Tokyo Disney Sea Photo Report

After looking around Tokyo Disneyland in earlier photo report, I’m now going to show some of what Tokyo Disney Sea has to offer.

The sea is something that is an important aspect of Japanese life, being that the nation is an island surrounded by water.  Using that as an underlying theme to tie the various sections of Tokyo Disney Sea is both clever and meaningful.  As we continue to lose theme in many of the other Disney “theme parks,” makes Tokyo Disney Sea more than just a collection of rides and attractions.

BTBTDS01At the entrance to the park is a giant rotating globe called the Aquasphere.  While it is an impressive icon onto itself, for the 15th anniversary of Tokyo Disney Sea, they created a gigantic ship with the Disney characters that actually dwarfs the Aquasphere.  It’s am impressive display for a singular event.

BTBTDS02To enter the park, you actually go under the Hotel Mira Costa, which is inside the park boundaries.  There are an assortment of shops on the ground level, making this entrance much like the more-traditional Main Street.  Note that there is more anniversary decor with banners and such to announce the celebration.

BTBTDS03Once inside the park proper, you come across a massive body of water.  Mediterranean Harbor represents the grand scope that Tokyo Disney Sea offers.  Being performed is the summer entertainment, “Minnie’s Tropical Splash,” a 20-minute show that features music and massive streams of water.  Fantasmic is performed in the Mediterranean Harbor at night.

BTBTDS04The “wienie” of Tokyo Disney Sea is Mt. Prometheus, a giant erupting volcano that houses the Journey Into the Center of the Earth attraction.  It is visible from every one of the ports of call that make up Tokyo Disney Sea.  At its base in this picture is the Fortress Exploration, a full-size fortress that is like Tom Sawyer Island on steroids.

BTBTDS05You actually pass through the mountain to get into the Mysterious Island section of the park.  I loved the steampunk vibe of the area complete with Nautilus submarine.  One thing that struck me about this section of the park was the absence of background music, though there was an industrial buzz about the place.

BTBTDS06Did I mention that Mt. Prometheus erupts?  It’s a really cool effect and one that I would be surprised to find in a stateside Disney theme park that has trouble to maintain or a desire for cost-cutting of such an impressive throwaway.

BTBTDS07There was plenty of 15th anniversary decor around the park to indicate that they were celebrating the milestone.  This marker was located across from the Mermaid Lagoon section of Tokyo Disney Sea.

BTBTDS08Mermaid Lagoon is impressive day or night.  Night shots are more difficult, however, because of the ban of traditional tripods throughout the Tokyo Disney Resort.  I’ve always loved nighttime at Disney theme parks and Tokyo Disney Sea delivers.

BTBTDS09Day or night, the inside of Mermaid Lagoon always looks like you’ve gone under the sea.  It’s basically a giant warehouse filled with aquatic-themed attractions, a theater, eatery and shops.  This was a nice respite from the rainy day we encountered on our visit and was a hit with the littlest member of our traveling party.

BTBTDS10One of the rooms inside Mermaid Lagoon was Ariel’s Grotto, pretty much a life-size replica of Ariel’s secret hiding spot in the movie, complete with thingamabobs and dinglehoppers.

BTBTDS11Perhaps my favorite area of Tokyo Disney Sea was the Arabian Coast.  Again, impressive in size, decor and upkeep, it could easily have been a theme park unto itself and yet here it was as only one part of a more massive theme park.

BTBTDS12Under the dome is a double-Decker carousel.  Though not necessarily an E-Ticket ride of its own, the size and scope of it set it apart from any other carousel I’ve ever visited.  My favorite of the ride characters was the Genie from “Aladdin.”

BTBTDS13Perhaps I like the Arabian Coast the most because it was also the home of my favorite attraction, Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage.  A combination of Pirates of the Caribbean and it’s a small world with an ear bug of a theme song, it was a great attraction that everyone in the family could enjoy.

BTBTDS14And though it looks like we’ve gone into some jungle in Central America, it is only the Lost River Delta section of Tokyo Disney Sea.  This pyramid hosts the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.  Like several attractions at Tokyo Disney Sea, it shares the basic ride infrastructure with other Disney parks but with its own particular theming and storyline.

BTBTDS15In Port Discovery was the Aquatopia, a fun, little trackless ride that piloted you around various obstacles in the water.  While it looks like you are in deep water, it is only several inches deep.  We laughed at the fact that they cranked the wetness level up to absolutely soak guests in the summer heat.

BTBTDS16The American Waterfront at Tokyo Disney Sea featured two sections.  This one was themed to Cape Cod and was the home of Duffy, the Disney Bear, and his friends.

BTBTDS17The other section was the New York Harbor and was just absolutely amazing in its scope with full-size cruise liners, bridges, docks, etc.  In the background is their version of the Tower of Terror, though not themed to “The Twilight Zone.”

BTBTDS18Probably the most popular attraction at Tokyo Disney Sea was Toy Story Mania.  A FastPass attraction that was out of tickets early in the day, wait times were more than an hour and a half to ride this one attraction that really is a clone of its American counterparts.  Though the entrance through Woody’s mouth is both cool and creepy.

BTBTDS19And back at the entrance to Tokyo Disney Sea was the Venetian-inspired architecture of the Mediterranean Harbor, complete with gondola rides.  This area was home to Gelatoni, an artistic cat friend of Duffy the Disney Bear.

Many call Tokyo Disney Sea the best Disney theme park in the world and it is hard to disagree.  I think I still prefer the original Disneyland and even Epcot more but Tokyo Disney Sea is beautiful, massively scaled and yet intimately detailed.  We only had a couple of hours of non-cloudy and rainy weather, which is too bad because it is a place screaming to be photographed.

Traveling internationally may not be for everyone but I’m glad that I had the chance to go to Japan itself and the Tokyo Disney Resort specifically.  I would seriously consider another trip there as much as I would consider a trip to Walt Disney World at this point.  And it’s been really hard being back to visit Disneyland and comparing cleanliness and maintenance levels, which really are unmatched as part of Japanese culture vs. American culture.

Hope you enjoyed my very limited photo tours of two amazing places!

Steve’s Top Disney Photography

Following up on Matt’s post of his Top Disney Photography and our discussion in Episode 13 about our favorite Disney photographs, here are some of my favorites as well, along with an attempt to explain why I like them.

Cinderella Castle at Night 2012I had mentioned this photo of Cinderella Castle in the podcast as being one of my favorites. I always like this side of Cinderella Castle, probably because you don’t see quite as many photos of it as you do of the “front” side. Also, I take many more daytime shots than night shots, so I don’t have as much practice with my night shots. So I was happy that this one turned out just about like how I wanted it to look.

Spaceship Earth at night 2011I also mentioned this shot of Spaceship Earth at Epcot in the podcast. Another example of nighttime photography turning out well for me, which it sometimes doesn’t. I always like Spaceship Earth photos, because the huge sphere is impressive to me. And the colored lights on Spaceship Earth at night make it even better.

Polynesian Night 2012This photo of the Polynesian Resort was another photo that I had mentioned in the podcast. To me, the Polynesian is full of great photo opportunities. I have always liked the lanterns on top of the posts near the water, and getting a photo with the lanterns illuminated at night was cool.

Polynesian 2011

I have another favorite Polynesian Resort photo, and it is this one. I really like it for the clouds and the sunset colors which are also reflected in the water. Interestingly, both of these Polynesian photos were taken from about the same location, but I used different lenses on my camera, which gives them quite different looks. And also, they were taken just about a year apart, too.

World of Motion 1992

This old photo of World of Motion at Epcot has always been a favorite of mine. It reminds me of the photos from the official photo souvenir guides that were sold at the time. And I also like how the sun was reflecting off the upper windows. Of course, this photo has a good bit of sentimental value as well, because World of Motion is long gone.

Nautilus 1994

Here is another old photo from the days of film cameras, this time of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at the Magic Kingdom. I loved the ride, and I loved the movie, too. And it was always cool to see these large submarines sailing through the lagoon.

Family at Cinderella Castle 2012

Family photos are always good, too. I like this photo of Laura and Jaylin in front of Cinderella Castle because it looks like there aren’t that many people around. Actually, it was a typical summer day that day, but I’m not sure why there weren’t that many people in front of the castle at the moment. But I’m not complaining.

Tomorrowland morning 2011

This photo from Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom in the early morning hours is a favorite of mine because of the almost dreamlike quality to it. The light was just right that morning, and you can see that the sun was just starting to hit the tops of the Tomorrowland structures. And also, Laura and Jaylin are there at the right, so that adds a personal touch to it, too.

Cinderella Castle evening 2011

One more Cinderella Castle photo, because you can’t have too many of those, can you? We happened to walk on the pathway from Liberty Square to Cinderella Castle at just the right time of the evening, so of course I had to stop for a photo. The people at the left of the photo are some of those from our group waiting patiently for me to finish.

As Matt said, choosing favorites isn’t always easy, because they can change from day to day. And it is hard to pick just one or two favorites, or even just a few, so these are just a sampling of my favorites. If you want to see more, head over to The Adventures of Steve, where new photos (not just Disney photos) are posted all the time.

The Six Million Dollar Star Wars Man

In Matt’s excellent post Star Wars Pictures In and Out of the Parks, he had some photos from the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit that he had seen at the California Science Center. That was the same exhibit that we had seen at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I didn’t realize that we had seen the same thing.

Anyway, that exhibit was the one I was talking about when I mentioned seeing the Six Million Dollar Man in the Landspeeder model. Matt had a photo of the full-size Landspeeder, but at the version of the exhibit that we saw, next to the full-size Landspeeder was this smaller model that they used in some of the effect shots:

And here is a cropped view of the passengers. Note how Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to be missing an eye.

And just for reference, here is a photo of the Six Million Dollar Man action figure, from RetroThing.com:

So there you have it – the special guest appearance of the Six Million Dollar Man in Star Wars: A New Hope. The truth revealed!

 

Star Wars Pictures In and Out of the Parks

With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, there are plenty of exciting opportunities to bring the saga of the Jedis vs. the Siths to the parks.  Disney began this even before the Lucasfilm purchase when it worked with George Lucas to bring Star Tours to the Disneyland, and later, the Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios).  The addition of the Jedi Training Academy at both parks continues this presence.

Below are a few of my favorite Star Wars-related photos that I’ve taken both inside the Disney theme parks and beyond the berm (click to see larger-sized images):

While I got my first — and only — fix of Star Tours at Disneyland, the full-sized AT-AT and Snowspeeder at Disney-MGM Studios is a much cooler entry point to the attraction than the simple spaceport terminal of Disneyland.

If the Jedi Training Academy had existed when I was young enough to participate in it, I think I would have been there at every performance hoping to get picked.  Can’t think of many things much cooler than taking on a Sith Lord and the opportunity for kids to wield a lightsaber and do a mock battle with Darth Vader or Darth Maul, pictured above, is a nice Star Wars-themed addition to the theme parks.

Steve mentioned going to see a Star Wars-related exhibit where he saw a model of the Landspeeder with a Six Million Dollar Man action figure.  Not sure if it was the same exhibit that I went to, partially because I don’t remember any Six Million Dollar Men on display, but at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to go to the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit where this full-sized model of Luke’s transport was available for viewing.

One of my first Star Wars action figures was Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing Pilot outfit.  I’d also receive a Battle-Damaged X-Wing Fighter some time later.  Rather than my Kenner toy, this is a picture of Luke and R2D2 in an X-Wing on display at the aforementioned “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit.

We’re used to seeing C3P0 in his golden skin — or blasted apart in pieces in The Empire Strikes Back — but it was cool to be able to see him without his outer layer at the science exhibit.

One of the coolest displays at the science museum was one that featured Darth Vader’s mask.  By looking through the back of the glass case, you could literally see through the eyes of the Sith Lord himself.  All those spindles and circuitry doesn’t look that comfortable though.

And, finally, the United States Post Office had a promotion with Star Wars, which resulted in several mailboxes decorated like R2D2.  We were lucky enough to have one installed here in Burbank and I had to pull over to take a picture when I saw it.

With all the possibilities of more Star Wars stuff coming to the Disney theme parks, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to get even more pictures of two of my favorite brands.

-Matt

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Episode 4 of Beyond the Berm is all about Halloween. Which is appropriate, because as of this writing, Halloween is just over a week away. Be sure to listen to this timely episode of our podcast.

Among the many Disney Halloween things we discussed was one of my favorite attractions, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here is a photo of the cool exterior, recently posted at the Burnsland Blog:

We discussed how the Tower of Terror has a Halloween connection, even more so than the Haunted Mansion has.

Which do you prefer, the Haunted Mansion or the Tower of Terror?