Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Dazzling Evening at Tokyo Disneyland


If you have been following along with our trip, it must be obvious that we had covered a lot of ground. So, after taking a ride on the river, leaving the park for a bit wasn’t a crazy idea. Being that this was in a way the Downtown Disney of Tokyo, we kept hearing about how huge Ikspiari is. From what I understand, there is even a basement level full of food and bake shops. The walk to get there was a tad further than we planned. We agreed to allow ourselves about an hour for this excursion, so we had to power walk.  Having been dropped off by bus near the main entrance the last few mornings, we hadn’t been exposed to the distance. The train station is adjacent to the Ikspiari facility, not the bus stop.

As we headed there, I voiced that I wanted to find the shop that carries the park soundtracks. After already seeing the “Happiness is Here” parade, I really wanted that music. I hadn’t seen it sold in the park. We also had plans to stop at the Bon Voyage souvenir shop, and find the Disney Store. The Bon Voyage store, which resembles a large suitcase, was the first one we visited.

Inside, Eric and I scoured the shop for something we hadn’t yet seen in the park’s stores. A lot of the merchandise was very repetitive. We did happen to find a few items for the nieces and nephews. The chopsticks we found, the ends had Monorails as handles, were very cute. (Why didn’t I take a photo of them?) We also found a few rare pins. Other than that, there wasn’t a lot that caught our eye. An item we kept seeing everywhere were hand towels. They sold/displayed hand towels like one would see a wall of socks or underwear. 

We wandered further into the Ikspiari area, beyond the train station, in search of the Disney Store. We had to stroll to the furthest point to find it. I also kick myself as I wonder why we didn’t take photos in the store. The only answer I have is that I didn’t want people thinking I was taking a photo of them. There were some cool iPhone cases, one of which I almost bought. The issue I had with them is that since they were irregularly shaped, they were very impractical.

As we headed back toward the parks, we had already spent close to an hour away, we found the music store. They had a decent sized selection of park music, which included the parade I wanted. This soundtrack went for almost $40 American dollars. 40! As you can probably guess, I passed on that purchase. I really couldn’t justify spending that amount on a CD that had one track on it.

The natural lighting in the next set of photos makes it look much later than it really was. If I recall correctly (this was 5 months ago) we headed back into the park around 3:45 PM. Being mid-afternoon it was definitely time for that snack we had seen earlier, pastry. We would have a nice time sitting as we awaited our Haunted Mansion FP window, 4:55-5:55 PM

We headed back to the Sweetheart Café,  located near the Monsters Inc. fast pass area. I was hungry and ready to bite into Mike Wazowski’s head….melon bread that is. Both out snacks looked a lot sweeter than they actually were. 

Although we were doing just fine, Eric and I may have now realized how tired we were. Our day had been full of such excitement that we didn’t even think about how it was affecting us. At the same time, we just didn’t care. We had dreamed of this trip for so long! Eric and I were about to get in as much as possible before the 7 PM Electrical Parade start time.

                   I also wanted this to eat, but I didn’t want to be too gluttonous.

At a quarter to 5 PM we passed near the hour long queue for Jungle Cruise and hoped aboard the Western River Railroad. For those that didn’t know, this train only circles WesternLand. (There are reasons for that which we don’t need to get into now) It sounds a little silly, but one reason I was very excited to ride this train was the fact it passes right in front of Splash Mountain. From certain angles, it appears the finale drop passes directly under the train tracks. In a way it does, but not as dramatically as I had hoped. What I did enjoy about this version of the train is that we felt to be in the middle of the action. At the US Parks, the train ride hides a lot of the park behind trees and buildings.

                                          Westernland seen from the train.

As Eric and I moved back through Fantasyland, toward Mansion, the area felt so alive. We now had “back to back” Fast Passes to use. We had acquired a Pooh’s Hunny Hunt pass earlier, but still our Mansion time was before that. In total, this would equal four Fast Passes for the day. So to anyone who thinks you can’t get more than one Fast Pass in a day at these parks, he is out of his mind. Or, Eric and I just got lucky.

                            Eric & I adored these trees lining the walkway.

This was our second time on their Holiday Nightmare (love that name)! I was a little brave during this experience and snapped a few grainy shots with my phone. We could’ve tried with the Nikon, but it has the light meter on it and I didn’t want to ruin the experience for others.

With it being about half past 5 PM, we had to fit in Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, find food, and find a spot for the parade. The easy part of executing our schedule was that both Mansion and Pooh are in Fantasyland. I was stressing a bit regarding the parade spot. Eric was more relaxed and was trying to get me to calm down. I had read too much online about how tough it is to get a spot for this parade. I decided to go along with Eric’s disposition and calm the heck down.

Of course Pooh was amazing! This would be our final time riding for this trip (sad face). Eric busted out the Nikon for this. It’s not so dark like in Mansion, so the light meter wasn’t a huge intrusion. I’m glad he decided to get a few photos.


As we exited, Eric suggested we head back to where we watched the earlier parade. We enjoyed that spot because no one could fill in our immediate area during the show. It was blocked by railings, thanks to the Dumbo attraction. There was still the matter of food. Eric volunteered to head back across Fantasyland (adjacent to the Pooh attraction), so he could get us burgers from Tomorrowland Terrace. I’m glad I married this guy!


We didn’t have a “parade mat” as most people did. About 40 minutes before the show, a family came into our area. I offered up some space to them and I sat on the ledge. This ledge runs the length of the Dumbo railing, so it definitely worked out for us. During the parade we were free to either stand or sit. About 20 minutes prior to step off time, Eric returned with our cute Mickey shaped burgers.


Since Eric and I were both kids in Southern California, seeing the Main St. Electrical Parade was sort of a park tradition. As most know, that parade has since moved to Walt Disney World, which we do get to see now and again. But, this revamp of the parade came to fruition around 2007, with a new interpretation of floats and soundtrack. When it premiered I of course made a wish to one day see it. The dream was a distant life goal that I thought would never happen. But, here it was and the lights were about to go out! Dreamlights was about to become our reality!

Just like the parades we had seen earlier, these floats were larger than life and finally passing before us. The music was even more exciting to hear as it enveloped the entire area and the lights on the floats were quite vivid.

One thing we did wonder, why did some characters speak in Japanese and others in English? Does anyone know this answer?



I can’t really choose a favorite unit or float. I think my top few floats are Cinderella as her dress transforms, Alice on the Cheshire Cat, the Genie, and Blue Fairy.

The parade was an excellent way to start to draw our Tokyo Disneyland experience to a close. I was glad we saw the alternate version two nights prior as it rained and then the actual parade. We really did get lucky during our time here.

We had arranged to meet up with Chris, he runs , near the Home Store and Waffle House. They are both located right off the World Bazaar area. To get there from our parade spot, we had to follow the parade to the front of the park. That took a little time in the crowd, but we were used to this many folks in one location. As we shuffled along, Eric and I were impressed that the guests actually listen and obey the directions of Cast Members. If the guest control person had everyone move to one side of a walkway, they all complied. Like soldiers, we witnessed the moving crowd all take two giants steps to the right. We followed suit.

After a slight wait, we finally did meet Chris. He rode about three trains from Shinjuku to come meet with us. We had been in contact with him before we left California and during the last three days. It was great to finally meet him and get his perspective on everything. Eric and I may have overwhelmed Chris as we fired questions at him from all angles. But, since the three of us were in the Monsters Inc. queue, we had plenty of time. Ride and Go Seek would be our final attraction at this park. Since it is lively and highly interactive, I’m glad this was how we closed the day. 

                                    I think Eric forgot there was a photo to be taken.

Chris, Eric, and I took a final lap around the park in those last 20 minutes of operation. I can’t recall all the specifics of our conversation, but it was definitely surrounding his living experience in Japan. So far Eric and I were fascinated by the culture we had seen, so we were extremely curious about his adjustment. Chris had lived there for a while now and he loves it. 

We had to take advantage of the third set of arms and asked Chris to snap a photo of us. Maybe next time we visit “it’s a small world” will be up and running.

The three of us tried to venture into a candy shop in the World Bazaar. Eric walked in and was swept away by the current of people. Chris and I stood and watched. The other guests were clearing out the shelves faster than they could stock them. The Japanese people are known for their thoughtful/respectful “omiyage” or souvenirs. It is customary to take back items for friends, family, and co-workers. But, what was odd was that all these tins were ubiquitous. People were still grabbing them as if they hadn’t seen these all day. Eric gave up and managed to get out from the crowd. There was no sense in trying to browse while barely breathing. I will admit that a Black Friday scenario at Disneyland was an interesting thing to see.

The time chatting with Chris went quickly and it was time to say goodbye. It wasn’t all that late, but we needed to catch one of the final buses back to our apartment. It wasn’t really goodbye forever. We made plans to meet up the next day in Shinjuku, somewhat near where Chris lived at the time.

With one last photo at the park’s entrance, it was so long Tokyo Disneyland. Eric and I had mixed emotions as we left the parks. Although our time at Disney ended, we would soon relocate apartments to Shibuya, Tokyo. The thought of being in the middle of a busy city brought on anxiety and excitement! A new chapter of this trip would soon begin.





1 comment:

Jeff said...

The photos are great, guys!