. It’s very odd, but I guess it’s basically a more sophisticated version of Disneyland’s World of Color Fastpass, assigning you a specific seat at a specific performance.

You actually have to take your park ticket to a lottery location near the show venue and scan your parties park tickets together, then the computer randomly decides (based on demand, I’m guessing?) if you get to go to the show or not, and you can only try once per day. It’s really odd, and I kept asking myself what would happen if we “lost” the lottery but then no one else came, so those seats just went empty? I guess that isn’t a fear here, though, because the crowd went wild for this incredibly awkward and odd variety show.

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Literally, I got the distinct feeling that 90% of the audience had seen the show multiple times before. All the people around me mumbled the words along with the songs and did a little hand dance that synched up to the dancers on stage, as if they were the choreographers and were nervously trying to control their dancers. Still, they all waved WILDLY at Mickey, only to nearly trip over themselves to grab their camera when he waved back. It was like the paparazzi when Sleeping Beauty’s prince kissed her as all around me literally thousands of camera shutters clicked over and over... And this was sitting in the back left! The Disney Culture there is insane. Absolutely insane.

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Their Star Tours reopened the day before we visited with the “Adventures Continue” overlay, adding new randomized destinations and HD 3D. Beyond the first queue room housed in the sloped roof seen in that picture above of the exterior, the rest of the ride is identical to the American counterparts. I’m told that there are a few unique pre-show clips on the massive screen in the Star Speeder room (below) but I wouldn’t have noticed.

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In Star Tours at Disneyland, a “broken droid” in the repair bay is humorously identifiable as an old duck animatronic from Splash Mountain, complete with webbed feet. In Tokyo, that Easter egg honor is placed on the three Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion, recently replaced with digital spooks.

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They also have the ‘old’ Rocket Jets that have been replaced with sci-fi Astro Orbitors at all the other Disney Parks. Oddly enough, Tokyo’s was the first Tomorrowland to be built without a Peoplemover. Usually these rocket rides are located on a third floor platform with the Peoplemover on the second floor. To make up for the lost kinetic energy, this Tomorrowland has two stories (evidenced by the Star Tours bridge – it leads to a second floor of restaurants and industrial sculptures).

Adventureland

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Pirates of the Caribbean here is closer to Disneyland’s than Disney World’s, but with only one drop, and you disembark at the bottom of the ride instead of staying on board for the lift hill back up like you do at Disneyland.. It does pass by a Blue Bayou Restaurant, as well. This park doesn’t have a New Orleans Square, but there is a New Orleans sub-section of the massive Adventureland, complete with the French Quarter style shops and restaurants of Disneyland.

But the thing to notice about this picture is the ground. I was absolutely stunned to find that the map’s color-coded lands are not just for the sake of the map. Adventureland’s floor is literally dark green. Fantasyland’s is literally light green. Tomorrowland’s is blue. From edge to edge, the lands are painted in the color displayed on the map. And what I kept thinking was, good thing there’s no gum on the ground.

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It’s a good thing that the Japanese don’t litter. I mean, literally, they don’t. Not once did I see a piece of gum on the floor, and I watched. There may be one or two trashcans near each counter-service restaurant (and always with separate cans for burnables, non-burnables, and ice... Yes, ice) but all in all, people are expected to take their trash home with them. And... they do. There was zero (I mean it) trash on the ground. None. And that was true of all of Tokyo. I’m not saying every inch of the country is that way, but there are different expectations there, and they are followed.

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Here, the Enchanted Tiki Room has been taken over by a crash-landed Stitch (again, he’s a fan favorite). The show’s actually not bad. I enjoyed it, but again, that might’ve just been because the people who were seeing it enjoyed it so much. I’m told that one of the reasons the Japanese love Stitch so much is because Hawaii is a frequent vacation destination for them. Indeed, Hawaiian songs from the movie were the basis for the Tiki Room this time around, and if they’re cool with that, then who am I to argue.

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Stolen picture with credit stamp, just to display how open and wide this Adventureland is. I would compare it to the Magic Kingdom’s. In 1995 when the Indiana Jones Adventure was added at Disneyland, all of Adventureland was rethemed to fit together under a common place and time setting. That hasn’t happened in the Magic Kingdom or Tokyo Disneyland, creating odd amalgamations of India, Asia, South America, Polynesia, and New Orleans. Especially here, Adventureland runs the gamut from pirates to Stitch to the Robinson family, to the Western River Railroad that circles Big Thunder Mountain. It’s odd, but it works.

Westernland

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Here, “Frontierland” is no more. This is, quite simply, the West. The main draw, as usual, is Big Thunder Mountain. I’m not sure if the American counterparts have those bleached geysers? As always, Big Thunder Mountain is very picturesque.

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There’s also Tom Sawyer Island (though it’s styled as an extension of Big Thunder Mountain with the red Bryce Canyon style hoodoos) and Country Bear Jamboree (with half the songs in English, half in Japanese).

Critter Country

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Now I had heard from what I thought was a trusted friend that Japanese people don’t like getting wet. A logical conclusion given the area’s chillier climate and the fact that DisneySea has zero rides that get you wet. However, that doesn’t explain why Splash Mountain garnered 120-minute lines all day, every day. It’s easily one of the most popular rides at the park.

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It’s also beautiful. I took the panorama above to show how this Splash Mountain is not just Chickapin Hill like its counterparts. It’s a full mountain range that envelops all of Critter Country and houses restaurants and shops.

To illustrate the difference, here’s Disneyland’s:

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Splash Mountain in Tokyo is expansive and extremely lush due to its being covered in native Japanese plants to make the area feel more comforting and laid-back. The ride itself is different, with a few additional scenes and much more “dark ride” feel, with narrow, intensely decorated rooms rather than so many large ones. It’s easy to see why it’s a huge draw for the park, and is often recognized as one of the park’s most popular rides more so than it ever is in America. As well, instead of boarding in an open valley in the center of the mountain, the queue wraps through nearly pitch-black tunnels, and boarding takes place in the heart of the mountain under the roots of the tree stump on top of the hill. It’s very dramatic!

Fantasyland

Fantasyland is an odd mix of Disneyland’s and Magic Kingdom’s. It’s got some of the “carnival tent” style exteriors of Magic Kingdom, and some of the more fanciful European storybook architecture of Disneyland. It features familiar dark rides Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and Snow White’s [scary] Adventures (lacking the adjective here, but still scary). There’s also a clone of Philharmagic.

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Haunted Mansion is also located in Fantasyland here, keeping up with the trend of the ride (and its various related incarnations) never repeating which land it’s in: Liberty Square (Magic Kingdom), New Orleans Square (Disneyland), Frontierland (Paris), and Mystic Point (Hong Kong). My understanding is that it’s located in Fantasyland because in Japanese culture, ghosts are strictly the stuff of fables, fairytales, and legends. As you can see, it’s physically identical to building in Florida, but looks abandoned with broken windows, tattered curtains, and shattered glass. This, as is commonly pointed out, is in direct opposite to Walt Disney’s desire that the mansions appear beautiful and manicured from the outside, but it fits in Fantasyland.

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The star attraction of Fantasyland is Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. Located inside a giant storybook, this dark ride is in no way related to the Winnie the Pooh dark rides in other Disney parks. Like DisneySea’s Aquatopia, the vehicles are trackles, LPS guided cars. In this case, honey pots. Groups of three depart into the attraction, swirling, backing up, swiveling around each other and dancing through scenes.

The ride is actually mesmerizing. It’s so well orchestrated and so clever, that even people who couldn’t care less for that Pooh like myself would find it to be a must-ride.

One particularly effective scene is the chaotic Heffalump nightmare scene in which a half-dozen honey pots interact, including a special one whose riders are animatronic Heffalumps and Woozles! That car swirls around with the riders’ cars and joins in the fun. It’s really incredible.

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There’s also It’s a Small World complete with its Disneyland-style exterior (though the boats don’t load out front, so you enter into the building into the same loading room as Florida’s).

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And here’s a photo of Cinderella Castle to close out the report.

Questions?!

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GYK,

Your passion for the amusement industry, and your innate ability to carefully and clearly articulate your thoughts, ideas and experiences through the written word are what set your posts, more specifically your trip reports, in an echelon apart from any other user on this website. You truly are the best thing for these message boards because the reader can, in addition to learning the finer details of each park or even attraction you write about, we sense your excitement and passion which is, for lack of a better word, infectious.

This trip is something 95% of the readers here will never get to experience in their lifetime and what's more, is you didn't solely go for the Disney aspect. Sure it was a big draw, but you took advantage of so many other Japanese "must sees". I get so discouraged when I see readers here articulate a thought and it comes across as their life is completely consumed with the amusement industry and virtually nothing else. It's almost like tunnel vision.

Make no mistake, to me, you are the best contributor KIC has. I'd be lying if I said quality posts like yours were in abundance, that the 'fluff' was in the minority, but sadly it is not the case. It's a shame so few people have responded to thank you for the hard work you put in sharing your thoughts and experiences with this community without needing to speak in puns, use anecdotal phrases or being just snarky. It's informative and flat out enjoyable to read. So, on behalf of all the other users who won't bother to put their gratitude in a reply, consider this to be an all inclusive "Thanks".

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I finally made time to read it through the entire thing, and I really wish I made the time earlier. I love the incredible detail you pour into each sentence, and that makes me want to read on and on. I can't tell you how many times I've stopped reading through some trip reports because they are just so bland! Yours is a refreshing style this community rarely sees.

Thank you for letting us relive your memories. Your work does not go unnoticed.

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I finally made time to read it through the entire thing, and I really wish I made the time earlier. I love the incredible detail you pour into each sentence, and that makes me want to read on and on. I can't tell you how many times I've stopped reading through some trip reports because they are just so bland! Your's is a refreshing style this community rarely sees.

Thank you for letting us relive your memories. Your work does not go unnoticed.

Wow, thanks! That's incredibly high praise, and I'm so thankful for it. I try to explain the park the way I'd want it described to me. Not short bullet-point reviews of attractions with out-of-ten scores at the end, but through a real point of view of what the park feels like; the details; the experiences. I'm glad that's noticed. Means a lot.

Would you say this is the best theme park in the world?

It would definitely depend on what you like. Some people would be bored stiff by Journey to the Center of the Earth and find its thrill factor was WAY too low. There are no massive roller coasters at DisneySea either. Like I said, it's the kind of place that you could spend an entire day even if there weren't any rides. Trouble is, some people wouldn't be interested in that at all, so this park isn't for them.

Disneyland Park in California remains a gold standard to me, and Disney California Adventure is probably my "favorite" theme park. But in terms of what I value in a park, I would probably agree that DisneySea is the best theme park in the world.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey guys, sorry to bring this back from the dead, but a video I recorded of our trip was chosen as a finalist to win a world-traveling 2-month vacation by Hilton DoubleTree. It's in the hands of the judges, but I thought I'd post it here so anyone interested in what we saw inside and outside of the parks could see.

Because of the song in the video, it's not available on mobile. Sorry!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve0DbUj9rkE



You can also see Fuji-Q Highland at 2:45 in the bottom left.
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