Tokyo Disney doesn't really have park-hoppers for under 3 days. For two days, you can pay for both parks at a discount in one shot, but you only get one park per day, and you have to choose which one on which day. So, Disneysea today, Disneyland tomorrow. Actually, the price of entry was relatively cheap - even for a 1 day pass to one park, it amounted to about $60, which I think is less than the US parks.
Whereas Tokyo Disneyland is very similar to its American brethren, Disneysea is mostly original, though it has some elements of other Disney parks, e.g. Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones (it's Crystal Skull here, though this predates the movie and has nothing to do with it apart from the title. The ride, whch looks like an Aztec pyramid, is very similar to the Disneyland ride, though the story is different; something about the Skull guarding the Fountain of Youth, though it's unclear if it's a fountain of water or fire [reference to H Rider Haggard's “She”?]. Some nifty additions include a room of skulls that shriek at you as you whiz by, and a crystal skull that yells something at you (in Japanese, so I don't know what was said), then breathes fire in your face [dry ice + red and yellow light that changes colors to mimic a fireball. Very effective when you're sitting in front]. The range rovers were obviously built for the US originally – guess which side the faux steering wheel was on?)
The pinnacle of the park, located dead-center, is the Mysterious Island, resplendent in all its Jules Verne Steampunk glory. Can't wait to post the pics, though you can probably find much better ones all over google and youtube. Basically, imagine if the middle of Disneyland was inside a volcano, which passages, on the second level, leading through the earth to other parts of the park. One side is much larger than the rest and features an erupting volcano – this is the exit point for the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride (one can see the “Terravators” being ejected, usually accompanied by screams from those inside. In the center of the mountain, on the ground floor, is a lake, which actually has passages underneath the mountain on a couple of sides – riverboats occasionally come through.
And sitting on one side of the lake is the Nautilus, circa the Kirk Douglas Disney movie. Nearby is the entrance to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride. This is patterned after the old Disneyland/World ride, which has now been replaced with Finding Nemo, except that this is much, MUCH, *M*U*C*H* better. Again, the aesthetic captures the Disney movie perfectly, in all its Steampunk glory. The capsules have seats on three sides (starboard, fore, port), containing different views, and I rode all three. There is a joystick in front of you that occasionally lights up; when it does, you have the opportunity to control a searchlight. The viewport is a spherical porthole which uses the same trick as the rainstorm in the Tiki Room to make you think you're diving, by showing tons of bubbles in front of you as the capsule tilts downwards. Eventually, as in the original, you end up stumbling into the clutches of a collosal squid, whose eye expands and contracts, red and angry (think the T-Rex in Jurrasic Park, though again, I think of that as an homage to the original 20K movie), as its tentacles envelop the ship. You jolt it with a visible and audible electric pulse to get to it let go.
The entrance to the park has a gigantic globe sitting in a fountain. Past that, you enter the park proper through an archway which is part of the Mediterranean section of the park (the hotel, to be precise). In front of you is a huge lagoon, over which spaces the front half of the park. To the left is basically American land, which has the Tower of Terror and the moored ship Columbia, looking like the Titantic. Since it was Christmas, everything was decked out in holiday regalia, and I listened to the pleasant sound of holiday music (including Est Ist Ein Rose Entsprungen). There's a European Explorers section, featuring Da Vinci's works (e.g. a “working” ornithopter), and a castle which contains a “secret treasure”. Basically, by interacting with the castle, and finding clues, there's some sort of hidden mystery. One section contains a planetarium, containing a model of the solar system you can move around – presumbly, moving it into a certain configuration would yield a clue. Unfortunately, the quest is only in Japanese.
There's also an Arabian land, which has Aladdin's carpets, and a dark ride based on Sinbad. This one was bizarre – it was as if there was a Sinbad Disney movie I wasn't aware of. Parts of it looked like an Aladdin ripoff, and since the ride was in Japanese, I couldn't figure out what it was about. Something about Sinbad having a fez-wearing tiger cub as a friend, going out to seek adventure, surviving bumbling thieves chasing him, freeing a somewhat Genie-looking Green Troll, who's been locked up by the thieves, etc. The soundtrack consisted of exactly one song, permuted in various ways throughout the ride (when the Troll is freed, he joins in, approximately 2 octaves below Sinbad). Gonna have to look this up when I get home.
Near this, there is the Little Mermaid area. No Ariel ride (in either park, from what I can tell). Instead, there are are a couple of outside rides (a crablike tilt-a-whirl, and Flounder's kiddie coaster), plus Triton's Undersea Kingdom, a huge underground area features some kiddie play areas (including squirting turtles you can maneuver) and a few rides (bouncing jellyfish, flying fish, etc). Vice nice décor.
The Discovery Port I don't remember much about, except for the Storm Rider, which has the aesthetic of Soarin' and the ride experience somewhat like Star Tours, but a lot more interactive. The live-action pre-flight entertainment is your flight coordinator, who explains (with English subtitles!) that you'll be flying into the eye of the biggest storm on record, and you'll deploy a missile which destroys storms (this is then demonstrated with a tank containing a waterspout). “It will explode, but you'll be kilometers away by then.” What could possibly go wrong? You then board the simulator (much larger than Star Tours – about four to five times as many seats), and away you go. Naturally, lightning first hits your wingman, then hits the missile and send it into your ship – it literally bursts through the ceiling. You eject it, but the gaping hole spews wind and rain at you for the remainder of the trip (yes, folks, prepare to get wet). Really fun experience, which ends with – what else – trying to pull up out of a free fall into the ocean.
A little more about the American land area. It also housed the Tower of Terror (I didn't go on it, of course, since I don't deal with freefall like that very well. In the other parks, at night, I don't remember green lightning appearing on the outside of the building whenever the ride falls; is this unique to Tokyo?) and a Titantic-looking cruise ship, the Columbia. There was also a Main Street USA section tucked away in one corner (featuring storefronts containing similar gags to the ones at CA Disneyland), leading to a one-ride midway - Toy Story Mania. One enters the ride through the mouth of a gigantic Woody head [yes, cue jokes]; pretty spectacular illuminated at night).
The food at the park is interesting. Mainly rice and noodle dishes, with popcorn concession stands (Disneyland had a bit more options – a chocolate/strawberry churro). I tended to eat off-peak hours, so I didn't have a problem at the restaurants, but the concession lines were long, especially for the one at one of the entrances to Mysterious Island which served “Gyoza Sausage Rolls”. Imagine about 15 gyoza pieces stacked end to end, with the bits that are touching somewhat merged into a single shell. It looked a bit, well, obscene actually (I kept expecting the sign for it to say, “Ribbed for your pleasure”. You'll understand once I post a picture of it), but it was pretty yummy.
You'll notice I didn't describe the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride in detail. This was mainly due to feeling a bit nervous about the ride (yes, that's right folks; I ate poisonous blowfish but balked at a roller coaster), but also because I was starting to feel a little ill after a couple of other incidents that occurred during the day.
1) When I got to the park, I looked at the claim ticket for my checked bags and noticed it didn't say anything about the camera (which, you'll remember, I left at the hotel due to lack of batteries and not wanting to lug the thing around during the rides), so I called the hotel, to set my mind at ease. It, in fact, had the opposite effect – they couldn't find it. There was some confusion due to language issues, so they said they'll call me back, which they did just as I was about to get on one of the rides. A couple of calls later, and they actually found it. But in the meantime, my heart was doing flip-flops; I had a LOT of pix on that camera, it's expensive, and it Laura's.
2) Before I left, I had looked up whether any vaccinations were required for the trip. The only possible one was for Japanese Encephalitis, for which one needed two shots in sequence, the second a month after the first. Of course, because I was so busy, I only found this out < 2 weeks before this trip. M said she didn't know anyone who had even gotten the vaccine, and even the gov website seemed to think it was optional: basically, only get it if you'll be there over two weeks and/or in rural areas/countryside (and the mosquito season usually ends in October). Needless to say, I spent a LOT more time in the countryside than I'd originally anticipated, and, unlike M&B, who tended to bundle up (I think they're used to getting more warm and humid weather, so it seemed cold to them now), I was simply wearing a short-sleeve shirt, and often took off my coat. Hence, I'd gotten a couple of bites. (It was still quite damp in the country, and it did rain occasionally on and off, so the mosquitos were probably still active). One of the bites developed a rash around it, larger than a quarter. I took a couple pics of it – judging by the freckles on my arm, I could actually see a steady progression a few hours at a time, over a course of two days. And now, I was getting a headache and feeling a little shaky. Of course, it could have been due to running around so much and not keeping myself properly nourished (though I swear, I was trying to be good), but I was a little bit concerned.
So, overall, I was not feeling the swiftest, and was a bit concerned, but I still enjoyed the park. I lamented skipping the Journey ride, and I hoped I'd be feeling better when I headed to Disneyland the next morning, bright and early...