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Konnichiwa! A look at Disney in Japan

(DAY 3-THURSDAY, 1/31/01)

The Hotel MiraCosta viewed from inside the DisneySea park
The Hotel MiraCosta viewed from inside the DisneySea park

Our final full day at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort began with Tom’s emergency business issues (ugh!) that forced us to get a later start. When we finally got out of our room, we decided to head over to Disneyland briefly to purchase a collector’s piece we saw the previous day. Since this was our third day, we were allowed to park-hop, so we then headed back to DisneySea to do some shopping and experience some of the attractions we previously missed, as well as those we most enjoyed.

We spent the morning shopping at the virtually empty shops in Mediterranean Harbor and the American Waterfront. We were a bit surprised to see the types of items that are marketed to Japanese guests in comparison to what we’re used to seeing in the U.S. There were very few apparel items at all—a few different T-shirts for adults, and a bit more variety in the types of clothing for children and infants.

One of the most popular and varied items is the gift tin. In Japan, it is customary for travelers to bring gifts home from their trips, regardless of whether or not the trip is business-related or personal. An affordable and convenient gift that serves this purpose is a prepackaged box of food items. These are available at virtually any retail outlet in Japan: convenience stores, train station kiosks, department stores, etc. I’m surprised they haven’t somehow created vending machines through which these tins may be purchased. In any case, this is probably the most prolific and available souvenir item at the Tokyo Disney Resort.

There are literally hundreds of different tins available in all different sizes, containing all different types of food items. They fairly reasonably priced, too, since they are virtually guaranteed sellers. We bought quite a few just for the cute or interesting designs—much higher quality than a lot of the cookie and candy tins you might find in the candy shops on Main Street in the U.S. A lot of the food items, however, are not very palatable, and I wouldn’t necessarily count on individuals to actually enjoy the tastes, unless you buy something somewhat reliable like chocolate.

The Venetian portion of the Mediterranean Harbor area
The Venetian portion of the Mediterranean Harbor area

Some other types of widely available souvenirs include face towels (washcloth-style towels used for face towels and for napkins in lunches), clear plastic folders used by schoolchildren, lots of cell phone accessories, vinyl window clings, and stickers. Pin-trading is not as popular as in the U.S., but a number of trading-style pins are available, as are buttons and magnets. There was a lot of cheapo plastic stuff that was not very desirable to us. We also found it very difficult to find affordable age-appropriate gifts for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

We did find, however, some really neat Italian-themed Mickey Mouse merchandise in some of the Mediterranean Harbor shops. We also bought some ceramic flower pots and vases cheerfully painted with images of Pinocchio characters. There were also a variety of mosaic tiles and coasters, jewelry, pens, bookmarks, and artsy postcards; all of these were of much higher quality than what we’re used to seeing at Main Street souvenir shops in the U.S., and they were actually attractive and interesting. Shops in the Lost River Delta also had tons of really neat Indy-themed stuff with hieroglyphic-style symbols that, upon closer inspection, were really stylized figures of the Fab Five characters. We also found some neat accent pillows and a 3-foot by 4-foot area rug that is an exact replica of the Magic Carpet in "Aladdin".

After extensive shopping, we found that the most outrageously priced items were plush characters, hats, and baby and children’s clothing. The most affordable items were glasses and cups, stationery and other paper goods, pens, and pencils. Items that were non-existent as compared to the U.S. were ready-to-consume snacks (such as lollipops, bags of candy, and fudge, meant to be consumed immediately rather than given as gifts), Barbie-type dolls, collectors’ dolls, and toys.

The bridge in the Mediterranean Harbor area has many buildings on it
The bridge in the Mediterranean Harbor area has many buildings on it

Although not as prolific as in the U.S., there are collectible and limited-edition items available. We purchased a couple of Tokyo DisneySea grand opening items: a 16" heavy metal model of the Nautilus from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" that is complete with working lights and a working propeller, and a wooden boat steering wheel carved with the Fab Five characters that commemorates the grand opening of the Tokyo DisneySea resort on September 4th, 2001. We also purchased a limited edition Steiff Mickey Mouse dressed in Christopher Columbus-style dress (based on the statue outside the DisneySea gate) from Hotel MiraCosta’s MickeyAngelo gift shop.

All in all, the retail experience in Japan, though different than that in the U.S., yielded some really unique merchandise, with both Japanese and Disney theming (origami papers, incense, chopsticks, etc.). Just keep your eyes open, and you might find some really interesting and different souvenirs.

After a morning of shopping at Tokyo DisneySea, we decided to have lunch at Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante in Mediterranean Harbor. We noticed that there were three separate windows for pizza, pasta, and stew/noodle/soup dishes respectively, with salads, drinks, and desserts available at all three windows. Not wanting to have to wait in line twice, we both decided to have pizza: I had Mozzarella and Blue Cheese pizza with a side of pasta salad, and Tom had Sausage and Mild Pepper Pizza with a side green salad. Both were excellent, and we agreed this was the best food we had during our visit.

Gyoza Sausage

We then did some more shopping and rode Sinbad’s Seven Voyages in the Arabian Coast again, since we enjoyed it so much. We also decided to try a Gyoza Sausage Bun, available at some outdoor vendors scattered throughout the park. Every time we passed one of these carts there was a huge line of people waiting to get one; at one point the line at the cart inside Mysterious Island was at least 80 people long (shown above)!

We finally passed a cart in the Cape Cod area that didn’t have too long of a line and tried one; it was like a large dumpling made of rice dough (like dim sum) with mild sausage inside. I guess this is the Japanese version of a Hot Pocket sandwich (see below); it was pretty good, and also fairly affordable, and a good quick, hearty snack to grab between attractions.

Gyoza Sausage

Since all the shows seemed very popular (there were seven different shows and performance events presented while we were there), we decided to check out "Encore!" at the American Waterfront, a theater show with performances of popular Broadway tunes. Narration and pre-show information was provided in both English and Japanese, but all the songs were sung in English by western performers.

The performers were good, but the choreography and presentation were very bland. This was an hour of my life I wish I had back. I don’t know if it’s good to judge the other shows by this one, but if they are all of this quality, I wouldn’t waste my time. We don’t particularly enjoy show-type entertainment anyway, although we might make an effort to see some of the kiddy-type ones if we had younger children in the group.

We decided we had to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth again since we loved it so much. All the Fastpasses were gone for the day (it was 4:15 p.m.), so we entered the standby line (reader boards indicated a 70 minute wait, although we waited for only 50 minutes). The park seemed much more crowded than on our first day; we figured that this was because we were closer to the weekend, and there were also a lot more school groups at DisneySea on our third day.

The Magic Lamp Theater was missed
The Magic Lamp Theater was missed

It was now nearly time for the nighttime lagoon show, DisneySea Symphony. I was cold and tired, and didn’t want to do any more standing or walking in the cold wind, so I decided to go back to our room and watch it from there. Meanwhile, Tom stayed in the park to watch the show from the Fortress Explorations vantage point, right next to the three interactive cannons.

There were four small floating barges in the harbor which are used for pyrotechnic and water effects. Mickey "conducts" the effects, and the Mount Prometheus volcano is also incorporated into the show. The show was about 10 minutes long and, like the "Encore!" show, was nothing too spectacular. I guess we’re spoiled since we’ve got "Fantasmic!" back home.


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Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six



American Waterfront: Big City Vehicles (similar to Main Street old-time vehicle rides)

"Sail Away" (entertainment, outdoor stage near S.S. Columbia)

"Donald’s Boat Builders" (entertainment, outdoor stage in Cape Cod)

Mediterranean Harbor: Venetian Gondolas (outdoor gondola rides—it was too cold to do this)

"Porto Paradiso Water Carnival" (daytime lagoon show on the harbor)

"Lido Isle Meet & Smile" (entertainment, outdoor stage on harbor edge)

Mermaid Lagoon: Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster (outdoor, similar to Gadget’s Go Coaster)

Scuttle’s Scooters (outdoor, kid’s Tilt-A-Whirl-type ride)

Mermaid Lagoon Theater (entertainment, indoor show with puppets & acrobats)

Jumpin’ Jellyfish (indoor, kid’s Parachute-Drop-style ride)

Blowfish Balloon Race (indoor, kid’s Dumbo-type ride)

The Whirlpool (indoor, Mad Tea Party-style ride)

Ariel’s Playground (indoor, kid’s interactive playground area)

Port Discovery: Aquatopia (outdoor, floating vehicles spin on shallow water)

Lost River Delta: "Mystic Rhythms" (entertainment, indoor rainforest-themed theater show)

Arabian Coast: The Magic Lamp Theater (entertainment, indoor Aladdin multimedia show)

Caravan Carrousel (covered outdoor Arabian-themed Merry-Go-Round)


World Bazaar: Omnibus, Fire Engine, Horseless Carriage (same as Main Street versions)

D-Pop Magic! (entertainment, outdoor character stage show near the hub)

Adventureland: Swiss Family Tree House (same as its U.S. counterpart)

The Enchanted Tiki Room "Get the Fever!" (Tiki room animatronic show)

Mickey’s Adventureland Mardi Gras (entertainment, indoor character show)

Kona Wind (entertainment, dinner show at Polynesian Terrace)

Westernland: Country Bear Theater (indoor animatronic show)

The Diamond Horseshoe (similar to Golden Horseshoe Review show)

Mark Twain Riverboat (same as its U.S. counterpart)

Big Thunder Mountain (was under rehab, probably similar to the U.S. version)

Tom Sawyer Island Rafts (transport to Tom Sawyer’s Island, same as in the U.S.)

Toontown: Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (indoor spinning vehicle dark ride)

Minnie’s and Mickey’s Houses (indoor exploration, meet Mickey at his house)

Chip ‘n Dale’s Tree House (kid’s version of Swiss Family Robinson Tree House)

Gadget’s Go Coaster (outdoor kid’s roller coaster)

Donald’s Boat and Goofy’s Bounce House (indoor exploration and play for kids)

Toon Park (outdoor toddler and preschool playground area)

Jolly Trolley (short bouncy trolley ride, just like the one in the U.S.)

Tomorrowland: Meet the World (indoor Carousel of Progress-type show about Japanese history)

MicroAdventure (indoor, just like Honey, I Shrunk the Audience)

StarJets (outdoor, just like the old Tomorrowland attraction)

Showbase "Once Upon a Mouse" (indoor live-character theater show)

Fantasyland: Peter Pan’s Flight (indoor dark ride, same as its U.S. counterpart)

Snow White’s Adventure (was under rehab, probably same as the U.S. version)

Cinderella’s Castle Mystery Tour (walking tour thru the castle, in Japanese only)

Dumbo the Flying Elephant (outdoor, just like its U.S counterpart)

Castle Carrousel (covered outdoor Merry-Go-Round with horses)

Alice’s Tea Party (covered outdoor spinning ride, just like the Mad Tea Party)

Critter Country: Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes (under rehab, paddle your own canoe ride)


Written by Lisa Edwards, all photos by Tom & Lisa Edwards (scarlett1214@

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