It rained the entire time the 8th Grade was in Japan. The entire time - EXCEPT for our day at Tokyo DisneySea, which was insanely beautiful. Check out this weather!
Yes, that's the actual Pacific Ocean on the other side of the wall. DisneySea is on the coast, and the water that flows through the park is ocean water.
As my brother can attest, I have a severe case of DisneyJoy - that is to say, I am irrationally predisposed to like something because it is connected in some way with Disney. I think it's genetic. My mother's father has always said his dream was to die on a ride at Disney World, and he once rode It's a Small World so many times in a row that they put him on his own boat.
But you don't have to have DisneyJoy to love Tokyo Disneysea. It's just that lovable. Look at how much fun I'm having!
Also, I am hypnotized by Disney's skill in merchandising and branding. In the US, I'm given to understand, Disney's major merchandise items are connected to the Disney Princess line - Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, etc. In Japan, they love the animals. Now, DisneySea is distinct from Tokyo Disneyland (which is basically just the same as all the other Disneylands), and Disneyland may have more princesses. But at DisneySea, when we went past the spot to meet Ariel, she wasn't even there. But check out the crowd behind us for meeting this guy!
With me here is Naomi Sensei, APIS's Japanese teacher, whose DisneyJoy may be even more severe than mine. Donald is her favorite. And this is not merely Donald, but Donald from The Three Caballeros, a defining film of my childhood. In my family, each of the kids got to "be" one of the birds. My sister was Donald, my brother was the rooster Panchito Pistoles, and I was the parrot José Carioca.
Face to face with my childhood icon? That, my friends, is DisneyJoy.
DisneySea, like all Disney parks, is full of weenies. Here's the first one:
No, the weenie in question is not the APIS math teacher, Shelby, who joins Naomi Sensei and me here. Rather, it is Mount Prometheus, DisneySea's iconic volcano. "Weenies" is apparently the term for landmarks, at theme parks or in video games, that define an area and draw the guest/player towards it. Examples include DisneySea's American Waterfront and the Tower of Terror, or the Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle on Main Street, USA. The word "weenie" may or may not be related to the fact that most of them are, yeah, somewhat phallic. DisneySea is brilliantly designed so that all the weenies aren't visible at once. It keeps the park feeling fresh and exciting, because you never know what to expect around any given corner. As you walk towards the volcano, for instance, all you see is the volcano. But once you walk through it, you're greeted with the spire of King Triton's castle.
They're also meant to make you stop and take a picture. We fell for it!
Most days of your life have some kind of problem. A great morning you pay for with a lousy afternoon, a day that would have been perfect if it had been a bit warmer, fun activities but nobody to share them with, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. There are not many days you can point to and say, "Yeah, that was just about perfect." Maybe it's the DisneyJoy talking, but for me, this was one of those days.
Rock on, DisneySea. Rock on.