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July 2008 Archives

July 3, 2008

Tokyo DisneySea - Lost River Delta

Deep in the jungles of 1930's Central America you'll find El Rio Perdido, "The Lost River."

This river actually splits Lost River Delta in half as it runs through a lush tropical forest, by ancient ruins, and finally, past a shanty town.


Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


This is an area ripe for discovery by the archeologists of the day. Look closely at the river and you might just spot the seaplane that rescued Indiana Jones in his very first adventure. Also, pay attention to the plane's identification number.


Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


The first attraction you'll come to on the upper bank of the river is Mystic Rhythms. This is a big production show presented five times a day in the Hangar Stage.


Mystic Rhythms Sign Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


The exterior of Hangar Stage looks run down - as if it's been abandoned and left for the jungle to reclaim it. A crashed airplane sits nearby, rusting in the elements. Inside the hanger, you'll find a large theatre that holds 1,140 guests.


Hangar Stage home of Mystic Rhythms Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea

Hangar Stage home of Mystic Rhythms Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


The setting for the show is deep within a Central American jungle. Here, actors take on the roles of many animals, including jaguars that skulk along the ground and birds that gracefully fly through the trees or swing from vines. Indigenous people of this area celebrate life by dancing and chanting. A beautiful set that features waterfalls, fire effects, and smoke help add to the lush atmosphere.


Mystic Rhythms Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea

Mystic Rhythms Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


This show has elements of Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba as actors "dance" in the air while swinging from ribbons of cloth. The music is primitive with a strong tribal beat. It's more about "setting a mood" than telling a story.

Down the road from Hanger Stage you'll wander into a small, run-down village. On one side of the road you'll find Miguel's El Dorado Cantina. This is a counter service restaurant that serves unauthentic Mexican food.


Miguel's El Dorado Cantina Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


When I ate here five years ago, I found white, sticky rice in my burrito. Not exactly what I'm used to. I ate here again on this last trip and I'm happy to report, the food has improved. But as someone who grew up in Southern California, it still has a long way to go to be considered "authentic."


Miguel's El Dorado Cantina Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


There is plenty of seating divided between two levels. On the upper level you'll often find a mariachi band performing while the seats on the lower level are more tranquil and afford a peaceful view of the river.


Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


Next to the restaurant is Lost River Outfitters. This shop offers Indiana Jones merchandise as well as Aztec and Mayan jewelry and bric-a-brac.


Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


Across from the shop is the third station of the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line. This is a scenic boat ride that circles the many ports around the park. Guests boarding here will be required to exit at the Mediterranean Harbor station.


DisneySea Transit Steamer Line Tokyo DisneySea


There are three bridges that cross El Rio Perdido. It's on the lower banks of the water that you'll find the real excitement of Lost River Delta.


El Rio Perdido Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


Dominating the skyline is an ancient Mayan pyramid and this is where you'll discover the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.

Indiana Jones Adventure:  Temple of the Crystal Skull Tokyo DisneySea

Indiana Jones Adventure:  Temple of the Crystal Skull Tokyo DisneySea

Indiana Jones Adventure:  Temple of the Crystal Skull Tokyo DisneySea

Indiana Jones Adventure:  Temple of the Crystal Skull Tokyo DisneySea


Much of the queue for this attraction winds its way through the jungle outside of the pyramid, until you finally enter this foreboding structure. The remaining queue wanders through labyrinth of Mayan statues and artifacts.


Indiana Jones Adventure:  Temple of the Crystal Skull Tokyo DisneySea


For those of you who have ridden the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Disneyland, this attraction is VERY similar - in fact, the tract layout is identical.

The storyline in DisneySea is that you're looking for the Fountain of Youth but it's protected by the unforgiving, mystical spirit known as the Crystal Skull. Taking pictures while on the attraction is not allowed so I have nothing to show you here.

For those of you who have not ridden the Disneyland version of this ride, it's similar to "Dinosaur" at Disney's Animal Kingdom. You ride in motion-simulator jeeps and travel from one harrowing adventure to the next. Dart-blowing statues, large snakes, blasts of fire, thousands of insects, and a dozen other evil forces try to thwart your efforts as you search for the Fountain of Youth.

This is a must see attraction. In fact, I list the Tokyo and California version of this ride as one of my absolute favorites. Unfortunately, I think "Dinosaur," which uses the same vehicles and track layout, pales in comparison.

As you venture along the exterior of the pyramid and decaying temple, you'll come across Yucatan Base Camp. This is another counter service restaurant that serves barbecued specialties, fresh salads, and desserts. Live entertainment is also on hand while you enjoy your meal.


Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


I especially like the atmosphere here. The outside tables are interspersed between a current archeological dig. Look carefully and you'll find ancient statuary, pottery, picks and shovels, lanterns, and human skeletons.


Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


It's also in this area that you might just find a crate addressed to Harrison Hightower.


Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


A little further down the road you'll come to Raging Spirits. This is a roller coaster fashioned to look like runaway mine cars. For those of you who have been to Disneyland Paris, Raging Spirits uses the exact same track layout and cars as the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril roller coaster in Adventureland. However, I think the DisneySea version is visually more appealing.


Raging Spirits Roller Coaster Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea

Raging Spirits Roller Coaster Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


The storyline is that vengeful spirits have been awakened by the archeological dig and are angry with all who pass this way.

Personally, I think this attraction is a disappointment. From what I understand, when it first opened, it jostled guests around so much that there were constant complaints at Guest Relations. To remedy the problem, the restraints were padded, and then padded some more. Now when you're secured in your seat, you have absolutely NO movement whatsoever. So it really doesn't matter what the coaster does, you're "glued" in. All the excitement is gone.

This attraction does have some nice effects including a 360 degree loop and a blast of steam as you make your final turn. But overall, there is very little thrill here.


Raging Spirits Roller Coaster Lost River Delta Tokyo DisneySea


That's it for Lost River Delta. Next stop, Arabian Coast.

July 6, 2008

Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Arabian Coast is a sprawling port full of minarets, colorful domes, pointed arches, and winding streets.

The buildings all look like they were built out of sandstone and clay bricks. There is a sense of being very far away, in a hot and arid desert.


Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


If approaching Arabian Coast from Lost River Delta, the first attraction you come to is Sinbad's Storybook Voyage (SSV).

This is a boat ride comparable to Pirates of the Caribbean, minus the waterfalls. Disney expected SSV to be a major draw as its scope was large and encompassing. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. From what I understand, the Japanese people aren't all that familiar with the story of Sinbad and this attraction often had minimal lines while the rest of the park was busy.


Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


To try to remedy this, last year the attraction was closed for a major refurbishment. One of their first goals was to change the storyline and soften the foreboding feel. In the original version, Sinbad had a beard. In the second incarnation, he's clean shaven for a less sinister look. The Giant in the first version was vengeful. Now he's grateful. And Sinbad was given a sidekick in this second go-round, Chandu. This is a cute little tiger cub that helps Sinbad conquer evil. And finally, a very melodic song, written by Alan Menken, was added for Sinbad to sing. I really like this new music, but unfortunately, it hasn't been released on CD yet.

To be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed the previous ride, but with the addition of the new song and Chandu, this is now one of my favorite attractions at Tokyo DisneySea. However, I'm not so sure that the Japanese agree with me since this attraction still had minimal or no lines during my visit.


Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


I must apologize. I had a new camera on my latest trip to Tokyo and I was still figuring out how to use it. Unfortunately, all of my interior pictures of the new SSV were out of focus. The following pictures were all taken five years ago, before the refurbishment. For the most part, they will still give you an accurate depiction of the attraction.


Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


I know that the audioanimatronics look very "Small Worldish." Trust me, this is not the case. These AA's have full body movement. They are very sophisticated.

For sale in a nearby shop, you can buy a plush Chandu (imagine that). Since I love this attraction so much, I just had to have one. However, I bought the smaller version as I had no idea where I was going to put it once I got home.


Chandu - Sinbad's Storybook Voyage Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


After leaving Sinbad's Storybook Voyage you walk through the streets of Agrabah.

As you'd expect, this area is filled with shops and eateries. You'll also find several humorous props such as a magic rope and a silly camel. If you're wondering why there are no people in many of these pictures, it's because I was in the park during "early opening" for MiraCosta guests.

Streets of Agrabah Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Streets of Agrabah Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Streets of Agrabah Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Streets of Agrabah Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Streets of Agrabah Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


At the far end of Arabian Coast is a beautiful courtyard. This is a festive area that makes you feel like you're in the center of a vast marketplace. It's in this area that you'll also find a major food court and two more attractions. I'm hungry so let's start with the restaurant.


Courtyard Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Courtyard Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Courtyard Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Courtyard Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


The Casbah Food Court is a large eatery that offers beef and chicken curries, tandoori chicken, seafood chow mein, salads, and desserts.

Casbah Food Court  Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


The food-ordering area was designed to look like the marketplace from the Disney animated film Aladdin.


Casbah Food Court  Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


The dining area is elaborate. Ornate chandeliers, intricately carved tables and chairs, tile floors and sumptuous wall coverings make you feel like you're dining with royalty. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this dining room. Sorry.

Next to the Casbah Food Court is the Magic Lamp Theater. This show is unique for Disney as it mixes live action performances and a 3D movie. But before you actually go into the theater, you enter a preshow area. Here, an audioanimatronic snake and an animated, genderless character, dressed in Arabian garb, set up the story to come.


Magic Lamp Theater  Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Magic Lamp Theater  Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


Inside the main theater, you don your 3D glasses and the animated character from the preshow is now a real human being and is joined by a somewhat insane magician. Antics pursue until the Genie from Aladdin appears overhead on a large screen. The effects are seamless as the real live performers interact with the animated 3D Genie.


Magic Lamp Theater  Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Magic Lamp Theater  Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


This show is presented entirely in Japanese and the audience laughs often. But even if you don't speak the language, you will still enjoy the antics and special effects. This attraction is popular and often has long lines.

Note: When I returned home and finally got around to reading the DisneySea Guide Map that is available everywhere, I found that English Subtitles can be arranged by seeing a Cast Member before the show starts. Silly me.

The last attraction in Arabian Coast is Caravan Carousel. This is a two-story merry-go-round where young and old can ride many of the characters from the Aladdin movie. The upstairs section of this ride is more popular than the lower section and thus, has longer lines.


Caravan Carousel Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea

Caravan Carousel Arabian Coast - Tokyo DisneySea


Next stop, Mermaid Lagoon.

July 9, 2008

Mermaid Lagoon - Tokyo DisneySea

Mermaid Lagoon is the one port at Tokyo DisneySea that caters to young children.

That's not to say that teenagers and adults won't get a smile from the whimsical atmosphere, but the attractions are simple and geared towards the little ones.

The exterior of Mermaid Lagoon looks like Ariel's underwater kingdom. Spiraling towers, in a rainbow of colors, reach to the sky. Seashells abound and interesting rock formations weave their way from grotto to tide pool. Numerous waterfalls complete the setting.


Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


Look closely at the tile work, you just might find the Little Mermaid gang and a hidden Mickey.


Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


Before entering Triton's Kingdom, let's first explore the two attractions outside of his underwater lair. The first is Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster. This is a "kiddy" coaster comparable to "The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm" in the Magic Kingdom in Florida. This is a visually appealing attraction.

You board a coaster that looks like Flounder - well, Flounder if he'd been flattened by an iron. The coaster is bright yellow and travels on a track of blue, to resemble the sea. This 60-second ride makes several spins around a rock formation and over a variety of plants that are supposed to be reminiscent of the ocean floor. There is a nice viewing spot so as one parent rides with their child, the other can snap some great pictures.


Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


The other outdoor attraction is Scuttle's Scooters. On this attraction you board "Sand Crabs" built for two. Your journey takes you round and round and up and down. And if that's not enough, your Crab Shells also rotate this way and that with each revolution. Overhead, Scuttle keeps a watchful eye on the activities. Although this is a tame ride, if you're prone to motion sickness, I'd skip this one.

It always amazes me when I get home from a vacation and look at my pictures. No matter how many I take (hundreds), I still miss things and Scuttle's Scooters is something I missed. Here's the best I have. Sorry.


Scuttle's Scooters at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Scuttle's Scooters at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


Now it's time to go deep "Under the Sea" and enter Triton's Kingdom.


Triton's Kingdom at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


You enter a cave-like opening and come face-to-face with Triton being pulled in his carriage by two dolphins. From here, you continue down a ramp as you venture further beneath the sea. Occasional openings in the rocks give you a glimpse of his kingdom below.


Triton's Kingdom at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Triton's Kingdom at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Triton's Kingdom at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Triton's Kingdom at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


Your adventure begins once you reach the ocean floor. Dark blue walls, purple floors, and green vegetation, combined with numerous lighting effects create a fanciful feeling of being beneath the sea. Once again, the attractions here are intended for the young.


Triton's Kingdom at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Jumpin' Jellyfish is a cute ride that relies more on atmosphere than thrills. Here, two guests sit in a seashell suspended from the tentacles of the giant jellyfish. The ride consists of the jellyfish rising and falling slowly. The best seats are near the front of the attraction as this will give you a better view of Triton's Kingdom.


Jumpin' Jellyfish at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Jumpin' Jellyfish at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


The next attraction is Blowfish Balloon Race. On this ride, guests sit in a four-person carriage, suspended beneath a colorful blowfish - or should I say, hot-air-balloon blowfish. When the blowfish begin their circular race, they "float" up into the air and centrifugal force pushes your carriage outward. Once again, the thrill is mild, but perfect for children.


Blowfish Balloon Race at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Blowfish Balloon Race at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


The Whirlpool is a reworking of the Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland. But instead of riding in teacups, you ride in kelp cups (huh?). Six, four-passenger kelp cups move in a figure eight while the spinning is controlled by a wheel in the middle of your cup. The capacity for this attraction is low so lines can be long. Definitely not for anyone who doesn't like to spin.


The Whirlpool at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


Like most of Mermaid Lagoon, Ariel's Playground is also for the children, although adults are welcome. Here, they can explore a number of vignettes from Disney's animated film The Little Mermaid. See a statue of Prince Eric. Explore a dark cave. Watch Grimsby get seasick. This is a great spot for little ones to wear off some energy.


Ariel's Playground  at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Ariel's Playground at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Ariel's Playground at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Ariel's Playground at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Ariel's Playground at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Little  Mermaid Animated Gif


The one attraction in Mermaid Lagoon that adults will enjoy as much as their children is a live show called Under the Sea presented in the Mermaid Lagoon Theater. This production is presented "in the round" and a good deal of it is presented overhead, affording everyone an excellent seat. Live performances, large puppets, and audioanimatronics are combined to recreate an abbreviated telling of the Little Mermaid. The acrobatics of Ariel swimming through the ocean are amazing and the puppetry of Sebastian the Crab is inventive. This is a very popular show and lines tend to be long.


Under the Sea presented in the Mermaid Lagoon Theater at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Under the Sea presented in the Mermaid Lagoon Theater at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


If you get hungry while in Mermaid Lagoon, stop for a bite to eat at Sebastian's Calypso Kitchen. This is a counter service restaurant specializing in pizzas and calzones, many with seafood toppings.


Sebastian's Calypso Kitchen at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Sebastian's Calypso Kitchen at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


One of the cutest shops you'll every see is the Sleepy Whale Shoppe. As you might expect, much of the merchandise sold here has a Little Mermaid theme.


Sleepy Whale Shoppe at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea


Mermaid Lagoon has a number of very cute signs.


Signage at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Signage at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Signage at Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea

Mermaid Lagoon is another option I'd like to see Disney consider for the unused land that used to be the "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" attraction in the Magic Kingdom. This would be a perfect fit for Fantasyland.

Next stop, Mysterious Island.

July 12, 2008

Mysterious Island - Tokyo DisneySea

I saved the best port-of-call for last - at least in my humble opinion. For me, Mysterious Island is the most imaginative port/land Disney has ever created.

This is the home of Jules Verne and Captain Nemo. Iron girders studded with rivets perched precariously on jagged cliffs give this port an ominous feel. Limited access to this area also makes you sense you've entered a private sanctuary of some nefarious being.

Any discussion of Mysterious Island must start in Mediterranean Harbor. It's here that you get the best exterior view of this port. You can see Mount Prometheus to the left and the outer rim of a great crater that houses this port to the right. Periodically during the day, the volcano starts to rumble and smoke begins to billow. Soon, large flames reach skyward and thunderous sounds boom forth.


Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


Look closely under the bridge that leads to Fortress Explorations and you'll see the Nautilus berthed at its home port of Vulcania.

Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


This is what Disney calls the "draw" concept. By putting something of interest within sight, but beyond your immediate reach makes you want to explore and discover. You can see the "draw" concept used in every Magic Kingdom around the world. The carousel is always placed just beyond the castle. That's so guests can see it turning through the entrance and are "drawn" into Fantasyland.

Mysterious Island sits in the middle of Tokyo DisneySea. Entrance can be gained through four other ports: Mediterranean Harbor, Port Discovery, Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast. In all cases, access is gained by walking through tunnels, some short and some long. This helps make the port all the more forbidden.


Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


When entering the crater for the first time, most guests walk to one of the railings and just gaze out over the many sights.


Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


A miniature submarine is suspended from the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea queue.


Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


A unique boring machine is ready to start its "Journey to the Center of the Earth."


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


The side of Mount Prometheus is coated with a recent lava flow. Large iron-mesh screens have been erected to stop molten rock from splattering passing guests. Steam pours from crevasses and you can hear hissing sounds as it escapes.


Mount Prometheus Lava at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


Mount Prometheus Lava at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


A DisneySea Transit Steamer passes beneath you.


DisneySea Transit Steamer at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


The Nautilus is not counted as an attraction as you can't actually board the vessel. Instead, this is just a photo opportunity.


Nautilus Photo Opportunity at at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

Nautilus Photo Opportunity at at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


I have to admit, this is one of my very few disappointments at DisneySea. At Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris, you can also see the Nautilus berthed next to Space Mountain. There, you can actually board the ship and explore some of its compartments.

There are two attractions in Mysterious Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Let's start with the latter.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


To get to Journey to the Center of the Earth you must enter a cave that leads directly under Mount Prometheus. Once inside, you can see the drill bits from the boring machine you saw earlier digging into the mountain.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


The queue is interesting as it is divided into two sections. The first portion passes by an array of experiments being conducted by unseen scientists. You will also encounter more lava flows inside the volcano.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


You then enter an elevator to travel deep within the mountain. Audio and visual effects enhance this ride.

When you exit the elevator, you enter a second queue. Here you'll see enormous drilling equipment that has been used to excavate the tunnels you will soon be traveling through. Eventually, you board a 6-passenger vehicle that was designed for exploring deep within the earth. This attraction uses the same ride technology as Test Track in Epcot.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


As the ride begins, you start downward and encounter beautiful flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth. Lovely crystals and waterfalls delight the eye.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


But as you venture deeper and deeper into the shaft, things become more foreboding. Now the plant and animal life take on a treacherous look. What was once tranquil is now dangerous. Lightning bolts spark nearby followed by a loud clap of thunder. Flames explode beside your vehicle. Suddenly, a lava-monster rises up and starts his attack.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


Your once leisurely ride has been turned into a nightmare. To escape, your vehicle shifts into high gear and lurches upward through the mountain. Suddenly, daylight is in sight and you burst outside and down a steep slope.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


Still at top speed you re-enter another tunnel that travels the perimeter of the crater. You burst outside one more time to traverse a bridge then plunge back into darkness. Your vehicle slows quickly and you're finally back in a safe environment.


Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


This is a must-see attraction. Lines can be very long during busy periods.

The other attraction in Mysterious Island is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


The outdoor queue for this attraction is architecturally magnificent. You enter at the upper level of Mysterious Island and spiral your way down to sea level. Suspended from this structure is a miniature submarine - the type you will soon be boarding. On busy days, there is a secondary queue that passes by appropriate props and maps.


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


The mini-subs hold six people. Two people face out a window to the right, two face a window on the left, and two face a forward window. Definitely, the forward facing window offers the best view and it's worth requesting and waiting for. Also, the seats in these subs are small. Larger Americans might also want separate seats. In addition, the windows are low and anyone over 5'7" will have to scrunch down to see out. In other words, it's cramped in here.


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


These subs are suspended from an overhead track (similar to the Peter Pan attraction) and they do not actually enter any water. But special effects built into the viewing windows make you believe you're actually descending and surfacing. Also, the track rises and falls along your journey adding to the illusion of submersion. Since there isn't any real water involved with this attraction, Disney has better control of the environment than its predecessors at Disneyland and Disney World.

Captain Nemo narrates your journey, entirely in Japanese. I'm sure I'm missing a few nuances, but here's the story as best as I can make out.

Your voyage begins peacefully enough. You see beds of kelp, coral, and a fish here and there. You also pass over a sunken ship. Then, in the distance, you see a large eye peering at you. As you get closer you discover it's a giant squid, intent on wreaking havoc on your sub. In order to repel your attacker, you electrify your vessel. As you do, you see the current spread across the ocean floor and eventually shock the monster.

Your sub continues on its journey, but is now dangerously low on power. As you approach the City of Atlantis, you start to see strange alien-like creatures staring at you from behind rocks and plants. You also start to see specks of light coming from crystals. Then you see the shadow of one of these creature swim by your sub, holding a crystal in his hands. You soon discover that these keepers of Atlantis are friendly and can use these mystical crystals to repower your sub and send you home.

Photos are not allowed on this attraction. And even if they were, it would be difficult to snap a good picture as the lighting is extremely low and your vehicle is moving at a steady clip.

The main eatery in this port is a restaurant called Vulcania. Built into the side of the crater, this is a buffeteria that serves Chinese cuisine. The interior of the restaurant is as spectacular as the rest of Mysterious Island and is designed to look like a geothermal power station that provides energy for Captain Nemo's base.

Vulcania Restaurant at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

Vulcania Restaurant at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea


Lastly, there is a shop called Nautilus Gifts. Here you'll find souvenirs with a nautical or science-fiction theme.

Nautilus Gifts at Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea

This is my last blog about Tokyo DisneySea. I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about this magnificent park. I know I enjoyed sharing it with you and I can't wait until my next trip - probably in another five to seven years. Sigh.

Next, I'll share some of the emails I have received from all of you and then I will move on to Tokyo Disneyland.

July 15, 2008

Reader Mailbag - Hong Kong and Tokyo Disney Parks!

I'd like to thank everyone for all the emails you sent regarding my Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea blogs. I'm so glad you have been enjoying the trip report and photos!

BTW, several of you have asked what type of camera I use. All of the pictures shot in Hong Kong were taken with a Nikon D80 camera and a Nikkor 18-200mm lens. The pictures of Tokyo DisneySea shot with the above mentioned camera and a Sony point-and-shot Cyer-shot 4.1 mega pixels.

Here are just a few of the emails I have received:

Monique writes: A big "Thanks!" to Jack for giving us such a terrific tour of the Tokyo and Hong Kong parks. Fantastic photos and great commentary - the next best thing to being there! Tokyo DisneySea in particular has made a big leap up to the top of my "bucket list" - great job!

blue line


Morag writes: I am loving Jack's blog about his trip to the Asian Disney parks. It has been very interesting to see how these parks have been developed and the attention to detail in DisneySea is by far some of the best I have ever seen

I have been to all of the Disney parks in America and from what I have seen and read in these blogs makes me hope that Disney will take on board some of these ideas for their American counterparts.

I too miss 20,000 leagues and would love to see some form of water attraction take its place. Keep up the good work you have made, at least me, very jealous of your adventures.

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Katsumi in Tokyo, Japan shares:

Hello Jack-san. I'm Japanese and enjoy reading your blog in Tokyo regarding Tokyo Disney Resort. I'm very impressed that you know the details of TDR and Japanese culture/styles/personality.

I'm pleased to read that your most favorite park is Tokyo Disney Sea. I have only been to Tokyo Disney Resort and Walt Disney World, but my most favorite resort is Tokyo DisneySea. As you mentioned, every scenery is beautiful and I feel comfortable just staying in TDS.

Also I'm happy to see that you like Big Band Beat (BBB). The reason I bought annual pass for TDS is that I want to see BBB every week. Singers, dancers, musicians and Mickey & his pals are edgy, and this show seems perfect for me. The section after "Sing Sing Sing" always makes me excited.

I hope that we have chance to see BBB together at your next visit to TDS. I'm looking forward to read the rest of your blog.

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Jeanine, who previously blogged about her Tokyo Disney Trip shares:

Great blog! For more information about the back-story on Tokyo's Tower of Terror, there's a long and elaborate webpage (in Japanese) on it at www.tot1899.com.

DisneySeas is a fantastic park! I actually wound up buying DVDs and guidebooks in a language I don't even speak just to have more information on it.

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Cathy Mullen writes:

I have enjoyed reading your Tokyo Disney World blog. Right now I have a friend visiting a relative in Tokyo and she is planning to visit Disney while there. She has been sending very interesting emails about her adventures so with her emails and your blogs I feel right there too!
Maybe someday I will get a chance to visit myself because the park looks so lovely and they have my favorite parade- the Electric Parade!


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Jen shares:

Your blogs about Disney Tokyo and Disney Hong Kong have been extremely enjoyable to read. The pictures are great and you do a tremendous job describing your experience. I look forward to your blog every day. Thanks for sharing your experiences with readers like me.

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Debbie Hudson exclaims:

Wow, Jack! Absolutely STUNNING!

I am really glad you wrote the blogs on the Western Parks; I've never seen any of them, and honestly, I had no idea (really) what DisneySea was.

That place is just amazing! I cannot believe the lushness of it. Just stunning--I can't use any other word to describe it. Wow, I think if I could ever afford to visit one of the other Parks, that would have to be it.

V-E-R-Y nice!!

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MaryAnn Eckenrode writes:

I just loved it. Your trip to Japan must have been fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. If you every make book of this trip, keep me in mind. I'm just so impress with everything, words can't describe. Thanks for your time. It was greatly appreciated.

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Lastly, Tom Zamorski shares:

I wanted to thank you for a wonderful, comprehensive and well photographed tour of Tokyo DisneySea. Frankly, it's unlikely I'll ever get to see it first hand so your tour let me enjoy it, albeit from afar. Thank you very much for the hard work you put into bringing this exotic destination into our homes.

And from Jack........Again, my thanks to everyone.

Now, on to Tokyo Disneyland!

July 18, 2008

Getting to Tokyo Disneyland & Entrance

Before I start describing anything, I need to let you know that I've been to Tokyo Disneyland three times, once in 1996, again in 2003, and finally this year. On each occasion, I visited the park multiple days.

I also took a lot of photos on these trips and I will be picking and choosing from all of them to try to give you the best shot that corresponds with what I'm describing. So, don't be confused if you see a "20th Anniversary" sign when you know that Tokyo Disneyland is actually celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

Also, as I mentioned in other blogs, the Tokyo Disney Resort is owned by Oriental Land Company, not Disney. However, for simplicity, I may use the name "Disney" when in actuality I mean Oriental Land Company. I hope this doesn't confuse you too much.

Okay, now that the ground rules are out of the way, let's get started.

People can get to the entrance of Tokyo Disneyland in several ways. Guests staying at the non-Disney "Official" hotels can either ride the monorail from Bayside Station or take one of the cutest busses you'll ever see.


Bayside Station Tokyo Disneyland

Bus to Tokyo Disneyland

Bus to Tokyo Disneyland


The interior of these buses are equally impressive. All of the seats are upholstered in red with yellow buttons that make them look like Mickey's pants.


Bus to Tokyo Disneyland


Guests driving their own cars use the expansive parking lot situated to the right of the park. Interestingly, Tokyo Disneyland does not offer tram service and guests must walk to the entrance.

Tokyo Disneyland Parking Lot


Guests staying at the Disney-owned MiraCosta or Ambassador hotels ride the monorail and exit at the Tokyo Disneyland Station.


Monorail from MiraCosta or Ambassador hotels to Tokyo Disneyland Station

Monorail from MiraCosta or Ambassador hotels to Tokyo Disneyland Station

Monorail from MiraCosta or Ambassador hotels to Tokyo Disneyland Station

Monorail from MiraCosta or Ambassador hotels to Tokyo Disneyland Station


The new Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is scheduled to open this month. This hotel is located behind the Tokyo Disneyland Station and guests will simply walk to the entrance of the park.


Tokyo Disneyland Hotel


The vast majority of guests visiting Tokyo Disneyland come by train and exit at Maihama Station.


Maihama Station

Maihama Station


Conveniently located to the train station is the Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center. Here, guests can make hotel reservations, have luggage delivered to their room, buy tickets, and arrange for a number of other services.


Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center


From the Maihama Station, guests stroll (some run) along an elevated walkway toward Disneyland. A short distance from the train station they will pass the Bon Voyage Shop. Designed to look like a giant suitcase, this store sells a large array of Disney souvenirs. This is the perfect spot for last minute shopping when leaving the park.


Bon Voyage Shop

Bon Voyage Shop


Beyond the Bon Voyage Shop, guests pass under an ornate clock tower. From here, it's just a short walk to the park's entrance.


Tokyo Disneyland Entrance


On most days, Tokyo Disneyland opens at 9am, and not a minute earlier. Unlike Disney World and Disneyland in California that might open Main Street a half hour in advance to help alleviate the crowds on busy days, Tokyo Disneyland does not.

If you want to be one of the first people into the park, you need to be at the turnstiles 45-60 minutes before opening. The picture below was taken at approximately 8:30am - and you're only seeing half of the crowd. An equal number of people are out of sight to the right of this shot. It will take the people at the end of these lines 20-25 minutes to pass through the turnstiles.


Tokyo Disneyland Crowds Waiting to Enter

Tokyo Disneyland Crowds Waiting to Enter


Once guests have entered the park they hightail it to their favorite attraction for a Fastpass, but more on that in a later blog.

Since Tokyo Disneyland does not have a railroad station at the front of the park, and because World Bazaar (Main Street) is covered, the entrance looks very much different than the other four Magic Kingdoms around the world.


Tokyo Disneyland Entrance Area

Tokyo Disneyland Entrance Area

Tokyo Disneyland Entrance Area

Tokyo Disneyland Entrance Area


It's very common to see groups of school children enjoying the parks as Disney often offers special promotions aimed at this group. Most school children in Japan wear uniforms, usually dark blue or black. Don't assume that just because you're visiting on a Monday through Friday that there will be fewer children.


School%20Children.jpg


Tokyo Disneyland is a busy park. Except during the cold and wet winter months, expect long lines when visiting here.

Next blog, World Bazaar.

July 21, 2008

World Bazaar - Tokyo Disneyland

First, let me answer the question that's on many of your minds.

Why is Main Street called World Bazaar?

When the Imagineers first found out that they would be designing a new Magic Kingdom in Tokyo, they wanted to create something new -- not just a rehash of what had already been done before, twice.

One of their ideas was to do away with Main Street and create an international shopping mall and call it World Bazaar. Instead of turn-of-the-century America, guests would wander down a street filled with exotic shops from around the world - sort of a mini-World Showcase. And remember, Epcot was already in the planning stages when Tokyo Disneyland was first proposed so these "international" ideas were fresh on their minds.

However, the Oriental Land Company (OLC) had other thoughts. They wanted the Imagineers to take the best from Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida and combine these elements into an improved Disneyland - not something new. So the idea of an international shopping mall died, however, the name World Bazaar did not. From what I understand, the execs at the OLC liked the name so it was kept in order to please the client. Go figure.


World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


The other interesting aspect about World Bazaar is that it has a roof over it. This was built as the winter months in Japan can be very cold and wet. In fact, it snows occasionally in Tokyo.


World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland

World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


The first time I walked down World Bazaar, I really didn't like this roof. It just didn't feel right. But then I realized that my real issue was that it was different from the California and Florida parks. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just different. So after I got over my prejudice, I was able to accept it for what it is. And I have to admit, if you're going to put a roof over Main Street, oops, I mean World Bazaar, Disney did a very nice job.


World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland

World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


The structure is built of metal with glass insets so plenty of light filters down to the street below. It is themed nicely and fits in well with the turn-of-the-century American buildings. In the center of World Bazaar, over the intersection of Main Street and Center Street, a large cupola adds architectural interest.


Cupola World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


The one negative this structure brings is noise. Everyone's voice echoes and bounces off of the structure and quite a din is generated.

The sidewalks and street are at the same height in World Bazaar so there is no curb to trip over. I'm sure this was done for safety reasons and considering how congested it gets in here, I think this was a good idea. Interestingly, you don't really notice this single level as the sidewalks, curbs, and street are each made of different materials and painted various colors adding to the illusion of a real street.


World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland

World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland

World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


On my first visit to Tokyo Disneyland in 1996, I was overwhelmed one afternoon around 2pm by the crowds. I needed a break from people. Knowing that Main Street is always quiet mid-day at Disneyland in California, I headed over to World Bazaar for some peaceful shopping. Boy, was I surprised!

The Japanese people enjoy shopping. And as I mentioned in a blog about Tokyo DisneySea, it is customary to bring back a "remembrance" to friends and family back home. So when I arrived at Word Bazaar that afternoon, the shops were swamped. In fact, the cast members were literally having trouble keeping the shelves stocked. So much for escaping the crowds. If you want peaceful shopping in the Tokyo parks, I suggest first thing in the morning, otherwise, forget it.

Speaking of shopping, the Emporium is on the right side of the street, not the left as it is in all of the other Magic Kingdoms.


Emporium in World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


World Bazaar also has a Magic Shop. Remember when there was a Magic Shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom? Sigh...


Magic Shop World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


When Tokyo Disneyland opens, everyone rushes through World Bazaar on their way for a Fastpass. But even though no one is paying any attention, many of the shop's cast members stand on the sidewalk and wave at passer bys.


Cast Members Waving World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


World Bazaar has a unique feature that none of the other Main Streets around the world have. Here, Center Street actually connects to other lands - Tomorrowland to the right and Adventureland to the left. I really like this layout and it makes park navigation easier.

This picture is looking toward Adventureland.


Looking toward Adventureland from World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


This picture is looking toward Tomorrowland.


Looking toward Tomorrowland at World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland


There are two attractions in World Bazaar. The Penny Arcade offers a number of old-time arcade games - like the ones that once graced Main Street in the Magic Kingdom before every inch of available space had to make way for Disney merchandise.

The other attraction in World Bazaar is the Disney Gallery. This shop/studio is located on the second floor and showcases Disney concept art. Also available here (at an additional charge and only conducted in Japanese,) is a class that teaches guests how to draw a Disney character. This class is similar to the Animation Academy at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.

There are a number of full-service restaurants in World Bazaar. I'll briefly talk about a few of them.

Restaurant Hokusai serves Japanese cuisine. This restaurant is located on the second floor of World Bazaar and uses traditional Japanese designs in its motif. Some of tables next to the windows have a fantastic view of The Hub and Cinderella Castle.

If you haven't already done so while visiting the rest of this beautiful country, I would suggest trying at least one Japanese restaurant and this would be a safe choice. Very little on the menu is too far removed from American pallets as to make you wince. My flight attendant friend TDLFAN was able to join me one evening at Tokyo Disneyland and we ate dinner here.


Restaurant Hokusai at Tokyo Disneyland


Below is a picture of the tempura I ordered. Looks good!


Tempura at Restaurant Hokusai at Tokyo Disneyland


The décor of the Eastside Café fits nicely in World Bazaar with its early 20th-century atmosphere and Victorian charm. Pasta and meat dishes are on the menu.


East Side Cafe at Tokyo Disneyland


I find the décor of Center Street Coffeehouse a little odd for World Bazaar. Instead of Victorian or Art Nouveau, this eatery is decorated in the Art Deco style popular in the 1920s and 30s. This is one of the few restaurants open for breakfast.


Center Street Coffeehouse at Tokyo Disneyland

Center Street Coffeehouse at Tokyo Disneyland


The Great American Waffle House serves, you guessed it, waffles. Open all day, this counter service restaurant is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat if you're in need of a sugar pick-me-up.


Great American Waffle House at Tokyo Disneyland


This picture was taken from Adventureland looking back at World Bazaar.


From Adventureland looking back at World Bazaar in Tokyo Disneyland


This picture was taken from Tomorrowland looking back at World Bazaar.


From Tomorrowland looking back at World Bazaar in Tokyo Disneyland


Next blog will be about The Hub.


World Bazaar at Tokyo Disneyland

July 24, 2008

The Hub -- Tokyo Disneyland

The Hub isn't really a "land" but my blog about World Bazaar was getting a little long so I decided to give this area its own column.


Hub at Tokyo Disneyland


The Hub at Tokyo Disneyland is a little different from that of the other Magic Kingdoms. When exiting World Bazaar (Main Street), you enter a sort of courtyard that overlooks the rest of The Hub. In this courtyard you'll find the Partners Statue and dedication plaques. There are also a number of benches and the Disneyland Band often performs here.


Hub at Tokyo Disneyland

Hub at Tokyo Disneyland

Hub at Tokyo Disneyland

Disneyland Band at Tokyo Disneyland


For those of you who couldn't read the small print on the dedication plaque, here's what it says.

To all who come to this happy place, welcome.

Here you will discover enchanted lands of Fantasy and Adventure, Yesterday and Tomorrow. May Tokyo Disneyland be an eternal source of Joy, Laughter, Inspiration and Imagination to the people of the world. And may this magical kingdom be an enduring symbol of the spirit of cooperation and friendship between the great nations of Japan and the United States of America.

April 15, 1983
E. Cardon Walker
Chairman of the Board
Walt Disney Productions

From this courtyard you must walk either right or left to get to the rest of The Hub. Once you do, turn around at look at World Bazaar. It is truly beautiful from this vantage point.

Hub at Tokyo Disneyland

Hub at Tokyo Disneyland

Hub at Tokyo Disneyland

Hub at Tokyo Disneyland


The Hub at Tokyo Disneyland is significantly bigger than its counterpart at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. And unlike Florida, it is not surrounded by water as there was never a Swan Boat ride here. However, you'll still find the sea serpent topiary sitting next to a pond.


Sea Serpent Topiary at Tokyo Disneyland


The only attraction in this area is the Omnibus. This is the same double-decker bus you find on the other Main Streets around the world. But in Tokyo, it only makes a slow circle around The Hub and the ride lasts about 5 minutes. It does not make its way through World Bazaar as this area is covered and extremely crowded. Also, there would be no place for the Omnibus to turn around since there is no Plaza. In addition, there is no horse-drawn trolley here.


Omnibus at Tokyo Disneyland


When I visited Tokyo Disneyland in 1996, they had a variety of vehicles, like a fire engine and old-time automobiles. And you traveled from The Hub all the way into Westernland. This always bothered me because I thought it ruined the themeing. These vehicles did not belong in the western frontier. So even though they have shortened the ride, I think this was the correct decision.


Omnibus at Tokyo Disneyland

Omnibus at Tokyo Disneyland


There are two restaurants that face out onto The Hub, the Crystal Palace and the Plaza Pavilion.


Crystal Palace at Tokyo Disneyland

Plaza Pavilion at Tokyo Disneyland


It's interesting to note that these restaurants are not considered part of The Hub or World Bazaar. The Crystal Palace is actually considered to be in Adventureland and the Plaza Pavilion is in Westernland. This doesn't make any sense to me since they are obviously on The Hub and the architecture is decidedly turn-of-the century America, but that's the way it is.

The Crystal Palace is almost identical to its counterpart in Florida and the Plaza Pavilion is almost identical to its counterpart in California. Both restaurants serve buffeteria style. The Plaza Pavilion is also very close to the Plaza Bandstand Stage and some of the outside tables have good views of the shows presented here. I've never eaten at either of these restaurants so I can offer little more.


Plaza Bandstand Stage  at Tokyo Disneyland


Check out the sign below. Notice anything unusual about it?


Feed the Birds Sign


English is the first language and Japanese is the second. This seems a little strange in a park where 99% of its visitors are from Japan. But that's the way it is - everywhere. Almost everything is written with English first followed by Japanese. From what I understand, the Oriental Land Company wanted an "American" park in Tokyo - even down to the language.

Not to worry. English is a mandatory class for all Japanese school children. And even though they might not be able to speak the language, most can read it. Besides, it makes it easier for us mono-language Americans.

I realize that Cinderella Castle is part of Fantasyland, but since it faces out onto The Hub, I'll briefly mention it here. Up until last year, the exterior of the castle was identical to the one at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. However, it was recently given a new paint job and the gray tones were changed to tans and browns. Now the castle has its own identity. Here's before and after.

Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland

Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland


Also like Florida, the Tokyo castle has a large stage in front of it. And in front of this stage is a large viewing area - much larger than the viewing area in Florida. Depending on the scope of the show being presented, temporary bench seating can be added. This helps give you an idea of how much larger the Tokyo Hub is.


Show at Tokyo Disneyland

Show at Tokyo Disneyland

Show at Tokyo Disneyland


I think that's about it for this blog. Next, I travel to Adventureland.

July 27, 2008

Adventureland - Tokyo Disneyland

You can enter Adventureland from several areas, the first being World Bazaar (Main Street).

Unlike the other Main Streets around the world, Center Street connects to Tomorrowland and Adventureland.

The next two pictures show the Adventureland Entrance from Center Street.

Adventureland Entrance from Center Street

Adventureland Entrance from Center Street


There is also the traditional Adventureland entrance off of The Hub marked by a large, overhead sign.


Adventureland Entrance off of The Hub

Adventureland Entrance off of The Hub


And finally, you can enter Adventureland from Westernland. When coming from this direction, there is no real delineation between the two lands.


Adventureland Entrance from Westernland


You might say that Adventureland is actually a combination of two lands. There is the traditional "exotic" section and there is the New Orleans section.

New Orleans Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland

New Orleans Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland


At Disneyland in California, New Orleans Square is its own land, but in Tokyo it's considered part of Adventureland.

And to my knowledge, this area has no other nomenclature other than "Adventureland." The reason behind this might be that only half of the California version of New Orleans Square was built here. There is no French Market Restaurant, Train Station, or Haunted Mansion. Thus, it would be difficult to call this area a "land." However, I've always felt that it's stretching things a little to consider New Orleans part of Adventureland, no matter how "adventurous" the "Pirates of the Caribbean" might be.

It is remarkable how similar the two New Orleans areas are to each other. Below are two pictures - one taken at Disneyland in California and the other at Tokyo Disneyland. Can you tell which is which? No peeking at the answer.


Blue%20Bayou%20-%20California.jpg

Blue%20Bayou%20-%20Tokyo.jpg


The first picture was taken in California and the second in Tokyo.

Since we're right outside of the Blue Bayou Restaurant, let's take a look inside. If any of you have read my Allears.net bio, you know that I worked at the Blue Bayou Restaurant at Disneyland in California for six years.

Of course, I always have to have a meal here to honor my former work place. However, it's almost a little creepy when I do. These two eateries are so similar you could easily forget where you actually are. When I'm dining in Tokyo, I always expect to see Rod Serling and hear the Twilight Zone music as I exit the restaurant and find myself transported back to California.


Blue Bayou Restaurant Tokyo Disneyland


This picture of me was taken in 1996 in the Blue Bayou - when I was younger and thinner.


Jack at the Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland in 1996


The exterior of the Tokyo Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is almost an exact copy of the California version before they added the new queue and crossover. Upon entering the Tokyo Pirates attraction you'll notice an indoor queue area absent from California. Once again, the Imagineers were cognizant of Tokyo's weather when designing this park.


Pirates of the Caribbean Tokyo Disneyland


Except for a few minor changes, the actual ride is pretty much a carbon copy of California's. You walk past the boats as you enter. You board at Laffite's Landing. And you sail by the Blue Bayou.


Pirates of the Caribbean Tokyo Disneyland

Laffites Landing Tokyo Disneyland

Blue Bayou Tokyo Disneyland


Due to the high water-table, there is only one down ramp, but it is longer and more thrilling than the Florida counterpart. The only other difference from California is the skeleton reading in bed with a magnifying glass is absent. And yes, Captain Jack Sparrow has been added to Tokyo.

It's interesting to note, Pirates of the Caribbean is sponsored by Kirin. Don't worry, beer isn't sold at Tokyo Disneyland, but some of Kirin's sports drinks are.


Kirin Sign


The Japanese consider the bottoms of their shoes dirty - understandably so. Since they do not want to sit where people walk, they do not use the seats in the Pirate boats as a step when entering the vessel. Instead, they step all they way down to the floor. Try this the next time you're getting in a Pirate or Small World boat. It isn't easy.

The other restaurant in this area is Café Orleans. Once again, the exterior is extremely similar to its California counterpart. Crepes are the big draw here. Some of the varieties served are, cheese, seafood, sausage, chocolate and pineapple.


Cafe Orleans Tokyo Disneyland


Next to the Café Orleans is an outdoor entertainment venue called Theater Orleans. The show changes periodically, but you'll usually find the Disney characters engaging in some sort of Latin extravaganza. If you want a seat, arrive early as the shows are very popular and people get in line long before the festivities begin.


Theater Orleans Tokyo Disneyland

Theater Orleans Tokyo Disneyland


Moving further away from the New Orleans section you come to a number of shops. In an effort to make the transition smooth as you enter the "exotic" section of Adventureland, the buildings here have a colonial Spanish design.


Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland


Across from this Spanish section of Adventureland is a ramshackle fishing village. A large tugboat named 20,000 Leaks anchors this area. There are several restaurants in this vicinity serving Mickey-shaped steamed buns and other Asian delights.


Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland

Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland

Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland


Moving on we find the Jungle Cruise and Western River Railroad. These two attractions share a loading facility. The Jungle Cruise occupies the ground floor and the Western River Railroad the second. Both queues offer plenty of protection from the elements as a roof covers most of the lines.


Jungle Cruise Train Tokyo Disneyland


Let's start with the Jungle Cruise. This is the classic Disney attraction. Although it runs in the opposite direction than Walt Disney World's, it still has most of the same scenes and gags, including the indoor temple section. Of course, your skipper is Japanese. And unlike the Hong Kong version that offers multiple languages, the cruise is presented entirely in Japanese. But that's okay. We've all ridden this ride enough times in America to understand everything that's going on.


Jungle Cruise Tokyo Disneyland

Jungle Cruise Tokyo Disneyland

Jungle Cruise Tokyo Disneyland

Jungle Cruise Tokyo Disneyland

Jungle Cruise Tokyo Disneyland

Jungle Cruise Tokyo Disneyland


The Western River Railroad is unique among its steam train cousins in the other Disney parks in that it doesn't circle the perimeter of Tokyo Disneyland. You see, if it did, its track length combined with multiple stations would have classified it as "public transportation" under Japanese law and it would have fallen under government jurisdiction. This of course was unacceptable to Disney and some other solution needed to be reached. And that solution was a railroad that runs only through Adventureland and Frontierland and only has one station.


Western River Railroad Tokyo Disneyland


Even though guests board the train in Adventureland, this attraction is well named - Western River Railroad. Although you do skirt the Jungle Cruise and you can see the safari boats and some wildlife, the vast majority of the sights on the train ride are in Westernland. Because of that, I will discuss this attraction further in my Westernland blog.


Western River Railroad Tokyo Disneyland

Western River Railroad Tokyo Disneyland


Located next to the Jungle Cruise is the Polynesian Terrace Restaurant. Here guests enjoy a stage show along with their meal. At lunch, Lilo and Stitch throw a luau for other Disney characters and at dinner Mickey and Minnie take center stage. Reservations are an absolute must and if you have any desire to eat here, you need to be among the first to enter the park and then make a mad dash to the reservation kiosk in Adventureland.


Polynesian Show at Polynesian Terrace Restaurant Tokyo Disneyland


The Tiki Birds also have a home in Adventureland. When Tokyo Disneyland opened, it featured the original 1963 show. In 1999, a second presentation debuted called "Get the Fever." I saw "Get the Fever" and found it far more entertaining than Florida's second show, "Under New Management." Earlier this year, "Get the Fever" closed and a third show is slated to open soon. It appears that Stitch may be disrupting the performance this time around.


Adventureland with Tiki Birds building in background

Tiki Birds Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland

Tiki Birds Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland


The final attraction in Adventureland is the Swiss Family Treehouse. What can I say? It's the treehouse. It's mildly amusing to walk through. It gives Adventureland some atmosphere. And it never has a long line. I really wish that Disney would update both this treehouse and the one in Florida with the Tarzan theme. Kids (and many adults) are not familiar with the Swiss Family Robinson movie and Tarzan would be much more relevant to them.


Swiss Family Treehouse Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland

Swiss Family Treehouse Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland

Swiss Family Treehouse Adventureland Tokyo Disneyland


That's it for Adventureland. Next stop, Westernland.

July 30, 2008

Westernland - Tokyo Disneyland

The word "frontier" does not translate adequately into Japanese so the name Westernland was used in Tokyo Disneyland to describe the American West. For me, the name "Westernland" is a lot easier to accept than Main Street being called World Bazaar.


Westernland Tokyo Disneyland


When entering Westernland from Adventureland, the transition is smooth enough.

But the division between Fantasyland and Westernland is practically nonexistent. I don't know what the Imagineers were thinking. One moment you're in Fantasyland, and the next, Westernland. In fact, in one section, the Snow White Grotto is across the street from the Diamond Horseshoe. Admittedly it's hidden behind trees, but its proximity can't be dismissed. I wish I had a picture to show you this proximity, but I don't. This is one area where Tokyo Disneyland falls way short.

Like Adventureland, I feel that you can divide Westernland into two sections, the township and the wilderness area. Here are a few pictures of the streets of Westernland.


Westernland Tokyo Disneyland

Westernland Tokyo Disneyland

Hungry Bear Restaurant Westernland Tokyo Disneyland

Westernland Tokyo Disneyland


There are three attractions in the township area, Westernland Shootin' Gallery, Country Bear Theater, and the Diamond Horseshoe.

Let's start with the Shootin' Gallery.

Shootin Gallery Westerland Tokyo Disneyland


Unlike most of the other attractions at Tokyo Disneyland which are included in your admission price, the Shootin' Gallery coast ¥200 (about $2) for ten shots. Target practice takes place in an old-time saloon and sharp shooters use an imitation Winchester rifle that fires lasers at an assortment of targets.

Each target performs in some manner when hit. For example, shoes will dance, bottles jump, and the piano plays. At the end of your round you'll receive a score card with a message from Pecos Goofy.


Shootin Gallery Westerland Tokyo Disneyland


The interior of the Diamond Horseshoe in Westernland is almost identical to the one at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. The one noticeable difference, they actually use the theater in Tokyo rather than letting it sit empty. Several lunch shows are presented each day starring Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye form Toy Story 2. And at the dinner shows you can find Pecos Goofy and a number of "Can-Can" girls on stage while you enjoy your vittles.


Diamond Horseshoe Tokyo Disneyland


Reservations are an absolute must and if you have any desire to see one of these shows, you need to be among the first to enter the park and then make a mad dash to the Diamond Horseshoe Theater.

All of our ursine friends are alive and well and performing in the Country Bear Theater. Henry, Trixie, Wendell, and the rest of the gang now speak Japanese but some of them are bilingual as several of the songs are sung in English.

Also, all three versions of the show are presented here. The original "Country Bear Jamboree" is performed from January through June. The "Country Bear Vacation Hoedown" is performed from July through November. And finally, the "Country Bear Christmas Special" is performed in December.


Country Bear Theater Tokyo Disneyland

Country Bear Theater Tokyo Disneyland

Country Bear Theater Tokyo Disneyland


Among the many shops in Westernland is the Picture Parlour. Here, guests dress up in western garb and can have their picture taken against an Old West backdrop. I remember when you could do this at various Walt Disney World locations. But alas, those days are long gone. This type of souvenir shop just doesn't generate as much money as yet another candy store. Sigh.


Picture Parlour Westernland Tokyo Disneyland


Straddling the township and the wilderness area of Westernland is Big Thunder Mountain. While you enter the queue at the far end of town, the runaway mine trains take you on a wild trip through the rugged canyons of the American Southwest.

Much of the scenery and effects are similar to those at WDW, but the track layout is completely different. I can't say that this attraction is any better or worse than WDW's. It's just different.


Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Tokyo Disneyland


Now let's move on to the wilderness area of Westernland. In my previous blog I mentioned that you board the Western River Railroad in Adventureland, but since most of what you see is actually in Westernland, I said I would discuss it in more detail here.

After leaving the few sights of Adventureland, you pass by a railroad station. This is strictly a prop and can only be seen from the train.


Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights


Beyond the station is a vast wilderness. Here the sights are many. Of course, there is the ever lively statuesque moose and deer. A number of Native Americans can be seen in several encampments. And numerous prairie dogs pop up from their burrows for a look at the passing train.


Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights


Eventually the train leaves the backwoods and enters a clearing. Here the train runs along a lengthy trestle that skirts the Rivers of America and Critter Country. For me, this is the most beautiful spot in all of Tokyo Disneyland. The train is majestic as it weaves its way around several attractions and over walkways. The views from the train are pretty good as well.


Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights

Western River Railroad Sights


Eventually the train winds its way to Big Thunder Mountain. Here, it runs beside the attraction and the runaway mine trains can often be seen as you pass by. Additionally, a number of dinosaur bones are present in this area.

The next three pictures are of poor quality as I did not have any good shots in my collection. So I "snapped" these pictures off of a video I took. It's the best I could do.

Western River Railroad Sights


As the dinosaur bones become more prevalent, you enter a tunnel and are transported back in time to witness "Primeval World." This is the same dinosaur diorama as at Disneyland in California, even down to the music. When you emerge from the tunnel, you're back in Adventureland and the end of the ride.


Primeval World Western River Railroad

Primeval World Western River Railroad


The Western River Railroad is my favorite of all the Disney steam trains around the world. Even though it's the shortest ride of the five, you see the most along your journey. That's because this train actually runs "through" Westernland rather than just passing on the sidelines. I admit, by not having the train circle the park you don't get a train station at the beginning of World Bazaar, so this does make it a tough call as to which is better.

The theming of Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island is different from that of California's or Florida's. Instead of being located in the middle of the Mississippi River, this island is more likely to be found in the middle of the Colorado River.

Since Big Thunder Mountain sits nearby, the same red-orange spires that make up this mountain range are carried across the water to the island and beyond. The entire effect is beautifully executed.

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island


Like its American cousins, guests in Tokyo board a raft on the mainland for a short trip across the water, piloted by Tom himself. Once on the island, you'll find many of the same attractions: the barrel and suspension bridge, Fort Sam Clemens, caves, a treehouse, and more.


Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island

Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island


The final attraction in Westernland is the Mark Twain Riverboat. This boat is a copy of the one in Disneyland California, even down to the fact that guests board and unload on the same level.

For me, the riverboats have always been one of the more enjoyable attractions at the Disney parks. The lines are never long, you get a 15 minutes ride, and it's a great place to get away from the crowds for a few minutes and relax. Here are a few pictures of the riverboat and some of the sights you'll see along the way.


Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

Mark Twain Riverboat Tokyo Disneyland

There are several restaurants in Westernland, but I'm only going to talk about one, the Lucky Nugget Café. This is a counter service restaurant that serves reasonably good fried chicken and fries. But the real reason to eat here is the location. It's somewhat out of the way, so it's not as busy as most other restaurants, and the tables overlook the Rivers of America. This is a wonderful place to relax and watch the Mark Twain and the canoes pass by.

On my last trip, I must have spent about half an hour here waving to everyone who floated by. They seemed to get a kick out of the crazy American as they all laughed and enthusiastically waved back at me. It's funny, but on big and expensive vacations, it's often the little things we remember. And for me, this was one of those special moments that I'll never forget.


Lucky Nugget Café Tokyo Disneyland

Lucky Nugget Café Tokyo Disneyland

Lucky Nugget Café Tokyo Disneyland


Here is one last picture of Westernland. I'm posting to for two reasons.

First, to give you and idea of how crowded it usually is at Tokyo Disneyland. This picture is typical of any given afternoon. Second, notice that you don't see anyone wearing shorts. That's because shorts really aren't part of the Japanese fashion scene. In an effort to fit in and not offend, I wore long pants on all of my visits, even though the weather called for cooler attire. When in Rome (um, I mean Japan). . .

Afternoon Crowd  Tokyo Disneyland


Next stop, Critter Country.

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About July 2008

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in July 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2008 is the previous archive.

August 2008 is the next archive.

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