I knew that we were going to Disney Land today, but I don't think I realized what that meant until I saw the bus. I've never been on a bus with chandeliers before. The seats weren't that much more comfortable to sit in, and it still moved like a normal bus, but between the chandeliers and the colored lights on the sides, it certainly felt a lot more impressive.
Once we were at Disney Land, I joined three other people and we set off quickly for the rides. By 'quickly' I mean we alternated fast walking with complete stops to take pictures. (Disney Castle is very impressive when you first see it. So are ducks.)
For two of the people in the group, it was effectively their first time at a Disney anything. (One of them had been before, but didn't remember.) One was so awe-struck by everything that it was like traveling with a well-behaved five-year-old. (Five-year-olds aren't quite as cute as three-year-olds, but they'd probably appreciate Disney Land more.)
So, first ride at Disney Land Tokyo, and where do I go? It's a Small World, After All. Where else? Fortunately, the (approximately) seventeen consecutive time s I rode it the last time I was at a Disney Resort gave me a fond nostalgia and not an urge to strange the overly-cheery children. So it was familiar, but still nice to see.
Next, we went to Alice's Teacup. It was a rather generic spinning ride, with both the platform we were on and the teacup itself spinning. It was weird to realize I was probably the only one thinking about the physics going on. I'm used to being around people more scientifically-minded than myself, and the last few times I've been on that kind of ride, it was with people who would have been giving a lot more thought to the forces acting on us. Kind of lonely to realize that wasn't the case with this trip.
After that, we went to the Haunted Mansion. The creepiest part was when the ride stopped, the music paused, and an announcement in Japanese came on. Creepy, because I realized the announcer could be saying 'Please make your way to the nearest exit as soon as possible' and I wouldn't know until other people started leaving the ride.
Although not scary, the ride was quite good. There were theoretically 900 ghosts, and from rough observation that doesn't seem like too many. The music varied- not always dark or eerie. Sometimes it even felt light, and I think I heard bagpipes. (I also think I saw them, which makes three different bagpipers seen in Disney Land, and only two on It's a Small World Ride.) There were ghosts playing peek-a-boo behind gravestones, and pictures with holographic eyes that followed you. Unfortunately, the only parts in English were really bad puns ('We're dying to have you here,' and 'Dead end. Please return to the land of the living.') But the rest of the ride was still pretty.
There was a long wait before the next ride (something in Western Land) but we all agreed afterward that it was worth it. Ther were two drops, and a fair number of curves. We'd managed to pass out the rain under the roof, so it was only misting lightly when we were on the ride. I think it's been a while since I've been on a ride like that, and I've changed since then. Mainly, I think I used to be scared myself instead of taking sadistic pleasure in other people's fear. It was fun, though.
After that ride, we went to Splash Mountain to figure out how a Fast Pass would work. It turned out to be quite simple- you go to the ride, scan the ticket you used to get in, and it will print out a pass with two times. The first time is when you return to the ride, the second is when you can get another fast pass for another attraction. So, with a 14:30-15:30 time to come back to Splash Mountain, we headed off.
The next ride was Peter Pan. At first, it felt like we were moving quickly, because we'd managed to go from Western United States to London so quickly. Then I realized we were slowing down because we'd managed to cover the entire world in half that time previously.
Like at Ghibuli Museum, there were some attractions that made me wish I was more familiar with the underlying story. Peter Pan was one of those. I recognized the first room as being Wendy's bedroom, (actually, it was probably the bedroom of one of her brothers who I don't remember the name of) I recognized the last scenes with Captain Hook and a ticking crocodile, and I recognized London from above. But beyond that, I was just staring at pretty images and wondering what it meant.
Roger Rabbit's Comic Spin succeeded where the Haunted Mansion failed. Ghosts popping out at you during a ride is funny. Cartoons doing it is creepy. I'm not sure if the overall effect was deliberate, or was caused mainly by lingering familial fears from watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Either way, the ride was good.
We had time to kill before our Fast Pass would work, so we went on a Gadget Inventors Ride. It had a twenty-minute wait, which made it about perfect for our purposes. The ride was clearly meant for smaller children- we had trouble getting into the seats. It was a short ride, but there was a bit of up and down, making it a good warm-up for our next ride.
The main attraction of Splash Mountain was a sharp drop. There was a lot more to the ride than I expected. Not just climbing up- there were several precursory drops, and long stretches of flat scenery and story. All of those building up to the 'Laughing Place,' and we all knew what that looked like.
Contrary to what my facial expression on an overpriced picture no one bought is, I think the anticipation was worse than the drop. The drop was steep, but it was over really quickly. It was before that- the climbs I knew we needed to go down, the drops that made me think 'is this it? No, it's not,' the disquietingly flat stretches- that was more mentally scary. If I'd taken that ride again, I don't think I would have been as nervous.
Next, we went on a rocket ride. It was one of those rides where you get in the vehicle you're in is attached to long poles and you spin around. In this case, the vehicles were made to look like rockets, and the entire ride was one floor off the ground. Apart from its dizzyfying effect, it was a really pretty view of Disney (and a couple of tall, non-Disney buildings in the background.)
After that, we sat down to wait for the parade to come. (There were two parades- one at four and one at eight.) It was beautiful. There were a combination of characters on floats and dancers on the street. The characters were good for nostalgic purposes (some of them, anyway) but the dancers were prettier. The most characters would do would be to wave, but the dancers had clear choreography, and were impressive to watch individually and as a group.
As I watched the parade, I realized that my thought of what makes Disney is different from other people. Mickey Mouse is so emblematic of Disney World and Disney Land, but I have no particular attachment to that branch. I might have watched some of the newer Disney movies, and even watched some of them as a child, but they're not part of my childhood the way the classics are.
Even where the classics are concerned, I still have significant breaks. I recognized Beauty right away because I'd seen at a picture of her in that yellow dress most days of the past school year, and I somehow remembered the blue dress was Cinderella. But I couldn't place the princess in the pink dress until after the float had passed, and even that it was only process of elimination that I figured out that was Sleeping Beauty.
Although I can recognize them, Disney for me isn't really about the princesses. I haven't seen all of the new ones, and have very little memory for most of the classics. I'm more fond of the original fairy tales than the movies, so my Little Mermaid dies at the end, and it's not Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It's Snow White and Rose Red.
There are two kinds of Disney movies that I find important. There are the ones that, sometimes supplemented with the original story, made my childhood. Lion King, Aladdin, Toy Story, and Beauty and the Beast. Then there are the ones that I watched too late to really be part of my childhood, but would still rank amongst my favoirtes: Up, Mulan, and Wall E. I'm curious what other people's lists would look like.
Beyond satisfaction from the movies, Tokyo Disney Land is still a very fun place to spend a day. And everyone agrees that a teacher who doesn't let his children watch Disney movies because he doesn't teach the children constructive things is being cruel to his kids.