Enchanted city: Tokyo DisneyLand

Enchanted city: Tokyo DisneyLand
Enchanted city: Tokyo DisneyLand

After a day of grazing on vendor snacks in DisneySea, we decided on more substantive fare and booked seats at the Sherwood Gardens breakfast buffet. “Breakfast” seemed like a misnomer – besides the usual selection of pastries, eggs, and bacon (from the West) and rice, miso soup, and salad (from the East), the endless countertops offered noodles and canapes, egg salad decorated with a tomato rose, hamburgers and fries for littler guests, not to mention enough fish, meat, and cakes for lunch and dinner besides.

We launched into our tour of the flagship park with a few eclectic rides: Star Tours, a drone-populated airport terminal so realistic that it roused unpleasant flashbacks to hectic travel; and the Pirates of the Caribbean. This water-based ride utterly immersed us in a bayou-like landscape as we drifted past candlelit tables — other DisneyLand guests, in fact, dining at the attached restaurant. Next we sailed right through a exchange of cannon fire, with a pirate captain to our left firing on the beleagured town to our right.

The castle at the heart of the park commanded all sightlines; we tarried inside to admire the many illustrations of the Cinderella story, from tapestries and puppets to stained glass and orgigami. The staff instructed us on activating the clever photo opportunities: a translucent shoe that mapped onto your foot, sparkles summoned by camera flash.

Then we dashed back to the Disney hotel for our lunch reservation at Canna. The night before, I had taken one look through the doors and determined to eat there immediately. If possible, the service outdid the decor: a set meal with every course designed like a work of art.

Canna restaurant in the Disneyland Hotel

Emerging contented and refreshed, we steeled ourselves to join the 100 minute line for the Beauty and the Beast castle. It merited the wait.

The castle itself impressed with painstaking detail and playful thematic development: hunting tapestries in the first room, sweetening to still life with fruits and flowers, then happy couples. The kitchen delighted with arrays of tools for palace upkeep: the irons, the candles, the silver polishing…

The ride itself carried us straight into the action of the movie, with whirling teacups for “Be Our Guest”, followed a stream of iconic scenes. We were dancing alongside Belle and the Beast; I was giddy.

Our time in the park waning along with the daylight hours, we raced to hit a handful of rides from our favorite stories — Snow White, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh — plus the undeniably iconic Small World. Disney had given it an upgrade. The colorful dolls attired in ethnic dress entranced us, with Disney characters featuring in their appropriate region to boot.

Resurrecting memories of an audio cassette tape played on family road trips, the zany announcement for Disney’s electrical parade zipped over the airwaves. We joined an orderly crowd cordoned off by park attendants to applaud the extravaganza.

With thirty minutes on the clock, we risked joining the line for Thunder Mountain – and the park attendants gamely boarded us past closing time. On our way back to the gates, winding through the American West sector, we laughed to a see a violin perched among the boxes of supplies in a full-size mock-up of a covered wagon – a tribute to our cultured past.

Then we submitted to a long, long ride on the subway to Asakusa, our chosen haunt for the next phase of our Tokyo trip.

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