Visit to Tokyo Disneyland: the First Night
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So, yesterday's post about the start of a short overnight trip to Tokyo Disneyland ended with us arriving at the train station. The station is “right at the entrance”, but as with all distances in a Disneyland, things are relative, and it was a fair hike...

Hiking Toward Disneyland -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Hiking Toward Disneyland

I should point out up front that I do realize that the picture quality in today's post is hovering somewhere around “pathetic”. We arrived at night and it was quite dark, and I didn't have my good lenses with me (due to our hotel, which was also pathetic; more on that later). I did try using my Sigma 30mm f/1.4, but it was generally so dark that I couldn't see to focus. This wouldn't have been a problem before the D700 and its amazing low-light prowess because I simply wouldn't have bothered with the camera, but now that I have hope even in darkness like this, I need to work on my technique to make the best of it. Put another way, the limiting factor in these situations used to be the equipment, but now it's me. It's always been me, but it sounds more dramatic to pretend it used to be the equipment.

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to document for our family memory what I knew a modern trip to Disneyland means for any family: a wonderfully fun experience for the kid, and a hellatious experience for the parents.

Entrance -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/3.5, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Entrance
Start of the “Parade of Lights” or some such nonsense -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 0.3 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Start of the “Parade of Lights”
or some such nonsense

We got there right at the 7:30pm start for the evening parade. Of course, we should have gotten there hours earlier if we wanted to watch it from a reasonable vantage, but we got lucky, and with the help of a patch of flowers where people couldn't stand, we found a place from where we could see it fairly well...

Whoopee -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/40 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Whoopee
There Goes Nemo Hey, even I know that one! -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 50 mm — 1/20 sec, f/4.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
There Goes Nemo
Hey, even I know that one!

The photo above is pretty amazing, I think, for its sharpness at 1/20th of a second at 50mm. Yes, the lens has VR stabilization, but I had a seven-year-old child sitting on my shoulders, so I think they sort of cancel each other out. 🙂

Anthony has seen a bunch of Disney films, but is not “into” it much, so he eventually got bored, so we moved off to try some rides and attractions. The first we came across was the Star-Wars adventure “Star Tours”, where you sit in what's supposed to be a big shuttle craft, and the room shakes and moves and pitches to the view projected up front, giving the strong feeling that you're actually in a moving vehicle.

Checking Out R2-D2 on the way to the ride -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18 mm — 1/5 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Checking Out R2-D2
on the way to the ride

What was most amazing about this was that the long and twisty pathway from the entrance to the actual attraction — designed to be as long as possible to hold as many people in line as possible — was completely empty. I'm sure that it could have easily accommodated 1,000 people in line, but since everyone was watching the parade, we just strolled right through. I almost felt guilty stopping to check out the stuff they put along the way in an attempt to distract you from how long you've been waiting.

Anyway, the ride itself was fun, though Anthony was a bit scared at first, not sure whether it was real.

The next thing we tried was the Autotopia, which is my fondest memory from when my folks took us to Disneyland (in California) when I was 10. Sadly, the thing that made it most fun – smashing into the cars ahead and behind – was not possible here, due to proximity sensors that cut the engine if you got within 15 feet or so of another car.

Still, as one might expect, Anthony enjoyed it immensely....

Starting Out on parallel lanes, as kindly arranged by the staff -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18 mm — 1/6 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Starting Out
on parallel lanes, as kindly arranged by the staff
Serious Business for the driver -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/2, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Serious Business
for the driver

He did that a few times, but with the parade over, the wait was getting longer and longer. Eventually we wandered around and found a little roller-coaster tucked into a far corner of ToonTown that had no wait at all.

First Roller-Coaster Ride with that great Tck-Tck-Tck-Tck ratchet sound as you're brought to the top of the first hill -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/8 sec, f/1.4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
First Roller-Coaster Ride
with that great Tck-Tck-Tck-Tck ratchet sound as you're brought to the top of the first hill
Photography for Dummies on a flying roller-coaster -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/25 sec, f/1.4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Photography for Dummies
on a flying roller-coaster

Anthony loved it.

Like I said, it was really empty in this off-the-main-drag corner of the park. We'd had the whole coaster to ourselves, and as we pulled into the “station”, only two people were waiting. I thought we'd just go again, but the moronic robot staff said no.... we had to get out, walk all the way around through the entrance and the long twisty passageway designed to keep 500 people placated while in line, then wait for the next coaster to arrive. Ridiculous.

The coaster that arrived when we got there again was empty... they'd rather run an empty coaster than to let people actually enjoy it. I guess the whole concept of “enjoyment without waiting” is antithesis to the whole Disneyland experience (and, indeed, we didn't run into this “problem” again during our two-day visit to the park).

We rode (and ran) several times, and one last time I stayed behind to try to get a picture. I could barely see to focus (there was no way auto-focus would work), so I just took a guess.... and failed. But you can still get a sense of the joy in Anthony's face, in the front car with Mommy...

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/100 sec, f/1.4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Swoosh if you look carefully, you can actually see him in this one as well -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/25 sec, f/1.4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Swoosh
if you look carefully, you can actually see him in this one as well

Eventually the park closed, and we took the monorail the five-minute ride to one of the on-site hotels. The five-minute ride cost the same as an hour-plus train ride from Kyoto to Osaka.

Up Way Past His Bed Time -- Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Up Way Past His Bed Time

We stayed at the Disneyland Hilton, which provides very slow service, rooms that aren't too run down, and prices that are 5× what they would be anywhere else.

Fumie had reserved a room that was supposed to be some kind of magical experience for kids, and indeed the elevator lobby had some interesting scenes painted on the walls. The room extras left a bit to be desired, though, with the highlight being this black box on the wall with a big rubber/wood “key”...

About To Get Magical -- Hyatt Hotel at Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
About To Get Magical

When inserted and turned, the shamrock lights up and a bell chimes.

Magical! ( not ) -- Hyatt Hotel at Tokyo Disneyland -- Urayasu, Chiba, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Magical!
( not )

Woohoo. The big orange shirt-jammies thing was also provided, and he liked that, too.

Anyway, most any hotel in the world will allow you to store your bags after you check out, such as if you wanted to visit Disneyland without all your luggage before heading home. The Disneyland Hilton does not provide this service, at any price; I guess with a room rate of “only” $450/night for a semi-shabby room, they feel we should count ourselves lucky merely to be there. (Rolls eyes). I grew up at a time when a hotel was $20, so that's sort of my benchmark, and my head spins thinking about spending $450 for a week, much less a day, and it just about explodes when I compare the slightly-below-bland room we got here with, say, the less expensive and 1,000× better “Deluxe Executive Suite” at the Four Seasons in Whistler, Canada that we stayed at last year.

Sigh. Anyway, knowing that I'd have to schlep all the luggage around the park the next day, I went light on camera stuff, bringing only my D700 (without the vertical grip that I normally keep on it), the 18-200VR lens that I hadn't used since a camping trip a year ago May, and the aforementioned Sigma 30mm f/1.4.


All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

I see you used the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. I don’t own very many lenses but I do own this one and it’s my favorite.

I was wondering what your opinion of the Tokyo Disney Land is like. I’m apprehensive about bring my daughter to the Tokyo Disney Land. I have this feeling like it’s not the real deal and I’m waiting to bring her to Disney Land in California. I suppose it’s every kid’s dream to go to Disney Land (at least it was for me), so I want it to be and exceptional experience for her. I guess what I’m really getting at is how different is it from the Disney Land in California? If you’ve been there that is.

It’s been my experience at the Disney Land in California, the best time to ride the rides you want to over and over is during the parade. While everyone is watching the parade the lines thin out dramatically and if you race around, you can catch quite a few rides during this time. I’ve always been an action type guy rather than an “Ooo Ahh That’s pretty!” type person so I always tried to hit up as many rides as possible during that time.

I like this post. It makes me want to bring my daughter to Disney Land more and more.

It’s exceedingly like the one in California (which I was at last 10 years ago), except most signs have Japanese under the English. Otherwise, it feels pretty much identical. —Jeffrey

— comment by Earnest Barr on November 8th, 2009 at 11:43pm JST (8 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

The Autopia brings back some mixed memories… my first of two trips to Disney World in Florida I went on the similar ride with my mother. I just barely met the age/height requirements and it seemed pretty fast. I recall I spent most of the (two) rides slamming side to side into the guide rail wailing with laughter while my mother kept a smiling face (a happy son should be encouraged, even if he is causing irreparable damage to your spine). The second trip 4 years later I was disappointed. By myself, the cars felt like it was half the speed and jarring my own spine wasn’t nearly as fun. I decided I wanted to spend most of my time with the computer displays at Epcot.

Jason… from Wisconsin, living in the UK

— comment by JasonP on November 8th, 2009 at 11:54pm JST (8 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Like a well aged scotch (sweet at first, but notes of tobacco, oak, curmudgeon and cyncism on the back of the tongue) you are easing quite nicely out of youth and into full-on, “I’ve become my father.”

This is not an insult. I’m laughing as I read through this. Our trip to Sesame Place this summer was just about the same. Every father with a kid below the age of 10 is going through what you are.

I’d say LOL, but back in my day, we didn’t say LOL, we just laughed out loud. And we didn’t have any of those stinkin’ twitty pages or facey-spaces. Blogs!? Heck we wrote in paper folios called ‘journals’ and made photographs out of poison chemicals… and we liked it! (Uphill; bothways; through the snow and of course barefoot.).

P.S. What did you eat on this trip? It was kind of interesting/fun to go to Epcot in Florida and see the Japan pavillion chock FULL of Nihonjin. Even with all the international fare, they weren’t taking any chances. Great Post!

— comment by Ron Evans on November 9th, 2009 at 11:03am JST (8 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

You used two DX lenses on the D700!?! The results from the Sigma looked great. That’s a bit of a surprise. While I knew the 18-200 projects an image circle large enough for an FX sensor once you get beyond 35mm, I didn’t think the Sigma did.

I used them in cropped DX mode, creating 6MP raw files. —Jeffrey

— comment by ed on November 9th, 2009 at 11:15am JST (8 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

This may be a dumb question, but why didn’t you use one of the storage lockers?

http://www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/tdl/english/service/io_lockers.html

Of course, I don’t really know the currency conversion, and these could be priced even more outrageously than your hotel. Or maybe they are minuscule. Who knows. I still can’t get over a Disneyland hotel refusing to watch the baggage while you see DISNEYLAND!

I actually didn’t know about those lockers, but we did know about some at the station, and availed ourselves of them on the first night. The next morning, we just shipped a suitcase home before heading to the park. —Jeffy

— comment by Marcina, USA on November 9th, 2009 at 11:41am JST (8 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink
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