We’re back from our vacation to
(This is a long post. You might want to get a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom before you start.)
Since Jack had the week off from school last week, and I had a week of vacation I had to use, we spent 4 days at the Tokyo Disney Resort last week. What a trip!
There’s no way I can describe it all. If you’re really looking for comprehensive review of the entire place, click here. It’s an incredible review of both parks and the hotels. There is a lot to tell you about though. I guess I’ll start where we started, the hotel.
After a 7 hour flight from
The hotel has an Italian Renaissance theme to its design and has accents everywhere based upon Disney’s most famous Italian character…Pinocchio. Small, tasteful images of Pinocchio, Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo, and Jiminy Cricket are scattered throughout the decorations in the hotel; from the wallpaper in the hallways to the frame around the mirror.
The lobby was beautiful. The marble floor was a huge compass rose. The lobby ceiling was painted with images to represent each of the different “lands” in the DisneySea park in which the hotel was located. The centerpiece of the lobby was a brass sculpture of a sailing ship almost 10 feet tall with Disney characters as the crew.
The room itself was beautiful. At least as big as a standard American size hotel room. That means HUGE for
There are two parks at Tokyo Disney. They are “Disneyland”, which is very much like “The Magic Kingdom” in
This is by far the most beautiful theme park I have ever been to. It beats
As you can guess by the name, the park has a water theme. It’s not at all like a waterpark though. There are no waterslides or wavepools. The water or ocean theme is part of the architecture and is the basis for each of the “lands” that make up the park. The different areas are:
I was surprised how much I noticed the little things that were different. Some were in the design. For example, the “It’s a Small World” clockworks is outside, not inside. Other differences were cultural though. The best example was that there was never more than a 20 minute wait for “Pirates of the
Both parks were cleaner than you can imagine. I thought the parks in
If you’re going to
The other thing about the weather is that it affects the design of the parks. A lot of the lines for the rides are designed differently than they are in
The biggest design difference the weather causes in on “
You’ll never guess what the number one ride in all of Tokyo Disney is. By 10:00am all of the “fast passes” for the entire day were gone. The line was consistently 80+ minutes. When the park opened, people would sprint across the entire park just to get there before the line formed.
What are you thinking about? Big
If you’ve ever been to Disney, I know what you’re thinking. “That ride is crap,” right?
It is totally different at this park. The general flow of the ride is the same. You’re in a honey pot floating through a storybook telling the “Pooh and the Honey Hunt” story. That is where the similarity ends. The “pot” that you are riding in is not on a track. It drives itself completely independently and is computer controlled. What this does is allow a few pots to “dance” or spin and circle around each other as they pass through each scene. It really does change the ride.
There are also other improvements. My favorite was the Tigger scene when the entire floor of the room bounced up and down as Tigger passed through. Melissa’s favorite was that in the scene where Pooh is stuck in the honey tree, the entire room smells like honey. The ride is really pretty cool. Is it the best ride in the park? No. Worth an 80 minute wait? No. Worth a fastpass? Definitely.
Another interesting experience was “The Tiki Room” which has now been taken over by Stitch, from the movie “Lilo and Stitch.” Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen 200 animatronic birds, flowers and tiki statues singing Hawaiian songs in Japanese with a fuzzy blue alien dressed like Don Ho.
Jack’s favorite ride of the trip was actually in the Disneysea park. “Indiana Jones and the
Like most of the other rides, Indy spoke in Japanese. It didn’t really matter though. The gist of the ride is that you’re in a jeep riding through the
Although this was a pretty popular ride, we had pretty good luck with the lines. There were times that the line looked like it was about an hour long, but we never waited more than 30 minutes even though we rode it about 8 times.
Another ride Jack liked for some reason was the "Sinbad" ride in the
I remember the story of Sinbad pretty well from reading the book. The ride told a slightly different story. Translating as best I can from Japanese, it seems that if you follow the compass of your heart, you and your tiger cub friend named Chendu will make friends with mermaids, monkeys and a giant. You’ll then receive a treasure, a few belly dancers and a big pile of bananas. I dunno. Maybe I was missing something.
The last ride I want to mention is the
The short version of the story is that an adventurer named Harrison Hightower receives an idol that happens to be cursed during his last trip to
Here’s the thing about
At first, it’s kind of a novelty and it doesn’t really bother you. After a while though, you do start do get a bit sick of hearing another language all day. It’s not so much the rides that bother you. It’s the people working the rides that keep speaking to you in Japanese even though it’s clear that you have no idea what they are saying. You just get into a rhythm of nodding your head and saying “Yes” and “Thank You” (the only words I know in Japanese) in response.
It’s also a cultural thing. The Japanese love audience participation and group cheering and chanting. Here’s an example:
The theme of the year at the Parks in 2008 is “The Year of the Villains.” There are a few areas of the parks with “Villains” displays, but the biggest time you see it is during the parade. The parade is Villains themed.
Just before the parade, a few of the cast members dressed in street clothes got in front of the crowd and taught a chant complete with hand motions. It was basically waiving your hands from side to side and yelling “Yatta, Yatta, Villains.” With the Japanese accent, the English word “villains” come out more like “beelans” though, so it took me a long time to figure out what they were trying to say.
Half way through the parade, a Disney villain (Cruella DeVille and such) pop out of the top of each of the floats and take over the parade. It seems that if we all chant and wave our hands enough, they are defeated and disappear back inside of the floats. It doesn’t sound too weird, but trust me, it was surreal seeing hundreds of Japanese people waiving their arms back and forth and chanting in unison.
It really isn’t fair for me to be complaining. All of the people that really mattered, like the hotel desk staff and a few of the more important park staff, were able to speak English. This is their country. I should be happy anyone could speak English at all. I guess I’m just used to the Asian business environment where English is a requirement. While it was a bit annoying at times, the language barrier shouldn’t prevent anyone from going.
This wouldn’t be a Tremblay blog if we didn’t talk about the food.
I’ll start with our main food group of the trip. Popcorn.
All over the park, there were flavored popcorn stands. Pretty much one in each area and they we’re all different flavors. It is hugely popular. You can buy souvenir popcorn buckets that hang on a strap around your neck. Melissa and I both made a ton of jokes about strapping on the feedbag. I’d say a third of people in the park had a bucket.
Each area of the park had a flavor that fit the area. The
Salted, Sea Salt, Capuccino, Coconut, Chocolate (Melissa’s favorite), Honey (Jack’s favorite), Black Pepper, Soda (horrible), Caramel and Curry.
You want to guess which popcorn was most popular? There was a 15 minute wait for Curry. A 20 person line at 9:30 in the morning. You wouldn’t think so, but it was actually delicious. A bit sweet and only a little spicy. We ate a ton of popcorn. I’d say at least 4 buckets each day. The only flavor we missed was black pepper.
As far as the rest of the food goes, we struggled a bit, but were able to manage with some selective restaurant choices. We saw a few things we weren’t interested in trying (like squid pizza) but we also branched out a bit and tried some new things too. The steamed pork and shrimp bun and the pumpkin cake were actually pretty good.
There were your standard pizza and hot dog options from counter service as well as a few scattered “western food” full service restaurants that were pretty good. We found though, that the best tasting food came from the carts in the park. There was a great sausage in a bread roll that was delicious. Another favorite was the pumpkin cake dessert. Overall, we ate pretty well but it took a bit of work.
This was our biggest disappointment of the trip. There was hardly anything in the dozens and dozens of stores that we wanted to buy. We were really just looking for a few shirts that said “Tokyo Disneyland” on them. If you can believe it, we couldn’t find a single one. For Americans, a T-shirt is a popular souvenir. In
We even went to the
Overall we had a great trip. A lot of fun with only a few setbacks. The 7 hour flight from
We had a great time and would recommend it to anyone. While it’s not quite Disneyworld