Tokyo Disneyland Park

A new day but still no let up in the weather. The typhoons that had been hitting the southern island had made their way off the southern coast of the main island. The two Disney parks are situated in Tokyo Bay, close to where the Typhoons were running. However when we got there the park was open and fortunately in our favour the threat of the typhoons getting closer had meant a lot of people had stayed away.

Yes, I know I said it wasn't busy but the park had just opened and everyone had to travel down Main Street to get to the rest of the park. I've been to the Disney parks in Paris, California and Florida so this was number four. It was also the only one with a roof over Main Street. Kammy was playing the part of a guide, but our little group had agreed to head over to the Tomorrowland area first.

Here's the castle with Walt and Mickey in the foreground. This was the biggest photo opportunity in the park and plenty of couples were trying to take pictures here. The problem was that one person had to be behind the camera so the shots ended up being of individuals standing in front. So a couple of us hung around and offered to take pictures of couples for them, which was very well received. Being gaijin (Gai meaning "outside" and jin meaning "person") we also had a couple of requests to pose with the locals too.

The familiar sight of the classic Space Mountain building. Fastpass was in operation but with a 5 minute queue we didn't bother with it and went straight on.

When I first saw the loading bay at the Disneyland, Anaheim park I was blown away with the theming. One second you're in a plain white corridor and the next you're overlooking a beautifully retro themed space station with ship suspended over the station. The same theming and effect was here in Japan and it looked just as good.

The ride operations were superly slick too. Japanese parks don't have gates on their rides because people are so well behaved. This benefits the run times as there is no time spent waiting for them to open and close. All they had here were lanes painted onto the floor. This wouldn't work in the West! Ride makers must love the Japanese market as this is how things should be.

The ride was great, really smooth and pleasant to ride. The US one did feature two tracks where the cars would pass by each other. This ran a single operation but still included a couple of pass bys to break the monotony of riding in the dark on your own. The starfield projected inside the main ride was pretty cool too.

The ride seemed to be winning everybody over. People were laughing and smiling as they returned to the station. Signs that you don't need inversions, 400ft towers and super fast launches to get the reaction. Just make the whole experience enjoyable, something that Disney excel at.

Buzz Lightyear was next on the agenda. It's a dark ride where you shoot targets with little lazer guns. Hit the right ones and you'll reveal additional targets that award more points.

This is the amazing anamatronic that welcomes you to the ride. The range of movements that this went through is vast and I can't figure out how they get the facial movements to happen. The giant etch-a-sketch helps Buzz to explain what you have to do.

Micro Adventure is better known in the West as "Honey I Shrunk the Kids", a 4D cinema show starring Rick Moranis and Eric Idle. I had enjoyed this in America but the Paris experience was awful as they tried to make a bilingual show of it and failed. So it was going to be interesting to see how it worked in Japanese. As it turned out they have a couple of rows of seats fitted with headphones and the original soundtrack; how cool is that? On our way in we were directed to the rows in question.

Here's George modelling the headphones and the glasses required to enjoy the full experience. The girl beside him posed without prompting, it was her reaction to seeing my camera. The V-Sign is a bit of a cliche and is something that the Japanese do a lot in photographs, although no one really knows why. One story I heard that I quite like is that figure skater Janet Lynn fell during the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, but still continued with a smile. Afterwards she flashed the V sign and the Japanese media ate it up.

Grand Circuit Raceway is similar to Autopia in other Disney Parks. The weather put me off giving this a go. In fact the idea of sitting in a wet car in wet weather was putting most people off. I was more interested in finding something unique to ride.

The park's Winnie the Pooh ride was just that! Other Disney parks have a ride themed on the honey loving bear, but this ride is unique and we had been told that this was a must do. So we grabbed a fast pass for later and queued up.

The queue line takes you through the chapters of the book, quite literally infact as you're walking amongst giant pages. In this particular page we're told about the time that Christopher Robin "nailed that ass". Well I thought the hip-hop joke was amusing even if it is actually a donkey.

Looks fairly normal so far with the honey pots themed train in the station. However as they leave the train the individual pots split up and head off in different paths. There is no track but the cars appear to have the path programmed into them. You are taken through a few scenes that tell the story then follow take different paths down a river following the bear who is hanging onto a balloon.

After following the bear, you end up in the Tigger Room where you find your car bouncing in time to the tiger, you then go into a bedroom scene where the entire room turns into a starfield as the bear starts to dream. Very clever stuff.

The dream sequence is just bizarre, as the honey pots all start dancing with each other and with other pots full of other characters. Hard to explain really and even harder to photograph due to the disco lights and spinning pot we were in. A final scene involving a room that smelt of honey and you were back at the station, itching to go on again and try a different pot to see what route they took.

Roger Rabbits was the same as in the US, and whilst it was an enjoyable ride, we only did it the once. There was more fun to be had elsewhere. I was never a big fan of the Toontown part of the park anyway.

This is Gadget's Go-Coaster and this has nothing to do with Inspector Gadget. The ride was alright but the ride staff were really friendly and dead chuffed to see us enjoying their ride.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey was an OK dark ride that I hadn't recalled riding at any of the other parks, probably because I was more focused on other attractions. I wonder if they themed a ride about him on a quest for some milk whether they would call it "Pinocchio's Dairy Journey"?

Sing-a-long now, you know you want to!
It's a world of laughter
A world of tears
It's a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

There is just one moon
And one golden sun
And a smile means
Friendship to ev'ryone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small, small world

The song that the phrase "repeat ad nauseum" was invented for.

As part of the preparations for Halloween, The Haunted Mansion was closed to be re-themed. I wasn't that bothered to be honest as I'm not a big fan of the ride, but I do know there were others in the group who were pretty upset at that. The building does look really impressive though.

This is Critter Country, home of the Splash Mountain log flume ride which was just as enjoyable as the ones in the states. I don't recall getting too wet on this one unlike the one in California where we got completely soaked, perhaps because the combined weight of the log was about 60 stones.

Big Thunder Mountain has always been my favourite ride in the Disney Parks, with the one in Paris the best of the bunch. This benefited from having short queues but the ride itself wasn't that great.

Here's the castle and it does look stunning. The group of girls posing at its entrance were celebrating their graduations and Tim decided to run over and join in; camera tart that he is. The castle is usually just theming but in Tokyo they have a guided quest attraction within it. It's quite cute in that they ask a little kid in the group to become a hero and kill a huge animatronic dragon with a magic sword. Cute!

Here's Sleeping Beauty and the Price, odd that they're Westerners and to be honest I thought it a little rude to the locals; but they didn't seem too bothered. I bet the people dressed as rats are Japanese. I don't get why the pretty characters have to be played by people from the West.

Adventureland houses the Jungle Boat Cruise, the Tiki Rooms and the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. By this point the weather was staring to clear up but the park was still pretty quiet.

The Jungle Boat Cruise is exactly the same as the American equivalents, except for one difference; the stand up routines given by the boat pilots were all in Japanese and we had no idea what was being said. I do know that one joke was aimed at us but I had no idea what was said. We took it on the chin, laughed as if we knew what was being said and admired the statued animals on the ride.

It was clearly too much for some of us. Poor Talhat fell asleep on the tour.

This is the Tiki Room that has had a bit of an overhaul and bringing up-to-date. This attraction full of animatronic birds and statues that sing a series of songs was always very popular but had started to age. In 2004 I experienced the overhaul in Florida and it was very funny with disco lights. The Japanese one had gone for a hip hop theme with the main birds decked out in gold chains and sunglasses. It was very enjoyable.

This is the pre-show built into a Tiki statue. I like bad puns but calling the macaw "2-can" was really awful even by my standards.

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was pretty rubbish but I'm not a fan anyway, so my opinion is biased. Each of the rides in the Disney Park is sponsored, this one by Kirn Beer. They could have bettered the "2-can" pun by naming this ride "Pirates of the Kirin Beer". At least I didn't fall asleep on this as I have done in the past in California and Paris.

With the parade starting those people that had challenged the weather to come to the park all took their places on the route ready for the floats to pass. Any good enthusiast at this point will choose to hit the rides as the queue times will be even more reduced at this point. So guess where I headed off to? Yep, more goes on Winnie the Pooh.

Another shot of the castle and we spent some time taking more pictures of the couples, and posing with them of course.

As I said earlier the park was getting ready for Halloween and as well as closing the Haunted Mansion they were starting to deploy the pumpkins around the park. I have no idea what happened to the one containing the letter H though. Disney parks are renowned for having "hidden mickeys" hidden in the architecture and theming. I doubt that the centre piece of this would count though, it is a bit obvious.

The infamous statue of Walt and Mickey. A friend Tom, had shown me that if you stand at the right angle, Mickey's nose is at the right height to look like Walt's penis. The same isn't true at this park! Well you have to check these theories out. As if it wasn't obvious, the Disney Corporation was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Here's the proof, Mickey is a little bit shorter here!

It was time to leave so a final look around Main Street and a chance to say goodbye to the castle, and to get a slightly better shot because the weather had cleared up.

Bye Bye Disneyland. I don't know if or when I'll get to see you again but I hope to meet again on a sunnier day. Actually I take that back because it will be busier, in a way I'm glad it was overcast. I did get on everything I wanted to more than once and the mansion was the only thing closed.

Heading back to the coach now and the monorail came past so I thought I'd take a shot. Look at the modifications on some of those cars, especially the people carrier in the centre. Crazy!!

A little more Japlish found in the car park.

This is the big wheel we passed on the way from the airport to the hotel. It's actually not running anymore and so still stands as an impressive structure to steal the skyline.

The Disney park was pretty much the same as the others around the planet, without the electric chairs and crowds (on this day at least). A near-to-perfect Disney experience as you're ever likely to get.


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