Monday, February 09, 2009

Tokyo DisneySea

Back at Tokyo’s Disney resort, hoping to not find a jam-packed park like last year, when we actually left hours before closing because I couldn’t take the 3 hour lines anymore. We were hopeful because Yasu does business with people at Disney’s headquarters and they informed us that weekdays in February are Disney’s least crowded days. So when we encountered the first line at DisneySea today and saw that we had to wait for 220 minutes (a.k.a. almost 4 hours!) I was very disappointed, and couldn’t believe how stupid I’d been actually hoping for a much emptier park. I was about ready to walk out of the park and forget about everything Disney, but Yasu still had hope. And he was right to hope for shorter lines, because most of the other attractions had lines of about 60-70 minutes, which was doable. Although I remember when I visited Disneyland Paris, I was very discouraged by the 45 minute lines and gave up after two attractions, and now 45 minutes seems so short. Everything’s relative.
In the ‘American Waterfront’ we could find streets that made us feel like we were in New York City, and a big Titanic-like ship in a New England fishing village. The park’s most popular attraction (judging by the constant 4-hour-line), the ‘Tower of Terror’, is located here. We obtained a fastpass for this attraction in the morning which told us to come back a lot later at 6:45 PM. But that was fine with us, that way we could build up some courage for the free-fall attraction. And it turns out we needed it, because it was spine-chilling! I’ve been in several free-fall attractions before and yeah they all made me scream, but none of them freaked me out just as much as this one. It kept leaping you up and down, sometimes a little, other times a lot, in such a way that you had no idea when it was over. The ride feinted to finish a couple of times, so when it was really over we couldn’t tell. Some of us were still screaming and kept asking Yasu over and over again whether it was over. This attraction was definitely the high-point of the day and everything after that was kind of an anti-climax, so it was better to ride it at the end of the day.
We also rode the ‘DisneySea Electric Railway’, which is a comfortable and warm (it was cold today) early 20th century elevated electric trolley which eases its way from the ‘American Waterfront’ to ‘Port Discovery’, a themed port located across the horizons of time. The major attraction here was the ‘Stormrider’, which is an advanced flying weather laboratory that descends into the eye of a storm to experience the wild turbulence of powerful winds... Sounds a bit like the Ferris wheel in Odaiba yesterday, doesn’t it? But it was actually way better, because you know it’s all fake! ‘Aquatopia’ is a wild, spinning, twirling ride through a maze of fountains, rock formations and whirlpools aboard a watercraft. Because it is a trackless ride with self-guided independently moving hovercrafts, your path through the water lagoon is unique with every ride. And surprisingly Aquatopia had an extremely short line, so we rode it twice.
The ruins of an ancient Central American civilization awaited us deep within the remote jungles of the ‘Lost River Delta’ port. We got a fastpass for the ‘Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull’. Inside the Aztec temple we joined Indiana Jones on a search for the Fountain of Youth while trying to escape from the supernatural and vengeful Crystal Skull. We also dared the wrath of two ancient gods (the God of Water and the God of Fire) in the ‘Raging Spirits’ roller coaster. Which propelled us along tracks around an archeological excavation site, passing through bursts of water and fire before a 360-degree loop followed by a plunge into a steam-filled sinkhole.
The magical ‘Arabian Coast’ was created by Genie from the Aladdin movie. Main attractions in this port are ‘Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage’ (the one ride we wanted to try but couldn’t because it was already closed when we got there) and ‘The Magic Lamp Theater’. The latter was a performance combining live actors, illusion, music and the Genie (with 3D glasses and a big screen), and they even had handheld units with English subtitles for foreigner like me.
Then inside the ‘Mermaid Lagoon’ we discovered a paradise for children, still enjoyable for somewhat adults like us, though. We floated up and down suspended from the friendly ‘Jumpin’ Jellyfish’, the colorful blowfish took us on an exciting undersea race on the ‘Blowfish Balloon Race’, we went for a spin in ‘The Whirlpool’s’ twirling kelp cups, and we played around on ‘Ariel’s Playground’. But one of my favorite things of the day was the live musical production ‘Under the Sea’ featuring Ariel flying/swimming through the air in the ‘Mermaid Lagoon Theater’, complete with live actor and more English subtitles.
‘Mysterious Island is a port-of-call within DisneySea’s Mount Prometheus, created by Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo as his secret base for his explorations into the depths of the earth and beneath the waves. ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ was an exciting thrill ride, which traveled through caverns to the earth’s core, and then shockingly appears outside all of a sudden. ’20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ was a rather boring dark ride aboard research submarines to discover the undersea world. But that may have been boring because of the anti-climax effect after the ‘Tower of Terror’.
We could enjoy the ambience of a Southern European port town in the ‘Mediterranean Harbor’ of DisneySea. You could even take a ride on a Venetian gondola there, but we didn’t. All we really did there was browse through the merchandise stores, wait for the fireworks show which was canceled due to wind conditions, and have a last minute dinner at 9:45 PM.
Of course, Disney made sure there was more than enough enticing merchandise to make people spend even more money in their park. Because it’s winter they had a lot of Mickey shaped earmuffs, and really fun winter hats. They were very warm, and therefore comfortable on such an overcast and cold day like today was, but I didn’t buy anything because I knew I’m never going to wear it after I leave the Tokyo Disney Resort, except perhaps on Halloween. But that didn’t mean we still couldn’t have fun trying on the Disney merchandise!
DisneySea is a really fun park and we had a great time riding the thrill rides. They scare you so much, that they get your adrenaline pumping, they make you scream until your voice is gone and afterwards they make you laugh until it hurts. They make you feel alive! Yasu kept telling me he doesn’t need to be scared to feel alive (which is why he’ll never watch horror movies with me), but he loved the rides nonetheless, and he was often laughing harder than me after a petrifying ride.
Tokyo DisneySea

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