Yeah, you've heard of Disneyland (that's the one in California) and you were probably dragged to Walt Disney World (that's the one in Florida) when you were a kid. And, possibly, if you give a rat's patootie about Disney theme parks, you might have heard they have them in other countries, but you've probably never heard of Tokyo DisneySea.
"TDS," as the Japanese call it, is what is known as a Disney resort's "second gate." If you're a WDW person, then Epcot is the second gate; if you're a DL person, then Disney California Adventure is the second gate.
In 2001, when The Walt Disney Company built Disney California Adventure, it spent one billion bucks for the park, the Grand Californian Hotel, and Downtown Disney. The same year, when The Oriental Land Company (who owns the Tokyo Disney Resort—The Walt Disney Company receives a royalty and percentage) built Tokyo DineySea, it spent three billion dollars just for the park. The Imagineers who conceive all this amazing stuff for Disney, most of which rarely gets built, got the chance to see their best creations realized. I could write a book about Tokyo DisneySea, but here are just 15 really cool things.
1. Drinking a Kirin Frozen Draft while standing beside the Nautilus. Yes, they serve Japanese beer with a frozen "head" right next to Captain Nemo's killer sub. Nice when it's 85 degrees and 90% humidity.
2. A quiet street in a small Italian town … except it's really in a theme park near Tokyo.
3. Toy? No: real, and called Mermaid Lagoon.
While it seems pretty small above ground (with only two rides on the outside), it's really an entire amusement park—King Triton's Kingdom—built "under the sea," so to speak.
You descend and discover three more rides, an amazing playground, a splash fountain, a huge theater, a restaurant, and several shops.
4. They have six different flavors of popcorn including milk chocolate, soda, and curry. The line to purchase is often 20 minutes long. The Japanese really love popcorn and the limited edition seasonal plastic buckets in which it's sold.
5. You can wear really stupid things and nobody cares.
6. The belly-dancing robots in Sinbad's Storybook Voyage.
7. Jose Carioca is there. Saludos Amigos!
8. Get into one of these iron thingies designed by Captain Nemo…
Descend 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and piss off a giant squid…
Zap him with an electric charge…
Lose energy and go where no non-themepark person has gone before…
Meet a really strange deep-sea being whose buddies push you back up to the surface (8E)
9. Amazingly, these futuristic boats were designed and built from scratch just to provide decoration and atmosphere—that's all.
10. People eat all sorts of weird shit. This is a Halloween-themed Cruella deVille giant gyoza dog. Ten points if you know what that means.
11. At the foot of Mount Prometheus, which blows its top every hour and shoots huge balls of flame into the sky, is Fortress Exploration. Dedicated to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (DisneySEA, for you fans of acronyms), this enormous area contains recreations of famous scientific experiments including a huge Foucault's Pendulum, Camera Obscura, Anamorphic Painted Room, and a full-size recreation of Leonardo DaVinci's famous Flying Machine. And they give out maps (in multiple languages) for free so you can find your way between the turrets.
12. They sell pumpkin churros at Halloween. Double yum.
13. The majestic Hightower Hotel, aka The Tower of Terror, known to cause adults to soil themselves.
Built by the bastard robber baron Harrison Hightower, whose collecting of antiquities from around the world included stealing an idol from an African tribe.
This is Shiriki Utundu, who killed Harrison Hightower 100 years ago by throwing him down an elevator shaft … and now he's going to do the same thing to you.
14. You want strange frozen confections, you've got your choice.
15. There's a goddam ocean liner moored in the park! The S.S. Columbia looks full size, but is scaled slightly down and is actually not a ship but a building. It contains a lounge, fancy restaurant, an attraction (with room for a second in the future), and a show with dancing desserts is performed dockside four times daily.
You really need to visit Tokyo for many wonderful reasons: Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland are merely two. The official website, conveniently in English.