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July 7, 2014

Tokyo Disney Resort Part 8

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

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 6, Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo Disney Resort

We were up about 7:00, and had our usual yogurt/pastry breakfast. The storm was over but it was an overcast day. The temperature was in the high 40s. Downright balmy. :-)

After breakfast it was time to start packing in earnest. I had plenty of room in my suitcase still, but I knew the weight was going to be an issue. I gave a few things to Lee (some of it was for his family and co-workers anyway) and packed the heavy stuff in my new shopping bag. Good thing it was a heavy-duty bag, since it weighed 15-20 pounds.

I'd asked the front desk about luggage storage, and they told us to call Bell Services and someone would come up to the room to get it - but it sounded like one of us had to be there when they came. So I went down to the lobby to check out (no express check-out), while Lee waited for the bellhop.

It was all fairly painless (other than the hotel bill). I've never paid hundreds of thousands for anything before. But somehow it doesn't seem so bad in foreign currency... :-)

By 8:55 we were on the monorail headed to Tokyo DisneySea - Lee had purchased our one-day tickets the night before. The monorail goes by a big parking lot, which was empty. When we'd ridden it the day before I'd noticed that someone had set up the orange cones to read: "30", so I was looking for that, and this time I was able to get a photo of it.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Because the park had been open for an hour there were NO lines at the turnstiles and we walked right in. The Tokyo DisneySea marching band was performing just beyond that, and we enjoyed watching them finish their set. There were a couple of women in their band, and that was nice to see. Lots of choreography and good band music.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We went to the lobby of the Miracosta where we met up with Deb, Linda and Jack - it was the first time Lee and I had been in the Miracosta. It doesn't have nearly as grand a lobby as the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. And it's more of a Venetian theme, so it has a much different look. However, it does have an entrance right into TDS...

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort

Jack and Pete were leaving late that morning so they had been busy packing, but Jack took us up to their room so we could see what it looked like. Their room looked over one of the Venetian "canals", so we could see gondolas.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The room was very nice, but I liked ours at the Disneyland Hotel better - it seemed like ours was larger. I was glad we'd chosen to stay where we did (it saved us money, too - the Miracosta was significantly more).

We said our good byes to Jack and Pete...that was hard. We'd had such a great 10 days! They were headed to Disneyland in California, and then back to their respective homes in New York.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Lee and I went back into TDS and just wandered around the Mediterranean Harbor and American Waterfront areas.

Tokyo Disney Resort

When we went through Cape Cod (home town of Duffy the Disney Bear!), Lee saw a sign for a hot berry tea beverage and he wanted to try it. When he got it, I pointed out that the cup had a picture of Duffy on it...he had been Duffy-ilated! Resistance is futile!

Tokyo Disney Resort

Even though it was Friday the park didn't seem as crowded as it had the rest of the week - but that only meant that standby lines were 90 minutes instead of 120+. :-)

Tokyo Disney Resort

It was about 10:30 and we were ready for our early lunch. I'd seen the Horizons restaurant in Port Discovery and thought it looked interesting. Their menu featured shrimp tempura and pork cutlets - it looked good. We got the "set" which included rice and choice of soup, as well as dessert and beverage. Kirin apple tea was available, so we were able to have that one last time! They didn't seem to be big on vegetables in Japan - both our entrees were accompanied by one floret of broccoli and one of cauliflower.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Deb and Linda joined us partway through...it turned out that Deb and Lee both had the pork cutlet (above) and Linda and I both had the shrimp tempura (below). We were all happy with our meals, I think, and we enjoyed spending some time together.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We said goodbye to Deb and Linda for now - but we'd see them at Aulani in a couple of days. We continued wandering around the park, and visited the Lost River Delta again. The standby line for Raging Spirits was "only" 110 minutes, and Indy was 90. Practically walk-ons. :-) Really, the park was noticeably less crowded than it had been on our previous two visits. Though the lines at the snack kiosks were still quite long.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We took a last voyage with Sindbad and Chandu - by far my favorite attraction at TDS.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Next we took the Disney Transit Steamer from the Mediterranean Harbor to the Lost River Delta. There are waterways that connect the various ports in the park, and small steamers that travel between three different ports. But all passengers must disembark at each stop, so you can't stay on board for a round trip. On the day we were there they were only running steamers between the Mediterranean Harbor and Lost River Delta - there's also a port at the American Waterfront.

Tokyo Disney Resort

While we were on board we saw the volcano erupt. It does that multiple times a day, but there didn't seem to be any particular schedule that we could find. Lots of fire and flames and smoke.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We watched Mythica again, this time from a spot closer to the water. The volcano was in the background, and that's probably the best viewing point we had for seeing the floats, but we weren't next to one of the docking areas where we could see the characters and dancers...though that wasn't a big deal to us.

Tokyo Disney Resort

It was a cloudy day, so we didn't have the nice blue sky in the background and the pictures aren't as pretty. But the winds were calmer so we saw the kites, which we hadn't seen the previous two times. It's a pretty impressive spectacle - it was probably Lee's favorite thing in Tokyo.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We were keeping an eye on the time since we had to get back to the hotel to catch our bus to the airport - we didn't have enough time to do any attractions, and we weren't really interested in shopping. Besides, if we'd bought something we'd have to find a way to carry it home! :-) But we still had sad faces when it was time to leave. :-(

Tokyo Disney Resort

Getting back to the hotel on the monorail was very fast. We still had plenty of time before the bus. Deb had told me about the Cinderella-themed convention areas in the Disneyland Hotel so we checked that out. Lots of beautiful paintings of Cinderella and her prince.

Tokyo Disney Resort

And there was a large china cabinet, where several of Cinderella's mice peeked out of the cups. It was a lovely area.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Our bus was supposed to leave at 5:00, and we went outside to the bus stop. The bellhops came out with our luggage on a cart, and told us the bus would be late - it was about 30 minutes late. But we had plenty of time, so it wasn't a problem. We hadn't actually looked around at the front of the hotel at all, so we had a chance to do that - there's a large fountain at the entrance.

Tokyo Disney Resort

I think it was closer to 6:00 by the time we left. On a Friday afternoon heading towards Tokyo I thought there might be traffic, but it took less time than it had on Sunday.

I'd used frequent flyer miles to book business class from Tokyo to San Diego, so getting checked in was really easy - though even if we'd been traveling coach there weren't any lines at check in! We got through Immigration and Security with no problems - the airport actually seemed pretty empty.

On the other side we found a noodle place and enjoyed one final Japanese meal, before going to the KAL lounge to hang out while we waited for our flight.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We were flying to San Diego via Honolulu. I was surprised to see that most of the people waiting for our flight were Americans and not Japanese - it was more Americans than I'd seen since we left San Francisco 10 days before!

The plane was a 747, and we were on the upper deck - I'd never flown on a 747 before, so that was pretty exciting. The seats reclined almost flat - enough that I could sleep on my side. They served dinner after we took off, but I was more interested in sleeping. Lee had dinner, though. I was actually pretty comfortable and slept for several hours, though I woke up once it started getting light outside - which was about five hours into our seven hour flight. I watched a movie and they fed us a small breakfast.

We left Tokyo at 9:20 p.m. on Friday, and landed in Honolulu at 9:20 a.m. on Friday. So March 14 was like Groundhog Day for us - we got to live it twice. :-)

Tokyo Disney Resort

Coming Next: Aulani!

July 2, 2014

Tokyo Disney Resort Part 6

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

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 4, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo Disney Resort

Just after 1:00 in the morning we were awakened by an earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale. Just after that my iPhone started freaking out as everyone got on "whatsapp" to talk about the earthquake. The non-Californians in our group were a little bit freaked out by it. :-) Though you have to realize that the previous day had been the third anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, so that was in everyone's mind. We reassured them, and went back to sleep.

Despite the earthquake and our long day in TDS the day before, we woke up pretty early on Wednesday morning.

We had gone to the store when we returned the previous night but the shelves had practically been vacuumed clean...no yogurt, fruit, sandwiches, pastries or anything remotely breakfast-like. So that meant we didn't have anything in our room to eat for breakfast...

We went down to the Sherwood Garden restaurant in the hotel and Deb and Linda met us there. This was a buffet. The hotel clientele is mostly Japanese, so a lot of the food selections were quite unfamiliar to us - noodles and seafood and other things that I don't remember but seemed odd to me. Even the western-style dishes were different - none of us would even try the eggs. :-) They were very moist and looked barely cooked. The pancakes were quite small - not much larger than "silver dollar" size, and then they were only serving two at a time! The pastries were very good, though. I don't remember the price, but it was expensive, especially considering I didn't eat a whole lot. And it was not a character meal.

Tokyo Disney Resort

When we got outside it was another day in the 40s, but still sunny and mostly clear. Lee and I still managed to make it into Tokyo Disneyland during our 15-minute "early entry" period. Since we knew we'd be held at the hub we took advantage of there being hardly anyone in the park, and took photos inside the park entrance and the World Bazaar.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Once the park opened we power walked to Pooh's Hunny Hunt - and this time the queue was open - yay!!! We got inside to where we could see the loading zone - there were maybe 30 people in front of us - and the ilne stopped. And we waited...they weren't loading anyone. After 10 minutes or so they opened a side door and escorted us all out of the attraction. :-( But they gave us a "priority pass" that was good for ANY ride in either TDL or TDS, with the exception of Toy Story Mania and Star Tours (really???). Once outside we got a Fastpass for Pooh's Hunny Hunt, and hoped it would be running again by the time our Fastpass became valid (just over an hour away).

We decided to hit the standby line for Big Thunder Mountain. It extended back into Westernland, but it appeared they were still filling the queue so we got into it. It moved almost continuously, but we were still in line for about 35 minutes - longer than I thought it would take, but that was ok..

Tokyo Disney Resort

The ride looks a lot like the one at Disneyland, though the colors are a little bit deeper. I thought the special effects, like the earthquake, were better. And the ride itself seemed a little better - I couldn't tell you how it was different, but it seemed a little more thrilling and fun. Or maybe that's because we were on it with a whole lot of very enthusiastic young Japanese kids and their enjoyment was infectious. :-)

Tokyo Disney Resort

We checked back in at Pooh's Hunny Hunt and it was running, so we were able to use our Fastpasses! I still really enjoy that attraction - it's just so much fun. We were in a different hunny pot this time, so had a slightly different view than we'd had the first time - and we were directly in the line of fire when the woozles lit the fuse on the cannon...

Tokyo Disney Resort

Lee was not fond of my next decision - we hadn't been in Toontown yet, so I told him we needed to visit there. :-) It was somewhat reminiscent of the one at Disneyland, both in the look and in the types of interactive things there were to do. And attractions, too: Gadget's Go Coaster, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and all of the characters' houses and meet and greet spots. The lines and crowds for the meet and greets were insane! Those were the worst crowds we'd seen all week - we could hardly move. We couldn't get out of there fast enough!

We ran into Deb and Linda and had a quick visit with them - I think they were waiting for a Fastpass to be active.

Tokyo Disney Resort

On Monday we'd noticed a Japanese restaurant on Main Street. Since it was almost 11:00 we thought we'd try to get in for an early lunch. It's called Restaurant Hokusai. Although the entrance is right on Main Street the restaurant itself is upstairs. It's quite large and takes up most of the second floor above a number of the shops. We had a short wait downstairs before being seated upstairs at a window table.

Tokyo Disney Resort

If not for the lacy window covering (which I couldn't move out of the way as it was attached to the window sill) we would've had a very nice view of Cinderella Castle.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Lee ordered the Tempura Set - with shrimp and vegetable tempura, pickled vegetables, rice, and choice of hot or chilled udon.

Tokyo Disney Resort

I had the Shrimp Tempura Udon Set, which was hot udon with shrimp tempura, fish cake, chicken dumpling and shiitake, and served with inari and pickled vegetables. And an unusually-shaped piece of carrot. :-)

Tokyo Disney Resort

We were served hot tea which was refilled multiple times. We both really enjoyed our meals - I was glad that this time the food was hot enough. :-) Since it was a Japanese place they only gave us chopsticks, and I also had a wooden soup spoon that was more like a ladle. I had some difficulty with all of that (I've never had much luck learning to eat with chopsticks), but I managed. I thought the price was quite reasonable for a table service meal: about $16 for mine and $18 for his, plus a 10% service charge.

Our timing was good - when we walked out the line was out the door, probably at least a 20 minute wait for a table.

We did some shopping...we'd been warned before the trip that we wouldn't find a lot of park specific merchandise like t-shirts and hats in Tokyo, and that proved to be the case. We saw just a few generic character t-shirts, and only two park t-shirts. Both of them were 30th anniversary shirts, and were only available in 2XL and 3XL sizes. And even those we only found in one shop. While there were plenty of funny hats, we didn't see anything like baseball caps or visors. What IS very popular is packaged food gifts, like cookies and candy, since apparently the Asians bring lots of food gifts back home to friends and family. There was a huge variety of those, and they came in a lot of different boxes and tins of various designs. I had a hard time choosing which ones to buy.

On the way out of the park we ran into Jack and Pete, who had also been shopping. They reminded us about picking up "story papers". These are available for some attractions - a small sheet of paper with a description (in English) of an attraction's story or narration. These are available at the attractions (we'd received them for Storm Rider the day before), but if you go to Guest Relations they'll give you the entire set for the park. So we went to pick up the set for Tokyo Disneyland.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We made a quick stop back at our room to drop things off, and then took the monorail to Tokyo Disney Sea.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Since it was after noon there was almost no one going into the park - they were already in it! :-) I was surprised to see the Walt and Mickey "Storytellers" statue just inside the entrance turnstiles. It's just like the one on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure. I was also surprised that no one was lined up to take their photo with it.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We weren't in a hurry, so were just going to stroll through the park and enjoy it. Along one side of the Mediterranean Harbor is a raised walkway that goes by what looks like some Roman ruins with columns and rock work - there were some cherry trees blooming there and it was very pretty.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We went back to the Arabian Coast - and Sindbad's Storybook Voyage was open! We had no idea what this attraction was at all, but we walked inside and discovered that there was almost no line, and that it was a boat ride like Pirates or "small world". So we boarded and went for a cruise...

Tokyo Disney Resort

I LOVED it. So did Lee. This was absolutely adorable, and was my favorite attraction at the Tokyo parks. It's kind of like "small world" with a storyline, and more sophisticated animatronics. It starts off with Sindbad and Chandu, his adorable tiger cub sidekick (and you know I'm a sucker for cute tigers), heading off in Sindbad's ship, I guess to seek their fortune.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Along the way we find out that Sindbad is apparently the world's first Boy Scout, as he rescues giant bird chicks from robbers, and frees a giant (who looks like Shrek) and brings music to monkeys (I'm not quite sure why that last part was so important). In return for his good deeds his ship is loaded with treasure, magical bird feathers, and bananas, and he returns home triumphant.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort

The music was by Alan Menken - the main theme is called "Compass of Your Heart", and it was wonderful. Most of it was in Japanese, but the phrase "Compass of Your Heart" was in English. The translation of the chorus is: "Life is an adventure, although there is no map. Seek the treasure and believe in the compass of your heart." Dialog was in Japanese, but I was surprised that all of the banners in the attraction, like: "May Fortune be With You", "Safe Journey, Sindbad", "Welcome Home, Sindbad", were in English.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The animatronics had a very different look - they did not go for a life-like look like in Pirates, so these were more cartoonish - and I don't mean that in a negative way. They had disproportionately large heads, with somewhat angular features, and very large expressive eyes. They blinked, moved side-to-side, and the eyebrows went up and down. And of course the mouths and hands and bodies moved. They reminded me somewhat of the stop-motion animation from the old "Little Drummer Boy" special, but far more sophisticated. We were just so impressed by this attraction and how well-done and utterly entertaining and enchanting it was. Thinking about it still makes me smile.

Here's a video that Jack Spence put together when he visited TDS in 2010:

Did I mention that we loved it? EVERYONE did!

Tokyo Disney Resort

We thought we could catch part of Mythica again so we went back through Mysterious Island to the Fortress, where we were able to watch the last 15 minutes from the top of the Fortress. It gave us a much different view than we'd had the previous day when we were closer to the water. This gave us a better overview of everything, and we had the Miracosta hotel as a nice backdrop.

Tokyo Disney Resort

I really like the phoenix, but I'm not sure why he looks so ticked off compared to the other mythical creatures. :-)

Tokyo Disney Resort

But maybe that's why he flames.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Lee wanted to use our Priority Passes for Journey to the Center of the Earth (I thought that was a waste of them, but I indulged him). This time I asked to sit in the front of the vehicle, since we had been in the back the first time. It was marginally better - but I still don't think it's worth waiting more than 20 minutes for this ride.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We went back to Arabian Coast to ride Sindbad's Storybook Voyage again and noticed details we'd missed the first time. And then we went to the Agrabah Marketplace to buy our own Chandu. :-) (Though now Tigger wants a turban like Chandu's.)

Tokyo Disney Resort

We wandered around the park a bit more, took some pictures, and picked up the Story Papers for TDS.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We took the monorail back to TDL and went back inside to get a Fastpass for Space Mountain. It was a little after 4:00, so I was kind of surprised there were any left, but we had a return time of 8:20.

In Tomorrowland we passed a snack kiosk that actually DIDN'T have a huge line - they were selling steamed buns with BBQ pork inside. We got one and split it, and it was pretty good.

Tokyo Disney Resort

But we were still hungry, and it was time for our early dinner. We went to the "Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall" in Fantasyland. The one that had the hour-long wait on Monday. Well, this time we walked right into it. Oh. My. What INCREDIBLE theming for a buffeteria type of restaurant! Now I understand why people really want to go to this place. When we walked in I noticed that all over there are life-size figures of the card soldiers - standing guard, painting roses, etc. Above the entrance to the actual cafeteria line are the king and queen of hearts.

Tokyo Disney Resort

In the seating areas I saw the Cheshire Cat and Alice, and lots of flowers. The lighting is great - it's like twilight inside, so there's a nice glow from the lights inside the flowers. Really well done - I was quite impressed. It was much more like a very nice table service restaurant than a buffeteria. Once we had our food we were escorted to a table instead of having to hunt for one.

The food...it didn't really live up to the atmosphere. :-) It was fine, but not great. It was more western-style foods like steak, grilled fish, and rotisserie chicken. I had the swordfish, which was just ok. It came with two (2) pieces of broccoli.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Lee had the flank steak with gravy, with one piece of broccoli and one of cauliflower. And it was rare. The best thing about my dinner was the beverage - we both ordered the Kirin Apple Tea. It was really good! A hint of tea, plus the apple flavor, but not overly sweet. I really enjoyed it - I wish I'd discovered it earlier in the week!

Tokyo Disney Resort

We didn't order dessert, but many of the desserts came with a souvenir plate or teacup that was made of china...very nice. When we walked out of the restaurant there was a line - not an hour wait, but considering how long it took us to get through the line when we only had 10 people in front of us, it was going to be a while...

Since it was 5:30 or so and we didn't have any plans until the Electrical Parade at 7:30 we actually went back to our hotel room for a while. It wasn't quite as cold as it had been the evening before, but we still didn't feel like hanging around, and knew we'd want to add some additional layers before the nighttime activities.

One thing about our hotel that I haven't mentioned...when we booked it, we saw that it offered free internet service - but what we didn't realize until we arrived was that it wasn't wireless internet! It actually required a device we could plug a cable into. And all we'd brought were iPhones and iPads. That meant very little internet connectivity for us while in Tokyo. We had the cellular data plan that we'd purchased, but that wouldn't go very far (and in fact Lee was already on his second increment). So we were pretty disappointed about the hotel situation. Most of our fellow travelers were smarter than we were, and had rented a MiFi type device at the airport to use - I think it was about $10/day for unlimited data. Pretty easy - they supplied a prepaid mailing envelope for its return.

We relaxed in our room for a while before putting on warmer clothes and going back into Tokyo Disneyland to see the Electrical Parade again. We watched it from the same spot, and Lee got us a couple of hot chocolates to enjoy before it started. Deb and Linda met us there - they hadn't yet seen the parade.

Tokyo Disney Resort

It was just as good the second time, and Deb and Linda were as wowed by it as we had been. :-)

Tokyo Disney Resort

After the parade we went into Tomorrowland to use our Space Mountain Fastpasses. Now I'm trying to remember how Tokyo is different from Hong Kong and California...I think it's the same cars and track as California but it doesn't have the music.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We enjoyed our ride on Space Mountain. The fireworks had been canceled (again - of the four nights we'd been there they'd only gone off once!), and we went back to our hotel. The next day we were doing a bus tour, and we had to get ourselves to downtown Tokyo by 9:00.


Coming Next: Sightseeing in Kamakura and Yokohama, and the excitement of navigating Japan's railway system...

June 30, 2014

Tokyo DisneySea - Part 5

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

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 3, Part 2, Tokyo DisneySea

Konichiwa!

Tokyo DisneySea

It's still Tuesday, and we're still touring around TDS...it's time for us to use our Fastpass for the Indiana Jones ride.

Tokyo DisneySea

From Port Discovery we crossed the bridge to the Lost River Delta. A seaplane had been pulled up onto the riverbank - it had a familiar tail number: C-3PO. :-)

Tokyo DisneySea

The Lost River Delta has a "jungles of the Yucatan peninsula" feel to it. Lots of temple ruins that look like they came out of Central or South America. The two attractions are Raging Spirits, which we had already done (and were not impressed by), and the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. Which we had a Fastpass for, so we didn't have to wait in the 2+ hour standby line...

Tokyo DisneySea

This has a really elaborate, well-done queue. Even with a Fastpass we went through most of the interior queue, though we were walking through it and not waiting in line like those in the standby lines next to us. While most of the queue at the Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland is there just to get you beyond the berm to the actual show area, this one spends more time inside the temple with more of an opportunity to look at the art and artifacts in it.

Tokyo DisneySea

Instead of Sallah giving the safety spiel, it's Paco who instructs us to fasten our seat belts and not look at the eyes of the idol.

The ride is the same as that at Disneyland, though the interior is decorated differently to reflect a South American god instead of an Asian god. But it still has all of the same elements, like the large room with bridges, flames, and the huge face of the idol. And the snake...why did it have to be snakes? Plus the darts and of course the rock.

I still think this particular type of attraction is one of the best things Disney has ever done, so we enjoyed it - our favorite TDS attraction thus far.

Tokyo DisneySea

Raging Spirits standby line was up to 160 minutes by this time.

One of the snack carts in this area sold smoked turkey legs....HUUUUUGE line. Not 160 minutes, but probably at least 30!

We circled back to the Arabian Coast area to find that Sindbad was still down. "Sultan" Stitch was out greeting guests, and so was a female pink version of Stitch, wearing a sort of harem headdress and veil. We had no idea who that was but I have since found out that her name is Angel, and she's Stitch's love interest. She was as popular as Stitch - they both had pretty long lines of guests waiting.


Tokyo DisneySea

We went back into the walled city and got in line for the Magic Lamp show. It was about 20 minutes before we went inside. Unfortunately no translation device was offered, and we didn't know to ask for one, so I really have very little idea of what went on. :-) There were special effects and a live magic show - the audience laughed a lot so the dialog must have been funny. Later in the day the queue was 60 minutes.

Tokyo DisneySea

Since we'd had an early lunch we were ready for a snack. Of course most of the snack carts had enormous lines, but we went into the Vulcania restaurant in Mysterious Island (it was about 1:30), which didn't have much of a line. This is built "inside" the volcanic caves, so the walls and ceiling look like lava. Very realistic.

Tokyo DisneySea

I had egg rolls and corn soup.

Tokyo DisneySea

Lee had a tempura, beef, and noodle dish. It was all pretty good.

Tokyo DisneySea

From whatsapp we knew the rest of our group was at the Mediterranean Harbor where they had a spot on the Lido Isle for "The Legend of Mythica" water show that started at 2:30. There was still plenty of room for us, since it was still almost 30 minutes until the show started.

We compared notes on what we'd all been up to...Deb and Linda had been almost to the boarding area of Sindbad when it went down. Lee and I had by far done more attractions that day than anyone else. :-) But they told us that the crowds were half what they had been on Sunday. Yikes. I'm glad we missed that.

Tokyo DisneySea

Mythica was quite spectacular. A series of absolutely beautiful floats (that really DID float) that over the course of the next 40 minutes circled around the Mediterranean Harbor in BOTH directions so that everyone could get a good view. The main float in the middle also had fountains and a big platform in the middle that rose up.

Tokyo DisneySea

Mickey was on the main float and other Disney characters were on five of the other floats - each of them stopped at a different place around the harbor where the characters and dancers got off and performed a show. That was the only aspect of Mythica where it mattered where you were. (And some people lined up at particular spots early to see their favorite character - though I didn't see anyone waiting six hours early!) There were also jet skiers powering around in various formations.

Tokyo DisneySea

Towards the end four new floats joined in - these depicted mythological beasts: a winged unicorn, hydra, dragon, and phoenix. These were seriously gorgeous floats. Jaw-dropping. The phoenix even flamed. Wow. The music was wonderful too.

Water is a harsh environment, especially this close to the ocean, and this parade has been running since 2006, but you wouldn't know that from looking at the floats - they looked NEW.

First the Electrical Parade, and now Mythica. Tokyo Disney definitely excels at the whole "spectacular" thing. Well, except for the fireworks. :-)

We'd gotten a little chilled while waiting for and watching the show. Pete suggested the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge on the SS Columbia. Very masculine, men's club look inside, but it was very nice. Our group started with Linda, Pete, Lee, and me, but eventually Jeanine, Deb, Masayo, and Mamoru joined us, too! We were overflowing the booth. And it was nice and warm in there - we weren't in a hurry to leave. Lee had some kind of non-Bud Light beer, I had a glass of champagne. (Though what I really wanted was more of that hot wine!)

Tokyo DisneySea

Masayo and Mamoru were headed home, and I think just about everyone else headed to their respective hotel rooms - except Jeanine who was going to one of the shows. Linda and Deb had recommended the "Mystic Rhythms" show, and there was one starting in about 10 minutes, so Lee and I power walked to the Hangar Stage at the Lost River Delta. We got in just before they closed the doors - our seats were over on the side about halfway down, but at least the theater was enclosed and we were inside where it was warmer.

Tokyo DisneySea

This was sort of a Cirque-du-Soleil type of show. It was set in a rainforest with lots of acrobats and dancers representing animals and birds. Very artistic and interpretive. Or as we call it: "very French". :-) It was a good show - just not really what I was in the mood for at the time.

Tokyo DisneySea

It had been a long day and we were tired and cold, but we wanted to see Fantasmic! which was less than 2.5 hours away, so it didn't make sense to go back to our room. We went over to Mermaid Lagoon (very beautiful lighting now that it was getting dark!) and went into Triton's Kingdom.

Tokyo DisneySea

This was indoors where it was, you guessed it, WARM. There are a few outdoor rides at Mermaid Lagoon, but most of them are indoor - including Jumpin' Jellyfish, which rises 20' or so into the air.

Tokyo DisneySea

This is a very large indoor space - there are two other attractions, a play area, theater, shops, and restaurant. And of course that beautiful "grotto-under-the-sea" theming.

Tokyo DisneySea

We'd spent a lot of time walking through Mysterious Island, since (short of taking a VERY long walk around the perimeter of the park) it was the only way to walk to Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast, and was the shortest route to Lost River Delta. But it was cold walking through that crater with all of those passageways that became wind tunnels.

Tokyo DisneySea

This time we were on our way to The Fortress, a multi-story citadel on the side of the volcano next to the harbor, which contained a number of interactive exhibits. And it was presented by the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (SEA) - remember them from Hong Kong?

Tokyo DisneySea

There was a pendulum, and a chamber of planets, where we could turn handles to move the different planets through their orbits. This room also had a large dome with many stars and constellations depicted on it. There was an illusion room and an Explorers Hall with portraits of scientists and explorers from Ptolemy to Drake. On the parapet were cannons - I was very surprised when we pulled the cord on one and it fired! That could get really annoying if someone did it over and over. We noted that this might be an interesting spot to watch Mythica from.

Down on the harbor side of the Citadel was a ship we could explore - like the Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland we could go below deck, too. This was a lot smaller than the Columbia and it was a stationary ship.

We'd managed to kill a little more time, and largely remain indoors. It was about 7:00 by then and Fantasmic! was at 8:00 - and we still needed to find something for dinner and then a place to watch the show. As we walked around the Mediterranean Harbor we found the Zambini Brothers Ristorante - counter service Italian. It had almost no line - that should have warned us. :-)

Tokyo DisneySea

Definitely the worst meal of the trip. I had the vegetable lasagna - which I thought meant it was vegetarian, but it had a meat sauce.

Tokyo DisneySea

Lee had some kind of a chicken pizza, which he offered to me instead, but it had two kinds of peppers on it. Sigh. But at least we were inside to eat! I believe just about all of the counter service restaurants had large indoor seating areas - the only one I remember that didn't was the pizza place at TDL.

I was surprised when we came out of the restaurant and the area around the harbor wasn't really that crowded with people trying to get a spot for Fantasmic. I don't know if the cold had made people leave early (it was in the high 30s by then, with some wind), but we found a spot pretty close to the rail - we were in the second row of standers. It was about 15-20 minutes until the show started.

Tokyo DisneySea

There's no island in the harbor, so instead they bring out this floating stage/structure that telescopes into Sorcerer Mickey's hat, and lowers down to form a stage. With fountains around the base. Oh, and the whole hat is an LED screen all the way around! And there's fireworks. It's a Magical MAGICAL hat float.

Tokyo DisneySea

Other floats come out that have characters on them, and then later the characters disappear and this round balloon appears on top of each of them that looks like a huge crystal ball-like projection screen. (These floats have an awful lot of people and stuff on board - it must be very crowded down below!)

Tokyo DisneySea

Then there's the Magic Mirror (not sure where that came from - the main stage was between us and it so we couldn't see it very well), and then there's the dragon, which we also couldn't see well. But it lit the lagoon on fire - which was warm and felt pretty good!

Tokyo DisneySea

Mickey's imagination vanquishes the dragon and the floats reappear with about 8-10 characters on each one, and there's more fireworks and fountains, and the show ends.

Tokyo DisneySea

Pretty amazing. While it's still about Mickey's imagination and its mostly the same music, it's very different than the versions here. It's all on the water - there is no stationary stage on land. And that Sorcerer's hat floating stage/screen/fountain is pretty cool.

After standing and watching the show we were really chilled. But it was still almost 40 minutes until we could use our Tower of Terror Fastpasses.

Tokyo DisneySea

We wandered through some of the shops, but they were quite busy and unpleasantly crowded. We actually had NOT been into the Toy Story section of the American Waterfront yet, so we went over there. It's set up like a midway, but all that's there is a photo spot, gift shop, and the huge queue for Toy Story Mania. You enter the interior queue through Woody's open mouth...I haven't decided if that's really fun or really disturbing...

The Toy Story line may have been the longest one in the park. That's one attraction that we never did, since we never were in the right place at the right time to get a Fastpass for it. And from what we understand it's the same attraction we have here so we didn't make an effort to get a Fastpass.

Tokyo DisneySea

We still had some more time to kill...I saw on the schedule that the show "A Table is Waiting" was starting in front of the SS Columbia. This is an outdoor show with a relatively small seating area, but they do it a whole bunch of times a day. You can get a decent view of it from outside the seating area. The dialog was in Japanese, and the songs were a mix of Japanese and English. We missed the beginning of it, but it was about food. It was very odd. Disney characters were celebrating different types of cuisine (e.g. Mexican, French, American, Indian), as dancers dressed as different foods came on stage. One of the weirder moments was during the celebration of American food (hosted by Pluto), when people dressed as a hamburger patty, two as slices of cheese, and a hamburger bun all piled on top of each other on a foam bun that had been placed on the stage. (I'd say it was goofy, but he hosted the Japanese food portion.)

Oh, there was a pie fight at the end. :-) Most of the pies were fake, but Mickey got whipped cream smeared on his nose and someone in the audience got a pie in the face - I'm still not sure if it was a real guest or a disguised cast member.

By then it was FINALLY 9:05 and we could use our Fastpass for Tower of Terror!!! The HTH - Hotel Hightower - seems much larger to me than those in California and Florida. This one doesn't have the Twilight Zone connection at all, and instead the story involves the owner of the hotel, Harrision Hightower III. He was a member of SEA (we saw portraits of him at Mystic Manor in Hong Kong), who brought home a cursed idol named Shiriki Utundu. (Which was not exactly lawfully acquired in the first place.) Hightower foolishly mocked the idol, and on New Year's Eve stepped into the elevator with it. When the elevator doors opened, all that was left inside were his hat and the idol. In the attraction we get to watch Hightower in those final moments. And there's the whole rise and fall of the elevators, too. (Unlike the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror versions, where I feel a little sorry for the passengers being in the wrong place at the wrong time, in this case I thought Harrison's end was entirely justified.)

Lots of interesting details and things to see inside, since the hotel is where Hightower housed his collection. Really well-done - I think this is the best Tower of Terror I've seen. I wish we'd had a chance to do it again.

Tokyo DisneySea

It had been looonnnng day, and we were SO ready to go back to our hotel to get some sleep and get warm! I thought we might have a wait for the monorail, but I think because we didn't leave right after Fantasmic, we missed the big crowd. We just had a short wait until the next monorail arrived at the station, and we even had seats. Ours was the second stop so we were quickly back at our room.

Really a wonderful day, but we were very tired.

Coming Next: Park hopping: Tokyo Disneyland AND Tokyo DisneySea in one day!


June 28, 2014

Tokyo DisneySea - Part 4

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

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 3, Part 1, Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea is VERY different than any Disney park we have here. So instead of starting in with what we did on Tuesday, I think I'll give you an overview of it first.

Tokyo DisneySea

I found that Tokyo DisneySea reminded me much more of Universal's Islands of Adventure than any other Disney park. Some similar looks to those of the Port of Entry, Lost Continent, and Jurassic Park areas of Islands of Adventure. Not that that's a bad thing - those are all really well-done!

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea has themed "ports" to go along with its water theme: Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Mysterious Island, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Mermaid Lagoon, and Arabian Coast. The Mediterranean Harbor surrounds a large lake, and several big water shows are held there.

Tokyo DisneySea

There is a waterway that connects all of the other port areas, also.

Tokyo DisneySea

The park icon for DisneySea and its most prominent feature is the volcano, Mt. Prometheus. You can see it from just about anywhere in the park, as well as from Tokyo Disneyland and other areas outside the park. Mysterious Island is contained in its crater. The volcano "erupts" multiple times a day, and at night you can see the glow of lava. It's quite imposing.

Tokyo DisneySea

And the theming was incredible throughout the park. Theming to the nth degree. Not that it was excessive - it was just so thorough, and so incredibly well designed and executed. So many layers of detail. "Immersive" has been one of Disney's buzzwords for a while now - and this park was all of that. (Of course using "immersive" to describe a park with a water theme makes me chuckle, but I digress...)

All the hype you hear about Tokyo DisneySea and how amazing it is? I'd have to say that it's true, and it deserves that reputation. So I'm not even going to bother mentioning theming from now on - you can just assume that it was all pretty wonderful.

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea is more of an "adult" park than Tokyo Disneyland. Alcohol is served in the park, and most of the attractions appeal to an older audience: there are more thrill rides with height requirements. Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast contain the more kid-oriented attractions. Still, we saw very few families with young kids (and strollers) at Tokyo DisneySea - even in those two areas.

I mentioned before that it was term break for Japanese schools. I would say that 99% of the guests in Tokyo DisneySea were kids ages 13-25. Our group was by FAR the oldest in Tokyo DisneySea - I saw very few people over the age of 40. And there were also very few westerners - I think I saw maybe 25-30 the entire four days that we were in the Tokyo parks. We REALLY stood out. :-)

I found it interesting...we live in southern California where it's a pretty heterogeneous society - lots of Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans. So when we're out and about we're used to seeing people of all different races and colors. The Asian parks didn't really seem strange to me, except for the language, but their population is much more homogeneous, so I could tell that we looked strange to them. We got lots of curious looks and lots of smiles. But they were much kinder and more patient with us than I think we Americans typically are to those here who are obviously foreign...I know I personally need to keep that in mind in the future...

Ok...so it's Tuesday morning, and after having our usual yogurt, fruit, and pastry breakfast in our room, Lee and I are about to go to Tokyo DisneySea for the first time.

Since we were not staying at the Miracosta, we did not have early entry to TDS (sorry, I'm tired of typing it out, so please note that from here on, TDS = Tokyo DisneySea). We'd been advised that the lines to get into the park in the morning are very long, and to be at the entrance by 7:15 - the park opened at 8:00.

We took the monorail to get there - this was the first time we'd done that! The monorail requires a ticket to ride - it's not free, though as hotel guests we were provided with passes to use in the ticket machines. It's a much bigger, more train-like monorail than the ones at WDW. The windows are shaped like Mickey heads!

The monorail has 4 stops: Tokyo Disneyland Station (where we were), Bayside Station (for the non-Disney hotels), Tokyo DisneySea Station, and Resort Gateway Station (Ikspiari and the transfer point to Japan Railway). We went two stops to get off at the TDS station.

Tokyo DisneySea

It was a beautiful clear day - though still in the 40s. As we were traveling on the monorail I looked out the window and could see Mt Fuji off in the distance! All covered in snow, a HUGE mountain standing all by itself. That was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I did not realize until later how lucky we were to see it - it's not a common sight. It's about 70 miles away. That was an awesome moment.

BTW...though we had toured the parks mostly together with our fellow travelers the first part of the trip, from here on Lee and I were usually by ourselves, though every once in a while we'd encounter some of the group. Not that we were mad at each other or not getting along - we just all had different priorities and schedules.

We got to the TDS entrance about 7:20, and there were lots and lots of people already standing in lines to get in. We picked a line, and it just got longer behind us as we waited. They opened the turnstiles just a little bit early and started letting guests enter the park. They also do a bag check at the Tokyo parks, but they do it just before the turnstiles. And the security guards didn't do more than a cursory look at our bags - they just smiled and said: "Ohayou gozaimasu!"

Once we entered the park, the kids were RUNNING to get to wherever they were trying to go. So we ran a little, too, until we got to cast members who were telling people to stop running. We did, but most of the kids didn't. :-)

From the park entrance we walked past the big water/planet earth sculpture just inside the turnstiles and then under the Miracosta, past shops, and to the Mediterranean Harbor. Where we got our first real view of Mt. Prometheus. That thing is BIG! That's actually where we were headed first: to Mysterious Island to get a Fastpass for Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Even though that area is just about at the center of the park, it felt like we walked for a long time before we got there. Google maps shows it as almost .4 miles from the turnstiles to the volcano, so that is a pretty good distance.

Tokyo DisneySea

We were able to get a FP with a return time about an hour away. In the meantime, there was NO line for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - in fact, we walked right into a sub! No stairs to climb down to get into these - you enter from doors on the side. I think they seat six - two facing forward, the other seats facing somewhat to the sides. We sat in the front.

It was not as cramped as the Nemo Submarine Voyage, and we had big windows to look out of instead of tiny portholes. The narration was in Japanese, so we're not exactly sure what was happening - we saw lots of pretty underwater fish and plants, and then I think we were attacked by a giant squid. But we survived - not so sure about the squid.

(And did you notice that our first attraction truly WAS an immersive one???)

Tokyo DisneySea

As you have probably deduced from the names of the attractions, the Mysterious Island area has a Jules Verne theme. Lots of greenish copper and bronze. There's a lake in the middle of the crater, with the Nautilus submarine floating in it.

Tokyo DisneySea

There was still a while until our Fastpass would be valid for Journey, so we went to Port Discovery to try StormRider. This area has kind of a steampunk look - futuristic, but not. There was only a 10 minute wait for StormRider, which is a simulator ride where we fly into a superstorm and deploy a "storm diffuser" that will break up the storm.

Tokyo DisneySea

The movement is similar to Star Tours but the simulator vehicles are quite a bit larger. And it rains inside - depending on where you sit you can get pretty wet. (We were in a relatively dry spot.) It was in Japanese, but we got the gist of it. (Inexperienced/inept pilot, wrong place at the wrong time, saves the day anyway.)

Tokyo DisneySea

We were inside our Fastpass window, so we could get a new Fastpass - we chose Raging Spirits in the Lost River Delta, and then went back to Mysterious Island.

Tokyo DisneySea

The queue for Journey to the Center of the Earth goes down inside the mountain to the loading area for the mine vehicles, which hold six passengers, in three rows of two. We were in the back row, which are the worst seats. (In the Tokyo parks we either seemed to get the first row or the last row - perhaps because those were the ones easiest to point to?) The vehicles descend down through crystal caverns, past the strange creatures and plant life that live deep under the earth. Something goes wrong (doesn't it always?) and the car moves even deeper into the volcano, until it is suddenly propelled upward and bursts out near the top of the volcano, then descends in a roller coaster ride down the side of the mountain.

Tokyo DisneySea

The rest of our group had done this on Sunday, and had really liked it, so our expectations were pretty high. My reaction was: "That was it?" The roller coaster part was fun, but it was only about 15 seconds long. Since we were sitting in the back, we didn't have as good a view of the things in the caverns, either. I definitely did not think it was worth the 160-minute wait time - I wouldn't have waited 20 minutes for it. But there were still plenty of kids getting into the standby line.

Tokyo DisneySea

We walked past Mermaid Lagoon to the Arabian Coast. This is a really large area - much of it inside an impressive-looking walled city.

Tokyo DisneySea

We walked under the tiled entry gateway down the stairs into a big open courtyard with a fountain in the middle.

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea

On one side is the Caravan Carousel, which is a two story carousel. In addition to beautiful Arabian horses it also has camels and genies and griffins and elephants - oh my. It had no line, so we went for a ride.

On the other side of the courtyard was the entrance to the Agrabah Marketplace, with narrower streets and shops and restaurants.

The entrance to the Magic Lamp Theater was on the far side of the courtyard, but we went back to see that later.

Outside the city walls and next to the water was Jasmine's Flying Carpets and something called Sindbad's Storybook Voyage, but the latter was not running (and it was down all day).

It was time that we could get a new Fastpass, so we got one for Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull. The standby line was up to 90 minutes. As you can tell, we had done very well with Fastpasses and really didn't understand why anyone would be willing to stand in a 90-minute (or longer) line when Fastpasses were still available, and there were still plenty of attractions that didn't have really long lines. Now, granted they weren't the E-ticket attractions...and that might be the reason.

Tokyo DisneySea

Our valid Fastpass was for Raging Spirits. This is a roller coaster with a 360 loop. The coaster is on the site of an archeological dig, and looks like it's supported by the scaffolding that's been erected around a stone temple. Lots of lumber lashed together. It's more like a wild mouse type of coaster except that it has banked turns and not the sharp 180 degree turns. It's not very fast...as we were riding it I thought: "There's no way we have enough speed to do a 360 degree loop!" But fortunately there was something that accelerated us just before the loop so we had enough momentum to make it.

Tokyo DisneySea

This was a very short ride - less than one and a half minutes. Not very impressive, definitely not worth a 160 minute wait! (Are you detecting a pattern here?)

Tokyo DisneySea

We'd already seen that the snack lines were getting long, so even though it was only about 10:30 we decided to have an early lunch when we walked by Miguel's El Dorado Cantina and saw that it was open.

Tokyo DisneySea

It was a beautiful clear day but it was still cold, and THEY HAD HOT WINE!!! They also had "tacos". They were served with a side of French fries (really?) and a beverage - there was an upcharge for the wine, but that was fine. I had the shrimp salad taco and Lee had the teriyaki pork taco. They were a little unusual, but tasted good - mostly it was just a pretty small serving. With the wine and the fries it was 1290 yen - almost $13.

Tokyo DisneySea

We hadn't been to the American Waterfront area yet so we walked there after lunch. There are multiple locales represented here. The first is Cape Cod, and it did look very similar except for the giant volcano behind it. :-)

Tokyo DisneySea

Cape Cod is the hometown of Duffy the Disney Bear. And Duffy is HUGE in Japan. I think he's more popular than Mickey Mouse! We saw lots of kids (male and female) carrying Duffy purses and Duffy popcorn buckets, and wearing Duffy ears, or carrying a backpack covered with small Duffy clip-ons in a variety of costumes. Oh, and then there were lots of people just carrying their Duffy bears around. (But who am I to talk - I carried Tigger with me on this trip!) There are multiple stores in BOTH Disney parks that are dedicated to Duffy merchandise. And not just Duffy merchandise, but his girlfriend as well - Shellie May. So of course there was a Duffy store in Cape Cod.

Tokyo DisneySea

From that part of the park we could see over the "seawall", and we caught a glimpse of Mt. Fuji again. Still a very impressive sight.

Tokyo DisneySea

The largest part of the American Waterfront has a New York City look. There's a big ship called the SS Columbia that's also a restaurant and the location of the Turtle Talk show. Then there's the Hightower Hotel, aka the Tower of Terror. It's a very impressive-looking building. Since we could now get another Fastpass we got one for the Tower of Terror - but it wasn't good until 9:00 that night, which was over 9 hours away! Better than the 180 minute standby line, though.

Tokyo DisneySea

TDS has an elevated electric railway that runs from the American Waterfront to Port Discovery and back. It's a one-way trip - everyone has to get off at the opposite station. There was a really nice view of the park and the surrounding area from up there.

Tokyo DisneySea

This brings us to just about noon - I think that's enough for Part 1.

Next time: Tokyo DisneySea, Part 2 - Shows and Spectaculars


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About Tokyo DisneySea

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Tokyo DisneySea category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Tokyo Disneyland is the previous category.

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