As you may remember from this post, I am a big fan of Disney and it runs in the family as a lot of my cousins are also big Disney fans. As a result this post is basically for them. Feel free to skip over it, no hurt feelings. 🙂
As soon as I arrived in Tokyo I saw my first ad for Disney in the train waiting area to head into the city. Zoom in and see if you can spot some hidden mickeys.
There are two Disney parks in Tokyo – your standard DisneyLand and DisneySea. DisneySea was created with adults in mind. Less cartoony, fewer children’s rides, but fun for any age still. I did my research and found out that Tokyo’s Disney parks are the busiest in the world. They consistently have days ranked in the 90s for attendance or receive the yield triangle that basically means don’t even bother unless you want to be absolutely miserable with little elbow room and LONG lines. I was going on a 90+ day even though it was a Monday (I did this purposefully). Apparently this was a school holiday period but again it didn’t even matter because as stated before, the parks are consistently in the 90s and above.
So early Monday morning I packed up my bag and ventured out on the extensive Tokyo subway system. The final route on the Disney monorail was similar to other Disney parks with big “hidden mickeys” (HM) as windows and as rings to grab onto inside. I was most impressed by the first HM that I encountered. It has got to be one of the largest ones yet. They placed two ventilation ducts above a half circle mural, forming a classic HM. On the monorail I also got a view of Cinderella’s castle.
The entrance to DisneySea has a gigantic globe (which I forgot to take a picture of) and then leads you into a seaport. There are seven areas in the park – Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, and Mysterious Island. The MiraCosta hotel, which is the official DisneySea hotel, has guest rooms that look into the waterfront of the park. It has its own entrance as well, similar to the Grand Californian in Anaheim and some other Disney hotels. It was wonderful to see how theY incorporated the hotel into the scenery of the park.
It was raining the day I went which fortunately deterred some of the crowds but it also posed the umbrella problem that I’m sure other tall people can relate to. The ends of umbrellas are right about my eye level, protective eyewear is necessary.
My goal was to get a fast pass for the longest line. After taking a look at the board of wait times, I was headed to Raging Sprits. Indiana Jones and Tower of Terror also had long lines but I knew Indy had a single rider line and I had zero desire to go on ToT, it’s just not for me.
So this was a first – there was a height limit on Raging Sprits and I surpassed it. A lady grabbed me just after I got my FastPass. She searched her book of information for an English page but couldn’t find it (more on the lack of English later) but I happened to spot the notice on my map. She took me over to a height measurer and I was over it by a bit. The silver lining was that at least I could exchange my FastPass at a different location. FYI Raging Spirits is similar to the California Screamin’ roller coaster at California Adventure with a 360° loop.
Next I snuck over to Indy since it was right there and I found my first HM in the park without even trying. It was right at the entrance to Indy.
I went over to the Arabian Coast and went on Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. It’s similar to It’s a Small World. All of the clouds had a loop in them that was similar enough to a classic Mickey outline that I didn’t think it was a coincidence. There was also a definite HM in a miniature cloud (first photo). Online there was a great debate about the locks seen in rides and around the park. Can they be considered an abstract HM? I’ll let you decide.
I snagged a FastPass for the Magic Lamp Theater and headed over to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It reminded me of the Peter Pan ride where you are suspended from above except you are in a small sub with an underwater scene instead of a pirate ship over London. While waiting in line, I found a classic HM in the rocks while waiting for the ride. I also found some more abstract ones. One was a pulley system in the waiting area, and the other was formed by the water outside.
No photos were allowed in the Magic Lamp Theater (photos below are in the outside area) so I was unable to snag a pic of the HM at the beginning of the show. Genie is coming up with a plan and draws out a loopy, classic Mickey.
I had read reviews about the lack of English at the park and unfortunately the reviews are correct, although the Magic Lamp Theater did provide a small device with subtitles (see above). This and one other show (the Big Band Beat, which is all in English) are the only ones that offer any English support. Additionally, the staff had very little English. I couldn’t even ask a question about a meal or a ride (asking about Hidden Mickeys), they would look straight at me and say the commands in Japanese. I read that the Jungle Cruise at DisneyLand isn’t available in English either, only Japanese. This is one that was available in 3 languages in Hong Kong. One thing to note is that the Tokyo parks are not owned by Disney, the rights are just leased from Disney by the Oriental Land Company, which could be a reason for the lack of English at such an internationally known place.
Journey to the Center of the Earth, which is similar to Space Mountain (my favorite ride), was closed.
For lunch I stopped at Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina for a Mexican lunch with rice made in Japan (this was noted on the display).
The River Mystic Show was an aerial arts show with fire, water, dancing, and lots of animal characters and human puppets at the Hangar Stage. English was not necessary for this show but still the only announcements were in Japanese.
Big Band Beat was an awesome show featuring Jazz and Swing music and was a show that was all in English.
Turtle Talk is not a show worth waiting in line for if you do not speak Japanese. It is an interactive show themed to be a viewing window into the sea from the S.S. Columbia. Crush from Finding Nemo shows up and interacts with the people seated in the small theater. It is not worth it especially if there is a wait time. I did find a HM right as I entered the holding pen though.
Since I had just waited in line in the rain and cold for something that was a waste of my time, I decided I needed a drink. Conveniently the Teddy Roosevelt Room was right there inside of the S. S. Columbia. Something I learned in Japan is that they make you wait even if you are going to sit at the bar. This was the second time this had happened to me. Meanwhile the bar only had 3 seats out of 20-30 actually occupied. When they seated me they let me choose whichever one I wanted. I was about to sit down and then decided to scoot over one and I was glad I did because I found my most favorite HM created out of the shadow of alcohol bottles. I looked up and there it was!
I wandered around the American Waterfront and Port Discovery while I decided where to have dinner.
I settled on the Yucatan Base Camp Grill where I had a delicious roasted chicken dish. I also splurged on a HM dessert that came with a Mickey/Minnie mug.
It was absolutely pouring down by the time I got out of dinner so I went to Triton’s Kingdom/the Mermaid Lagoon which is inside. I had seen the outside but didn’t realize there was a whole underground kingdom.
I found a lot of HMs, including one best seen when standing directly over the sign as you walk down into the space. In Ariel’s Playground, a map features a rock in the shape of a Hm. The tiles and rocks both inside and out featured all sorts of HMs. The tiles in the entrance way were especially stunning with mermaids and other characters from the movie. I had heard about one with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy but was unable to find it. People must have thought I was crazy standing out there in the rain staring intently at the beautiful mosaics. There is a Mermaid Lagoon Theater but it is closed for a few more months while they finish renovations.
It’s fun walking around at night seeing everything lit up. Unfortunately Fantasmic and fireworks had been cancelled due to the rain. I was about ready to leave when I decided that I would do something I haven’t done since I was a kid – wait in line to see the characters.
I found some awesome HMs while waiting for Minnie. There is a book of bugs featuring a multitude of hidden Mickey characters. Take a look below.
A bucket in the line for Mickey at the Donald Duck Temple seemed to have footprints that could represent a HM so I am declaring it one because Disney is very intentional, there is a reason for everything.
Goofy loved how tall I was and made sure to point out how tall both of us were, especially compared to his attendant. We had a goofy time together.
On the way back I hopped on the Electric Railway, just to say I did and because I knew there was a popcorn stand near the next station, specifically a caramel popcorn stand. There were an abundance of flavors of popcorn at Disney. It was impressive.
As I made my way around the Mediterranean Harbor, a group of girls pulled me aside and asked for a photo. I happily obliged and of course asked them to take one of me with them too. I was just thinking I needed one last pic of me with the volcano and the evening skyline, so now I have one of myself and my five closest friends.
Overall it was a wonderful experience despite the rain and lack of English. Here are some final thoughts:
I was one of only a dozen non-Asians that I saw in the park. The only non-Asians in the cast were in the Big Band Beat.
Japan has heated toilet seats everywhere, including in public parks but apparently they weren’t in Disney’s budget. My bum was disappointed, especially on that cold day.
They had a LOT more FastPass rides than in Hong Kong, which only had two. There were eight total (one was a show) at the park.
As noted before – Tokyo Disney Parks are the only ones not wholly or partially owned by the Walt Disney Company, which could contribute to the lack of English. They are owned by the Oriental Land Company, which licenses the theme from Disney.