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Tokyo Disney Sea - Astoundingly Cool

Tokyo Disney Resort: Worthy of many "best theme park" votes and well worth a visit, even with trans-Pacific airfares. Great rides and one spectacular after-dark show!

From Rhys Evans
Posted May 26, 2005 at 10:21 AM
I’ve just returned from Japan, still a little jet-lagged, but can’t wait to share my awe over Tokyo Disney Sea. I’ll jot down some thoughts on a pseudo-theme park and a run down amusement park elsewhere in Japan in another posting. Disney Sea is worth the trip (trans-Pacific airfares now are pretty comparable to some trans-continental ones). With a few more visits and a few more votes, TDS could even take over the coveted “Reader’s Top Park” from Islands of Adventure. TDS deserves it! I’m not knocking IOA, which is great (yes, I’ve been there), but the theming in Tokyo is astounding.

Several points: Access is incredibly simple from anywhere…trains every few minutes (don’t even think about driving, 2000 yen – about $20 -- to park!). Crowds are handled well. High capacity rides abound (and more are on the way; see more info in a minute). And the shows, even for someone who doesn’t speak more than 10 words of Japanese, are commendable (with one that’s astounding, rivaling Fantasmic). We didn’t go to Tokyo Disneyland, seeing as we wanted to experience other things, and the similarities between Tokyo and Anaheim are many, the differences – other than the language – are (I think) rather few in number.

From the minute you get off the monorail (which charges a ridiculous 200 yen, it really should be free, you guys!), the theming is outstanding. A walk through Mediterranean Harbor (which has no notable attractions, it could really use one, although it is the location of the shows, which I’ll get to in a while) started the day off. This is “Main Street,” dominated by souvenir shops, services and food.

Our day started with a quick walk to “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” This is surrounded by “Mysterious Island.” It’s an amazingly detailed ride, with beauty, awesome sights, and then 30 seconds of tail-kicking thrill as your vehicle explodes out of the side of the volcano. The line is immaculately detailed, worthy of spending an hour, but we zoomed through it the first time. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a slight disappointment, but to those conversant in Japanese, probably much better. This is a submarine ride (actually it remains dry but simulates submerged exploration), complete with an attack from the giant squid.

We continued with a quick walk to Port Discovery, a visit to StormRider and a ride on Aquatopia. The former is a moderately active StarTours-like airplane ride into the eye of a hurricane, the latter is an enjoyable, but calm ride on a seemingly random path through shallow waters (the child in our group loved it, three times…).

In the back, Lost River Delta has a near clone attraction and a future, possible clone. Anyone who has been through Anaheim’s “Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye” will recognize many elements of Disney Sea’s “Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.” The ride track is identical and many elements are, too, but the theming and story are quite different. If you haven’t been on “Eye,” “Skull” will still be a good thrill. And the theming of Skull is better, though Eye is also great (Skull is probably better because they had room to play with, whereas Eye had to be squeezed in between the Jungle Cruise and Pirates. Skull takes place somewhere in Central or South America.
A new rollercoaster (Raging Spirits) is scheduled to open in July. It was in testing, and we hoped for a soft opening, but it wasn’t to be. This looked interesting, from what we could see. Maybe someone can answer this: is Raging Spirits mostly or entirely a clone of the Indiana Jones rollercoaster in Paris? The coaster has a vertical loop and ride vehicles appear to be four (six?) passenger, runaway mine cars. There may be capacity problems on this one.

Still, Lost River Delta looked like it had been lost, complete with decaying wood, rickety bridges and a fully mature rainforest – this place has been there for centuries, not just a few years. The temple is so well foreested it truly looks like an ancient archaeological discovery. And there’s a cute little nod to (from?) George Lucas found on the river.

Continuing our clockwise journey, we next entered Arabian Coast and caught “Sindbad’s Seven Voyages,” a slow boat ride through “The Arabian Nights” (think “Small World” with much better animatronic figures and no annoying music). This would be an excellent addition to Epcot’s Future World – which doesn’t need another boat ride, but…). In our second circle around the park later in the day, we also caught the Genie’s show in the Magic Lamp Theater – mildly amusing for foreigners, but the home crowd (all ages) seemed to love it. It’s a combination of a live-action magic show and a 3-D movie featuring Aladdin’s genie. I guess it’s really obnoxious and “Ugly American” to say that translation headsets would be an improvement to many of the attractions. But they would.

Mermaid Lagoon was next. This is a kid’s land, complete with quite a few rides for the youngsters, many of which were slightly re-themed and placed at “Bugs Land” at California Adventure. They’re without exception better themed and better constructed in Tokyo. Mermaid Lagoon also includes a better “Little Mermaid” show than MGM Studios (which is pretty darned good). Just wait until you see Ursula.

Late in the day, we went over to check out American Waterfront. This is hands-down the weakest area of the park, and they know it. Several shows, but no significant attractions. Tower of Terror is under construction, probably ready early next year. I think that I’ve read that they may re-theme it away from the Twilight Zone either in France, or Japan (or both). I wonder how they can theme it to the overall theme of oceans and rivers… Needless to say, though, this “land” needs some help, and it’s on the way.

SO, now to the shows: Well, again translations would have been nice, but I can’t complain too much. In addition to Aladdin and Little Mermaid mentioned above, we saw three shows: Porto Paradiso Water Carnival, Aladdin’s Whole New World – opening day, no less, and BraviSEAmo. At least three other shows were missed. PPWC is a Mardi Gras-like thing, complete with adorned boats, jet skis, power boats, costumed dancers, confetti, and more. AWNW was quite entertaining with more boats, more jet skis, more dancing, a dozen or more Genie’s and Aladdin and Jasmine flying on a magic carpet (o.k., o.k., the effect here was pretty cheesy, they were on a long hydraulic arm extending from a boat).

BraviSEAmo (yeah, that’s the name) was the show-stopper on the Harbor after dark. I can’t start to tell you how amazing it was. “Better than Fantasmic?” Hard to say, but “Amazing?” Heck, yeah. BraviSEAmo was (thankfully, after a brief intro in English and a quick greeting from Mickey) a spectacular; featuring the meeting and courtship of the Water Goddess and the Fire God. I hesitate to tell you how astounding it really was. Floating fountains, choreographed explosions, smoke, mist, a well-timed eruption of the volcano and more.

Tokyo Disney Sea is well worth a visit, and it would definitely get my vote next year as my “Top Park.” Check it out!


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Arthur Cashin
Posted May 26, 2005 at 11:14 AM
What suprizes me is why Disney did not use this format in CA (instead of California Adventure) or in Orlando (instead of Animal Kingdom.

From Robert Niles
Posted May 26, 2005 at 11:53 AM
TDS includes much of the concept work that WDI devised for a Long Beach park when Disney was playing that city off against Anaheim for its second SoCal park.

When the Long Beach DisneySea concept died in favor of Anaheim's Westcot (later to become California Adventure), many of those plans went to Tokyo when Oriental Land Company wanted a second gate.

Good ideas never die in this industry....

From Jason Lester
Posted May 26, 2005 at 5:30 PM
I'd like to go this summer and ride Raging Spirits, but it's probably better to wait for TOT.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted May 27, 2005 at 3:20 AM
You have gone there?
Me,too,but in 2003.That time is still a bit new(after it's grand opening in September 2001).

Why didn,t you go to the LAND?The ride was much better than the Anaheim.It was so clean.The parades were unbelieveable(I went there when it celebrated its 20th birthday,so the parade was big...big...big!)You didn't ride WINNIE THE POOH,did you?It's my favorite ride in THE LAND.

YOU see MERMAID LAGOON THEATER?The Ursula really scary.It's our secret.Got it?Good!

Porto Paradiso is still running,ha?However,it is the best "carnival" I've ever had in Disney Theme Park.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is my favorite!You go uphill really fast(a spiral uphill)then down.I heard that the maximum speed is 40 mph.

20,000 LEAGUES is a bit dissapointing...

Did you try Refreshment Station?Don't care the line.Even the line for this small "station" is just for a gyoza.It's worth it!The gyoza is the best!Better than pizza in WDW!

I love Mount Prometheus.Did you watch the mountain while it explode?

By far,IOA isn't as good as DisneySea.The only thing is because the people just never go to this "Best Theme Park" ever!

If you buy a ticket,don't buy the one day ticket!It is really expensive(about $50).

From Kevin Baxter
Posted May 27, 2005 at 4:55 AM
I am actually thinking of going after the new rides are up and running. I have asked Ben if he thinks Raging Spirits is cloned from Paris's Indy ride, but he doesn't know. Says the pics look similar, but I read there will be indoor parts here, and he says there aren't any there. The proposed length is also a bit longer. I have a feeling it is basically Indy, but extended a bit by dark ride elements.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted May 27, 2005 at 5:20 AM
Kevin,don't think that it will be just like Indy ride in Paris!I have seen the picture and it looks very great!The fire and water effects will be spectacular.It costs about $75 million/8 billion yen to build it!

If you want to see the picture,go to GOOGLE and type Raging Spirits,search the site!

The length will be only 600 metres(too short).The duration is 2:30.I don't know why it took so long to pass the 600 metres track.The top speed is only 60km/h.Backward,yes,just like Indy.The coaster will be outdoor,not indoor.One car 6 passengers.One train 12 passengers.I heard that it will have 5 trains operated.

From Robert Niles
Posted May 27, 2005 at 8:50 AM
The latest (and last) Disney Magazine confirms that Raging Spirits is a clone of the Paris Indy coaster.

From Jason Lester
Posted May 27, 2005 at 3:38 PM
I read it was a clone but parts will go indoors. Same track layout, different themeing.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted May 27, 2005 at 8:23 PM
It's not a kiddy ride!

Imagine that you go backward and drop about 50 feet and through a vertical loop.Plus stop for the effects(it will be better than TOT)!

I even don't know why it takes so long to pass the 600 metres track.The top speed is 60 kph.Anyone know about this?Even it will have some stops,I believe that it will never take that long!

From Kevin Baxter
Posted May 27, 2005 at 9:09 PM
It will NOT be better than ToT. People hate the one in Paris (it has a whopping 5 on TPI), which is why they started it backwards. And they didn't like that much either, so now it goes forward again. I think the ride part will basically be the same, but the ride IS twice as long, so I think the added dark ride elements rumor is probably right.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted May 27, 2005 at 9:50 PM
They build TOT in American Waterfront is a weird idea.I never know that the "HOTEL" ever builded near the beach.Beside,I don't know where will it located.Because the ship(it looks like Mary Queen)was an original scale and it's really really big.

Raging Spirits and Indiana Jones(Paris)are very different each other.While Indy only takes 1:15,Raging Spirits takes 2:30.I got it from Roller Coaster Database.It will opened in 21 July.RCDB says that it will "spit" fire and water.

From Ben Mills
Posted May 28, 2005 at 4:24 AM
Nice report, Rhys. About time we got some Disney Sea on TPI.

God knows why Tokyo are cloning the Indy track. The scenery appears to be completely different, which is odd, as all the temples and stuff around Indy is the best bit of the attraction.

Still, there must be a good reason for cloning such a poor ride. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens.

From Rhys Evans
Posted May 28, 2005 at 7:38 PM
A few additional thoughts:
Tower of Terror, the building of which is almost complete, is in what looks like a former parking lot adjacent to the "Encore" theater and the Buffet restaurant (the center of an L shape). Just a few meters from the electric railway station.

On the electric railway, we thought it was rather silly for Japan - in the USA, of course, we have lousy public transportation in most cities, but in Japan, it's so efficient, we thought it ironic that the train included "American Waterfront."

Raging Spirits had test cars running, it didn't look like they were going backwards. As Adriel mentioned, there are a lot of pictures and other info available at http://www.jtcent.com/disneysea/lostriver/lrdrag.html I suspect that the 2:30 time includes the chain hill, but it's probably just not that long, anyway. Unless, perhaps the cars stop along the way for some special effects elements?

And Adriel, Mount Prometheus erupted a few times after dark while the crowd waited for "BraviSEAmo," but there was a bigger, climactic eruption actually during the show. It's great, better than the erupting volcano in Las Vegas. No, we didn't go to Tokyo Disneyland, as I live only a few hours from Anaheim.

Thanks for all the responses.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted May 29, 2005 at 4:55 AM
You're welcome!

From Jason Lester
Posted May 29, 2005 at 11:41 AM
Adriel, you say it can't be a clone because it's longer. What were trying to say the track is a clone, but it will take longer because of effects and rumored dark ride elements.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted May 30, 2005 at 3:52 AM
Yeah,I think it will be like that.Just hope that it doesn't run too rough like INDY!

From Jason Lester
Posted May 30, 2005 at 11:09 AM
I haven't ridden Indy in Paris, but I've heard some bad things, so here's to hoping for the best.

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