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April 12, 2015 - Day 2 - Tokyo Sightseeing & Afternoon/Evening Visit to Tokyo DisneySea

Started off my morning bright and early… the sun came shining into the room in the 5am hour well before my 6am wakeup call.  We were on our way just before 7am taking the shuttle to the resort line then transferring to the JR Line and heading for Tokyo Central Station to transfer to another line to reach the bus terminal for our tour this morning.  We hit a snag in the plan at this point as there was an accident and our primary and secondary choice lines were both out of service.  So we had to call a quick audible and with some help from the station attendants we were on our way to the subway and arrive at the bus station about 15 min before our tour started.   The tour included stops at the Meiji Shrine, East Garden of the Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple and ending up in Ginza.   After the tour walked a couple blocks to the Tokyo Central Station and then caught a train back to Disney.  Ate a late lunch in Ikspiari and then hopped on the Disney Resort Line and took it around to DisneySea.  It was about 3:00pm so we purchased a Starlight pass to enter the park.  Roamed around the Mediterranean Harbor area then the American Waterfront taking pictures of the area and just enjoying the park.  Stopped by a couple stores as well as the lottery location for the Big Band Beat show, which we won, securing center section tickets to a later show.   Around 4:00pm found a spot for the Fashionable Easter show.   After the show went for a cruise on the Venetian Gondolas.  Once back ashore made our way out to Port Discovery.  Waited about 5 minutes for the Aquatopia then about the same for the DisneySeaElectric Railway back to the American Waterfront area.  It was about time for the Big Band Beat show so headed inside.  After the show found a spot for Fantasmic then walked out to the American Waterfront and watched Happiness on High from there before continuing on to the Lost River Delta.  There was no line for the Steamer so took it back to the Mediterranean Harbor.  Wandered around and worked my way toward the exit going through some shops and taking pictures.  On the way out stopped by guest relations then headed for the Resort Line back to Bay Side Station.  Boarded a shuttle back to the Hilton to call it a night.

Thoughts & Observations
  • We had a 9am tour this morning and I had mapped out two routes to get to the bus station and allowed for two hours to make the estimated 45 minute journey.     We boarded the first train from the JR Station and were on our way toward Tokyo with no problems when I noticed a scrolling message, mostly in Japanese, but indicating something with one of the train lines we wanted to take.  When we got to Tokyo Station and walked toward the train line there was an indication it was down so I flipped through my paper to Plan B and we headed to that platform.  Boarded a waiting train and sat down and then an announcement was made and most of the others on the train got up and left.  We took that as a bad sign and went in search of help.  Found someone working the platform and he got across the point that the train line was down too.  After some back and forth and some miming we figured out a Plan C which involved heading down to the subway vs a train.  We ended up hiking a good distance but found the subway and made it to the bus station with 15 minutes to spare.  We needed all that time to work through the line there and get directed to our bus.   So the good news we made the bus and allowed enough time.. but it was a trial by fire introduction to the transit system in Tokyo.  I was very happy this was a Sunday and we did not have to deal with commuters too.    We eventually learned from our tour guide that there had been an accident and some poles went down causing two rail lines to go down.  Of course the two I wanted to take! 

  • We found a morning tour of Tokyo that included a stop at a Shrine, the Imperial Palace garden and a Temple.  All three were on our list of things to see in Tokyo we opted to do a guided tour vs trying to navigate it on our own.   In retrospect this was a wise decision because language was much more of a barrier here than in Hong Kong and having an English guide and bus to take us around was a much more relaxing way to see the sights.
    • The bus terminal was extremely busy for a Sunday morning.  It seems every tour left at 9am.. or very close to it so there were a lot of buses and people in the station all trying to get to the right spot.  It really seems they could have benefited by staggering the departures more given the small space.
    • Driving through Tokyo was an interesting experience.  The traffic was very light since it was a Sunday morning so the bus was able to cruise along and we kept on schedule.  It was a good introduction and we got to see a fair amount of the city and drove by several sights too such as the Tokyo Tower.
    • Our first stop was the Meiji Shrine.  This large complex included gardens, walking areas, and the shrine itself.  There was a healthy crowd already and the weather was perfect this morning.  We were able to see a couple wedding processions and a baptism.
    • Our next stop was the East Palace Garden of the Imperial Palace.  The palace itself is not open to the public and you cannot get anywhere near seeing it due to the size of the grounds and trees from the areas the took us too.  Walking the grounds were an interesting contrast with the city around it but this great park in the middle.   We were there on the tail end of the cherry blossom season and were able to see some trees in bloom still.
    • Our last stop was the Sensoji Temple –  This was the substantially more crowded.  The grounds have the temple as well as an outdoor market which had a large crowd too.  This is what I was envisioning when I thought about Hong Kong and Tokyo.. people everywhere in a  relatively small place.
    • We boarded the bus and they took us to the Ginza area to conclude the tour and drop us off.  We took a quick look around but opted not to spend any time shopping and instead headed for the Tokyo Central  Station on foot, it was a half dozen blocks away.  This allowed us to stretch our legs a bit and see some of the city. 
    • The journey back to Disney was a piece of cake compared to the morning.  We already had an idea where we were going, no connections from the central station, and the trains were running.

  • Once back at Disney we headed to Ikspiari for lunch.  Ended up on the lower level food court.  I grabbed a burger from the California Diner.  It was not very good at all.  It was enough to hold me but I really should have found a better burger place.  The fries and coke were not bad and it was quick/easy to find and get done.

  • It was approaching 3pm and we still had a fair amount of energy so we boarded the Disney Resort Line and took it around to Tokyo DisneySea and headed for the park.  They have a discounted ticket available starting at 3pm on weekends for 5400 yen (about $45).  So we walked up to a ticket window and bought one then walked into DisneySea a few minutes after 3.

  • It is hard to describe DisneySea.  Everything you read talks about how detailed and immersive it is.  I did not want to set my expectations too high going in but I was ready to be impressed.  The park met these expectations and was incredible to walk around.  The layers of detail in most areas were incredible and the props/show pieces were great. 

  • The plan was to see some of the outdoor entertainment, experience a few outdoor attractions, and explore the park a bit.  We succeeded on all fronts and in retrospect this was a very wise decision because the next two days it rained all day then the third day was very windy so a lot was cancelled.

  • We were walking by the Biglietteria which is where the lottery for the Big Band Beat show is and decided to try our luck just for fun.   Note for some of the shows they have a lottery system where you try your luck for tickets.  And if you win you get an assigned seat for it.  You go to a kiosk, scan your groups tickets, pick a show time, then cross your fingers and press the button to see if you win.  We had not really intended to view the show tonight.  We won tickets and they looked pretty good on the map.

  • Easter is a big production in Tokyo with decorations, shows, parades, events running from the beginning of April through June.   At Tokyo DisneySea the big show is called Fashionable Easter and it takes place three times a day in the Mediterranean Harbor and features a cast of over 100 performers, 5 barges and jet skis.  We ended up finding a spot near the main stage in the middle of a standing section.  The view of the stage was not bad but the water was a little hard to see from our angle.   The show is in Japanese for the most part so you had to piece it together by the actions, which was not that hard but you do not get the details.   Here is the official description from the Disney Press Release:

              The artists from four of the Tokyo DisneySea themed ports have gathered for a colorful show themed to springtime fashions. These artists in four unique costumes representing the themed ports of American Waterfront, Lost River Delta, Mermaid Lagoon and Mysterious Island arrive at Mediterranean Harbor riding aboard a barge to introduce their latest fashions. A new stage created on the shore of Mediterranean Harbor will be used for the first time in “Fashionable Easter.”
              Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their Disney friends, who are models for this fashion show, appear together with the dancers and present their fashionable outfits. However, this happy fashion show turns into a scene where everyone brags about whose style is better. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse then suggest that everyone should consider each other the most fashionable, instead of competing with one another, because each style is unique and stylish. For everyone to become the “number one” model, Mickey Mouse and the Disney pals agree that they should share each other’s strengths. So they decide to exchange a part of their costume with one another. As a result of recognizing each other and sharing a common goal, various styles of the different costumes blend together to create a whole new set of fashions. Kites fly in the sky and pyrotechnics create a colorful atmosphere. The springtime show reaches a higher level of excitement and arrives at a climax.
  • During the show the Venetian Gondolas are closed down.  As we were exiting the show we noticed they were getting ready to open so we went and got in line and went for a ride.  The cast members really have to work to guide them around.   I found it humorous that we got to the part where the cast member sings and of course that is when My. Prometheus decides to erupt drowning him out. 

  • We really enjoyed the Big Band Beat show.  It was an impressive/large cast and a good band.   Also interesting they allowed no pictures (nor video or other recording) inside the theater.  This was great in one respect.. I got to enjoy the show!   But it means I have no pictures of it to share or re-live the experience.

  • In Port Discovery we went for a ride aboard the Aquatopia.. the concept sounds great.  A trackless ride system through some water.   The pictures I saw even looked interesting.  The ride itself was not very fun.  You sit in a cart that drives through shallow water.  The technology and randomness were interesting but the ride itself just was not that fun to me.  I enjoyed watching it from on shore more than ridding.

  • I always enjoy transportation rides and the Electric Railway and Steamer Lines were both great!  We managed to go for trips on both in this abbreviated visit. 
  • Fantasmic! Has quite a different feel here.  It is presented in Mediterranean Harbor in the round.  A common theme for us in the Tokyo parts is similar but different.. and this is true for Fantasmic.  The basic story is the same and many of the floats/segments are similar but staged differently and tweaked.   The spot we choose was ok but not the best.  I was hoping to get a second viewing but mother nature had other plans!

  • Everyone said the one area the Tokyo Parks fall behind in are their nightly firework shows.   I found a spot on the American Waterfront to watch the Happiness on High Fireworks.  I have to agree with everyone the show was extremely brief and uneventful and after the elaborate shows here in the states and even the one in Hong Kong this was really disappointing. 

  • I circled the park taking a couple pictures as I wandered around but I really just wanted to soak in the park and experience this evening.  I left the park about 20 minutes before closing because I wanted to get through my pictures and notes for the day and get to bed at a reasonable hour since tomorrow was the first of four full days in the theme parks and the weather forecast was for rain most of the first two days.

  • Interesting note here to close on.  The multi day passes for Tokyo are different than what you are used to at the other parks.  You purchase them for a specific set of days.  The four days have to be consecutive and you specify which park you will visit the first and second day then you can park hop the third and fourth day.   Also they are substantially less expensive.  My ticket, purchased online before they went up was 16,500 yen or about $138 (they went up 4/1 to 20,800 yen or $174).  There is also a slight discount for seniors.  So for the three of us for 4 days worth of tickets it was under $400.  I plan to do a full posting on the cost of this trip once I get through all the daily picture sets.

Pedometer Stats
Miles 9.7
Steps 25,824
Moderate Steps 15,211
Moderate Steps/Time 139
Day 2 - Part I: Morning Tour of Tokyo Part I: Morning Tour of Tokyo

We ventured into Tokyo this morning and took a tour of the city including stops at the Meiji Shrine, East Palace Garden of the Imperial Palace and Sensoji Temple.
Day 2 - Part II: First Visit to Tokyo DisneySea Part II: First Visit to Tokyo DisneySea

We purchased a Starlight Passport for today that allowed admission after 3pm to the park This part features a first look at the park and the 2015 Easter Celebration

Day 2 Part III: Fashionable Easter Part III: Fashionable Easter

The Fashionable Easter show is performed on the Mediterranean Harbor three times a day during the Easter Celebration.

Day 2 Part IV: Tokyo DisneySea by Gondola, Aquatopia & Railway Part IV: Tokyo DisneySea by Gondola, Aquatopia & Railway

I venture further into Tokyo DisneySea and take a trip on a Venetian Gondola, Aquatopia and the DisneySea Electric Railway before enjoying the Big Band Beat Show.
Day 2 Part V: Fantasmic! Part V: Fantasmic!

Pictures from Fantasmic! at Tokyo DisneySea

Day 2 Part VI: Tokyo DisneySea After Dark Part VI: Tokyo DisneySea After Dark

I close out Day 2 with a walk around the park after dark including pictures of the Happiness on High Fireworks, Trolley Park, Port Discovery and more.




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