Teddy Roosevelt Lounge is a bar in Tokyo DisneySea aboard the S.S. Columbia. Let that sink in for a moment. A bar in Japan. Honoring an American President. On a classic American ocean liner. It’s pretty crazy. Teddy Roosevelt is the quintessential American badass, and it’s fitting to see him honored with a bar. If he lived in today’s internet age, I have scant doubt that people would write “Teddy Roosevelt Facts” instead of wasting time with Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer, and Liam Neeson. Except with Teddy Roosevelt, they’d all be true. This lounge treats him as such, regaling guests with some epic Teddy Roosevelt legends/fables.
Setting aside the specific details of the lounge for a moment, its beauty and ambiance would be quite impressive even without the homages to Teddy Roosevelt. The woods in the lounge are rich and abound with trim and texture, the booths are all incredibly upholstered, there are overstuffed leather couches encircling a fireplace and under a beautiful ceiling mural, and the light fixtures are all beautiful. In a word, this lounge is lavish. It is an elegant and classy place to relax.
Beyond that, the level of specific detail pertaining to Teddy Roosevelt is astounding. This is one thing that continues to impress–and perplex–me about Tokyo Disney Resort. From the authenticity and quality of Jazz Era Flapper costumes worn by entertainers to the depth of a bar celebrating a US President with whom most guests are probably unfamiliar (no knock on the Japanese–I haven’t the slightest knowledge of Hideki Tojo), it’s a bit shocking. While it is perplexing since much of this is likely lost on Japanese guests, it makes sense given that the parks are largely designed by Americans and the ownership of the Tokyo parks provides Imagineers with healthier budgets than their American counterparts.
As great as this is, my big question is: “why isn’t this lounge in a US park?” When it comes to quality like this, I sometimes feel like the US parks get slighted. In some cases, rather than going for elaborate and authentic, the cheaper and easier route is taken in the US. We get the boxes on wheels of the Move It! Shake It! street party instead of detailed and period-appropriate floats, among other examples. These shortcuts by Disney are then vindicated by some fans, who don’t stress over the little things so long as ‘kids love it.’ (I’ve got news for people who say that: kids love anything, so that isn’t exactly a resounding seal of approval.)
I realize Disney Parks aren’t hotbeds for intellectuals, but sometimes it seems the US parks condescend, treating guests as if they just finished a marathon of ‘Duck Dynasty.’ People will largely comport with the standards and quality presented to them, so instead of setting the bar low, maybe Disney could try to aspire for more. But I’m heading off on a tangent that really is better reserved for another post, or is idle barroom philosophy better reserved for conversations with friends sitting at the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge.
Let’s move on to the topic at hand and take a look at what makes this lounge so special… (more…)