One way to keep the pencil pushers at bay
Disneyana fans knows that one of the real reasons that Disneyland even came into being was because Walt Disney was so passionate about trains. (In fact, one of the first very instructions that Disney was said to have given to Herbie Ryman as the original Imagineer was designing Walt's theme park was that "I want it to be circled by a train.")
This design element (I.E. The theme park circled by a train) is considered (by many) to be a signature element of the Disney theme park. Which is why some folks are confused by Tokyo Disneyland. Given that so much of that theme park is a slavish recreation of the original Disneyland and/or WDW's Magic Kingdom, why doesn't the steam train circle that theme park?
The answer may surprise you. Tokyo Disneyland doesn't have a train circling the theme park because ... Well, in Japan, any train that has two or more stops has to comply to Japanese railroad standards. Which means that Tokyo Disneyland's train line would have had to have followed an official government-set timetable as well as had all of its services controlled by the appropriate Japanese government agency.
Clearly this wasn't the sort of thing that Walt Disney Productions & the Oriental Land Company) wanted to see happen. So the Imagineers came up with an intriguing solution: They created the "Western River Railroad." Which has its one-and-only stop right on top of the "Jungle Cruise" boathouse and circles Tokyo Disneyland's Adventureland and Westernland (Tokyo's version of Frontierland).
"Why does 'Western River Railroad' only have one stop?," you ask. Because - with only one stop - WRR can then be designated as a theme park attraction, rather than an actual transportation system. Which is how the Imagineers kept Japan's pencil pushers from being able to take control of Tokyo Disneyland's railroad line.
Are you sure it's a ship?
Tokyo DisneySea has this wonderful area known as the "American Waterfront". And one of the more intriguing aspects of TDS is how the real ocean (I.E. Tokyo Harbor) actually serves as the backdrop for this part of the park. People inside Tokyo DisneySea can actually look out of the theme park and see the real sea. Except - of course - for that part of the view that's blocked by the "S.S. Columbia."
This queen of the ocean -- as well as its little tugboat - has become one of the more photographed elements of Tokyo DisneySea. Even people who are floating by in Tokyo Bay have been known to take a few photos of this classically designed vessel.
Of course, one wonders how many people would take pictures of the "S.S. Columbia" if they realized that it wasn't actually a ship. But - rather -- a well disguised building which houses many of the theme park's facilities as well as cast member break areas.
"Hey, we have them even here in Japan"
Surely you've heard about the Utilidors. That intriguing system of tunnels that runs under WDW's Magic Kingdom. Which allow cast members to quickly move around that Central Florida theme park without having any negative impact on the guests' experience.
Well, how many of you know that WDW's Magic Kingdom isn't the only Disney theme park to have Utilidors? As it turns out, Tokyo Disneyland actually has its own limited series of tunnels which run around the Tomorrowland area of that park.
Tokyo Disneyland's Utilidors really came in handy earlier this year during the cast member preview of "Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin." TDR employee were able to queue up to check out this new Tomorrowland shoot-out attraction without any guests being aware of what was going on. Pretty neat, huh?
How do you hide a big pile of pooh?
The ride building for Tokyo Disneyland's "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" is gigantic. Enormous. Big even by Disney standards. A 15,000 square meter structure deliberately built to house this new Fantasyland attraction.
And yet - when you stand inside of Tokyo Disneyland - that huge show building is completely hidden from sight. To borrow an expression from Jim Hill, "Why for?" Well, "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" is actually disguised as soundstages for Maroon Cartoon Studios in the "Mickey's Toontown" part of that park.
Which - when you think about it - was a pretty nice thing for Marvin Acme to do, don't you think? Helping Winnie the Pooh out like that.
The mother of all weenies
Did you know that -- as you approach the Tokyo Disneyland Resort from Tokyo as you're standing at the train crossing on Maihama bridge looking south -- the following structures appear in a perfectly straight line: the Tokyo Disneyland Station, the World Bazaar Roof, Cinderella Castle and Mt. Prometheus.
Doesn't that sound like a picture that should be put on a postcard.
Okay, that's enough Tokyo Disneyland Resort trivia for today.
TTFN (Tata for now)!
Andrea "Mickeyfantasmic" Monti