Friday, 16 July 2010

A tale of two amusement parks

Part 1 – in which our intrepid heroes visit Tokyo Disneyland

We don’t get to go away on holiday much in our house, mainly as it’s too expensive and we don’t have enough of the folding stuff. This means we have staycations, which is great as so does everyone else these days so we are being hip and trendy like other people, as opposed to being poor.

This does mean, though, that we go on a few day trips and/or ‘short breaks’ and it is to this we turn now. So, back in May Marcus had a half term holiday of 2 days and on one of those days the Guru decided she and Marcus were going to go to Tokyo Disneyland – only the two of them, you’ll note, as I had long maintained that visiting anything to do with that old racist Walt Disney was right up there with golf and Alzheimer’s – i.e. when I do it, shoot me there and then as I will have lost my marbles and I need to be retired, permanently.

Anyway that’s what I thought but, low and behold, when we told the little fella that a trip to TDL was in the offing he was mightily excited as only a 5 yr old can be but, importantly, only if both parental entities could take him along. And so, after much wheedling, I bowed to the inevitable pressure and found myself going along as well.

So we aim to get there early, around 930am for a 10am start, not too early as this is a Tuesday in May, not a national holiday and not a school or university holiday period either, so kids older than about 4 yrs should be thin on the ground as they’ll all be studying. As we approach the gates there aren’t any queues so we smile a bit say various thanks – then we get to the turnstiles and realise that today the opening time was 930, probably a bit before, and so there are people already inside. Oh, ok, then we go through and realise that it is not a few people but a shitload of people, the place is heaving!

Nowadays at TDL they have a smart queing system, so you can buy pre-booked tickets to rides so you don’t have to wait for hours in lines; this works to an extent, except you have to wait in line for hours to get the pre-booked ticket, thereby shifting the queue to a different queue. So we really wanted to go on the new Monsters Inc ride, so we rushed there along with 1/3rd of the population of Japan and waited for about 45minutes until we got our ticket for, if memory serves, about 230pm, so for 5 hours later! We went to another popular ride to see if we could pre-book that but by the time we got there the ride time was about 7pm! Er, no thanks, not staying here that late…

So after that we decided to get on some of the less popular rides, like the Star Wars one, which was really cool whizzing through the universe and had zero queue (and amusingly scared the shit out of Marcus), and Buzz Lightyear one (which had a longish queue but wasn’t too bad). Then in need to refuelling we went to some pizza place and got a couple of somewhat stiff slices of pizza and small drinks for the GDP of Vietnam.

“And can I have a beer with that?” I asked…

“A beer! Here? In Tokyo Disneyland!? What are you, some kind of demented alcoholic wife-beating child-molester?” the serving lady shouted at me (with her eyes) before calling the Pentagon and having me transported via extraordinary rendition to Fort Bragg via Rangoon, Kabul, Algiers and Panama city, where I was kept for 72 hours in a dazzlingly white room and had classic Disney songs played constantly at ear-splitting volume before being dropped naked in a lay-by near the M3. Or something like that, but the important thing was that I didn’t get a beer. A sneer, yes, but no beer – this did not make me happy. I thought about asking if they had any crack instead, but I don’t think they would have got the joke.

After that we went to see the parade – as a show this was actually pretty good, as parades go. The song and dance routines were very song-y and dance-y, though the irony of course is that all the performers looked they had taken speedballs moments before they were unleashed on the suspecting public because no-one can look that perky for that long unaided.

So what else? We went on a number of rides or attractions that, after a while, seemed to blend into one. A lot of them, like the pirates of the Caribbean and one with small furry critters were of the ‘sit in a boat and go slowly with the flow whilst looking at the vignettes’ variety, so good in that a lot of work has gone into the production, but not really that original an idea and a bit, well, dull towards the end. We also went on an Amazon ‘river’ cruise which was in a proper boat looking at not-real animals. Lunch was actually very nice with decent sized portions but cost the other arm and leg and I still couldn’t get a beer, even in a ‘proper’ restaurant.

Oh, splash mountain was good but as we didn’t have fast-track tickets we had to wait for this one and it took nearly an hour of queuing, but at least that one had a bit of oomph about it, and proper ride rather than a sit and watch stuff ‘experience’ – also it amusingly scared the shit out of Marcus again (not literally I am glad to say), but he was most proud of himself afterwards that he survived.

And that was about it – oh, except for the long awaited Monsters Inc ride, the new pride and joy of TDL. Well, remember I mentioned the Buzz Lightyear ride? In that one you were in a trolley/car thing and you had to shoot aliens that popped up and the Zarg thing as you went around – all good fun, that one. In Monsters Inc you were in a trolley/car thing and you had to shine a torch on monsters that popped up [and then something big at the end] as you went around – all pretty much the same as the Buzz ride, just with a different backdrop.

And that was the problem with TDL, it’s basically about 3 rides which are repeated with different themes, so after you’ve done them once that’s it, you’re bored. Now on a busy weekend, when you’re only going to get to do about 3 rides, this may work well (though a rip-off), but if you can squeeze in 8 or 9 things in one day (as I said, it was busy there, but obviously not that busy as we did a lot – I would hate to be there on a bank holiday Monday during Obon…) then it gets a trifle boring.
And Mickey-fucking-Mouse is everywhere.
And you can’t get a beer anywhere.
(They could make a world of difference for the better by swapping those last two around…)

So shoot me now as I have lost my marbles and I need to be retired, permanently.

And coming soon…

Part 2 – in which the courageous team head to Tokyo Summerland