Taiwan and Japan

2015 - 2016

Day 16 + 17

Disneyland and DisneySea

Today we’re going to DisneyLand. Anthony and Amy have a massive 4 days of Disney stuff planned, but most of us are just doing a day at each park (DisneyLand and DisneySea). While these parks are quite impressive, I’ve already visited them in previous trips and because I’m not a huge fan of Disney or rides I wasn’t quite as excited as Amy, but its still worth the trip even just to take in the sights. They are very well designed parks and a fun place to take photos.

We left the hotel at a bright and early 8:45AM. This also happens to be peak hour in Tokyo and we got to experience a typical Japanese packed train, complete with pusher people and all. It seemed impossible to get one person on the train let alone a group of 12, so we made sure everyone knew to get off at Ginza and spread out hoping to squeeze in wherever we could.
When we arrived, we all found each other except Lobada was nowhere to be seen - eleven out of twelve, not too bad considering the crazy crowds. Sure enough, a few minutes later he found us, he just had to wait for another train but they are so frequent here that it was no problem.

From Ginza we had two more trains to go before arriving at DisneyLand. These trains were much easier to get on! When we arrived there was a fairly big queue of people to get in. We already organised our tickets earlier, but the other group needed to buy theirs at the gate. Unfortunately they had some troubles with the credit cards, apparently prepaid TravelMoney cards have some trouble there for some weird reason!

As you walk in to DisneyLand, you find yourself surrounded by cartoon-ish buildings with cheerful music playing in the background and a great view of a castle in the distance. I had a bit of a warning about a pretty special event that was about to happen, so I had my camera at the ready. I was following Anthony and Amy towards the castle. Once we were past the shops, there was a big open area with a statue of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse’s hand. From this spot, the crowd starts to disperse from the entry out to the rest of the park which clears a great view of the castle.
This is where Anthony stopped to “tie his shoe”, he got down on one knee, staring deep into Amy’s eyes and gave a very touching speech about choosing her to be the family he wants to spend the rest of his life with before presenting her with an engagement ring. The crowd around us had all noticed Anthony proposing and had big smiles on their faces as they got their cameras out to take photos. I was taking as many photos as I could and our group along with the rest of the tourists all cheered and applauded. The expressions on Amy’s face told a story all on its own, from a look of heart-felt disbelief, a sideways glance of suspicion, a discrete smile and then the emotional struggle to hold back the tears as she accepted the ring and slid it over her finger. Before long they were both inundated with hugs and there were smiles and laughter all around.
Congratulations to both of you! I couldn’t be happier for you and I wish you all the best for your future together.

After recovering from the rush of emotions, Amy was back to leading the group through DisneyLand and we went in search of fast passes. The weather was incredibly cold, DisneyLand is built on reclaimed land, right on the water which meant there was an icy wind and no city in the way to block it! This wasn’t all bad though, just when Amy thought her day couldn’t get any better, it started to lightly snow. This was the only time we had seen snow on this trip and likely the first time most of the group had ever seen it falling from the sky like this. This fairytale-list situation was enough bring the tears back for Amy and made for a perfect day.

The group wanted to go on a nearby ride, but there were a few of us that weren’t interested, so we split up for a little bit. Sarma and I headed to a nearby cafe to get some food and some warmth. The cafe was less of a cafe and more of a food court called “The Pan Galatic Pizza Pot”. We ordered some hot drinks and some food and tried to find a table. We ended up sharing with a lady and her young daughter. They spoke enough English for us to have a nice chat and they even offered us some of their food because they couldn’t finish it! They were very nice people, we took a photo together and I emailed it to them later that night.

The rest of the day was spent going between rides, shows, gift stores and taking photos with plenty food and drink stops along the way.

Amy knew I wasn’t a big fan of rides and that we’d been here before, so as part of her massive planning effort, she documented every ride in each park and whether or not they were “Steve Friendly”. Quite an amazing effort, she had thought of everything! We joked about this becoming a stand alone website to document rides in other theme parks around the world too, complete with photos, descriptions and “Steve Ratings” - who know, maybe one day we’ll build it!

After finishing the day with the parade and fireworks show, we headed out of the park as it was closing with one last stop in the giant gift stores at the entrance.

We then made our way to “Ninja Akasaka” for dinner. We had a booking, but it took us a little while to find the place, it was actually somewhat hidden, which makes sense. When we found the place, we walked inside and everything was very dark. The receptionist confirmed our booking and explained that to enter the ninja village where the restaurant is, we would need to pass basic training and that there was a ninja in the room that would show us the way. At this point, a ninja popped out of the wall and introduced herself. We then proceeded into a hidden passage in the wall. It was a tight squeeze and we had to duck to get through, then we came across running water and the ninja performed some ninja tricks and a draw bridge came down from the other side so we could pass the water. It was quite funny, our ninja guide spoke very little English, but it was still pretty entertaining. The ninja village looked really cool, there were little rooms hidden around the place and the alleyways were all outdoors. It was intricately designed and everything was very dimly lit. We got to our room, took our shoes off and essentially crawled in as the ceiling was very low. In traditional Japanese style, we were sitting on cushions on the floor which most of us had a fairly hard time with and had to keep shuffling around, none of us were quite flexible enough but it was worth the experience either way.

Once we were seated, our guide left us with the menus - the food here was more expensive than we thought it would be, but after the entertaining entrance and a marriage proposal earlier in the day, we thought a fancy dinner was in order. We bought the tasting course for ¥5,700 (plus drinks) that consisted of the following (copied straight from there website):

  1. Shuriken star-blades Grissini
  2. Cold Appetizer of the season
  3. Chicken fritter ninja style
  4. Special stone-boiled soup (Japanese bouillabaisse)
  5. Capellini with Japanese tomato flavor
  6. Meat speciality or seafood speciality of the day
  7. Sushi of the season & today’s Sushi Roll
  8. Today’s dessert

Throughout the evening we had ninja’s popping out of about three different locations around our small room to bring us food and drinks. We even had a chef come to prepare stone soup in front of us and then finish up with a magical ninja that performed magic tricks at our table. It was quite an interesting dinner and definitely a highlight.

As we left the restaurant and started walking back to the train station, a ninja had followed us out and called to us to get our attention, then presented a banner written in English that said “Please come again”. It was a nice finishing touch to the night. After that we headed home feeling full and also fairly exhausted from a massive day!

Tomorrow’s plan is to see DisneySea, which is an entirely separate Disney theme park right next door, except this one is even bigger! So we all went to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel. We had a little bit of a later start the next day, but still made the same journey in the morning. The later start meant the three trains out to Disney was a little easier this time around. We spent the whole day wondering around the parks and didn’t leave until closing time. I’ve got a more detailed post on DisneySea, so I won’t reiterate but this park is probably the most impressive theme park I’ve ever seen and its worth seeing even if you’re like me and don’t really like rides!