Saturday, June 26, 2010

Toyko Disney Part I: Disneyland

\Usually when I think about travel I get stressed out and wait for my dad to get bossy and put everyone else in a bad mood too. But then again, I usually don't travel by bullet train. My host mom and I left the house at 7:45 and were on a train to Nagoya Station one car ride and one subway wicket later. There is no security to go through, no boarding group hassle, no fighting over who sits where or who has to drive, and the seats are amazingly roomy.
The Shinkansen (bullet train) travels at an average speed of 186 miles per hour (300 km/h), and it was built in 1964. You may wonder why after 40 years we don't have something like this in the United States, and I wonder that too. To give you an idea of how fast 186 miles per hours is, I took a little video on the train.

The scenery was pretty crazy too. It would move seamlessly from rice paddies to city and back in about thirty seconds. You can also see Mount Fuji on days when it isn't cloudy.
Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes after leaving Nagoya Station, my host mom and I arrived 225 miles away at Tokyo Station. My host sister was waiting for us at the Tokyo Disney subway station with fancy Fast Pass tickets that she got because she's an employee*, where we were greeted by "Be Our Guest." I could tell it was going to be fun.

Disney Land was the first stop on our list. We arrived just in time for the morning Easter Wonderland parade (Easter in June?).

First came roller skating rabbits:

I just missed catching their cute little trick on video.

After the rabbits there were various Disney characters;

Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the Cheshire Cat;

These cute bunnies;

Pooh and crew;

Stitch, pink Stitch, and Lilo;

This guy;

Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mike, and Sully;

and various other characters that I didn't feel needed to be mentioned. Mainly Goofy, Pluto, Mickey, Minnie, and Chip and Dale. No important characters.

After the parade it started pouring rain so we rushed to get Fast Passes for Space Mountain and then watched a nearby show while we waited for our Fast Pass time to be up. The show was called 'One Man's Dream,' and while I didn't catch any of the Japanese they were singing, Disney says "this live stage show recreates the memorable moments of the Disney animated films and cartoons. Opening with the jump from black and white to color, the show also features such scenes as Peter Pan soaring above the stage and the circus from A Bug’s Life." Regardless of whether or not you understand the plot, it's visually appealing as well.
When the show finished it was time for Space Mountain and I had no idea what to expect. I was thinking there would be Disney characters and black lights (which Disney LOVES, and also which make my plastic nose stud retainer glow) but I was very wrong. The ride is pitch black, and then neon lights that looks like lightning shoot past you and up to where the first ascent ends. When you reach the top of the hill, you can't see anything except for projected stars everywhere. You can't see the track, the person next to you, or even your hands in front of you. It was awesome.
Of the three 'jet coasters,' Space Mountain was by far the best. If Space Mountain as a jet coaster, as the Japanese call it, then Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain were more like glider coasters. Splash Mountain would have been better had I not built it up in my mind as the scariest ride EVER after my traumatic childhood experience with it.
After riding several roller coasters, shooting aliens with Buzz Lightyear, hunting for honey with Winnie the Pooh (fun ride), canoeing, taking a jungle tour and a Western tour within about twenty feet of each other, and eating two meals that left me full and happy, the fun wasn't over. Tokyo Disney Land has a night parade where the floats are lit up with hundreds, if not thousands, of Christmas lights. This was possibly my favorite parade.
The Cheshire Cat again

A crazy caterpillar (and the guy who kept getting in the way of my pictures)

Some swirly snails

Snow White ( didn't get very good pictures of the dwarfs)

Peter Pan and Wendy

Pete and his dragon

Pooh and crew again with some bumblebees following Pooh's honey

Buzz Lightyear, on his own this time (followed by Woody and the girl cowboy, but my pictures suck)

Nemo! (followed by Crush and his pals)

Lumiere and Mrs. Potts (followed by Belle and the Beast, but their float wasn't very impressive)

Mike, Sully and of course Boo

Cinderella and her prince, but their floats didn't photograph well

I'm worried some kid may have a seizure

Lilo and Stitch's float

And finally, no Disney parade is complete without a little commercialism.

After the parade Kanako (my host sister) and I rode Space Mountain one more time since there was barely any line at all and sadly, it wasn't as fun the second time as it was the first time. After that, I was too tired to remember much. We got on a bus and went to the hotel.

A quick word about hotels in Japan. In hotels, they always have toothbrushes and shampoo and all of those things that seem to be just for show but that no one seems to use. In Japan, they use them. My host mom told me before I left that I didn't need to bring a brush, a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, or a towel because they would all be at the hotel. Not only that, but they had yukatas (hot and not well-fitted yukatas) at the hotel as pajamas. While I went along with everything my host mom and sister told me to, I will be bringing my own toiletries next time a visit a hotel, no matter the country. If I'm staying in a hotel, I at least want to have my own soap and toothbrush to make me feel a little more at home.

Stayed tuned for Part II: Disney Sea

*My host sister doesn't dress up like a princess, she manages a restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland. It's more respectable, but it's less fun.


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