Monday, June 30, 2008

One If By Land

0830 hours and we’ve mapped out our initial strategy at Tokyo Disneyland. Park opens at 0900 hours. We’ve already got our tickets. Once we’re in, it’s straight to Cinderella’s castle, back of the park, second land to the right, and straight on ’til morning! Our competitive intelligence (Jenn) says Pooh’s Hunny Hunt is mobbed from the start, so our only chance is to out-hustle everyone else. But we are seasoned Disney fans, and we’re living in kiasu Singapore to boot, so we’re confident of our chances. Until we see this:

And that’s 30 minutes before the gates even open.

Dutifully, we queue, our hopes somewhat lower. About 96% of park guests are Japanese, so they have the home field advantage. As the gates open, the orderly line becomes an orderly . . . scrum. It’s Japan, so there’s no pushing or shoving - just a kind of intense strategizing. Fortunately, we reach the attraction early enough that the wait is only 15 minutes. Success!

We leave quite amazed by technology we haven’t seen on any ride in the States. Picture hunny honey pots that are individually guided by GPS. There is no track, and each honey pot traverses it own course. We whirl and do-si-do around the other pots (including one containing Heffalump “tourists” taking photos of us). It’s a bit like being immersed in a ballroom dance competition.

As we leave, we gleefully note that our strategy has worked: the wait for the ride is now 130 minutes. Later, we lunch at a gorgeously themed (and slightly trippy) Alice in Wonderland café called Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, whose roof is covered in a hedge maze and whose doorway is a doorknob with a keyhole taller than we are. We eat unbirthday cake for dessert.

Unfortunately, our flawless strategizing begins to unravel when we try for a parade and a show. The best spot we can snag is far, far away from the parade floats (which have fun Asian touches like a dragon dance with the crocodile from Peter Pan). And we’re shut out of two shows before we figure things out. Being from the States, we just didn’t anticipate anyone sitting on the ground for three hours for a parade - or a full hour for a show.

But the Japanese are very patient, and not only patient but prepared. Each family has brought a ground covering to sit on as they wait. They look at us sadly when they see we have none. One elderly Japanese couple squeezes to one side of their mat and motions for us to share it with them. (Eventually, we buy our own as a souvenir, and it’s a big hit with our cat.)

Later, we adapt enough to score a perfect spot for the Electrical Parade, which Jenn has been missing for years (it was cruelly moved here from Orlando’s Magic Kingdom). It’s all worthwhile as we see the sunset behind the castle and the musical arrival of the “thousands of sparkling lights.”

But by 2200 hours, we’re bushed. And we’ll have an early start tomorrow: Day Two is by Sea.


Tobey said...

Uh-oh. I think I scanned this post too quickly. On the first read-through, I thought that Pickwick was one of the amazing technologies that doesn't exist in the states. :)

Thanks for bringing us all with you to Disney! Any chance of getting photos of the trippy Alice in Wonderland place?

Anonymous said...

Is that the most gorgeous cat in the world?! Yes!!!

Joey said...

Just added a photo of the inside of the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall.

Tobey said...

Wow! Thanks, Joey!