Today was probably Friday. We awoke to more noise on the lagoon this morning, but this time it was a full dress rehearsal (and filming) of the upcoming spring-themed lagoon show, which wasn’t set to open until after we left Japan. Not realizing that the same show had been seen during last year’s spring promotion and believing I was getting the inside scoop for MiceChat’s Tokyo Disney forums, I dragged poor Patrick out of bed to shoot video and take photos.
This is what it looks like when you start filming 30 seconds after waking up…
There is more footage, but I was talking over it, like a dang fool… how about a bazillion photos instead?
It was quite a spectacle, and I was impressed that they would go to so much trouble for a midday show lasting just three months and not replacing any other show! We think they must’ve been shooting it for a commercial too.
Check out the elaborate costumes! Tokyo DisneySea’s upcoming promotion was called Spring Carnival, and the theme was color EVERYWHERE! I am kinda nutty about bright colors, so I totally would have worn any of these dresses.
Our noon checkout time was still a ways off (why oh why can’t they give us this extra hour at US Disney hotels?), so we dashed downstairs to the fanTABulous indoor pool and did something we’d never done before: paid $22 each for the privilege of swimming!
The reason is that this pool is the first thing that captured my fancy about Hotel MiraCosta, and I used to have a huge picture of it on my computer desktop reminding me I’d get there some day. So for us, the $44 fell under the ever-expanding budget category known as “When are we ever gonna have a chance to do THIS again?!”
The admission fee included use of a swanky locker room, the sauna, and what I called the “naked bath” because you were required to get undressed before using it. It was basically just a swank Jacuzzi in the locker room. Because we got there right when the pool opened, the place was deserted. Good thing, too, cuz I sure as heck wouldn’t have gone in the naked bath if there were other ladies around!
Next to the naked bath was a hall full of showers, complete with toiletries just like you find at spas.
Back in the locker room, I spent several minutes trying to figure out what this was and how to work it…
After poking it with a stick, flapping the lid a few times, and sticking my head inside it, I realized it was a swimsuit dryer! I spent a few more minutes trying to figure out how to make it go so I could use it after the swim. What I later learned, as I fished out my still-damp suit, is that it’s more of a swimsuit wringer than a dryer—good to know when you’re about to shove said swimsuit into your suitcase.
For some reason there were slippers lined up in the toilet area—I’m guessing so that barefoot patrons wouldn’t have to be barefoot in there. But if you’ve got gunboats like I do, be sure to bring your own footwear!
After I’d explored every square inch of the locker room, I returned the camera to Patrick so he could take pictures of the pricey pool.
I’m sure the pool attendant standing quietly off to one side thought we were nuts for taking all these pictures and wondered when we were gonna get in the pool already! We spent a blissful 30 minutes or so paddling around our own private pool and soaking in our own private spa before dashing back to the room to change in time to get to the park at 9:30am.
Patrick shot the men’s locker room for ya…
Back in the room, we packed up our stuff and took a few last shots of our glorious view.
I also asked Patrick to take a picture of our towels in lieu of me stealing them. I liked them much better than the fake Disney hotel towels available in the gift shop, which were a weird in-between size (too small to be a bath towel but too big to be a hand towel = insta carwash rag!) and printed with ’80s-lookin’ patterns that supposedly reflected the style of each hotel. However, I was checked by my strong moral code and the suspicion that Oriental Land Co. would prolly send me a bill for gawd-knows-how-much when the towels went missing.
Since we still had 2 1/2 hours til checkout, we decided to nip into the park and do a few more A- and B-ticket attractions we’d missed.
But first we stopped by the Journey to the Center of the Earth FASTPASS machine, which had a huge line and was already spitting out 2pm return times.
Today turned out to be VERY busy at the parks—a Friday in the middle of a 2-week school break. Go figure! While in Mysterious Island, we hit up 20,000 Leagues using single rider. I love this ride!
And then we set off to fill in the blanks of our experience with things we’d been meaning to do, such as eating our weight in popcorn.
Today witnessed a new world record for popcorn consumption by us. Thanks to all the themed buckets and different flavors, I ate more popcorn in those 4 days than I have in the last 4 years! (File under: “When are we ever gonna have a chance to do THIS again?!”)
We were quite interested in checking out the Leonardo Challenge room at Fortress Explorations, which required waiting in line and politely thanking two different cast members who approached us with cards that said the presentation was all in Japanese and very difficult for foreigners to understand. I told both of them that we just wanted the souvenir map that comes with the experience. You take it around to various stations in the fortress and place it on a stand that activates interactive exhibits.
So when we finally got inside this mysterious and exotic room for Japanese-speakers only and the CM began his spiel, we nodded a lot, watched the other guests to know when to turn over our maps, and tried very hard to look like we understood what the H was going on. It was anticlimactic really – just a 5-minute explanation of how the scavenger hunt works, and there was nothing particularly interesting about the room.
Off we went to try out our new map!
Hmmm… those are the only pictures I have—perhaps we were distracted by this waterfall!
…Or maybe by the quaint cottages crammed on the bridge from Mysterious Island to American Waterfront…
…Or by the Electric Railway…
At any rate, next thing we knew, we were in Venice and deciding to ride the gondolas around Mediterranean Harbor. In addition to providing a good 10 minutes of entertainment, complete with singing, the gondolas gave us a chance to finally hear words and phrases we understood, like “Buon giorno” (“Good day”/”Hello”), “Ciao” (“Goodbye”) and “Molto bene” (“Wanna come back to my place?”).
It really puts the gondolas at the Venetian in Vegas to shame…
Scattered throughout the park are Duffy photo spots, the perfect way to capture Duffy at leisure.
I didn’t have a Duffy, so I improvised…
Ristorante di Canaletto was the one sit-down restaurant we’d been unable to walk right up to without a reservation, so we contented ourselves with a photo of the menu.
Then we checked out the inside of New York Deli—looks pretty authentic to me!
Patrick ALMOST made off with the bakery wagon, except it was bolted to the ground…
Patrick really wanted to explore the SS Columbia. We couldn’t get over the fact that they built a full-on ship and let you walk around it, instead of cutting corners and only doing the parts you can see.
We headed back toward Tower of Terror’s gift shop to pick up more goodies for Uncle Matt, and some for us too! Realizing we weren’t going to find him anything on his list, we decided to get a representative sample of Tokyo DisneySea items, like a tiny Duffy, a Shiriki Utundu bobble head, some of those fake hotel towels (hey, he’s got a big car, and I’ve got a hunch it may need washing!), a few stand-out pins, and some neat retro-looking Mickey and Minnie plush we found only in Steamboat Mickey’s in American Waterfront. That was also the place we stumbled on a packable duffle bag printed with Cutie-style Minnie and Mickey visiting each of the lands in Tokyo DisneySea—I hope we took a picture of all this stuff before we gave it to him so I can show you at some point!
Finally it was time to give up our glorious room at Hotel MiraCosta and send our bags over to Disney’s Ambassador Hotel. I give you this parting shot…
Oh wait, no! I give you THESE parting shots. We got to watch a mini-show around Mediterranean Harbor before we left.
Down in the lobby, Patrick took random pictures while I sorted out the bag transfer.
When I complimented the bellhop on her English, she said she’d studied at Cal Poly Pomona for five years!
I also scored us 3-day monorail passes… sweet!
Then it was back into Tokyo DisneySea for the last time so we could continue filling in the map of our experiences.
I think it was around this time that I realized I’d packed my earplugs in one of the suitcases merrily making its way to the Ambassador. I hate loud noises, so I always bring earplugs for rides, movies and shows. When I forget them, I can usually count on the first aid station at any of the US Disney parks to have another pair for me. So we made the mistake of stopping in at the first aid station, near the Hotel MiraCosta entrance in Mediterranean Harbor. Neither of the nurses on duty spoke English, so I gestured to my ears and made the Japanese “no” symbol (an X with both hands) and continued speaking in English for no reason. Confused, they whipped out a book full of English phrases for me to point at (“I have a headache,” “I ate one too many cheesecake chimichangas,” “May I sell you my kidney to pay for this vacation?” etc.). But I couldn’t find one that explained what I wanted. So I continued with the pointing and the X-ing until they got very concerned looks and, perhaps fearing that I was bleeding from the ears, flipped to a page that said in big letters “I NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL”! To which I responded with frantic X-ing and vigorous shaking of my head while bowing and smiling and hastily backing my way out of the first aid station.
Instead we decided to take a nice, quiet walk around the back streets of Mediterranean Harbor and photograph flora.
We decided that Uncle Matt (whose favorite character is Tinkerbell) needed a Tinkerbell popcorn bucket as the ultimate Tokyo Disney souvenir.
We visited Devil’s Postpile last summer, and it is just uncanny how well Disney replicated the effect here.
Patrick was dying to eat a meal in an underground boiler room, so we tried Vulcania restaurant. We shared some dim sum, the sweet and sour pork, the crispy chicken, and the fried rice. It was pretty dang good!
We took a few more pix of Mysterious Island on our way out to the Arabian Coast.
Off to Arabia!
As we passed Sultan’s Oasis, we decided to try the coconut soft-serve. When it comes to dessert, I’m usually of the “more is more” school of thought: chocolate cake, ice cream, peanut butter, fudge, frosting—all of the above, please! So I was surprised to fall in love with something so simple as coconut soft-serve, but fall I did. I wonder if that’s how the first people to taste ice cream felt back when there was only vanilla…
Jafar’s Shop of Wonders was one thing that disappointed me… surely with all that money they could’ve made it something to at least peek into, if not enter or, you know, ride…
Since there wasn’t much else to do in Arabian Coast, and the line was short, we decided to take a spin on the carousel. I got a camel and Patrick got the Genie! We didn’t get to ride upstairs, though—that woulda been cool!
I was still in love with the Arabian Minnie ear headband I’d declared The Absolute Gaudiest Set of Ears Sold in Tokyo Disney, but I knew I’d never ever wear them. So instead of buying them, we followed the old adage “Take a picture, for it shall last longer”…
Hmm…. I’m looking a little drab in this photo. Lemme just punch things up in Photoshop!
The light was all wrong, but I wanted a pic of Jasmine’s fountain, so… here ya go!
I also wanted a pic of the first cherry blossoms we’d seen at the resort!
I’d heard that you could find less well known Disney characters in the Tokyo parks, but I wasn’t convinced until we spotted THIS guy outside Mermaid Lagoon:
Patrick was very excited…
On our way out of Arabian Coast we’d realized we were within the miniscule window of operating hours for the cheesecake chimichanga cart, so we’d hoofed it over to Lost River Delta—only to discover that they were already sold out for the day! When we reached Mysterious Island, I decided I would try the sea salt ice cream in a souvenir cup instead. (Let us all forget the part where I’d just had coconut soft serve in Arabia…)
Patrick had a… what is that, a ChocoTaco? No, wait—it was little bites of frozen banana covered in chocolate. The sea salt ice cream turned out to be delicious! Maybe my taste buds are screwed up, but the salt makes this plain vanilla ice cream taste almost like an entire hot fudge sundae to me! I think it’s mimicking the taste of the nuts or maybe even the fudge for my brain.
Then we hadda stand around forEVER waiting to get the perfect shot of the big bubble that comes up in the bay of Mysterious Island…
And then we rode JTTCOE one last time – FABUOUS!
On our way out of the park I broke down and paid the $30 for a park soundtrack CD cuz I loved the music from JTTCOE and 20K Leagues so much. We also spotted something we’d missed before – large soft-cover books full of pictures of the parks! We picked up the Tokyo DisneySea one. Side note: When we got home and played the Tokyo DisneySea soundtrack, we were disappointed to discover that most of the songs are super-cheesey “theme songs” for the various lands, complete with silly English lyrics that spell out exactly what the land is about. (“Singing a mermaid song! In this Mermaid Lagoon!” and “I am Captain Nemo! Welcome to Mysterious Island!” and “Lost River travels onnnnnnnn! CAW!!!” [that’s the screeching eagle sound effect]). None of these are actually heard in the park, and I would have been much happier with ride soundtracks and a medley of the ambient music played in each land (Mediterranean Harbor has a particularly evocative area loop). But at least I got my soundtracks to Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues. Also the Aquasphere Plaza soundtrack isn’t half bad.
Speaking of which….