MODERN-DAY NOTE: When I originally wrote this entry for my personal blog in 2005, I didn’t include pictures. I have no idea why, short of how much time it took to do so. I’ll include a few in the course of the post but most will be towards the bottom. Please enjoy!
Tokyo Disney Sea (TDS) was scheduled to open at 9am, so the 3 of us were awake at 7am and out the door by 8:45am. We bought 4-day park hopper passes wherein we have to pick our parks of choice for the first 2 days and then can park hop for the other 2 days. So our plan was to go to TDS today today, TDL tomorrow and figure out Wed. and Thur. when we got to them.
Since we’re staying at the Hotel Miracosta, TDS is just outside our lobby (much like the Grand Californian at Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel in Disneyland Paris). That was SO convenient! As low as the crime rate is in Japan, everyone still has to go through a bag check, though. The security guards who do bag check are much nicer than stateside, though.
Caught a quick breakfast at Mama Biscotti’s Bakery, the pastry shop in the first land (called Porto Paradiso), which is the equivalent of “Main Street,” except it’s more horizontal than vertical and looks more like a seaside Italian town than Main Street USA. I had a really good almond cream danish at the bakery, but I guess Disney coffee is Disney coffee internationally…just so-so. Joe had a cranberry muffin and a chocolate chip muffin and Steve (our friend traveling with us on this trip) had an apple danish.
We then meandered to the Mysterious Island land, which housed various attractions based on Captain Nemo. During the entire walk from Porto Paradiso to this area, my mouth was just wide open, I was in so much awe. I mean, the attention to detail went as far are carved “N’s” (for Nautilus) on the queue stanchions. For those of you who live in or have visited Florida, the closest attention to detail that I’ve ever seen is at Islands of Adventure and this park just blows IOA away. For the first 3 or 4 lands, I would just say “unbelievable. Totally unbelievable,” over and over, it was just so beautiful. So perfect.
We had read that some attractions can have a wait of 45 min just to get your Fastpass and a stand-by wait of 3 hours. We purposely didn’t go to the parks on a weekend, figuring the crowds would be horrible. Well, for us today, most rides were a WALK-ON! I don’t know if it was because it was a Monday, or because it was on the chilly side or because the World Expo in Nagoya is taking all the crowds, but we had NO lines ALL DAY LONG. It was absolutely, positively wonderful.
Anyway, the first attraction we went on was Journey to the Center of the Earth. The queue for this ride was amazing. It has little displays everywhere but we couldn’t see them all because the line wasn’t going to those places. We got through the queue to the loading area, which is set up with a main line leading to a elevator, which takes you to the ride loading area. The elevator is similar to the old Living Seas Hydrolator except this one actually moved a floor since you load and unload from the same door. The ride vehicles are themed to earth digging cars with pointed fronts and enclosed cabins. You are seated, 3 rows of 2 seats, and sent off into the ride. The ride is based on the book of the same name. You are shown the wonders they have found, something goes wrong and you have to get back home. The ride show is great but the ride system is the amazing part. Imagine a Test Track like car, with the acceleration possibility. Put the high acceleration on a 30 degree incline with curves in the dark. Top off the hill with some zero-G lift and then back to the mountain for the finish. It’s amazing.
After riding that twice, we headed to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. How can I explain this one? You go on a 20K-themed queue (lots of nautical equipment and caves) to get into the biosphere vehicles, which looks like brown, metal submarines. The ride vehicles hold 6 people (2 at the front window and 2 at each of the side windows). The way they do the ride is amazing. Think of the old 20K ride at WDW where you and the show are underwater. Well here, the windows are double-paned and between the panes is water that they can make bubble or stay still, so you can feel like you’re under water, or going up or down (with the bubbles) without actually being under water. You’re on a winding track that shows audioanimatronic fishes and sea monsters and the giant squid and whatever else you would normally find in a 20K ride, except that they’re all dry but they LOOK like they’re under water because of the water in the glass and some lighting effects. During parts of the ride, you have the opportunity to aim flashlights “outside,” to get a better view of what’s under the “ocean.” I know that’s a horrible description, but it’s unlike any other attraction we’ve ever been on. It’s also way too dark to videotape well, even with night shot. Sorry. Or, as they say in Japan, Gomenasai!
The next land we visited was Mermaid Lagoon, which is based, of course, on The Little Mermaid. They have an indoor area with some kiddie rides (albeit beautifully-themed kiddie rides) that we didn’t go on, but we did visit the “Under the Sea” show at the Mermaid Lagoon Theater. Normally I would think that a show in a area like this would be a little fluff show to lead to the Ariel meeting area. Having read in advance, we went in anyway. This show is amazing. It is theater in the round. Ariel rises out of the center of the stage suspended by 2 wires. This contraption allows her to spin around 360 to simulate doing flips in the water. The wires are connected to a huge rig on the ceiling which takes Ariel flying around over the audience. Other characters from the movie are in the show too, either as HUGE puppets, or on wires, or both. The show is a condensed version of the movie with emphasis on 3 songs (in English) and some dialog (in Japanese). We all left the show with open jaws, not expecting anything like that.
The Sleepy Whale Shoppe was a cute gift shop that looked like a big whale. You go in through the whale’s mouth, where the carpet is rubbery-gushy and pinkish (because it’s his tongue), and then turns blue because you’re in his gullet. The ceiling of the shop shows his backbone and ribs. You exit around where his appendix would be, by the way ;-). Very well-done.
Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster was the equivalent of Gadget’s Go Coaster. A cute little kiddie coaster that was about 45 seconds long. There was no line, so we went on.
The next land we visited was Arabian Coast. It was themed to be a cross between Aladdin and Sinbad, with a little generic Arabia thrown in, as well.
Caravan Carousel. This is a merry-go-round. But by now, we know nothing is simple in this park. The Carousel is 2 levels with elephants, camels, horses and the Genie from Aladdin. Each side of the carousel has a painting on it of an Arabian Scene and the music is from Aladdin.
Sinbad’s Seven Voyages. This is a Small World-like boat ride. The entry area tells of the history of Sinbad, in Japanese. You then get on the boat, and follow Sinbad on his journeys. The animatronics on this ride are first rate. The movements are generations ahead of anything we have in any of our parks. We might have a character or 2 which are amazing, but every little doll in this ride is capable of amazing movements.
As we left the Arabian Coast, we saw the construction site of their new roller coaster, Raging Spirits, which is set to open this summer. Between that and the brand-new version of TZTOT that they’re building (not a cookie cutter version…new theming, new storyline, and I bet new effects too), it gives us a good excuse to go back .
The next land we visited was Lost River Delta, which is based on Indiana Jones and adventure in general. Here there are lots more trees and lush greenery, to give you the feeling that you’re deep in the woods.
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. This is essentially the same ride as at Disneyland Park in California but the ride has a different theme. Since the story is in Japanese, we really don’t know what was happening. It had something to do with a skull and it had snakes and bugs and a wind vortex in it, among other things . The most amazing part of this attraction is the queue. The exterior is a huge Aztec temple. HUGE! You enter the temple, and see the dig in progress. The entry hall is immense. The line winds around the first room 3 times to reveal more on each level. Amazing stuff.
We had lunch reservations at our hotel at 1:30pm so around 12:15 or so, we started our way back to the Hotel MiraCosta. We took the Disney Sea Transit Steamer Line, which was, in essence, a Friendship Boat, but with a retractable roof for adverse weather conditions.
We still had a good 45 minutes before lunch, so the guys agreed to look at some shops in Porto Paradiso. The variety of merchandise is amazing and although the guys whisked me out of the stores much sooner than *I* would have liked, I knew I’d be back. Soon.
Lunch was at Silk Road Garden, a Chinese restaurant at our hotel. I had an appetizer of spring rolls and a main course of fried rice with shrimp and asparagus. Joe and Steve got a meal for 2…a choice of 5 appetizers, a small entrée and a dessert. The food was good but as we quickly discovered about TDLR restaurants, VERY overpriced.
After lunch, we decided to split up for a while. Joey was tired so he went back to the room for a nap. Steve went back to the park to hit some more rides and I went shopping. I’m up to about 7 new Disney CDs that I didn’t already have . The merchandising TDS has is terrific because they still have land-specific items. So besides the generic Fab 5 (well, 4…I saw very little Pluto) stuff, they would have a line of clothes and gifts and toys and stuff specific for Mermaid Lagoon, The Lost Delta, etc. VERY cool.
Anyway, we met up again at our room at 5pm.
After taking some pictures of our room from the outside (our room overlooks the entrance to the park), we went back to TDS.
We walked to the American Waterfront land, which doesn’t have any major attractions/rides, but has access to the DisneySea Electric Railway (think WDW Railway). From there, we rode to Port Discovery and went on Stormrider, which was a Japanese-language simulator based on being able to manipulate the weather. From what we could tell, no one can manipulate the weather, by the way.
We then took the Electric Railway back to the American Waterfront to see a stage show, “Encore!” at the Broadway Music Theatre. It was a review of songs from older popular Broadway musicals, such as Oklahoma, Evita, Cats, Chorus Line, Porgy & Bess, 42nd St., Beauty & The Beast, West Side Story, The Music Man, Gypsy, etc. The 3 of us enjoyed the show immensely, partially because it was almost all in English.
We next walked back to Port Discover, to go on Aquatopia. This is another one that’s hard to explain. You’re in a car that’s designed to make you think you’re floating on water, but on close inspection, you’re actually only in a few inches of water. The water has vortexes, waterfalls, squirting fountains, etc. The cars take you on what feels like random variations of paths always JUST missing the fountains, etc, thanks to the wonders of a GPS system.
Most of the rest of the night was spent on going back on the attractions we enjoyed most, such as Indy, Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20K. We grabbed a Gyoza Sausage and apple tea soda at the cart that supposedly has LONG lines during normal days (we had no line), and took some pictures of the full-size Nautilus submarine for Steve.
Just before the park closed, we went on the Fortress Explorations, which is the equivalent of Fort Sam Clemens, with LOTS of places of interactive play and places to explore. The theme of this attraction is “wondrous machines and scientific instruments.” Very fun for kids, including these 3 grown-up kids.
The park closed at 10pm so after the guys stopped off at Mama Biscotti’s again for dessert, we went back to the room, very happy and utterly exhausted. None of us can remember the last time we did a full day at a park .
Tomorrow is Tokyo Disneyland. Until next time, Sayonara!