Friday, 5 July 2013

Trip Day 4 Disney Day 2: DisneySea

The next day I woke up a little worse for wear. I was surprisingly tired from the previous day, my feet still had a lingering ache, and to top it all off my portable chargers hadn’t been plugged in properly overnight so my phone was probably going to die halfway through the day. All of this sucked, but damn it I had waited three years to return to DisneySea and I was going to be at the gates early like a self-respecting theme park commando! So I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 again and got going. The train ride was packed, as usual for that time of morning, but slightly more interesting due to the fact that there was a woman in full kimono on the train, commuting amongst men in suits, teens in jeans and kids in school uniforms.

When I got to Maihama station I headed for the monorail station to ride over to Disneysea. Just as I got through the gates, I turned to the nearest vending machine, and got a surprise. After all that running around yesterday, the diet cola had been right there, sitting just out of reach! With a chuckle I grabbed a bottle and headed on up to take the scenic three-stop ride to DisneySea. Like last trip I sat up the front with all the children, so I could videotape the view of all the hotels and hints of the parks as we passed.

Name:  P5220142 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  48.8 KB

When I began to see the tip of a volcano, an Incan temple, and Hotel Hightower my heart began to flutter. DisneySea! I quickly left the station and headed for the line. The line-up was not too bad yet, I was maybe five people back instead of three. I sat down and had breakfast, wrote some of my blog and people watched. Next to me in the line to the left was a small girl, maybe five years old, who was clearly very excited to be there, and was highly entertaining. She sat for a while singing Disney songs in Japanese, then kept herself entertained for about 15 minutes jumping on her mother’s shadow is if in Peter Pan. What was most impressive however was when she broke into a dance routine that looked eerily like one that the Cast Members might do in the shows, and she did it REALLY WELL. She practiced this for probably another 15 minutes at least, while I sat and wondered how this little girl could already be a better dancer than me.

About half an hour before opening, the Cast Members came along and asked everyone to stand up. I understand that this is probably to allow more people to fit in the courtyard, so I begrudgingly stood. This time in line was made a little more fun however by a family ahead of me. The son, probably 10 or 11 years old, had one of the beloved Stitch spaceship popcorn buckets, and his father was playfully determined to steal popcorn from it without his son noticing. The father ducked, weaved, and wandered ‘nonchalantly’ behind his son every time the boy moved, but each time he reached for the bucket the boy would turn to look at something else. This went on for long enough that I began to wonder if the son was aware of it and doing this on purpose. Eventually, the father finally got his hands on the bucket, only to discover he didn’t know how to open it! At this stage his fumbling made his intent obvious, and his son looked over his shoulder, observed the situation, rolled his eyes and opened the bucket for him exasperatedly. Best reaction! I love these little family exchanges at parks, they make me smile.

Finally, it was time. We rushed through the ticket gates into the full-tilt jungle madness that is the running start at the Tokyo parks. Again, there were Cast Members and Security scattered about to impede our progress, but an overwhelming majority of them just smiled and waved. Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown. As expected with Journey to the Center of the Earth closed and the two most popular rides, Tower of Terror and the still kind of new Toy Story Mania in the same area of the park, the crowd overwhelmingly ran to the left. As I turned and ran, laughing at the craziness of it all, into the American Waterfront area I saw that they had already set up ropes all the way down the street to direct the crowds. The amount of people running made this seem a rather good idea. I quickly found my way into the fastpass queue and grabbed a fastpass. Success!

Name:  P5220146 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  76.7 KB

I then went to head back the way I came and across the park to Indiana Jones, and saw the real reason for sectioning off the street: without it, I don’t think I could have safely walked in this direction. An overwhelming majority of people were still running full-speed at me to get to the Toy Story queue, and without the skinny section of road roped off for heading out of there it would have been unsafe. Luckily it was there, and I was able to make it out to the Lido Isle popcorn stand where as the popcorn map had suggested, the adorable new Mickey and Duffy’s Spring Voyage popcorn bucket (with mini popcorn bucket for Duffy) was available full of my favourite caramel popcorn! I stopped quickly for one of these, tried my best not to coo over the lady giving the mini Duffy bucket to her toddler (good idea though) and headed across the length of the park to the Lost River Delta.

Name:  P5220149 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  108.4 KB

I soon arrived at Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull (made before the movie with no similar storylines, don’t worry). I went to use the single rider line (fastpass line), but the Cast Members explained that they weren’t using it as the wait was ‘go-fuun’ (five minutes). That works for me! I quickly headed in to the mostly empty queue, pausing a few times on the way to take pictures of the queuing area. I love the queue for these kinds of rides because it sets the scene. In this ride, not surprisingly, you are going with Indy on a temple expedition.

Name:  P5220162 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  61.2 KB

This ride is quite similar to the versions at other parks, with a few differences. [MINOR RIDE SPOILERS AHEAD] While the American Indiana Jones ride is set in Asia, this one was made much more exotic to the Japanese by being set in South America, with suitable Aztec references and theming. As implied by the title, your enemy in this version is a crystal skull you dared gaze at in the first part of the ride. This angers it and it proceeds to throw twists, turns, lazers, whirlwinds, snakes, bugs, darts, and boulders your way as you traverse the ride in your Jeep. I particularly enjoy a DisneySea unique part where a statue blows a fireball (smoke ball) in your face, and of course the giant boulder that comes for you right at the end (they take a photo of you during this scene at DisneySea)[SPOILER END].

The ride itself is a little coaster-like, in that the Jeep rides around sharp corners and up and down minor slopes at speed, but is not too scary in that sense. The ride vehicles are a little jerky, and jostle you around a bit, but I’m kind of ok with pretending that it’s part of the experience of ‘off roading’ in my ‘Jeep’ I really quite enjoyed the ride, especially since I live nowhere near any other parks and therefore was not bored of this ride like some have become after riding the American one over and over. So I decided to get right back on the ride, which was still a five minute wait. I got pretty much straight back on the ride, this time trying a silly ‘No! Don’t hurt me!’ photo pose (My first photo was just me sitting there thinking ‘Yay! I’m at DisneySea!). I then ran into the queue AGAIN for a third ride. This time however, when I got within about 15 people of the loading area, the ride vehicles stopped suddenly, and the Cast Members began busily communicating. There had been some kind of technical issue. Soon enough the house lights came up and everyone got out of their vehicles, while the queue was asked to turn around and leave. Luckily, having ridden it twice already and being on a Disney morning high I found all this pretty exciting. I happily left and figured I’d see if it was up again later in the day.

Name:  P5220183 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  65.4 KBName:  P5220188 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  78.2 KB

I wandered across the bridge to Port Discovery, sort of the Tomorrowland of DisneySea, themed like a future that runs on water/steam. Not surprisingly, the theming features a lot of copper hues and looks a little steampunk. I took a few pictures, then noticed that Stormrider had next to no line, so I figured I’d ride once on my way past. Just as I got in line, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Incredible come out to entertain everyone. They were immediately mobbed by guests, but they dealt with it well, posing and interacting with the group. I wanted to go down there, but there were people behind me in line blocking my exit and frankly you could barely see Mr. Incredible for the mob, so I took some pictures from afar instead.

Name:  P5220191 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  101.8 KBName:  P5220192 small.jpg
Views: 108
Size:  68.1 KB

Mrs. Incredible is the best poser, but Mr. Incredible has all the friends.

Once in the Stormrider building, I got to giggle at the carefully presented and overacted pre-show I remembered from three years prior. It of course was exactly the same. The representative for the Center for Weather Control explained to us that we would be riding in one of their ships to plan a ‘storm diffusion device’ in the middle of a damaging storm. Of course, she explains, this is very dangerous, but their vehicles can handle it, so nothing will go wrong. Unless this is, you know, a Disney ride. After a short, very loud demonstration of the technology which scared a poor nearby child into crying a little, we were loaded onto the ride. [SOME BIG RIDE SPOILERS HERE] I enjoyed the ride, although I found it didn’t move around quite enough in some early parts of the ride for me to feel as if I was really flying (this appears to have been improved for Star Tours). I do however LOVE the fact that they chose to go beyond a basic simulator ride for this, having the walls get affected, things crash through the ceiling, and having you actually get a little wet. Overall, I can see how the ride is dated, and why some people find it a yawn, but I do respect that it contains elements that you don’t always find on other simulator rides [END SPOILERS].

By this point it was past the time of morning where the lines were short, so there was no rush to get on another ride. I instead spent some time wandering around the park, taking photos, eating my popcorn, and just enjoying the fact that after all the planning, wishing, and saving, I was finally back here. I ended up over at the Mysterious Island, or Jules Verne land as many refer to it. The area is themed mostly around three things: the fact that it is set in a ‘dormant’ crater next to Mt Prometheus, Captain Nemo and his Nautilus (setting the scene for the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride), and cave exploration and drilling (setting the scene for the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride). The result is an amazingly cohesively themed area that makes you feel almost as though you have stepped into a wonderful piece of Victorian science fiction. Despite the fact that the Journey to the Centre of the Earth (a favourite ride of mine) was closed and I’m not a huge fan of 20,000 Leagues, I kept returning to this area of the park throughout my visit as I just liked being there.

Name:  P5220217 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  111.5 KBName:  P5220224 small.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  127.4 KB

I'm not sure how these images turned out slightly overexposed and technicolour, but I think it's kind of suited to my childhood memories of the Journey to the Centre of the Earth movie (Not the remake, kids).

While I was there this time around, I figured I might as well go on 20,000 Leagues. The wait was less than 5 minutes, as this ride, like Stormrider, is not very popular, and this was a low attendance day. I was able to skip the queuing area full of Nemo’s research and undersea artifacts, so I’m afraid I have no photos, but if you are ever stuck in a queue for this ride there are some cool displays to keep you mildly entertained. The ride vehicles are not one big sub like the similar ride that American parkgoers may remember, but instead are little 6 person mini subs designed it appears for scouting missions. Inside, there are three, two person seats, each facing their own window, and their own array of fake buttons and gauges that make it look amusingly real. Given the lack of guests we all received a sub to ourselves, which means for the first time I discovered how quiet it is in these vehicles all by yourself. I must admit it was a little creepy, and I wasn’t even underwater yet!

[SPOILERS AHEAD] The ride took off, and displayed its awesome trick of making it appear you are submerging by using bubbles in water between two planes of glass in your window. In actual fact, your vehicle never goes underwater, preserving the scenery of the ride from rust and erosion and making both safety and maintenance issues much, much easier to deal with. I was then taken through creepy coral and shipwreck scenes, occasionally snapped at by a creepy undersea creature. Every so often a light a noise would alert me to the fact I could use the joystick in front of me to use a searchlight on the scenery and find more things. Then suddenly, the vehicle paused at the giant, rather demonic-looking eye of a giant squid! Oh no! The squid tried to capture me, but my ship let off an electric charge and escaped. I then continued on to encounter some very strange looking creatures in what looked like the ruins of an ancient city. At first they looked possibly hostile, but soon they appeared friendly. At some point here my sub began to have ‘technical problems’ possibly due to the electricity spent earlier, and started to ‘sink’ and lose light. Luckily, the friendly Atlantians were able to push my sub back to the surface, waving in their own way as they did so [SPOILER END].

Overall I find this ride concept and technology very cool, but I have my gripes with it. First of all, I’d really like to be able to use the searchlight consistently, or not at all. I found the loud beeping and flashing during the short times you could use it more distracting than fun, although I will give the imagineers props for using the searchlight, and the things you can find with it, to give the ride more re-ride value. Secondly, there are the issues many people have highlighted with the subs being quite cramped height-wise, making many have to stoop in their seats to properly look out the window. My third issue is a more personal one: I tend to get a little creeped out in its spooky underwater scenes. I don’t find anything about it particularly scary, but everything in it is just a little squishy or tentacle-clad or fond of jumping out at you, and when trapped in a slightly cramped ride vehicle it makes me a little unnerved. I can see why some children don’t like it. Having said all of these things I still very much like the concept, and I seem to keep riding it a few times per trip so I must find it a little fun

Next up, stay tuned for DisneySea part 2!

No comments:

Post a Comment