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Great Escapes The Happiest Place on Earth! (Part 2 - Disney Land)
(Entered Feb. 27, 2007)
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More than 2 years have passed since my fateful trip to DisneySea and now, at Disneyland, I finally get to reprise my role as the recalcitrant, Disney-mocking tourist! Coming here was actually my idea though, I bought the two tickets as a present for Kumi's birthday. It's a well known fact that every single Japanese girl in existence loves everything about Disney, so I figured I couldn't go wrong.
An experience at Disneyland is like a rollercoaster, brief highs followed by disapointing lows. And just like a rollercoster, when you start, you have to start at the bottom....


After some trials and tribulations, (my allergies decided that this was the morning to kick me in the brain, and I almost bailed three times before we got there) we arrived at Disneyland around 10am to find the crowds entering quite sparse. This was obviously a very good thing, and I allowed myself to become a little hopeful. However I had forgotten Disney's first rule: "Abandon hope all Ye who enter here." They really need to put that on a sign outside the gate.
First stop on the tour was Splash Mountain. A rollercoaster-like ride where you start off on a boat going through a bunch of tunnels with Disney puppets singing and laughing madly, then ends up with a cliff like drop into what seems to be a mass of tentacles and spraying water. I'll admit that it was a pretty good effect when you're actually plunging through. The entrance to the ride promised a wait of 90 minutes so we decided to give it a go. Heck what's 90 minutes in a lineup right? The lineup started outside and weaved and looped around in typical Japanese style. We were stuck behind 5 teenage girls whose mission in life was to annoy me. They babbled about nothing constantly in loud voices and one of them would occasionally scream out a random word every few minutes for no particular reason, kind of like a dog barking. It was a chilly 5-6 degrees celcius but they were trying to show off, wearing only miniskirts and jean jackets like it was a nice summer day. I was wearing two shirts, a sweater, a down jacket, gloves and a scarf and I still felt the cold. Kind of hard to stay warm when you're standing in line for hours, as they learned to their sorrow.


After about an hour we passed through the entrance but I quickly realized that it was only a poor joke. Seems that we were only in the lineup that takes you to the lineup, if you follow me. As the line spiraled down into the depths of some dark, cold, Disney made cave, with the annoying girls in front of us, and my eyes and sinuses pounding from my allergies, I started to ponder the very real possibility that I was in hell. Somehow I held onto sanity and realized that finally, the ride was beginning. However it was too little too late. The final adrenaline plunge down the chute served only to wake me up from the nightmare of the last few hours.
We were off to a bad start. Was it possible for Disney to regain any credibility?


We both felt we deserved a little recompense for our wasted time, so we tracked down the Disney manager responsible for lineup control. I was thinking I'd just break a couple of his fingers but Kumi felt a more 'permanent' solution was better.


Disney has one good invention though, the 'fastpass' ticket. Go to the ride you want, stick your ticket in the slot and it'll reserve a time for you sometime later on in the day. Now instead of wasting time in a lineup, you can roam around the park until your reserved time, spending money on useless, overpriced merchandise! Cause and effect baby. Never let it be said that the people working at Disney are stupid. The only flaw in the system is that you can only have one fastpass ticket going at one time. Kumi and I decided to get a fastpass for Thunder Mountain, another rollercoaster. Disney scored some points with this one. Quite fun and decent thrills can be found here. Although hardcore rollercoaster riders might be bored, the average person will not be disapointed. Ignoring the 'keep your arms inside the vehicle' warning, I took a short, crappy, video of our ride. Yes that is me screaming.

My spirits were up! That was pretty fun! So I made the next ride choice forgetting that peaks are followed by valleys. Disney has a little river that you can canoe around with a group of people. I'm a decent canoer myself and having no access to them here in Japan, I thought 'sweet'! So we entered another line and once again found ourselves stranded in lineup limbo with nothing to see, talk about, or think of. Forty minutes later we finally boarded the massive canoe and were squeezed in with 14-16 other people plus two Disney canoers who were with us to make sure we didn't kill ourselves. Things went downhill from there quickly. There was no space to paddle and everyone was paddling at their own rhythm, so people spent the time banging paddles together. In front of Kumi was this little girl who just did her own thing with her paddle and kept splashing Kumi. Although Kumi yelped and complained to me, her father took no notice and the kid continued to splash happily. Behind me was this woman who decided that I needed to get wet as well. It only took about a minute before all I could think of was getting off that damned boat. I guess I shouldn't have expected much from a country with like, 3 lakes and no idea of what canoeing is.


We lacked the foresight to bring our own lunches, so we were forced to sample some Disney cuisine. The first restaurant we happened across was the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. Those of you who've read my report of DisneySea's food will know that my hopes in this area were quite low. However I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of our orders, which is to say that the level was slightly higher than that of a highschool cafeteria. Kumi and I both ordered the charbroiled chicken which was ok I guess, but no match for Swiss Chalet. Of course side orders weren't included, and with the addition of a salad, a side of bread and one of rice, a dessert and two drinks, the price came to about 5000 yen, about 50 bucks. When you consider that the entrance fee alone for one person is 5800 yen, that most people buy expensive souvenirs, and that Disney boasts 22,000,000 visitors in a year, you really have to wonder....


As the day wore on we visited a number of other forgettable places like Star Tours: a bad rip off of Star Wars, MicroWorld: A 3-D movie where we had to put up with Rick Moranis doing a skit based on his 'Honey I shrunk the Kids' movie, and another, weak rollercoaster that was very much meant for kids only. We also had our way blocked a number of times by Disney parades. At around 7:30 pm, it was getting quite cold, and my allergies were still killing me, so we decided to call it a day.
Besides Thunder Mountain, were there any other good points? Well I have to give Disney credit for one thing. There park is immaculate! They had an army of cleaners, and sweepers patrolling the streets looking out for any stray piece of trash. Some of the sweepers were even on rollerblades, and I had to admit, when I watched them skate around the park with their brooms and dustpans, it looked like a fun job. Also, Disney spares no cost in construction and design. All the buildings, bushes, signs, lamp posts, and streets were in perfect condition and perfectly placed. Taken as a whole, the park seems to have a certain and precise mathematical beauty about it.


Lastly and most importantly, it does succeed well in one other area, making people happy. Despite what seems to be a lot of complaining above, Kumi and I did have a lot of fun here. (Just don't know if I'll ever be back again though...;-)





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