I know it’s cliche, but for me Disney is seriously the happiest place on Earth. Like, really. Then as the mecca of all things anime and fandom-related, Japan comes in close second. Since I’m currently in Asia, it only made sense for me to go to the one place that combined the two–Tokyo Disney. To give a simple and concise review, it was wonderful. But for someone living in the states who has access to both Disneyworld and Disneyland, is it really worth the long trip to another country to experience another facet of the Disney Kingdom? Well, take a look at my adventure and you be the judge.
First, meet Juan, my travel companion during the trip. When I decided that nothing would make me happier than going to Disney dressed as Nana Osaki, Juan agreed to don my Hinata Shouyo Haikyu! uniform so I wouldn’t be alone in my dress up efforts. You may have heard that Disney has strict rules against adults entering the park in costume, but if you choose something subtle and unrelated to Disney or else opt for Disneybounding as opposed to straight up Disney cosplay, it’s no biggie.
Tokyo Disney has two separate parks–Disneyland and DisneySea. DisneySea is the reason I absolutely had to make this trip. I’ve been to Orando’s Disney World more times than I can count so I jumped at the chance to see something entirely new. DisneySea is nautical exploration themed and while it does include some rides and sights you can find elsewhere, the overall experience is very exclusive to Japan.
DisneySea consists of 7 ports–Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, Mysterious Island etc. Mermaid Lagoon is the real stand-out in terms of visuals and atmosphere, with its glittering towers and glowing sea creatures. The area is geared toward children, but we didn’t really care.Who the hell doesn’t like riding gigantic floating jellyfish?
The Lost River Delta port features an Aztec pyramid housing the Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull ride (nothing to do with Shia LeBeouf), which is one of the best in the park. It’s almost the same as the Indiana Jones ride in California, with the exception of a few big special effects changes…and the fact that Indy speaks Japanese and in an incredibly deep voice. Keep in mind, unless you speak Japanese the dialogue and storylines on each ride will be lost on you, although doesn’t really detract much from the overall experience. For some reason, though, I kept forgetting I was in Japan and I was in an almost constant state of shock when characters in the rides started speaking Japanese.
I’m a giant adult baby and refuse to ride legit roller coasters so I have nothing to say about the coaster housed in that epic volcano you see on The Mysterious Island port. The best thing I saw there was the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride where you ride an underwater vessel and meet colorful creatures and huge creepy ass sea monsters. This ride originated in the US in the 70s (it was discontinued in the mid 90s), and while it’s an altogether breathtaking ride, it did feel super old school (that’s neither a diss nor a compliment, just an observation). That said, I was still legit scared by some of the larger sea monster animatronics. I’m not sure if that’s more a testament of how good the ride was or how much of a baby I am.
At the Arabian Coast I found what is now my all time favorite Disney ride ever–Sinbad’s Storybook Adventure. I’m one of those people that enjoy the rides with no action, where you just ride a boat forever and look at animatronics. Prior to this Tokyo trip my favorite ride was It’s A Small World. For anyone like me, this ride is the pinnacle. It has beautiful cheery music that repeats throughout, gorgeous fluid-moving animatronics, and it’s really long. It tells a detailed story that I didn’t entirely understand, since I’ve never read the tale of Sinbad and I don’t know Japanese, but you can interpret most of it through the visuals.
Apart from the rides, ones of the best of the park is the Fortress Explorations area. It’s a self-guided area where you can explore a ship and a series of fortresses housing nautical equipment, alchemy labs, astronomy tools and more. With its intricate details and lovely architecture, it’s a hands-on activity area perfectly suited for adults and kids alike. If I wasn’t with someone else I probably would’ve stayed in the Chamber of Planets for like an hour, staring wide-eyed as the hand-cranked planets revolved around the glowing sun and eerie chamber music looped in the background.
A couple more notes about DisneySea–their Tower of Terror ride has an entirely different story line than the ones in the US, and has nothing to do with the Twilight Zone. Also, it felt like the merch almost exclusively consisted of character headbands, hooded towels (what? yeah, I don’t know either), and Mickey rice crackers and ramen. Not saying that’s a good or a bad thing, but man if I didn’t have to search like ten stories for a theme park pin (that kimono one is so cute though ^_^).
This post is getting long so I’ll end it with a couple more park snaps. There’s more to share from my Japan trip, so I’ll follow up soon with a look at Tokyo Disneyland as well as a review of the Capcom Bar (Street Fighter cocktails ahhhh!). If you check out my tiny video of me actin a fool at the end you can see my sweet “Brooklyn” Minnie Mouse tee that I got for $5 in a subway station in Seoul. Korea is a treasure trove of unofficial Disney merch featuring random and often misplaced English phrases. Anyhow, if you have any comments, feel free to leave them below!