Korea + Japan 09/18 – Tokyo Disneyland

And here we are again. No monorail required for the main park as we’d learnt the walk the previous day. Had a slight shudder walking past the bus terminal again (looking completely different) and we were soon through the entrance gates, slithering through the crowds that had all got stuck around some singing thing in the main street.

Day 12 – Tokyo Disneyland

Headed over to Big Thunder and grabbed the first fastpass of the day, then went for the main queue of Splash Mountain. Many mountains.

Didn’t really know anything about this attraction. I’d heard the name obviously and knew it was a water ride, but that was it. I like the setting and the framing of the drop with the thornbush, it’s all rather well done.

Just seems a little odd to have it a stones throw away from Big Thunder, with another similar looking mountain and setup. I was imagining ways to fit them both in the same area, but maybe that wouldn’t work narratively.

Based around cult classic Song of the South, the dark ride sections of this are a huge part of the ride and really impressive, making it all a lot better than I was expecting. It was a lot of fun and a great start to the day.

Haunted Mansion Holiday was round the corner. The building hasn’t got anywhere the same presence as other iterations, just being stuck on one side of the path opposite Fantasyland stuff.
It was running with its ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ overlay. This made the preshow a bit weak, as rather than being somewhat scary, you just get a cartoon face appearing in the ceiling saying “Merry Christmas!” (in early September).
Ride was interesting enough for being slightly different with this overlay, but all the familiar overused effects were there as well and it didn’t grab me in any particular way.
Here comes the theme of the day, and an unfortunate side effect of visiting many of their parks – not as good as Paris.

#1 Big Thunder Mountain

Fastpass time. There’s always a great sense of joy associated with these mine trains. A bit of a buzz in the station, the excitement as the trains plough in on both sides. And off we go.

It’s good, particularly visually, but rides more like a Seven Dwarves, tamed down like their Tower of Terror. The wild and out of control aspect of the Paris version is severely lacking. At least it seemed to be more reliable.

Got this weird syndrome where I can’t remember what order things happened at Disney.
Everywhere else is normally quite straight forward.

Jungle Cruise: Wildlife Expeditions?

They may not be good at maintaining a sinister atmosphere, but if there’s one thing the Japanese staff excel at, it’s narrating boat rides. And the Oscar goes to… whichever girl we had. The performance was ridiculously intense and hilarious and the ride was rather secondary to it to be honest. Shame less stuff happens during the journey. Not as good as Hong Kong.

There’s a train ride above it that turned out to be much more than a train ride. Starts out stereotypically western, travelling round the water and past the paddle steamer.

Goes round this.

Then ends up chugging through tunnels with dinosaurs fighting. Think they copied Quancheng Euro Park with that idea.

Picked up a fastpass for Space Mountain at some point, which put us outside Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. All I’d heard is that it had been updated from the original, but didn’t know what that entailed – a slightly different video including one of the planets from the prequels. Best part of the ride is the instruction video where the demonstration contains wookies and everyone dressed up Star Wars style.
Being an unhealthy fan of the films, they don’t manage to capture anything special in these rides. There’s so many things you could do better with the brand and it leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of ‘meh.’

I remember going on a stupidly long walk past a construction wall several times. Not sure what was so fascinating about the wall, it was plain blue with a couple of Disney logos on it, but everyone was completely obsessed with having their picture taken in front of it. Is Frozen going there? Nah… that’s not popular any more.

The walk first took us to Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. This was good, mainly for being different. There’s a whole lot of craziness to it, including spinning cars, so it did the job well.

#2 Space Mountain

Back to Space Mountain. The conveyor belt entrance with transparent roofing was deeply unpleasant in the intense heat of the day.
Got on the ride, got dispatched within less than a second of the putting the bar down. Whoa, that was an intense start.
Pulled out of the station, went left instead of right, through a curtain. Someone asks “is this Space Mountain?” I start laughing uncontrollably.
We’ve ended up in the maintenance shed. The train stalls itself and staff have to push it all the way in, bowing and apologising profusely. Please don’t, this is amazing.
We get instructed to climb out, then taken on a backstage tour through endless tunnels to end up back in the station and put straight into another train.

That may as well have been Space Mountain, cos this thing was poor. The music was off, the lighting wasn’t disorientating. It felt slow and weak as a ride. Not as good as Hong Kong.

Grabbed a fastpass for Monsters Inc and had a questionable lunch – back on track with their less than ideal food.

Except this. This was spot on.
Time for the +1.

#3 Gadget’s Go Coaster

As well as expecting to queue a million years for these kids creds, for some reason I pictured them in my head as unceremoniously plonked on a patch of land, but they’ve done an insane job of making this one look good and it was another 10 minute queue, so well done. Guess no one really loves Gadget (who?).

I knew Pooh’s Hunny Hunt had a reputation of being rather good, but it exceeded all expectations in this format. There’s something so much more magical and exciting about these trackless dark rides, watching them go about their business around you, it’s like a step closer to humanising a vehicle. Or I’m just weird.
The Tigger room is amazing, then things just get insane. Pooh does a Twilight Zone and drifts into the further, something which kept me laughing until well after the ride had ended, while we enter a room that can only be described as 1000 trackless vehicles (half of them containing characters rather than humans) dancing around each other in a drug fuelled frenzy. This isn’t the Winnie the Pooh I know, but I bloody love it.

Finally Tokyo, you’ve one-upped something.

Did Pinocchio’s Daring Journey for a laugh. It’s too fast to take in, and… the same?

Had no idea what Philharmagic was, but gave that a crack too. Sitting down on sofas in a weird lobby full of obscure posters.

Looks like it’s gonna be Hades on stage belting out some hits. Oh, no, the doors have opened and it’s a 4D cinema.

It was good actually. Donald Duck doing some black magic with Mickey’s orchestra and ending up in a load of other films for some musical numbers – Beast, Mermaid, Aladdin, Lion King, Fantasia (love it). There’s a strong smell of cake that lingers from Be My Guest onwards and an animatronic Donald ends up in the wall at the back of the theatre at the end. Can’t argue with that.

Time for Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek.

They stole my idea from the last time I got bored in a Legoland and replaced a shooting ride with a ‘how many physical effects can you set off?’ ride, by using torch lights to hunt for monsters. It’s a clever idea, so I’ll let them have it. Fun too.

Pirates of the Caribbean is in a weird place in the park, so nearly forgot about it. Had a fantastic moment outside the ride, where it appeared that a cleaner had smuggled in a music player and suddenly burst into spontaneous breakdance in front of people. Then he went into the growing crowd and pulls out a girl who just happens to be rather good at backflips. They had their moment, well done them. If only it was real… I could claim it on the league.

They’ve added some film elements to the ride, which doesn’t really help it for me, but it contains a very breathtaking ship battle scene, which I don’t remember from the original. Got one of those deceptively huge drops in the dark chucked in as well. Liked it a lot.
Not as good as Shanghai, obviously.

It was now ‘time killing’ time until the closing show, gotta get at least one for comparison haven’t we. What does one do when killing time at Disney?

it’s a small world.
It’s fine really. The music is way less invasive than reputation dictates. They’ve also got bonus Disney film character models everywhere so you can play a fun game of spot all them in their various countries.

Had another go on Big Thunder, which was slightly improved by the night time and the lighting package on the sulphury geysery section.

Time to camp out the show.
Oh, there was a parade first. Pete’s Dragon, Emporer’s New Groove, Treasure Planet, all the hits.

Thought we were going to be treated to the Paris experience with sitting on the floor for the performance, but with around half an hour to go, everyone spontaneously stood up. Ugh, my bag is heavy.

Normally these shows are pretty special right? A magical moment to end the day, a world class spectacle, lots of big tunes and tears. Disney at it’s finest.
What followed was hilarious, but quite possibly the death of Disney.
They’re on the 35 year anniversary at the moment, and the show was celebrating ‘the rides of Tokyo Disneyland.’
But, we’ve just done all the rides, and some of them ain’t worth celebrating.

They’ve got the usual song tying it all together about magic and dreams come true and life is a party and all that, but it came across as way too far up its own arse when it’s so specific to a day at this theme park and not just the brand in general.
Mickey is titting about as always but the highlights were, in no particular order: low resolution footage direct from the Star Wars simulator, a celebration of the paddle steamer (I lost it hard at this point) and some flat rides no one cares about.

The actual highlight? Probably saying “Yay, the Pirates of the Carribbean theme”, because it reminded me of Shanghai.
No, it was the paddle steamer, that was the defining moment. The moment it couldn’t recover from.

There were no fireworks, very few special effects, a couple of pyros and zero interesting graphics which were also steppy and of poor quality.

It ended to absolute silence.
And then everyone left, probably all thinking ‘where was Let It Go?’

Day 13

Korea + Japan 09/18 – Tokyo DisneySea
Korea + Japan 09/18 – Tokyo Dome City + Tobu Zoo

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