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Tokyo Disney Sea Archives

May 29, 2010

Tokyo Disney Resort - Duffy and Sinbad

Hi everyone. I just got back from a two week vacation. Before I left, I arranged for several blogs to be published in my absence. Deb Wills was kind enough to post them, but she was unable to respond to everyone's comments the way I normally try to do. So if you were wondering why I didn't replied to your email, now you know. But I want to thank you all for the kind words you shared with me. And a big thanks to Deb for posting my blogs and your comments.

So, were did I go on vacation? Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Yea! However, I'm not going to write long involved blogs about these wonderful places. I did that two years ago and if you'd like to learn more about these magical destinations, you can click on the links above and read my previous accounts. However, my vacation did furnish me with some fun adventures that I'd like to share with you in two or three blogs over the next week or so.

Before I get started, I'd like to tell you about an exciting moment that happened on my return home. I had just completed the grueling fourteen hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago and was relaxing in the Red Carpet Room during my four hour layover. I was wearing a polo shirt with a Disney insignia. A few minutes after getting settled, a gentleman approached me. He said he had noticed my shirt and wondered if I worked for Disney. I told him no but explained that Disney was my hobby and I was returning from the Tokyo and Hong Kong Disney Parks. As it turns out, this gentleman had been on the same flight as me and was returning from his first trip to Hong Kong Disneyland. After a little more conversation, I learned that he was checking out the resort - sort of a "research" trip. You see, his name is John Pepper and he's been Disney's Chairman of the Board since 2007. How cool is that? I got to meet the Chairman of the Board for Disney.

Okay, onto my actual blog.

A few years back, Disney came out with a new merchandise line that featured a plush bear whose face resembled Mickey Mouse and the famous three-circle Mickey shape stitched onto each paw. I thought the bears were incredibly cute and bought one for myself. However, they weren't a big hit in the U.S. and were more or less discontinued. But in Japan this lovable creature caught on. He was even given a name, Duffy, The Disney Bear. As the months went on, Duffy became a phenomenon. Now, it's the "in" thing to carry your Duffy with you whenever you visit Tokyo DisneySea where he, his girlfriend Shellie May, and their clothes are sold exclusively. Everywhere you look, you see Duffy and Shellie May enjoying a day in the park with their human companions.

Let me give you an idea how big Duffy has become in Japan. A day at a Tokyo Disney Park starts well before the official opening time. The first picture below was taken 65 minutes prior to Tokyo Disneyland opening. At this time, there were already several hundred people patiently waiting at the turnstiles. When the park finally opens, there will be thousands and thousands of people lined up at the gates. This can be seen in the second picture - which was taken 25 minutes before park opening and only shows half of the crowd. And Duffy waits dutifully in line like all of his human companions.


Waiting for the park to open

Waiting for the park to open

Duffy waiting in line


The above pictures were taken at Tokyo Disneyland, but similar crowds gather each day at Tokyo DisneySea which is where Duffy is sold.

Now, after waiting an hour or so to enter DisneySea, many people skip the rides and RUN to one of the two shops where Duffy merchandise is sold, only to get into another long line. You see, these shops get so crowded access must be limited.


Waiting to buy Duffy

Waiting to buy Duffy


Here, thousands of Duffys, Shellie Mays, and their various outfits are sold each day. I've heard from a reliable source that 25% of all the merchandising revenue at the Tokyo parks comes from these characters and their accessories.


Duffy Merchandise

Duffy Merchandise


In the parking lot for Tokyo Disneyland, large faces of Duffy and Shellie May have been meticulously recreated out of orange traffic cones.


Parking Log Duffy


Now you might think that this phenomenon is limited to little girls. Nothing could be further from the truth. Duffy knows no age or sex limitations. It's just as common to see guys and older folks carrying Duffy with them while visiting Tokyo DisneySea.


Duffy and his Human

Duffy and his Human

Duffy and his Human

Duffy and his Human

Duffy and his Human


And Duffy doesn't just get mindlessly carried throughout the day. Many have baby straps to give him a comfortable ride. And when Duffy's "parents" sit down at a table, he is given his own seat and doted over.


Duffy at the Table

Duffy at the Table


As I mentioned earlier, Disney has created a line of clothing for Duffy, but that's much too limiting. The really cool Duffys have handmade wardrobes or nifty costumes.


Duffy Dressed to the Nines

Duffy in Costume

My Japanese friends Katsumi and Daisuke use their Duffys to help hold a place for the upcoming shows presented at Tokyo DisneySea. And if you'll notice, their Duffys are not sitting on the pavement. They're given something clean and cushiony to sit on.


Katsumi and Daisuke waiting for a Show


There are also a number of Picture Spots located around the park where you can pose your Duffys and get a photo of your entire group with this cuddly family member.


Duffy Picture Spot


Realizing that my Duffy back home in Orlando was sitting around naked, I decided I better buy him an outfit. I opted for the Cape Cod ensemble. Pretty cute, huh?


Jack's Duffy


So next time you're at Walt Disney World or Disneyland in California, and you see someone carrying a smartly dressed Mickey-faced bear, it's a pretty good bet they're from Japan and giving their Duffy a well deserved vacation.

The next topic in this blog will be about one of my favorite attractions at Tokyo DisneySea, Sindbad's Storybook Voyage. This is a boat ride comparable to Pirates of the Caribbean, minus the waterfalls. Disney expected Sindbad's Storybook Voyage 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 Sindbad and this attraction often has minimal lines while the rest of the park is busy.

To try to remedy this, the attraction was closed for a major refurbishment a few years ago. One of their goals was to change the storyline and soften the foreboding feel. In the original version, Sindbad 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 Sindbad was given a sidekick in this second go-round, Chandu. This is a cute little tiger cub that helps Sindbad conquer evil. And finally, a very melodic song (Compass of Your Heart), written by Alan Menken, was added for Sindbad to sing.

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. I even bought a Chandu plush.


Chandu Plush


My friend Katsumi tells me the changes have helped and popularity of this attraction is growing. I have created a video of the entire ride so check it out and see for yourself. I'm sure you'll agree, this is a wonderful attraction.



September 30, 2008

Tower of Terror

What's wrong with this picture?


Tower of Terror Disney's Hollywood Studios


Come on. Look closely. You can figure it out.

No? Then take a closer look - specifically, the Tower of Terror. What's wrong with it?


Tower of Terror Disney's Hollywood Studios


The Imagineers do an excellent job when detailing a restaurant, shop, or attraction. They never miss a trick. But this one slipped past them.

Take a look at this billboard located on Sunset Blvd. advertising the hotel and see if you can figure out the mistake.


Tower of Terror Billboard at Disney's Hollywood Studios


Where's the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" sign? If you look VERY closely, you can see it perched ABOVE the hotel wings. The same is true in the preshow movie narrated by Rod Serling. But in reality, the sign is much lower on the building.

When you look at the actual building, the sign would have been destroyed along with the wings when the lightning struck. Not only that, the sign is placed almost against the building. If the wings were still intact, the sign would be buried within them.


Tower of Terror Disney's Hollywood Studios


I don't know at what point Disney realized their mistake, but they did correct it on the Tower of Terrors in California and Paris (identical buildings). On these structures the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" sign is placed above the wings.


Tower of Terror


At Tokyo DisneySea the storyline is completely different and there are no wings. In fact, the hotel's name does not appear on the building as it does on its three cousins.


Tokyo DisneySea Tower of Terror


But let's not beat up on the Imagineers too much. They took great care when designing Disney World's Tower of Terror so it would fit into Epcot.

What does he mean, fit into Epcot?

When approaching the bridge that leads to Mexico in World Showcase, look across the lagoon toward Morocco. In the background, the Tower of Terror is plainly seen beside the minaret. It blends in quite nicely, thus not destroying the Moroccan theming (unlike the Swan and Dolphin behind Canada and the UK).


View of Tower of Terror from Epcot


Disney World's Tower was given a Moorish feel and painted a color that was not completely accurate to 1930's Hollywood just so it would blend into the background when viewed from Epcot.


August 18, 2008

Should you go to Hong Kong and Tokyo Disney?

During the postings of my Hong Kong and Tokyo Disney blogs, I received several emails from people asking me if it's worth the trip to travel this vast distance to visit these parks. Ultimately, this would depend on your budget and how strong your desire is to experience the foreign Disney parks, but I will give you my thoughts.

Let's start with Hong Kong.

It's a 13-14 hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong. That's a long time to spend in an airplane. Fortunately, I had enough frequent flyer miles to upgrade to Business Class and I would recommend this to anyone who can swing it.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Hong Kong Disneyland is a nice, LITTLE park, but it still has a long way to go before it could be considered a great park. There just aren't enough rides and attractions to keep the average guest busy for more than a day - two if you're a true Disney fanatic. I chose to spend three full days here because I'm a Disney extremist and I wanted to experience everything multiple times, but I would only recommend this length of stay to a handful of my readers. Because of the lack of rides and attractions, it becomes difficult for me to recommend a trip all the way to Hong Kong, JUST to see Disneyland.

But keep in mind, the City of Hong Kong is only a 20 minute train ride away from Disneyland. And believe me, there is no other city on earth like Hong Kong. This is a magnificent metropolis. A combination of ultra modern and traditional Chinese make this an exciting place to visit. You can easily spend three days here. And a day trip via hydrofoil to Macau is also a great excursion.


HK%201.jpg

HK%202.jpg

HK%203.jpg

Macau.jpg


So, if you add the City of Hong Kong and Macau to your trip to HKDL, then it becomes a no-brainer. I say, "Go for it."

If you do decide to go to Hong Kong, I would break the trip up into two sections. Stay at the Disneyland or Hollywood Hotel for two or three nights and the remainder of your stay on Hong Kong Island or across the harbor in Kowloon.


Disneyland%20Hotel%20100.jpg

Hollywood%20Hotel%20100.jpg


I've stayed at the Kowloon Shangri-La twice and was most pleased. In fact, it's one of the nicest hotels I've ever been in. It has beautiful views of Hong Kong Island and it's an easy walk to many of the sights. However, I'm sure there are MANY equally good hotels to choose from. Talk to your travel agent.


Shangri-La%201.jpg

Shangri-La%202.jpg


Now let's discuss Japan. Should you fly 9-10 hours from Chicago to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort? Absolutely!

If you've been reading my blogs, you know that I rank Tokyo DisneySea as my absolute favorite park and I rank Tokyo Disneyland as my fifth favorite out of a total of eleven. Each of these parks has much more to offer than HKDL and each requires every bit of two days to see. Also, keep in mind that you probably won't be returning anytime soon, so I would suggest spending three full days in each park to make sure you've imprinted all the sights and sounds into your brain.

Just like Disney World, I always recommend staying "on property." If there is anyway you can afford it, stay at the MiraCosta. With the hotel located literally inside Tokyo DisneySea, it's the most magical of any Disney hotel anywhere in the world. You'll be glad you did. Also consider the new Disneyland Hotel which is right on the doorstep of Tokyo Disneyland. And lastly, the Ambassador Hotel which is just a short walk from the monorail, is worthy of your consideration.


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TDL%20Hotel%20100.jpg

Ambassador%20101.jpg


Japan is an expensive country. If budget starts to play a part in your decision, consider staying at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel. It's a little less costly than the Disney hotels and it's extremely convenient to the Disney monorail so the parks are still just a short ride away.


Sharaton%20100.jpg


On one trip, I stayed at an inexpensive (relatively speaking) Holiday Inn in downtown Tokyo and took the train to Disneyland everyday. It was less expensive than staying on property, but it lacked "magic" and I was more or less stuck at the park all day long as it would not be convenient to return to my hotel mid-day for a nap.

But here comes my dilemma when suggesting a trip to Tokyo. How can you possibly fly all this way and ONLY see Disney? Japan is a beautiful country. It would take weeks just to see the highlights. Do you really want to miss out on experiencing this wonderful culture?

Japan is roughly the size of California and has a magnificent railway system that can take you almost anywhere quickly and safely. But navigating in Japan can be daunting for someone who doesn't speak the language. To make things easier, I would suggest meeting with a travel agent and arrange for a multi-day tour of the country that begins or ends in Tokyo, then spend an additional 6-7 days at Disney.

Here are just a FEW of the "must see" attractions in Japan.

Daibutsu (Buddha) in Kamakura


Kamakura.jpg


Daibutsu (Buddha) in Nara


Daibutsu%20in%20Nara.jpg


Kyoto's Golden Pavilion


Golden%20Palace.jpg


The Kyoto Bridge


Kyoto%20Bridge.jpg


Osaka Castle


Osaka%20Castle.jpg


Nagasaki


Nagasaki.jpg


If you've already visited the City of Hong Kong and the country of Japan as I have, or, if you really only want to visit Disney, you might want to do what I did and combine both resorts into one trip. I figured if I was flying all the way across the Pacific anyway, why not lengthen my stay and see both resorts. It's about a 4Β½ hour flight between Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Getting from the airports to the resorts is easy. In Hong Kong, just hail a cab and tell him where you want to go. It shouldn't cost much more than $20US to get to the Disneyland Resort. (Honk Kong also uses the "dollar" so don't get confused.) The trip takes about 20 minutes. You can also take a train, which would be cheaper, but that would involve a transfer. And do you really want to schlep your luggage through crowded stations after just having completed a 13+ hour flight?

In Tokyo, there are a number of motor-coach counters located immediately after you clear customs. It's here that you can arrange transportation to Disney. After purchasing your ticket (about $25 per person one-way) you will be told where to wait for the bus which will be just a short walk from the counter. The trip takes approximately one hour. You arrange for your return trip at your hotel.

Even though Visa and Master Card are accepted everywhere, I always try to have some local currency in hand when I arrive. It's just one less thing I have to worry about after my flight.

One of the major enjoyments I get out of Disney theme parks is comparing them to one another. It fascinates me to see how similar, yet different, any given attraction can be.

I realize that international travel isn't in everyone's budget, but if you're one of those families that visits Walt Disney World three or four times a year, might I suggest that you only visit once or twice some year and use the money you'll save for an overseas Disney trip. You'll be happy you did.

Although I have not talked about the Disneyland Paris Resort in my recent blogs, I rank Disneyland Paris as my second favorite park. And even though I rank the Walt Disney Studios Paris as my least favorite park, I still feel the resort has a lot to offer - a lot more than Hong Kong. Not to mention, the City of Lights is just a short train ride away.

So, this ends my Asian Disney blogs. I hope you've enjoyed them. I've had a good time reliving my adventures by sharing them with you.

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 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 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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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

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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.


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About Tokyo Disney Sea

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in the Tokyo Disney Sea category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Tokyo Disney Resorts is the previous category.

Tokyo Disneyland is the next category.

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