Sunday, November 9, 2014

From Mermaid tails to Storm Tracking at DisneySea

As I had said, the Cast Members at Magellan's were very welcoming. So many bloggers suggested we grab that important reservation, but it didn't seem all that busy. We were given the suggestion by friends that we don't try to sit in the " secret wine cellar". There is a small, hidden dining room that some fans enjoy eating in. The Cast Member or the guest will push a "secret" button on the wall, part the Egg-and-Dart door frame carving. Then like something out of Star Trek, the door slides open.

Well, Eric and I wouldn't be eating there. I'm told that after the excitement of entering the room, it's a too quiet and too secluded experience. But, maybe you will be on a hot date and want the privacy and quite time? Although on a hot date, Eric and I wanted the full experience and would be in a main area. 

In the past I've written about not really being a foodie or food blogger, but since we had a good time here I want to share. Eric was telling me that this location is connected to the "SEA" (Society of Explorers and Adventurers) part of the full name DISNEYSEA. This restaurant is the meeting place for those that travel the world. Magellan himself was a member, as well as the tower's owner Harrison Hightower, and rumored that even Indiana Jones is too. But, that's just a rumor. 

We each ordered our own appetizer, which were nice starters to our meal. It was relaxing to slow down after our busy morning. Eric and I were very keen on finding those moments where we could enjoy some ambience before we get back to our "go go go" mentality. 

The two of us ordered from the lunch set. (They use the word "set" everywhere there...not combo or pri fixe) The server was very big on up selling us the whole Free Refills aspect of their lunch. Eric joked that the Americans must usually be all about getting re-fills on soft drinks. In Japan I'd say re-fills are definitely needed, but rarely offered. The cup sizes are comparable to ordering juice at a restaurant. You're handed what resembles a shot glass sized serving of soda. We have a few fun photos with the shocking sizes of the drinks in Japan. I'm sure this along with the insane amount of walking contributed to me actually losing five pounds during this vacation. How could I have lost when eating something as lovely as this crème brûlée?

I can't rave about how sweet the Cast Members are. They were also excited when it was time to pay and we handed the server our Disney ID. She had a few questions for us regarding Disneyland at home. I feel silly not committing her name to memory. Although a small gesture, she gave us cute stickers with a little message. 

It was now nearly time for our Raging Spirits fast pass. This coaster is similar to the Disneyland Paris Indiana Jones coaster. I'm sure someone out there in the internet universe can confirm if it is the same track. The facade for this is very creative. I'm not sure how they have burning fire with also water cascading over it. Again, I'm sure the explanation is out there, but for this I don't want to know.

The Cast here kept up the momentum of themed service. Throughout their spieling, the attraction Cast Members would sneak in a few Spanish words. It made us giggle because it was just so cute. Here and at other rides, the crew was always proactive in making sure we took off our backpacks prior to entering the vehicle. In Japanese it was explained we would get in the vehicle, store all items securely and the quickly pull down lap bars. The Cast Member would also pantomime this as it was said. One person was stationed for this act alone.

The track zigzags a few times, small drops, and there's a fun 360 degree loop thrown in near the end. I'm not sure if any cool lighting effects are triggered at night, but I think the structure itself was sufficient. Not all the attractions can be a large "E-Ticket" attraction. So, if you read elsewhere that this ride is awful, remember to try it out yourself. Just use the fast pass system. 

Seen above are examples of the grandeur and back alleys of the Arabian Coast area. The large palace type structures are surrounded with music fit for a sultan! Overwhelming orchestrations can be heard throughout the courtyard, like something from Scheherazade . It really does fit in with the impressive structures of the palace. Even the carousel is two stories tall! Neither Eric nor myself had ridden a double decker carousel before. As it turns out, it just feels like a single leveled one because you can't see the other level as you ride. Go figure <shrugs>.

There appears to be a "large" soda here....and a double deckered carousel.

As a contrast, the marketplace and alleys have music found in rural areas of storybook Arabia. In this area merchants sell their wares (popcorn and drinks) and camels take long breaks in the shade. Eric wondered if many people notice these differences in the audio here. The music of this section sounds very rustic and gypsy-like. It is in this poorer area where we find the attraction themed to a humble traveller, Sinbad. 

Eric and I had heard mixed reviews about this attraction. I had seen photos and clips of this little boat adventure that really didn't impress. I was just glad to sit. Still, the Cast Members performed amazingly. A female Cast Member recited the safety spiel with such animation that I would've thought she was an animatronic! 

We were sent on our voyage and the crew of four happily waved good bye. Once that ride began Eric and I were sold! There was something to look at in each corner. This attraction, like the rest, was being sung in Japanese. The song was a melody that would be repeated throughout the voyage, like "it's a small world". In this first show room, it was huge, we were very much taking in the massive scenery. Eric and I quietly discussed to ourselves that it seemed Sinbad was leaving on a journey, but we weren't sure why. The belly dancing figures distracted us because they had more movemeant than I'd seen from an animatronic in a long time. And, we weren't all the certain as to why the elderly wizard guy was angry about it. The song's melody hadn't quite sunk in yet. That may sound like an odd point for me to add here, but I have a reason. 

So as we glided down that waterway, Sinbad's Storybook Voyage was possessing us with its charm! Eric and I quite literally fell in love with everything about this. We got to a scene where Sinbad was out on the ocean, being serenaded by mermaids with green and blue hair, and that's when it happened. By now, Eric and I stopped our whispers. There was a misty rain falling on us (you heard me!) and the music suddenly overtook everything! It's a score written by Alan Manken (Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback, and Little Mermaid) so it wasn't a surprise that we also fell in love with this soundtrack called "Compass of the Heart". There is a core melody used and the lyrics change according to the scene your floating past.

We visit many exotic lands with Sinband, even a very odd island full of percussion enthused monkeys. (Yes they dance and play the drums) We knew the end was near because Sinbad made it back home, which looked like the opening scene. Fireworks welcomed him/us back as he shared his found treasures with the village. Of course a celebration wouldn't be complete without more belly dancing! 

Why do I get the sense that no one reading this believes me? The ride is a winner! Maybe part of it came from my low expectations? Sinbad's little friend Chandu is also the star of this boat ride. He is so cute as he helps Sinbad during his quest. I had to buy the plush they sell in the marketplace! Even a friend from home wanted me to bring one home for her.

A place we had yet to visit was staring at us for almost half a day. It rises high into the air and is a beacon for someone like Eric and myself. At the innocent age of 8 years old, I sat in a theater with my brother and watched Ariel swim under the sea. So, seeing Triton's palace here at DisneySea was something eric and I both looked forward to for a long time. As we ventured away from Arabian Coast, curry popcorn in hand, the graceful spires welcomed us from across the water.

Now this structure has sat here for just over 13 years, but seeing it up close was special to us and any "first timer" to the park. The detail that reveals itself is something that we weren't expecting. But why was it a surprise? We should've know there was something that caused it to sparkle.

For our first trip into Triton's Kingdom we didn't experience any of the attractions available. We were happy to wander through the underwater landscape and get lost in the grottos. The Caribbean waters must have mixed in with this current because it was quite warm in there. There were a few times that we actually felt blasts of warm wind coming at us. The Japanese sure have a different idea of what climate control is. Although warned of this by friends, we kept getting surprised to experience this.

Besides the attractions that seem to mirror A Bug's Land in California, there are paths to explore. We even came upon Ursula's lair. As they should be, children were scattered all over so it made it difficult to photograph. Something that was hard to find was Ariel's Grotto. We had seen photos online of it and we just had to get that "What's the word?...BURN!" photo for ourselves. Or, maybe take our own version of "This is all so sudden" with the Prince Eric statue. Here it all was. Another small part of our childhood come to life.

The time to change the clocks back hour was a few weeks out, but it still got dark there around 5 PM. We knew that once the lights came on and the sun dropped away we would see the park aglow. Another night event at this park would be a performance of Fantasmic. Eric and I had experienced a lot on this day so we were willing to wait at least an hour for the show. 

Since it was now about 6 PM, hunger was creeping on us again. Fantasmic would happen at 8 PM. We strolled back to the Mediterranean area to see what food was found there. By the time we made it back to this area we were more than hungry! I think we had forgotten that we ate about six hours ago, unless you add in the curry popcorn. 

When we came to the restaurant serving fast food pizza we were more than okay with that! Our mozzarella/tomato pizzas were very good and hit the spot! Eric and I were also fine with taking a few moments to recharge and talk about what we had seen. We still couldn't believe that any of this was happening. Here we were. It was an evening in Japan all while our families and friends at home were asleep, close to waking for the day we were ending. It's a very simple explanation, but also mind blowing!

It was exactly 7 PM and there was an area in Mediterranean Harbor that had no one waiting for the show. We weren't about to let front row spots go to waste. Eric also did a little wandering as I held his spot. He even came across the area with the Venetian canals. I had completely forgotten about it and was surprised there was even more to see! Eric was excited to find the Duffy and Gelatoni pumpkins. I can't express enough how cute their decor and merchandise are!

According to announcements, it was windy that night. The Fantasmic pyro was cut to a minimum. Maybe it was because of this that the show seemed to lack a little pixie dust. Eric feels that the show is presented a little more like World of Color than the original Fantasmic. A lot of it was projected onto large LED screens shaped into a cone. It was a great effect to see these screens represent the famous Sorcerer's hat. Eric and I both agree that this should be viewed as a show having a familiar name, but expect something different. I don't say that as a complaint at all because when people oddly ask, "Why would you go to Disneyland in Japan when you go in California?", this is why.


After the show's big finish we rode the DisneySea Electric Railway to Port Discovery. It's an elevated track where you ride a trolley looking train. We knew this would take us to the back of the park where we could ride StormRider. I've read a lot of hate online towards StormRider. This is where our pal Miley worked. I'm here to tell you that if you leave your brain at the door it's a great adventure! The concept is that we will ride into a storm and fire a sort of bomb into the storm's eye to destroy it. Crazy right?

When we enter the elaborate staging area we watch a very animated Cast Member explain to us the whole idea. She takes this extremely seriously. There is a water tank with a large whirlpool in it, representing a tornado I guessed. The rocket is fired at this contraption and voila!...... the whirlpool vanishes. Everyone claps and cheers. The whole thing felt like a Tony Stark presentation from Iron man.

The simulator, or very wide airplane, fit's over 65 people. I used to work at Star Tours and they get 40 guests in there. This was much much bigger than that! The experience while flying is almost hilarious as can be. The crowd reaction is so fun to watch. (SPOILERS) And, there is a moment where the rocket we have launched has accidentally shot into our aircraft. Believe me when I say that it literally protrudes into the vehicle. There is water raining on us and it appears that we are all going to die in the heavens. Well, I'm typing this so obviously we lived through the ordeal. Our plane lands with many thuds outside. But, when we exit we are somewhere completely different. Hmmm? Anyway, it was all great fun and I'm glad we rode this again during our trip. 

Captain Nemo's submarine

It now being between the hours of 9 Pm and 10 PM, we wanted to wander around and shop. We still hadn't seen the Toy Story area. Like the Venice canals, I had also forgotten all about that area. It was a nice leisurely walk back through the park. As we passed through Mysterious Island we couldn't resist 20,000 Leagues, so we rode that again. It was just as fun as the first time.

What we had suspected was true. The park definitely had a different vibe at night. The lighting added just enough mystery and whimsy. And, it was nice to see the Halloween displays stand out for the season. Even the Tower of Terror seem to join in with its year round sinister glow and screams.

It was very close to 10 PM when we ventured into the Toyville area to see Toy Story Midway Mania. It's a shame that a bigger area can't be dedicated to the look of this attraction. I have heard people say it looks just like Paradise Pier in California Adventure, but it really doesn't. Although both areas might convey seaside attractions, this definitely has that East coast feel. I would even say that it felt like what Coney island might be like. 

Rounding out the day we stopped in some shops near the main entry area. It was amazing to watch people "eating up" Duffy like it was never coming back. One could find Duffy products in at least three stores, but here were people snatching him off the shelves. There really is an excitement for many of the products there that I hadn't seen before.

Although our first park day was done, there wasn't a sadness just yet. We knew we still had three more days to go with Disneyland and DisneySea. I was starting to get excited for Hunny Hunt and seeing a new take on Disneyland in general. Stay with us as we start off the next day with yet another morning run at Disneyland!

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