My Crazy Week (Tokyo Disney Sea)

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Thursday, May 15, 2008 12:51 AM
My Crazy Week (Tokyo Disney Sea)

If you don't care about the crazy details leading up to my arrival in Tokyo, please proceed to the ****

Last Friday (May 2nd) My Boss and I were discussing how our current project wasn't going well, and I offered to go to Singapore to help see to its completion. It turned out, however, that the company in Singapore was actually going to travel to Chennai, India to complete to project in order to access more rendering power (I work in CG animation). So suddenly my offer of traveling to Singapore was an offer to go to India, which meant first stopping in Washington, DC for a visa. I didn't get the approval to go until 9:05 Sunday night, and the last flight from Nashville to the DC area (Baltimore, actually) was at 9:50pm. Fortunately I had packed earlier in the day just in case I got the call at the last minute.

I arrived at the airport at 9:30 and secured a ticket, and was underway a half hour later. After picking up a rental car at BWI (which at that airport is an activity that cannot be done in less than an hour, even at 1am, I've tried several times) I was in my hotel in DC by 2:30 am. Little did I know this would be my last sleep in a bed for 4 days. I had to be at the Visa processing center at 9 am to deliver my application, and pick it up at 5:30 pm before heading to Dulles for an 11 PM flight. At 5:45 I got my visa, and I tailed the cab of a fellow last minute Indian traveler through DC Rush-hour traffic to arrive at Dulles in exactly 41 minutes. I had allowed for 2 hours to get there, so this was the first time in my trip when I could relax and take a breath, all the hard stuff was done.

I was on Qatar Airways through Doha, Qatar (A city I honestly don't think I'd heard of even 2 days before) to Chennai, and since the flight was 1/3 full I managed to stretch out across 3 seats and sleep for 8 hours straight out of the 12 hour travel time. This was a blessing as my next full night of sleep wouldn't be till Thursday. When I got to Chennai at 4am Wednesday morning I checked into the (expensive but poorly maintained) hotel for 1 hour of sleep before heading to the studio. When I arrived there I learned that things weren't going well and they were now planning to leave that evening for Singapore to complete the work there. I had been looking forward to eating in India, but I ate one meal there, and it was carry-out Pizza. A huge disappointment, but at least I didn't get sick. I did, though, have a Coke made with sugar instead of corm syrup, and it truly is different. Less sweet and more subtle, you can taste the flavors more. As different from US coke as Pepsi is.

At 11:50 Wednesday night I boarded a plane in Chennai, truly the worst airport I've ever been in, and disembarked at 6am Thursday in Singapore, truly the most fantastic airport I've ever been in. Singapore seems to be defined by a national sense of inferiority and lack of self-identity, so they build monuments to themselves out of infrastructure to mimick other places. It's a lovely country, though, and it's incredible how much construction is going on. I rode the "Singapore Flyer", currently the world's tallest observation wheel ($24 for a 30 minute revolution) and you could see a construction site downtown which was no more than a few acres but had AT LEAST 100 cranes working on it. It's too bad Universal Studios Singapore isn't open yet, but perhaps I'll be back someday.

I was supposed to leave Singapore on Sunday night but the work continued to drag out. I enjoyed my time in the city by trying to find the best 'Wonton Mee' in the neighborhood of my hotel. It was what I had for breakfast every day. Wanton Mee is a noodle dish topped with "Char Siew" (a delicious roast pork) and chili sauce, accompanied by fried or steamed meat dumplings. Singapore is chock full of "Food Centres" which are basically covered open-air food courts filled with tiny stalls selling all sorts of wonderful and terrifying foods, mainly Asian and Indian. The last day I was all excited for my last bowl of Wanton Mee, and got it 'Take away' to eat back at the hotel. It turns out the proprietor was a Chinese Muslim, so he didn't have Char Siew (Muslims don't do pork) and when I got back to the hotel I noticed he didn't give me any wontons. Fail. I also got to go to the "Night Safari" at the Singapore Zoo. It's a 40 hectare area separate from the rest of the zoo that's specifically designed for nocturnal animals, and it's only open from 7-12 each night. There's a tram ride that loops through the park as well as several lengthy walking trails that give you closer encounters. The craziest thing was the "Mangrove walk" through an aviary full of bats, both big and small. Imagine the fruit bat encounter at Animal Kingdom, then take away the little house you stand in, and make the bats really active and flighty since it's nighttime. It was crazy, getting buzzed by bats with 30 inch wingspans and being close enough to smell their banana breath.

****
welcome back to those of you who are just joining us!
On Tuesday night at 11:45 I was on my way home, but first I had to endure a 12 hour layover in Tokyo. Hmmmmm. How should I spend the time, I wonder? Oh yeah! There's a little known Theme Park there called 'Disney Sea' there that I have maybe have kinda wanted to go to since It was first announced almost 10 years ago and since I witnessed its construction site 8 years earlier. Seriously, I have not only literally dreamt of visiting this park more times than I can count, I have also had NIGHTMARES where I would visit Japan and then leave having forgotten to go to DisneySea. When the park opened I devoured all the online coverage, but since then I've shied away from reading too much, so I'd forgotten much of what I knew about the particular rides.

I would have liked to extend my trip for a day to get some night time in at TDS (and to see BraviSEAmo, a Fantasmic!-like lagoon show) and also get some time at TDL, but my presence was required back at the office Thursday to wrap up the DVD production. Anyway, the only attractions TDL has added since my last trip are "Buzz Lightyear" and "Philharmagic" and the only truly unique attraction left at TDL besides the spectacularly Kitschy "Mickey Mouse Review" (since they removed "Meet the world" and the Magical Mystery Tour) is Pooh's Hunny Hunt, which I'd dearly love to ride again someday. I arrived in Tokyo at 7:30 am (Yes, my 3rd overnight flight in a week) and took the Narita Express train to Tokyo and then the JR Keiyo line to Maihama. The Resort bus from the airport would have gotten me there sooner in the morning, but its hours in the afternoon are really lame and taking it back to the airport would've cut my time in the park short by 1 1/2 hours, so I decided to ride the train in the morning so I would be familiar with the stations when I returned in the afternoon. One missed train would potentially mean a missed flight, so familiarity seemed like a good plan. Since I only had about 6 hours in the park, I assessed my priorities and made a detailed itinerary that would maximize my chances of hitting the important stuff.

GOTO Tower of Terror. IF standby=short OR fastpass return=soon THEN ride or get fastpass
GOTO Mysterious island. If Gyoza sausage bun Queue = short, then purchase Gyoza sausage bun (x2) (These are really good, and the line to buy them, like many ODV lines at Tokyo Disney resort, can get absurdly long. Last time I was here the lines for kettle corn were longer than for any attraction besides Pooh.)
Fastpass for Journey to the Center of the Earth = GET
IF standby line for Journey <20 minutes THEN ride (This ride was my single most important score in the park, and I REALLY wanted to ride it at least twice)
GOTO 20,000 leagues under the sea via Single Rider Line
iF 20,000 leagues = great ride and Single Rider = fast way to ride then REPEAT
IF Fastpass = now then GOTO Journey
IF Fastpass = soon then GOTO Aquatopia
IF Aquatopia line = short THEN ride
GOTO stormrider, ride regardless of line
IF ability to get new fastpass = YES then GOTO Tower of Terror
fastpass for TOT = GET
If TOT standby line = short THEN ride
GOTO mermaid lagoon leisurely, enjoying mediterranean harbor on the way, since I ran through it before
If lines in mermaid lagoon = short THEN ride, otherwise enjoy theming and try to see mermaid show
GOTO Arabian coast
IF Sinbad line < 20 mins. THEN ride
IF Magic lamp theatre line < 20 mins. THEN view
GOTO Lost river delta
ride Raging spirits and Indiana Jones using Single Rider Line
IF single rider line = fast way to ride then REPEAT Indiana Jones
At that point, I will have circled the park and ridden everything mission critical. From then on I can enjoy the theming, food, and partake in any minor attractions or re-rides that time allows.

I arrived at Maihama Station (Maihama, Maihama Des) at 9:50, 10 minutes before park open. What I didn't account for in my above plan was rain. When I got off the train it was pouring. I walk/ran the pedestrian route to DisneySea (in retrospect a regret, it was further than I expected) and was purchasing my ticket at 10:01 am, completely soaked. I knew that rain at opening could be good to keep away crowds, but it also meant Journey to the Center of the Earth would be closed. I hadn't checked the weather, so I didn't know what my prospects were for the rain to clear. Each time I would get off of a ride I would pray to see a sunny sky. I determined to have a positive attittude, and to enjoy myself even if I left the park soaked to the bone, cold as heck and without having ridden the ride I was most excited about. As it turns out I would basically follow my original plan, but I would have no need for fastpasses as the machines were closed since nearly every ride was a complete and total walk on.

I charged ahead through the rain to Tower of Terror, looming over the American waterfront. It's an unbelievably gorgeous building. Since it was a walk on, though, I didn't get a good view of the outdoor queue. When they don't use that Queue, the entrance is just a quick step off of the sidewalk, unlike Florida where you still have to walk through a little bit of the garden, and the ambience begins to soak in. -1.
The lobby felt bigger than Florida's, and significantly less Eerie. The premise here is that the "New York Preservation Society" (NYPS) is offering public tours of the famous Hightower Hotel, which was built by famous explorer Harrison Hightower the Third before his mysterious disappearance. Unlike Florida after you leave the lobby you first enter a Pre-Pre Show room, where one of the lovely NYPS volunteers gives a little live backstory regarding Harrison Hightower (in Japanese) while you look at photos of Harrison Hightower's various excursions (Including photos of an excursion to the Temple of the Forbiddeen Skull! +1). THEN you enter the Pre-show room, which is entirely new. It was totally awesome, so much better than the Library in Florida. Shiriki Utundu is one of the coolest Disney theme park characters ever. The 'boiler room' is here replaced with a warehouse full of the spoils of Hightower's expeditions, and while it's very cool it's not terribly 'moody' in the way that Florida is. On the ride itself, as we all know, the Fourth Dimension room is replaced by a magic mirror effect which I assume is similar to DCA's. -5. You know what I hate most about this effect? They turned on the lights in the cars so you could see yourselves in the mirror. Turning the lights on totally ruins the atmosphere of this 'creepy' ride. What the heck? And the ride sequence is REALLY lame. -5. And the elevator doesn't go nearly as high up in that tall building as you think it should. -5. So to sum up TOT at DisneySea... decent Queue, AWESOME preshow and storyline (much better and more engaging than Florida's as it has a 'Villain') but lame ride experience compared to the original.

On to "Mysterious Island" after buying a raincoat for $5.00 that didn't fit. Oh well. That's what you get for being XL in an S country. I passed beside Fortress Exploration which was closed for refurb, which is too bad since it was one area of the park I didn't know much about. Now, whenever I've seen pictures of Mysterious Island online, I've always been kinda 'Meh'. It seems too small, and while it's got lots of rockwork that's about it, no landscaping and not much theming. What the online photos don't show is that this area of the park is truly rumbling with a kind of primal power and energy, and the 'theming' comes in the form of sound design and water effects throughout the island.. geysers and bubblers and waterfalls, etc. It's a vibrant area despite its sparseness, and I really dug it much more than I expected. As I expected, Journey was closed due to rain, but 20,000 leagues was a walk on. I had read that the side seats in these 3 seat submersibles (one front, two sides) offered a poor experience. Boy, whoever says that aint kidding.The CMs wouldn't let me wait for the front despite the lack of a line. Basically, you only can see about half of the ride and several of the story points (weak as they may be) are hidden from you. The dry for wet effect is terrific, and the sets are lushly detailed. The ending is all like 'what?' (especially from the side port) but it's a solid ride and a fun re-imagining of the old Disneyland concept. Although I wonder if they'll someday re-theme it with Nemo?

Hang a left out of Mysterious Island and you're in Port Discovery (Mysterious Island is basically the hub of the park, and from it you can be in any other part of the park in a matter of minutes. It was still raining, but of course that's no problem for Aquatopia. I got a laugh out of the CM when I asked 'Will I get Wet?'. You know, cuz it was raining. The cars never stop for loading, so it's a very efficient ride. The vehicles are really cool, being 'free roaming' cars that can maneuver in about 2 inches of water with no track. The attraction feels a bit, though, like a technology in search of a ride experience, which is a category I'd put 'Test Track' and Rocket Rods in. They have this cool thing they want to do but don't build a 'full' attraction around it (okay, yes, test track is a fully themed attraction, but the final experience of riding is nowhere near worth the expense they put into it and ultimately feels thin to me). To be fair, I didn't get the full experience, either, as most of the other cars in the water were empty, depriving me of the looks on the other rider's faces as we experience a near-miss together. Aquatopia is fun and cute, but this technology applied with the right theme (OR, perhaps, interactivity, a'la splash battle) could be spectacular. We'll talk more about that principle later.

My longest wait of the day was for Stormrider, and it was during the coldest, heaviest rain. Suck. Stormrider was the reason I had been able to previously visit Japan, as I went to stay with an Imagineer friend who was in Tokyo programming this Simulator ride. I had to ride it regardless of the queue. The pre-show was nice and did a good job setting up the story of the ride, even though I couldn't understand a word (There was a teleprompter showing an english translation of the script, but that meant you couldn't watch what was happening). The Stormrider vehicle is huge. Like unbelievably big. The ride itself is very nice. I'm not a big simulator fan (Soarin' being my favorite due to the novelty of the ride vehicle) but this one was a lot of fun, with a very well done ride film and a nice storyline.

Since it was obvious i didn't need to run around the park getting fastpasses, and since it was still raining meaning Mermaid Lagoon was probably crowded, I started diverting from the plan a bit. I proceeded to "Lost RIver Delta" to enjoy Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden (Crystal) Skull. The temple here is much more prominent than at Disneyland, and overall the outdoor queue feels a little less atmospheric (though I can't be sure since I didn't have to wait in it) This area of the park wins the THEA award for "Best themed stairways and pavement". Seriously, I am a total sucker for themed pavement. I love faux tree roots and stones and tire tracks and all that, and this area is chock full of that sort of detail. The indoor Queue for Indy starts in an expansive hall filled with scaffolding, and as you go further in the queue gets more claustrophobic a'la Disneyland. Very nice. I waited 5-10 minutes for my seat. The ride itself is very good, maybe -1 for lack of lava in the central chamber, but overall it translates quite well. The Indy animatronics were fantastic, I think they're a big step up from Cali, though I'm not certain. Indy in Cali is my favorite Disney thrill ride, and still is, but this had some fun changes. One thing I'll say is the much touted 'Smoke Ring' is just the lamest thing ever. Maybe the programming of our ride oversold it, as our vehicle stalled about 20 feet away from the idol before inching towards it, then we sped up and.. puff! ZEROED! It was so anticlimactic. Thank goodness they kept the rolling ball scene afterwards. This scene is one of the all time great theme park illusions. Love it.

It was still raining, and though Raging Spirits was running I hate rainy coaster rides. I went to the lushly detailed Arabian Coast to experience its attractions. First was Sinbad, a charming dark boat ride a'la Small World, only with a better song (by Alan Menken) and amazing animation. Though the figures are just 3 feet tall, the "A" figures in the ride display an astonishing amount of articulation. In his many appearances through the ride the SINBADs almost all had fully articulated hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists, allowing for a display of animatronics unlike anything I've ever seen. This little guy wasn't a robot, he was an ACTOR. As an animator it was so cool to see something completely new advancing the art of theme park 'live' animation, it's as big a leap forward as Buzz Lightyear in Florida was. As far as I know this is the only place Disney has used this flexible new small scale animatronic product, but I hope we see something in the states with it. The Magic Lamp Theatre was better than I expected, featuring some amazing and hilarious 3D animation of the Genie from Aladdin. As a '3D movie' it disappoints, being nowhere near the scale of Muppet Vision or HISTA, but as live entertainment it was enjoyable enough.

When I emerged from the Magic Lamp Theatre the sun was shining. I think I heard angels singing somewhere, too. Of course I raced to Mysterious Island to see if Journey was open, and indeed it was. Joy of Joys! Oh Happy Day! I wound through the unfilled queues between the expedition offices (Why is it that every attraction queue takes you through offices? Indy, Spidey, TOT, MIB, Kali River Rapids, etc etc, etc) to the TERRAVATOR. Ooooh. The Terravator is a typical disney "Elevator that isn't" that is designed to make you FEEL like you're going down down down towards the dig site beneath the earth (Think Living Seas or Florida Haunted Mansion) On my second ride, though, I realized that you go in and out through the same door. Huh. That means you actually ARE going somewhere. In this case, though, the elevator going "Down into the Earth" is actually going UP to the ride load station. The load station is full of props and theming and sounds. Its incredible. Let me talk here about the sound design and engineering throughout the park. It's amazing. From the moment you enter DisneySea you are surrounded by an envelope of sound. Sometimes its as simple as a speaker playing mood music, but you are more often than not ALSO hearing ambient sound design to create an aural atmosphere that is more highly detailed than anything I've seen anywhere else. On top of that the sound ALWAYS sounds great, both in the themed environments and on the rides. The "Journey" attraction has an extraordinarily complex soundtrack that does all sorts of neat tricks yet it is always clear as a bell and NEVER sounds recorded. The audio engineers who produced the tracks as well as the Sound Engineers who designed the sound systems throughout the park are the unsung heros of DinseySea. Yes, the environments look lovely and the rides are fun, but the soundscape design and deployment truly completes the package to make this the most highly detailed and immersive theme park ever built.

As for Journey... wow. As I said before, the 'Slot Car' technology used in Test Track felt like a great technology in search of a great attraction. Well, it found its home here. What is amazing is that for all the trouble they had getting Test Track right, it seems orders of magnitude simpler than what they do with the track here. First of all, I was amazed at how the vehicle negotiated tight turns while changing elevation. I love dark rides that change levels (I think this is one of the reasons why Knoebel's Haunted House seems so fun, anytime a dark ride goes up or down we recognize that its doing something 'hard' or at least different) and I was surpised by how much vertical change occurs throughout Journey. You start high, and then go down down down before a little pop up and then a BIIIG hill up. I knew that Journey had a drop, but I was NOT expecting a full force launch up a curving, enormous, hill followed by airtime all the way back down the hill. Make no mistake, this ride is a powered coaster. The theming is fantastic, with great visuals throughout including a dramatic underground sea in the middle of a lighting storm and a really cool Lava Worm the size of a house. The only mark against this ride is that it has no closing scene. The approach and appearance of the worm is great and suspenseful, then you blast up up up and out the mountain followed by the airtime hill, then you... slow down in a big empty tunnel and get off the ride. There is no 'Denoument', no 'Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da' Paddleboat, no 'Oh look the Dinosaur followed us home', no 'One last word from Indy after the Rolling Ball'. Imagine how those rides would be hurt by the removal of those scenes, and you understand exactly why people get off of Journey feeling like it was too short. There was no ending after the climax. It seems like it would be an easy fix, it doesn't need to be elaborate, they just need some sort of closure before the ride ends. It keep this otherwise extraordinary ride from being a perfect 10.

I rode Journey again, still with no wait, and at this point, I had completely circled the park, missing only Mermaid Lagoon and Raging Spirits. Before leaving Mysterious Island I got a web-famous Gyoza Sausage Bun (No line. Very tasty, but could've used a Teriyaki dipping sauce perhaps) and re-rode 20k leagues. I was able to wait for the front this time, and was in a capsule all by myself. These ride vehicles are extraordinary. They are HUGE. Behind the 3 benches of seats there's a whole empty area that includes a phone bay and a ladder. Lots of wasted space. Very odd. The ride was much better from the front, enough so that it seems odd they ever went through with the 3 window plan in the first place. If you only rode it once and only on the side, you would probably leave saying the ride wasn't very good. No matter. At this point I had 2 hours left and I briefly considered hopping over to Disneyland to try and ride Pooh and Splash Mountain. It would of course be another $58, and though lines were light at TDS there was no guarantee they'd be equally as light at TDL, meaning I could spend $58 and find a 2 hour line just for Pooh, which is not unheard of. On to Mermaid Lagoon!

I don't recall ever reading much about the Little Mermaid Show in Mermaid Lagoon, but I love the music in Little Mermaid so I figured it was worth a shot. Now, I've never seen "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" in Orlando, mostly because the whole puppets in blacklight thing doesn't really get me going enough to wait in a line. I wasn't expecting much more than that here, but there was no wait, which is a situation I've never seen at MGM Studios. I was baffled when I walked in, as I was expecting a proscenium theatre and instead it was a theatre in the round. On top of that, there was no visible scenery, only a small treasure chest on a platform in the center. How exactly was this going to work, I wondered?When the music started and the lights dimmed, a forest of large fans emerged from the platform, and from the fans emerged Ariel on a flying harness connected to an elaborate flying contraption above. Ahhhh, I see where this is going. In fact, the air above the audience WAS the stage, and the performance would unfold through a combination of flying puppets, dancers on the ground, and props and animatronics hung from the ceiling and walls. There aren't words to say how cool this show was. It was unwaveringly clever and beautiful and awe-inspiring. A sequence with Ursula was chilling in its impact, as her enormous flying hands and two story tall mechanical head threatened poor innocent Ariel. The songs were in English with Japanese dialogue, and as best as I can tell here's the storyline. Ariel sings 'Part of That World", then Flotsam and Jetsam show up and take Ariel and Sebstian to Ursula, where she sings "Poor Unfortunate Souls". Ursula tries to get Ariel to sign the contract to give up her voice, and... Sebastian apparently talks Ariel out of signing it. Ariel faints like she's dead, but she's not dead so she then thanks Sebastian for talking her out of signing the contract, then Sebastian and various other creatures sing "Under the Sea" for the finale while Ariel reprises "Part of That World". Yeah, ummm.. they left out that whole part where she falls in love and becomes human and all that mess. No loss, as it was really about the songs, and they were produced in spectacular fashion. The indoor Mermaid Lagoon section is super cool, with really amazing theatrical lighting everywhere and some really fun rides and playgrounds for kids. I'd love to come back here with my Family someday and see this area through their eyes. Outside Mermaid Lagoon is "Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster", which I did not just ride for the credit. I actually loove Disney's collection of RollerSkaters, and ride them whenever I can. This one seemed a custom model, with some extra bunny hops I think. The theming underneath it is terriffic, and it's a great little coaster.

Speaking of coasters, Raging Spirits was next. I wasn't expecting much, so I got a little more than I expected. The theming at the entrance and in the queue was great (more themed pavement!) and the ride was fine. I was surprised by what a gentle ride it is. If not for the loop it'd be a solid family coaster. As it is the loop seems arbitrary because it is so much more intense than the rest of the ride. The ride was about as good and well themed as you could expect an essentially off the shelf practically portable coaster to be. Fun, but I'd rather ride Thunder Mountain. I tried to re-ride Indy, but it was down for some reason. Hmm. I had barely an hour left, so I decided I would re-ride Journey and TOT and be on my way. I had been scouting the Kettle Corn booths all day, and on my way out of Lost River Delta I finally found a flavor that compelled me... Coconut Popcorn. It was every bit as good as it sounds. Journey re-ride was as fun as ever. I wish I could bottle the fun of that launch and hill. One of my favorite thrill ride moments EVER. The re-ride of TOT contained a surprise, however. I don't know how I missed it, but the first time I rode I COMPLETELY did not notice the 'Disappearing Idol' trick in the pre-show, whereby the Shiriki Utundu Idol disappears into a field of stars. I did not remember ever reading anything about it, either. So I was in complete shock this time as I'm watching the pre-show and the idol's eyes glow and he turns into stars and when the lights come back he's totally vanished. My mouth was agape. Such a cool effect, this pre-show was even cooler than I previously thought! Sadly, though, the ride program still stunk.

And that was it, just like that the day I'd been dreaming of for over 9 years was over in 5 1/2 hours. You know, we all have parks we want to get to, but the truth is that for Domestic Parks we're only ever one good DING fare and a night's hotel away, so if there's some park in the U.S. you just DREAM of going to, there's not a whole heck of a lot stopping you. Make a plan, save up, and do it. Tokyo DisneySea has loomed large in my conscience for almost a decade now, since I first heard it was in the planning stages, and I honestly wondered if I would ever get there. Now that I'm flying home I'm feeling bittersweet. The park was everything I imagined, down to the last detail. In fact, it was more than I imagined as I constantly found myself delighted by all those little sound details I was discussing. The setting is incredible, from the entry portal that is the Hotel Miracosta to the endless horizon views of Tokyo Bay that are afforded by a few carefully designed vantage points, creating the first time that a view of the world outside a theme park is actually not a distraction but a very part of the theme itself. For a park that has filled my mind for so long to deliver in every way is an astonishing achievement. I note, though, and in fact noted throughout the day that I did not experience the park as it was meant to be experienced. Aquatopia was designed to be giggled through as you share this silly experience with loved ones while careening towards cars full of likewise amused occupants. Mermaid Lagoon was built to be seen through the eyes of a child, as they laugh in wonder at the leaping fountains the same way I did in front of the Imagination Pavilion for the first time 27 years ago. I have spent and enjoyed many days alone at amusement parks, but I don't think I've ever been alone in a park that was so thoroughly designed to create connection and magical shared moments between family and friends. DisneySea is a park that is not built for thrills, but a park that is built for memories that will be shared and treasured by familes and friends forever. So I left the park with a joyful heart that I'd fulfilled a dream, but a glimmer in my eye at the emergence of a new dream. Hopefully this one won't take me another 10 years to accomplish.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008 8:02 PM
Awesome TR there, Brian! To a lesser degree I got to visit my "dream park" last year in the form of Busch Gardens Europe. It's so cool when a place you've looked forward to visiting for so long turns out to be so wonderful.
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Friday, May 16, 2008 8:13 AM
Regarding Journey to the Center of the Earth, if I remember correctly from the book (I read it years ago... will grab it again next time I go to the library), the climax of the book is the whole accelerating out of the earth before "jumping" out a volcano. So in this aspect, Imagineering got it right.
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