Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tokyo Disneyland

Wowser...that is my trip to TDL in a word.   More words...insane, overwhelming, exhausting....

I knew heading to the park would be nuts on a weekend in March. I had seen the crowd predictions and I had the choice of either black (10/10) or red (8/10) in terms of crowd levels and the whole month was crazy...as were hotel prices. I went with Sunday, which was supposed to be a little better. I also did a LOT of research. I had park maps printed in case we couldn't find English language maps inside the park (we couldn't and time was ticking away once we walked in the gates). I had cool snacks mapped out...and I had a notional idea of rides to go on.

We took the 0547 train from Yokosuka Chuo station and headed out. One of the quirks in Japan is that a) eating and drinking in public (on the move) is frowned upon and there are no coffee shops open before 7am. At all. If you want coffee that early, you need to get a can from a vending machine.  So, it was a couple of long train rides on minimal caffine.  Sigh.

We arrived at the park around 7:20 in the morning with the park opening at 8am. We were further back in the crowd than I could have imagined....beyond anything I had seen before.  Huh...so this is how today is going to be!




One of the nearest things about TDL (or DisneySea) is how enthusiastic everyone is about dressing up, wearing Mickey or Minnie gear, bringing popcorn buckets (explanation further on) and just the general level of enthusiasm and happiness for Disney. Kids are well behaved...even in line...it's rather remarkable.  But,the crowds are unwieldy on a weekend, for sure.  Minnie Mouse had a line of approximately 150 people (which I have never seen in many times of going to various Disney parks) within 15 minutes of park opening.

It was the finale of the park's 30th birthday and we saw signs and merchandise all over celebrating it...I have to say that I might have picked up a thing or two...






So, my friend Karen and I beelined for the Monsters Inc ride to grab fast passes and then right to Pooh's Hunny Hunt. Out fast pass was for 11:45-12:45...yikes. By the time we made it to Pooh, the wait was 120 minutes. Holy what?!  But, these two rides are unique to TDL resort and were what we wanted to see since we had both been to DisneySea on previous trips. So, we went with it...on a very cold morning....and we waited...and waited...at one point, I finally was desperate for something...anything, so I left line for a few and looked for a snack or hot drinks. The only line that wasn't super long was a matcha tea line...and it was delicious.  Strawberry matcha with a marshmallow and yumminess...it hit the spot and sustained me for the rest of the ride. Luckily we got into some heat towards the end of the wait. 

So, the real question is if a 120 minute wait for a ride is worth it. I would never, EVER wait that long for a ride in the states. But, the Pooh ride was incredible. Delightful, ingeniously designed, perfectly executed. The ride vehicles are trackless, whic makes everything run so smoothly. The storyline is loosely the same as the Pooh ride in the states..but to the next level.  Unfortunately , no photos are allowed in the ride...there was a disco ball park that I really wish I could have taken some video in because of how amazing it was to be in that moment. This exceeded all expectations...






Along the way to Monsters, we were noticing how long waits were and realized that we would get on very few rides today.  Oh well, we knew it would be all about the experience.  Monsters, Inc was delightful. We both wished we could have ridden it again because we were so focused on the game aspect at first, that we missed some of the cool details in the ride.  Fortunately, we found Boo and she was returned to her room safely.






The other rides at TDL are basically the same as their US counterparts. Haunted mansion is in Japanese with minor differences early in the ride, Pirates of the Caribbean is all in English and essentially the same (even with the Blue Bayou restaurant in the ride).

Haunted Mansion

Partners statue and Castle (and a very happy me!)

The view through the castle to the carousel.


Goofy's playhouse in toontown


Canoes in Frontierland.



The highlight, other than the two rides, is definitely the snacks.  Wow! We were getting desperately hungry after Pooh and wandered to find hot dogs wrapped in tortillas. Now, I was skeptical...but these were relish. Spicy, flavorful and perfect with the cheese. Yum! All the snacks went uphill from this.

Pork Mickey Shaped humbow (steamed bun)... They had Minnie ones with strawberry as well. A mango tapioca drink (think bubble tea) with Mickey shaped tapioca.




Little green men (Toy Story) mochi.....



Yummy!


Random humbow with pork and shrimp

So, popcorn. You might think popcorn is no big deal. That isn't the case at TDL or TDS. Popcorn is an event. People collect buckets, which run about $20, and the wait in crazy long lines to refill them for about $5 a pop. And these aren't your normal popcorn flavored, but they have standard caramel corn as well. I can remember seeing curry, soy sauce and butter,  we finally found a short line for popcorn and got some yummy curry popcorn that was a nice snack as we watched the castle light up.











Our dinner was seafood stew in a bread cone from a fun little shop near the entrance (similar to the cones at Cozy Cone Motel at Disneyland in Cali)...what a cute way to end the day...by the time we got home around 10pm, we were both so beat that we didn't even grab a chu-hi in one of the Family Marts!  Now THAT'S tired!

I'm so glad that I had the chance to go to TDL...but I was exhausted after a day of fighting crowds, lines and enjoying great company...

I need to throw out HUGE thanks to the Disney Tourist Blog for the thoughtful, well documented posts about all their Disney adventures.  The Tokyo Disney threads were essential reading for this one day jaunt!

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