Is Disneysea the best Disney theme park?

Disneysea, Tokyo, Japan

It’s been said that Disneysea is what you get when you give the Imagineers an open cheque-book , so we couldn’t wait to check it out when we recently visited Tokyo.

DisneySea consists of seven themed areas: Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and American Waterfront. The park loosely follows the spoke and wheel pattern, popular at many of the other parks, with the hub in this instance being a 100 foot volcano.

Turning left as you enter the park you enter Mediterranean Harbor, the first part having a Portofino Bay feel, the second part is distinctly Venice. How Venice? Well, Venice enough to fool a Venetian (we tweeted a photo whilst we were there and did just that!)

Mediterranean Harbor Disneysea Tokyo

Mediteranean Harbor - Disneysea
Mediterranean Harbor

The detailing is extraordinary. Forget what you’ve seen at the other Disney Parks, this really is another level. The canal walls have water marks and moss on them, there are imperfections and erosion on the brickwork, and the buildings are individually detailed and convincingly aged. It’s no exaggeration to say it’s perfect, you truly are transported to Venice.

And this exceptional detailing continues throughout the park.  Continuing clockwise the next “land” is American Waterfront where the SS Columbia resides, an exquisite replica of a steam liner, well I say replica, I’m still not 100% sure, even after boarding it and wandering around tapping on the surfaces I can’t say if it’s a real liner or not!

SS Columbia - Disneysea
SS Columbia

And so, it continues. The park is a visual marvel. A masterpiece. The piece de resistance of theme parks.

Or is it?

Isn’t there more to consider here than aesthetics?

What about the attractions?

When the rope dropped we headed straight for Mysterious Island, and jumped on one of the subterranean vehicles at the parks No.1 attraction “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”. As the vehicle trundled through unimpressive tunnels adorned with glow-sticks, our enthusiasm started to dip, and then the finale, a short drop at a relatively mild speed and it was over….

Unfortunately this was not a one-off. It was very much a taste of things to come. I get the distinct impression the Imagineers put so much effort into the detailing of the park, that they were all burnt out when it came to the rides. It’s the first park I’ve ever been to where the queueing area is better than the attraction it precedes!

And what have you done to Tower of Terror?!

Tower of Terror Disneysea Tokyo
You are not entering the Twilight Zone

The Disney classic has been reimagined, without the Twilight Zone theme, and when I say reimagined, I actually mean ruined.

It really is a shame. I can’t over emphasise how special the park is visually, but the attractions are unforgivably poor, beautiful but entirely uninteresting.

And there’s one other thing.

I thought this was a Disney Park!

Where’s Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto, and what’s this Duffy bear meant to be??

Everywhere you look, Duffy this, Duffy that, Duffy Cupcakes, Duffy T-shirts, Duffy backpacks. What the hell is a Duffy?

So, is Disneysea the best Disney theme-park in the world?

The attention to detail is unsurpassed, and it’s a beautiful park to walk around, and enjoy the sublime detailing. But the rides are hugely disappointing, and it just doesn’t feel magical. Maybe that’s the bears fault, or maybe it’s something else, but Disney without magic, is just not Disney.

For us the best 3 Disney Parks are all still in Florida.

What do you think? Which is your favourite Disney park & why? Leave a comment below.

A crazy night at Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Robot Restaurant, Japan

Surrounded by adult entertainment establishments and Pachinko arcades, an odd combination that appear to be comfortable bedfellows in Tokyo, Robot Restaurant is a beacon of neon light in the centre of the Kabukicho entertainment district of Shinjuku.

Two giant armour clad maidens mark the entrance to the psychedelic corridor which leads you into the pre-show area. The room appears to have been decorated by Libarace’s stylist during one of his more flamboyant moments. A robot band (not actual robots) play eighties classics whilst you wait to be lead into the show proper.

Robot Restaurant Band
Robot Restaurant Band

It’s at this point that you may realise that if you’ve come here expecting to get an insight into Japanese culture you’ve probably come to the wrong place. On our visit the clientele was almost exclusively westerners, the first clue should have been the staff who, unusually for Japan, all spoke perfect English.

One other thing worth clearing up. Robot Restaurant is not a restaurant. You can get a box meal, they have snacks, beer and soft drinks, but despite the name the food is definitely not the attraction.

Once in the bowels of the building and seated either side of a broad catwalk, reminiscent of a jousting stadium, you are given one last chance to stock up on drinks. Top tip, get some alcohol inside you, you’re going to need it.

What happens next is probably best left to the photos, but I’ll have a crack at it anyway.

Firstly a small aeroplane on a stand is wheeled around the place. This is done to show the people in the front row that if they lean forward too far they are going to get a face full of robot.

Then it’s on to the first act.

The show begins with a drum, and dance routine, which momentarily could be mistaken for a tribal dance. That is until Lady Gaga emerges, riding a 7 foot fish, and wielding an electric guitar. Waves of brightly coloured nonsense eventually give way to dancing demons with wild hair and swords. The first act is wrapped up when Ryu from Street Fighter shares a carnival float with an enormous prawn, and couple of robots make a brief appearance.

Drummers at Robot Restaurant
Drummers
A girl with a guitar and a fish at Robot Restaurant
A girl a guitar and a fish
Demon at Robot Restaurant
Fuzzy haired Demon

The Interval.

I’ll just let that sink in………………………..

OK.

Look I know that sounds horrendous, but it’s not.

I don’t know if it’s the rhythmic drumming, or the visual barrage on your senses. But somehow it’s absolutely captivating.

Now, another chance to get beer.

I’m going to need that…………

Surprisingly, despite the captive audience, and the astronomical prices that can easily be found elsewhere in Tokyo, the drinks are quite reasonable.

Food and drink prices Robot Restaurant
Food and drink prices

A brief pause in proceedings is bridged by a comedy dance act, and we’re off again.

Act 2 tells the story of a green and pleasant land attacked by the villains from Mad Max. Again you are lulled into a false sense of security with a tribal dance routine. However this is soon interrupted by the arrival of the War Boys. But what the baddies hadn’t expected was that the animals of the forest would rise up to protect their land.

Enter the monkey on a trapeze………..

And when, unsurprisingly, this does not thwart the enemy, he is replaced by a panda riding a cow.

Panda riding a cow

Take that.

Still not defeated, how about a 12 foot chicken, etc. etc. etc.

ChickenShark

This madness carries on for a while, and when all hope is fading……..

Spoiler alert.

A dinosaur comes to the rescue…….

Dinosaur

Bravo.

But couldn’t you have turned up a bit earlier and saved countless lives?

Another brief interlude.

And another chance to stock up on much-needed Asahi.

The second interval act is a pretty cool dance and laser show.

Laser Show
Dancers

And, then we’re back into it.

This time we get a warning that it’s going to get a little bit crazy, and are handed some luminous batons to wave about.

The final act is where we see the robots, along with dancing horses, dancing zebras, and even zebras riding horses. There’s a giant armour clad mannequin being chauffeured about by a clown, a fully grown Pinocchio, and a parade of dances in full carnival regalia.

Horse Robot restuarant Robot Restaurant

Robots Robot Restaurant Clown with Giant

Robot Robot Horse

Well we were warned.

And then it’s all over.

Surprisingly all too soon.

Apart from that song. “Robot-Robot-Restaurant”, that’s going to be going around my head for months……….

Top Tip.

Robot Restaurant is expensive, so expensive that we almost did not go (at the time of writing 8000yen), but we’re really glad we did. It’s worth shopping around for tickets. We managed to find a whopping 15% discount with the tour and experience booking agent, Voyagin. Their booking system was simple and we received an email confirming the booking reference, so we didn’t need to go in advance to pick up paper tickets. We just showed to the restaurant at the time of our reservation. Simple…

Book discount tickets through Voyagin

Have you been to Robot Restaurant? We’d love to hear what you thought. Leave a comment below.