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Japan 2014 — Day 11: Tokyo — Tokyo Disneyland

I’ve always wanted to vis­it to Disneyland. It’s a child­hood dream that nev­er left me even as I grew up. On our first trip to Japan, we’d vis­ited Tokyo Disneysea. It made sense to vis­it that one first because it is a one-of-a-kind Disney park with its naut­ic­al, explor­a­tion and adven­ture themes that’s tar­geted at an audi­ence older than that of the reg­u­lar Disneyland theme parks. And it’s not the most expens­ive theme park every built without reas­on — the land­scap­ing is lav­ish and metic­u­lous and the attrac­tions are lots of fun. So, if you were to vis­it Japan only once, Tokyo DisneySea would be the theme park on your itin­er­ary. Even D, who wasn’t much inter­ested in Disney grow­ing up, found it fun.

Given our love affair with Japan, how­ever, we didn’t fore­see vis­it­ing anoth­er coun­try with a Disneyland any­time soon, so this second time, we went to Tokyo Disneyland. The weath­er fore­cast shows this day as the only fine day in the entire week so we shuffled around our itin­er­ary because no one likes going to Disneyland in the rain!

It’d been a while since we’d had a noodle dish, so we stop by place near Ueno Station. I order the soba with veget­ables and bonito flakes, while D orders the soba with pork and egg. This is a super simple eat­ery, but the food was hot and not bad at all. The staff also seem not to mind get­ting into the kit­chen by crawl­ing under­neath the counter (for real!), and the walls are dec­or­ated with shower caps, which was rather neat.

We catch the train to Maihama Station and walk to Tokyo Disneyland. Unlike Tokyo DisneySea, which is a 20 minute walk from Maihama Station, Tokyo Disneyland is only 5 mins. Everyone seems to have seen the weath­er fore­cast because there’s a huge num­ber of people — I have nev­er seen so many kids in my life! Which begs the ques­tion, why aren’t they at school!? We even saw a couple dressed in their high school uni­form so obvi­ously tru­ant­ing, but author­it­ies don’t seem to care in Japan.

Christmas Parade

After get­ting our tick­ets, we get past passes for Space Mountain, the roller coast­er ride, before find­ing a spot to view the parade. I’ve always felt that, even though admis­sion is very expens­ive, Disney really does give you good qual­ity attrac­tions. And this is espe­cially so in their parades, not only in terms of the per­form­ances, but in rela­tion to the detail in the design of the floats and cos­tumes par­tic­u­larly. Anyway! It’s Christmas, so some of the floats in the parade are suit­ably themed.

I have a soft sport for things that look like food, but aren’t! There’s Marie from the Aristocats (above, top left) in her candy float, and then there’s Goofy with a candy cane dan­cing atop a cake. Some of the per­formers accom­pa­ny­ing the float are also dressed as candy canes or macar­ons.

And then there’s the three little pigs atop an elf shoe (the angry one is so ador­able); Huey, Dewey and Louie as elves help­ing Santa give out presents from his sack; some rather creepy-look­ing, hind-leg walk­ing reindeers; and of course, to fin­ish off there’s Minnie and Mickey in the final float.

There’s a mini racing track com­plete with mini pet­rol pumps. You don’t actu­ally race because the cars are attached to a track under­neath. But what’d you expect — it’s an attrac­tion for kids!

Tomorrowland

The estim­ated time at the standby entrance for the Star Tours was 20 minutes, so we hop into the queue. The attrac­tion itself is a 4D ride through space — the seat shakes and tilts and jerks, so you feel like you’re in the space ship. It’s only a couple of minutes long, and it’s about anoth­er 15 minutes wait when you’re in the build­ing. But there’s lots of Star Wars paraphernalia to amuse you while you wait includ­ing a heat detec­tion cam­era.

At the end of the ride, you exit into a walk­way that leads to the Galactic Pizza Port. The dis­play above shows vari­ous robots mak­ing vari­ous food­stuffs. And even the water foun­tains are suit­ably themed!

We later went on Space Mountain, which is the roller coast­er ride for which we got fast passes. It’s a roller coast­er ride in pitch black dark­ness so you have no idea where you’re going, and so adds to the thrill (and ter­ror!) of the ride. Prior to actu­ally going on roller coast­er rides in gen­er­al, I’m not very keen — the idea of it scares me a little — but I go any­way ’cause I do so love the adren­aline rush that comes after­wards!

I ini­tially wanted a Mickey Mouse shaped cheese­bur­ger but the queues for that were extra crazy (the queues for everything were crazy, but this was par­ticu­alrly so), so I settled on a Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream sand­wich (Y300). Mickey doesn’t make things taste amaz­ing, alas!

Toontown

 

Toontown — the place where all the Disney char­ac­ters live! And also coin­cid­ent­ally, where all the young kids in Disneyland con­verge. I’m con­vinced every­one who wants to vis­it Disneyland should vis­it when they’re kids. Kids are less self aware and don’t seem to mind crowds. Mickey was doing a meet and greet inside his house, so the queues were upwards of 90 minutes long! Minnie was not around, but her house was open for inspec­tion — she had the dish­wash­er run­ning, an amaz­ing num­ber of cheeses (and only cheeses) in her fridge, and a cake bak­ing in the oven.

There’s a pretty foun­tain in the middle of Toontown. Donald Duck was doing a meet and greet out­side the City Hall, which faces onto the foun­tain. There’s also a bunch of (fake) shops in Toontown, includ­ing this bank­rupt com­pens­a­tion law firm (the leg­al geek in me was quite amused). I later found out that these shops were mostly a dis­guise hous­ing the abso­lutely huge Pooh’s Hunny Pot ride nearby.

Here’s Chip ‘n’ Dale’s tree house open for inspec­tion, com­plete with acorn and cashew but­ter — is cashew but­ter pos­sible in Real Life? There’s no Chip or Dale around, though.

I really do love the atten­tion to detail — here’s a drain pipe that looks like red and white bendy straw, and a tree with a Mickey Mouse shape cut out of it.

Parade

Before we know it, it’s time for anoth­er parade! These pho­tos aren’t neces­sar­ily in the order the floats came out in, but rather grouped accord­ing to theme. The top float fea­tures a giant Mickey Mouse sit­ting on Goofy’s shoulders with Donald Duck at the back — Mickey and Minnie Mouse are also in the bas­ket under­neath the bal­loons. The bot­tom left float vari­ous Donald Duck’s sib­lings and the dwarfs. And the bot­tom right float fea­tures Toy Story char­ac­ters on a giant tri­cycle. I real­ise it’s actu­ally dif­fi­cult to tell which char­ac­ters are in cos­tume, and which are immov­able parts of the the float’s design.

Produced dur­ing my teen­age years, I don’t auto­mat­ic­ally asso­ci­ate Lilo and Stitch with Disney. But I do like Stitch — he’s so ador­able in the movie.

Alice in Wonderland gets a men­tion. The per­formers carry a giant teabag that they place into the giant cup to make tea. Cute!

There’s the ele­phant car­ry­ing Aladdin and Jasmine, which fol­lowed the gypsy on a bike. And there’s the Disney prin­cesses on the back of a white swan. Amusingly enough, most of the Disney prin­cesses were Caucasian, rather than Japanese or Asian gen­er­ally.

And Winnie the Pooh! I love bears, so Pooh Bear is my favour­ite Disney char­ac­ter. There’s a rather amaz­ing ride called Pooh’s Hunny Pot in Fantasyland, which we didn’t get to go on unfor­tu­nately — it’s one of the most pop­u­lar rides in the park.

Fantasyland

There’s a spe­cial Winnie the Pooh themed pop­corn cart selling honey fla­voured pop­corn out­side the Winnie the Pooh sec­tion. D and I aren’t too keen on honey, though, so we end up try­ing every oth­er fla­vour through­out the day — chocol­ate, curry, and soy sauce. The soy sauce pop­corn, which was sold by a cast mem­ber in futur­ist­ic look­ing clothes from a futur­ist­ic look­ing cart, was par­tic­u­larly more­ish after a get­ting accus­tomed to it. The chocol­ate pop­corn, how­ever, was from the World Bazaar area, so looked suit­ably Western.

And there’s the icon­ic Cinderella Castle, around which the Tokyo Disneyland is centered. It’s really quite beau­ti­ful and looks much taller than it actu­ally is due to forced per­spect­ive. Underneath the castle is a shop selling vari­ous glass sculp­tures. At spe­cial times through­out the day, you can see someone mak­ing the sculp­tures from glass tubes.

Westernland

We head towards Westernland to catch the Mark Twain Riverboat. It’s a real steam­boat, even though it runs on a hid­den track. The boat takes pas­sen­gers on a scen­ic route around Westernland, Adventureland and Critter Country. Along the route, you see Native Americans camp­ing in front of teepees, a cab­in house on fire, as well as fake deers. The views from the boat are really quite beau­ti­ful at sun­set.

Adventureland

We’re quite tired by now, so we hop on the Western River Railroad to catch a steam-powered train around Adventureland, Frontierland and Critter Country. I’ve nev­er seen so many prams in my life as I have seen parked out­side this attrac­tion. Some of the kids in the queue and on the train were fast asleep so I don’t really see the point of their par­ents tak­ing them on the ride. Anyway! You see some of the same fake anim­als seen from the steam­boat here, but you also go through a primev­al world with dino­saurs and dino­saur eggs before return­ing.

World Bazaar

The illu­min­ated Christmas tree and dec­or­a­tions in World Bazaar are par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful. Disney really knows how to cre­ate an atmo­sphere! A brass band dressed in white played Christmas car­ols are reg­u­lar inter­vals.

The win­dow dis­plays out­side the shops in World Bazaar are so detailed and pretty.

And of course, Cinderella Castle at night! This was taken after the Storybook illu­min­a­tion where images are pro­jec­ted onto the face of the castle to tell a story. It was really quite spec­tac­u­lar, espe­cially from a tech­nic­al point of view — vari­ous aspects of the facade were incor­por­ated into the story, for example, to cre­ate the illu­sion of a door or a stair case.

Dreamlights Parade

The high­light of the even­ing was the Dreamlights Parade — the pho­tos really speak for them­selves. People take parades ser­i­ously in Japan — almost an hour before it began, people were already set­ting up camp along the path. After killing some time by vis­it­ing Mickey’s PhilharMagic, a 4D film that fea­tures scents (like pie!), vibra­tions and wind, we join the crowd in the cold.

Once the sun sets at Disneyland, it gets really cold due to its prox­im­ity to the ocean. We knew this from our last vis­it and were well pre­pared with our coats, but we were still sur­prised at actu­ally how cold it got, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing how very warm it was dur­ing the day.

We stayed for the fire­works, but they seemed to be shared with Tokyo Disneysea, so they weren’t all that spec­tac­u­lar from where we were. So, the Dreamlights Parade was def­in­itely the high­light!

We head back to Ueno, stop­ping by at First Kitchen for some din­ner. Here’s a funny story: every morn­ing since we arrived at Ueno, I had seen this sign for corn pot­tage potato chips. And I love corn soup, so the idea of fries dipped in corn soup soun­ded deli­cious for a cold night.

So, I show photo of the sign to the guy behind the counter, and we pay. We get the fries and D’s meal, and I’m still won­der­ing where my corn soup is. Before I ask them about it, though, I open the bag of fries to see if they put the corn soup in with the bag. Did they? YES, THEY DID. In the form of corn pot­tage season­ing. It’s not what I expec­ted, but corn pot­tage seasoned chips taste pretty amaz­ing!

Of course, then, I’m too embar­rassed to order anoth­er meal, and get a chick­en drum­stick from Circle K Sunkus after­wards.