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TRAVELING INTO Tokyo from Narita International Airport, when the train or bus ran along Tokyo Bay, I passed an active volcano on the left. It’s no cause for concern because this is Mount Prometheus, part of the fourth most visited theme park in the world, Tokyo DisneySea.
Even to dedicated fans of Disneyana, a visit to DisneySea is an experience. See http://goo.gl/QZ4uQR for full details.
DisneySea is part of Tokyo Disneyland, in the same sense that Disney California Adventure and the original Disneyland are related. It’s said to be the most expensive theme park ever built. In fact, a Disney acquaintance working in Japan during its creation—the park opened September 4, 2001—said it’s likely to hold this record, certainly within the Disney organization. My own visit came not long after its opening, in October 2001.
DisneySea has seven “ports of call,” Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Port Discovery, American Waterfront, Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast and Mermaid Lagoon. Each has rides, shows, shops and restaurants reflecting these locales.
The Mediterranean Harbor has a major water extravaganza several times a day. A Disney-spic-and-span Venice is nearby, complete with gondolas. DisneySea’s Hotel Miracosta is Italianate as well.
Mysterious Island pays homage to Jules Verne, not only with its Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea rides, but with a Victorian cast-iron bric-à-brac ambience. Its undersea adventure is rather more elaborate than Disneyland’s counterpart, even with the latter’s newer Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
Port Discovery, called “the marina of the future,” is sort of Tomorrowland, DisneySea-style. There’s StormRider, a simulator ride, Aquatopia, and the Electric Railway station to the American Waterfront. This train ride reminded me of pictures of New York City’s Elevated Railway of the early 1900s.
Like New York City, the American Waterfront offers a wonderful variety of cuisines. There’s everything from a New York Deli and Papadakis orchard fresh fruit to Restaurant Sakura’s Japanese cuisine and the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge on Deck C of the S.S. Columbia. My favorite entertainment at the American Waterfront was its high-energy show performed at the “Dockside Stage.”
A short walk from New York City, there’s a New England village (it is Disney, after all). I enjoyed the excellent fried ika (calamari for the faint of heart) at the Cape Cod Cook-Off.
The Lost River Delta port of call would look the most familiar to U.S. visitors. It’s the home of Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. Not to sound blasé, but “been there, done that.” See www.wp.me/p2ETap-AN.
The Arabian Coast port of call, based on the Disney flick Aladdin, has Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, which to me initially appeared to be DisneySea’s spin on It’s a Small World. True, it’s a calming boatride weaving amidst kid-size animated characters unified by a (different) mind-numbing song. However, these characters have full-scale movements more akin to the life-size figures in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Last in my tour, the Mermaid Lagoon is based on Disney’s mermaid Ariel, with kids’ rides and, another speciality of DisneySea, the Mermaid Lagoon Theater. This live-action show has Ariel and her pals soaring above as they get the better of Ursula, the evil seawitch—all in 15 minutes of theater-in-the-round magic.
In fact, I’d rate the entire Tokyo DisneySea as another of Disney’s Magic Kingdoms. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013