Growing up with a habit of reading encyclopedias and international magazines as well as watching cable TV, I “knew” one bit of info as “fact”: the best amusement parks are theme parks, and the best theme parks in the world would be any that was made by The Walt Disney Company. I did have dreams of going to Walt Disney World in Orlando Disneyland in Anaheim someday or at the very least Tokyo Disneyland just to be closer. Time passed and a Disneyland was opened in Hong Kong, closer still to home. It made perfect sense that when we finally saved up to go, that was the first one we visited. But Tokyo Disneyland, now part of the larger Tokyo Disney Resort, still remained in the back of my mind. So on the week before Easter this year, I finally got my chance and flew to Tokyo to experience the first Disney theme park in Asia.
Mind you, we went on the week before Easter Sunday, but Disney also believes in making an early start to celebrating anything, and the Disney’s Easter event is already in full swing. Although we got in on the World Bazaar, we only took quick glances at the shops and restaurants there so we could move on to the interior. The daily parade that went through the central plaza of Fantasyland was pretty wild with the theme of escaping rabbit-egg creatures called Usa-tamas being chased by the Disney staple characters and their friends the animated-rabbit characters, especially Judy and Nick (not a rabbit but they’re buddies) from “Zootopia”.
Our group thought it best to take the themed areas one at a time, clockwise. Since aside from Cinderella’s castle the rest of Fantasyland was to the north, we decided to go to Adventureland, where we checked out the “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction then got to the Theatre Orleans in time for their “Minnie Oh! Minnie” stage show. We went one round of the Jungle Cruise and took the Western River Railroad which gave us a preview of our next destinations, Westernland and Critter Country.
Westernland I suppose is Tokyo’s version of Frontierland, with greater emphasis on the Western-ness of things. By this point we decided to get an early lunch at the Plaza Pavilion restaurant just as the featured show was happening on the Bandstand outside. Big Thunder Mountain looked pretty intense from a distance, but ultimately we decided on taking the riverboat for something more relaxed. After that we checked out the Woodchuck Greeting Trail before heading on to nearby Critter Country, the smallest themed area in Tokyo Disneyland. This time I dared to go down Splash Mountain while my companions tried out the Explorer Canoes. Once our group was together again our next stop was finally the main section of Fantasyland.
Here we finally decided to step inside Cinderella’s Castle to see the throne room and her slipper. After getting some nice photos we hopped onto the Carousel at the back (sorry Dumbo and Alice), and then peeked at the host of other rides and attractions – and browsing the shops – before paying a visit to Pooh Corner, which was a short walk away from the next area on our map, Toontown.
The main Mouse himself was there to meet and greet as we began to stroll around Tokyo Disneyland’s “residential area” for their characters. Donald’s boathouse was a quick draw for me, seeing as I remember the trailers for this summer’s “Ducktales” reboot on Disney XD, which showed that Donald Duck and his nephews lived on the boat. As for the rides, while Gadget’s Go Coaster was interesting I ultimately chose to go on Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, before we went for snacks at the Good Time Café. By this point it was well into the afternoon, so we decided to hustle in time to see the last area before coming full circle into the World Bazaar.
Tomorrowland was just down from the Toontown entrance, and we just arrived a few minutes into the show at the Showbase venue, showing some pretty nifty visualizations of Walt Disney’s body of work in “One Man’s Dream II – The Magic Lives On”. Though I didn’t take a ride on the Star Jets, I felt kinda sad for it being scheduled for closing later this year. We also ran into the Japanese-speaking Stitch, on the way to check out Star Tours (the “Star Wars” attraction) and the nearby “Star Wars” themed shop Cosmic Encounter.
And with that, our party found ourselves back in the World Bazaar, where we finally began browsing in earnest before sitting down to dinner, we debated on whether to stick around for the evening fireworks and the “living storybook” lightshow at Cinderella’s castle, but ultimately we agreed that we’ve seen and tried out everything we wanted at Tokyo Disneyland, though there’s certainly so much more yet there to see and experience. Maybe some other tourists can check them out for themselves, following our paths or simply going it their own route, but I hope they’ll enjoy the day just as much as we did.
Photo courtesy of Japan Guide