by Faith Kitsunezaki
Upon entering the gates to Tokyo Disneyland, kids and kids at heart alike are irresistibly drawn along the boutique-lined boulevard to the captivating towers of Cinderella’s Castle. The medieval cut windows glimmer in the sunlight. And those who happen by at the right time are afforded an encounter with the princess herself in all her ethereal regality, her powder blue satin dress exquisitely complementing her kindhearted cerulean eyes.
The fanciful facade of the It’s a Small World attraction is a favorite for many. Once seated, visitors ride in boats drawn along leisurely through softly lapping water. Singing dolls representing every continent and many countries sway to the words, “It’s a world of laughter…”
Returning to the brightness outside, the aroma of lunch beckons from stalls and restaurants such as The Queen of Hearts. At this popular eatery, diners can even have their photo taken with the mascot, the eight of hearts card. Next it is time to sit down amid Wonderland flowers and Cheshire Cat smiles to freshly prepared chicken or beef, along with a large choice of vegetables, soups, breads and cakes. Once refueled by the meal, it is off to meet Alice herself and the gregarious Mad Hatter, who appear to have just popped out of a storybook. Guffaws and odd riddles punctuate the shutter sounds and flashes of cameras.
Bridgestone’s racing circuit has drivers of all ages rearing to burn some rubber in a sporty yellow, red or white race car. No driver’s license or helmet required! The metal circuit running along the track ensures there are no crashes. After revving it up on the track, a good place to relax is in The Enchanted Tiki Room. Here, audience members sit in a Hawaiian bungalow as colorful island birds led by Manu croon a rendition of Aloha E Komo Mai. Stitch also makes a surprise appearance.
Across the park in Toon Town, everything is upside down and very cartoon-like. A fun and exciting ride is Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, in which each car bumps along, moving backwards and sideways in the cartoon story. Minnie’s house is the epitome of cute, giving the feeling that Minnie has just popped out and left visitors to explore her living room and kitchen. For little ones, Chip ‘n Dale’s Treehouse provides a lot of climbing and lookout adventures.
Explorers who embark on the Jungle Cruise are greeted by a slightly crazy and somewhat bedraggled guide. Crocodiles and lions, along with other ‘wild’ animals, leer at the boat, and elephants and hippos playfully splash up streams of water. Peter Pan’s Flight creates the sensation that riders are flying over 19th century England at night in a small boat with a white sail—all on the magic of Tinkerbell’s fairy dust. For the brave of heart, yet another boat ride sends the passengers off to the world of Pirates of the Caribbean. In the gloomy gun smoke-filled ‘wild sea’ air, whelps and drunken laughter mingle with the smell of rum, and Jack Sparrow gets up to his usual mischief. This is also the backdrop for the Blue Bayou restaurant, where diners can sit at lantern-lit tables and watch the boats glide past.
Darkening skies outside provide a magical velvet arena for the illuminated night parade, allowing a final glimpse of favorite princesses, action heroes and stars. Then with sleepy eyes and tired feet, it is time to depart the enchanting world of Tokyo Disneyland and return home to dream of fantastical rides and Neverland adventures.
• Tokyo Disneyland has many family-friendly facilities including baby rooms, a lost children center, a first aid center, and stroller and wheelchair rentals.
• Those traveling long distances to reach Tokyo Disneyland will find it helpful to book one of the many hotels in Tokyo Bay.
• At the exit of Maihama station is the Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center, where visitors can check their baggage with their corresponding hotel and then head directly to the park. They can also purchase tickets to Tokyo Disneyland here.
• The Disney Resort Line is a monorail that serves Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. Disney Resort Cruiser buses shuttle passengers between the two parks and numerous hotels.
• For in-depth information about Disney Resort please check www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/index_e.html.