Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mysterious Island

Today, we will take a look at Tokyo DisneySea's Mysterious Island. This land is supposed to be hidden inside a caldera. It is completely encircled by rock and the only way in or out is through one of several different tunnels. There are two Jules Verne inspired attractions in this land, "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" and "Journey To The Center Of The Earth". The circular ramp pictured below is part of the queue for the 20,000 Leagues attraction. The DisneySea Transit Steamer boats pass through Mysterious Island, but they do not stop here.

The glass domed structure below is a souvenir shop called Nautilus Gifts. On the lower level, Captain Nemo's submarine is docked alongside the Nautilus Galley restaurant.

The themeing in this area (actually in the whole park) is truly incredible. There is steam that rises up off of the lava that is "flowing" down into the water. Huge jets of water also shoot up into the air every so often to give the effect of an underwater volcanic vent. And Mt. Prometheus itself, "erupts" with huge blasts of fire coming out of the top of it while a loud rumbling sound reverberates throughout Mysterious Island. The eruption takes place throughout the day and night, but I have never been able to figure out if it is on a timed schedule or if it is just random.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Arabian Coast

Today we will be visiting Tokyo DisneySea's Arabian Coast area. The large body of water at the park's entrance branches off into a waterway that runs around the entire park. The different themed ports all sit along the banks of that waterway. To reach the main entrance to the Arabian Coast guests cross over the waterway using the large bridge pictured above.

After passing through the entrance, guest enter into this large public square. To the left is the Casbah Food Court and through the large archway on the right, is The Magic Lamp Theater. The park guide gives the following description of this attraction: "Discover illusion and laughter in a theatrical experience combining live actors, magic, music, and the Genie from Disney's Aladdin." This is actually a live stage show with performers that interact with 3-D projections of Genie. It's all done very well and while the dialogue is all in Japanese, guests that speak English can ask cast members for a small hand held device that displays subtitles in English. Even without subtitles, it's pretty easy to understand what is being said because it's all conveyed so well in the acting.

The archway above leads to a winding marketplace with shops and a major "E" ticket attraction, "Sinbad's Storybook Voyage". We will take a closer look at that attraction in a future post.
The structure above houses the two-story Caravan Carousel. Guests can ride on Arabian horses, camels, elephants, griffins, or the Genie from Aladdin.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tower of Terror

Tokyo DisneySea has the most detailed Tower of Terror out of all the Tower of Terror attractions around the world. Tokyo's theme and backstory are completely different than any of the other versions. This one does not have a Twilight Zone tie-in. Instead, the New York City Preservation Society is supposed to be taking guests on a tour of an old hotel. The hotel's owner, Harrison Hightower had mysteriously disappeared one New Year's Eve when the hotel was struck by lightning and the elevator to his penthouse was sent crashing to the ground. There is more to the hotel owner's backstory that involves him traveling around the world and taking ancient artifacts from other countries. One of these artifacts was a cursed idol by the name of Shiriki Utundu. The idol is a part of the pre-show, which includes some pretty awesome special effects, and it also turns up again on the elevator ride up to the penthouse. After riding all versions of this attraction, I would have to say that this is my favorite both inside and out.

Just take a look at the detail on the exterior. The hotel sign is fiber optic and the part that reads "Tower of Terror" fades in every so often and then fades out. The view below is of the side of the building just after exiting the attraction.

The S.S. Columbia is "docked" just down the street. Also according to the backstory, the owner of the hotel was a huge shipping magnate and owned a steamship line in addition to the hotel.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

American Waterfront

The American Waterfront is the next port we will be visiting in Tokyo DisneySea. This "land" is quite large and features two different themes. The first is a 1920's/1930's New York City theme and the second is a New England fishing village theme. The two areas together are so big, that we will just look at an overview of the New York section today. The building to the right in the photo above is McDuck's Department Store, which is a large "Emporium" type of store. The taller building down the street and on the left is the Broadway Music Theater, where guests can see daily performances of a "Broadway" style musical review.

The DisneySea Electric Railway is an elevated railway that takes guests from the American Waterfront area to Port Discovery which is another "land" on the other side of the park. The shot above is of the American Waterfront station (with the Tower of Terror behind it) and the photo below was taken looking down from that station's platform.

The American Waterfront has it's own steamship, the S.S. Columbia. To me this ship more than just resembles the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. If you recall, in the early nineties, there was talk of Anaheim's "second gate" being built in Long Beach alongside the Queen Mary because at that time, Disney was leasing and operating the ship's hotel and attractions. This second gate was going to be called "Port Disney" and was going to feature different themed sea ports, a volcano, etc. Disney then decided that rather than build that park in Long Beach, they would build "Westcot" in the old Disneyland parking lot, but ultimately those plans were changed and they decided to build "Six Flags Over Anaheim" instead.

I must say that if Port Disney had been built in Long Beach, I have every confidence in Disney that they would have totally botched it up and that it would not have even come close to resembling Tokyo DisneySea. The Japanese spent 4 billion (in U.S. dollars) on Tokyo DisneySea. Disney spent less than 700 million on California Adventure. I think I have mentioned it before, but Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are NOT owned by Disney. They are owned by The Oriental Land Co., and I must say once again, that they have surpassed Disney in the quality, themeing, and maintenance departments, which is very sad.

Ahhh, but again I digress.......anyway, the S.S. Columbia steamship is not a real ship, but an incredible simulation (like Beatlemania). It is actually a "building" with water around it (sorry to destroy the illusion). In the photo below, that thin little horizontal strip of water visible just above the concrete wall on the right side of the ship, is actually Tokyo Bay. The illusion of this being a real ship is incredible. From inside the park, it appears that the ship could just back out into the bay at any moment. The ship has two themed restaurants on board as well as a dock that serves as a stage for a show entitled, "Over The Waves".

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mediterranean Harbor

Tokyo DisneySea is divided into seven themed "ports" or "lands". The first "port" guests encounter after entering the park is Mediterranean Harbor. In the photo above, the Mira Costa Hotel can be seen in the distance. The archway in the middle of the hotel, is the same archway we saw in yesterday's post. It is the entrance into both the park and Mediterranean Harbor. The Spanish galleon in the foreground is a part of Fortress Explorations and the smaller boat out in the water is one of DisneySea's Transit Steamers. We will be visiting both of these attractions in future posts.

Another attraction in this area is the Venetian Gondolas. They are listed in the DisneySea guidebook along with the following description: "Enjoy a relaxing ride along the waterways of Mediterranean Harbor on an authentic gondola operated by gondoliers." The godolier's spiel is in Japanese, but also includes some basic Italian ("Arrivederci", "Ciao", etc.)

Pictured below, are some "ancient ruins." Hercules and Meg can often be seen posing for photos and signing autographs in this area.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tokyo DisneySea!

This is the entrance to the Tokyo Disney Resort's second theme park, Tokyo DisneySea. The buildings in the background are part of the Mira Costa Hotel which is actually inside the park. Guests walk through an archway below the hotel to enter the main area of the park.

Here is the view as you are walking underneath the hotel.

The park's main icon is Mt. Prometheus. An attraction called "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is located inside the volcano and at it's base is Fortress Explorations. The guide book describes the fortress as, "an interactive play area that includes plenty of wondrous scientific instruments and a recreation of a Spanish galleon. I am sometimes tempted to call it the "Tom Sawyer Island" of this park, but that really would not do it justice.

We will be staying in Tokyo DisneySea for the next week or so and exploring this incredibly themed park.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Monorail

Tokyo Disneyland's monorail circles the entire resort and has four stations. There is a station at both of the theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, there is one at Ikspiari, which is their "Downtown Disney", and the fourth one, Bayside Station, is located behind the park and services the Tokyo Disney Resort "Good Neighbor Hotels"

The photo above shows the Tokyo Disneyland monorail station. This station is located just outside the park entrance, across from the ticket booths. Part of the old parking lot is visible through the archway. This is where the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel now stands....it just opened in July of 2008. The photo below is a more recent shot and was taken from inside the monorail station looking out at the hotel which was still under construction at the time.

The picture below shows the monorail just as it is about to enter Bayside Station. The Tokyo Bay Hilton is visible in the distance.

From the ground looking up, the monorail's windows look pretty small....almost like portholes, but these monorails are quite large (compare the size of the windows to the doors on the exterior shot above).

As you can see, the windows appear much larger from the inside. Notice the height of the cars which allows for passengers to stand up and the cool handstraps/rings that are provided to hold onto.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fantasyland Friday

At Tokyo Disneyland, this sign designates where Fantasyland begins and Tomorrowland ends.

The shot above was taken just after exiting the Haunted Mansion. That's the Carrousel on the left and Dumbo sits just behind the hedge on the right.

YES, in Tokyo, the Haunted Mansion is located in Fantasyland. In Japanese culture, ghost stories are considered to be a part of fables and fairy tales, so it fits in perfectly here. As an interesting side note, each of the four Haunted Mansions around the world are all in a different "land." In Anaheim, the attraction is in New Orleans Square, in Walt Disney World, Liberty Square and at Disneyland Paris, it's in Frontierland. Tokyo's sits more or less where Anaheim's old Fantasyland Skyway station sits today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In & Around The Castle

This is the view from inside the archway of Cinderella's Castle at Tokyo Disneyland. Off in the distance is World Bazaar (Main St.) with it's glass roof. This photo was taken a few years ago before the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel was built in the parking lot. The new hotel just opened this summer and is now visible over the rooftops of World Bazaar, but it has been designed in a turn of the century style and the two of them fit together quite well.

The sea serpent topiary above sits to the right of Cinderella's Castle, approximately in the same spot as Anaheim's Snow White Grotto. Tokyo does have a Snow White Grotto, but their's is located to the left of the castle, approximately in the same spot as Anaheim's Plaza Gardens.

It's difficult to tell from just looking at the photo above, but the grotto and wishing well sit between the castle and Westernland (Frontierland). As an interesting side note.....neither Tokyo Disneyland or Disneyland in Anaheim list their Snow White Grotto as attractions. Hong Kong Disneyland however, does list their grotto as an actual attraction. My guess is that they do this because they are SO lacking in real attractions (their only "E" ticket-type attractions are Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise and It's A Small World) that they have to really stretch to come up with some way of making people think there is actually more to do in that park than there really is. After all, Hong Kong Disneyland also lists their "island" attraction and their "rafts to the island" as two separate attractions. To me that just WREAKS of desperation. Poor Hong Kong Disneyland! As an additional side note....neither Disneyland Paris or Walt Disney World have a "Snow White Grotto."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Castle Courtyard

This is the castle courtyard at Tokyo Disneyland. The Sorcerer's Apprentice statue above was dedicated on April 15, 2003, the date of Tokyo DL's 20th anniversary (The park is currently celebrating it's 25th anniversary).

The courtyard is pretty large. The drinking fountains in the lower right corner of the above photo are located in front of a Cinderella statue/fountain. Similar versions of this fountain can be found in Walt Disney World's and Paris Disneyland's Fantasylands.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor.....

Before we take a look at the very last float in Tokyo Disneyland's Electrical Parade Dreamlights, let's take one more look at the "Small World" unit of the parade. The music for this unit is of course the Sherman Brothers classic and as the song is just about to finish, the colored lights on all four Small World floats start to fade and are partially replaced by white twinkling lights. Then, on the very last note of the song, all the lights go entirely white for just about four seconds before immediately reverting back to color. From what I remember, the finale of Spectro Magic at Walt Disney World does something similar, but I seem to recall that parade's lights turning white and staying that way for a little while before changing back. Tokyo's effect takes place VERY quickly.

The photo below shows the lights in transition.....

And now, all white twinkling lights.....

The parade is sponsored by Unisys and they get their very own float at the end of the parade.

Following the sponsor's float, we have the obligatory rope carriers. In Tokyo however, the rope has been replaced with three separate bars that are carried by performers wearing light-up flower costumes.

Tokyo's new version of the Electrical Parade is a wonderful reworking of a long time beloved Disney classic. As metioned in an earlier post, some floats have already been retired and replaced in the six years since the parade was brought back. The parade runs nightly, year round and there is even a special Christmas version that was introduced two years ago. Perhaps in a future post, we will revisit the parade and take a look back at some of the floats that are no longer around. I hope everyone has enjoyed seeing Tokyo Disneyland's version of the Electrical Parade!

Monday, September 15, 2008

There Is Just One Moon and One Golden Sun......

The Small World unit of Tokyo Disneyland's Electrical Parade Dreamlights is made up of 4 large floats. The first float is the "Showboat", with Daisy, Donald and the Three Little Pigs riding on the top deck.

The second float is the "Airship", with Chip and Dale.

The next float is the "Moon" float, with Mary Poppins, Bert, Pinocchio, Gepetto and Jiminy Cricket.

And last, we have the "Sun" float, with Lilo, Stitch, Roger Rabbit and Pluto.

This is the last unit of the parade however, the sponsor of the parade actually gets it's very own float in the Tokyo version of the Electrical Parade and that float follows the Small World unit. Tomorrow, we will look at that float and the illumintated performers that carry the rope at the end of the parade, as well as take a look at a neat little effect that takes place during the parade for one brief "blink and you've missed it" moment. Then we will move on to other subjects and even other parks. We still have a whole second Disney park in Tokyo to look at....."Tokyo DisneySea!"

Friday, September 12, 2008


This is the Cinderella unit of Tokyo Disneyland's Electrical Parade Dreamlights. The first float has some major fiber optic effects going on. As the Fairy Godmother casts her spell, the lights swirl around on the float and Cinderella's dress changes color (three different colors altogether). The photos don't really do this float justice....or any of the floats in the parade for that matter.

The prince makes an appearance with the glass slipper.

The "ball" float has some nice fiber optic effects as well. The dancers' dresses change colors at the same time as Cinderella's. The ladies are also on turntables and they rotate continuously. I wonder if they are dizzy by the end of the parade route?

The parade is almost over! Only one more unit left, but it's a pretty large one. Stay tuned!