Thursday, June 2, 2011

Disney Sea

What's the best way to spend Memorial Day in Tokyo? By going to Disney Sea (located next to Disneyland) in spite of the rainy weather, because Husband had the day off but most Japanese people didn't.

In true Disney form, even the train to the main gate from the Tokyo train system has Mickey's head.

Random sight out the window: a building decorated like a gift.

I love when the doors are open and you can see allllll the way through the cars.

Day pass? Check! English map? Check! Cover illustration of volcano? Check!
The volcano is the central feature of the park, visible from the time you enter the main gate pretty much until you leave.

Time for breakfast and checking out the map to plan the day: Husband got a cream cheese brownie and a berry cheese tart, I had a multigrain cheese roll and some apple juice.

The Mediterranean Harbor (I declined Husband's suggestion of a gondola ride because it was a little too rainy and cold).

Over a bridge is the American Waterfront, complete with old-timey New York City.

We saw this show and it was really good. Very swing, big band, lots of tap and jazz, very old school Broadway. It helped that two thirds of the male singers/dancers and the two female leads were American. Holy gaijins, Batman! After a certain point, you get so used to seeing Japanese people that you become surprised at seeing Caucasians. What's more is that this show was entirely in English.

Tower of Terror! Husband says that in the States it's themed like the Twilight Zone, but since that wasn't a popular show here they've set up the story as a guy who found a cursed idol at an archeological dig.

This kind of made me giggle...they may have a somewhat idealized sense of what restrooms look like in NYC. To be fair, though, the interior of the facilities were tiled in such a way that it really did have a NY feel. But cleaner.

Down the street is the S.S. Columbia. Inside is the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge (more on that later), outside is a stage area that was seating people as we walked by, so we figured we'd see what it was all about. I'm so glad we did.

It was a show about food! Lumier from Beauty and the Beast was the MC, of course, and introduced some dancing votive lamps, flower centerpieces, and napkins.

Then came the themed food songs and dances. Chip and Dale wore ridiculous mustaches and magic hats that peeled like layers of onion until they were left only with the sombrero brim and a wiggly salad. I think the other two people are dressed like quesadillas.

It's even more absurd when you consider that you're watching American cartoon characters sing about Mexican food in Japanese.

Jalapeño pants!

Then Indian food! Starting with the literal Spice Girls (be sure to note the guy wearing nan pants!) and ending with a grand presentation of Daisy Duck. I stopped recording just before the big reveal, sorry.

Then American food. Sweet mother of barbecue, it was all about a cheeseburger.

Lettuce cheerleaders with tomato hats!
Pluto is a wicked taskmaster as the pieces of cheeseburger dragged out a bottle of ketchup to vault over.
Then this happened:
They did try a second time and everybody stayed in their proper place. For the very last bit of the song, all you could see was giant fake burger and human hands waving from the wrist in time to the beat. It was hilarious.

Japanese food! I couldn't identify what everyone was dressed as other than some sushi components on the guys and some lotus root on the ladies' sleeves, but I'm pretty sure I don't want Goofy as my chef. They had inflatable squid and takoyaki to bounce around the audience, which was pretty neat.

The dessert dancers were dressed as crepes and led by Minnie.

There was a little bit of dialogue between Mickey and Lumiere about all the food getting out of hand, but wait! It's not over!

It's just time for the Dance of the Silverware!

Silverware and some girls dressed as...doilies and appetizers? I'm not sure.
That show was completely worth watching. Pictures and even video don't quite capture the experience.

So then we decided it was time for a drink. Unlike Disneyland, Disney Sea offers beer. As long as you stay within the designated area, but that's fair. The area had a triceratops skull, after all.

From the beer zone, we could see into the Cape Cod section of the park. I wonder how many Japanese get this reference:

And here's tiny Cape Cod! With the volcano in the background.

Mickey as the Gordon's Fisherman is big in Massachusetts, isn't it? Also in that vein, the neighborhood popcorn vendor was selling Milk Tea flavored popcorn, and we were both surprised at how very oishii it was.

The next area is called Port Discovery. The overall impression I get is "steampunk Atlantis." The ride in the foreground was pretty pointless, but we did it anyway. Why not? It's actually on wheels on a track, it putters around and spins, then putters some more. We still laughed the entire time, so even though it was lame we got something out of it. "Oh, no! Not another slow-paced 360º turn! We're gonna diiiiiiiie!"

Nearby, fish-shaped submarine! Sadly, just decoration.

While we were in line for the strawberry popcorn, (we had to try it) this band started up with a Beatles medley. It makes me wonder what it's like to work there. Is it soul crushing, or is it a great job to have? What if you're a musician? I can't imagine that there are a lot of opportunities for tuba players, so if that's something you enjoy, maybe that's a sweet gig. And they seemed to have the freedom to learn whatever they wanted (started with Beatles, then moved on to Single Ladies and I think a Katy Perry song), plus they had pretty neat costumes.

I got 45 seconds of video, I don't want to bore my readers, but I'm kind of kicking myself for not getting more.

One of the attractions (in the building pictured below) is called Stormriders. It's one of those attractions that isn't precisely a ride, but it's a theater setting with seat belts because the whole place rumbles and tips along with what's happening on the screen. Sprinkles of water and the interior appearing to fall apart were very nice theatrical touches that made it much more immersive than I would have expected.

In the Arabian Coast section, we learned that Jafar has fangirls.

I am constantly reminded at how good Disney is at environments and atmosphere.
I met a camel.

Mermaid Lagoon mostly consists of an indoor area called Triton's Palace. Before we went in there, we visited the roller coaster. It might have been a kid's ride, I'm not sure, but there were only about three actual kids on the ride and a dozen adults, so it doesn't really matter.

The important thing is that fish do not smoke on this ride.

Then there's this sign at the end of the ride. I guess to remind you that you should not have had your umbrella open for the duration of said ride.

Then we entered Triton's Palace.

Let me preface this by telling you I was 8 when The Little Mermaid came out, and it was one of my favorite things. For a long time after that part of me wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. So this place...this place was amazing.

...and that was just the outside.

In the foyer is this:
If you lean over the rail, you can see down into Ariel's grotto. You know, the one where she kept all the crap she stole from shipwrecks, including the statue of Prince Eric. It's part of a playground area along with Ursula's lair, a cave with photosensitive paint (when you walk in a bright light flashes and it looks like it's burned your shadow into the wall), and a series of net bridges. It was cool, but it was more of an experience-for-yourself place than a place to take pictures.

Further inside the kingdom is this creepy store. The whale's eye blinks very slowly.

The main area that has several fair rides just blew my mind. Again, photos don't totally capture it, but it felt like you stepped right into the cartoon.

(Also, note how not crowded it is. We totally went on the right day.)

The center of the park is Mysterious Island. It is home to the volcano (any nighttime explosions as part of a show were canceled due to rain, boo!), the 2000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, and the one devoted to the Journey to the Center of the Earth. Both were fun, but not good for pictures.

In the Lost River Delta you'll find the Indiana Jones stuff. The Indiana Jones ride was phenomenal. You'll just have to take my word for it. If you ever go here and you do one ride, this should probably be it. Top three, at least.

This is the entrance to the loop coaster. It's has water on fire. Sadly, that has nothing to do with the ride itself.
The roller coaster is okay, but it's one of those rides where it's obvious that it's built about 20% smaller than we're used to in the States. My legs didn't quite fit under the padded shoulder bar, and the additional gravity at the bottom of the loop was enough to click it down one additional notch so it got extra uncomfortable for the second half of the ride. Not really a big deal, but that's definitely something I never thought about until I got to Japan. Newer rides fit fine, older rides are obviously intended for adults smaller than me.

Random bonus: street performance by Indiana Jones, aided by a Japanese staff member translating for him. He didn't speak any Japanese except when he urged everyone to run a short distance away by saying, "Minna-san, GO!" He dashed about the area, avoiding the other Disney employees by using a passerby as a human shield and searching for three treasure items. One of those items was the temple. You know, the Temple of Doom.

When his bit was over, all three items had been found (the temple, the well in front of the temple, and something dug up from the path somewhere, I never did catch what it was), he posed for pictures while the gaggle of teenage girls giggled and took his picture. That was when we started to turn and walk away and nearly got bulldozed by a waist-high Japanese girl (maybe 7 years old?) exclaiming, "Indiana Jones!" as she ran over to get his autograph.

We went back to the Mediterranean Harbor for lunch. Fancy!

The lunch special included an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The appetizer was some crazy shrimp and edamame cocktail that was tasty, but it had lots of things that I couldn't identify.

The entree was pretty good once I picked out the pork. (We didn't realize until after we had ordered that both entree choices included pork)

The dessert was great. A mango sauce (bottom), a cheesecake-type thing (left), a mousse-like cake (top), and a ghost fork (right). Yum.

Part of the Mediterranean Harbor is a whole Renaissance-themed area consisting of a fortress and a ship.

Plus this cool water fountain. Water off to save power, but it's still neat.

Ship! Full of rooms to explore, fake food and props on the shelves, and cannons to sort of fire. You pull the wick and it makes a rumbling sound, a boom, and a puff of fog machine smoke. Husband enjoyed that a little more than he should have. He pretended he was firing on Venice across the bay.

Inside the fortress were some rooms themed around this imaginary club of historical greats (daVinci et al), it was called the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (SEA, get it?). The Illusion room had a painting on the walls, floor, and ceiling, but when viewed through that ornate lens in the doorway, it looked like one continuous painting.

A pendulum swung slowly back and forth, slowly knocking over all the pegs over the course of the day.

The navigation room had some sort of ship battle area with remote control ships.

The dock and ship as the sun started to set.

One of my favorites was the planet chamber. It had a functional model of the solar system with cranks around the central pillar controlling each of the planets.

To round out the evening, and because when we were there earlier in the day it wasn't open, we went to the Teddy Roosevelt lounge on the S.S. Columbia for a drink at the bar.

They don't mess around with their banana daiquiris. I'm pretty sure the only ingredients were crushed ice, bananas, and rum. Not complaining, mind you.

After that we were going to watch the light/pirate/something show in the main bay, but at the last minute the announcement was made that it was canceled due to weather. Boo. But I guess that means we have to go back sometime and see what it was all about. We bumped into someone from Husband's office in the afternoon that said it was phenomenal, and I don't doubt it.

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