Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Tokyo DisneySea | Japan Travel Diary, Part Five

Tokyo DisneySea is perhaps the best Disney Park in the world. The Magic Kingdom-like parks are my favourite as they are quintessentially Disney, but TDS is the most detailed, perfectly executed park I have visited. Each land has a different and unique feel and themed down to the last grain of sand. You truly feel like you have been transported the one of the pages in a Jules Verne book, or down to the mysterious fathoms below with Ariel and King Triton. 
In this post I will be giving you a rundown of the park as it is so different to all other Disney Parks worldwide, as well as our 'plan of attack' and what we loved. Again - this post will be very photo heavy - but how could it not be with SO much beauty. 

Tokyo Disneysea Tips
King Triton's gorgeous castle. 
Tokyo Disneysea Tips
The entrance to Tokyo DisneySea at dusk. 
Tokyo Disneysea Tips
Selfie with Mt Prometheus
Tokyo DisneySea was the second Disney Park to open in Tokyo after Disneyland, and had a 4.5 billion dollar budget to work with. Which is a lot when you compare it to the 1 billion used for California Adventure.
We spent in total two full days here, as well as evenings and that was honestly nowhere near enough time to explore the park in it's entirety. It is broken down into 7 different 'port of calls' which are all themed nautically. You enter the park through the Mediterranean Habour, where the centre point of the park, Mt Prometheus is displayed in all of it's glory.

The entrance to the Mediterranean Harbour
Mt Prometheus
view of Mt Prometheus from the Harbour
Ports of Calls
The park is laid out like all other Disney Parks with the circular, 'spokes and wheel' pattern. The exception with this park is that a body of water separates most ports.  Moving in a clock-wise direction, the next port is American Waterfront, which is home to the ever so popular Toy Story Mania Attraction, as well as Tower of Terror. This is where you want to RUN to as soon as the gates open, but I'll get into that later in this post. This port pays homage to the United States in the early 20th Century and is very charming. It consist of two areas  - Old Cape Cod and New York Harbour and although the Cape Cod section doesn't hail any attractions, it was themed perfectly and made you feel like you had been transported back in time. This is the home to the very popular Duffy meet and greet and the Duffy Store. Everyone in Japan is just crazy for that bear! Most of the live shows and street performances will happen in the American Waterfront Port also.

Tokyo Disneysea Tips
Outside the super popular Toy Story Mania

The queue details were amazing.
As we Fast-Passed this attraction we didnt get to spend hours looking at it like some folk did...
Toy Story

The Tower of Terror looking all eery on an overcast day.
The American Waterfront. 
One of the Halloween-themed street performances
We had a very overcast day and a beautiful sunny day at TDS. It's amazing the difference in photographs from each day.
DisneySea is almost meant to be permanently overcast. I felt it set the mood for most of the ports.
In saying that, the sunny day was glorious too! 

Continuing on, the next port is the amazing Mysterious Island. This is the Jules Verne themed port and was our favourite area to take a quiet pause in. We spent a lot of time wandering through this area, sitting in the cafes and just taking it all in. It is truly amazing. The Journey to the Centre of the Earth attraction in right inside Mt Prometheus and we rode it three times. Being shot out of the volcano and back to 'Earth' is something else. Also hiding away inside the volcano is the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction, which is OK but could do with a little sprucing up in our opinion. Still worth a look if the line isn't too long. 
The eatery 'Vulcania' is a heavily Verne-themed buffet/cafeteria style restaurant serving Chinese Cuisine. It was our favourite in-park restaurant and highly suggest grabbing a table out the front for dinner and just soak in the atmosphere. 

Inside the volcano
Heading down to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Grainy photo taken from around Vulcania restaurant. 
Next up is Port Discovery,  a futuristic area which almost feels like it is a part of Mysterious Island. This is where we spent the least amount of time as there are no major draw cards here and we saw it as more of a walkway to where we needed to go next. It is still nice to walk around and experience the two attractions (Aquatopia and StormRider) if they do not have big wait times.  

The Lost River Delta is an Ancient Ruins themed port with Indiana Jones Adventure : Journey of the Crystal Skull attraction as well as Raging Spirits. We didn't ride the latter, it was an attraction that was slightly hidden and went under our radar for some reason. We loved Indi as we haven't had the chance to visit Disneyland California yet so it was a new experience for us. It was on the same track and car system as Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom which was one of my favourite rides at WDW. 

The Aztec Pyramid at Lost River Delta

The Arabian Coast is around the corner from Lost River Delta and the difference aesthetically between these two ports is remarkable. Visually, the Arabian Coast is perfect and makes up for lack of attractions through it's beauty. One gorgeous ride not to be missed (and is exclusive to TDS) is Sinbad's Storybook Voyage. Similar at first glance to 'it's a small world' as it is a boat ride through a magical world with a theme song playing on repeat. But that is where the similarities stop. The technology used for the animatronics greatly surpasses that of IASW and is on-par with the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean. The song is super catchy and you will be sure to fall in love with Sinbad's gorgeous little sidekick, Chandu who I actually thought was just a baby Rajah when I first started seeing his merchandise around the park.  I hope they never change this attraction as it is such a hidden gem.

View of the Arabian Coast from Mermaid Lagoon. Breathtaking,
The Curry Popcorn. Oh my goodness!!! 
Aladdin and Jasmine making a little one's day
Jasmine's Flying Carpets

Neighbouring the Arabian Coast, is Mermaid Lagoon. This area excited the (very much still alive) child in me as it feels like you have taken a trip down to Atlantica. The area is really designed for little ones to enjoy, but who doesn't want to explore Ariel's Secret Grotto or have a wander through the gift shop inside a whale?? Unfortunately the 'Under the Sea' show, which is the port's biggest drawcard was closed when we were there, but I have heard nothing but great things. Guess we will just have to go back...

Mermaid Lagoon
The colours used are just perfect
Ariel herself !
King Triton greeting his guests at the entrance to the Castle
Oh Prince Eric! I was way too excited when I saw this. 
The gorgeous play area. The imagineers have truly made it feel like you are underwater. 

Sebastian's Kitchen. Given this is one of our Kitten's names, we had to dine here.
My favourite gift shop at the resort. Her eyes open and close too. 

Plan of Attack
As this has already been a fairly long post, I will keep the tips section short, sweet and informative. 
The day we visited TDS, the open time was 8am. We were at the gates by 7am, and were very happy with our close proximity to the front!

Our spot in the queue. When it got closer to opening time everyone moved closer the the gates which made our spot even better.
You don't even want to know how many people were behind us. Thousands. Tip: don't be one of those people...
Pre-game warm up stretch. 
As soon as the gates opened, Hubby ran for his life towards Toy Story Mania, and I did my standard brisk walk to Journey to the Centre of the Earth.  When I arrived there, the wait time was only 5 minutes. It took hubby a while to get to me and I think we ended up waiting a total of 15. 

The queue length once hubby arrived. By the time he got our FastPasses and came to meet me the line was right around the corner. The passes we exhausted for the entire day by the time we arrived back at Toy Story Mania to ride it. 
We have the golden tickets!
I arrived at this attraction as soon as the park opened, while hubby ran to Toy Story.
This is not a normal standby time, I must be a faster runner than I thought.

After our Journey down to Centre Earth, we decided to line up for Tower of Terror while we waited for our FastPass window for Toy Story to open. We reached the queue a bit before 9am, and the wait was estimated at 60 minutes so our time frame was working out perfectly. The backstory to this attraction is quite detailed, and very different to the stories in the American Parks. Even though it is mostly versed in Japanese, we found it easy to follow and understand the basics of the storyline and the curse of the hotel owner, Harrison Hightower III. The wait is extremely detailed and a big part of why we liked the ride so much. The lovely folks over at Disney Tourist Blog have done a wonderful comparison of all the Tower of Terror's around the World which is a great read for fans of the attraction.

The exquisite Hotel Hightower.
Gorgeous stain glass window in the foyer of the Hotel

Toy Story

By the time we had finished at the Tower of Terror, our window to ride Toy Story and the eligibility to be able to get our next fast had opened (I explain the FastPass rules in a previous post here). We toyed with what we should do, and decided that Hubby would run to Indiana Jones to grab a FP for that attraction and I would head to Toy Story. Toy Story is right next door to ToT, and Indiana Jones is at the other end of the park. I know who lucked out in that deal...
The ride is like the others Toy Story attractions found at Walt Disney World and California Adventure. If it aint broke...

After the ride, we stopped to grab a serve of Alien Mochi Dumplings from the cart located outside of Toyville. We had absolutely no idea what to expect with these cute little snacks, and I felt bad for eating something that looked so happy... 
They were delicious, sweet & slimy, and filled with either a chocolate, strawberry or vanilla custard. 

The dumpling cart. The line was surprisingly short. Maybe because it was still breakfast time. 
look at these happy little guys.!

Super excited by the idea of trying these, no matter what my tired 'I've been up since the crack of dawn' eyes may be telling you. 

Once we had got the FastPasses we wanted and done all of the key players of the Park early, we took it easy and walked around the Ports exploring and hoping on attractions as they came about. 
We left the Park mid afternoon (not before getting a FastPass for Journey for when we returned that evening!) and went back to the Hilton for a freshen up (which means a nap for Hubby and a quick shower and change of clothes for me as it ended up being quite a chilly day! As you can see above, I was not really dressed appropriately). I returned to the the park solo armed with warmer clothes to take photos and walk around and hubby met me back there at nightfall. 

The entrance on two different days 

The gorgeous MiraCosta Hotel in the Mediterranean Harbour
These guys were waiting in the Mediterranean Harbour for me.

Mt Promethues on a cloudy day vs a sunny day.  Completely different feel!

The gorgeous streets of the American Waterfront
So pretty!
The carnival-like Toyville at nighttime

Dinner and drinks. We loved that Kirin was the beer of choice at Disney. Even I came back a beer drinker after this trip!

I am not the greatest night photographer so once it got dark we just enjoyed the atmosphere and put the camera away. The hour or two in the park where the sun is starting to go down were my absolute favourites. The sunset casts a beautiful glow over the whole park, and it is almost like it was designed exactly for that time of day. We stayed until close and rode a few of our favourite rides again and watched the nighttime show 'Fantasmic'.

I will finish this post with saying that if you are a true Disney Parks fan, you need to try your hardest to get here at least once in your lifetime. The attention to detail and obvious heart and soul put into designing DisneySea is not something you will see anywhere else. I would come back here in a heartbeat before any of the other parks I have visited for that very reason. Pure Magic.


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