Despite an 8 A.M. rope drop at DisneySea this morning, I permit myself the time to enjoy Hilton Tokyo Bay’s complimentary breakfast buffet. I failed to photograph it, but we don’t really need to see a picture of jellied fruits alongside sushi and a bowl of Corn Flakes.
Now it’s off to DisneySea! Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Just since yesterday, the Monorail’s Mickey-shaped handholds have been redecorated for Halloween. My but they work fast!
So, the DisneySea entry area is atypical. The AquaSphere Plaza within DisneySea abuts directly against the Monorail station. Entry gates are on either side of this plaza, like both ends of an upside-down T. I go to the side opposite hotel entry for a new view of the immaculate MiraCosta facades. Higher floors are set back, allowing a tiered look which I can’t get enough of.
My plans today are more low-key than before, with a focus on shows and exploring every nook and cranny. I no longer have early entry anyway. When 7:45 rolls around, the hotel guests on the opposite side of the plaza run like Usain Bolt to reach Toy Story Mania first. Mania indeed! At 8 when the remaining gates open, everyone else joins in the frenzy, with the same crazed pitchfork mob dash into oblivion.
For once, I control myself and saunter through, granting myself the leisurely time to admire the AquaSphere up close – a rotating globe seemingly juggled atop a water spigot, a symbol of global unity. Then I amble amidst scrambling lunatics through the MiraCosta passageway, this time finally savoring the procession. Archways perfectly frame Mt. Prometheus and Fortress Explorations across the lagoon. This entry moment must be on par with rounding Main Street and first glimpsing the castle! An entire theme park summarized in a single moment!
While the enraged maniacs headed left towards American Waterfront, I took the road less traveled, which has made all the difference. Journey to the Center of the Earth is my goal, to no reader’s surprise I hope. Toy Story I can redo at home with shorter lines. Besides, just look at the mass of human bodies on the other path, all with the same ride in mind. Yikes!
A few of the Mediterranean Harbor characters are already out, scattered, the Pinocchio B-team. Here in this nearly vacant Renaissance plaza, they seemed surprised to see a single white guy. I managed to snag a selfie with Gideon the Cat (I’m the one on the right):
Over bridges, past lava flows, into the shadow of an erupting volcano high overhead, through a drilled tunnel into a cavernous expanse…Every step towards Journey is designed to build anticipation. That is a big reason why Journey is so great! I first grab a FastPass, then I ride Journey via standby two times in a row before the lines become unreasonable. Loving every moment of it, a spotless reintroduction to an amazing theme park.
While I’m in Mysterious Island, I do a ride or two on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Mostly I linger about, admiring the multitude of machinery Captain Nemo has scattered about the caldera. I mean to enter every single shop and restaurant today, to fully tour this park. Mysterious Island has little to offer on that front – the restaurants where I’ve already dined, and a single store called Nautilus Gifts. The outside is a dome directly above the Nautilus Galley (part of the same superstructure). The window display has some handsome deep sea diving props. The merchandise inside is of zero interest, as it honestly is park-wide, all cutesy plushes and candy tins and Duffy merch which just isn’t my thing. I don't do souvenirs anyplace, really. I’ll save my money for food. (Mmm, food…)
Now when discussing Tokyo Disneyland, I made a big stink about the wide walkways creating a misjudged scale. Raised on Disneyland CA, I’m used to that older park’s intimacy. DisneySea’s walkways are as wide as next door, and the park is built on an incredibly massive scale…it’s intimate only in select hidden corners. And yet DisneySea never feels uninviting to me. Its wide walkways are well-proportioned with the larger buildings, the mammoth volcano, the titanic steamship, the towering Tower. And where Tokyo Disneyland’s walkways often feel bulbous and directionless, every route in DisneySea is focused on a distant sightline, every walkway is a corridor to someplace. Even the ground texture here constantly changes. It’s just an immaculately designed space!
Ride-wise, my next big goal is securing a Tower of Terror FastPass. It’s not time yet, but still I ride the Electric Railway over to American Waterfront. True to today’s pace, I fiddle away my time by exploring the land’s many alcoves.
I love how this land’s facades create the impression of a crowded, vibrant city. One building looks like several, with irregular rooflines and setback storefronts. There’s a story to tell. Near the Broadway Music Theater are upstairs boarding schools for would-be singers. Next to gas lamps are gilt-trimmed street clocks declaring “Time for talent.” Some storefronts have clearly changed ownership, with past names faded underneath new murals.
Behind several of these facades is New York Deli, reputed as among DisneySea’s finest counter service restaurants, with its famous “Mile High Sandwich.” I opted for less American meals, so I didn’t feast here, though I did explore several of the Deli’s dining rooms. Again, a story emerges. Flush with apparent success, the initial corner deli has expanded into its neighbors’ shops. You order under a glass-roofed Tin Pan Alley, and dine in a converted tavern, or a milliner’s, or et cetera.
At the entry to American Waterfront is Columbus Circle – a clever thematic transition to Mediterranean Harbor. Here is McDuck’s Department Store, which I’ve described before. Exploring slowly, I admire a decorative fountain made from stacks of gold coins. The multi-level interior (like a Tardis, larger than the outside) is crammed with vintage props. I snap a photo of a Duffy & Pals display. After doing so, a flustered cast member quickly rearranges the stuffed bears so they’re all in exactly the same pose. Such fastidiousness! I must’ve embarrassed her, the poor dear, immortalizing such “poor show.” It hadn’t even occurred to me!
McDuck’s pawn shop exit leads to the piers opposite the theater district. The railway roars overhead. It’s a little grittier here, with longshoremen clubs and a sailor inn with rooms described as “clean enough.” Posters on every surface reference old-timey baseball teams, or Tammany Hall politicians, or even reference Steamboat Mickey. In fact, there’s a warehouse shop by that name, its décor all rigging and nautical flags.
On the far side of the warehouses is a secluded pier looking across the Hudson towards Cape Code. Here is overflow seating for things like the nearby Restaurant Sakura (the inevitable Japanese restaurant in a shipping storehouse). The clutter of details never lets up. Scaffolding displays assorted seaman knots, just because. Grooves in the oil-stained floor show where carts have once passed.
Leaving the docks, American Waterfront again grows ritzy in the foot of Hotel Hightower. Here in the Beaux Artes Waterfront Park, the villains are performing an outdoor Halloween show. I pause to watch a musical dance number similar to the Villains World lagoon show, but my attention is soon diverted by an adorable toddler splashing around in the park’s dancing water spigots.
There’s plenty more to be seen in American Waterfront – and I hope I’m not becoming redundant in my detailed descriptions, but I feel DisneySea warrants it. But for now, with a fresh Tower of Terror FastPass newly in hand, I set out for new environs.
Up next: Let’s Finally Explore Cape Cod!Tweet
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