Saturday, 4 April 2015

Tokyo Disneyland : Japan Travel Diary, Part Four

Experiencing a new Disney Park for the first time is perhaps more exciting than all of your Christmases combined. Adventuring into the unknown, but also feeling like you are right at home is such a unique and special feeling that only the magic of Disney has managed to create. 
Tokyo Disneyland has long been touted as a carbon-copy of Magic Kingdom park in Orlando. I couldn't disagree more. Yes, they both have the amazing Cinderella's Castle as the beautiful centrepiece, and some similar lands and attractions, but that in my opinion, that is where the similarities end. Tokyo Disneyland stands on her own two feet, and the fact that I was proposed to in front of this beautiful castle may have left me slightly biased - but dare I say, I like it better than than the Florida version.
Cinderella's Castle
So much beauty
Cinderellas Castle

A successful day at TDL require some planning, research and dedication. Yes - you can just rock up to the park after opening hours and cruise around, but if you are a big Disney Parks fan and expect to experience all of the attractions, that wont work. Basically if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail (thanks Hubby for that quote haha). In this post, I will go through the plan of attack we used for our first day at TDL, and any little tips we picked up along the way. This will be a very photo-heavy post, so don't say you haven't been warned! 

its a small world
it's a small world
The day we decided to visit Tokyo Disneyland, the park was scheduled to open at 9am. To ensure we were one of the first few people through the gates (not including the Disney Hotel guests who get their own entry & are able to enter the park 15 minutes earlier than everyone else) we arrived at TDL one hour before opening time. If your are a morning person and have the ability to rise early on vacation, we HIGHLY recommend doing so. Even if one of your party members takes one for the team and holds your spot in line (by our 4th day I went and did this, as hubby wanted a relaxing breakfast) it is much better than arriving just before the park opens. 

I didn't take any photos of the queue at TDL, so the few below are from DisneySea, but both days for us we were at a similar position in line.
We arrived at exactly 8am to secure our position on line. As mentioned in a previous post, the the regulars all bring 'Kawaii' plastic mats and sit on them playing electronic games, studying the park schedule, fine-tuning their ah-mazing outfits or completing homework. We lived on the edge and sat directly on the floor and spent our time people watching, taking photos and chatting. By the end of the Disney section of our Vacation, I'm pretty sure we had our entire 10-year life plan all sorted. But if you are the type who is unable to entertain themselves without something to do, we highly suggest bringing along some reading material or download some games onto your phone. As it is a fairly decent wait and definitely won't be your last of the day!

getting in
There were only a few rows ahead of us to the entry gates. Winning!
getting in
View behind us
Park Passes
My ticket  - I was SO hoping for Minnie Mouse or Daisy. I guess the Mouse himself was a pretty good third choice
Park Passes
Hubby's Ticket
getting in
as the hour went on, the line got longer and longer.
By the time the park opened it stretched all the way passed the monorail station!
Halloween at TDL. 
Fast Pass Basics
Fast Passes are a very serious business at TDR. Fast Passes for the popular attractions are usually exhausted for the whole day come noon. A cover is put over the poor machines and it all looks very sad.  Now, you may think I am exaggerating when I say 'run', but I really truly mean it. There are poor cast members around the park holding signs that I'm pretty sure say 'Don't Run' and motioning for people to slow down, but when it comes to getting those Fast Passes, people are willing to break the rules. Watching the FP return times above the machines tick over like a stop watch is quite amazing.

The basic math for obtaining a FP for a ride is fairly simple and can work in 2 ways:
1. Once the window of your existing FP opens (ie - You have a FP for Monsters Inc Hide & Go-seek with a return time of 10:30-11:30am). As soon as 10:30am ticks over, you are eligible for your next FP.
2. Once 2 hours has passed from the time you obtained your existing FP (ie - You got a FP for Pooh's Hunny Hunt at 9:30am, with a return time of 2-3pm). In this instance, you would be eligeble for your second FP once 11:30am ticks over.

I think this is a very smart system and is as fair as it can be in a competitive park like TDL.

The plan of attack
The hour passed relatively quick for us (seriously - the outfits that all of the toddlers are dressed in never get old for me. Every way I turned there was a cute new 3 year old in a duck-butt costume. That was more than enough entertainment for me!) and before we knew it, the gates were opening and Minnie & Mickey were standing there welcoming guests into the park.

During my extensive research before leaving on this vacation, I was lead to believe that the two most popular attractions were Monsters Inc Ride & Go-seek and Pooh's Hunny Hunt. Both of these dark rides are exclusive to TDL, so I am assuming that was why this was the case. We decided to do our 'run' (and when I say 'we', what I actually mean is Hubby runs and I walk somewhat briskly to wait in line at our net ride) to Monsters Inc first to get our Fast Passes, and then wait in line at Pooh's Hunny Hunt.

This plan worked perfectly and our wait time for Hunny Hunt was under half an hour. and our return time to Monsters Inc was 10:30am. We planned to ride Hunny Hunt, and as our opening time slot for Monsters Inc opened, pop over and get a Fast Pass for Haunted Mansion. We also tried our luck at the lottery for the "Once Upon a Time'' show that we were planing to see that night, but alas, we weren't luck that day! (Which was a bit disappointing, as it was my BIRTHDAY and I was totally feeling the birthday good luck vibes).

World Bazaar
World Bazaar at the entrance to TDL

Disney Balloons
Gorgeous, happy balloons!
Poohs Hunny Hunt
The entrance for Pooh's Hunny Hunt.
I almost wished our wait time was longer as the queue is so detailed and I felt I didn't see
 it all as we were whisked through rather quickly! 
Poohs Hunny Hunt
Poohs hunny hunt
Inside the queue. There were pages from the story of Winnie the Pooh (in English!) and it was like you were walking through a giant book. 
The ride itself was so unique and unlike anything I have experienced before. It is like you have entered the Hundred Acre Woods and right into a page in the story. Each time you ride it you have the opportunity to experience something slightly different. The entire ride (as were most rides) was in Japanese. I was worried about this at first, but Disney do such a great job of storytelling, that the words come secondary to what you are seeing, that it is not even an issue. 

We finished the riding Hunny Hunt around 10am, so decided to ride Dumbo & The Teacups while waiting to get our Haunted Mansion FP and then head over to Monsters Inc. 

Love Miss Walker
Waiting in line to ride the classic Dumbo ride. 
Cinderellas Castle
View of the Castle from Dumbo



Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion all dressed up for Halloween!

We didn't eat here, but I only have heard AMAZING things. We planned to, but just didn't get around to it. 

Tokyo Disneyland Tips
More gorgeous Castle detail from Fantasyland. side 
Mad Hatters Tea Party

After grabbing our Haunted Mansion FP, we strolled over to Monsters Inc. I made us take the long way around through Tomorrowland rather than cutting through the castle as because of our morning rush, we weren't able to walk from World Bazaar straight on and get that first straight forward view of the gorgeous castle, as Monsters Inc is located in Tomorrowland, which is a sharp right turn as soon as you enter the park.  It ended up being a bit of a game where I refused to even look at the castle from the Fantasyland side of the park. (All of the castle the photos above were taken at a later point during the day). 

The Monsters Inc Attraction was also a goody - however we only needed to ride it once as we didnt love it and felt we got everything we needed out of it form one spin. We were still glad we chose this as our first FP as by the time we got to the attraction just before 11am, the FP allocations were completely exhausted and wait time was over 2 hours already!

Monsters Inc
The queue area is (like everywhere in TDL) was so detailed. It felt like you were in the movie. 
Monsters Inc
Isn't this AMAZING?! Look closely : the countries are all made up of bedroom doors. 

{STOP!!! I interrupt this Disney Trip Diary to bring you....}

Robin Hood

Disney Proposal

Soo...after the Monsters Inc ride and our walk back around to World Bazaar so I could have my 'Castle Moment', my amazing Husband (then boyfriend) knows me too well and got down on one knee in front of Cinderella's Castle and asked me to be his wife. Dreams do come true! Of course I said yes (although reflecting back on the moment we both realised I actually didn't say 'yes'. I just nodded.) and we spent the rest of the day & trip floating around on cloud nine (as if we weren't floaty enough already!!)

Disney Proposal

Disney Proposal
The gorgeous 'Princess' ring as we fondly named it. Many, many ring shots were to follow, but I will spare you with just the one. 
Disney Proposal
ok. maybe two. 
{We now return you to your scheduled programming}

After the big surprise, our window had opened to ride Haunted Mansion, as had the eligibility to get another FP. We swung by Space Mountain, got a FP for that and headed on up to Haunted Mansion. 
The Nightmare Before Christmas themed Mansion was great - even though I was in Disney World during Halloween also, they do not do the Mansion up for this holiday. 
Space Mountain is also different to the WDW attraction. It is MUCH better. And similar to the original Disneyland California version if what I have read is correct. 

The rest of our day was much less scheduled as we knew we would be coming back at least two more times, and I wanted to make sure we just stopped and enjoyed the amazing surroundings after our hectic and exciting start. We stopped to watch a few parades and did the 'not so popular' rides such as Star Wars (I found that strange!), Pirates of the Caribbean, which is entirely in Japanese except for the Johnny Depp voice over parts.  But again, you don't really notice it. I am a big fan of the Pirates ride - I'm not sure if it's because it is the last attraction Walt himself designed or because I just freaking love Johnny Depp in that movie  - but I enjoyed the Japanese version just as much as it's American counterparts. 

One of the Halloween Parades. Stitch is a BIG favourite in our household. 
I loved Toontown. WDW no longer has one so was a big novelty to me! 

Chip & Dale's House

Donald's Boat

Goofy's House
Critter Country
Critter Country! This land was SO detailed
Splash Mountain
The Iconic Splash Mountain
Critter Country
Amazing, amazing amazing detail!
Critter Country

My Fiance! 
Polite Parade Etiquette. The Japanese get so many things right!!
About 30 minutes before a parade was starting. If you want a good spot, get there EARLY!

Classic Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

The view. Oh my...
Disneyland Hotel
The beautiful Disneyland Hotel
World Bazaar
When I first saw photos of the undercover World Bazaar, I will admit I was not a fan at all. 'Why on Earth would you cover Main Street!?' I thought. But somehow, it just works. It almost acts as a frame for Cinderella's Castle walking into the park and it is architecturally quite pleasing to look at. All of the stores and restaurants located within World Bazaar are unique and a pleasure to browse around in. Hubby would usually leave the parks a little before me to get in a power nap before out nighttime expedition (Me? -  I believe you can sleep once you have left Disney) and I would spend a lot of the time just walking. Walking through the shops, the lands, sometimes taking photos, sometimes just taking it all in. Photos are great and as you are probably quite aware of by now, I love to document nearly everything, but there is something to be said for just being present in the moment. 

World Bazaar
The divine store fronts of World Bazaar
The frame-like qualities of the structure
Some gorgeous window displays

We found Character sightings around the park a very rare occurrence. They all seem to 'hang out' at the entrance to the park and you never know who you are going to bump into. We would suggesting going back and forth a few times during your day in between attractions and parades to see who is frolicking around the gate. 

Robin Hood
THIS GUY!!!!!! Robin Hood was one of my ultimates growing up.
I jsut loved it, and bumping into the fox himself was SO exciting.
Robin Hood
My guys 
Miss Minnie 
Mary Poppins
Was also happy with this sighting! I LOVE Mary Poppins. 

And with that, I will end this epic post. There are still so many things I could document, so if you have any questions, please pop them below in the comments section. I will leave you with this final picture, that needs no caption at all...


Stay tuned for the next instalment : Tokyo DisneySea.


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