September 17, 2006

Tokyo Disney Sea

My friend Mayumi invited me to Tokyo Disney Sea a few weeks back. Monday the 18th is a national holiday in Japan (the respect the day of the elders holiday) so for the long weekend she was planning to go with a friend of hers to Disney Sea. I had never been to any of the Disney lands in Japan, or amusement parks for that matter, so I thought it would be fun to go. I invited a friend of mine, Taka, to round out the group.

Disney Resort Line Monorail Monorail has cute Windows and hand-straps Taka and I met up at Jiyugaoka for the hour plus trip to Maihama (the closest station) at 7:50am, and met with Mayumi and her friend at 9am. We took the super cute Disney Resort Line Monorail to Disney Sea, and started waiting in our first line (to buy a ticket to get in.) That was the first of many lines that we would brave; the pack was absolutely packed because of the long holiday. Mayumi and Tomoe were both veterans of the park, having been there more than five times each, and both were amazed at how many people were there.

They have a "Fast Pass" system there, where you take you "Passport" and insert it into a machine (after waiting in line, of course) and you receive a ticket for the ride at which you were waiting at that gives you a "fast pass" to go into a special V.I.P. line with low wait times. It is a good deal; we probably waited in line for about 45 minutes to get our Fast Pass for the Indiana Jones ride, but normal wait time was about two to three hours. Of course, with your fast passes, you can't choose when you get to ride, you are assigned an hour time slot. This makes choosing rides a complex constraint satisfaction problem: you can probably get two to three Fast Passes, and have to plan your other non-fast pass rides around those blocks. You should also factor in time for eating, and the lines there. I think the planning aspect of the whole thing is pretty interesting and fun.

Storm Riders ride Our first ride was the "Storm Riders" ride. We waited in line for maybe an hour to get in. It was an interesting ride - where we fly into the center of a storm and break it up. It was fitting because the weather forecast said that rain was in the plan, so maybe by starting out with the Storm Riders ride we helped our luck out a bit, and rain held off until the end of the day. I'm not so good with roller-coaster type rides, and was getting a little motion-sick, but it was a pretty interesting ride from a technology standpoint. I don't know how they shot that cannon through the ceiling, with holes and everything.

After Storm Riders, we headed to "Sinbad's Adventure", with a Fast Pass ticket we got for free from the Indiana Jones Fast Pass. I think they were trying to drive people to that ride though, since not many people were there. It was an animatronic trip through Sinbad's adventures, kind of like "Small World", but a bit more mythological and violent. It was a riding water boat ride. I like water rides. I trust water. You can't make it go in loops without doing really crazy things (like put it in pipes) and so I feel pretty safe on those types of rides.

Disney Sea Marching Band After Sinbad, we did some shopping, and then went to the Indiana Jones ride. I really liked the Indiana Jones ride, but it felt a bit quesy coming off of the ride. Next up was lunch though, and I wasn't going to turn that down! Before lunch though, we went to get a Fast Pass for "Journey to the Center of the Earth". I didn't mention it before but you are only allowed to get a certain number of fast passes an hour, and each slot is printed on the previous fast pass you get. So that adds to the scheduling problem. Anyway, after that fast pass, we went for lunch. We had lunch at a Mexican-themed restaurant. The portions were small and expensive, so I had two main meals (soft Tacos and Paella) and tortillas. It was good, but the lunch cost about $25. On the way out we saw a marching band go by. They were pretty cool and played a peppy tune.

Tower of Terror at Disney Sea After lunch we headed to the Tower of Terror, a new ride, and got in the normal ride. We hoped that we could get through that ride before our Fast Pass ticket to the Journey of the Center of the Earth. That was from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. We got in line at 3:00pm. We got on the ride at 6:30pm.

I might have mentioned it, but I am not a big fan of roller coasters. I've never done a free-fall type ride before, and only Mayumi had ridden it before (but not Tomoe, our other veteran) had ridden it, so I thought I would be brave and give it a go. Maybe I would like the free-fall type or ride. I was pretty sure I would not, but it never hurts to try new things every once in a while. Anyway, the Tower of Terror had a great atmosphere, built up while waiting in line. Which we did a lot of. It was in the old New York section of town, which was appealing to me, a (n ex-?) New Yorker. Anyway, the premise of the ride is that the builder of the Hightower Hotel, a Harrison Hightower, stole artifacts from around the world. One of the cursed ones killed him by sending him to fall to his death. Now we get a ride through the hotel on his cursed elevator. Here is a nice review of the ride in detail, in English.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the ride and design, but I did not like the ride itself. I had a tough time with it, and felt quite sick afterwards. Worse than a bad plane landing. Because I wasn't feeling well, I skipped out on the next ride, the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride. After that, we did some more shopping, and went to the Experia (or something like that) mall near the train station for dinner and coffee, and then a trip home. It was a long, long day, and I was really happy to get home and get some sleep.

And boy were my feet ever happy. I didn't even have to wait in line to use the bathroom at home.


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