Holidays at the Tokyo Disney Resort: Part 2--Happy Anniversary DisneySea!
So the first day in Tokyo DisneySea (TDS,) was the last day of non-holiday programming for the season. Typically the week between the Halloween and the Christmas festivities is pretty dead, but this trip it was fairly packed the whole time--probably because of the 10th Anniversary.
Planning Tip #4: Bring money for the monorails.
Unlike in the US parks, trains and monorails are vital to the transportation of the bulk of the population in Japan, and are consequently more tightly regulated there. The train in Tokyo Disneyland (TDL,) actually has only one stop in its circuit, apparently because any train with more than one is regarded as transportation and comes under higher, public jurisdiction.
The monorail (also known as the Disney Resort Line) has four stops: Resort Gateway (where you get off for Ikspiari and the Maihama Railway Station,) TDL, Bayside Station (closest to the Disney Official Hotels,) and TDS. It's clean, well-run, and extremely cute. Would you pay to ride the monorail if it was reliable, arrived every 6 minutes, and looked like this?
For their anniversary celebration, TDS had an abundance of new merchandise and decorations.
More impressive even than the rides at the Tokyo parks are the shows. They almost all utilize a staggering amount of CMs and tend to be much more elaborate than similar shows in the US parks. This becomes even more remarkable when you consider that they change out their shows much more frequently than we do here, with different parades every few months as the seasons change. What this means, is that, for the locals who come regularly, the new shows are the main attraction--and they are willing to wait for them.
Planning Tip #5: Be prepared to wait.
If a new show is out, and there's something like two hours between performances, it is not uncommon for the viewing area line to be full for the second showing before the first one has occurred. For parades and shows that abut general walking areas, they have rules that people can't put mats and blankets down to save places more than an hour ahead of time.
The Anniversary show was called "Be Magical!" What I always find amusing in some of these shows is that they ask the audience to participate by doing hand gestures, pointing, etc at certain times during the performance...but they are actually meticulous enough to have a rehearsal period before the show, in which CMs come out and teach everyone the exact order they want--perhaps thinking that people would not participate if they weren't prepared, for fear of making a mistake.
Here's a great YouTube video someone took of the first ~1/2 of the show:
The show takes place in the Mediterranean Harbor area, with different characters coming out to interact with viewers at several different locations around the water, thus increasing its repeatability. It's a fun show, with a huge amount of characters.
The symbol of the celebration was the Sorcerer Mickey hat--large ones, each themed to their respective land, were placed around the park.
Plastic magical wands were sold in the stores for around $25 which caused some sort of interactivity--lights, music, dialogue--when waved around each hat. The wand lit up a separate light for each hat you visited, and when you had filled up the wand, you returned to the store and received a fairly nice medallion as a reward.
In keeping with the whole Sorcerer Mickey theme, they introduced a new nighttime show this year replacing BraviSEAmo!...Fantasmic. I have to say, I was less than excited when they announced this, given that Fantasmic isn't really a new show for us here. Steve Davison directed a supercharged "Fantasmic 2.0" however, which is really spectacular. It centers around a huge collapsible illuminated hat that is alternately a screen for animation and a stage that expands and contracts with the action.
While the story is pretty much the same and includes a lot of similar elements to the versions with which we're familiar, there are some new structures, such as a circular mirror frame that pours down water for its own projection screen.
Their dragon, while a little more abstract than DL's, has a terrific entrance and exit.
While the show does make an attempt to give everyone something of a view, even floating around huge balloons in areas of the harbor where the water screens aren't visible, my main complaint would be that this is a pretty hard show to see. In what seems to be a developing Davison trademark, if you really want the full effect of all the water screens and close-to-the-water floats, you need to be in a relatively small viewing angle...and you'll be competing with all these people for that space.
After three nights of trying to get a decent view, I finally capitulated and paid to eat dinner at Oceano, one of the restaurants in Miracosta, so that I could watch Fantasmic from the balcony. It wasn't cheap, but the alternative to never get a good look at all, was unattractive.
Besides, Oceano is a gorgeous restaurant in and of itself. It's a buffet, which makes it a great choice if you're interested in trying a bunch of different, sometimes curious foods.
So that was the bulk of TDS' 10th Anniversary events. Given that I was there at MK this year for WDW's 40th Anniversary, one can't help feeling a little like the farmer who showed the ostrich egg to the chickens--"this is just to show you what's being accomplished elsewhere."
Next time: Christmastime at TDL.