Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Surviving Tokyo Disneyland in the Rain

Upon exiting the Winnie the Pooh attraction ones nose is bombarded with the sweet smell of honey! I can't say that either myself nor Eric are fans of honey, but after that ride it smells so nice. The parks have various popcorn flavors and it is fitting that the "Honey" cart is near Pooh's Hunny Hunt.

Something else we quickly notice about this Fantasyland is that it resembles the Disney Wold version (prior to the remodel). The Hunny Hunt theme ends as quickly as it begins. As we head to Space Mountain, we notice a few things we didn't see as we ran here. Without any sort of transition Mickey's Toontown exists in an open area, free of borders. Unlike Disneyland, there isn't anything that separates Fantasyland, or its other neighbor Tomorrowland, from its little corner. And, the parade route passes right through it!

As we continue to Space Mountain, I almost feel like I'm back in Florida. I had mentioned that Fantasyland felt VERY Florida-esque, so did this walkway through Tomorrowland. Even the planters are laid out the same. I regret it now, but I should have taken a photo of this to illustrate my point. The Autopia is right across from their version of Tomorrowland Terrace. I was expecting these types of moments, but when they happen, your mind starts to think you're somewhere else. This will sound like an odd thing to notice, but even the restrooms are in the same spot as Florida's version.

When we reached the Space queue, it was posted at 30 minutes. Who doesn't have 30 minutes to wait for Space Mountain? I couldn't tell if the area walkways were busy or if it was calming down from the "morning race". We still had hope that the rain would keep people away. When we saw only one group awaiting the show "One Man's Dream", it appeared that we might get our wish. 

They're the first in line. Good on them!

These folks here are dashing to and fro!

I was more than excited to take the speed ramp up to the Space Mountain concourse. As a kid we had this ramp over at Disneyland in California, but I never rode it at that time. I was too young/scared. 

This version of Space Mountain seemed to lean toward an electronic theme. The colors were various greens and a few deep blues. We didn't have onboard audio as we road, but as we went up the two lifts, sound effects played. And, as we moved through the lifts we saw a type of circuit board grid on the walls (possibly a blacklight effect). It was a fun change from what we are used to seeing. The track is the exact same one we have in Anaheim. That didn't matter to us because we never tire of riding it. It's nice to have these subtle changes. My observation of the main "domed" area was that it was much darker and had no planet projections. Only the small pinhole type lights were shinning through giving the starfield effect. This would be the only time we rode this and it's too bad we didn't ride again. 

We now were getting closer to our Monsters Inc fast pass return time, but not close enough. Eric suggested we take a quick lap to see more of Fantasyland and grab a Haunted Mansion fast pass. When our return window for Monsters arrived, we'd be allowed to get our second fast pass. I was very curious to see Haunted Mansion in its odd location, across from Dumbo. 

You can see the top of Haunted Mansion in the background. 

As mentioned a little bit ago, we saw more evidence that Tokyo's Fantasyland was crammed together. It wasn't ugly, but the attraction placement seems odd. Eric didn't feel this area was very pretty, but we were happy to see the difference. The Oriental Land Company, the business that runs these parks, announced huge changes to this area, so we were lucky to see some would consider "the before". The favorite nook of ours is right behind the castle. They have these cute trees lining the walkway that leads one from the drawbridge toward the carousel. An added touch at this Disneyland we find a Halloween decorated Fantasyland. Eric and I have never seen that area decorated for a holiday. 

The clock was approaching 10 AM. We had so far only seen Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and the entrance area of the World Bazaar. We still hadn't had that usual "castle moment" everyone sees when they walk into the p[ark from the Main Entrance. Remember, we made that hard right turn for our fast pass pick up. 

We were always told that obtaining the Monsters fast pass was a must do for Tokyo Disneyland. I have to admit that although I enjoy the attraction of the same name here in California, I at first didn't understand the big deal for Tokyo. After seeing the show building in person I was already getting a little excited. The folks that run this place already set the bar high with the exterior design. The impressive interior is no stranger to the internet. The height of this lobby's ceiling was phenomenal. At the reception desk they even had a waste basket with paperwork crumbled. On that paper we could see text pertaining to the business, Monsters Inc. 

The loading area was very bright and the Cast Member's outfits are so cute! It's a basic two toned jumpsuit with a blue beret. Eric and I love the use of the costume accessories because they really add the special touch. We don't have a photo of it, but they are seen on the youtube videos I have posted. I don't  know why I was so embarrassed to ask if Eric or I could take a photo with them. However; we do have a Toontown photo with a Cast Member to share on a later post. 

For this attraction they were very serious about cameras needing to be put away. Once we saw how quickly the vehicles spun us around, the reason is quite clear as to why that rule is enforced. As Eric and I walked over to our assigned row I was finishing up a tweet or text. A Cast Member bounced over and told me right away to put my iPhone away. "No photos!" He was nice about it, but i was surprised that it was almost as though he waited for me to do it. 

The ride itself followed the movie's storyline, as the one in California does, but it really bumped up the standard. We see the one eyed Mike Wazowski just as frantic about having a human child in Monstroplolis and James P. Sullivan trying to stay level headed. Boo has gotten away from her pals, but only because she wants to play "Hide n Seek". When Boo giggles or cries out in excitement all the electrical posts around he practically sizzle with overloaded circuits. I absolutely loved that addition to this attraction! 

Our ride vehicles were equipped with flashlights that would activate different sensors. Those sensors appeared as hardhats, with the Monsters Inc logo. I believe we were to use them to find Boo and other hidden Monsters. We shine the light onto the hardhat, set off flashing sensors and hear bells ring! If we find Boo in a hiding place, the bell rings, she pops out, and lets out a huge laugh which overloads the surrounding circuits. As all this is going on the soundtrack is playing, other various noises from the city are heard, the vehicles whip you to and fro, character dialogue is heard, and guests laughter fills the room...let's say there was a lot going on. This attraction is total sensory overload. 

We of course find Boo and then she has to head back home. Just like in California's version, we are then debriefed by everyone's favorite cranky lady, Roz. She sounds just as annoyed with us in Japanese! So the morning dash to grab this fast pass was definitely worth the effort, especially since the queue was at now nearing 2.5 hours. 

Looking away from the castle toward the main entrance.

It was now around 10:15 AM and our Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare fast pass window was rolling around. We really felt like it was later because so much had gone on since we woke up at 5:30 AM. The rain was back again, but what are we gonna do? I would say what made it disappointing was that we weren't able to take as many photos with our new camera. We bought it specifically for this trip, but we didn't want it to get wet. Most of the photos of our morning are from the iPhone 6. 

When it comes to Haunted Mansion exterior, we have a few decent photos on the new camera from our Day 2 at Disneyland. Since we used fast pass the both times we rode, we didn't get any queue photos. From what I could see, because you really do bypass it to the point that you don't see it, the queue appeared interesting. A fun change is that although the structure is the same as Florida's, the building is not left in pristine condition. The windows are broken and shutters are near the point where they would detach completely.

The "maids" that work the attraction really have a persona that can be summed up with the phrase: "Dude, I've seen shit...and I don't wanna see it again." It's almost as if all of them don't want to look up in fear of seeing another ghost, a ghost that scared them a little too much. Their long black hair drapes down and frames their faces and they move about cautiously and quietly. We were all waved toward the circular gallery, but that Cast Member didn't join us. She stood motionless, while keeping her gaze down, and the double doors slid shut. Ok! That was already creepy! I think our advice to other Mansion Cast Members around the world would definitely be "Less IS More"! Rather than trying to BE the show, just be apart of the well thought out show already in place.

The vehicle ride path was laid out just like the one in Florida's Magic Kingdom. It was nice to see that right at the start we were greeted by both Jack Skellington and Sally. Eric and I were huge fans of the stronger presence of these characters. Back home we see Sally once, at the very end. In Tokyo we see her in about three different scenes. That might not sound like a huge difference, but it really adds to the experience. A favorite room of mine is the library where the ghost dog Zero is decorating a Christmas tree. The tree spins and he's applying some shiny garland to it.

Eric was quick to point out that in the graveyard scene, the ghosts are a lot brighter. The ghosts in Japan must have a stronger connection from the supernatural world? I think when it came to that detail, I prefer the ghosts back home. In the American parks, the ghosts in the graveyard appear to be a little more "see through" than those found in Japan.

Again, at the unload area the Cast Members are addressing the guests as minimally as possible. A subtle gesture saying "Please get out" is our cue to hop out and be on our way.

We were very much surprised as Eric and I stepped out of the building the parade was passing right in front of us. The parade step off is adjacent to the attraction's exit. I had heard that a "rainy day" cavalcade would replace the usual parade that takes place. Apparently in Tokyo it meant the parade would go on, but everyone would wear rain gear ponchos. However; the dancers that travel with the floats were cut.

It was our intention to try watching The Happy Harvest parade in two days time, when there would be a sunny day. But, Eric and I couldn't step away from this. The music was catchy and the costumes were all so cute! Winnie the Pooh as a bumble bee was oh so adorable! I think someone as huge as Mickey Mouse was up a little too high. He's the main man and they have him perched up on top of a huge pumpkin. I would prefer him a little lower. But, as I keep saying, the designers of this parade really know how to get everyone's favorite word "Kawaii" (cute) to be said over and over again. 

The cuteness will continue to grow as we progress further into our day. It was now a little after 11 AM and hunger was beckoning us to eat. Right across from where we watched the parade is the Queen of Heart's Banquet Hall. Ever since I was a kid I have been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, the film. So, eating at this restaurant was a must do on our list. I know Eric was also wanting to eat there and he was just as hungry as I was. When we continue next time, unless you cheat by googling photos on your own, you'll get to see how fun it was inside!

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