Moving on to the highlight of this trip, and arguably Disney's best park anywhere, we finished our time in a Japan at Tokyo Disneysea. I knew this place would be great, but was still overwhelmed at the level of detail that runs throughout the entire park. Think Cars Land or Diagon Alley-style immersion, and apply that to an entire park - it's very clear that no expense has been spared to make DIsneysea stunning.
The attractions are generally excellent. Journey to the Center of the Earth is definitely one of Disney's best dark rides, and Indiana Jones is just as good in Tokyo as it is in Anaheim, maybe even a little better. Even the second-tier rides are very, very good - we made multiple repeat visits to Sindbad, 20,000 Leagues and Aquatopia.
As with Tokyo Disneyland, the attractions that have been brought over from other parks are all "plussed" in some manner, Tower of Terror and Turtle Talk in particular have some great improvements on their American counterparts. And if that wasn't enough, Disneysea has some excellent live entertainment as well, from a brilliant Little Mermaid live show to what is easily the most spectacular version of Fantasmic!
Waiting to get in, notice the blue sky. We were lucky with the weather at Disney, I think it only rained on one day while we were there, and June is typically the wet season.
Entry plaza with spinning globe might be reminiscent of Universal, but nothing else in this park is. You enter the park under Hotel Miracosta - if you didn't stay there overnight, of course.
Rooms at the hotel start at around 0 a night, and that's if you don't want to stay on the Mediterranean Harbor side.
I was super excited when I realised we'd be visiting on my birthday, so I dutifully went to guest services for a sticker. This made for a very fun day - when they noticed the sticker, cast members would applaud and exclaim "Happy Birthday!" I loved it, even if my group got a bit sick of the theatrics after a few hours.
Mediterranean Harbor and the hotel are themed to an Italian port city, complete with gondoliers. The gondola rides would stop whenever there was a show on the harbor, which because it's Japan was like every 30 minutes. So I guess I'm saving this for a future trip.
Yeah, they built this from scratch!
And this too. The scaffolding gets in the way a little, but Mount Prometheus cuts an imposing presence.
Heading from Mediterranean Harbor to Mysterious Island, this bridge is better themed than most parks!
There are two rides and multiple restaurants inside this mountain. And it occasionally erupts. The amazing thing is, you can't even see any seams, let alone a show building.
So this is inside Mount Prometheus, everything has very Jules Verne-steampunk aesthetic.
The Nautilus sits in the lake, waiting for its next adventure.
I love how they left the tunneling machine here, as though it was used to build the ride.
I only ever saw these signs in English, maybe the Japanese think Westerners need help figuring out where to take a photo?
Hearing that Journey gets some long lines, we grabbed a fastpass and then went straight into the standby queue. As it turns out, most locals go to Toy Story first thing, so the wait was all of five minutes.
After taking an elevator to the centre of the earth, we were ready to board. Journey is probably the most immersive ride anywhere in the world. At no point is there any feeling that you are in a show building, it really is as though Disney built a ride because they found an amazing lava monster below their park.
Granted the immersion dropped a little when we were evac'd out of the queue (like Test Track, it's not the most reliable ride) but I'd suggest that this ride alone is worth visiting Disneysea for.
The "other" ride inside Mount Prometheus is 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Due to some refurbishments on the queue it was a little hidden away, but I'm glad we didn't miss this one. You ride in a submersible (pictured) and take a journey through caverns deep in the ocean. The sensation of "going underwater" is very well done, and if this was in one of the US parks I think it would be many people's "Top 10 Disney Rides" lists.
A little further away from the mountain, this is where the Arabian Coast meets the Lost River Delta.
And here we have the best-looking terrible ride ever built. Raging Spirits' immaculate presentation sadly doesn't make up for its failure as a rollercoaster.
The queue was estimated at a lengthy 90 minutes, and with fastpass unavailable we decided to go single rider. The cast member really tried to discourage us from doing this, claiming that the wait would be even longer, but we were all on in five minutes.
Again, much better to look at than ride. The layout isn't too dissimilar from a Pinfari looper, and the restraints are only slightly more comfortable.
At least it has an inversion.
The effects are great though, plenty of fire throughout and this cloud of mist would always appear right before a car came through.
Jeff looks pretty happy that the beating has come to an end.
The Arabian Coast "port" is loosely themed to Aladdin, and once again was incredible to experience.
The Magic Lamp theater housed a slightly strange show about a magician who found the titular lamp. It wasn't bad but just didn't make a whole lot of sense, even with the English subtitle device they gave us. The building is quite spectacular though.
Moving on to the less regal parts of Agrabah/Arabian Coast, still intricately detailed. It does remind me a bit of Epcot's Morocco pavillion.
You'd think this building housed some sort of ride, or at least a meet-and-greet. Nope, they went all out for a shop.
Even the toilets get the "whatever it costs" treatment.
million of Flying Carpet ride. This was good fun - the riders in the front control the height, and passengers in the back get to tilt the vehicle.
Sindbad's Storybook Voyage was the surprise packet of the trip. I went in expecting a Little Mermaid-style dark ride, but instead it's a full Small World-meets-Pirates musical boat trip, complete with catchy song.
The premise is that you follow Sindbad on his adventures around the world.
The animatronics in this ride are amazing - each one has as much movement as the characters in Pirates of the Caribbean, and there are a few hundred of them!
One group member in particular liked Sindbad quite a bit, so we returned to "follow the compass of our heart" a few times. I wasn't complaining, it's far preferable to Small World.
The opposite side of Mediterranean Harbor has something of a Game of Thrones-King's Landing vibe. Lots of turrets and ramparts.
This is kind of Disneysea's equivalent of Tom Sawyer Island, a playground of sorts to explore and discover.
The fortress contains a number of science-based diversions, including this clock that uses a pendulum to knock over pegs.
Or this painting, all skewed...
...until you look through the viewfinder.
The cannons were fun.
Sadly my efforts to sink carve out additional Fantasmic seating were unsuccessful.
There was a minor attraction here too, the Leonardo Challenge. A cast member gave you a sheet of paper and a starting point, and you had to figure out puzzles based on things around the fort. As it was entirely in Japanese this proved surprisingly challenging, so I was pretty proud that we managed to finish.
For my lunch we went to Magellan's, like everything else at Disneysea this was an excellent choice.
Magellan's has an "explorer's club" theme, with artefacts and paintings from around the world.
Considering it's a Disney restaurant it wasn't too expensive either, and the food was great.
Happy diners. I think this one is up there with Mythos in the "best theme park restaurant" category.
I got a special dessert, along with the standard applause and congratulations.
Heading around to Port Discovery, we found the hotly anticipated Aquatopia.
Both trackless and pointless, Aquatopia is nonetheless much more fun than you'd expect.
Just in case we thought the park had run out of spectacular, here is the American Waterfront.
If you're making a list of "top Disney bathrooms" (and you really shouldn't), this would be #1.
Like all of the ports at Disneysea, American Waterfront is ridiculously detailed.
Gotta love those moving pictures.
Maybe this is the ticket to my big break?
Not that I have any need for this...
Big Band Beat is a live jazz show housed in the Broadway Theatre.
This one is incredibly popular, and has a definite cult following. Also, it was entirely in English, so we understood what was going on!
From the moment that curtain went up the crowd were very enthusiastic. I'd love to find out how an American jazz show garnered such a strong following at a Japanese theme park.
Toy Story Mania is just as popular in Tokyo as its counterparts around the world, possibly more so.
I get why people like this ride but do not really understand why it's so ridiculously popular. The fastpasses for this get snapped up very quickly, so the best way to ride seemed to be to go right at park opening and get in the standby queue - we only waited about 15 minutes compared to 90 later in the day.
The Hightower Hotel houses Tokyo's version of the Tower of Terror.
The drop sequence on this is a little shorter than similar rides elsewhere, but it has a very cool preshow and queue.
Aforementioned queue. After seeing the preshow once I had to immediately head back to figure out how the effects worked. Shiriki!!!
Mermaid Lagoon is a mostly indoor port, unsurprisingly themed to The Little Mermaid.
Flounder's Flying Fish coaster is the best credit in the park.
Every second car is having a good time!
Apparently smoking is bad for fish too.
The outside of Mermaid Lagoon looks great...
...and the "under the sea" effect indoors is quite something. All the rides here are aimed at younger kids, kind of like A Bug's Land, but not terrible.
Inside this theater is King Triton's Concert. This is a new addition to the park, having replaced the previous show. I was expecting something along the lines of Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Hollywood Studios, and could not have been more wrong. King Triton's Concert is a full-on musical spectacular, with some amazing wire and stunt work, and visual effects. It was quite popular, and deservedly so.
Once night fell, the park took on a whole new look.
Aquatopia had been fun during the day, but took on a whole new silliness at night. There were no lines, and I think we ended up riding it for half an hour to try and hit all of the different pathways.
Spin, look at rocks, spin, look at fountain, go backward, spin, spin again, go forward... Aquatopia!
If the update of Luigi's Flying Tires resembles anything close to Aquatopia I'm sure it will be very popular.
Indiana Jones Adventure was also better at night. I like the one in Anaheim a lot, but Disneysea has completely outdone them on the theming.
No lengthy tunnels under the railway here, you really are in an ancient temple!
And Paco is even more entertaining than Sallah. So the ride itself is quite similar to California, a few differences here and there but I'd have a hard time picking which one is "better". On the night we went though, the ride ops were basically having a party - I've never seen people enjoying their job so much! This ride is right at the back of the park so there wasn't much of a queue in the evening, and on our third re-ride they decided to serenade me with a rendition of Happy Birthday - awesome!
I've always been a big fan of Fantasmic at Disneyland, and at Disneysea it gets a much bigger arena. The story is similar but the show has been significantly upgraded, and it's quite easy to find a good spot to watch.
Maleficent still gets her comeuppance in the end.
Characters waving scarfs from the Mark Twain are charming and all, but this hat makes for a much more impressive finale.
The park looks equally stunning after dark.
There is a bar on the SS Columbia, forgot to check it out this trip. Next time!
In case you haven't noticed, it's super easy to take great photos of Disneysea.
Let's not forget the popcorn. There are about a dozen flavours of popcorn available from carts around both parks. They ranged from plain old salt to chocolate or honey. My picks were black pepper, and this jalapeno and cheese offering.
Toyville's lighting package reminds me a lot of Luna Park Sydney at night. Straight out of the thirties.
That's it from Disneysea, and indeed from Japan. If you've read this far, thanks very much. I hope you've enjoyed my trip report and are already researching how to visit!