Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tokyo Disneysea Fun and Attractions Guide

I'm a big Disney fan and an anime fan.  This would normally mean that (Tokyo DisneySea + visiting Japan + anime pop culture) = BIG WIN.  Well, I can say that DisneySea is definitely worth a visit for any Disneyphile.  It is a unique Disney theme park operated by a Japanese partner and the localization touches are wonderful - BUT the place is crowded.  I've been to Disneyworld twice and love the place, but this park is on the high end for crowding for me.  I think it is because it is popular and there is a massive population 35 million people who live in the greater Tokyo area (Tokyo + surroundings) and they can all visit by train within 2-3 hours.
Entry Gateway
Mickey Columbus
Morning Float with the Disney Characters
Mysterious Island and Mount Prometheus
Laughable Disclaimer often found in investing blogs (at the time of writing this article I own Disney stock, but that just means I believe in the company's capabilities). Disney is a remarkable company due to its great character franchises, elaborate tie-ins, and cross-marketing for its products.  This is very similar to the Japanese method for cross-marketing anime/manga and all of the product tie-ins; something that I just nickname the Japanese anime industrial complex. For example, a Disney film like Frozen has wonderful music, princess characters that can be made into toys and characters at their theme parks, books, a theme park attraction at some point, there are video games, and all sorts of character goods from bedsheets to snack foods.  In anime/manga you have the same type of thing happening (but not to the same broad audience).  There are toys, models, manga, short novels, jpop idol crossovers, soundtrack CDs, mini-theme parks, pop-up attractions, art figures, and all other other character goods too.  Both are imaginative operations that build that all encompassing consumer experience to maximize their franchise potential.  If you like this, which I do, it is a wonderful thing, otherwise it is probably too much of a good thing.
Pokemon Cup Noodle for cross branding.
Tower of Terror at night.  Shot turned out really cool.

S.S. Columbia
DisneySea is unique with its big central lagoon (like Epcot in some ways), and a giant volcano as a centerpiece.  This giant volcano houses a secret lake with Captain Nemo's Nautilus and the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride.  Mountains and Disney parks are used to usually feature specific rides and there is even a book titled "The Disney Mountains - Imagineering at Its Peak." There is a regular Disneyland theme park there too, but I passed on that as DisneySea is "only available in Japan".  Back in 2009 I hit the park on November 2, and it was a bad time as it was a long weekend, so the park was mobbed by mid-morning.  I highly recommend you determine which attraction you want to see first, get everyone in line, and have a runner grab fast passes for the next attraction as the first thing you do. For example, grab the fast passes to Indiana Jones while lining up for Journey to the Center of the Earth or something like that.
Mt. Prometheus Caldera

Drilling Machine
Visiting a Disney park sometimes can also seem as daunting as visiting another country with a foreign language.  Just look at the guidebooks that are out there.  The guidebooks to Disneyworld can be as big as a guidebook to New York city or France.  That is like major overplanning, but it is a direct response to not enough time and long lines (competition for scarce resources).  So do some preplanning, see what you need to see, eat what you want to try, and chill out in that awesome Disney imagineering experience to get the most out of it. It does take an hour or so based on my memory to get to Disney from central Tokyo, so an early start to hit the gates when the parks open is a must.  An alternative would be to stay at one of the Disney affiliated hotels nearby the parks to cut down on travel at the beginning and end of the day.  Getting there at opening is a big advantage to enjoying any Disney park.  Also, make sure you have a sit down meal at a restaurant if you can in the middle of the day to rest your feet for an hour or so to ensure you can endure to the end of the day.  Book your tickets in advance if you can too!

Having said all of this, here are some of the best things about Tokyo DisneySea:
  1. Mount Prometheous volcano, the fantasy city on the flanks of the volcano, and the caldera.  Love all the details from the Nautilus, drilling machine, to the eruptions that occur.  I really wanted to see the park just for this.
  2. Venice is an interesting little area.  Mediterranean Harbour gondolas are a nice highlight.
  3. The Americana area with the S.S. Columbia was cool too.  Check out the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge.
  4. The Arabian Coast Area is very atmospheric.
  5. Mermaid Lagoon with King Triton's castle is quite pretty.
You will also find that the Disney fanbase raves about many of the foods available at DisneySea.  Definitely try to check some of them out as food is part of any travel experience, but if you have been eating great Japanese food already in Tokyo, pick your essential experience carefully.

Some interesting food experiences here are:
  1. Gyoza Dog (aka Pork Gyoza) at the cart in the Mysterious Island
  2. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry custard Toy Story alien dumplings
  3. Curry flavoured popcorn
  4. Disney curry with rice at the Arabian Coast
  5. Tipo Torta pastry stick with a sweet potato filling
  6. Chandu the tiger tail chicken cream buns
  7. Sultan Sundae with coconut ice cream, mango chunks and pineapple syrup
There are many more of course and don't forget your Duffy the Bear souvenirs too (not my favourite, but popular over there).  Anyhow, if you're going to visit, have fun and check out the list of links below for more information.

Mysterious Island / Journey To The Center of the Earth




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