Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tokyo Disneyland: Rodents Galore


You might know Disneyland. Then again, it's possible you may not.

The keys to this particular magic kingdom have been handed into the care of an organization of amalgamated Japanese companies best known under the alias of the Oriental Land Company (or just plain OLC), which originally contacted the Walt Disney Company in the 1960s with plans for an amusement park - but were knocked back.

The company reapplied a decade later, and this time succeeded in arranging a licensing contract.

Tokyo Disneyland opened to the general public on April 15th, 1983, and has developed into the most frequently-visited theme park in the world – with over 17 million visitors a year.

Now, with over 45 rides covering an area of 115 acres, Tokyo Disneyland continues to experience larger crowds by the day - aside from a few weeks after the March 11 earthquake, which damaged some of the carparking area - to the point that there’s barely room to breathe, let alone stroll, and queues of up to three hours are often the norm on weekends and public holidays. Right now they have the whole Hallowe'en thing happening there and it's an extremely popular time of year.

One time in October three years ago we were forced to queue for over two hours for one of the older school, more humdrum rides - Snow White's Adventures.


Tokyo Disneyland is pretty much modeled on L.A. Disneyland, except for one important omission – there’s no Matterhorn - while the Haunted Mansion here is located in Fantasyland and has the same facade as the one in Walt Disney World in Florida.

There are also attractions unique to Japan’s visitors: the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour, which features Disney villains, and Pooh's Hunny Hunt - which is a surreal and hilarious spin-out of a ride that just begs to be experienced.

And where else will you experience swash-buckling Pirates of the Caribbean rabble-rousing and carousing... in gruff jidaigeki-style Japanese voices?

If all this isn’t enough, right next door is Tokyo Disneyland Resort's second mega-attraction: Tokyo DisneySea, opened in 2001, and boasting its own array of rides, shows, dining, and so on – including Journey To the Center of the Earth, Sinbad's Storybook Voyage in the faux Arabian Coast area, Storm Rider, Ariel's Kingdom, and the Indiana Jones Temple of the Crystal Skull ride.

And, dammit, as much as I despise Mickey and I don't want to dig the place, it's downright fun.

5 comments:

Japan Australia said...

A good place to visit if you can avoid the crowds. I love the different seasons at Tokyo Disneyland with Halloween and Christmas two favourites.

Japan Australia

benjamin said...
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benjamin said...

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Jeffrey said...

Couldn't agree with you more.

I went to Disneyland twice when I was growing up. The first time was when I was 5, which meant we were the same age. The big attractions then were the Submarine ride and the Jungle Boat ride. The latter, a nostalgic favorite, survived into the 1980s.

The second time I went was when I was 12. Then the big attractions were the Matterhorn (a rather ho-hum roller coaster by today's standards), the Haunted Mansion and the "new" Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I had fun both times, though I don't honestly remember much about the first visit, and never had a desire to go back after the second.

Scroll forward 35+ years and one teenager and one 7 year-old later. The wife and I had no interest in making a trip to either California or Florida for the sake of an amusement park. So, two years ago when "home" for shougatsu we arrange for two days at Tokyo Disneyland, one of which was Christmas Day. Wonderful cultural disconnect to be standing in the balmy winter sun watching the "Christmas Parade" (fire works and a holiday water spectical on Christmas Eve).

Since it was midweek, never really waited in any lines and there were no crowds to speak of.

We all had a good time and now I never have to think about go back to Disneyland again!

Andrez Bergen said...

Avoiding the crowds is certainly the key - I went during the soccer world cup in 2002, the day Japan was playing, and it was empty! ;)
And Jeffrey - awesome experience. Cheers for sharing. I think having the kids reboots our own enjoyment.