Day five – Disney resort to Shinjuku

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We had a couple of rides we hadn’t done yet, and a couple we wanted to do again. One of those was Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. I mentioned the other day that it’s unique to Tokyo Disney, but I don’t think I said how popular it is. On Wednesday we got on the ride okay because the park wasn’t too busy. Weekends are a different beast. If we wanted to ride Pooh’s again, we had to get into the park as early as possible and join the crowd waiting to get to the ride.

Because we had to check out and drop off our bags for storage we didn’t get in on our early entry tickets the way we did the other day. In fact we went around the long way to get to the early entry zone but went in just at the same time everyone else did. That meant there was already a massive crowd of people surging forward, and most of them had the same goal as us: Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. But some of them had other plans, some went to Monsters Inc Ride and Go seek and a whole lot went to stake out a good space for the parades, a few hours early. Parade space is highly prized, people will spread out a mat or a blanket and sit there for hours.

They opened the line for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at 8am, people ran towards the ride and we had to make the quick choice between fast pass and standby. We went fast pass. Standby just means you wait in the line. In 8 minutes the return time for fast pass went up an hour and the standby line went from nothing to 50 minutes. The Japanese Disney crowd really loves Pooh Bear. We got a return time of 10.10, which all things considered wasn’t too bad, we were relatively near the front of the fast pass queue despite not running.

Those secured we went to ride Peter Pan’s Flight which generally has a twenty minute or more wait time on it, and has no fast pass option. Neither of us have ridden it before so it was quite exciting, the wait time was 15 mins that early and it was a quick enough wait. The ride is very sweet, you get into a little pirate ship and fly out of the Darlings’ bedroom, over London and through the stars to Neverland. There you see some animatronics acting out bits of the movie and Peter stealing Captain Hook’s ship to save his friends. It’s very charming, but it’s over very fast. I’m glad we did it but I don’t think I’d queue for it again.

We had the closest food option for breakfast: Pizza, grape drink and cheesy potato bites. I chose the seafood pizza and it was probably the best seafood pizza I’ve had in years. Maybe I was hungry which helped, but the crust was good and crisp and the seafood delicious.

We made a plan for gentle things to do we were both interested in: ride the Western River Railroad, Jungle Cruise, maybe Pirates again, while we waited for Pooh to be ready for us. We did the Jungle Cruise first.

I have a lot of love for that ride based on an old viewmaster reel I had of it. We had a whole set of Disneyland themed reels and one entire one was the river cruise. As a kid I didn’t understand that the animals weren’t real and that the skipper of the cruise boat hadn’t really fired a gun to ward off the hippos. As an adult, it’s all pretty clear, but if you commit to the ride, it’s a lot of fun. Of course it’s all in Japanese. Our skipper specifically asked us to sit up the front and at one point she interacted with me. I think the basic context of it was this: we were passing under the waterfall, and she gestured to the seats on the waterfall side and said ‘you’ll have a good view of the falls’, she gestured to the other side ‘you’ll have a good view of… this rock wall’ and then she gestured to the centre where we were sitting and said… something. Then she said something I have to assume was ‘you don’t understand anything do you?’ so I shrugged and shook my head and everyone in the boat laughed. It was kind of inevitable and I was happy to play along. It is a little annoying though, we learned enough Japanese that I can recognise some words in a sentence but not all of them. I can parse what someone said to me with time, maybe a few minutes, but not in the moment. I’m hoping it’ll get better over the trip!

One point of note about the Jungle River cruise, if you ever see a cute animals photo collection or some internet cuteness pictures passing this off as a real elephant? It’s not, it’s a sculptured robot from the Disney cruise.

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The Western River Railroad is right above the cruise entry so we hopped aboard the train for some casual racism and a nice sit down. It’s a ride which follows the course of the ‘Rivers of America’, which is populated by statues of Native Americans in various situations: waving at the train, learning off elders and hunting statues of deer. It feels quite uncomfortable to a modern eye. Similarly to the wench auction in Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s something that was designed in the fifties and probably should’ve been left there.

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Mark Twain paddle steamer with Big Thunder Mountain in the background

However we did get some nice views of the park from the railroad, and when we went into a tunnel we unexpectedly traveled through time and saw dinosaurs. Didn’t expect that at all!

We had enough time to get across the park and get into the fast pass lane for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. It’s a very charming ride, and we had a different experience to last time with our honeypot moving into different areas of parts of the story. We got a better look at Kanga and Roo, and in the weird Heffalumps and Woozles sequence, we went to a different mirror. I was glad we got to ride it again.When we got in the fast pass lane at 10.10 am the fast passes had sold out for the day, the park closes at 10pm. The standby queue was at 160 minutes. It’s a good ride, but I’m not sure it’s worth that wait!

We didn’t have much else to do at Disneyland, but it had got chill enough that I wasn’t warm enough in just a t shirt, for the first time since we landed I got cold! I had seen a cute and relatively plain hoodie at the store so we battled through the crowds and I got a warm fleece hoodie.

We took the monorail with the intention of stopping off at Ikspiari mall for some early lunch while we waited for Fortress Explorations to open at Disneysea. However for some reason or monorail stopped at Disneysea and everyone was ordered off, so we went in since we were there.

We knew there was a huge wait time or distant return time for our favourite rides, so we went to a villain’s world show in the square and then checked out Fortress Explorations. The villain’s show is… almost a fashion show? This was the minions one, where original characters who are minions of the villains from the movies appear and try to recruit people to the dark side from the audience. It was all in Japanese of course, but you don’t need to understand the language to get the idea. The minions are all exceptionally good looking people, and their costumes are stunning. Example pics from a few years back, we couldn’t get close enough for good pictures, really. There were six of them out, we had Frollo girl Bell (Hunchback of Notre Dame), Hook (Peter Pan), Malefi (Sleeping Beauty), Hades (Hercules), Ursula boy (Little Mermaid) and Dalmation boy (10` Dalmatians). There’s others which must come out at other times.

My favourites were the Cruella de Vil boy and the Frollo girl (big hat, not Hook). Anna loved Hook and the idea if not the execution of Ursula boy.

Our feet were sore from standing so we went for the closest food again, and had a terikyaki chicken roll, which was kind of weird and kind of delicious. It was raining by this point, but it hadn’t noticeably thinned the crowds. Everyone just got out their umbrellas and continued on.

We spent some time in Fortress Explorations, I sailed a little boat for a bit, and we happened to be in the alchemy lab at the time a Japanese kid brought in an interactive DaVinci Challenge map and activated special effects in the room. it was super cool. The map has a special watermark which when placed on a panel starts up an animation of DaVinci in the map and gives instructions of ways to interact with the room. The room lights up and shows details and it was really cool.

My favourite room though was the planets one which was a sort of manual orrery where you could turn a crank to move one of the planets around the sun. Absolutely gorgeous design.

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nice view from the fortress

Well exhausted by this point we left the parks, and hit Ikspiari, which is a great big mall in between the Disney parks. The idea was to get lunch but by this point we were both slightly losing it. Anna was so tired (and her feet so sore) she couldn’t make a decision about what to eat. We chose Pie Face and I got her to go sit down and got her a mince pie and a grapetiser (probably the most kiwi meal she’ll have in a while) and I had chicken and mushroom pie and appletiser. She felt better with the rest and the food, but over the meal the noise in the place started to make me really anxious and my stomach knotted up into a solid lump. Anna took charge of getting us back to the hotel to pick up our bags.

We agreed that a taxi straight to the next hotel would be worth the money. Otherwise it was at least two trains and navigating Shinjuku station and neither of us felt up to it. Sometimes you have to be easy on yourself and pay a little extra, especially after four days of 20k+ steps.

Our taxi delivered us to Shinjuku and our home for the next four nights: Hotel Sunroute. I had a bit of a tired meltdown and napped, then we went to the Family Mart over the road, bought an array of snacks and foods and settled in for a quiet night in our room. We watched netflix, ate and drank and rested. It wasn’t a very glamorous way to spend our ‘one week since we got married’ anniversary, but it was definitely what we needed.

Real talk on emotions and struggles:

Taking care of each other isn’t always easy to do, especially when you’re exhausted yourself from the same things that your partner is exhausted by. But it’s always worth it, I’ve found. I could’ve got annoyed with Anna for not knowing what pie she wanted, and made a thing of it, and had a fight, but instead I chose to be helpful. I sent her to sit down, knowing the kind of thing she likes to eat. I could do that for her, I could be of service to her in a time of need. I could show my love for her by navigating the foreign language and trying to understand the way the restaurant worked and bringing her food and drink. Then, when I said to her ‘the noise is starting to freak me out’ later on, she returned the favour and got us out of there, rubbed my back and said soothing things so I didn’t just break down in panic.

Travel is hard, especially when you’re in a country where you don’t know the language, but we chose to strengthen our relationship instead of adding more stress. We showed our love by looking out for each other.

This honeymoon is going really well ❤

 

Day three part 2 – Disneysea at night

I read somewhere that people refer to Disneysea as ‘what Disney imagineers could do with unlimited resources’. We got a little gimpse of that last night when we had a quick look through Fortress Explorations, had dinner at Magellan’s and then saw the Fantasmic night show.

Fortress Explorations is a science based experience next to Magellan’s restaurant. It features a bunch of beautiful interconnected rooms with things like pendulums or little boats you can sail, or an anamorphic painting and viewing dome. We didn’t have a lot of time to check it out, but what we saw was gorgeous. It’s all based around a made up organisation called Society of Explorers and Adventurers (or SEA), and between that, Magellan’s and our steampunk inspired outfits it was an epic night.

Magellan’s is designed to make you feel like one of the members of SEA, and it’s exquisitely detailed. The central piece is the globe, which is just stunning. Above it, a map of constellations in the dome, all gorgeously painted. The food at Magellan’s is fine dining, we chose the Pacific course menu (Anna pointed out the irony of coming all the way to Japan to eat ‘pacific’ food, but we both wanted the lobster…) 20181011_192416

We had entree, salad or soup, the main (lobster shown above) and a dessert, and although each course looked small it was all really filling. Also there was unlimited bread which was warm and delicious and I had to hold myself back from eating too much of. It was all very European, but I figure once we’re in Tokyo proper we’ll really get into Japanese food. Magellan’s was a lovely experience, lots of attentive servers, great food and gorgeous surroundings. It was also the first fancy meal Anna and I have had out together since we got married, so that was nice, too.

We finished up at Magellan’s just in time to nab a spot down by the water for Fantasmic. Fantasmic is a water show, featuring boats and floats and shooting water and special effects all set to music. We were sort of behind it, at Fortress Explorations, but it was still mind blowing and breath taking. There’s a snake boat, giant bubble balloons with animations playing on them, projections onto sheets of mist and a literal fire breathing dragon. It was aces, and I was all set to head to it again tomorrow for a better view but Disneysea is closing at 6.30 Friday for some reason. Sad panda face 😦

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Also the volcano erupts sporadically throughout the day and I got a great view of it during Fantasmic. The ride Journey to the Center of the Earth comes out just to the left of the bottom of the cone and then goes right back in.

After Fantasmic I dropped a little money on accessories for my Duffy Bear and Gelatoni Cat and we went on Aquatopia again. It’s very lovely at night, cool breeze, pretty lights in the water and just very atmospheric. After that we went on Nemo and Friends Searider, which is a new ride since we last visited and was very fun. It’s a motion master styled ride, based on the story that you are helping a scientific investigation by loading into a fish shaped vessel and being shrunk down to fish size. There was a great demonstration of the shrinking technology before we went into the vessel, it was very realistic. Once the ride starts you’re ‘launched into the water’ where you promptly meet Dory, Marlin, Nemo and friends. It’s a charming experience, and the ride had little screens along the sides which had animation as well. We really enjoyed it.

After that it was time for another ride on Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was a lot of fun but the ride broke down for a couple of minutes just before we got to the scary/fast bit, so it felt somewhat disjointed. I did have the fortitude to look to the side as we shot out of the volcano and got a fleeting yet gorgeous view of the harbour and all the lights of Disneysea.

Exhausted, we wandered back to the monorail and our room. A hot bath to soothe the muscles and then bed.