Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tokyo DisneySea

Entrance to Tokyo Disney Sea

Today we went to one of my favorite amusement parks, Tokyo DisneySea. Now it doesn’t have that many rides, but it is full of ambiance. It is aimed mostly at adults and so there are less rides, and lots more shows and entertainment. I went last year, and want to go again.
Along the way, while we were riding the city subway, we saw a young woman collapsed on a train seat, sleeping there her legs wide open peeking out from her skirt. Everyone was staring at her – whether it was because her legs were spread wide open or because she had rudely taken up an entire seat reserved for the elderly, I do not know. I took some pictures from my seat to show you this strange scene:
Now onto the park...
This is a Disney theme park made for especially for the Japanese and caters to their desire to travel abroad. I am only going to show you part of the park, as I don`t want to spoil the surprises when you visit in person.
There is a Mediterranean Harbor recreation of Venice, complete with canals:
turn of the century New York and Boston (yes, now you too can feel like an Italian immigrant). Talk about ambiance: they even had an Irish band at the Cape Cod section (next to the New York section). It’s sad, but the first thing Yoko and I thought of when we heard the band was “Titanic” :

a fantasy Arabia (complete with A mock shopping area for Aladdin fans):

Little Mermaid land:

South American jungle; Jules Verne port; and even a fantasy castle for RPG player types.

We arrived at Maihama station on the outskirts of Tokyo. Tokyo DisneySea, along with Tokyo Disneyland, is built on reclaimed land fronting the sea. I had braced myself for massive crowds, but the park appeared surprisingly deserted. The holiday was yesterday, so it must’ve been packed then. But I found out that Raging Waters, a new ride featuring a 360-degree loop was going to open in two days, and so the true fans must have been saving themselves for that day. There were many media people with media badges who must’ve been invited to a preview of the ride, as they all had shopping bags with the ride, “Raging Waters” printed on it. I also saw squealing female TV announcers being filmed while they gushed about something in the park.

This park is fine for me, but for those with kids, it may not be the best bet. Of course, the kids can visit a Little Mermaid section with fun rides for children. But the park suffers in that there are so little English explanations for the rides. So you go on a ride, and Sinbad the sailor starts to speak to you in Japanese. Yep, just adds to the illusion you are in Arabia. (Of course, ignorant people like me do not notice when Sinbad speaks in English, not Arabic). Or you ride the thrilling Indiana Jones ride and then Indy Jones comes out and shouts at you in Japanese. Even the shows were all in Japanese, with just some English, and I felt sorry for the foreigners who came. So we have Ariel speaking to us in Japanese during the Little Mermaid show (but she sings in English. Hey, wasn`t Hans Christian Andersen Dutch?).

They will need to at least have plot synopses in English (and Korean and Chinese and in other languages for that matter) so that we can at least understand why Mickey mouse is sailing in a boat during the afternoon big show (it’s supposed to be the day that the Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie can be reunited). But it was still a cool spectacle to watch.

Donald Duck`s boat as part of the retinue accompanying Mickey

Donald then goes ashore and the crowd goes wild!

By the way, the service here is beyond polite. I asked a young security guard where was the trashcan for my plastic bottle, and she told me to give her the bottle, and then she proceeded to throw it away for me. Even when I ate at fast food tables, the staff came to bus our table for us. And when we leave they greet us goodbye. Here is a picture of a friendly sweeper at the park:

And the food here is surprisingly good! I had a sausage gyoza bun - extremely delicious! Can you believe that the food here is NOT greasy? I enjoyed the two-cheese salmon pizza and ALCOHOL! It is such a great feeling to go around the park quite buzzed, as it really adds to the illusion that you are in a Mediterranean Harbor... except for the fact that a GIANT fire-breathing dragon pops out of the water as part of the night show.

Dragon after discharging his/her breath weapon in the lagoon.

I loved the gondola ride, which was actually powered by the gondola men, who serenaded us in Italian! Also, the lighting is quite dark here at night, making it a very romantic place. I then realized that they have dark park like this in America because there is too much potential for criminals to ambush you in dark areas, or for lawsuits when people slip in the dark and get injured. Still, it was great to walk in a very dimly lit amusement park with a beer buzz and just soak up the ambience.

The next time I go here, we will stay at the hotel in the park. Yes, the hotel is in the park, and is part of the scenery for the Mediterranean port, which is called “Porto Paradisio”. And the next time, I will go to the attraction I forgot to go to: the chance to meet and get your picture taken with Ariel from the Little Mermaid. I wonder if they used a white woman to play her (like they did at the Little Mermaid theme show) or if they had a Japanese woman dressed as her in a red wig? In the end, I just did not want to wait in line for an hour. Now I will wait in line for something good. Person in mouse costume, yes. Woman in mermaid costume, no.

On the way home, a very sleepy woman kept falling against Reiko’s shoulder in the train. What would you do if a sleeping woman started slobbering on your shoulder?

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