Disneyland is one of those places which has long mystified me regarding its popularity, especially in Japan where it is widely loved and regarded. Even your coolest looking hip-hop-type guys can often be seen over here sporting a Disney accessory of sorts amongst their apparel! Maybe it’s because us Brits generally think of Disney stuff as being something of a joke and we often use the phrase “it’s a bit Mickey Mouse” to summarise seemingly unimportant things.
Despite all that, I did take my two sisters and brother-in-law to Tokyo Disneyland back in 2004 and I have to admit that I didn’t see much reason for me to ever return there. However, a few years ago I learned that there was a Star Wars ride called Star Tours and as time went on my stance on going back changed a bit and that was further heightened when Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012. Some free tickets on top of that helped push along the idea and so a few days after returning from our (extended!) trip to Okinawa we went to the so-called magical place.
When I found out this year that some fairly large R2D2 popcorn holders were being sold exclusively at Disneyland my mind was made up that I would return there sometime to get one. As it was, my friend George (a fellow Brit who absolutely loves Disney and indeed has a season ticket for the place) managed to get me one on his regular visits to the theme park. He also informed of the BB-8 one which he also got for me and that was the one I took with me on this trip.
My sole desire was the Star Tours motion simulator ride and inevitably that was the first port of call. In total I rode it five times as there are thirteen random segments of the film meaning that, when combined, there are 96 different possible ride experiences.
The queuing system is designed to resemble a spaceport terminal with us visitors playing the role of space tourists en-route to a predetermined destination. Along the way we came across some droids and could see the Starspeeder (manned by R2D2) with C-3PO nearby.
Having collected some 3D “flight glasses” we were directed by flight agents to several simulator rides in what is a very smooth and efficient process in order to minimise the waiting time. This ride has been operating since 7th May 2013 and flies its guests on a turbulent excursion trip across the galaxy with C-3PO and R2-D2 attempting to safely return a rebel spy to the Rebel Alliance.
The ride incorporates elements of all seven ‘Star Wars‘ movies and includes appearances by Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Jar Jar Binks, Chewbacca, Stormtroopers and so on with destinations featuring Hoth, Tatooine, Kashyyyk, Jakku, Coruscant, Naboo and Geonosis. The casual visitor riding multiple times probably wouldn’t spot too many differences as some were quite subtle but for the hardcore fans this ride is a thrilling way of experiencing that galaxy far, far away. As an English speaker I’d of course prefer to have the true voice of C-3P0 as portrayed by Anthony Daniels. Maybe some headphones for non-Japanese riders could be an option!
As we exited there were posters advertising voyages to different planets in the Star Wars galaxy (above) thereby keeping up with the real spaceport theme.
At the exit was, as you can always expect in Japan, a souvenir shop (below) selling a few Star Wars-related goods but nothing really took my fancy.
The day wasn’t just about Star Wars though and we next went on StarJets and bypassed the Toontown section, one of seven zones, and went on Pinocchio’s Daring Journey which was anything but daring! Then again, if you want proper thrilling rides you go to Fuji Q Highland or even Yomiuriland or Toshimaen! Disneyland is more about rides taking you on a magical journey experienced through your eyes (not your stomach!) but thats not to say it doesn’t have a few big rides.
Having bumped into the aforementioned George (below) we rode on Space Mountain and this was my favourite ride. Beforehand, I had no knowledge of this ride so I was delighted to ride on this roller coaster in the dark which reminded me of the former Black Hole ride at Alton Towers back home in England.
Big Thunder Mountain was our final ride with George who departed afterwards. Not surprisingly this mine train roller coaster was awesome too.
Thinking we should complete the big three “mountain” rides we then rode on Splash Mountain which was our longest wait for a ride at around 40 minutes which all things considered isn’t too bad for such a main ride in a place where the queues can often be a couple of hours long, if not more!
We didn’t bother with the parade and fireworks show and instead chose to ride Space Mountain again. Whilst I’ve not exactly been converted to a Disney fan it’s fair to say that after this visit I am less cynical about the Magic Kingdom than before! Before leaving, I rode lone style on Star Tours twice more and then we headed back to Maihama Station on the JR Keiyo Line which is the closest station for both Tokyo Disneyland as well as neighbouring Tokyo DisneySea.
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