12 June 2012

Japan Day 3: Disney Sea and Ikspiari

Note: We found it is faster for us to post photos here which are not clickable through to Flickr. Here is the link to today's set page. Right click to open it in a new window and you will be able to see the whole set.

So we are not doing well in our efforts to acclimate to the 13 hour time difference. We woke up at 4:30 this morning and could not get back to sleep. Perhaps the fact that the sun rises at 4:28 does not help. Anyway, it means that we can ‘boot up’ slowly, have some nice tea in our room and prepare ourselves for the day slowly and even decide to get to breakfast exactly when the restaurant opens! We had so much time this morning that I decided to have a nice bath! The tub here is somehow differently sized (though it doesn’t really look it) from American tubs and I found that I fit in it very comfortably (as opposed to American tubs). We have found that the water here heats up immediately which is super nice. Plus, the shower here has such fantastically strong water pressure it actually blasts the tangles out of my hair! After my luxurious morning soak, we headed off to breakfast. We decided to splurge on Chef Mickeys which is a bit of a splurge in the States, but marginally more of a splurge here at ~$41/person. But we hadn’t yet experienced a true Japanese breakfast and Chef Mickeys is a buffet, so we wouldn’t have to muddle through with our (slightly improving, but nowhere near quickly enough) awful Japanese. We instead looked the true tourists as we unabashedly photographed literally every single food item (for your viewing pleasure at home dear Reader!). Getting a table was nearly effortless except when the hostess tried to explain something about 90 minutes. Fortunately, she spoke choto (a little) English and was able to explain that there is a 90 minute limit on eating. I guess they have heard about gluttonous Americans. Or maybe it was because the other Japanese tourists are very excited to meet the characters who come out to every table to get a photo with every diner. We didn’t stuff ourselves silly, but decided to make a selection of interesting food items in addition to choosing things we thought we recognized. They had helpful little signs describing the offerings also. We did determine that seemingly recognizable items like scramble eggs are prepared differently here. The scrambled eggs were oddly smooth and perhaps cheesy? See my Flickr for a zillion photos and descriptions. Here are a couple of what we actually selected for eating: We also not very sneakily swiped 2 mini bananas and 2 mini yoghurts along with 2 nori (Japanese dried seaweed) packets for tomorrow’s breakfast. Breakfast done, it was about 8:20am, so we headed towards the buste (bus stop) to hop on a bus to Disney Sea. From online research it sounded like a 15-20 minute walk, but why walk when you can take a cute Airstream style bus? Plus we were proud of ourselves for having discovered the bus yesterday anyway. The bus appeared precisely on time according to the posted sign – which is not printed daily, but a permanent sign – how do they do this?! The bus dropped us at the entrance to the park, where we were met with this sight: Lines to get into the park at 8:45am! Of course, everyone was queued up patiently and Cast Members were going about making sure the lines were perfectly orderly to expedite the process of going through the turnstiles. Having drunk much of the ocha (Japanese green tea which has a very pleasant grassy flavor) at breakfast (and the different and delicious apple juice they have here), I needed an otay-a-rayi (bathroom). T patiently joined the queue (like James from Top Gear) and I went off in search of a Cast Member. I found someone in a gift shop, far away from the throngs of people so that I could test out my Japanese without too many people witnessing. Having just completed a Mango lesson about asking for directions, I was pleased to use my new skills and find that I… ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD her response!! [It helped that she also spoke some English…]. Anyway, the bathrooms were far and I decided I could hold it, so rejoined T in the line just as they opened the turnstiles. Inside the park, they had some kind of show with Mickey and Minnie and a variety of characters around to distract eager park goers from storming into the park. After snapping a few photos, we were not distracted and headed straight for Mysterious Island; home to Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (hereafter referred to as JTCOE – jay tee ko, and 2kLUS – too kay lus). We arrived at JTCOE to find … a 5 minute standby time?! FastPass distribution had begun, so we snagged some FastPasses (return at 9:55 – whatttt!) and dashed through the line. Passing all the cool theming, we decided we’d take photos the second time around. The ride was awesomely done and made more scary because it’s all in Japanese so we had no idea what was going to happen. We were completely surprised by the speediness and drop at the end! Ride completed, I tested my Japanese again and asked for a bathroom. Turns out it was right behind me. Literally. Dumb Americans. Oh well; this was one of the coolest bathrooms I’ve seen. The immaculately clean stalls had little baby seats where you could store your baby in addition to little pull down shelves to store your belongings. Didn’t have the camera, so no photos, sorry. Will try to get some today if we remember. ICN: the bathrooms here all have auto water faucets and in addition to soap, you are asked to spray your hands with provided sanitizer afterwards. It is billed as completely non-toxic if ingested, slightly acidic and ionized. Magic water! It’s nothing like the awful alcohol based stuff at home. Next, we saw that 2kLUS also had a miraculous 5 minute wait, so we walked right on. Again, not much opportunity for photos, but here’s one of our aquapod, note the benches which were super low at about 12 inches off the floor: Another amazingly cool ride in which you see all kinds of deep sea creatures and even have a little spotlight in front of you that is moveable so it’s sort of interactive. Again, the ride is in Japanese, but really, how much explanation do you need of an undersea exploration? Off to Mermaid Lagoon! I had seen photos of Ariel’s Grotto online which included an Eric statue, so I needed a photo there. The park was still barely populated, so we felt like we had the place to ourselves! We were able to walk right on to any of the kiddie rides we pleased and explored Ariel’s Grotto all by ourselves. There, we found Ursula’s super creepy lair where T insisted on scaring me by pushing shell buttons on her makeup table which brought her onto the mirror. But I did get my photo with Eric: As we were leaving Mermaid Lagoon, we bought a Japanese portable tarp ground covering because it had started to drizzle ever so slightly. Just outside, a janitorial Cast Member was taking photos of people, so we took advantage too: By this time, it was time to take advantage of our JTCOE FastPasses, so we headed back to Mysterious Island. Along the way, we saw this other janitor drawing with water on the ground! See a video! This time around, I was able to capture some more photos of the awesome theming. You can really tell how much money they put into this park! Of course, we have heard that typically these places are absolutely packed (more like our experience in Disneyland yesterday, but worse), so more theming along the wait lines is necessary. Next we headed off to Port Discovery to try the Storm Rider ride. Line looked long – longest we saw all day – but it was only 20 minutes. The premise of this ride is that you are boarding a Storm Rider heri-kopputa (helicopter) which can go into the center of storms to ‘deactivate’ them with some kind of electrical pulse. There is a fairly elaborate pre-ride show involving a cute Cast Member portraying a guide who tells you all about the heri-kopputa and how it works. The ride itself is a flight simulator that is kind of a combo of Star Tours and Soarin’. You enter a room like on Star Tours and watch everything on a giant domed screen like in Soarin’. Little touches like the door portholes showing the ‘storm outside’ and debris piercing the ceiling really make this ride much better than Star Tours though. Heading out of Storm Rider, we were greeted by a delicious strawberry scent. Ichigo pop-u-corn!!! [Strawberry popcorn] And the feed buckets it came in: STITCH! Today the impulse to buy was too strong, so we went ahead and got one: Feed bucket around neck, we headed towards the Lost River Delta for the Indiana Jones ride. Got some FastPasses in lieu of the 20 minute wait, and did some exploring. We walked into Arabian Coast, where I got a photo with Rajah: Walking around Arabian coast, we saw the Sindbad ride – possibly a completely Japanese story? – which only had a 5 minute wait. This ride is like It’s a Small World in that it is a boat ride that tells a story about Sindbad and his pet tiger Chandu all through a continuous song. Being all in Japanese, the story is basically about Sindbad visiting all kinds of places, helping people and receiving gifts in return. It was hard to get many good photos; but here are a few: Time for Indiana Jones! On our way, we saw the Raging Spirits ride entrance, which was manned by at least 3 CMs. The ride was closed, so we assumed their endless chatter was them informing everyone of the ride closure. Indiana Jones was pretty awesome. So awesome that there is only one photo, and it is of the safety video playing in the line… Getting off of the Indiana Jones ride, we found it was drizzling in earnest now – not just the tiny spritz of before. So we headed back to Arabian Coast and checked out Agrabah Marketplace. There was a place to play carnival style games, but we bypassed that for the shops. We hadn’t taken much time to look at the merch yesterday, so this seemed a good opportunity. And wow, they have way different stuff! We saw lots of omiyage (souvenirs you buy to bring home to everyone you know – a Japanese custom) but also lots of other fun, random and super expensive stuff; like this Genie dustpan and brush set: We saw another popcorn cart selling curry popcorn in Mickey & Duffy bucketos. These came with a baby bucketo as well, but at 2000yen, we passed on the bucket and just bought the pop-u-corn. It was still drizzling, so we opted for the Disney Transit Steamer Line from Lost River Delta to the Mediterranean harbor. Oddly it was Mexican themed… By now it was starting to actually rain and it was getting cold. We discovered that the giant building in Med Harbour is actually the MiraCosta hotel (a Disney Vacation Club Collection hotel – next trip maybe!). So we went inside to investigate and see if we could get lunch and a dry, warm place to watch the Mythica water show that was happening in an hour and a half on the lagoon which MiraCosta overlooks. Lunch prices looked pretty steep and we weren’t sure the show would actually happen because of the rain. So after checking out their gift shop, we headed back to our hotel. MiraCosta is a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding location, so they had some DFTW merch: We asked for directions to the buste in Japanese again and found our stop easily! Back in our room, we found this awesome towel-gami awaiting us: It’s Mickey!! See his nose and tongue?! We planned to rest our feet a little and it somehow turned into another nearly 3 hour nap. However, we woke up not feeling very rested. Instead of returning to the park as planned to see Fantasmic! (which we figured would be cancelled because it was still raining), we went back to Ikspiari to see if we could find our way to the top 2 floors which had previously eluded us. First stop was this interesting store called Plaza which sold a wide variety of items. From the sign outside: housewares, toiletries, toys & games, clothing. Plus all kinds of make-up and rain gear like umbrellas, bag covers and ponchos. Flickr has innumerable photos. Next we visited the Disney store and took another zillion photos. They have such cool stuff here! Tiny, tiny stickers: By now it was about 8:30pm and we were getting hungry and tired. After significant walking because we didn’t understand the layout, we found our way back to the food court and grocery store. We bought some onigiri (rice balls stuffed with something unknown) and honey-lemon jellies for breakfast at the grocery store. For dinner, we tried another Japanese quick service place and were pleased to find that the cook spoke fairly decent English and he helped us order a ginormous bowl of fat noodles in curry soup. We also got me an onigiri stuffed with salmon and T an inarizushi. Oishii rating: !!! Not much meat in the curry, otherwise it would have gotten an extra !

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