June 27, 2009
This was not my first visit to Tokyo Disneyland – not even close. I’ve been lucky enough to have had business reasons to visit Tokyo in recent years, and usually have found time to visit TDL or TDS, even if only for a few hours. However, this was my first chance to spend a full day at either park in nearly two years.
Instead of picking up the Keiyo line from Tokyo station, I took the Yurakucho line to Shin-Kiba and connected there. I’vc found that this strategy is usually much more efficient than making the absurd transfer at Tokyo. Well, except for the time that I accidentally boarded a commuter express train at Shin-Kiba, which not only bypassed Maihama but didn’t stop until Soga. (That’s one way to learn some new kanji…)
Upon arrival, I noticed that the men’s room at Maihama appears to have had renovations. Which is good, since I remember it being repulsive.
I arrived at the TDL ticket windows shortly before they opened at 7am, and after buying a 2-day passport (TDL for day 1, TDS for day 2), I found a spot in line – under cover, fortunately, since it was already hot.
The park officially opened at 8am, but the gates were opened at about 7:50am. Despite being near the front of the crowd, and the shortcut to Tomorrowland being open, there was already a mob at the fastpass machines for Monsters, Inc., so I joined the standby line (which was already beyond Star Tours and creeping towards Space Mountain). The line moved reasonably fast (probably because the first fastpass window hadn’t opened). I noticed that the “Monstervision” explaination the ride included some of the same footage used at WDW’s Laugh Floor.
The ride itself? Cute but not compelling. The use of the “flashlights” to find hidden monsters reminded me of Universal’s Men in Black ride, only with less excitement. I’d ride it again, but not wait 120+ minutes for it. (I noticed that the dial-shaped wait time sign for the standby line STARTED at 120 minutes, and went up from there.)
I headed towards Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, but decided to bypass it when there was a 20-minute posted wait just to obtain a fastpass, and a 210-minute wait posted for the standby line. (Yes, it’s a summer Saturday, and everyone in Tokyo is at TDL.) I instead headed towards Splash Mountain for a fastpass, and joined the standby line for Big Thunder Mountain. The posted wait time was 80 minutes but the actual wait time was 45 minutes.
Before my Splash Mountain window opened, I saw the revamped Tiki Room for the first time. Again, cute but not compelling. At least this Stitch doesn’t burp chili dog, and the wait (at around 10am) was minimal.
This was not my first ride on Tokyo’s version of Splash Mountain, but I did make a conscious effort to notice departures from the WDW version. I certainly don’t remember turkeys appearing in the WDW version. And I take it that the vultures before the big drop are supposed to be Buddhist priests, rather than undertakers.
Up next were the Western River Railroad and the Country Bears, both of which were new to me. Both were better than I expected – I hadn’t known that the railroad had a primeval diorama, nor that the bears show was the “vacation” version and not the “original” that currently plays in WDW. The railroad had a posted wait of 40 minutes but the actual wait was about 25 minutes; the Country Bears was (were?) a walk-on.
I had lunch at the Hungry Bear (despite having previously wondered why curry was an appropriate theme for a Westernland restaurant). As for many other restaurants at lunchtime, there was a line just to get inside, but it wasn’t a long wait, and the crowds seem to have overlooked the seating available in the neighboring Mile Long Bar.
Since I hadn’t ridden It’s A Small World at TDL before, and the posted wait was 20 minutes, I did. And now I can say that I did, and get on with my life.
I had ridden Star Tours at TDL before, but not for a couple of years. Despite the crowds elsewhere, it was all but deserted – a 10-minute wait. Perhaps it’s showing its age. I, on the other hand, seem to have less issues with motion sickness every time that I ride it, so perhaps I’m aging in reverse.
Next was a snack at the Pan Galactic Pizza Port. The food was nothing special, but the entertainment puts Sonny Eclipse at WDW to shame. I also took bought some souvenirs, looking to avoid the crowds that tend to hit the shops at the end of the day. It appears that Marie is no longer the character du jour; I found some Fifi toys, but only in one shop in World Bazaar, so perhaps her time has come and gone since my last visit.
I was able to grab a spot with a decent view of the parade near the Haunted Mansion about 10 minutes before it started – it certainly helps that in Japan, the crowds tend to stay seated when watching, so even if you’re far back there aren’t heads in the way. However, “Jubilation” didn’t do anything for me – the music didn’t inspire, and many of the floats seemed familiar from the former “Dreams on Parade.”
I gambled that since the parade was in progress, it would be a good time to return to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. This turned out to be right – the posted wait time was 120 minutes, but the actual wait was 20 minutes. It might actually have been worth 120 minutes, given its free-moving vehicles and acid-trip depiction of Pooh’s heffalump/woozle dreams.
I had a fastpass for Buzz Lightyear much later in the day, but since my energy was flagging, I decided to try the standby line. Not as successful a strategy as for Pooh, but despite the posted time being 120 minutes, the real wait was 75 minutes. Long, but the ride is certainly superior to the WDW version, since its guns have a full range of motion.
I also had a fastpass for the Haunted Mansion (and again tried to spot the differences with the WDW version – not counting the recent WDW upgrades) and then rode Pirates of the Carribbean (which I assume is largely a California clone, but I’m not an expert on DL) with a 20-minute wait.
Having seen Dreamlights before (and having seen and been underwhelmed by the TDR fireworks), I decided to call it a day, after some snacks from Café Orleans and the Gazebo. My timing for train connections was excellent – after entering Maihama station, I was back at my hotel in 30 minutes, despite having to make two connections.
Some general observations: The Japanese may have a reputation for orderly behavior – and it’s often true (i.e., sitting down for the parade). But it wasn’t in evidence at park opening time, as visitors raced to Monsters, Inc. (and I assume also to Pooh). And kids seem to behave the same anywhere – I bet many of the parents who bought their children toy guns upon leaving Pirates will be sorry on the way home, as all they hear is click … click … click. Some toys are bound to “disappear.”
I saw a few but not many other non-Japanese visitors. Although one had what appeared to be a double stroller (does TDR even rent them?) with just one child in it, and the child appeared too old to need a stroller at all. My Japanese skills are limited, at best, although I tried to use what I know, to avoid being an “ugly American”. Sometimes it helped and sometimes it didn’t – some cast members appeared to find it easier for me to just gesticulate/point than to try to make requests in Japanese. But that may only mean that I need to need more work on my pronunciation/vocabulary/etc.
In all, a good day. I was disappointed that Space Mountain and Roger Rabbit were in rehab (and, to a lesser extent, that Pinocchio was in rehab and the Mickey Mouse Revue is gone for good), but I probably wouldn’t have to fit them all in anyway.