Tokyo DisneySea

7th September 2005

Tokyo DisneySea is a testament to what can be achieved with an amusement park when seemingly unlimited funds are available. It was no surprise to learn that it is apparently the most expensive park ever built. Nobody has ever published the actual figure, but the rumour mill suggests an investment of over four billion dollars, and to be frank, it shows. There are many beautiful amusement parks in this world, such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Europa Park, but both of these could be considered mere fairgrounds when compared against the sheer beauty seen here.

Tokyo DisneySea

It's probably best to get the park coasters out of the way before beginning this report properly. Those only interested in credits would do well to avoid this park, as neither ride is up to much. The better of the two is the Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster (#609), a family affair that hits a top speed of just twenty miles per hour. The other coaster, allegedly a fifty million dollar attraction, is the positively horrible Raging Spirits (#610). The theming on this coaster makes it look nice, but that's about the only positive thing one can say about it. The trains bounce around the track like a carnival Pinfari on a bad day. As much as it'd be nice to say otherwise, this ride was a phenomenal waste of money.

The star attraction at the park is arguably the Journey to the Center of the Earth dark ride. Passengers are treated to some truly spectacular scenery as the cars follow a long descent into the bowels of the park. Then, at the base, a large animatronic monster attacks the car, only for it to accelerate rapidly upwards, before breaking into the daylight at a serious top speed. The ride system is an obvious development of that used on Test Track, and it works very well here. The other major dark ride is also based on a Jules Verne novel, in this case 20000 Leagues under the Sea. As the name suggests, this was a simulated submarine ride with an entirely convincing (though fake) underwater effect; I observed a number of disembarking guests feeling the outside of the vehicles to see if they were wet or not. This ride proved to be much more sedate than the previous one, maintaining a slow pace throughout.

Our next port (d'oh!) of call was Storm Rider, a s(t)imulator attraction. The insertion of the letter 't' was initially added to the word by several members of the club, though it is now in much wider use. This joke was amusing for a short space of time, but at this point it has become so common place among enthusiasts that the word is not even considered to be a malapropism. Perhaps I should add a poll to this paragraph to determine how many readers of this page had to consult a dictionary to understand the previous sentence! Anyway, the simulation (or stimulation) was of a vehicle with a special weapon which could destroy storms altogether via a powerful explosion. This would, of course, be effected by a launch from the ship which would be a safe distance away before detonation. No doubt the reader can tell where this is going; the explosion occurs close to the ship, with the resultant damage; the weapon crashing through the ceiling of the simulator room; flame effects; bad weather overhead to spray riders with water, et al.

We decided to go over to the Magic Lamp Theatre to catch the Aladdin show. This proved to be an interesting blend of a 4D theatre show with live performances, not altogether dissimilar to the system used for Terminator 2 at Universal. This was followed in short order by Aquatopia, a ride which took the motion system from Pooh's Hunny Hunt and put it on boats travelling on a thin layer of water. As interesting as this propulsion system is, it is not enough to hold a ride on its own without surrounding dark ride scenery, and consequentially once was enough.

Aquatopia

We had earlier picked up a fast pass for Indiana Jones, and the time had come to use it. This was an off-road jeep style attraction not unlike that at Lagunasia. Though it was of a very high standard, it somehow didn't seem quite as good as the one a few days ago. It is impossible to put my finger on precisely why I feel the way I do about it. The Disney version was clearly a higher budget attraction, but perhaps the smaller park spent its money better. On disembarking we walked straight into the Encore show, a rather good medley of broadway hits performed by a cast of around fifty. he performance itself was impossible not to enjoy; the artists' enthusiasm was infectious, and the singing was perfectly in tune. Oddly enough, the majority of the lead performers were not Asian. It wasn't hugely surprising given the performance was sung in English (and American-accented English at that!), but it was interesting to see nevertheless.

We had already passed the Sinbad dark ride on several occasions during the day to find it closed. It was consequentially a pleasant surprise to find it had opened now. The experience on the whole can be summed up as Pirates of the Caribbean Persian Gulf, with predictably high quality scenery. With that done, we decided to conclude our visit with the Under the Sea show, an acrobatic show not dissimilar to Cirque du Soleil productions, but on a smaller scale. The show was mimed with actors lip-syncing a recorded sound track featuring the assorted hits from The Little Mermaid. As expected the show proved to be of very high quality, making for a great end to our day.