Tokyo DisneySea: I may not understand it, but I know what I like…

Tokyo DisneySea is in the grand finale throes of its 15th Anniversary celebration.  And to be honest they have quite a bit to celebrate.  This may be the best art directed park in the Disney entertainment universe.  The themed lands are sprawling and massive yet the attention to detail is unmatched.  I may found myself appreciating the look and feel of the place more than focusing on the emotional journey of the narratives inherent in the park going experiences because I don’t speak the language.  Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue with the sweep and majesty that even my poor photographic skills were able to capture.  Knowing the images fail to do justice to the nuances of the craftsmanship should help underscore the beauty and awesomeness of the place (awesome in the literal sense, as in inducing awe, and perhaps in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sense in that it was cowabunga cool too).

I may not know what they were saying, but I know I liked the look of it all.

So here’s just a grab bag photo miscela as they’d say in Italian… befitting as the opening land of DisneySea is a tribute to Venice and the Mediterranean seaside towns.

The rising sun in the land of the rising sun, snapped out the window of the bus en route to the JR train station.

We stopped for breakfast crepes at the JR station thinking we just had to walk across the courtyard to get to Tokyo DisneySea…


But it turns out we had to board another train to get around to that theme park — sure, sure, the train was themed with Mickey Mouse Head straps and portholes, but it meant paying an additional 260 yen per person to take what was effectively a monorail on Oriental Land Company property.

Arriving at the ticket gate, we were amongst the sea of guests… and were greeted by cast members with signs reminding everyone to walk for safety.  Many heeded the advice; some did not.


It was a cold Wednesday morning to be sure… and even though we were only a few minutes into the park’s opening, already there were long wait times for some of the proverbial “E” Ticket attractions.

And so we wandered into the park, guide map in hand, but planning to go as far afield as we could to hopefully avoid the “let’s get in line for the first thing we see!” lemming impulse.

The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride was vastly different from the Disneyland Subs of yore.  It was heavily steampunk influenced and was I think about the quest for crystals and helping mer-people.  My Japanese is more than a little rusty… but it was a visually impressive incomprehensible ride!

We ambled through the Mermaid Lagoon younger tyke playground attractions and headed for the Indiana Jones Adventure.  It’s very similar to the Disneyland attraction… but it was reimagined a bit to involve the Crystal Skull YEARS before the apocryphal 4th Indiana Jones adventure came to cinemas.  The ride is WAY better than the movie… and I appreciated the little tweaks and diversions from the ride I know and love back in Anaheim, CA.  The wait time was close to 120 minutes but they offered a single rider line — which meant Mom and I were on and off within 15 minutes and I rode it again for good measure.


We kept wandering the park and snapping photos here there and everywhere.


We used our first fast pass to ride the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride.  It was another steampunk infused Jules Verne tale, similar in track functions to Test Track or Radiator Springs Racers, with an added Big Thunder Mountain style drop at the end.  Admittedly this is my take on an untranslated tale, but I gather we were digging through the earth to find mysterious internal inhabitants and creatures… and discovered at the end a giant bug at the center of the earth worthy of a place in Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers.

Nothing like grabbing a bite to eat after confronting a giant bug — the Japanese queued in long lines for everything from churros to popcorn to a chance to dine with Duffy the Bear. The line just outside Journey to the Center of the Earth wasn’t too bad but we weren’t feeling it hunger wise.  I think I was turned off by the alcohol warning; while I never advocate drinking and driving, somehow the straight up prohibition of the sale of alcohol to drivers seemed a bit of overkill given folks would hopefully be in the park for some time.  I wasn’t driving (nor was I looking to drink anyway) but still… we moved along.

We had done that long line yesterday for a burger at lunch so were thrilled that the Venice Italian counter joint had a short line.  All things being equal — not a bad personal pizza lunch.

After lunch, we headed into the back corner of the park.  The Arabian Coast land had probably the biggest disappointment of an attraction for us — The Magic Lamp Theater was a live-action/3-D movie hybrid involving Aladdin’s Genie and a corrupt magician with a hapless kid sidekick.  Admittedly there was a language barrier so that didn’t help with the enjoyment.  But I found the CGI-animation of the blue friend like him to be subpar — blocky and oddly pre-visualization worthy, certainly not ready for the masses.



We rallied after the 3D letdown with a ride on the double decker carousel — Mom rode a camel (again!) and I climbed aboard the Genie’s back.


Mom’s cold was getting worse by the second — both core temperature cold and her illness that seemed to have gone full blown germ-y in the last few hours.  I guess I shouldn’t have forced her to stay to the parade last night; we decided to make a final loop of the park to see areas but then call it an early day so she could rest.  I was cold too and my throat is getting scratchier so it’s probably the best decision we could make.  A bit of a bummer for us both but we had a good day so no complaints… other than the obvious, “Dear God!  I’ve been sick FOREVER!” (even though it’s only been a day or two).

Here then are just a random assortment of shots from our walkabout.



People had queued up for ages to see this “parade,” which was really just the Fab Four riding in a car waving to folks.  They’re wearing their 15 Anniversary Wishes attire — I’m still puzzled by Donald rocking a single glove, Michael Jackson style.  It holds his crystal I guess but I just don’t get it.  And it’s a thing — he’s wearing it on all the art and merch so it’s not like he forgot to wear the other glove for this parade or anything…

Speaking of merch, we did a quick run through the stores to see if anything grabbed our consumers’ eyes.  This is the first Disney park I’ve been to that didn’t heavily rely on the “exit through the gift shop” mindset of every ride.  On top of that, there wasn’t a lot of individual ride merchandise or really a range of products scattered about the place.  I was underwhelmed by the apparel — I never did find something that just had “Tokyo Disneyland” or “Tokyo DisneySea” on it.  It felt odd and like a missed opportunity not to see ANY merchandise with just the park logo.    That said, they were selling Duffy the Bear stuff like mad.   I had never heard of Duffy the Bear’s cat friend, Gelatino, but I suspect it may have been the bastard brainchild of an imagineer and accountaneer who discovered that Hello Kitty wasn’t actually a kitty but a girl in a cat suit.  “We can offer the Japanese a kitty that IS a cat!” might have been the mantra… or the cat-ra as the case may be.

I resisted buying a Little Green Man hat the other day… and somehow also resisted the fedora with mouse ears… even though one could wear it one of two ways — with or without the ears.  It says so on the directions!

As we were leaving the park, the Fab Five were stationed around the entrance’s globe/ship courtyard.  We tried to snap a photo with them but couldn’t figure out the queuing system.  We asked a character attendant and he said there was no line you just wave your hands and call to the character; he or she will then come to you.  We tried but I guess weren’t aggressive enough… or didn’t use the right code word.  We took a couple of shots of the outfits worn by Donald and Goofy but never got us with them.  It all felt oddly out of character for the Japanese culture that seems so intent it seems on honor and politeness that you shove your way past others who had been waiting to meet a famous celeb.  Huh.

Leaving the park, we made sure to snap a photo of Mom with an appropriate sign:

And then it was another 260 yen to go one stop to get back to the JR line and bus back to the hotel.

It was a short day in the park but Mom was a trooper for going at all.  I suspect tomorrow I’ll get her to our final hotel on this trip and leave her there as I make a solo trek out to the Tokyo Marathon Expo.  But before I sort through that, let me leave this important, and GRAPHIC safety notice from the train doors.


That’s definitely not Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; that bunny is having one bloody bad day!