After a rather long flight including a layover at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, the mum, the little sis and I stepped foot on Japan soil. And immediately, as typical of most guided tours, we were whisked off from Tokyo Narita International Airport to Tokyo Disneyland. It was not our first Disneyland visit (the honour goes to Disneyland in California, albeit 20 years ago) and we were most certainly not expecting to be wowed like children. We were after all over a century old, ages combined.
But anticipation and excitement lingering in the atmosphere does strange things to people, even sane and mature adults. While standing in line and waiting to enter the resort the minute it opened, we felt a magical aura about to descend upon us. In spite of ourselves, we were getting all excited about entering the magic land! 😆
It wasn’t fun at all just waiting around doing nothing, so we started taking pictures. Lots of them. Trust me when I say you will not find a lack of subject matter for photography at Tokyo Disneyland, or for that matter, any of the Disneyland resorts in the world. Everything was insanely brightly-coloured and incredibly cute, all rightly done so in an attempt to attract the attention of children and ‘eternal children’ alike. Like the young children, we too were squealing in excitement when the Disney characters strolled out to mingle with the crowd before the resort officially opened its doors for the day.
Tokyo Disneyland opened its doors to the first visitors on 15 Apr, 1983 and comprises 7 themed areas namely: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Westernland (the 4 classic Disney lands), Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown and the Grand Bazaar. We were not looking to doing any of the rides and actually spent the most of our time at the Grand Bazaar window-shopping or taking pictures at all corners of the resort. Even the mum, who is unusually camera-shy because of her tendency to blink whenever her pictures are taken, felt uplifted enough to have her portrait taken by me, and several times at that!
The weather was generally fine on the day we visited the Tokyo Disneyland, however the sky was unfortunately grey and overcast most of the time. Any photographer would have much preferred a clear blue sky instead, but this is the way with winter – the sky could go either way. Given that the turrets of the Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland are largely painted in tan colour, a snapshot of it taken on an overcast day is going to result in a castle that looks more muted than impressive. This was a major regret from our first visit to Tokyo Disneyland. And it didn’t help that I was dressed in a boringly understated, army green-coloured overcoat. My pictures with the castle just turned out looking colourless and dull.
While we didn’t queue for any of the rides (didn’t want to deprive the real children of their chances at getting on the rides – plus the queues were insanely long!), we made sure we didn’t miss the daytime parade. It was not necessary to take special note of the parade timings (we definitely didn’t!). Just take cue from the Japanese visitors at the resort if you didn’t come across any of the notice boards bearing the timings. As per the resort’s unique regulation, visitors could spread out their plastic sheets or ground coverings and sit by the road side one hour before the scheduled time of the parade. You would think one hour is hell of a long time to sit around doing nothing ay? Not to the majority of the Japanese at the resort. They came fully prepared with plastic mats, and took opportunity of the one-hour wait to have a picnic-lunch with their children. No hustling and no pushing: everything was executed orderly and quietly. To be quite honest, I was expecting nothing less from the civic-minded Japanese.
I have not been to the other Disney resorts around the world. Not since I was 11 anyway. So, is this orderly scene common at all? From what I remember of my visit to California’s Disneyland, hardly anyone was sitting down during the parade; most people were just standing around behind the first two rows of sitters. Have things change over the years?
On this trip we discovered something very intriguing about Tokyo Disneyland – popcorn buckets. While strolling about the park’s nooks and crannies we came across a stall selling the Chip ‘n’ Dale version and without even a second of hesitation, I started queueing for the popcorn. And bucket of course. Well yes, I am a huge long-time fan of Chip ‘n’ Dale. And then I saw a child carrying one with Winnie-the-Pooh. Make a guess what I wanted to do next? I went on a frantic search for the stall selling that particular version of popcorn bucket, with the mum and little sis in tow. Alas, we didn’t manage to locate the stall. Could have, if we had more time, or discovered it earlier. Reluctantly, we left the resort to meet up with our tour leader and tour-mates. Can’t say though, that I wasn’t looking forward to checking into our hotel. Badly wanted to shower. And dress warmer.
So was the day fun for us, given that we had no young children in tow when we visited? A resounding yes! And would I revisit? Absolutely!