Several members of the AllEars team spent most of March visiting Disney destinations far from home. We visited Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Aulani in Hawaii. Along for all or part or this journey were AllEars' Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lee Zimmerman, Jeanine Yamanaka, Linda Eckwerth, and Deb Koma, and friends Jack and Pete.
Tokyo Disney Resort - Day 2, Part 1, Tokyo Disneyland
We wake up to a beautiful morning at Tokyo Disneyland - blue sky and sunshine - and 42 degrees. Oh well, can't have everything, and after four cloudy days I'm ready for some sunshine.
We got up at 7:00 and breakfasted off the yogurt and pastries we'd purchased the previous night. We used the hot water pot to brew the instant coffee and tea - the tea was micro-powdered instant green tea and not tea bags. I thought it was really bad. I don't think Lee complained about the coffee, though.
We had been using a phone app called "whatsapp" to coordinate with our group during our trip - it let us send "text messages", but using cell data and not SMS. This morning except for Jeanine we were all meeting in the Disneyland Hotel Lobby at 8:00, then walking to our special park entrance, which was, oh, maybe 200 yards from the lobby exit. :-)
"Early Entry" only got us a 15-minute start on the regular day guests - we got in at 8:15 and the park opened at 8:30. Our plan was to get inside the park and send a runner to get Monsters, Inc Fastpasses, while the rest of us went to the standby line for Pooh's Hunny Hunt before it got insanely long.
We had to give the gate attendants the Early Entry ticket we'd been given at check-in, and then run our park passes through the turnstiles. They use the same ticket scanning machines as WDW but without the finger biometric (they still use hand stamps to check for park re-entry). We all gave our tickets to Jack and he took off - and we told Deb and Linda that they could not stop to take photos on the way in - we HAD to get to the Pooh ride!
Good plan, except that we couldn't yet get to Fantasyland - they were holding us at the hub until park opening at 8:30. Jack was still able to get to Tomorrowland to get Monsters, Inc Fastpasses, though. It gave us time to take pictures of the castle, and enjoy that "we're really here!" moment.
Once the park opened we went to Pooh's Hunny Hunt - but it wasn't open yet! The cast members didn't speak enough English to explain it to us, but we found some Japanese school girls who were able to tell us "maintenance". The Fastpass machines were still distributing Fastpasses, though, so that was a sign that they didn't expect it to be down for long. But we couldn't yet get one since we had the one for Monsters, Inc. So NOW what? We didn't have a plan beyond that!
We went to Peter Pan, which was still almost a walk-on. (That wasn't going to last very long.) It was not noticeably different to me.
Then we went to Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion is in Fantasyland (really?) in Tokyo Disneyland. It was more like the one in Florida, but didn't have all of the special features in the queue, and the end had just the standard hitchhiking ghosts. There was something that was different about it (apart from the Japanese dialog!) but now I don't remember what. The ghost host dialog was in Japanese, but Madam Leota spoke in English, and I think the "Grim Grinning Ghosts" song in the graveyard was in English.
Runner Jack took off after that to get us Fastpasses for Pooh's Hunny Hunt, and then met us in Tomorrowland at the new Monsters, Inc Ride & Go Seek attraction.
While we were waiting for him Deb did some shopping...we'd already noticed that one of the things that was very popular in Tokyo Disneyland was wacky hats. BIG hats that covered the entire head and went down under the chin. There was the Big Bad Wolf, Hamm, Rex and others, but the one that had caught Deb's eye was Sulley. This one, in addition to the head, had an attached scarf with monster paw mittens on the ends. Deb bought it and it looked really good - and she said that it was nice and warm, too! It was still in the 40s (I think the high was 47 that day). I was really glad I'd worn my gloves in addition to my heavy jacket and fleece headband.
By then the crowds were starting to build. When we'd planned our trip we thought we were scheduling it for a lighter crowd time of year (based on the hotel rates), but it turned out that we had arrived just after their school term had ended, so pretty much all the schools were on vacation for a month. The parks were very crowded with school kids (mostly teenagers) many of whom were wearing their school uniforms. So they were on a school trip even though they weren't in school. And there were lots of other kids who were just there on vacation.
Lee and I were actually fortunate that we'd missed the day at Tokyo DisneySea the day before - the rest of our group described being in crowds where they could barely move, where three+ hour lines were the norm, and even food lines were 30-60 minutes long!
The rest of the week was not that bad, but we commonly saw standby lines of 120-180 minutes for the e-ticket type attractions, and food lines continued to be pretty long. We learned to eat early: 10:30-11:00 for lunch and not later than 5:00 for dinner. And the snack lines were ridiculous...there were all kinds of interesting snacks that I would've liked to have tried, but the lines were always 20-50 people long! Flavored popcorns are really big over there, but we rarely saw one of those lines that was less than 10 people, and when it was, it was for one of the more mundane varieties such as caramel corn. (They had flavors like chocolate, black pepper, soy, honey, apple cinnamon, and curry.)
But despite all of the lines and crowds...everyone was incredibly cheerful. The kids were just thrilled to be there - they were very enthusiastic and obviously loving their experience - and they were also very well-behaved. Sad to say, but here we're pretty used to seeing the jaded, sullen, "I don't want to be here" teenagers, and it was really fun to see all of these kids so full of joy, and having so much fun, and just happy to be there. It was like a dream come true to most of them. No complaining about standing in long lines - they just dealt with it.
So...where was I?
Oh yes...Monsters, Inc. Where we all had a Fastpass, and the standby line was over an hour long. Maybe more. "Ride & Go Seek" is a dark ride much like the "Monsters, Inc" attraction at Disney California Adventure - many of the scenes and animatronics are similar. What is different is that guests have flashlights in their vehicles, and shining the flashlights on the Monster's Inc. "M" logo that you see throughout the ride causes other effects - different characters might pop up, or there's certain sounds or other visuals.
It was fun, but it didn't impress me...and we were so busy using the flashlights that we really didn't get the chance to enjoy the ride. Though since it's a lot like the DCA version, I'm not sure what more there was to see. The vehicles were a single row, rather than multiple rows...though that reminds me: the vehicles were labled with a capacity of "3 humans". But they weren't talking American-sized humans! There's no way three even average American adults would fit. Lee and I had sufficient room side-to-side, but our knees were very cramped, and we had to enter and exit facing sideways. We noticed the "compact vehicles" on many of the Tokyo attractions.
Monsters, Inc. was in Tomorrowland. From there we all went back over to the "Main Street" area, which we had hurried through when we'd arrived earlier.
In Tokyo Disneyland this area is called the "World Bazaar", and it's covered! It looks like it's contained in a huge greenhouse.
The buildings themselves look similar to those on Main Street USA, though they are more decorated - quite a few of them have large character statues over their entrances, like Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland. I found the windows for Walt Disney and Roy Disney.
Tokyo Disneyland has been celebrating its 30th year - "The Happiness Year". That celebration is supposed to conclude at the end of April, I think, so we were at the tail end of it. Because of the celebration, there were lots of decorations, for example at the park entrance and in the Bazaar and on the castle and on banners throughout the park.
The main design featured a big "30" and lots of balloons and characters in gold-colored costumers. I liked the look - way better than that awful "cake castle" they did for WDW's 25th.
So, we wandered through the World Bazaar and looked at the decorations on our way over to their version of New Orleans Square where we rode Pirates of the Caribbean. It was a longer version, with the extra scenes like the one at Disneyland, and the rooms seemed a lot bigger. But it only had one drop, and, like at Magic Kingdom, we were dropped off underground rather than riding the boat all the way back to the loading dock like we do at Disneyland. It also had the Jack Sparrow figures in it.
The Tokyo Pirates attraction also has a Blue Bayou restaurant attached to it. We didn't eat there, but some of our group did - though come to think of it I never heard from anyone what they thought about it.
We all went through Adventureland on our way to Westernland where we boarded the Western River Railroad. Because of Japan's rules about railroads, their railroad can't go all the way around the park, so instead goes around just the Frontierland, Critter Country, and Adventureland areas. Which is a pretty good-sized area, and large enough that we saw the Rivers of America, including the riverboat and the Indian village.
There were also "deer" and other wildlife, Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain and we also went through a primeval world diorama, similar to the one at Disneyland, though with better dinosaur animatronics.
We were all together now and we caught up with Masayo and her husband Mamoru. They live in Japan, and had come to Tokyo to spend several days in the parks with us. They'd been with the rest of the group the day before, but this was the first opportunity Lee and I had to see them. I'd seen Masayo a number of times before, both at WDW and on Disney cruise ships - but this was the first time I'd met her husband, who is also very nice. Since they weren't staying on property they didn't have early entry, and we hadn't been able to coordinate Fastpass times or attraction meet points until now.
Our next attraction was one I'd been looking forward to - the Enchanted Tiki Room, but with a show featuring Stitch, called "Stitch Presents Aloha E Komo Mai!" It starts off mostly like the classic Tiki Birds show, but some strange glitches start to happen, which it turns out are due to Stitch, because he wants to be a part of the show. And he performs an Elvis number. It was very cute - so much better than that "Under New Management" farce they had in Florida for way too long. I wouldn't mind seeing the Stitch version in California or Florida. Though there's something about the classic "Enchanted Tiki Room" show that's very charming, and why mess with it?
Our runners had gone off to get Big Thunder Mtn Railroad Fastpasses - this was at about 11:00, and the Fastpasses had a 7:05 return time! Wow. BTMRR is apparently much more popular in Tokyo than in Florida or California.
BTW...for the attractions we'd done so far we'd had very minimal waits...I think 15 minutes for the railroad had been the longest. But we weren't doing the real popular attractions, except with Fastpass.
Next was Country Bear Playhouse. It was the classic Country Bear show, though at the appropriate times of year they also perform the Vacation Hoedown show and the Christmas show. The dialog in was in Japanese, but a lot of the songs were in English, including Big Al singing "Blood on the Saddle." :-) That was as popular as it is here. :-)
Here are a few excerpts from the show:
It was finally time that we could use our "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" Fastpasses. I'd heard so much about this ride, and was eager to finally experience it. The standby line was over two hours, but of course we bypassed most of that.
The standby and Fastpass lines joined up just before the interior queue, where we went into something that was like Christopher Robin's family's shed or garage. His bike was in there, and a kite, and a map of the 100 Acre Wood. Then we went into the pages of the book - sort of like at Magic Kingdom, except the pages were the walls of the queue where we could touch them, or pose for photos with the illustrations.
When the six of us arrived at the attraction loading area, they wanted to put us in three and three - we looked at the vehicles and said "Uh...no". The front seat was for only two passengers anyway, and the back seat really wasn't big enough for three unless one of them was a child.
Lee and I ended up in a front seat, and away we went! This one also uses the trackless vehicles like we had experienced in Mystic Manor in Hong Kong. The opening scene in the attraction is kind of a tour of the 100 Acre Wood and the homes of some of the characters. Like Mystic Manor, the vehicles (which are shaped like hunny pots) travel in groups of four, all with a slightly different perspective and a more close-up view of some homes than others.
When you meet Tigger, the hunny pot actually bounces! Way better than at Magic Kingdom (and at Disneyland they don't bounce at all).
In the Heffalumps and Woozles scene, a hunny pot with heffalumps and woozles in it comes out from the side to move around playfully with the other hunny pots! This is a very large room with a lot going on, a lot of movement, and the vehicles spend over a minute just in that room. Again, depending on your hunny pot, you'll get a slightly different view of things in the room. (Though what is it with putting cannons with lit fuses in these trackless rides - there's one in Mystic Manor, and one in the Heffalumps room, too!)
The hunny pots move a lot in this ride - meandering around the rooms, spinning around, moving backward - and sometimes they move very quickly! I was not as aware of the movement on Mystic Manor as I was here - not that the movement bothered me, just that I was focusing more on the visuals there, rather than the motions, I guess.
Pooh's Hunny Hunt was so much fun! We all came off smiling. Had we not already experienced Mystic Manor we would have been even more excited about it, but Mystic Manor has raised the bar on this technology, so it was more impressive than Pooh's Hunny Hunt. But don't get me wrong: I still really enjoyed it, and wanted to do it again! (But I did not want to wait 120 minutes for it.)
By then it was lunch time...and since this portion of my trip report is already pretty long I think this is a good place to stop for now.
Coming next: More Tokyo Disneyland, including the afternoon parade and the Electrical Parade.
The previous post in this blog was Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/20/14.
The next post in this blog is E3 2014: Bring on the Games (Part 2).