Monday, November 14, 2016

Tokyo DisneySea Review

Alrighty, here I am back again with part two of the Tokyo Disney review, this time with the other park called Tokyo DisneySea. If you missed part one that consisted of Tokyo Disneyland, you can scroll down the page if you are on the home page of Secrets of DIM, or you can click here - http://secretsofdim.daydreaminstructionmanual.com/2016/11/tokyo-disneyland-review.html.


Tokyo DisneySea in short can be described as this: Absolutely Amazing. This place truly takes your breath away. You can think of all your favorite places in your life and this place could come really close to that. Of all the pictures I've seen and of all the things I've read about this place, I was still overwhelmed entering in through the gates and seeing the harbor with Mount Prometheus looming over everything.


First, you enter through the gates into the DisneySea Plaza and pass under the DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta. Yes, you read that correctly, the hotel is built into the park. It serves as the backdrop of the Mediterranean Harbor, the entry way to the Seven Seas. Yes, there are seven themed areas here (I'm pretty sure their coincidence was intended). You have the Mediterranean Harbor, the American Waterfront, the Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, the Port of Discovery, and my favorite, the Lost River Delta.




After passing through the hotel tunnel, you find yourself at the edge of a massive harbor that shows off Mount Prometheus in all its breathtaking beauty.




As with all Disney parks, you have the park's focal point, and this one to me is the absolute best. The volcano is awesome and makes you feel like your day will be an absolute adventure. Most of the focal points in the other parks are of man-made structures: all of the castles, Spaceship Earth at EPCOT, the Chinese Theater at Hollywood Studios; but like the Animal Kingdom with the Tree of Life, this place has a 'natural' element to it. Sure, this is a man-made volcano, but it looks and acts like a real one (it occasionally "erupts" throughout the day).


At the base of Mount Prometheus you can see the fortress of Leonardo DaVinci in which you can explore and do the DaVinci Challenge where you are given a map and clues and you have to figure out the secret to the mountain. We took part in this, but I caution, the map is in Japanese! The first clue was one that depended on knowing the language, so we were stuck until we saw another group with the same color sheet as us, and after we saw the first clue, we were able to finish it on our own based off of things we found throughout the fortress.


We returned to the kind lady working the start of the challenge as she felt bad the maps were only in Japanese, but once we showed her we finished the challenge correctly, she was overjoyed for us. Figuring out puzzles can feel really rewarding, but trust me, they feel even better when you figure them out in a different language, makes you feel like a real explorer! Also, there is a galleon moored to the side of the fortress that you can also get on deck and explore the ship, and you can even find and get your picture taken with Captain Jack Sparrow!


Another part of the Mediterranean Harbor is all the shopping you can do around the waterfront. This is similar to Main Street USA in its function, but also has a bunch of Italian restaurants as well and features some Venetian gondolas.



Moving into the American Waterfront, the Hotel Hightower looms over this section of the park. This Hotel serves as this parks Tower of Terror.



I will say this, storywise, this is the BEST version of the Tower of Terror. In terms of ride experience, the Disney World version is by far the best. The ride here is similar to Disney's California Adventure version, but as I said, both don't hold a candle to this one with the backstory. Since California's Tower of Terror is being converted to a Guardians of the Galaxy ride (tragic in my opinion), Florida's should drop the Twilight Zone tie-in and adopt this story.


The story goes as follows, the famous explorer Harrison Hightower collects rare antiquities from all over the world and has put his collections here (set in New York). One item in particular, Shiriki Utundu, a statue from the Congo has a curse and ultimately sets in motion the whole disappearance and fall down an elevator thing that the ride is known for.




The amazing story telling begins here outside in the queue line where you wander through his gardens that are filled with statues of various relics and idols from different cultures throughout the world.




Even though it doesn't look like this line was very long, this was taken first thing in the morning and this was the first thing we did. The lines here get very long, and I will touch a little bit more on that later in the post. When we went on this a second time, we got to stand in these gardens for a good while.

Once you get into the hotel lobby, you see all the different frescos and paintings of Hightower claiming his prize. These I found really funny as they clearly make him out to be the bad guy by showing the indigenous people chasing after him graverobbing them.



You then enter either his study or his library (they are the same experience, just different staging areas to handle larger crowds) where you see the Shiriki Utundu on a pedestal next to the desk. The stained-glass window then changes and the statue begins to talk in only a way Disney effects can make things appear, before the statue disappears completely in the blink of an eye. I have no idea how they create this illusion, but it is awesome.




After this, you then get to the loading area and was is awesome about this part is that you get into what seems to be the warehouse for all the statues he has brought back. All of the items he is shown retrieving in the hotel lobby paintings, you can most likely find down here.



Then you of course board the elevator and the ride goes on like you imagine it would, dropping you down the shaft a couple times. What makes this one even creepier though is that the statue talks to you in its deep and dark voice, and since it is in Japanese, you have no idea what it is saying. It sounds like it is placing its curse upon you. I think not knowing what it is saying just puts the icing on the cake on how awesome this whole experience was.


A couple other things in this section of the park features a massive steamliner called the SS Columbia that has a restaurant in it.



There is also a Broadway Theater here that has a big Disney Broadway Production, but one of the most popular attractions in the park is here and that is Toy Story Midway Mania. If you actually want to ride this, you better be one of the first people in the park and grab a fast pass instantly. The line waits here were over 140 minutes all day long and the Fast Passes were gone within 2 hours of the park's opening.



We didn't ride this as we grabbed Fast Passes first for Tower of Terror, and then when we saw wait times, we said no thanks. We had ridden this attraction in Disney World so we felt we weren't missing out. For those who haven't ridden this, in short, you ride around in a 4D experience where you play mini games throughout and try to get the high score. You pull a string on the back of your 'controller' shooting darts, balls, etc. at different targets. It's a fun experience if you haven't done it before, but not something I'd say is worth a 2+ hour wait.


The next area I will talk about is the Port of Discovery. This area is pretty neat in that it features a lot of SteamPunk action and has a bunch of science based attractions. Aquatopia was closed for refurbishment while we were there (it was also a balmy 60 degrees here and chilly so a water-based attraction where you can get wet isn't that popular I guess). We did however get to go on StormRider, which is a unique ride.




You enter into the Center for Weather Control where they supposedly can control the weather and it is cool how much innovative science they display for you actually get to ride the ride. Of course, it is all fictionalized science in that you obviously can't control the weather, but it is fun to see the possibility. This ride is a simulator as you are in basically a steampunk airplane and travel through tornadoes, hurricanes, underwater, and a lot of cool stuff. There is an moment where an object on the video screen actually becomes reality, which is a clever touch. However, by the time most of you read this, this ride is no longer. It has been closed since shortly after we visited and is being converted into a Finding Nemo/Dory attraction. Sigh.


Next is one of the coolest places I've ever been and that is Mysterious Island. This whole area takes inspiration from Jules Verne and classic literature and film. This entire area is nestled into the side of Mount Prometheus and is embedded into a crater.




That is the view you get walking in from the Mediterranean Harbor side, and notice the large steampunk drill in the side of the mountain tunneling directly into Mount Prometheus. Below is another angle of the crater and shows what lies below the walkway around the edge.




The steamships that can sail around the whole park do pass through here as the entire park is connected by waterways. And your eyes do not deceive you, yes, that is the Nautilus.




20,000 Leagues Under the Sea has always been one of my favorite movies growing up and this is the Nautilus as it should be and in all its glory. Unfortunately, you can't go inside it, but the fact you can see the sub still with your own eyes is awesome, especially after Disney World retired the ride. Well have no fear! DisneySea has their own version of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride!




This ride isn't like the old version of the ride at Disney World or like the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland in California, the ride system is similar to that of Peter Pan's Flight where you are in a car that hangs below a suspended railing. The system works wonders here as you enter into a small submarine (claustrophobia could come into play for some) and you actually feel like you are underwater seeing all the colorful things. The glass on the subs is concave and gives the illusion of being underwater, and bubbles that float up between the panes and depth gauges add to the environment. And yes, you do get attacked by a Giant Squid!


As a fan of the movie, they have a bunch of memorabilia scattered throughout the queue, and here a couple maps I took pictures of detailing out the Mysterious Island and what you could expect on the ride.






The other attraction in this crater can be found almost directly below the drill outside and in the caves you can find the entrance to the Journey to the Center of the Earth.




This ride catapulted easily into my Top 5 Disney attractions I have ever been on. This ride experience is so unique, it's tough to pick something that comes close. I guess system wise it uses the same technology that Test Track uses that you can find at EPCOT. You make your way down through a bunch of caves and then and elevator that "tells you" that you have traveled deep into the Earth. You then board onto a drill-like car and head deeper seeing tons of amazing animatronics that put Avatar colors to shame. The bioluminescence on this ride and all the weird, wonderful creatures you encounter is impressive.


As you continue to get "deeper", fire starts shooting out of walls and eventually  you come across one of the largest and most awesome robots I've ever seen as this giant snake, centipede, dragon, whatever thing starts to attack you before you launch off into complete darkness and haul the mail back to the surface when you burst out of the side of the mountain and zip around the crater. I would almost have to rank this ride second behind Expedition: Everest as my favorite Disney ride. It is absolutely awesome.


After you make your way through the Mysterious Island crater, you find yourself staring at the entrance to Mermaid Lagoon.




This place is unique as 90% of this area is inside a building, and before I show you what I mean, if you grew up watching Disney like I did, you first have to admire the Little Mermaid statue that depicts one of the famous images of Disney movies at the time.



So then you begin to enter the building and you see you are entering Triton's Kingdom.



And what you will find inside made me take a step back in awe as I didn't expect to see a world that made you completely feel like you were under the sea.




There is so much inside this place for little kids to do, I'm astonished how they fit so much into a place. There are nine attractions in here alone! The environment here is cool how they were able to pull it off. Also, if you are here in the winter, you could come in here to warm up just a tad, and the funny thing is we saw a bunch of adults in the playground area napping on the soft, cushioned floor taking naps while the children ran around on the jungle gyms and such. The one attraction that is outside is Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster that is a steel mini coaster much like Gadget's Go Coaster and we didn't go on it.

After emerging from under the sea, we headed across the bridge to the Arabian Coast that is almost exclusively Aladdin themed, and how can you go wrong with that? The first area you can enter into is the large Arabian Plaza where you can find the Magic Lamp Theater and a double-decker carousel.





This wide open space can give you a brief reprieve from managing to get through chokepoints that are found throughout DisneySea (unlike Disneyland that has paths so wide). But there is a lot of detail in this plaza that will just make you smile. When we visited here though, it was a little bittersweet to see all of the Genie stuff after the loss of Robin Williams, but he will always make you smile. Especially this fountain that had different faces for all of the Genies on it.


There is a little alley way that you can walk through to get to the rest of the Arabian Coast and I liked it as you felt like you were walking through the streets of Agrabah, and had a bunch of Easter eggs hidden all over including a funny shop that belonged to Jafar but had a "Store Closed by the Sultan" sign on the door.




After emerging from this little side street, you come across Sinbad's Storybook Voyage, and this is honestly the It's a Small World you are looking for. This is such a much better boat ride in the same vein that its predecessor, and the robotics are way more advanced.




I also didn't mind having the song from this ride stuck in my head. The music was written by Tony Award Winning composer Alan Menken and is very catchy. Even though the lyrics were transcribed and performed in here into Japanese, the attendant working was kind enough to give me a cute little sheet that had the story projected onto paper and the words in English so we could follow along. The following picture is a map on the wall just before the ride that shows the different show rooms your voyage takes you on.






 The last area of the park is definitely my favorite and is the Lost River Delta. This area features two of my favorite things, roller coasters and Indiana Jones. Crossing the bridge into this area you can find a biplane similar to the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark with a very familiar tail number on it that should make you smile.




Once you get down the steps of the bridge, you come face to face with the Indiana Jones ride's massive temple.



This ride is similar to the Disneyland version in California except has a different story to it. This one is called Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. Now before you roll your eyes and discredit this ride based off of whatever preconceived movie perception, I will tell you that this ride was designed and built BEFORE that movie ever came out. There are so many great things in this ride and Easter Eggs aplenty for any Indy fan and I was beside myself experiencing this as I haven't ridden the one in California. You are in a Jeep (for Disney World travelers, similar experience to Dinosaur) and you make your way through the temple dodging booby traps and vicious animals after messing with the Crystal Skull. There are indeed snakes on this ride. Snakes, why'd it have to be snakes? And the climax of the ride is one that is very familiar to anyone who has seen Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Below are some pictures of the interior of the temple as the detail put into this structure is amazing.







I like the above pictures as the middle one reminds me of the statue on the Thuggi altar in Temple of Doom and the one directly above is like the Ark of the Covenant shooting out the beams in the book that Indy and Marcus show the FBI agents in the beginning of Raiders.




The other major attraction in this area of the park is a roller coaster called Raging Spirits and it is embedded into Incan ruins. This compact coaster has a vertical loop in it that catches you by surprise as it is shrouded in mist and is located deep in the heart of the coaster.






Even though the ride itself seems short, I really liked riding this coaster. The scenery does it alone for me, we also rode this at night and it was sweet. I would almost recommend riding this after the sun goes down as you wouldn't really see where you are going and the lighting is fantastic.


The other areas around the Lost River Delta are great looking and add to the immersiveness of the area. Across the river from the temples is a great restaurant that we ate at that served Mexican food, and it was delicious. Highly recommend Miguel's El Dorado Cantina.




Well that does it for covering the areas of the park, and just like last post, before I close, I want to post a couple pictures of the major attractions at night time as they looked glorious and like I stated in the other, make sure you stay past sundown to get full experience.




Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull



Raging Spirits


Mount Prometheus

In closing, I find this by far my favorite Disney Park that I have been to. If you have read through this blog and were amazed at some of the photos I have in here, this is only a small snippet of all the things I took pictures of as there is an insane amount of detail here. This park to me is a mix of almost all of the parts of all of the other Disney Parks. I really loved the Jules Verne attractions, as his work makes you want to get out and explore almost like no other, and mixing that with Indiana Jones and then Tower of Terror, this park almost puts you at sensory overload, and it definitely worth the flight to Japan. If you are a fan of theme parks in general, you almost have to get here as you won't find a better place that combines thrills and scenery anywhere.

I hope you had just as much fun reading and looking at the photos in here as I did writing this and reliving the experience of this place. To steal a Jurassic Park quote, but "I was overwhelmed by the power of this place." And I won't ever forget that.

Thanks for reading,

Mike G.



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