EDIT: After pasting these two posts in and reading through I realized that they are REALLY long. This is my first time to do a trip report so I'm not sure if this is ok or is too much detail or what. Let me know if I should change it up and I will do what I can.
Ok, for starters I know this post is WAAAYYYY overdue. Luckily, I did remember to blog while in Japan so I am pulling most of this report from my blog and will add in anything I can remember along the way. I will be making a separate pics post as well:
Oct. 11th, my first day at TDL:
I arrived at Maihama (the JR station at TDR) around 7:45. This was later than I originally planned but I thought, “Hey, what’s the big deal. There shouldn’t be that many people at TDL today anyway.” The only way to respond to this thought is, HAHAHA! I headed from the train station down the ramp and over to the TDL ticket line. The line for people waiting to enter the park was out past the ticket booths, way past them. All the same I headed to the ticket booth, bought my 4-day “passport,” and went to wait in line to enter. I finally made it into the park around 8:30-8:45. My first suggestion to anyone planning a trip to TDR, get there early!!!
Once inside the park I took a few quick pictures of the entrance then headed for Tomorrowland. On the way I stopped by the Plaza Restaurant (TDL’s version of the Tomorrowland Terrace) and took some pictures for my sister since she used to work at Tomorrowland Terrace in WDW. The workers looked at me like I was a little touched in the head for taking pictures of them but I figured after all the Japanese tourists I had taking random pictures at WDW there was nothing strange at all about it (I'm hoping that this wasn't something really offensive to them...).
After doing this I went over to Space Mountain with the intention of getting a FastPass. The wait was only 25 minutes so I decided to wait in line instead. Space Mountain was only the first of many things at TDL to make me realize how cruddy some of the things at WDW really are. Don’t get me wrong, WDW is my home park and I will always like it but OLC (the company that actually owns TDL) has gone leaps and bounds above WDW with many of its attractions. The theming to their Space Mountain was amazing! The ride however was more or less the same (roller coaster in the dark with stars all around) though their coaster did have side-by-side seating and the ride didn’t feel like a throwback to 1970. It leaves me somewhat torn because I recognize the superior theming at TDL however, at the same time, I love the retro feel of many parts of WDW. All the same, this definitely made me feel like WDW could at least do a refurb to their Space Mountain.
Next I went over to AstroBlasters (the TDL version of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin) and again, this was like the WDW version on steroids. The guns here can actually be picked up (they are tethered to the front of the car) and there are different types of targets that have different point values (circle targets worth x, square targets worth x, diamond targets worth x). Of course, in defense of WDW, their ride debuted in ‘98 while TDL’s didn’t open till ‘05 so this seems to be simply a natural progression for the ride.
After AstroBlasters, I went to wait in line for “One Man’s Dream II,” a musical which was entirely in Japanese! While the words were lost on me, I was able to get the general gist of the action and most of the songs were Disney classics which I know the words to well enough. It was a great stage show and shows how good the Entertainment division at TDL really is (gosh, I’m getting sick of hearing myself say that TDL is better than WDW!).
Next, I went to Star Tours and for the first time, I can say that it honestly wasn’t any better than the version at DHS (Disney Hollywood Studios, MGM right now but it is changing in January). My reason for saying that is because I felt like I was back at DHS! The queue is slightly different but still has the transport with laser damage that R2-D2 and C3PO are looking at as well as the little robot who looks like he is from “Short Circuit.” The ride vehicle and videos are also exactly the same but I did enjoy hearing the attraction in Japanese (”Brake-ee, Brake-ee!” “Light-o speed!”). I think that, until all the parks do a refurb of this ride they should replace all of them with the Japanese audio so at least we can get a chuckle out of it (For those of you wondering, yes I do like this ride very much but it is also very overdue for refurb). While the ride was in Japanese the similarities to DHS were so uncanny that I wouldn’t have been surprised to walk into Tatooine Traders (the shop at the exit to the ride in DHS) at the exit.
After Star Tours I went to go try my luck at the parade lottery. For the special parades they have lotteries to give out special seating. You can see the parade from behind the special seating but obviously it is nicer to get a little closer and sit on a bench. The lottery is free but can only be tried once a day and is simply the best way to give out the seats. I wasn’t lucky enough to win but it didn’t matter since the show that I was going for (second showing of the night) was canceled due to inclement weather anyway (it was just a little sprinkle).
I then went back to the Plaza Restaurant for lunch and had baked chicken with curry and rice, french fries, and Fanta Melon to drink. While the pricing wasn’t all too bad (910yen), the portion size is quite small compared to the US. I have actually noticed this with most food and drink here. Canned drinks are usually the same size as their US counterparts but bottled drinks are often somewhat smaller and the regular or large size drinks here tend to be closer to our small and medium (heck, the large here usually isn’t up to a medium size). In spite of this I still felt full when I was done and actually felt better than I do at WDW since, when you finish lunch there, you often feel more like heading back to the room and taking a nap rather than going back out into the park. After eating lunch I found out that TDL does have a Tomorrowland Terrace however, their’s is much more like WDW’s Cosmic Ray’s in terms of size and busyness.
I then headed over to the Starjets (TDL’s version of Astro Orbiter). Once I got on the ride I managed to take one picture but was then told that no pictures were allowed (this involves acting like you have an imaginary camera in your hands, taking a picture, then making an x with your arms. Ok now everyone try it for yourself!). I can’t compare this ride to WDW since the wait always seemed too long for what seemed like nothing more than a copy of Dumbo. Sure enough, that what it was here and the wait (at 35 minutes) was longer than I would have liked (moreso because the line was in the sun though).
After getting off Starjets I noticed a lot of people were waiting near the exit for the next parade so I decided there was as good of a place as any to wait for the parade. This was very lucky on my part since the TDL parade stops (I’m guessing at various spots but I only know for sure that it stopped where I was) to do a performance right in the middle of the parade. I was where Mickey’s float was which meant lots of good chances to get pictures of Mickey! The parade was amazing and I continue to kick myself for not getting a cd of the parade music (it was the special Halloween parade no less!).
Once the parade was over I went over to Grand Circuit Raceway so that I could say I did all of the attractions in Tomorrowland. This attraction is almost a carbon copy of the one in WDW though the queue features some better theming and the cars have a system in place to prevent you from bumping the car in front of you by shutting off the engine and hitting the brakes if you get too close to the car in front of you (for the sake of anyone who is Japanese and is reading this, I’ll skip the obligatory Japanese driver crack). After riding the WDW version I can say that I much prefer getting bumped once or twice to the shock of the car slamming on the brakes because you are apparently “too close” (a car length at least) to the car in front of you.
After Grand Circuit Raceway I checked my map to make sure that I had done everything in Tomorrowland, decided to skip Toontown for now (only thing I want to ride there is “Roger Rabbit’s Toon Car Spin") since most of it is for younger kids, and headed for Fantasyland. It was in Fantasyland that I learned the err of my ways for not getting fastpasses to the most popular attractions earlier in the day. Fantasyland houses one of TDL’s most popular year-round attractions, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, and the most popular during the Halloween celebration, the Haunted Mansion (yep, it is in Fantasyland here, very weird). Since I didn’t get a fastpass earlier in the day, I ended up waiting in both of these lines which had 100 minute wait times for each. I had read that you should fastpass these two attractions, I knew what the crowds were like, and still I did nothing.
I went to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt first and, on the way, stopped by the popcorn cart for some Honey Popcorn. TDR (Tokyo Disney Resort, aka both TDL and TDS) is known for having different types of popcorn throughout their parks. From classics like salted and caramel, to way out there like curry. I had been smelling the honey popcorn while in Tomorrowland and knew I had to have some. True to promises from others on the web, this stuff is great. The only downside was that a bucket of popcorn with lanyard (collectible bucket though) was 1100yen. Refills are only 400yen though and I’m looking forward to trying some black pepper popcorn. The honey popcorn was nice to snack on while standing in line but it didn’t make the line any shorter.
What amazed me most while waiting in line was the patience of everyone who was waiting. While I try to schedule my visits to WDW around the crowds I have worked there during some busy times and, invariably, when the wait times go over 45 minutes all the guests start grumbling about how “I paid blah blah blah dollars to come to Disney and now I’m stuck waiting in lines.” It is possible that I simply didn’t hear the grumbling because I didn’t understand a word anyone was saying but the looks on most of the faces seemed much more upbeat than those of the people who usually wait in line at WDW.
I did finally get on the ride and I can see why this is one of the more popular attractions. The cars start off in a line which would make you think they were tethered to each other but once you enter the attraction they almost seem free-wheeling. All three cars will head off in different directions to see different things. It is a very different take on the whole “dark ride” genre and I hope we get the ride in Florida soon!
After Hunny Hunt I headed over to everyone’s favorite Disney attraction… IT’S A SMALL WORLD!!! Yep, I was ready to submit myself to the siren’s song but while I was in line apparently the ride went 101 (broke). I’m assuming this because everyone turned around and headed for the exit. I don’t really know for sure that it broke since, as usual, I couldn’t understand a word the CM’s (cast members) were saying. It could have also been time for the IASW kids to have their lunch break but I somehow doubt it (those kids don’t get food!).
Since IASW was down I went over to Pinocchio’s Daring Journey which was a more traditional dark ride but still very nice in its execution.
After Pinocchio I decided it was time to go wait in line for the Haunted Mansion. The queue and the mansion exterior were both decorated for Halloween/Christmas in honor of the “The Nighmare Before Christmas” redo they give to the Haunted Mansion during Halloween. I must admit that I underestimated the overhaul done for this. I was expecting some pictures of Jack pasted here and there but instead found the mansion almost completely redone to revolve around TNBC. AA’s (Audio-Animatronics) of Jack and many other characters had been added to multiple parts of the ride and the attic was completely refurbed. One of my favorite updated scenes involved the casket that is partially nailed shut. While it usually has a hand pushing at the lid and a voice saying, “Let me out!” It now has one of the characters from TNBC sitting on top with a hammer and nails and a tag on the side that says “Do Not Open Before Christmas.” Not one scene was left un-updated. While I would not like to see HM like this year-round, it was a nice treat for Halloween and in spite of the 100 minute wait, I couldn’t help but leave with a smile.
On the way out of the ride I caught a little of the night parade (the first showing) going by the exit but it was over for the most part so I headed over to Westernland. Once in Westernland I first went over to Big Thunder but the line was 60 minutes for “the wildest ride in the wilderness” and since I had read that it was a duplicate of WDW I decided to leave it for Sunday.
I instead went over to Country Bear Jamboree. CBJ also has a temporary refurb right now as the “Vacation Jamboree” which is supposed to be all of the bears back from summer vacation. It was interesting to see that the show was much like the one at WDW (except with different outfits and songs, due mostly to the Vacation Jamboree) except this was also in Japanese. The funny part was they would start singing country songs (like “Achy, Breaky Heart”) in Japanese then change into English for part of the song. I have never been a huge fan of the CBJ (outside of Big Al’s “Blood On The Saddle”) but it wasn’t too bad and it was nice to sit and relax for a little while.
Once I finished with CBJ it was time to get a spot for “Dreamlights,” the nightly parade at TDL. “Dreamlights” is much like the old “Main Street Electrical Parade” (It uses “Baroque Hoedown” for its base music and may even use a few of the same floats) but in a revamped way. It did start drizzling while the parade was going on but the rain wasn’t too bad so I sat and watched anyway. I tried to decide whether I liked “Dreamlights” or “Spectromagic!” better but I think for now I am just going to have to call it a tie.
Once “Dreamlights” was done I headed to the Hub (the center of the park where all of the lands break off from) to get a good spot in front of the castle for Magic In The Sky, TDR’s nightly fireworks. After seeing Wishes, Hallowishes, and Illuminations more times than I care to count I was expecting nothing less than an amazing show since OLC had managed to match or beat WDW in almost ever regard. Unfortunately, I learned that expectations can be a letdown. Magic In The Sky seemed to be nothing more than some fireworks set to music much like a local Fourth of July celebration except with Disney music. Nothing over the castle (I’m guessing because they use the same fireworks for both TDL and TDS) in the way of pyro and nothing really going on with the castle at all. These fireworks just didn’t have the “Disney-feel” that Wishes has and lacked in the extra effects that shows like Illuminations have. Here’s a hint to OLC, go to WDW and learn how to do a night-time fireworks show!
After the fireworks were done I went over to POTC (Pirates Of The Carribean). Their version of Pirates, I think, is much closer to DLR (Disneyland Resort in Anaheim) than WDW since it has a big drop at the start and you can see the boats coming by in the queue line. What I did find interesting is that they have a table service restaurant near the entrance (Blue Bayou) so the beginning is reminiscent of Rio Del Tiempo (or whatever it is called now) in Epcot. Once you get past that area though it is much the same as WDW with some of the scenes moved around.
After POTC, I was ready to head out in the hopes of beating at least some of the crowd (the park closed at 22:00 and it was around 21:00). On the way out I stopped at the waffle restaurant (one of the few counter-service places I saw that was still open) and got a sandwich, potato chips, and a cup of water (~600yen IIRC). The bread was dry, the meat wasn’t all that great, thus far, my worst meal here (and the sandwich was called “The Great American”).
After that I left for the train and headed back to my hotel. That is everything as I recall it until I recall some more. For those of you who actually read through that whole post, congratulations!