Last weekend my boyfriend ('Irish friend' in Japanese) came to visit. After the ridiculously long-haul, transfer-ridden flight you can imagine how knackered and broke he was..but I insisted that we go to Tokyo Disney!
The original plan was to wake up real early to take advantage of the 6,000 yen we'd be paying. I though getting there for 9 would be ideal, but a Japanese teacher later informed me that if you want to actually go on the rides, you need to arrive at 8 and make a mad dash around the park grabbing fast past tickets. Then you can leisurely stroll around skipping lines of sucker tourists who thought that arriving at 9 was ok. I asked if what this was what he usually did - of course.
In typical us-fashion, we actually got there at 11, none the less genki though the sun was beating down and the crowds were swarming through the big blue gates ahead of us. There's something magical about Disney - going there is so much more exciting than it should be. I felt like a kid again..possibly because the other time I went, in Florida, I was 12. Not even the lack of pink paint on the castle (which was white) could dampen my spirits.
Once we had our maps (I'm obsessed with them), and had scrutinised them intensely for some time, we devised an itinerary that would take us around the rides on the basis of location and priority ranking...of course we were yet to see the cues. We headed off through the castle (actually, there's nothing amazing inside it, just a shop..shattered fantasy there). First of all we reached the teacups, but what was this huge crowd of people huddled alongside it, not a cue surely? And when the attendant passed by shouting san-jippun (30 min) I was sure I'd misheard. But it's the freakin' teacups..the crappiest of rides..and it's 11 in the morning. Nevertheless we cued up. Towards the front of the line I realised that they looked like waltzers, which tend to make me sick, so we spend the ride desperately clinging to the wheel to prevent the cup spinning too much! Fun was had by all.
Next of all I dragged my bf to the Small World ride, which I spotted from the teacups (we were in the fantasy land section of the park). This is a slightly more popular ride, which was reflected in the cuing time - 2 whole hours! But there's a fast-pass system of course, it was all explained on the back of our maps...you just go up to the fast-pass ticket booths, print your ticket and come back at the time printed on it. Simple...but no matter how many rides we tried, or Japanese attendants I bugged, we couldn't find any machines. They all spoke English, and directed us or said that the fast-pass for their ride was finished...what they failed to mention however, was what I learnt from my Japanese teacher yesterday, ALL THE FAST-PASS MACHINES CLOSE AT LIKE 815. Finally, during a rest stop alongside a ride, I realised that the big plastic things we were leaning on were the fast-pass machines, successfully hidden from view under plastic covers, ready to re-emerge at the crack of dawn the next day, ridiculous!
In the end, we realised that we only had time for 3 rides if we skipped lunch..which wasn't an option. Having confirmed that the cues for all the good rides were crazy-long (over 2 hours for Pirates of the Caribbean and god-knows-how-long for the Michael Jackson ride), we settled for walking around taking photos and eating popcorn (of which they had about 10 flavors on stands all around the park - butter n soy sauce being the most outlandish). We did go on the Small World ride and I'm proud to say that there was a really overweight leprechaun and some Irish-dancing farmers representin'. Honestly, I don't know how my students knew nothing about Ireland before I came to Japan..
The final annoyance of Disney was the Halloween parade. It's on everyday throughout October, and though I'm sure it's not continuous..it seemed to be blocking our way everytime we tried to move from one section of the park to the next. Call me a buzz-kill, but I didn't wana sit on the ground clapping along with the Japanese tots and watching Mini Mouse ride by on her fiery chariot, drawn by skeletal horses. I did want a photo with her, but she was never available, the parade absorbed all her time apparently. In fact the only character I managed to get a photo with was one of the cards from Alice in Wonderland. It was actually a statue rather than a person, and it wasn't even a numbered card so I can only identify it as a red heart.
In any case, we left Tokyo Disney tired and only partially disillusioned, vowing that if we returned it would be on a weekday..