It was with a heavy heart this morning as I checked out of Hotel MiraCosta, depositing my luggage with reception, who will transfer it to the Hilton Tokyo Bay.
Then I follow the pedestrian footbridge to the Monorail station bright and early for my 15 whole minutes of early access into Tokyo Disneyland. I’m using my complimentary Monorail ticket from the hotel. Otherwise you gotta pay to ride. Yeah, this Monorail is actually a part of the Tokyo Metro system, and it’s equivalently clean and efficient and futuristic. City transportation laws prevented Disney from creating free train loops. We’ll see later how that impacts the railroad in Tokyo Disneyland.
This Monorail does a simple loop around the resort with four stops. First we pause at the Ikspiari station, home of the resort’s curiously-named Downtown Disney equivalent (which I never visited) and their economy class Ambassador Hotel (which I never visited). Then we reach the Tokyo Disneyland station, and I’m off, rushing excitedly down stairs to find…
Checking the internet, it turns out Tokyo Disneyland opens an hour later than the almighty DisneySea, at 9 AM. Oh well, at least today I’ll have time for breakfast! So I immediately do a 180 spin and head into the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, yet another “Mictorian” flagship with that same formal, starched aesthetic which does little for me personally. The grounds of Tokyo’s hotel, at least, I found fairly charming, with their Fab Five topiaries and little secluded gardens dedicated to different Disney films, even the obscure ones from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Even now I’m early to the 6:30 AM breakfast buffet. The hostess is surprised that a MiraCostan came to her hotel. Then it’s an all-you-can-eat rope drop! I alone start at the western station with waffles and fruits and suspect egg dishes. Following that I try Japanese breakfast, which involves miso soups, steamed rice with your choice of fixings, green salads, and generally good foods which I don’t associate with breakfast.
That matter settled, I head out to the Tokyo Disneyland entry gates just as the crowds are gathering. Again Happy 15 VIPs get their own specialized cattle corral, perfect to observe the great heaping throngs of humanity. It’s no more crowded than DisneySea, but the entry layout here makes you feel it more. And remember, this is an off-season weekday at 7 AM.
Looking through the gates, Tokyo Disneyland looks…odd. Familiar yet alien. There’s no train station with floral Mickey, but a single central entrance to the fully enclosed World Bazaar entry land. They put a big glass ceiling over Main Street because of rains (DisneySea seemingly just ignored this issue, and it turned out fine). The park’s layout changed as a result in some strange ways. More on that later.
In a pre-opening procession, over a dozen costumed characters gallop out from Main St-er, World Bazaar. Each gate gets a selected caperer; near the center, we got Minnie. Off near the edges was a Fairy Godmother in a motionless rubber face mask, with soulless eyes, the blackest eyes, the devil's eyes...genuinely creepy. Wished I’d gotten a picture of her. Maybe a quick image search -
The Happy 15 Sprint once again swept me up in a manic Olympian footrace. World Bazaar entry was a blur. Not that there’s much there. The rooftop layout obscures castle views pretty completely. And quickly I’ve made a hard right turn well before the hub, into Tomorrowland.
Yup, TDL has side streets in Main Str-World Bazaar, “short cuts” into the nearest lands. This layout addition, which I actually generally like, creates a complete outer circle. It’s possible to fully tour TDL and never once enter the hub. This adds space near the front for more rides, and makes crossing the park easier.
World Bazaar itself barely makes an impression. It’s a bland compromise, American nostalgia watered down for Japan. Beyond these side streets, the outsides of the roofed building have storefronts as well. It’s sort of a grid pattern layout, not Main Street’s long corridor lead up, and it’s not nearly as effective as a grand opening statement.
But it’s efficient for touring! I reach my destination, Monsters Inc. Ride ‘n’ Go Seek, just in time to…It’s closed?! Dang, I really didn’t plan this morning well! Happy 15 only opens select rides, usually the most popular E-tickets. I’d’ve totally expected Monsters Inc. to be running, but a cast member informed me that Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters was the only thing open. Sigh!
So I crossed Tomorrowland and rode Buzz. This one wasn’t a must-do, really. It’s pretty much like Disneyland’s or France’s (the ones I know), with some minor set variations across the three.
My aim with Tokyo Disneyland was to do the unique-to-me stuff first. There’s a lot in this park which is a lower priority for that reason, stuff copied from Disneyland. Following Buzz (my score was lousy) I return to Monsters Inc., planning now to snag a FastPass when those open at 9 and then do standby. The crowds to both have beaten me, so it takes about 10 minutes for each line. Versus the 3 hours for Monsters Inc. later that day, I can’t complain, but the early morning time is hugely valuable and so far I haven’t matched my efficient triumph in DisneySea yesterday.
Next up: TDL’s Two Best RidesTweet
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