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June 2008 Archives

June 1, 2008

Hong Kong Tomorrowland & Disney on Parade

The last land I will be talking about at Hong Kong Disneyland is Tomorrowland. Like Fantasyland, it feels small compared to other parks.


Tomorrowland Hong Kong Disneyland


The first attraction I'll be discussing it Orbitron. This is your typical, hub and spoke space ride. What sets this attraction apart from its cousins in other Disney parks is that you sit in flying saucers instead of rocket ships. This is a nice variation. Another thing I like is that each party (all guests sitting in a particular saucer) is given a "boarding pass" with a number that corresponds to a given saucer. This eliminates everyone scrambling for the nearest seat and stops guests from splitting up after the fact and taking up more vehicles than were originally allotted. Once everyone is seated, the attraction host collects all of the boarding passes.


Orbitron Hong Kong Disneyland

Orbitron Hong Kong Disneyland

Orbitron Hong Kong Disneyland


I was disappointed with one aspect of Orbitron. When Disney built the "Magic Carpets of Aladdin" attraction in the Magic Kingdom, they put in front and back seating, just like they did for Orbitron. But the Magic Carpets have a second joy stick in the back seat that controls the pitch while the front seat controls the height. Orbitron does not have this second joy stick. It should have.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is the exact same attraction as was built in California, Tokyo, and Paris. All of these versions came after the Magic Kingdom's so a nice improvement was made - your laser gun is attached to the ride vehicle via a cable, thus allowing you to pick the gun up and aim with more accuracy.


Buzz Lightyear Hong Kong Disneyland

These are the "Fast Pass" machines for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

Buzz Lightyear Hong Kong Disneyland

Buzz Lightyear Hong Kong Disneyland

The Autopia attraction harkens back to the "freeway" design of the original Autopia in Disneyland California. However these cars are electric, not gas powered. When a car pulls into the station, it is automatically connected to a power source and its batteries are constantly charging while guests load and unload. However, each car has its own speaker and an internal combustion putt-putt sound is broadcast while en route.


Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland

Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland


This Autopia has three, separate roadways that wind over, under, and next to each other. I really enjoyed this simple ride, but it did have the longest and slowest moving line of any attraction in Hong Kong.


Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland

Autopia Hong Kong Disneyland


UFO Zone is another "so called" attraction. It amounts to a collection of space craft strewn out over a "soft pavement" area with water fountains and spouts for someone to run through. In other words, it's a play zone for children. Don't get me wrong, it's very cute and the kids loved it, I just have a problem with them classifying this as a full-fledge attraction.


UFO Zone Hong Kong Disneyland


Space Mountain is the one "E" ticket attraction in Tomorrowland. This is a single-track roller coaster like Tokyo and California, however, I really can't tell you if the track layout is the same. Paris is also a single-track coaster but it has a loop.

If you're a fan of the other Space Mountains, you'll like this one.


Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland

Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland

Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland

All safety instruction are given in three languages.

Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland


This is the loading and unloading area.


Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland


I think my favorite attraction in Tomorrowland was Stitch Encounter. Located in the Space Mountain building, Stitch Encounter uses the same technology as Turtle Talk with Crush in Epcot. Here, guests get to have a real-time conversation with Stitch. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Stitch, but I loved this attraction. It made me laugh both times I experienced it.

Since Hong Kong Disneyland must deal with three languages, Stitch Encounter needs to accommodate this need. Outside the attraction is an ever-changing sign that lists what times the shows will be performed in each language. This information is only posted here so you must walk by and plan your day accordingly.


Stich Encounter Hong Kong Disneyland


There are two counter service eateries in Tomorrowland, Starliner Diner and Comet CafΓ©.

Starliner Diner

Comet Cafe


I ate lunch at the Starliner Diner one afternoon and ordered fried chicken. When I got to my table, I noticed a small, clear plastic envelope with something in it. When I opened it, I found a pair of plastic gloves to keep my hands clean while eating my greasy food. Nice.

Fried Chicken


Like all Disney parks, Hong Kong also has its own parade. Here are some pictures.


Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney on Parade Hong Kong Disneyland

Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

June 3, 2008

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

There are two Hotels at the Hong Kong Disney Resort, the Disneyland Hotel and the Hollywood Hotel. Since I wanted this trip to be extra special, I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel which is the more expensive of the two.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


As you can see from the pictures, it is very reminiscent of the Grand Floridian at Disney World, only smaller. Since the hotel sits on Penny Bay, I decided to book one of the most expensive, standard rooms so I could enjoy the view. When I arrived I found that Hong Kong Island and its imposing skyscrapers were well within sight of my balcony. However, Hong Kong is often hazy and smoggy and the best view I had of the skyline was a ghostly image. However, I have no regrets, I could still watch ships pass by and see islands scattered in the distance. The building jutting into the bay is a ferry landing that brings guests to the resort from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The check-in area of the hotel is nice and has a number of beautiful oil-paintings of Disney landscapes.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The lobby is impressive. Massive windows offer a sweeping view onto manicured gardens and Penny Bay. An elevator sits to one side of the room and is encased in intricate ironwork. If you look closely, you can find Mickey and Minnie.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


Also in the lobby is the Grand Salon. Here you can enjoy a continental breakfast or High Tea. Since Disneyland didn't open until 10am, I chose to eat breakfast here each morning. This was truly a highlight of my trip. The service was impeccable and the atmosphere lush. I felt like a celebrity eating in such surroundings.


Grand Salon at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Grand Salon at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


My room was very nice, but it didn't knock my socks off. There were two queen-sized beds, a dresser with a flat-screen TV above it, and a nice table and chairs. Internet access was available for free.


Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The balcony was small, but big enough for two chairs.

The bathroom was adequate. However, it did not have a separate door for the toilet area. Carved images of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs could be found on the mirror and the toiletries also had their likeness. I sure wish Disney World still offered toiletries like these.


Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Room at the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The one outstanding feature for me was the shower. Living in Florida, I'm used to water restrictors, but I guess Hong Kong isn't worried about saving water. When I turned on the nozzle I was almost knocked over by the force of the spray. I was in heaven.

The grounds of the hotel are beautiful. In the center of the hotel is a Victorian maze with Mickey Mouse in the middle. It's about four feet high so adults can see over the hedges, but children are completely hidden.


Exterior photos of the Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort

Next to the maze is a gazebo for weddings and other celebrations.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The hotel has two restaurants, the Crystal Lotus (which I did not eat at) and the Enchanted Garden Restaurant (which I did eat at).


Enchanted Garden Restaurant  at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


The Enchanted Garden Restaurant offers character meals and an international buffet. The buffet was interesting as it did offer a few "western" dishes and some pasta, but 80% of the "international" was Asian. Foods from China, Japan, Korea and much of Southeast Asia were offered. All of it was attractively displayed and also very tasty.


Enchanted Garden Restaurant  at Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong Disney Resort


While eating, Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto made the rounds and a professional photographer was on hand to snap your picture. And let there be no doubt, the Disney characters stir up just as much enthusiasm in China as they do in the U.S.


Disneyland Hotel Hong Kong


To get to Disneyland form the hotel you can walk or take Disney transportation. The walk is nice and it takes about 15-20 minutes. The walkway is extensively landscaped and is a most pleasant way to start your morning. The bus is quicker but not nearly as relaxing.


Walkway from hotel to Hong Kong Disney Park

Walkway from hotel to Hong Kong Disney Park


I do have one complaint about the hotel. You can only charge purchases made at the hotel to your room. You cannot charge purchases made in Disneyland to your room. I was shocked. I'm so used to this convenience at Disney World it never occurred to me that a newer resort would not offer this same service.

In my next blog I'll talk about the Hollywood Hotel and give you my overall opinion of the resort and Disneyland.

Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

June 6, 2008

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Since I'm a Disneyphile, I wanted to experience as much as possible while visiting the Hong Kong Resort. So, even though I was staying at the Disneyland Hotel, I made a special trip over to Disney's Hollywood Hotel to take a look around. I was very pleased with what I saw.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


The hotel's architectural style is art deco. Given this, and the Hollywood touches they have added, the resort has a very glamorous feel about it.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


Like the Disneyland Hotel, this hotel also sits on Penny Bay and many of the rooms take advantage of the view.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


The grounds are beautifully landscaped. The pathways that connect the various areas of the resort are all given names such as Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


One particular pathway is named Mulholland Drive. This roadway winds its way from the hotel to the Bay and you can find a number of vintage automobiles along the way.


Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel


I really liked the Hollywood Hotel. It has a more "friendly" feel to it than the formal Disneyland Hotel. In fact, I'm fairly certain I'll choose this resort on my next trip to Hong Kong.

Next up, my recap review of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Read my entire Hong Kong Disneyland Blog

its a small world

Overview Hong Kong Disneyland and Main Street

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland Part 2

Hong Kong Disneyland The Hub and Fantasyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland and Disney on Parade

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland

June 8, 2008

The Wave at Disney's Contemporary Resort

The California Grill is the Contemporary Resort's signature restaurant, offering upscale dinners, sophisticated atmosphere, and spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom.

For many years, the Concourse Steakhouse, on the fourth floor of the Contemporary, was their casual dining spot, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although I liked this restaurant, I always felt it lacked a true identity. Since it was open to the cavernous Grand Canyon Concourse, you could never achieve any intimacy here, no matter how hard you tried. So I was happy to learn that this eatery would be replaced by The Wave on the first floor of the hotel, occupying what used to be the Food and Fun Center.

Last night (June 7), The Wave opened its doors for dinner and today it opened for breakfast and lunch. My friend Donald and I were on hand today to sample lunch.

To begin with, I like the entrance. The Disney Imagineers have taken what was once dead space and created a modernistic tunnel that leads to a stylish check-in desk.


The Wave Entrance at the Contemporary

The Wave Entrance at the Contemporary


To the side and behind the check-in desk are two lounges where you can wait for your table or sample a refreshing drink. These lounges are decorated in deep blues with fabric-covered walls, plush bench seating, and black cocktail tables. The lighting is very low and the atmosphere cozy.


The Wave Check-in Area at the Contemporary


Also behind the check-in desk is a stylish bar with seating for approximately 36. Overhead "stars" twinkle. Even the cocktail glasses have "The Wave" etched into them.


Bar at The Wave in the Contemporary

Bar at The Wave in the Contemporary


One might think that with a name like "The Wave," everything would be decorated in shades of blue (like the lounge), but in trying to avoid the obvious, the designers chose a pallet of browns for the main dining room. Instead, the "wave" theme is carried out in the chair's seat backs and the ceiling's lighting.


Dining Room at The Wave in the Contemporary

Dining Room at The Wave in the Contemporary

Dining Room at The Wave in the Contemporary


I spoke to one of the managers and she told me that the restaurant's "punch list" is still being worked. There are a couple of areas that still need to be tweaked, such as they are adding sheer curtains over the windows that separate the bar from the dining room.

At the back of the restaurant is an area that can be closed off to create one large or two smaller, private dining rooms. Also, hidden from the main eating area is a sizeable buffet that can be used when booking a banquet style conference.


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At night, the overhead lights are turned down to create a more intimate dining atmosphere. Also, the salt, pepper, and sugar containers are removed from the table and presented on a "request only" basis. In addition, votive-style candles are placed on each table.


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I was never enthused about eating dinner at the Concourse Steakhouse. Even though they served very good food, I wasn't willing to pay the prices they were asking to be seated in a restaurant with so many distractions and so much noise. I don't feel that way about The Wave. With the lights turned down low and candles on the table, I think this would be a nice spot to enjoy a casual meal.

Overall, I very much liked the dΓ©cor of The Wave. It has an intimate and relaxing feel about it. However, I do have one negative comment. The pillars and the overhead soffits appear to be covered in a wood-grain laminate instead of real wood. I thought this was a little tacky. I don't suppose it will be obvious at night, but during lunch, it can easily been seen.

Being our first visit, Donald and I wanted to try several items, so for appetizers, Donald ordered the Lettuce Wraps and I ordered the Avocado & Citrus Salad. We were told that the Lettuce Wrap is big enough to share, and I suppose it is, but it would be rather messy. The wraps come with sautΓ©ed lamb, bay scallops, and red bell pepper in a soy-rice wine vinegar sauce. The menu did not mention the bell peppers, which Donald hates, so he traded with me.

I'm not a big fan of lamb, but I have to admit, I really didn't notice the gamey flavor that I dislike. In fact, I would have no problem ordering this item for myself sometime. It was a little spicy and my lips were tingling when I finished.


Lettuce Wrap Appetizer at The Wave in the Contemporary


The Avocado and Citrus Salad comes with a nice variety of greens, grapefruit sections, and plenty of avocado in an orange vinaigrette. I had one bite before I traded with Donald and I was very pleased with the flavor.


Avocado and Citrus Salad Appetizer at The Wave in the Contemporary


For entrees Donald order the Spice-crusted Chicken Salad and I ordered the Italian Chef Salad. The Spice-crusted Chicken Salad is an assortment of greens, chicken, apples, and polenta croutons. I stole a bite from Donald and both of us agree, this salad is excellent! I've always touted the Colony Salad at the Liberty Tree Tavern as being the best salad at Disney World. I think it has competition.


Spice-crusted Chicken Salad Lunch Entree at The Wave in the Contemporary


I think the name "Italian Chef Salad" is a misnomer. I feel it really should be called "Italian Chef Deli Plate." There were far too few greens to call this a salad. That's not to say I didn't enjoy my meal. There was an abundance of prosciutto, cappicola, provolone, salami, and shaved parmesan, sprinkled with red wine vinaigrette - all of it very good. But if you were expecting a green salad, you'd be disappointed.


Italian Chef Salad Lunch Entree at the Wave in the Contemporary


I love the way desserts are served here. There are four selections, each costing $7.99. Within each selection are three offerings.

For example, the "Creamy Indulgence" includes a small serving each of Cheesecake, Coconut Panna Cotta, and Chocolate-Passion Fruit Mouse. The "Crisp & Crunchy" offers Vanilla-braised Pineapple Spears, Baklava, and Zucchini-Carrot Cake. But if you don't like one of the specific offerings, you can pick and choose from among all twelve taste treats.

I had the Creamy Indulgence and was very happy with my selection. Donald had the selection of sorbets and he said it was a refreshing way to end his meal. He especially liked the Lemon-Basil Sorbet.


Desserts at the Wave in the Contemporary


Two other new items on the menu are Coke-Zero and Sprite-Zero. As I like Coke-Zero better than Diet Coke (which is still available), I'm hoping that other restaurants will also start to offer these beverages.

Our server was Agueda. She has waited on us several times in the past at the Concourse Steakhouse. When we walked into the lobby today, she immediately recognized us and arranged for us to be seated at her table. As always, she gave us exceptional service. In addition, it is obvious that the management of The Wave has gone to great lengths to make sure their staff is current on the new offering as Agueda was very knowledgeable and was able to answer an array of questions I had for her.

I also inquired about vegetarian meals and sugar-free desserts. I was told that the Seasonal Vegetable Stew is normally finished with a pat of butter, but this could easily be omitted if requested. Likewise, the Vegetarian Sandwich can be tweaked to suit the needs of the diner.

The chef came out to talk to me about sugar-free desserts. After some consultation with others in the kitchen, he told me that the Braised Pineapple and Baklava have no sugar added to them.

I had a very good experience today and I hope to be back soon and try their dinner menu.

Reservation can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE. The Wave is open for breakfast from 7:30am-11:00am, lunch from 12:00pm-2:00pm and dinner from 5:30pm-10:00pm. The lounge is open from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight.

The Menus:

Breakfast Menu
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu
Child's Menu

While I was at the Contemporary, I snapped a few pictures of the Kingdom Tower aka Bay Lake Tower , the new, rumored DVC to the north of the hotel.


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The%20Wave%2017.jpg

June 10, 2008

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort - Overall Opinion

Now, onto my overall opinion of the Hong Kong Disney Resort.

The two hotels are wonderful and the service is outstanding. The ONLY complaint I had with the resort is that you cannot charge purchases made at Disneyland to your room. This policy needs to be changed.

The surrounding grounds and roadways are beautiful - just like you'd expect from a Disney resort. The walkway between the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland is very pleasant and the bus transportation is efficient.

Hong Kong Disneyland


Hong Kong Disneyland is a nice, LITTLE park. From what I've read, it can be expanded and I hope this is correct. It definitely needs some more attractions. But it doesn't need "off-the-shelf" rides.

I believe that Disney built "Disney's California Adventure" and the "Walt Disney Studios Paris" as cheaply as they could. I don't feel that way with Hong Kong Disneyland. This park has much better "bones." Nothing looks cheap here as it does in the two afore mentioned parks. Over the years, if Disney continues to add good attractions, this park can take its place as a top-notch Disney destination, but I don't think it's quite there yet.

Hong Kong is a magnificent city! I would highly recommend visiting this fascinating place. And if you're reading this blog, you're obviously a Disney fan. So if you're planning a trip to Hong Kong anyway, you should definitely add and extra day to see Disneyland. But I would not recommend the 14 Β½ hour plane trip (Chicago to HK) just to see Disneyland.


Here is MY raking of Disney's eleven parks:

1. Tokyo Disney Sea
2. Disneyland Paris
3. Disneyland California
4. Epcot
5. Tokyo Disneyland
6. Magic Kingdom
7. Animal Kingdom
8. Disney's Hollywood Studios
9. Hong Kong Disneyland
10. Disney's California Adventure
11. Walt Disney Studios Paris

June 14, 2008

Tokyo Disneyland Resort

From Hong Kong I flew to Japan for seven full days at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Before I start describing the parks, I'd like to give you a little background about the resort.


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In the late 1970's, the Oriental Land Company approached Disney with the idea of building another Disneyland-type park in Tokyo. At the time, Disney was busy planning and building Epcot. With Epcot's price tag nearing one billion dollars, Disney did not have the capital to invest in another park so the Oriental Land Company took on sole ownership of the project. The Oriental Land Company pays royalties for the use of the Disney name, design concepts, and other services.

Tokyo Disneyland was the first Disney park to be built outside of the United States and opened on April 15, 1983. The park is not actually in Tokyo, but in the city of Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture. It sits on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay and is approximately 115 acres. The park has a large parking lot and is adjacent the Maihama train station.

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Overview%2003.jpg

Maihama%20Station.jpg


Elements from both Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida were used plus a few original concepts to create this new park. Tokyo Disneyland has seven themed lands: World Bazaar (Main Street), Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland.


Overview%2002.jpg


In the late 1990's, a major expansion occurred at the Resort and Tokyo DisneySea was built along with the Ambassador Hotel, MiraCosta Hotel, Ikspiari, and a monorail line linking various areas of the resort together. The total cost was said to be around $4 billion. In addition, a five story parking structure was built to accommodate the new facilities.


Overview%2012.jpg


Tokyo DisneySea opened on September 4, 2001 and is approximately 176 acres and backs up to Tokyo Disneyland. Original concepts for this park called for it to be built in Long Beach, California, adjacent to the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose which Disney owned at that time. But due to economic problems brought on by the EuroDisney project, Disney decided the idea was not feasible at that time and passed the idea along to the Oriental Land Company.

Tokyo DisneySea is more adult in scope than Tokyo Disneyland. Its seven themed ports center on the oceans and seas of the world and range from the historically accurate to fanciful escapes. Here is a list: Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, and Mysterious Island.


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Ikspiari is a retail, dining, and entertainment center and is similar in concept to Downtown Disney. However, with the exception of The Disney Store, the shops you'll find here are similar to the ones you'd encounter in any shopping mall.


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Besides the two Disney hotels, the Ambassador and the MiraCosta, six non-Disney hotels are also part of the resort. This area could be compared to Hotel Plaza Blvd. at Walt Disney World.


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Later this year, the Disneyland Hotel will open as will a permanent Cirque du Soleil show.


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Monorails connect all of these locations with four stations along the route. Even though the system is owned and operated by the Oriental Land Company, the trains had to meet the same governmental regulations as any other transportation system in the country and must be regarded as a "public" system. Because of this, guests must purchase a ticket to ride the monorail.


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The trains are much larger than the monorails at Walt Disney World as you can actually walk from one car to the next. Their design is more like a regular commuter train than a theme-park attraction. The monorails are completely automated; however, they do have an "engineer" to oversee each train for safety reasons.


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The area surrounding the Tokyo Resort is rather industrial and lacks any of the aesthetics that can be found as you approach the Disney World, Paris, and Hong Kong resorts.


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One interesting phenomenon American guests will be struck with in the Japanese parks is their cleanliness. When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in California, he insisted that his park be kept clean. He did not want it to look like some cheap carnival. Over the years, the Disney Company has done an excellent job of maintaining Walt's high standards in California and Florida, but the Japanese have taken cleanliness to a new level.

In the California and Florida parks, it's difficult to take a picture without at least one trash can ending up in the photo. If memory serves, I think trash cans are placed approximately 30 feet apart in the American parks. In Tokyo, it's often difficult the find a trash can. The Japanese people are far more willing to hold on to their trash until they come to the next receptacle. Even the pavement looks like it has been recently painted as you won't find any "gum-spots" where custodial had the scrape the gooey stuff off the concrete.

You also won't find any paper towels in the restrooms. Instead, they have these wonderful hand-blowers that do a much better job of getting the water off your hands than the machines we see here in America.


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I'm not sure if the Tokyo management does a better job than its American counterparts of maintaining this cleanliness, or if the Japanese people are more willing to keep the parks clean. I'm guessing it's a combination of both. But either way, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are immaculately maintained.

Now that I've given you an overview of the Tokyo Disney Resort, I can start providing more detail. Next blog: The MiraCosta Hotel


June 17, 2008

MiraCosta Hotel - Tokyo DisneySea

My favorite Disney theme park, worldwide, is Tokyo DisneySea. I tell anyone who will listen, "You can pay your $58 admission, never go on one attraction, and you will still get your moneys' worth. This park is so beautiful, so packed with detail, so lavish in scope that a person will walk from one land to another in utter awe. This park is comfortable to be in. It wraps its arms around you and hugs you. It's a sheer delight to visit."


MiraCosta Hotel Tokyo Disneyland


Okay, enough gushing.

Tokyo DisneySea also has the distinction of being the only Disney Park to have a hotel actually inside the main gate - The MiraCosta.


MiraCosta Hotel Tokyo Disneyland


This hotel is lavish beyond belief with prices to match. Standard room prices range from $300-$700 per night depending on the season and view. Balcony rooms and suites run even higher. Since I love Tokyo DisneySea so much, for me it was mandatory that I stay at the MiraCosta (this was my second time). I visited in mid-May and paid "Regular" rates for a Porto Paradiso Side, Piazza View room - at a mere $520 a night. Ouch!

Here are some pictures of the lobby.


MiraCosta Hotel Lobby Tokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Hotel Lobby Tokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Hotel Lobby Tokyo Disneyland


Is it worth it? Well, yes, maybe. If you're a true Disney fan, I think it is. When I visit a Disney Resort, I want to be immersed in the entire package which is why I always recommend that people stay "on property" when visiting Walt Disney World.

Currently, Tokyo only has two "Disney" hotels, the MiraCosta and the Ambassador. In July, a third hotel, the Disneyland Hotel, will open.

There are also six "Official" hotels that are run by outside companies. These hotels are connected (sort of) to the theme parks via monorail and are less expensive than the Disney hotels, but they lack that special magic that can only be found in a Disney resort.

The MiraCosta has three sides, the Tuscany, Venice, and Porto Paradiso.

Map of the MiraCosta Hotel Tokyo Disneyland


The Tuscany is the least expensive and faces the entrance of the park and the Aquasphere. The Aquasphere is a large, rotating globe of the Earth with water cascading over the oceans. It's a magnificent work of art.


MiraCosta Hotel Tuscany Side with Aquasphere Tokyo Disneyland


The exterior of the Tuscany side of the building was constructed to look like it was built on a hillside and the rooms appear to stair-step back from one another.


MiraCosta Hotel Tuscany Side Tokyo Disneyland


The rooms on the Venice side of the hotel look over canals, bridges, and gondolas. As you might expect, the exterior of this section reflects all the charm of Venice. I think the views from this side of the hotel are the most romantic.


MiraCosta Hotel Venice Side Tokyo Disneyland


The Porto Paradiso side of the hotel has the best views of Tokyo DisneySea and prices to match. From these rooms you can look out over Mediterranean Harbor and have a ring-side seat for the daytime and nighttime shows that are presented here. And the best rooms have a view of Mount Prometheus. These three pictures were taken from my room.


MiraCosta Hotel Porto Paradiso Side Tokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Hotel Porto Paradiso Side Room View Tokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Hotel Porto Paradiso Side Room View Tokyo Disneyland


The exterior of the Porto Paradiso side of the hotel is supposed to reflect a seaside community. Don't let all the intricate detail on the building fool you. Most of the scroll work and statues are trompe-l'Ε"il. Trompe-l'Ε"il is an art technique that fools the eye into believing that a two-dimensional painting is actually a three-dimensional object. The effect is exquisite.


MiraCosta Hotel Porto Paradiso Side Tokyo Disneyland


The guest rooms of the MiraCosta are very nice. Most rooms have two queen-sized beds and a trundle bed that can be pulled out from underneath one of the beds. Keeping with the Italian theme, Pinocchio characters can be found on the wallpaper, bedspread, and toiletries.


MiraCosta Hotel Guest RoomTokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Hotel Guest RoomTokyo Disneyland


Rooms at the MiraCosta also offer free internet access. However, connecting your computer isn't as easy as you might think. First, you need to call the front desk and request access. A few minutes later, a bellboy will show up at your door with a screwdriver in hand. He then crawls underneath the desk and opens up a small portal in the floor. It is here that you plug in your Ethernet connection and electrical cord. Interesting"¦

The bathrooms are an experience I've never encountered in a "western" hotel. A sink and mirror is situated in the middle of the arrangement.

MiraCosta Hotel Guest Bathroom Tokyo Disneyland


Through a door on the left you'll find the bathing area. This is a large room where you can take a regular "western" shower, or you can choose to bathe Japanese style. A plastic stool and pale are available to sit, scrub, and rinse yourself. When finished, a large bathtub is on hand for a relaxing soak.


MiraCosta Hotel Guest Bathroom Tokyo Disneyland


Through a door to the right of the sink is the toilet area. Excuse me for being a little crass, but these toilets are worthy of an "E" ticket. First, the seat is warmed. Then, when you sit down, an exhaust fan starts automatically within the toilet to whisk away any unpleasant orders. And finally, when you've finished your business, a spray of warm water finishes the job. I've read that these toilets are so popular in Japan that 50% of the households have them.


MiraCosta Hotel Guest Bathroom Tokyo Disneyland


The hotel also has a wedding chapel. After a ceremony, the bride and groom step out onto a balcony overlooking Mediterranean Harbor and bells are rung from a nearby tower.


MiraCosta Hotel Wedding Chapel Tokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Hotel Wedding Chapel Tokyo Disneyland

MH%2021.jpg


The MiraCoasta has three restaurants, The Silk Road Garden which serves Chinese cuisine specializing in Cantonese dishes.


MiraCosta Silk Road Garden Restaurant Tokyo Disneyland


The Oceano, with views of Mediterranean Harbor offers a Mediterranean-style buffet as well as course menus. The ocean theme of the restaurant is reflected in the menu.


MiraCosta Oceano Restaurant Tokyo Disneyland


The Bellavista Lounge, which means beautiful view, is the ideal spot to enjoy a meal or drink. With spectacular views of Mount Prometheus, this is one of my favorite restaurants. I enjoyed a buffet breakfast here twice (at $30 a pop).


MiraCosta Bellavista Lounge Tokyo Disneyland


The MiraCosta has two swimming pools, one indoors and one out. The statuary surrounding the outdoor pool is Mickey and the gang dressed in Roman garb.


MiraCosta Resort Swimming Pools Tokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Resort Swimming Pools Tokyo Disneyland

MiraCosta Resort Swimming Pools Tokyo Disneyland


Something else that helps make the expense of staying at the MiraCosta worth the price is the fact that you have your own private entrance into the park. This is a very nice perk. In addition, Tokyo DisneySea opens one hour early for hotel guests.


MiraCosta entrance to Tokyo Disney Sea


Reservations can be made by calling 045-683-3333. A prerecorded message in Japanese will start the call. Eventually, an English recording will tell you to press a certain key to be connected to an English speaking operator.


June 20, 2008

Tokyo DisneySea - Mediterranean Harbor

I guess you could call Mediterranean Harbor the Main Street of Tokyo DisneySea.

You enter this port of call by walking underneath the MiraCosta Hotel (instead of a train station), and to either side and beyond this walkway is an array of shops.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea

Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


There is a Japanese custom to bring gifts home to give to family and friends when traveling, and cookies and candies make the perfect remembrance. To accommodate this need, a number of shops sell nothing but decorative tins full of these taste treats.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


A cute sign can also be found in this area that says, Piazza Topolino Nord. This translates to North Mickey Mouse Square. You see, the Italians call Mickey Mouse, Topolino.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


For those of you who haven't caught on, DisneySEA is all about the oceans and seas of the world. Each area of the park represents a different water-related locale. Thus, Mediterranean Harbor is a seaside village overlooking a sizeable marina. This is the largest body of water in the park and this is where the daytime and nighttime pageants are performed. There are no parades at DisneySea.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


The current nighttime show is called BraviSEAmo. This is the story of how the "Spirit of Water" meets the "Spirit of Fire" and they fall in love. The show begins with elaborate fountains erupting around Mediterranean Harbor. Then, the "Spirit of Fire" rises from the sea in all its glory, eventually setting the entire harbor on fire. This show gives Illuminations in Epcot a run for its money.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


Mediterranean Harbor is also the area where you'll watch the fireworks.

Since Disneyland and DisneySea sit somewhat back-to-back, both parks watch the same firework display, but to different music.

Disney planned this area well and built excellent viewing spots all around the harbor. Many of these locations are either raked or stair-stepped to afford excellent views to as many guests as possible.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


Another nice detail, Disney hid sound and lighting equipment underground and in various structures around Mediterranean Harbor. Then, right before a show begins, trap doors open and up rises large poles with spotlights and speakers attached. Below is an example of one of these structures.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


Hidden away in a back area of Mediterranean Harbor is the Venetian section. Here, guests can board authentic gondolas for a trip along a canal, under bridges, and out into the harbor. All the while, your gondolier sings and tells jokes. Since I don't speak Japanese, I don't have a clue as to what he was saying, but everyone else on the boat seemed to be amused. These gondolas are not on tracks and are propelled by the gondolier.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea

Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


Separating Mediterranean Harbor from American Waterfront is a bridge reminiscent of Ponte Vecchio, the old bridge in Florence, Italy. There really isn't much on this bridge except a few vendor carts. Its real function is to add more viewing for the water pageants and provide a walkway to other areas of the park.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


Another attraction in Mediterranean Harbor is the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line. This ride has three stations, the other two being in American Waterfront and Lost River Delta. This is not a hop-on, hop-off attraction. Depending on which station you load, you will be required to exit at another station. In this case, if you load at Mediterranean Harbor, you will exit at Lost River Delta.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea

Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


The Japanese are a stickler for rules. On my first visit to Tokyo Disney Sea, I had my video camera with me. I was filming from the Steamer when we pulled into a station. I noticed that absolutely no one was in line to board so I asked if I could remain on the boat so I could continue filming. I was told no, that I must exit and reenter through the entrance. Not wanting to be the ugly American, I just smiled and said thank you. By the time I exited and then weaved through the entrance queue, the boat had sailed without me -- empty.

The Transit Steamer Line stations are designed to look like warehouses where these boats could pick up and deliver cargo. A sharp eye will notice that the station in Mediterranean Harbor has a number of wine barrels and crates with the name Zambini Brothers stenciled on them. Just across the way from the station is the Zambini Brothers' Ristorante, which is designed to look like a winery.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


For me, the best part of Mediterranean Harbor is Fortress Explorations. Think Tom Sawyer Island meets Leonardo da Vinci. This is a medieval castle with numerous chambers and pathways to explore.


Mediterranean Harbor  Tokyo Disney Sea


Here are just a few of the treasures you'll discover.

An ancient planetarium.


An ancient planetarium in Fortress Explorations Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea


A pendulum that demonstrates the rotation of the earth.


 A Pendulum in Fortress Explorations Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea


Miniature galleons you can pilot by remote control.


 Miniature galleons in Fortress Explorations Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea


A flying machine da Vinci might have invented.


A flying machine in Fortress Explorations Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea


An old sailing ship.


An old sailing ship in Fortress Explorations Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea


Another hidden treasure in Fortress Explorations is Magellan's Restaurant.


Magellan's Restaurant


Here, diners enjoy a meal under an ancient globe of the world. Intricately carved wood, wrought iron chandeliers, and stucco walls conjure up images of old Florence and one might imagine that this is how the Medici's once dined. Alcohol is served at Tokyo DisneySea and Magellan's offers an extensive wine list. This is a restaurant where you'll want to spend several hours, soaking up the lush atmosphere, casually enjoying a multi-course meal, and then finish it up with a fine liqueur.


Magellan's Restaurant


Magellan's Restaurant

Next blog, American Waterfront

June 23, 2008

American Waterfront – New York City - Tokyo DisneySea

American Waterfront can be divided into three sections, New York City, New York Harbor, and Cape Cod.

The time? Just after the turn of the 20th century.

Let's start with New York City. This is the first section of American Waterfront that you come to when leaving Mediterranean Harbor. McDuck's Department Store greets you as you start your walk down either of two streets.


American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


The street to the left would be considered the "better neighborhood" of the two. Here, the buildings are nicely kept and the paint is fresh. Take the time to read some of the advertisements in the windows. There are so many clever signs and very often, the same name pops up again and again as a story starts to emerge.


American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


The street to the right is closer to the docks and part of it runs underneath the elevated railway. These aspects contribute to give this area a seedier feel. The street has a more run-down atmosphere to it. The detail here is outstanding. Both of these streets are far superior to the "Streets of America" at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


The New York City section of American Waterfront is also where you can board one of the Big City Vehicles. These are old fashioned automobiles that take you on leisurely drive through the City, along the Harbor, and finally ending in the Cape Cod section. This is a one-way trip so plan accordingly.


Big City Vehicles American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


One of the big attractions in this area is the Broadway Music Theatre. This is a first-rate theatre. The kind you'd actually find on Broadway - not what you'd associate with a theme park. The stage has multiple elevators, a huge fly area, and seating for 1,500 people. The shows produced here are top notch and professional in every sense.


Broadway Music Theatre American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


Broadway Music Theatre American Waterfront New York City Tokyo DisneySea


Currently playing at the Broadway Music Theatre is "Big Band Beat." An energetic group of tap dancers and singers are backed up by a twelve-piece orchestra that sits at the back of the stage. The thirty minute production is presented in English and climaxes with Mickey Mouse on the drums and then he joins the dancers in a big finale. This is a "must see" show!

Close to the theatre you will find the DisneySea Electric Railway. This is an elevated electric trolley reminiscent of those found in many east coast American cities in the early 1900's. The trolleys run from American Waterfront to Port Discovery. This is a one-way trip and you must exit and re-queue to return.


DisneySea Electric Railway American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea

DisneySea Electric Railway American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


One of the most recent additions to Tokyo DisneySea is the Tower of Terror. However, this tower varies in several ways from its cousins in other Disney parks. In Paris and California, the exterior of the buildings have a Spanish motif while in Florida the building has a Moroccan flavor. The Tower in Tokyo is built of red brick and has a gothic feel. To me, the Tokyo Tower is the most elaborate and beautiful of the four.


Tower of Terror American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Another change to the Tokyo attraction was necessitated because the Japanese are not familiar with the Twilight Zone television series. To remedy this, the Imagineers came up with a completely new storyline. Since the tours of the hotel are presented in Japanese, English speaking guests are given a handout explaining the storyline. The following five paragraphs are a direct quote from that handout.

"Welcome to the 'Tower of Terror' tour, presented by The New York City Preservation Society. On New Year's Eve in 1899, explorer, antiquities collector and multi-millionaire Harrison Hightower III held a press conference in the luxurious Hotel Hightower to announce his latest find - a statue called 'Shiriki Utundu' which he had acquired in a remote region of Africa.

That very night, the hotel's main elevator crashed to the ground with Hightower and the idol inside! Shiriki Utundu was recovered from the shattered elevator, but of Harrison Hightower III there was no sign. He had vanished. After his disappearance, Hotel Hightower was closed. People began calling it the 'Tower of Terror.'

Rumor has it that Shiriki Utundu is a cursed statue, and that it may have something to do with the disappearance of Mr. Hightower.

As you tour this magnificent building and view Harrison Hightower's collection of rare art from across the globe, you will also hear about the mystery of his disappearance.

The tour climaxes with a ride on the service elevator up to the top floor to see Mr. Hightower's penthouse. Please enjoy the ride."

In the pre-show room, we see a stained-glass likeness of Harrison Hightower and a statue of Shiriki Utundu sitting on a pedestal. As the story unfolds Mr. Hightower's image changes from an arrogant robber-baron to a very fearful man. Then the lights dim and Shiriki Utundu disappears from sight. The effects are excellent and sets the stage for the terror to come.


Tower of Terror American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Tower of Terror American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


From here we enter the storerooms that house Mr. Hightower's vast collection of art that he's commandeered from around the world. Eventually, we're taken to an elevator for our journey to the penthouse. An interesting note, the elevators in Tokyo's Tower have shoulder harnesses as well as lap restraints.

The exterior of the building also adds a bit of excitement to the show. Before each elevator drops, a flash of green light erupts from Mr. Hightower's penthouse and then the light travels to the window of the next elevator to fall.


Tower of Terror American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Photographs of Harrison Hightower can be seen throughout the attraction. A keen eye will notice that Mr. Hightower bears a striking resemblance to Joe Rhode, designer of the Animal Kingdom.

Tower of Terror American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


I can't say that the Tokyo version of this attraction is better than the other Towers around the world. But with the storyline being so different, it does add a new excitement level. The Tokyo attraction does not have the 4th dimension room like the one in Florida. Instead, the elevator makes a second stop on its way to the top as do the Towers in California and Paris.

To give you an idea of how detailed Tokyo DisneySea is, check out the excavation site in the Lost River Delta section of the park. You might stumble across some crates address to Harrison Hightower.

My next blog will discuss the New York Harbor and Cape Cod sections of American Waterfront.

June 26, 2008

American Waterfront – New York Harbor and Cape Cod - Tokyo DisneySea

The next section of American Waterfront I'm going to discuss is the New York Harbor area.

The most prominent feature here is the S.S. Columbia.


S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


This ship harkens back to the Gilded Age when luxury liners sailed between New York and Southampton. You can board this ship and wander around several of its outside decks. You will even find a shuffleboard court, a standard on all passenger liners of the time.


S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


One of the things that helps make this ship look so real is that it backs up onto Tokyo Bay. When viewing the Columbia from a distance, you can see the ocean in the background so it takes on a realism that would be difficult to recreate in a landlocked park. Also, this ship is large. You don't feel like you're looking at a scaled-down version.


S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Along side of the Columbia is a tug boat, maneuvering the ship into port.


Tugboat along side the S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


The interior of the ship is elegant, just as you'd expect from a first class ocean liner.
Dark woods, damask wall coverings, and ornate statues greet guests as they enter the ship.


Interior S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea

Interior S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Located on "B" Deck you'll find the S.S. Columbia Dining Room. This is an elegant restaurant, worthy of the millionaires that sailed on these ships in the early 20th century. This is a full service restaurant, offering multi-course meals, an impressive wine list, and soft piano music.


Columbia Dining Room S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea

Columbia Dining Room S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea

Columbia Dining Room S.S. Columbia New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Several times a day, a show is presented on the Dockside Stage called "Over the Waves." The story revolves around the Columbia setting sail on a "dream cruise" when the Disney characters get involved in the festivities.


Dockside Stage New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Next door to the Columbia is a freight terminal. Here, guests can enjoy an elaborate, all-you-can-eat buffet while sitting beneath cargo from ports around the world.


Freight Terminal New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


Much of the rest of the harbor area is devoted to wharfs and piers where you'll find water craft from dinghies to schooners tied up to the docks. This is truly a wonderful place just to wander and soak up the atmosphere.


New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea

New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea

New York Harbor American Waterfront Tokyo DisneySea


To get to the Cape Cod section from the harbor area, you must cross a bridge and round a piece of land that juts out into the "ocean."

You see, in order to keep the realism alive, Cape Cod cannot be seen from the bustling New York section of American Waterfront, so it's tucked away in a secluded cove. And while crossing the bridge, keep a watch out for interesting plaques posted on the stone supports.


Bridge connecting Cape Cod and the New York Section of the American Waterfront

Plaque on the Bridge connecting Cape Cod and the New York Section of the American Waterfront

Plaque on the Bridge connecting Cape Cod and the New York Section of the American Waterfront


There are two attractions in Cape Cod, Big City Vehicles and the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line.

The Big City Vehicles are vintage automobiles that take a small number of guests on a leisurely drive to the New York City section of American Waterfront. This is one-way ride and the distance is sizable so plan accordingly.


Big City Vehicles


The DisneySea Transit Steamer Line is a scenic boat ride that circles the many ports around the park. There are three stations and depending on which station you board, you will be required to exit at a different place. However, when boarding in Cape Cod, you make no stops and return to your original station.


DisneySea Transit Steamer Station


Cape Cod feels like a real town as it has many of the facilities you'd expect to see in a seaside village such as a church, cannery, fire department, boat builder and numerous other places of business. In order to make the volcano in the background blend in, the rocks on this side of the mountain are reminiscent of the boulders you'd find in New England.


Cape Cod area at Tokyo DisneySea

Cape Cod area at Tokyo DisneySea


Inside the church and fire department you'll find a counter service restaurant called Cape Cod Cook-Off. The menu is typically all American, serving hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads. What makes this eatery different is the live entertainment that's presented in the dining area. While enjoying your meal you can watch continuous shows featuring Donald Duck cartoons and live performances starring Donald and many of his friends. This is a fun spot for lunch.


Cape Cod Cook-Off


Humor is also alive and well in Cape Cod.

First, there's Mickey mimicking the classic pose of the Fisherman Statue found in Gloucester, MA. Musicians singing sea chanteys can also be found performing in front of this statue throughout the day.


Mickey mimicking the classic pose of the Fisherman Statue


Then there's this interesting sign.


Harbor%2024.jpg


For those of you who don't get the joke, D.B. Cooper was the man who hijacked a Boeing 727 in 1971 and parachuted from the plane with $200K in ransom money. What I find interesting about this joke and so many others scattered around the park is that the typical Japanese guest, even those that read English well, would never understand the humor because they don't share our background.

A lighthouse stands guard over this small harbor. This is also a popular "make out" spot for young lovers after the sun sets as the location is rather remote.


Lighthouse


Next port of call, Port Discovery.

June 29, 2008

Tokyo DisneySea - Port Discovery

It's difficult to describe Port Discovery.


I've heard it called the "Tomorrowland" of DisneySea and the "Marina of the Future."
Either way, it weaves science and fantasy into an intriguing mix. The storyline for Port Discovery is that it's home to the "Center for Weather Control." Here, new experiments to manipulate the climate are always underway.


Port Discovery at Tokyo DisneySea


There are three attractions in Port Discovery, Aquatopia, StormRider, and DisneySea Electric Railway.

Let's start with Aquatopia.


Aquatopia in Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


Aquatopia is one of the most visually appealing attractions you'll ever see. Its thrills are mild, but watching these little vehicles maneuver in what looks like absolute chaos is delightful. This is an open-air attraction with many good vantage points from which to take someone's picture.

Each vehicle holds two people. As you leave the loading area, you enter a giant lagoon of water that's approximately four inches deep. There is no track as the vehicles are controlled by a master computer that relays directional information to each individual unit from a number of towers positioned in the lagoon. This allows different vehicles to take different routes, adding to the confusion of the experience. As you move about the lagoon, you spin, travel forwards, travel backwards, almost get wet from random jets of water, and nearly hit the other cars as you maneuver your way through an unknown route. This attraction is a lot of fun for kids and adults.


Aquatopia in Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea

Aquatopia in Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


At night, Aquatopia is especially beautiful as each vehicle is lit from underneath, giving it an eerie glow as it moves about the lagoon.


Aquatopia in Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


I was very disappointed when Disney removed the 20,000 Leagues attraction from the Magic Kingdom in Florida. But after the decision was made, I was hoping that they might replace it with Aquatopia. Maybe make the vehicles look like fish and give the attraction a "Little Mermaid" theme. I think this would have made a great ride for all ages and been fun to watch from the sidelines. But alas, Disney doesn't call me and ask for my opinion. LOL. Below is a rendering I created of what this attraction might have looked like if built in the Magic Kingdom.


20,000 Leagues could have been Aquatopia


The big draw in Port Discovery is StormRider.


StormRider Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


The story line is this, The Center for Weather Control (CWC) has invented a "Storm Diffusion Device" that when detonated within a disturbance neutralizes the energy and renders the storm harmless. While watching a small-scale demonstration of this new technology in the pre-show area, guests are informed that a large typhoon is approaching Port Discovery and everyone is invited to board one of the CWC's flying laboratories and observe this new invention first hand.


StormRider Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


After we board the plane, we secure our safety restraints and wait for take off. We're afforded a good view from a large window positioned at the front of the plane as we become airborne and fly directly into the approaching typhoon. The new "Storm Diffusion Device" is fired, but a mishap occurs and the missile crashes into our cabin, ready to detonate in a matter of seconds. But being a Disney attraction, a happy ending is eventually achieved and the CWC can proclaim success with their new invention.

This attraction can best be described as Star Tours on steroids. It is a motion simulator ride that holds about twice as many people as its space counterpart. In addition, there are more on-board special effects than on Star Tours.

No picture taking is allowed in either the pre-show area or the plane's cabin so I have no photos that I can share with you. But here's what the attraction poster looks like.


StormRider Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea Poster


The last attraction in Port Discovery is DisneySea Electric Railway. This is the same ride I mentioned when talking about the New York City section of American Waterfront. This is an elevated electric trolley line that shuttles guests between these two ports. Guests board these trolleys from the upper level of Port Discovery for a one-way trip.


DisneySea Electric Railway Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


The Horizon Bay Restaurant is a buffeteria-style eatery that serves steaks and seafood from an open kitchen. At times, the seating area is split and half of the restaurant offers character dining.

Horizon Bay Restaurant  Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


The last few pictures are just some props and backdrops that make up the overall atmosphere of the area.


Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea

Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea

Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea

Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea

Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea

Port Discovery Tokyo DisneySea


Next blog, Lost River Delta.

Return to Blog Central

About June 2008

This page contains all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in June 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2008 is the previous archive.

July 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.