I have a great deal of respect for the Japan Meteorological Agency. Their weather predictions are 100% spot on. Typical of the Japanese. If you can set your watches by the punctuality of their trains, you can certainly rely on the Japanese weathermen to deliver accurate forecasts. I tracked this everyday in Japan, and have never found them to miss-predict.
So it was with much trepidation and dismay when we realised that they were once again right on the money – it would rain. And rain. And rain… and rain pretty much the whole day we were in Tokyo DisneySea.
As a result, I don’t have that many pictures to show since we were hardly outdoors but busy scampering from attraction to shelter to attraction to dodge the rain. A pity since Tokyo Disneysea, one of its kind in the world, is really beautifully, immaculately themed. The amount of detail that went into the rides, the landscaping, the facades etc, is remarkable.
Tokyo DisneySea, is not a water theme park, but a park centred around the use of waterways and lakes and lagoons. A really nice thing to do, if it had not been raining cats and dogs, would have been to traverse the park using the different modes of water transport, a gondola, a steamboat etc.
So it was wet from the get-go. I thought we would get a fine drizzle, but no, when they say rain, they mean rain! It was grey skies, freezing cold temps, very wet, especially with the wind chill factor and just really foul, misery-inducing weather.
Here we are in the Disney monorail. To walk from Maihama to the DisneySea entrance is possible – in fine weather. In this sort of rain, we decided to take the monorail. At 250yen per person, it was not cheap, but the warmth emitting from the heaters beneath the chairs more than made this worthwhile. Check out the cute Mickey windows too.
Once in the park, we realised we would not get far without more rain-proof gear, so we ended up buying raincoats. At 500yen each, for all of us, we basically spent about more than S$50 just on plastic raincoats. Painful but necessary. While the raincoats kept us dry – more or less – the cold was what made things miserable.
First stop was the Indiana Jones attraction. We had to take turns because Trin did not meet the height requirement. Note that for DisneySea, there are more rides with height restrictions than Disneyland. So unless you have really BIG toddlers, parents with kids younger than age 7 might be better off in Disneyland than DisneySea.
The Indiana Jones adventure was fun. I waited with Owain and Trin while KH and the bigger kids went for it. They came out, faces shining and called for me to go with them for another round while daddy baby-sat. We didn’t wait long, there was no queue to speak off. So we bypassed all the lines and within 3minutes, were seated and ready to roll. I think Disneyland in Anaheim has a similar ride which I’d taken before so I was prepared for the drop when it came, but this one was also pretty fun, especially when you have your kids whooping it up beside you.
Next came Raging Spirits. Loved the Mayan theming. The puffs of flame on water were really cool. Raging Spirts is a coaster, which I avoid. So the kids and KH went while I waited with Owain and Trin in the cafe next door, taking shelter from the rain and the cold.
It was cold so I ordered a cup of soup. Bacon and vegetable cream soup. Wow it was so good that even veg-hating Owain asked for his own cuppa soup! I think a cup was about 280yen or thereabouts. It was rare to see Owain eat anything that had veg in it that when he asked for his own cup, I was happy to oblige!
The kids took their time with Raging Spirits. It was a coaster that had a 360deg loop which they loved. So they went on about 3 or 4 times. The good thing about the rain was that it kept the queues away. This was our experience the whole day. We could take the same ride as many times as we wanted because there was no queue!
As I said, we were largely plotting our route around the park depending on the nearest place we could seek shelter from the rain. From the Lost River Delta, the nearest Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. Like their Small World counterpart from Disneyland, this was an indoor boat ride. It was so lulling that I actually cat-napped during the ride.
Lunch was beef curry – which was surprisingly good! I am usually chary of Japanese curry, which tends to be more bland and sweeter than the familiar Indian or Malay or Nonya curries I love. But chalk it down to cold or hunger or both, but the beef curry was quite flavourful! Even the children liked it.
The rain slowed to a drizzle after lunch, enough for us have a few rounds of the kiddie roller coaster in Mermaid Lagoon. This is a pretty, dimly-lit cavernous playground for the tots.
Trin wanted to go on the Whirlpool but both KH and I could not and would not do it – we were both prone to motion-sickness. One adult was needed to go on the ride with her and neither of us could do it. As she wailed away, one of the ride assistants came forward and through a combination of sign language and lots of smiles, she offered to ride with Trin. The one in the orange hood is Cait and sitting across from her, looking like a long-haired lady, is actually Isaac with his hood on – which makes him look like a dementor on the loose sometimes.
To me, the highlight of DisneySea is its theming details and nothing came closer to this than Mystery Island. The smoking hulk of a volcano (yes it actually does smoke!) dominates the scene. So realistic was the theming that even the ‘mountain sides’ of rock and soil layers look genuine in their colour, tone and texture. The centrepiece of Mystery Island is the lagoon where you look down into mysterious futuristic looking vessel that seems to rise from its dark green depths.
This section of the park contains two rides, both based on Jules Verne’s fiction: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. In 20,000 Leagues, you have to walk down a central spiral walkway (see below) to access the ride, which is a submarine ride down to the depths of the sea. I won’t spoil it but the ride really got my vote. You feel and sometimes wonder if you were really down underwater or not and then if not, how on earth they did it. It felt so real that my kids were also asking if we were actually underwater. Had it not been for Trin’s objections, I would have gone for a second round, as it were, the kids and KH did.
In Journey, the ride is thrill-based and had a steep drop – which naturally, cowardly custard me begged off. In any case, it had height restrictions so Owain and Trin also could not go. From the picture below, you can’t quite see it but the carriage for the ride literally shoots out of the volcano and from where we stood, taking this picture, you could hear the screams!
By the time the kids finished their ride, it was dark, still wet and drizzly. We took the electric railway to American Waterfront but energy levels were flagging all round. Tower of Terror looked intriguing but when KH and I saw the vertical drop, we both begged off. The kids, without us going for this, were reluctant to go ahead.
So in light of the rain, the cold and our general fatigue, we called it a day. But gosh, the way back to the hotel, just one stop away from Maihaima, seemed exhaustingly endless thanks to the weather. Trin had fallen asleep and KH was carrying her so it must have been doubly tiring for him. I wanted to linger and explore the Mediterranean waterfront with its Italian town theme, but this just was not the right time. Though from what I could see of it, and having been to Italy, it did look authentic, right down to the wrought-iron lampwork and balustrades, bridges, arches, stonework and arcades.
By the time we arrived at Kasai Rinkai Koen, we were so exhausted that we settled for dinner at McDonalds – right at the base of the station. I could not contemplate a bus ride to the sushi joint a few stops away from the hotel, eating and then trudging back to the hotel. Just cannot. So McDonalds it was. Even then, eating at McDonalds is interesting because I like to check out the packaging, design etc. The quarter-pounder came in a box that said “Its Mighty Simple” while the double cheese quarter-pounder’s box said: “Twice as Mighty”.
Finally, their disposal methods were also interesting. See how neatly categorised everything is? Clearly paper products to the left and plastic to the right. Food waste went into the circular steel opening on top. Now why can’t we do the same back home? Proves my point that recycling need not be a hassle as long as we make a bit of effort and tweak designs. And by the way, there wasn’t a single McDonalds aunty or uncle in sight to clear tables and trays okay?