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Friday, July 13, 2012

Tokyo Disney Day 1

Having growing up in Orange County, I would venture to say I have probably been to Disneyland well over 100 times. I am used to the best routes to get from point A to point B and consider myself somewhat of an expert on the rides of yesteryear no longer in existence and what Disneyland was back in late 70s until now. So it was with great exuberance I was once again able to attend both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea recently and this time take some notes about both parks and some of the differences and subtle nuances that distinguish both parks and more importantly, the entire experience itself.

 Located about 30 minutes away via a train ride from Tokyo Station, one of the world's busiest train depots, the Tokyo Disney resort is officially located in the city of Maihama in the Chiba Prefecture. What marks the Japanese Disney Experience from the one more accustomed to by visitors to our local park is the complete user friendly set up and lay out of the complex. Immediately leaving the train, you check in at the official Vacation Welcome Center where you can not only purchase your tickets for the parks, but also check into your hotel room provided you booked at one of the 6 on site hotels. The welcome center handled it all giving us our entry passes for the parks, the keys to our room, passes for the Disney Train line, and best of all allowing us to check in all of our luggage.

 Located directly at the same train stop lies the sprawling shopping complex Ikspiari. Think of this as the Japanese version of Downtown Disney but truth be told it is much more akin to South Coast Plaza given the mall like atmosphere and upscale architecture. Ikspiari is loaded with shops and restaurants to the point where one could probably spend a day taking it all in and proved later to be a wonderful respite.
The entire Tokyo Disney Complex has its own Train Line not too different then the Monorail but serving 4 stops along its route with Tokyo Disney, Disney Sea, the Hotels, and once again back to the Ikspiari and Train Connections. What differs here is that the Disney Train does require the purchase of a ticket to board, so it is not like the Monorail which is free inside the park or getting into the park via the Monorail entrance at Downtown Disney. For all intensive purposes, this train is no different then any other train in Japan other then being totally overhauled into the Disney Theme with Mickey Mouse Shaped Windows, Handles, and on this trip a Toy Story Mania motif that coincided with the ride opening at Disney Sea.

 Departing the train, we made our way into Tokyo Disneyland, and while they have their own version of Main Street, the entire street is covered offering guest a dry experience given the frequent rain of the area. Main Street is also layed out in a cross street type pattern as well that allows for more shops as well as guests having the option to short cut to Tomorrowland or Westernland. Yes, Tokyo Disney simply combines Frontierland and Adventureland into one all encompassing land known as Westernland. The rides themselves each have a few minor differences that were interesting to this longtime Disneyland fan. The Pirates of the Caribbean features only one drop instead of the two we are used to in OC. The Jack Sparrow character in the “Well Dunking” scene is much bigger as well, and while I am not an expert of Johnny Depp would not be surprised if this was actual size. Some other notables come from the Jail scene with additional prisoners in the jail as well as unique dialogue as well as a blast from the past in the Pirates Plunder scene where the Pirates still chase the women and none of them are holding food, just as I remembered the original back in OC before political correctness set in.

The Strawberry and Custard Mickey Waffle....was 400 Yen.

 The Haunted House has some differences as well in the House itself is far larger as the ride itself takes place in the house as opposed to our OC offering that takes place largely underground. Once through the entrance you board your Doom Mobile immediately which means the walk through section with the changing pictures and the moving statues actually takes place as part of the ride. The staring statues also feature some other characters not seen in our version. The jungle cruise is different as well in that there is a cave section with large snakes, a tiger with glowing eyes, and a monkey idol inside. Very reminiscent of the architecture used in the Indiana Jones ride which begs to mention Indiana Jones is located in Disney Sea.
A Disney Themed Japanese Lantern 

There is no Matterhorn ride as well which to some extent robs the park of a Central Location to get your bearings straight. Big Thunder Mountain in Japan is far faster and far better in my opinion, actually having the feel of a legitimate thrill ride as opposed to the relatively tame offering of our park.

This Jungle Cruise Cast Member was Happy To post for us. 
One item of note, the shooting gallery in Japan offers a special prize for those who score a 10 of 10. Score Sheets are printed out after every round and showing the attendant a perfect score card meant getting a Donald Duck Sheriff Badge of which I fortunately was able to win, much to delight of my kids and a round of high fives.
One of the many popcorn stands with assorted flavors.

These are actually vending machines located in tomorrowland.
 One other item me and my family loved were the multiple flavors of Popcorn at the Park. Curry, Milk Tea, Soy Sauce, Chocolate, and Strawberry were just a few of the offerings for unique flavors and at 300 yen it was easy on the pocket book to try them all given 300 yen is close to $3.50 in US money. Japanese Disney also has no tax. As a matter of fact almost all of the single snack items were either 300 or 400 yen. The wife and I commented on how the quality and the price made it far more reasonable then our local park.

The Castle at Night.

After our busy day we made it to the Ikspiari center for our dinner and while I was really wanting a glass of wine and a pizza we thought we would keep it simple and go to the TGI Fridays with the assumption there would be more Kid friendly food. We ordered a few beers, 3 appetizers, 2 kids meals, and split a cobb salad with the bill coming to 80 bucks. They do not tip in Japan so given the amount of food and drink we ordered 80 bucks isn't really that unreasonable. Was cute as well that all the waitresses had American names...our server was Bunny, but we also saw Mary and April working there as well.
If you were the one last guy wondering whether or not the Stones have sold out....this should answer your question as the TGI Fridays in Tokyo was hawking all sorts of Stones menu items.

 All in all a fun day at Tokyo Disney!

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