So now that we're more or less finished with the holidays, here are some of the differences I noticed between my last visit of two years ago, and now.
The last time I saw the Monsters Inc. attraction at Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) it had just opened and had phenomenally long lines...and that was just for the FP machines. By now, the demand has slowed down a little, but not by much. Since then, the ride was closed, tweaked, and has reopened with a few changes. (Note: I don't speak Japanese, so this is all based more or less on observation and supposition.) Previously, the story behind the ride seemed to be that you were part of the nighttime security team for the Monsters Inc. factory, and you were riding around with your flashlights, checking for intruders, etc. As you shone your flashlight on various areas of the sets around your car, different monsters would pop out or perform specific actions.
Now, it seems as though people might have had difficulty integrating the whole flashlight gimmick, so the new story emphasizes the game of hide-and-seek more strongly, adding helmets that light up when a given monster is activated, and more appearances of Boo and a new ride mascot named "Rocky." While the ride is still amazing in its detailed recreations of the movie environments, it's hard for me not to feel that in a very small way, this continues the recent and ubiquitous trend of remaking rides to appeal to a younger audience.
Another change was the replacement of The Mickey Mouse Revue with Mickey's Philharmagic, lending credence to the sometimes-heard theory that Philharmagic is the next evolutionary step of Revue.
I actually didn't get a chance to see Philharmagic this time, but I was told that the film is identical, with the exception of having been translated into Japanese and being shown on a concave screen, which makes it a little more immersive.
The next change, and one of the only new attractions to me, was the opening of Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall, which took the place of the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour in the castle walk through space.
The old tour was a pretty interesting but slightly confusing tour through a castle showcasing the unsung heroes of the Disney tales--the villains. It was all in Japanese and the CMs would actually hand out pamphlets telling people there was no translation available. There were a lot of pretty good set pieces showing creepy rooms, each with its own villain up to no good inside (why were they all living together? Was it like Big Brother?) The aura of foreboding was only increased by the CM that was guiding you through, who seemed to get progressively more hysterical as the tour went on. The ending was a huge scene with the Black Cauldron's Horned King trying to bring an army of the undead back to life, but invariably being defeated by one of the more heroic guests who ultimately received a nice medallion as a keepsake.
Here's a great video of what this ride used to be like:
Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall...isn't really like that. It actually turns out to be more of an art gallery that Cinderella put together to share her story with everyone. It starts out with a series of wall panels that set up the story's exposition.
It then goes on with several dioramas made of different materials that continue to display her history. Most of these were frankly unattractive, to my eye.
Some were nice, like this one that magically transformed from Hobo Cinderella to Princess Cinderella while you watched.
Ultimately, her story told, you entered another room papered with scenes of her living happily ever after, and even getting crowned, calling back to the poorly received "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True."
So up to this point, I really haven't been terrifically impressed. There is another room however, where you can see a beautiful chandelier, so I figure that maybe there's something really exciting that's going to finish this off.
Not so much, actually. The last room is basically just a collection of photo-ops.
Not gonna lie--this was a little disappointing to me, given how different and elaborate the initial attraction was, and how minimalistic this was. I thought maybe it was just that I was being curmudgeonly, but I did ask others I spoke with in the parks, and the general consensus seemed to be that it looked like a display you might find in a mall.
Finally, over at Tokyo DisneySea, a new outdoor show replaced the older "Over the Waves" at the Dockside Stage in front of the SS Columbia in the New York Harbor area, called "A Table is Waiting."
The storyline is that Mickey brought back different foods from around the globe, which are presented in a typically bizarre musical revue.
There are many good YouTube videos of the show online, however it is a little on the long side, running around thirty minutes.
But the costumes are beautiful and the whole impression is one of such energy and enthusiasm, it doesn't seem long at all when you're watching it.
It's a fun show, and although all the dialogue and probably around half of the singing is in Japanese, the heart of it is slapstick, which is pretty translatable to any language.
So although this certainly doesn't circumscribe all the events of my trip, this finishes up the bulk of what was seasonal or new from the last trip reports we had from this region. If anyone has any questions about travel to TDR, feel free to ask them in the comments section.
My best advice however, is the same as it always is: If you've been wanting to visit and just haven't made the time--GO. Travel is often difficult, time-consuming, and invariably expensive. Obviously, it's probably a bad idea to spend the baby's milk money on a few nights at MiraCosta...but if it's that you're just waiting for the perfect time to go, you could be waiting awhile.
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. " --Ferris Beuller
The previous post in this blog was Geek's Disney Dream Cruise Thoughts & Observations - Part 2.
The next post in this blog is Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - January 29, 2012.