Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shows, Food, and Skinless Characters at Tokyo DisneySea

Being that it still wasn't Noon, it felt really early to us. I think our bodies were also a little confused with the time too. Even if our bodies were telling us to stop and take a breather we kept going.

We had heard and read a lot about the fortress in the park, and it's accompanying vessel. They are both found at the base of the volcano. Shortly we will see how the volcanic eruptions have affected that edifice. I'm looking on the park map now and it appears to only go by the name "Fortress Explorations" (interactive fun at the fortress and galleon). I really thought there was a more interesting name for this attraction. I am sure there isn't a connection at all, but the main dome reminds me of The Dome of the Rock from Jerusalem, Israel.

It's very easy to get lost inside this structure as all the twist and turns appear the same. Eric had a pretty good idea what he wanted to see and do in there. I was mostly following him and enjoying myself.

We came across some interesting designs that could've been right out of the Italian Renaissance. I'm sure that was the point.

As we had our look around, there was a show going on across the bay. I believe it was called 'Welcome Skeleton Friends". We didn't ever watch it, but it was a show where the skeletons show up on a barge, disembark and dance around with Mickey and Friends. Like in most places, the guest of Tokyo love their stage shows.

In a few areas throughout the park we could see the story of how the volcano overtook a few areas. I guess this fortress wasn't strong enough to keep out the lava.

Having obtained Fast Passes for it, we needed to head back to American Waterfront, we spent a lot of time there, to ride Tower of Terror. This time around we grabbed a few more shots inside. I think taking photos was against the rules, but we sneaked a few here and there, and stayed away from flash.

The Fast Pass return queue was a tad backed up, but that was ok. We were able to take our time while visually taking in some of the story (and grabbing the photos I mentioned). The owner of this hotel had obtained relics from around the world (as explored in a previous post). But, we could now see in murals around the lobby that yes, those previous owners were glad to rid themselves of them. It was also cool to notice that various finds were from themed lands that looked very similar to the park's ports of call. Check it out! We even found a Crystal Skull near the loading area.

Take a look in the back row!

Although the thrills are far better at the American parks, I still wouldn't tell anyone to skip this attraction. A friend of ours, he runs TDRExplorer.com, doesn't care for this one very much. I think he would see there isn't too much to be stressed about. We must have had some energetic fun on this attraction because we were getting hungry by the attraction's end.

The New York Deli is down the city street from Tower of Terror. Since it was around lunch time now, we thought we would get that meal in prior to queueing for the Big Band Beat Show. We had to walk past the theater where it would play. Although the show was nearly an hour away, a crowd awaiting the opening of the doors filled the queue. Why was I not surprised? We didn't know a lot about the show and decided to be surprised by what we would see. 

This park tricks your mind into thinking that you are really not in Japan. There is a sense that it is around 1920/1930s and New York city is your home. From the ads on the street, to the cheeses being aged in shop windows (which we have seen for ourselves in NYC's Little Italy) the hustle of the city enveloped us.

Oh look! We came upon another one of the Skeleton friends. I had heard of 'The Artist", but it wasn't until now that we saw him. He was drawing a portrait of a fellow guest (remember, he was also on vacation). I think he did a pretty good job of it and the crowd loved the drawing too.

Our lunch was pretty basic, sandwiches and french fries. I enjoy the wrappings that all the food is wrapped inside of. Although we were given wet naps with most of our meals, the wrapper is a nice addition for cleanliness. Throughout Tokyo, if something is served to you, a piece of waxed paper is handed to you so that you may hold your food. I am one that hates getting any sauces or oils on my hand, so I loved this. 

The theater announcements for Big Band Beat were very detailed in that absolutely no photography of any kind was allowed. We followed the rule and took in the show. I don't think we wanted to be "those Americans" that broke all the rules for our own sake. 

The show was filled with swing music, live, and a lot of dancing. The singers had some great talent to back up the live band. The look of the show was right out of the 1940s, full of nods to Art Deco and Art Nouveau. At the finale, Mickey came out and tap danced so rapidly that I thought he was going to fall over! This was a moment in the show I wish I had recorded. I bet I can find it on YouTube somewhere. Big Band Beat had some entertaining moments, no question, but there was something it lacked. I can't even suggest what to change. I think it felt very rehearsed, and though professional, seemed very systematic. It wasn't until that final tap number did I feel there was heart and soul imbedded into what they were doing. Other than the parades, the entertainment wasn't delivering the Wow Factor I had heard about. 

When exiting the show, we decided we wanted take their boat ride around the park. We loaded from the same dock area where Duffy greets guests. Apparently Oswald was also nearby, but we didn’t catch a glimpse of him the entire trip. I think we were hoping for the boat to leave us at the Lost River Delta area. The park would have a Halloween cavalcade in that area, but the boat didn’t stop there. Instead, the boat made a full circle around the park as it passed Lost Rover Delta and the Arabian Coast. It headed back and left us right where we started. We felt a little silly as we thought we knew what we were doing.


During our tour we see a fun effect where it appears that the water from the Tokyo Bay is breaking through. 

Since we had to go on foot, we took the route through the Cape Cod area. There was a popcorn stand there that we hadn’t tried yet. They sold the Milk Tea flavored popcorn. Our friend Miley said this was her favorite one, so we had to make time for that! As it turned out, this would be our favorite too! I don’t even think I could describe it, but believe me when I say it had a wonderful and unique flavor.

As I had read in a post on Tom Bricker’s blog, the snacking at these two parks is endless! Soon after we finished our popcorn, we continued to seek a spot for the Skeletons Cavalcade, in Port Discovery. Right near where we would wait to watch, we came across a Tiramasu ice cream sandwich that I just had to have! Again, the packaging on this was so adorable! (Even with all the walking we did this trip, I still don’t see how I lost five pounds that week.)

The Skeleton Cavalcade had a fun little beat going, with a Latin feel. After all, we were in an area themed to South America/Mexico/Puerto Rico. I couldn’t really pin down what country exactly, but it conveyed a nice hybrid of them all. However; the costumes they used in this little parade felt right out of Mexico as they danced in the Folklorico style.

The Tokyo parks love to feature the Clarice character from that one Chip n Dale cartoon! We don’t really see her at the parks in the U.S. but she is everywhere here! In this photo, Eric and I like to pretend that she is shouting out, “HEY Gurrrrrrrrrrrrrl!!!”

After the show we continued on through the land to check out more of their Halloween decorations.


As we reached the end of Lost River Delta, staring at us in the face is Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. There is no way were going to pass up riding that again! We have been home over three months now and I am still whistling that soundtrack!

Coming up soon (I hope sooner than the last post) you will see me get a really nice surprise. Also, Eric and I take in the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge and explore the decks of the park’s ship, the U.S.S. Colombia! There is still plenty more we did on this Day 2 of Tokyo Disneysea!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Halloween Presents Itself at DisneySea

The excitement on our third day didn’t falter what so ever! Now that we had a little experience under our belts, we were ready to take on DisneySea with full force. We weren’t at all experts, like the locals, but the overwhelmed feeling was gone. We even felt better at the local Lawson convenient market, near our apartment rental. I noticed the female clerk was still wearing her huge, strawberry blonde wig. Good for her.

The bus ride was still interesting for us. Every seat has its own button to notify the driver that you’d like to exit. And, we enjoyed the fun signage that each told his own cautionary tale of why you shouldn’t disobey safety rules. Seeing the various citizens heading to their daily routines, in their various uniforms, is something we don’t see often at home. Yes, we do see folks headed to work and school, but this was different. The independence shown by these young kids either headed to the trains or on the bus we rode was impressive. Eric and I were baffled to see what appeared to be 8/9 year olds heading out alone.

This time around, Eric and I were “in the know” and we stayed on the bus until it arrived at the DisneySea terminal. As fun as it is to ride, we avoided the Monorail fee of approximately 2.50. There was definitely a chill in the air that was multiplied as we entered the turnstile area. We were under the covered walkway with everyone else, waiting for the gates to open. Just like the day before at Disneyland, Eric and I were very close to the front of the queue. We had about 45 minutes to wait in anticipation.

Upon entering the park, we had the same plan as we did on Day 1. We would head straight to Journey to the Center of the Earth,  grab a fast pass and then ride it. This attraction is at the top of our list for Tokyo Disney Resort attractions. The excitement of the morning dash was just as fun as previous days. If any of you readers visit these parks, I can’t stress enough that you must see this for yourself! It all plays out like the Black Friday footage we see on the news broadcast!

                              Cool aqueduct structure in Mediterranean Harbor

                                  Journey to the Center of the Earth queue

After enjoying both 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth, we again bumped into some USA pals. Tom Bricker and wife Sarah, as well as Guy Selga and wife Jennifer asked us along to ride the gondolas. At this point, Eric and I had forgotten about the gondolas. How could we? They are tucked away in an almost hidden area of the park. If one were to enter from the main entrance, the attraction is nestled behind the shops on the left. The group also felt we should join them at the lottery for the DisneySea show “Big Band Beat”, which plays in American Waterfront. But, first we all headed to the Venetian themed canals to board a gondola.

They were very spacious, but since the queue was short they didn’t seem to load it as heavy as that might at busier times. Unlike the propelled gondolas at the Las Vegas Venetian hotel, here it appeared that Cast Member was using manual force to get us through the canals. The waterway themed to the canals wasn’t very long. When the canal ended we turned away from that area and coasted along the main lagoon, where Fantasmic is performed. The morning was slightly gloomy so it didn’t make for great photos. As we headed in the opposite direction, heading back to the station, the gondolier began his rendition of an un-named aria. He did pretty well until the last few moments when he struggled a bit. Still, we all applauded his performance. It’s tough to put yourself out there.

Thankfully the posted lottery schedule was near the gondola attraction. As we walked over, we all exchanged stories and opinions of what we had seen on our trip. All of us seemed to agree that we loved how crowded Disneyland was on the previous rainy day. I say we “loved” it because as I mentioned in a previous post, the determination of the Tokyo fans is amazing to see.  Our group soon found out that the show “Big Band Beat” would not offer the lottery for today. The show would load on a first come basis. Well, all that really meant was that we would need to arrive in time to wait for entry. Eric and I didn’t mind that. It was early in the day and there was plenty of time. We parted ways with the other four, but made tentative plans to meet at the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge a little later.

Although Eric and I had a pastry for breakfast, with a famous Coke Zero, it was time for another snack. Again, thanks to the helpful TDRExplorer.com we knew that the Halloween themed hot dog was nearby in American Waterfront! It was just a matter of finding the right location. It wasn’t hard at all. Starting from a parked vending truck, there was a small queue formed for the popular “black” hot dog with a ghostly white bun. We had been waiting to sample this for about a month!

The hot dog tasted like any other hot dog, but the texture of the meat itself was slightly different. I would say the texture seemed a little fake. But, has anyone ever had a hot dog with the same texture as a slab of beef right off the grill? I doubt it. The novelty of the whole thing was good enough for us. As we ate, on the back steps of the McDuck’s merchandise store, we could hear some interesting voices approaching our way. My next action may have come off as rude, but I assure you all that it was out of excitement.

I practically snatched Eric’s hot dog out of his hand, what was left of it, and may have shouted, “GO! GO!” as I pointed at the approaching skeleton family. I’m not proud of my actions, but Eric got some great shots of the family on vacation! They had their eerie sounding voices as they interacted with the crowd. They seemed to be in a hurry, maybe late for a fast pass, because they didn’t stop. Since they continued on their way, my understanding husband was able to return to enjoy his hot dog.

Once we finished our snack or mid-day meal (depends on one’s perspective) we took a stroll through McDuck’s. As reported on many sites before, it is a mecca to the Duffy enthusiast. Even though we already knew this fact we had to take a look for ourselves. Everywhere we gazed  guests jumped or shrieked with the excitement of a lottery winner. Even if they weren’t about to make a purchase, the love for Duffy, along with now Shellie May and Gelatoni, was infectious. There were Eric and myself joining in the fun as we examined all the various outfits for these three plush dolls. Nearing the front of the store we heard a familiar sound, and we both dashed out the door!

Behold!....more skeleton friends!!

This time the skeletons were from various backgrounds. One appeared to be a bell hop from the cursed hotel nearby and another looked like she may have been a celebrity of some sort. Maybe the bell hop wasn’t from Tower of Terror as his hat had the word “Chattanooga” across the front of it. They seemed to be improving with the guests as they posed for photos. I wish I knew what they were saying. As they spoke in Japanese, they had voice modulators to give them a high pitched, electronic sounding voice.

In our morning so far, we had some positive experiences with their Halloween offerings. There was still “Big Band Beat” and the “Follies” show we hoped to see. The only drawback of the “Follies” show is people seem to wait up to four hours for that one. I don’t know if we had that long to set aside in our day. Maybe we were wrong in thinking we had a lot of time? And don't forget that I'm still on the prowl for my Mickey popcorn bucket!