Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tokyo DisneySea (November 2012)

There are a lot of great things to see and do in Japan and one of the biggest things the girls were looking forward to was going to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.  For someone who was born and raised in Southern California, going to Disneyland was like a yearly tradition for me, which I always looked forward to.  So I certainly shared my daughter's anxiousness and anticipation in going to the Tokyo Disney Parks.

"entering DisneySea instantly transports you to a place that mixes the feeling of being in some exotic locale with the wonder of imagination"

As mentioned in my review of the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel, we bought the two day passport tickets, which allowed us to enter one park one day and the other park the following day.  We went to Tokyo Disneyland first and it was a grand experience.  In this post, however, I want to talk about our time at Tokyo DisneySea.

Bottom line:  entering DisneySea instantly transports you to a place that mixes the feeling of being in some exotic locale with the wonder of imagination. It's an exhilarating combination of immersion and interaction, creating a unique and utterly unforgettable experience.

  • We hopped on the Monorail from the Bayshore Station, right in front of our hotel.  It only took us about 4 minutes to get to the Tokyo DisneySea Station.  Upon arriving into the station, looking outside the monorail window, we saw that there were already massive lines of folks waiting patiently to get into the park. It seemed that everyone bought their tickets beforehand so I'm glad that we did the same.  We got there at around 8:30am and stood in line, waiting for the gates to open at 9am.
  • Once we got in, we made a beeline to Toy Story Mania, which had recently opened. Unfortunately, everyone else was thinking the same thing. Once we got close to the attraction, we were surprised to find a sea of black haired heads, waiting in line for both the ride AND the Fastpass tickets.  We decided to walk up to Port Discovery and try out Storm Riders.  Luckily, with everyone stuck at Toy Story Mania, the wait time for Storm Riders was 5 minutes.  The ride was great:  it's like the Weather Channel version of Star Tours.  We got a little wet but overall, a fun-filled adventure.
  • Next stop:  Mysterious Island.  The look and feel of this land was volcanic/terraforming tech meets steampunk.  Very cool and besides, you're IN THE MIDDLE of a volcano. How cool is that?
  • We wanted to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth but there was a line so we got a fast pass which told us to come back in 20 minutes.  While waiting, we were able to walk right into 10000 Leagues Under the Sea.  It's kind of like the Finding Nemo Submarine Ride at Disneyland.  You have a controller to move around a spotlight, which was pretty cool.
  • Came back to Journey and with our Fastpass, we were able to walk right in.  The ride itself was ok ... you ride through these dark tunnels, exploring underground cystalline formations.  Then, you see a bunch of weird insect aliens taking over the earth's core. The ride culminates with the ride going into roller coaster mode, pushing you up a steep grade and then dropping down a nice drop, giving you a sense of freefall.
  • Walked over to Mermaid Lagoon and met Ariel.  She spoke English and so did we.  I'm wonder how she feels about living in a place where the majority of the population eat fish.

  • Entered Mermaid Lagoon.  Very nicely laid out kiddie land.  Made you feel that you were actually "Under the Sea", being an integral part of Ariel's world.  Rode most of the rides in there, including the Tea Cup-like ride called (appropriately enough, Whirlpool).  We even went to the Mermaid Lagoon Theater to watch Ariel and friends battle the evil Ursula in a puppets meet Cirque Du Soleil-esque presentation.
  • Outside of Mermaid Lagoon, we rode Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster twice in a row.
  • Now, we were in search of popcorn.  But, instead of finding popcorn, we ended up at the Magic Lamp Theater.  This presentation was in 3D, which featured Genie and Aladdin.  It was short but a sweet presentation.
  • Met Genie, Aladdin and Jasmine.  Genie didn't say anything but Aladdin and Jasmine spoke to us in English.  They asked us where we were from.  My daughters answered "Seattle".  Aladdin and Jasmine responded by saying that it was very far from Agrabah but their magic carpet could make the trip.  Very cute how they stayed in character the whole time.
  • We had lunch at Sebatian's Calypso Kitchen, which specialized in pizza and sandwiches. 
  • After lunch, the girls played in Ariel's Playground.  Lots of caves to explore and places to climb.
  • After leaving Mermaid Lagoon, we eventually found Strawberry Popcorn in Port Discovery.  The popcorn was great:  there was a nice, lightly sweet strawberry taste that wasn't overpowering.  Mixed in well with the saltiness of the popcorn.
  • Next we checked out Fortress Exploration.
  • We made it back to Mermaid Lagoon and rode Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster twice (again)
  • Had dinner at Vulcania Restaurant.  It was Chinese food, Buffeteria Style, where you select your entries, sides, desserts and drinks from the servers.  They ring you up after making all of our selections.  It was very tasty, especially after a long day of walking around.
  • We went back to Toy Story Mania.  Yup, it was still crowded.  So we walked around the park.  So many beautiful things to see, like the entry into DisneySea and Mermaid Lagoon lit up at night.
Mermaid Lagoon lit up at night.  In the foreground right, we got some popcorn with sea-salt, which was very flavorful.

  • Watched Fantasmic! a water show with fireworks and water.  Impressive.
  • Rode Sinbad Storybook Voyage.  It's just like It's A Small World, only set in the world of Sinbad
  • Also rode Jasmine's Flying Carpet.  It's just like the Dumbo ride.
  • And lastly, before calling it a day and leaving DisneySea, we met up with Minnie and Goofy at the Greeting Trails in Lost River Delta

So, here are some unique aspects about our time at Disneysea that I found intriguing:
  • DisneySea, like California Adventure, is unique to the world.  However, while there are a good number of unique rides, there were some (like the Sinbad and Flying Carpet rides) which had the same, familiar feeling of having ridden a similar version of this ride before. 
  • The layout is different.  Instead of the hub and spoke design of the Disneyland, Disneysea has an inner loop (between Mediterranean Harbor and Mysterious Island) and outer loop that encompasses most of the other lands.  Not sure if this is better than the hub/spoke design but interesting nonetheless.
  • Obvious here, but the whole theme park centers around water (water taxis, boats, rides with water) with the Mediterranean Harbor as the center of the park, which does the Fantasmic Water Show
  • Outside of Mermaid Lagoon, there is a more adult feel with more atmosphere.  Each themed area meticulously recreates places far and away that transports guests to a specific locale, whether it's the tall Mayan ruins found in the jungles of the Lost River Delta or the Spanish influenced architecture of the Fortress Exploration in Mediterranean Harbor.  Tokyo DisneySea definitely does a great job of bringing you there.
  • Food was great.  Good variety of popcorn (Black Pepper, Caramel, Apple Cinnamon, Curry, Strawberry, Sea Salt).  Had the Strawberry and Sea Salt.. both good.  A good variety of restaurants from simple snack shops to sit down restaurants.
  • Souvenir Guide map had tons of information.  Better than the California ones
  • Lots of characters walking around (Elastigirl, Ariel, Genie, Jasmine and Aladdin, Three Amigos, Chip (of Chip and Dale fame), Minnie and Goofy) ... all walking around or a character stations where the wait wasn't long at all

                Left:  Fantasmic!                                                    Right:  Toyville with Toy Story Mania!

We had a great time and look forward to going again.  If you get the chance, it's definitely worth the time to transport yourself to a magical place full of mystery and excitement, tempered with Disney's unique sense of magic.

No comments: