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Sunday, March 21

Tokyo Disneyland: Take Two: The Peanut Addition

When a friend offered her two extra seats to Kimono Peanut and I for a trip to Tokyo Disneyland, I hesitated only for a second before jumping on the offer.  My only hesitation was because I had already been to Disneyland and it would be nice if Kimono Hubby could go too.  Since this was a work day, though, he sadly couldn't join us.  But as you can guess, these two things were not enough to stop me from saying yes to the trip.

It was a little rougher getting there by car than we we previously made the trip.  This was all thanks to the new Disney construction that changed much of the layout in the park area.  Once we parked and started the walk to the entrance, we got out first inkling of what the crowds were going to be like... and it wasn't good.  Lines stretched back at ticketing and nothing seemed very fast moving.  Turns out that it is right before school lets out here in Japan, so perhaps a few schools were out a little early or on school trips for the last few days.  It definitely was going to be a squeezy-close kind of day.

We each paid our 5,800 yen to get in, except the Peanut who got a free pass.  Mickey is always on the other side to greet in the morning hours.  We planned on stopping by for a picture, but the line we saw made us stop in our tracks.  It would take an hour just to get to him and we would much rather give that hour to rides.  Or so we thought.

First ride - Space Mountain.  A must, right?  Now we arrived at the park at 10:15 and got in a little before 11:00.  The park had only been open for an hour and yet the line at Space Mountain would have made you think that we had madly mistaken on that point.  A sign told us the wait was three hours.  We had two young boys visiting from the states in our little entourage and they had a whole list of rides they wanted to try.  Three hours would have eaten up a good portion of the day.  We went for fast passes, getting a return time of 5:30.  What the hell?!  Our plan was to be out of the park around that time, but we took them and just figured we would figure it out later.

On to the next ride... and exactly where our little group dissolved.  StarJets apparently is a spinning ride.  One of our adults was not a spinner.  I had a Peanut and he would most assuredly be bumped from the line for his lack of height so I wasn't doing it.  Leaving one adult left to do this ride.  That line was an hour and a half.  The non-spinner and the other boy decided to head off towards Big Thunder Mountain and brave whatever line they faced there.  As I looked around, I knew that rides were not only going to be a difficult task for the two of us because of the toddler-to-wait-time ratio, but also it would just be him and I and all his gear.  I figured I might as well head off and try the most logical place for a wee one, Toon Town, and see what there was to get into.

It turned out that we made one perfect decision!  We spent time in Chip 'n Dale's Treehouse and Donald's Boat, with me carrying KP when we had to climb stairs or when the crowds got too thick.  They also had cars sitting around the area.  Nothing actually moved on them, but I am telling you this.  KP would have been thrilled if we spent all day playing on his favorite blue one.  Lines for various things surrounded us, which meant we got more 'kawai's' (cute!) than we could count.  Several brave souls actually came over and asked if they could sit with him in the car or take their picture with him.  Like he is some kind of freak with his fair skin-hair-eyes combo.  But in a sea of dark, I guess he is a bit freaky.  One girl really pushed the limit and after asking if she could take a photo with him, she jumped into the car, picked him up and placed him on her lap!  Now I am fine with people being near him, but when they actually touch him, I do get a bit more wiggy.  You can imagine that I step several steps closer just to keep a handle on things... my control issues mixed with mama overzealousness... not a good combination.  Of course, nothing happened.  I forgot.  I was standing in a sea of ultra-polite, conforming Japanese.  Or so I thought.  As we moved on, I wouldn't say that people were really using their nurtured refinement on this particular day.  Maneuvering KP in his stroller through the crowds was difficult enough, but he was stepped over, leaned over and bumped in the face with purses and Disney tags on more than one occasion.  Thankfully, he is a pretty accepting kid, with only myself left stewing over it for any length of time.

In Fantasy Land, we finally found a ride with a marker showing a wait time under an hour.  It's a Small World indicated a thirty minute wait, causing me to rush to park the stroller, grab the bag off the back and KP and rush to get a place before that could change.  Turns out we only waited twenty minutes before we were climbing into a boat with the same two women that had spent the wait time entertaining my babe with smiles and high fives.  It was on this ride that I figured something out.  He didn't give a crap if he was on a ride.  He only cared about the eye candy that surrounded him.  That knowledge would save me from a day of fretting that he was missing out on something.  For the entire ride, he sat, open-mouthed, pointing left, right, up and then back around again.  It was mesmerizing to him.  And that made me love it all the more.  When we got off, I set out again with a real plan this time... find the shows.  The action.  We stopped to watch my favorite ride, Alice's Tea Party, as the cups spun around and around.  KP loved this too.

Nearing hunger time, we set out to find a bathroom for a diaper change before settling down for some grub.  Not shocking, when we found a restroom with a changing area, we also found a line for said activity.  I hadn't been sure where to squeeze naptime in, as KP is not a stroller napper, but figured he would conk out at some point.  I really wasn't expecting it in the bathroom line.  Certainly I wasn't going to wake him as this might be the only nap he would take, so sadly I left the line and went in search of something for myself to eat while he snoozed.

Taking the round about way, I located another ride that had a shorter wait time as well as another place that could either be a ride or a show, I wasn't sure, and planned on coming back after the nap was over.  Then I settled on getting a steamed pork bun shaped like Mickey, more because the line was shorter than anywhere else than that it sounded appetizing.  Yeah.  I should have taken note of the line.  I was queasy for hours after that.

In my wanderings, I came across rows of people sitting and waiting for the parade to go by.  I had forgotten that it was going to happen, so I thought it might be something fun for myself while KP slept (if he could sleep with the loudspeakers blaring music in this area) and that he too would definitely enjoy it if he awoke.  He never did.  I stayed from start to finish, one hand on the stroller, the other on my camera.  I'm not one for parades, or even shows, but that parade was stinking awesome.  Seriously!  The costumes, the characters, the catchy little tunes!  Well done, Disney!

Several hours had passed since I had talked to anyone in our entourage, so I called to locate them.  They all had managed to get through the first lines and were now waiting in the line for Splash Mountain.  Again, this wasn't a ride for a Peanut, so I kept doing what I was doing.  If only we hadn't passed Adventureland at this point where the train started to blow its horn, I think I could have gotten a better nap out of the kid.  As it was, he was awake in seconds.  Bleary-eyed, but read for more.  After giving up on changing him in any sort of bathroom, I found the only quiet spot in all of the park and changed him right there in his stroller.

Task accomplished, we headed straight back to the rides I had found.  Lo and behold, the wait time had jumped from twenty-five minutes to fifty-five.  Umm.  Yeah.  No.  But the other thing that I wasn't sure what it was seemed an option.  We parked the stroller again, grabbed kid and bag and just started walking in until a fence stopped us.  Many people were sitting around as we moved through.  Some announcer came on, starting a rush to the front of the waiting area of which we had so easily just passed up to.  We were at the front of the line for... I just didn't know.  Something to do with Stitchy... you know him as plain old Stitch of the Lilo movie variety.

When the doors eventually opened, the crowd pushed into a circular room.  Two girls had taken up four seats.  I was down being polite as so many others had already proven they were too, so I basically just pushed them down to make room for the two of us with only a nonchalant 'sumimasen' (excuse me).  The lights in the room went out and then four lights above us came back on, illuminating four birds on the perchs.  As they jibbered and sang away in the language we have yet to learn, KP giggled.  I mean, the kind of giggle I have never heard before.  A "huh-huh... huh-huh-huh."  Apparently, these birds were wicked amusing.  When Stitchy popped out of the drum, he was less amused.  I'm pretty sure he wanted him to go the hell away and bring the birds back.  The show was... odd.  And it ended even more oddly as well as quite abruptly.  The Japanese noted this too as there was definite hesitation by the whole crowd at the end.  I say whatever... my kid liked the birds anyway.

We meandered for a bit, with KP noticing balloons everywhere we went.  He would grunt and point to each and every one.  I had planned on saving this for right before we left the park, but when we passed the man with a handful of them, I thought the Peanut might collapse in his exasperation if I didn't get him one.  So I did.  Is 'sucker' still written on my forehead?  I spent the rest of my hours trying not to let it bop every person in their face as it whipped around in a wind that was growing fiercer by the minute. 

I called again the other part of our entourage again and was so glad on my timing.  They were just getting up to the front of the line at my favorite ride, back at Alice's Tea Party!  Let me remind you that there was a non-spinner in their group, which left a perfect opening for... moi!  Our non-spinner was perfectly content to pop KP on top of his shoulders and walk around.  Little did he know the attention of the female sort he would get.  I only hope his wife found it as funny as I did. 

And so we spun.  With two boys of the right age, we spun real good like.  We spun so good that for the first time ever, I actually had to tell myself that I wasn't going to throw up.  And I loved every stinking minute of being spun.  The hardest part was getting off the ride and trying to walk in a straight line to reclaim my kid. 

Now late afternoon, we started back in the direction of Space Mountain.  We still had time so the non-spinner suggested he and the older boys head over to Roger Rabbit.  This freed up his wife which gave her and I the first opportunity of the day to just leisurely walk and talk.  And go to the bathroom.  When you are all alone with your kid and his gear in the park, going to the bathroom just isn't going to happen, especially when the bathrooms are even smaller than back home.  So I just... didn't.  For hours.  It was nice to.  Bonus - the area where we stopped had animated characters above a Tomorrowland concessions' area, which mesmerized KP for long enough for us to both wait through the (really not surprising) long lines.  Of course, this emptied space for that bucket of flavored popcorn I had been coveting all day.  Now the big decision was flavor: soy-butter, curry, chocolate or caramel.  I like the curry, but had some from the boys buckets when we waited for the tea cups.  Who can pass on caramel popcorn?  I also made sure to purchase it in a boys acceptable bucket featuring Monsters, Inc, which KP now uses to carry his tiny cars in!

Bringing finally to the last ride of the day.  We made to Space Mountain at exactly 5:30 to step into the Fast Pass lane.  This time it was the non-spinners wife who felt like sitting it out.  I asked her several times if she was sure, because this truly is the coolest roller coaster, but she assured me that she would rather hang with KP.  We left her and KP at the entrance where the strangest thing by far occurred.  A crowd of boys, aged probably in the early 20s, crowded around the Peanut.  I mean, swarmed.  This happens with girls and women all the time, but boys?  Men, I should say?  I was told later that they played an 'ET phone home' game with KP for as long as he tolerated it.  Surely a good fifteen minutes.  They would put their finger up and say their little 'ET, yada, yada' and KP would in turn put his finger to theirs.  Now surely a 1-year-old who gets laughs, smiles and claps from such a tremendous display of skill would indeed want to do this over and over again.  The boys, well men, would just keep calling over other friends to get up close and personal with their own little ET.  Am I the only one or does that sound odd to you too?

In the meantime, Space Mountain was cool.  I like the dark and not knowing which way you will be whipped to next.  And to do it with young boys, what a hoot!

Now dark and getting quite cold for our lighter day jackets, we stopped to purchase our last minute gifts.  KP already had his balloon and a small stuffed Mickey of which he has spent the past few days dragging everywhere so we were set.  Plus, the long day and lack of sleep was getting to him, so it was best to keep the Peanut moving in the direction of the car.  Plus, plus, the younger of the boys traveling with us has a little problem with obsessing.  We knew that if he caught a glimpse of the fireworks that were to start any minute, that there would be no leaving any time soon.  The adults may have been the only one to admit it, but everyone was tired and ready to go.

We worried that traffic would be bad getting out of the parking lot, but no problems there.  Anticipating a smooth and quick ride home, there was much dismay when we hit a major traffic jam.  Three hours we spent sitting... most of it in a tunnel. I used to have no fears, but after a few years of earthquakes shaking my reserve, there is one thing I cannot stand... tunnels.  Trying to think of anything but where we are and at the same time trying to keep my overly-tired and annoyed-with-his-car-seat toddler calm was enough to get me through it.  Even that long trip home wasn't enough to change anything.  Disneyland was magic for all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anyone can contact Sayuki ( and she can arrange dinners with geisha anywhere in Japan. She works as a geisha in the Asakusa district, like the geisha you met, and is the first white woman to debut as a geisha in Japanese history.