Friday, February 27, 2015

Sunny Skies at Tokyo Disneyland- Part 2

Where were we?!

Ah yes! We had just left the Monsters Inc. attraction (Ride and Go Seek) and started to formulate a plan for the mid-afternoon. We could hear that the Happy Harvest Parade had started to makes its way toward our area, the Central Plaza. We did toy with the idea of whether we would watch, but realized there wasn’t enough room for us. The crowd had already been waiting for quite some time. 

Eric and I popped into the bakery across from the Monsters Inc. Fast Pass machines. Well, there were many fun sights to behold in there. I gave a sneak peek at them during my last post. The Mike Wazowski melon bread looked so adorable! Have I mentioned how cute the food is here? The queue was quite long so we pressed on through the Central Plaza, toward the Western area of the park. We wanted to see what snack we could find in the ole West!

It was a surprise that the parade viewing area along Adventureland was quite empty. Eric and I could grab a spot right against a flower bed and no one would be directly in front of us. We agreed to take advantage of the luck and enjoy the parade.

I don’t know how he does it! As soon as the parade began rolling in, Eric memorized the lyrics! Then again, he does that with almost everything on that old invention, the radio. Why would this be any different? The music is extremely catchy that had most people bobbing their heads to the beat. With lyrics that say “Goblins and ghouls all act a fool!” you can’t help but love it.

We caught an abridged version of this same parade two days prior, but it was the “Rainy Day” parade. There were no dancers and the characters were covered in rain gear.  On this gorgeous day we received the full treatment! By looking at the photos I don’t have to describe how inventive the costumes are.

There were only a few floats, but once they were situated around the Plaza they stopped for a show. The audience had apparently been shown minimal choreography to join in with the performers. Since Eric and I were late to the game, we missed that part. The guests near the parade route were very enthused as their arms waved around in unison! Eric and I were a little further back, but we had a nice view of the goings on. We knew to expect this eagerness to participate from the crowd and it says a lot about how the culture enjoys having fun!

Once the parade moved past and the crowd began to disperse, we decided we needed more than a snack. I think we had metabolized our morning toast a long time ago. Following the parade path, in the opposite direction, we went in search of some food.

Eric remembered the Good Time Café, found in Toontown, because they offer a cute looking sandwich. It is chicken on the inside, but the bread surrounding it is shaped like a Mickey Mouse glove. We had to make our way across Fantasyland to get to Toontown, but not without a few photos.

 As we had expected, we caught the crowd leaving the parade route from the same parade. The route starts on one end of Fantasyland (near Haunted Mansion) and loops back to Fantasyland’s other end (near Toontown/Tomorrowland).

          See the Cast Member in the crowd?

This was another moment where Eric and I locked in on our destination and split up. We zig zagged our way through that crowd and found ourselves in Toontown. There were quite a few places to sit, which was surprising with this crowd. Eric went to order and I saved us an area on a bench. I’m thankful Eric suggested I wait. While I sat holding our spot, the crowd slowly started to swell around me. 

I’m happy we grabbed photos of the food right away because even though it was adorable, we devoured it! We didn’t hang in that area for too long because we could tell people were eyeing our seats. The both of us would be sitting soon to wait for the Happiness is Here parade. We could rest then.

Eric used to work in original Toontown, so this “flipped” version was fun to explore. Besides the difference in the layout, the park has this area decorated for Halloween. Our Toontown in Anaheim only gets spruced up for Christmas. 

Looks like Eric made a friend! Although he wore the male version, this is the same costume that was once worn in CA’s Toontown.

For the Disneyland veterans in CA, check out Space Mountain behind Gadget’s Go Coaster! Don’t forget, people call this place “Bizarro Disneyland”.

I don’t think our Chip n Dale Treehouse has leaves anymore! (sad face) Too bad we didn’t go inside this one.

It was big decision time folks! Where would we watch the parade this time? While in Toontown, we were at the end of the route. So far it wasn’t filling in with guests. I didn’t want to sit at a blind turn. I wanted a clear view as the parade approached. So, we headed back across Fantasyland to the parade step off.

As we made our way to our viewing area, Eric realized it was now okay for us to get a new Fast Pass. Just across from our chosen spot was the Haunted Mansion: Holiday Nightmare. We couldn’t pass that opportunity so that’s the one we chose. If you recall from the past post, we had a Fast Pass for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at 18:00. This new time for Mansion would work out perfectly! Now it was the hour long waiting game.

Our spot was great. Directly behind Eric and I was the railing for the Dumbo attraction. There wasn’t a way for people to burst in during the show. I always like getting a spot that can be blocked off from walkways. This was it! Nothing is worse while watching a show/parade then having people push themselves into the spot (or through your legs) you have held for an hour or more.

Being Cast Members from CA, Eric and I were interested to see how they ran their crowd control. We almost felt a little jealous as it seemed these guests were more inclined to follow directions. One word of “back talk” heard often by a Disneyland Cast Member is “Why?” Here in Tokyo, the guests were very willing to follow the directions given. (Look at me just rambling on when there is a parade to get to)

I can’t believe I am saying this on the internet, but I may have had a few tears in my eyes (they burn). Tokyo Disneyland really knows how to put on a parade! The floats were huge and so lively! And again, Eric suddenly knew the lyrics! (This time I must confess that we had heard the music before.)

I don’t really know what to say about the parade because it really does speak for itself. If you choose to see it in motion and with the music, you really should check it out on YouTube. I have a short video up on there, but the full ones are there as well.

I really am annoyed with myself that I can’t think of what to say about the parade. It must be experienced in person. To sum up the whole parade: It is full of Disney moments that come alive before your eyes with floats that put most parades to shame! I was glad there wasn’t a show stop. A parade should keep moving along. As great as a performance is, it gets to be tiresome sitting on the ground for long or standing in one spot.

The show ended around 1:45 PM and we had the afternoon ahead of us. Eric and I felt like we were making so much progress during our time in the parks. I think since we had done so much research, we had the upper hand. We even decided to fit in some time to visit the shopping area called Ikspiari (ick-spee-ar-ee). That shopping district acts like the Downtown Disney for both parks. It is a bit of walk to get there and located near the train station. 

We first took a trip on The Mark Twain before we made our way toward the main gate. In the next installment of our Sunny Day at Tokyo Disneyland, we find out if Ikspiari is the place to be or the place to avoid. Also, we have a nice evening at the park that builds up to the Electrical Parade: Dreamlights. “See you real soon!”


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sunny Skies at Tokyo Disneyland!

We were ecstatic to finally have a sunny day to hopefully get some great photos of Disneyland. I practically bounded out of bed, feeling that we had acclimated to the time change, and ready for the day! Even though we had been there two days prior, I knew today would be the day we would see Happiness is Here parade the way it was intended to be performed and Dreamlights too. Of course the excitement for attractions and completing the days “Battle Plan” also were important early morning motivators.

Eric made a gourmet breakfast for the two of us, toast. I don’t know why we hadn’t taken advantage of the food items we had in our kitchenette before now. The owner was nice enough to have water, juices, tea, bread/butter, and a few cereals for us. Feeling a little more at home, we found we had some extra time. Still, we were out the door near 6:40 to hopefully catch the 6:55 bus to the park. Having had the toast, we didn’t see our gal pals at Lawson that morning. I have to say I liked going in there during our morning ritual. Stopping at Lawson caused us to almost feel like we lived there and were a part of the neighborhood. We were really enjoying our Airbnb experience.

I don’t know if it was mentioned in past posts, but Eric and I were amused with the fact that parents drop off young kids for the trains. Our bus station was right outside the train station (those trains didn’t head to the parks). We saw kids around 7 and 10 years old, dressed in their school uniforms (yes like Sailor Moon), being left to take the trains on their own. We were impressed by the independence of the kids and the trusting society. It is a shame that here in The States we usually assume the worst of most people in a city setting. Inn Japan there seemed to be a huge sense of security by all the residents.

Everyone is faceless, except one lady giving us the stink eye!

Arriving at the front of the parks Eric and I were met with the beginnings of a large crowd. Thankfully we strolled up early enough to not be in the back of the crowd. Our place in the queue or crowd was quickly blocked from behind as the wave of guests arrived soon after us. Being slightly farther back from the turnstiles, it was harder for us to see the Disney characters that soon appeared. But, that was okay for us. We had seen Mickey and Donald many times before. The reaction of the crowd around us was so full of excitement, you’d think Michael Jackson himself had been resurrected and was there that day!

We hoped the other guests would head to the newly refurbished Jungle Cruise and not to Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek. I am not sure if our prediction was correct because the crowd for Monsters Fast Pass was still a large one. Eric and I were a small piece of the mass of visitors darting into the covered World Bazaar and made a sharp right into Tomorrowland. The locals are not crazy. This is one of the most memorable parts of this trip, the morning dash into the parks. One has to start strong and keep that momentum going throughout the day! These guests know the system and they are masters of it.

Eric waiting to grab our Fast Passes

Just as we had done the other day, we made fast tracks to Fantasyland toward Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. The sunlight was peeking through the trees and caused structures like the castle to glow. This park doesn’t really have the charm and cozy feeling that Disneyland in California conveys, but the grandeur makes up for that. We were definitely reminded how grand it was as we made our long trek to Fantasyland from Tomorrowland.

Riding Pooh’s Hunny Hunt this second time around was still a surreal experience. As we passed through and saw the fascinating scenes, I wondered to myself if this was the last time. Seeing the honey pots independently make their way through the Blustery Day scene was a thrilling sight. There is so much to absorb all at once. Although you are in this vehicle and watching the story unfold, it feels like you missed all of it. I just wanted to stand in that one room for at least five minutes and watch all the gags take place. By seeing Eric’s reactions and expressions, I knew he was thinking similar thoughts. 

When we exited the attraction the both of us  knew we couldn’t leave it at that. We right away had to grab a Fast Pass for the attraction. With our Monsters Inc. passes still not valid until 9:50 AM, we would need to wait before we could get new one. Straight away we jumped into the queue for Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. Eric had mentioned to me that this attraction was made for this park first. Then, when CA’s Fantasyland was renovated in 1983, they put this attraction in there too. I really liked their attraction façade. The interior was the same experience. It seemed there were a few different color choices made on the inside. For one, the greens seemed to be a little more neon in their hues where in CA we have deeper forest greens.

It was still early enough that we felt Splash Mountain would have a decent wait time. Critter Country is very close to Fantasyland, right next door. So, Eric led the way through the morning hustle and bustle to the land of the critters. What is great about going places with Eric is we are okay to split up. We don’t start to freak out if we are 20 to 30 steps ahead of one another. I haven’t tested this out with other people because I don’t want them to feel I think they are too slow. Maybe we will try it out later this spring when we visit Walt Disney World.

  (So dark in there. Taken without flash on the iPhone)

I can’t recall the posted wait time, but we ended up waiting around 35 minutes. In our opinion that is an excellent wait time for Splash Mountain. The queues we have seen for this attraction at the other parks can reach two hours in length. The queue entry for this version takes guests right into what we are used to being the water mill. (In Tokyo, the watermill is found along the façade toward the exit) Unless there was an outdoor area currently unused, this entire queue was indoors. I wish our queue for this in California took the elements into account as well. Most of the queue at the original is outdoors. Something we found great for the Cast Member is the logs are at waist level. The guests step down, into the logs, but the flume is aligned with the waist of the ride operator. There is no need for them to bend down and they can communicate at eye level with us. Guests or people in general don’t like being looked down upon.

The story was told just like Magic Kingdom’s Splash Mountain, but in Tokyo it was nice to see the animatronics all moving and the gags were successful. A rumor I had heard before traveling to Japan was that locals do not like getting wet. I have read people on Twitter say that they have gotten wet on this ride, but that wasn’t true for us. It may have been our luck (we didn’t want to get soaked) like when one rides a raft ride and only 50% of the riders aboard get wet. Maybe the back half of our log was wet and we just didn’t notice. Can anyone confirm this fact about Tokyo’s Splash Mountain keeping riders dry?

The time was pressing forward and we were getting close to our Fast Pass window for Monsters Inc. This also meant that we could grab a pass for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. We neared the Hunny Hunt distribution about three minutes early and Eric jumped into the queue. That Fast Pass queue moved quicker than it looked because even when he reached the machine, he had to wait another minute before he could get one to print (no, we can’t outwit the computer). Although it was 9:50 AM, our time to ride Pooh would be at 18:00 that evening. With the way we tentatively had laid out the day, riding at 18:00 would give us enough time to get food and choose a parade spot. Did I mention we would see The Electrical Parade: Dreamlights? (wink! wink! Very excited for that)

    I'm still unsure if I loved the Halloween accents.

As we headed back to Monsters Inc. in Tomorrowland we took the scenic route. 

I am pretty much in love with the Tomorrowland main entrance, but I hated that some of it was under wraps.

Something I noticed about our photos of Disneyland is we didn’t take as many castle photos as I would’ve liked. Besides the varied coloring, it is the same structure that stands at WDW. Visiting Florida over the last 12 years we may have taken so many shots of the Magic Kingdom’s castle that we ignored Tokyo’s.

    More free souvenirs!

This would be the first of two Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek experiences of the day. We rode again after Dreamlights with our friend Chris. I have mentioned him before as the person that runs , the English guide to the Tokyo Disney Resort. But, we will get to that as the day progresses.

In the upcoming post we get a last minute viewing spot for the Happy Harvest Parade, experience more attractions, adorably cute food offerings, and the Happiness is Here Parade. Check back with us soon for more Tokyo Disneyland fun. I hope after reading over these posts so far, you’re getting the “itch” to gather together a budget and head to Japan! We never thought we would get there and here I am telling you fine folks about it.