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A tour of Tokyo DisneySea: Port Discovery

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Published: December 31, 2011 at 12:26 PM

If Disneyland has a Tomorrowland, then why shouldn't DisneySea have a TomorrowSea section? Actually, it kinda does, but Disney's spared you that mouthful by calling this land Port Discovery instead.

You'll find the same retro-futuristic look here, but - fitting an aquatic park, I guess - it's bathed in splashes of color.

Outside the StormRider building

That's the home of StormRider, a simulator ride that takes you inside a massive hurricane (typhoon) that you're supposed to destroy.

Here's the backstory: Scientists have developed a "storm diffuser" - a giant missile that can cause typhoons to dissipate harmlessly instead of slamming the port. You'll be flying in a StormRider airship, escorting the one carrying the storm diffuser. There will be a massive explosion when the diffuser fires, but "you'll be miles away by then." What possibly could go wrong?

Indeed.

Enter our pilot, Captain Davies, who appears to have graduated the same flight school as Star Tours's old Captain Rex. The very American-looking Capt. Davies appears on screen in the pre-show, chomping a sandwich instead of inspecting his plane - allowing the Japanese crowd to chuckle at the obvious buffoon. (As the only other caucasian in the room, I gotta admit I winced a little at the stereotype. Fuel for someone's sociology dissertation, I suppose.)

We enter our theater StormRider and take off, skimming the water and buzzing boats and dolphins before pulling up to fly into the gathering storm. Sure enough, plenty then goes terribly wrong. Lightning hits the main StormRider, wind blows everyone off course, and we end up getting a much more "up-close" look at that missile than anyone had planned. Put away your camera and cell phone - you'll even get a little wet.

And that's not just from crying because you just rode yet another fun, thrilling Disney attraction that most American theme park fans will never get to see.

You might catch a few drops on Aquatopia, too - a spinning boat ride that uses a similar local positioning system to Pooh's Hunny Hunt over in Tokyo Disneyland.

Aquatopia

Your boats spin here and there as they meander forward and backward around the Port Discovery lagoon, dodging fountains and whirlpools along the way.

Aquatopia

It's a fun little ride, a bit like a bumper car where you don't actually hit anything.

We've gone too long without talking about popcorn, so I should note that Port Discovery is home to what turned out to be my favorite flavor of Tokyo Disney popcorn - strawberry.

The strawberry popcorn stand in Port Discovery

Strawberry popcorn

Imagine a box of warm, fluffy popcorn, sprinkled in sugary strawberry Nesquik powder that had melted into a glaze. (I will now stop to wipe the drool off my keyboard as I remember the taste.) Give me the curry popcorn as the best of the savory flavors, and I'll take the strawberry as the best of the sweet options. For the most part, though, you won't go wrong with any of the flavors.

Except for milk tea (found at Duffy's popcorn stand in the American Waterfront). Milk tea popcorn tasted disgusting to me - it was the only flavor where I didn't want even a second bite.

Speaking of the American Waterfront, that's the final land on our tour of Tokyo DisneySea, so let's head over there now. We'll take the DisneySea Electric Railway, which travels back and forth between American Waterfront and Port Discovery.

The Port Discovery station on the DisneySea Electric Railway

Come aboard with me for the trip!

Also on the tour: History, layout and introduction, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta

Readers' Opinions

From José María Sandoval on December 31, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Great report!
From Mike Gallagher on December 31, 2011 at 1:34 PM
Mmmmm..Strawberry Quik. Haven't had THAT in many years, but it was a lunchtime staple all through grade school...okay, high school too.
From 71.129.38.166 on December 31, 2011 at 1:47 PM
I am enjoying reading your series on the Japanese theme parks. As wonderful as a Southern California version of Disney Sea would have been, would Disney really have built a dedicated monorail between Anaheim and Long Beach? Public transit projects in the Los Angeles area are notoriously hard to find funding for and to build. Although I assume it would have been a private monorail, the rights-of-way would have required local municipal cooperation.

Also, I wondered how the narration on the Electric Railway was in English and so knowledgable. Then I figured it out the narration wasn't live on the ride. ;)

From Robert Niles on December 31, 2011 at 4:17 PM
I think the connection between Anaheim and Long Beach might have been the biggest factor in killing Long Beach DisneySea. (I waffle between whether that or the fact that Disney didn't own the land was number one.) Ultimately, you want all your properties close together for maximum synergy. Long Beach didn't bring that to the table - Anaheim did.

So, in that respect, Tokyo was a better home for this park, as much as I would love to be able to visit in in Southern California.

From 98.183.35.195 on January 2, 2012 at 1:59 AM
StormRider would be a great fit in either of the stateside Tomorrowlands or Epcot. It is a great D-ticket level ride.
From 74.202.61.242 on January 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM
From the plans I've read about for Long Beach, I don't recall monorail access from Anaheim as being a critical element for the development.

I've often heard mention that among the biggest deal-killers for Long Beach was the fact that much of the land for Disneysea DIDN'T EVEN EXIST. The plan as presented relied on 250 acres of landfill that would have not only been expensive but a huge nightmare getting blessed by government agencies, environmental groups, etc. Considering the company's experience with Mineral King and the PR debacle that surrounded Disney's America, I don't see how the Mouse ever could have pulled that thing off.

A lot of people believe that the Long Beach plan was just a ruse to secure better concessions in Anaheim. I have no idea if that's true, but Anaheim was obviously motivated enough to invent an entire beautification plan around the Anaheim Resort area and sink big bucks in road improvements and other infrastructure.

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