THE PROBLEM WITH TOKYO'S DISNEY SEA IS...

Wednesday, 1 November 2017



well, i guess the main problem with the one-of-a-kind theme park, is that, well.. is that it's just not very disney-ey. what i mean by that is, if you - like me - go there expecting all the quirks and traits and merchandise of your run-of-the-mill disney park, you will be sorely disappointed from the minute you walk through those golden gates. rather than your typical magic kingdom, disney sea is a fantasy world inspired by the myths and legends from the sea. i guess the hint is in the name..




tokyo disney sea is made up of seven themed ports, much like the usual layout of a disney theme park. there's the mediterranean harbour, mysterious island, mermaid lagoon, the arabian coast, lost river delta, port discovery, and the american waterfront, and each of these "worlds" has its own rides, restaurants, and characters that live within it. it's obviously aimed to appeal to a more grown up audience, and i mused to katy that it felt more like a novelty epcot than a disney.. especially with the choice of world cuisines; there was a lot less of the novelty finger food you can expect from a disney park, and a lot more in the way of table-serviced restaurant, and (more importantly) booze - which you definitely don't get in the disneyland park next door.








also, there are no princesses. anywhere. instead, there's a butt-load of people dressed as these obscure, niche characters that katy nor i had heard of, and had to google once confused to the max about these random teddy bears walking around the park. "duffy", was apparently a teddy bear that minnie supposedly gave to mickey before he departed on his "steamboat mickey" adventures, way back when. the character - and his friends shelley-may, gelatoni, and stella-lou, are exclusive to the asian parks, and.. well, it's weird. they are much more cutesey than the traditional disney characters, and far more popular too. absolutely baffling for those of us expecting belle, jasmin, cindy, and ariel to be walking around the park having their photos taken.





halloween town (is how i remember it being called) and the mermaid lagoon were about the only hope we had for a "real" disney experience. at least there we saw friends like flounder and sebastian, and folk from night before christmas, and really had some sort of an idea of what the worlds were about. they were bright and colourful, which was a relief as a lot of the park really wasn't, and the lagoon had some fun rides that we loved every minute of. we had hoped to get to "toyville" in the american waterfront, which is where the toy story rides and adventures are, as they - by all accounts - appear to be raaaather cute and colourful. again, not your traditional disney choice, but still, one we'd heard of! sadly, the rain came in quite heavy as we were making our way there, which forced us out of the park instead. 









i will say this: the sets are fucking incredible. from the main entrance we chose to start on the mediterranean harbour, and one look around me and i knew exactly where we were; venice. the buildings are intricately designed and decorated to imitate, and take you to the places they say they are. there's definitely something magic in that, no? the american waterfront was like the set of a prohibition film, with a sidewalk-lined neighbourhood containing everything typically american: a broadway theatre, a county jail, retro dry cleaners, and some of the most beautiful graphic signs on the brick facades, that my eyes and heart were drawn to. wandering from world to world was a long process as we just got so overwhelmed with how pretty everything was. truly, it felt like jumping between different countries, and eras, every time we crossed the water. just... not very disney-ey.







the most disney-ey part of our day - other than meeting and posing for a picture with minnie mouse herself, was the people watching. or rather, costume watching. because it was halloween month at the park, the rules on costumes were relaxed; usually, full and proper costumes are a no-no (mainly for the reason of kids not getting guests mixed up with real characters, and of course, non-official characters playing up and being "off brand"), but during the month of halloween, the dressing up was at its peak! i think our highlight was a cruella deville in full costume, and the troupe of minnie mouses, perfectly matching - right down to their umbrellas! weirdly, a lot of the costumes were not reflective of the park we were in; the easy majority were dressed as the very niche "duffy and friends", but the remainder were very typical - or very obscure! - disney characters you know and love.









the final straw in the "not very disney" pile was the villain's world final parade. don't get me wrong: it was very cool. it made us laugh a lot, which was a nice way to end the day, but.. it's got nothing on the twilight parade at the "real" disney parks. for a start, the villain's world parade is performed on water. in the mediterranean harbour, to be precise. and the parade is set to a terribly repetitive j-pop tune creatively called "villain's world", which - after 25 minutes - will haunt your dreams. it seems weird to put the villains in the spotlight, but then again, nothing about disney sea seemed normal to me. this was the most amount of characters we had seen in costume all day, and we had pretty good viewing spots too, so.. like i say: it was a bit of fun, and we left laughing (and with that tune ear worming for days), just something very different to what we imagined would close the show!





look, i know it sounds like i had an awful time, but i didn't! i promise i didn't. i'm just being honest about the differences between expectation and reality. or rather, desires and reality. for a bit, when we first arrived, we panicked that we'd made the wrong decision and we should have gone next door to disneyland. we even considered getting twilight tickets for the traditional parade inside the magic kingdom, but.. in the end, we convinced ourselves that it could be what we made of it, and we whacked those smiles on our faces and got on with having a great time. which we did! if it wasn't for the rain that came in around 4:30, we would have stayed on longer than we did, as we were having a whale of a time before the rain pushed us home.

...it just wasn't very disney-ey, ya know?

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