Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tokyo Disney

Tokyo Disney was closed for about a month after the big earthquake. They only recently opened and are operating on reduced hours to save electricity. We happened to look it up at the right time and decided to go at the last minute, on one of the first days it was opened.

Even from the train station, you can tell you're near Disney. It's about a 5-minute walk to the entrance gate.

Just inside the front gate are the classic characters, like Walmart greeters but younger. And mute.

Not everyone knew the park is open again and the weather was slightly cool, so it wasn't that crowded.

This is two photos smashed together to give you an idea of how many people were waiting in line to get their picture taken with Mickey.

Disney is ready for Easter!

Everybody's an egg!

Through the town of gift shops to the park.

Old-timey vehicle selling snacks to a mother accompanied by a child dressed as Donald Duck. That's something we noticed (well, Husband noticed, he's been to Disney World in FL much more often than I have) is that there are a lot more people dressing up like Disney characters here than in the US.

Taking pictures of all the egg characters became my mission in life.

First up, Adventureland! We did the Jungle Cruise to start the day. This Disneyland is owned and operated by a private company that rents the character licenses, which may be why they had absolutely no problem with anyone taking pictures inside or outside of any of the attractions.

I have no idea what our tour guide was saying.

I tend to forget how good Disney makes fake things look.

This elephant is SO HAPPY!

A water buffalo having an argument with a python.

They've modified the Tiki House (Tiki Room? It's where the singing birds are.) to now include Stitch of Lilo and Stitch, which explains the spaceship crashed in the front yard.

We walked around the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse. The thing that struck me isn't the display itself, all the little rooms and signs, but the fact that everything was fake. The tree doesn't even contain a single splinter of real wood. It's not really a surprise, but it's a little revelation from someone who forgets at a distance and remembers up close.

The view of the castle from the treehouse.

On to the part themed like the old American west. Well, old American west with some liberties taken in terms of historical accuracy.

I think this cactus may be the only real plant in the whole park.

There's something extra amusing about going on the Tom Sawyer raft ride and being the only caucasians in sight.

On our way to the island of old west Americana, we were passed by a group of tourists in a canoe. Apparently canoeing your entire party around is one of the attractions. This group looked like they were having a blast, but we passed a pretty unhappy-looking family later.

It really is kind of picturesque.

Tom Sawyer's treehouse!

Like the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, also made of 100% fake wood.

Including a fake wasp nest.

Hey, what is that thing?

Oh, a suspension bridge. How helpful!

What's this? It appears to be Arizona.

Mesa under construction.

I don't remember a skull carved into the rock face (haha...rock face) that spits water, but if Disney had created the southwest, there probably would be. Our friend said he was looking into the mouth to see if he could tweak the settings of the water spitter, but I think he was really whispering sweet nothings. It kind of looks like it's blushing, doesn't it?

At Fort Sam Clemens, possibly built at 70% of original size, they had an old school US flag (13 stars), the only rifles on the grounds (fake, of course, cemented to the wall above a doorway where nobody could reach them...Japan isn't big on guns).

Upstairs we found some slots in the wall where we could snipe at the Mark Twain through the itty bitty rifle windows upstairs. You know, if those rifles weren't fake, if that boat weren't almost completely empty, and if we had declared war on steam boats.

Husband celebrating his American roots with a one-man drum circle in a synthetic teepee. Not that he's the least bit Native American, but he did seem to be having fun with the drum. I would have zoomed out further, but there wasn't any more room. It wasn't a large teepee, probably because it wasn't built for adults.

They're so polite about waste! I thought one wasn't supposed to be wasteful, but maybe they do things differently in the American Wild West of Japan.

I did like the water fountains.

After the old west, we visited, as you might guess, Critter Country.

We went to Splash Mountain. It lived up to its name.

Stroller parking lot.

Meal options at Tokyo Disney are probably different than in US Disney parks.

But they have wax display food! Have I mentioned that fake display food is one of my many favorite things about Japan?

This is what I had for lunch. It was tastier than you might expect. I've been here long enough that shrimp is a perfectly reasonable pizza topping.

Dwarf eggs.

I kept seeing people walking around in backpacks covered in plush toys or silly hats or headbands with ears. I really wanted some Cheshire Cat ears, but they didn't have any! I know, I'm sad too. So I got these instead. And the sunglasses, because I'd left mine at home. If I had seen the heart-shaped polka dotted ones first, I would have gotten those, but I can at least wear these with a little bit of dignity outside the grounds of Disneyland.

Yay, Cheshire Cat!

The vending machine in the Alice in Wonderland area.

We had to do the It's a Small World ride to see if it was any different. For the other rides, some of the animatronic dialogue and some of the songs were. Unfortunately, this one was (according to Husband) the same as it is in the US. It's a little creepy, but I think it's part of the charm.

Reminder: do not dance in the boat! No partying, this is a serious ride.
None of my other photos came out very well, my camera doesn't really like low light in that kind of large space.

We didn't go in here, I just enjoy that the facade of the building is a giant book.

A brief stroll through Toon Town.

And on to Tomorrowland. The thing that cracked me up about this is that it has a giant "USA" painted on the side of the rocket...

...but a Japan Airlines departure gate sign out in front.

One man had a dream...and that dream was so successful that he dreamed up a sequel.
I don't actually know what this is about, but the sign amuses me.

Does the US Disney also include a genuine Star Wars ride? This one does. It's one of those small seating areas for an audience that tilts to correspond with what's happening onscreen. We were apparently a random tour ship that got inadvertently caught in the big Death Star shootout.

Random futuristic building near the Star Wars ride.

We also went to see Captain Eo, an almost-ride-but-mostly-very-long-music-video starring Michael Jackson circa 1987. The Japanese love Michael Jackson. I don't know if the movie was bad because I'm judging it by my current standards or because it's truly that bad, but it was bad. The "making of" video they showed in the lobby was more entertaining. I liked MJ as a musician and dancer and I still like his music, but I think he was never really cut out to be an underdog spaceship captain invading black and gray worlds filled with hissing cyberpeople to turn them rainbow-colored through the power of music and dance. I know, it sounds like a well-developed plot at the outset, but somehow it just didn't deliver.

We'd seen people sitting along the parade route all day, but it wasn't until the middle of the afternoon that we happened to catch one. Disney knows how to put on a parade. It looked like every float was customized for Easter, and it makes me wonder if they have that many giant floats for every holiday and where can they possibly keep them in a country where space is at such a premium. Parking garages in Tokyo will often have a conveyor system that will lift cars straight up because there simply isn't room for people to park in a parking deck. Where do you keep oversized, irregularly shaped things like these?

This float (Lilo and Stitch do Easter) was particularly terrifying.

Pastel Steampunk Easter Bunny is also a little unnerving.

I think they combined Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story for this one.

The last float (pictured above) stopped for a while for the brightly colored dancers to go through a couple routines. After that, the float moved on and the Disney version of riot police slowly followed, keeping the crowd at bay until the floats and dancers reached safety, wherever that is.

On the way out we saw a guy in the Castle gift shop creating glass sculptures.

Waiting for the train back home we stood next to this gentleman with his fabulous shoes and delightful souvenir bag.

Overall, we considered the day a success.


    Ugh, I'm so jealous! That was one thing I was looking forward to about Disney (I didn't get there till I was like 17, so some of the kids stuff wasn't as cool). And it was closed by then. Replaced by something else. :(
    (btw, it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola [The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, etc.]. How crazy is that?)

  2. AnonymousJuly 07, 2011

    Captain EO has been reopened at both US parks. ?