June 6, 2018

Japan 2017 Trip Report - Part Five

I apologize for the longer than anticipated installment of my Japan trip. After blazing though the first part featuring Disneysea, I admit to hitting a writer's roadblock when discussing Tokyo Disneyland! Possibly due to similarities to the USA parks, I found it hard to talk about things that haven't been discussed a million times before. Nonetheless, I'm heading out for a week's vacation and wanted to get at least one installment done before I leave. I'll probably pepper this post with a bit more photos than usual, so pardon me for the imbalance of words to pictures.

The first thing that will hit you as you enter into TDL is the roof over World Bazaar (Japan's version of Main Street USA)! It's a serious aberration that breaks the illusion so carefully crafted in the American parks. I understand it was done as a means of dealing with Tokyo weather, but the cost is high. World Bazaar never really recovers from having a ceiling, feeling more like an indoor shopping mall than a stroll down a small town. Once you get over the initial shock, the theming and attention to details on Main Street still retains the high standard set by the Japan parks. There's an abundant amount of Disney performers and cast members here, more so than other areas. It's always a little jarring to watch a performance with cast members speaking in Japanese, but the level of exuberance and energy makes up for the language barrier.

Cast members here are super friendly and helpful, but I would not say that it's a big leap over the states. I was scolded a bit more this time around for not understanding their photography rules better, but that's part of their jobs.  

Christmas decorations are a little more pronounced here as opposed to TDS. The obligatory Christmas Tree stands majestically near the entrance, grabbing a large amount of attention and selfies. Even after park closing, I found it hard to photograph the tree without any people in the shots. I should have taken multiple exposures and manually remove them in post, but I actually don't mind it as it gives a better size perspective. 

The roof definitely has a visual impact on photos, but I do like the texture it gives to the sky (and with Tokyo being overcast much of the time, this can be a good thing). The above image of the cast member holding the "walk" sign reminds me of how the Japanese will initiate a "fast walk/close to running" movement as they enter the parks. The internal struggle between following Japan social rules v.s. the need to get to their destination of choice as fast as possible is quite amusing. In America, guests will pretty much run full tilt, disregarding pleas of safety from cast members...LOL!

Main street stores have the same attention to detail one expects, but there seems to be a little something "extra" when it comes to the window displays. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I sense a little more pride and personal touch coming from the artists and set designers. 

One of my favorite places to eat at World Bazaar is the Center Street Coffee House. I found it quite by accident during my first visit in 2002 (internet wasn't quite up to snuff and info on TDL was very difficult to find). My first meal there was for breakfast and I had ordered a set menu consisting of a Mickey waffle, eggs, and a yogurt. After taking a bite, I immediately wanted to order an extra yogurt...never having tasted something so creamy, smooth, and delicious. I called over the waitress and asked her for another serving, followed by a look of bewilderment on her face. She could not understand someone wanting to order an extra of something on the menu and ended up asking another waitress, who called the manager, and proceeded to have a mini conference. After much debate, they informed me that they would have to charge me extra. Totally embarrassed by all the fuss, I smiled and said "Wakarimasu" (I understand in English). I've made it a point to always eat at Center Street whenever I visit, but I now stick to the menu and abolish any thoughts of special orders!

All photographs copyright 2018 by Len Yokoyama

To be continued...

1 comment:

Mark Taft said...

Can't wait for the next installment, Len! I love how you take care to photograph cast members as they can play such a vital role in a visit to the parks.