Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
And today we come to the biggest disappointment of my Tokyo trip: Pooh's Hunny Hunt.
Every theme park trip involves some trade-offs. It's hard to find a time of year when no rides are down for refurbishment - unless you want to visit in the middle of the high season, when the huge crowds will keep you from visiting everything, anyway. So while I was disappointed that Pooh - which uses an innovative "trackless" ride system where vehicles are sent on unique ride paths in real time - would be closed during the time when I could visit, I had plenty remaining on my to-do list for the two days I would be at the Tokyo Disney Resort.
And the honey popcorn stand was open, too.
On top of my Fantasyland to-do list was lunch at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, an elaborately themed buffeteria featuring the characters from the animated Alice in Wonderland.
Like most Tokyo Disneyland restaurants, you have to wait outside before you even get into the building. But once inside, wow!
You can see samples of the available entrees here in the Banquet Hall kitchen, but those rotisserie chickens in the back caught my eye.
Then again, I think the real appeal of the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall might be the desserts.
By the way, buffeteria lines are the best when you don't speak the language. Just point at what you want, and smile. Once I made my selections, a helpful host lead me into the elaborately-themed seating area. No need to camp out for seats, or to wander around, tray in hand, looking for a place to sit. Tokyo's cast members eliminate those hassles.
Here's my lunch: The rotisserie chicken with garlic sauce (1,340 yen - about $17.20). I inhaled every morsel of the chicken, though I was looking for a little more kick of garlic, which I wouldn't have noticed had Disney not labeled it on the menu.
And here's a close-up of my dessert, the blueberry roll cake, with souvenir plate (600 yen - about $7.70). The plate's wrapped up and on its way to my five-year-old niece as a Christmas present. (Don't tell!) The blueberry cream and sponge cake roll was delightful, a sweet finish to the meal without being too heavy.
On my way over to the Banquet Hall from Westernland, the Haunted Mansion caught my eye.
Wait a minute, the Haunted Mansion? In Fantasyland? Yep, that's its home in Tokyo. Not only that, while this Mansion looks like its Florida sibling, it's got California's "Nightmare Before Christmas" holiday overlay:
So if you ever wanted to know what Florida's Mansion would look like with the Haunted Mansion Holiday treatment, all you have to do is hop a flight to Tokyo to find out. (Short answer: It is spectacular!)
The rest of Fantasyland includes the line-up of attractions that will be familiar to U.S. Disney theme park fans, in their same versions as in the states (click through for photos and reader ratings):
The one difference? Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall, a walkthrough attraction in the castle, featuring art and artifacts telling the story of Cinderella. But the posted hour-plus wait was way too long for a walk-through, so I skipped it.
FWIW, the other restaurant in Fantasyland is Captain Hook's Galley, which you might miss since it's around the corner from Peter Pan, facing Westernland.
The Galley features a popular option I found again and again in Tokyo and Singapore: Seafood pizza. Captain Hook's is available in a "set," with a beverage and cup of mini cream puffs.
Tomorrow: We visit Toontown.Tweet
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