Musings from Mt. Prometheus

A Year of Tokyo Disney Resort

posted 2017/03/10, by tofu

It's almost exactly a year since I acquired the keys to the kingdom, so I want to look back on what I experienced. Have my impressions of the parks changed now that I am an annual passport holder?

My first Tokyo Disneyland visit was during Christmas in 2007. I was in Japan for my university studies, and had a week of time off over the Holidays. The details of that visit have faded over the years, but I remember that It's a Small World was made up in a special Christmas version. I also remember being completely spellbound by the Electrical Parade. Tokyo Disneyland left me wanting more, and it was at the top of my todo list the next time I visited Japan, which was in 2010. I've been coming back every year since, but in 2016 I finally had the chance to stay for a year and make my dream of becoming an annual passport holder a reality.

My adventures started on my birthday! Yup, I celebrated my 30th birthday with a solo trip to Tokyo Disneyland, scanning my annual passport for the very first time felt amazing! The Easter decorations were up, even though the event hadn't started yet. It was an unusually cold spring day, but I'm left with warm, happy memories.

Moving through the park, I instantly felt more relaxed. I've only visited the parks with one day passports before, and you fall into a specific rhythm with the day passes. There is meticulous planning involved, because you want to DO ALL THE THINGS. With an annual pass, you know that there's no rush. You can always come back later.

In a way, it's made me pickier about my park experiences. A 40-60 minute line for my favourite rides didn't bother me before, but my queuing limit has decreased to 20-30 minutes for rides. I used to skip every show and parade, now I willingly sit down and wait hours to watch my favourite ones. I never thought I'd be the kind of person who camps out for parades at Disney, but here I am a year later, and the parades have won me over.

Favourite Events

I did my annual passport proud. I didn't keep track of visits (something I regret, I'm keeping track this year!), but I visited at least twice a month all year. Usually more. It was my first time seeing all seasons at the park, and I have really enjoyed following the seasonal events. The greenery and gardens at the parks are truly spectacular, but it's probably fair to say that you don't really think about it until you've seen how the flower beds change from one month to the next.

These are my top three events of 2016

Tokyo Disney Easter

The Egg Hunt at Disneyland stands out as the funnest thing I did at the parks all year. I challenged all three maps, and I had an absolute blast. I'm heartbroken they're not bringing the egg hunt back in 2017.

Tokyo DisneySea's 15th Anniversary Celebrations

Crystal Wishes Journey was my favourite show of 2016. The theme and message went so well with what I was going through in 2016, and when the Grand Finale wrap-up coincided with me being granted residency for three more years in Japan, I just couldn't believe it. Wishes really do come true. It was the perfect end to the celebrations.

Tokyo Disney Halloween

I celebrated Halloween at both parks. I enjoyed the parade at Disneyland more than the show at DisneySea. It felt more dynamic, and I was truly fascinated by the ghost bubble effects. Nothing beats the atmosphere at the parks when all the cosplayers are out and about, though. It's a fairy tale world sprung to life, there are princesses everywhere. What's not to love? I didn't dress up in 2016, but maybe I'll be able to think of something for 2017.

Honorable mention goes to Minnie's Tropical Splash at Tokyo DisneySea. Which is another show it seems they won't be bringing back in 2017. It was so fun, though. The music really hyped you up. You got thoroughly soaked.

Other Highlights

Camp Woodchuck

I was dying for new, cheap, dinner options at Tokyo Disneyland, and the new area filled my need perfectly. I went for a taste test the day it opened, and instantly fell in love with the theming and decor of the restaurant. It's a beautiful little area, and the food is tasty. The s'more inspired dessert is to die for. I must admit I was a little disappointed by the waffle part of the waffle sandwiches (I imagined them fluffier), and the fact that the maple syrup is served in a packet on the side for the fried chicken sandwich is also a bummer. It's a messy experience, but it's worth the effort. The shrimp avocado sandwich is my favourite one, something I would have never guessed in advance. Disney is always full of surprises.

The Cast Members

I honestly thought that with all my time at the park as an annual pass holder, I'd eventually see cracks in the facade and catch cast members being sloppy, not smiling, or otherwise being jerks (this is my jaded Norwegian personality shining through). But a year later, and I'm still waiting for it to happen. Sure, they will sometimes scream English at me during attraction loading or when I'm trying to order food, but Tokyo Disney Resort is a popular holiday resort. I can't expect them to know that I'm not a tourist.

My favourite cast member interaction of 2016 happened at Tokyo DisneySea when my Gelatoni came out of Journey to the Center of the Earth without his brand new 15th Anniversary beret. I awkwardly went up to the cast member outside the entrance of the attraction, and told them what had happened, pointing to Gelatoni's naked head. The cast member then radioed the other cast members at loading - "I'm here with Gelatoni, and he has lost his new, dark blue beret! Has anyone seen it?".
Unfortunately no one had, so we were directed to lost and found. I left my name and address (they made sure it was also where Gelatoni lived), and figured I had at least done everything I could to get it back.
And wouldn't you know it... about a week later, I found a package waiting for Gelatoni. The cat was reunited with his hat.

Disney Dork Friends

I've made so many Disney friends over the year. Whether through twitter, or meetups at the park, it's always a treat. I love babbling Disney, so it's a relief when you find other people who don't mind your endless raving. I'm looking forward to many more hangouts in 2017. Here's to all the Disney pals!