Tokyo Disney Resort

Oh, and summer firework festivals too

You know how I talked about the horrible weather at the end of my last post? Well, there were a few exceptions to that and (amazingly) one of them coincided with a weekday during term time when my girlfriend and I were both free. So we went to Tokyo Disneyland.

I should actually clarify that the place we went to was DisneySea rather than Disneyland. They’re in the same place, but DisneySea has more exciting rollercoasters and is generally a more adult experience. I wasn’t really expecting much (and winced at the entry fee) but the place totally destroyed my preconceptions and turned out to be the best date I’ve ever had.

To be honest I was expecting something cheap and cheesy, with the rides and attractions designed to draw your attention away from the surroundings, but I’m genuinely impressed how much effort was put into the whole place. It really feels like stepping into another world. Oh, and I would have been a lot more keen to go if anyone had told me that the theme is a cross between jazz-era America and Victorian London with some steampunk and medieval stuff thrown in for good measure. You might think that this made it a weird hodge-podge of styles and atmospheres but it’s all quite cohesive; it’s surprising how natural it feels stepping straight from Aladdin’s palace into a Leonardo Da Vinci-themed castle.

I’m rambling about something that’s very hard to describe in words, so I’ll let you get to the photos now. Unfortunately I didn’t take very many, but they don’t do it justice anyway.

Yay, sailing ships! Still one of my favourite things to look at, even when they’re obviously not historically accurate
Part of Aladdin’s palace near a seller of excellent mango ice drink thingies
One half of the park, with the Tower of Terror standing out in the background
The other half of the park, mostly food places and stuff. There are actually some pretty nice-looking restaurants, not just the candy bars I expected
So I realised after it got dark that I hadn’t taken any pictures of the volcano that’s the centrepiece of the park …

Before I wrap up, I’ll just mention two particular highlights (neither of which I have photos of). We managed to go on the first day of Disney’s Summer Festival, which meant they put on various performances including a jazz concert (my girlfriend and I have both played in jazz-ish bands so it was a bit of nostalgia for both of us) and a spectacular lights show in the evening. The lights show included boats, evil witches, flamethrowers and … well, do I need to go on?

Anyway, I have a feeling my memory may have exaggerated just how good the experience was but even so, I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who comes here!


This post was going to be entirely about Disneyland, but I thought I’d stick this in as well. Japan has a long history of letting off fireworks in summer at various events across the country — I don’t know what the reason is (except that “it’s always been done”) but it’s great sitting back on a warm evening with a drink of your choice and watching fireworks explode above the Tokyo skyline. The fireworks are certainly larger and more numerous than any New Zealand show, but due to the crowds we had to watch them from quite a long way away. It’s surprisingly annoying (for me) when the bang comes several seconds after you see the firework explode …

Weird things

  • Japan doesn’t have summer and winter time like Western countries so you don’t have to bother about changing the clocks every six months. However, this means that in summer it gets light before 5am and dark before 7pm
  • Maybe not weird, but surprising to me: Tokyo Disneyland isn’t actually owned by Disney; all the characters and locations are licensed by another company which owns all sorts of theme parks around Southeast Asia

And to finish, something I keep wondering: How did people survive in places like this before air conditioning? Or were there no humid 35° days until global warming took hold?