Tokyo Disneyland Winter Trip Report – Part 4

Part 4 of our Tokyo Disneyland Winter Trip Report begins with disaster–and I don’t mean the awesome attraction (RIP) featuring Christopher Walken. As we prepared to grab a few photos in front of Cinderella Castle, I realized I lost my camera’s flash sometime earlier in the day. Okay, not exactly disaster, but it’s pretty important to me.

We went to Lost & Found, and spent probably 20 minutes there as 2 different Cast Members looked for it to no avail. After that, they took an incident report and wrote down our U.S. address so they could mail it to us (!!!) if it was found after we left.

We’ve lost a few other things in Japan–Sarah once left her passport on a train–and have always gotten it back. In the past I’ve joked that you’d actively have to try to lose something permanently, as honesty seems ingrained in the culture. With that in mind, I was a little worried that I had jinxed myself, and wasn’t going to get this back.

In any case, we headed back to the Central Plaza sans flash, and made due with some on-camera flash photos. The results are not anything special, but neither are my normal external flash portraits.

Kinda makes me wonder why I lug around that thing in the first place…

After that, I spent some time wandering around the Central Plaza looking at all of the Frozen Fantasy decorations. I did a couple of Facebook Live videos, but they’re really awkward, so I won’t embed them here. I was fairly exhausted at this point, and I was basically just inanely babbling throughout the video. Even at my best, I’m pretty lackluster in front of the camera, and this was far from my best.

I think the decorations for Frozen Fantasy are fine, but nothing really special. In addition to what’s around the Central Plaza, there are “hidden” Snowgies all over the place and a few other light pieces of decor.

My favorite decor remains what was up during our first Christmas trip to Tokyo Disneyland, as it seems like all of the decorations since then–for Halloween, Easter, and now Frozen Fantasy–have been scaled back by comparison.

Next up was the Frozen Fantasy Parade. I knew exactly 0 of my travel compadres wanted to watch this, but I wanted to watch it…twice…for the sake of photos. As something of a compromise, we settled on a spot ~25 minutes before the parade that offered Cinderella Castle in the background but that was not a show stop.

We could’ve grabbed this same spot 5 minutes before the parade. By contrast, the centered view where Elsa stops is constantly full an hour-plus in advance.

This view turned out to be great for action shots of the moving parade, and once the parade had passed, I doubled back to Tomorrowland and caught the stopped show from a second-row location. (I could’ve done the same with the centered view from the Partners area, but didn’t think of this until it was too late.)

I’d definitely recommend this strategy if you’re short on time and are interested in the parade, but not interested in dedicating a lot of time to it. The Frozen Fantasy Parade was better than we all expected, but not even remotely on par with the Easter, Halloween, or Christmas parades Tokyo Disneyland puts on. Those are the creme de la creme of Disney parades.

For a parade focused on a single film, Frozen Fantasy Parade was actually quite good. It reminded me of the parades Walt Disney World and Disneyland used to do regularly to promote the release of a new film, something I used to love as a kid.

While I think the floats could’ve been a little more inventive (particularly those that were just icy platforms for a single character), the costuming was gorgeous and there were a few ways that it ‘dug deep’ to provide some interesting quirks.

These birds, in particular, were a clever touch. This isn’t the greatest photo in the world, and that’s largely because I was sitting there dumbfounded by why the “mine!” seagulls from Finding Nemo were included. It took me a few seconds before that one clicked…

Marshmallow’s float was pretty cool, and I appreciated its domineering presence. It reminded me a bit of Genie from Aladdin’s Royal Caravan Parade back in the 1990s, although my memory recalls the Genie float being like 100′ tall. I think we all remember things from our childhood being much larger than actuality.

Maybe the kids watching this Frozen parade will someday regale the readers of their blogs with stories of how Marshmallow was 200′ tall “back in the day.” (Actually, hopefully this whole ‘blogging’ fad fizzles out before then.)

I also liked the little units that generated snow, making for flurries throughout the entire parade route. This was a nice touch.

In any case, it was a cool and fun parade. If Frozen Fantasy is going to be an annual tradition for the next few years, I hope they upgrade Elsa’s float to a giant ice palace. That’s one fairly obvious upgrade that could be made that would make sense. Another set of fun performers like the seagulls would help, too.

Here are a few more photos from the Frozen Fantasy Parade:

Forgetting to bring both camera bodies to the park with me, I changed lenses quite a bit during the parade, alternating between the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 and the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art. Both worked pretty well. I was especially satisfied with the 20mm–it isolated the subject while still giving me a wide perspective to capture the entire floats and the sunset.

After watching Frozen Fantasy Parade from Main Street and then (partially) from Tomorrowland, it was time for some sunset photos…

While in the neighborhood, I snapped some photos of StarJets because at some point, this attraction actually is going to close. We’ve said our goodbyes to it on the last two trips, only to find it still hanging on once the next trip rolls around.

It’s fun to see this relic of Tomorrowland in Japan, but when not viewed through the lens of nostalgia, this attraction is way overdue for replacement. Arguably, a set of rockets emblazoned with “USA” shouldn’t have existed in Tokyo Disneyland to begin with, but that’s one of the byproducts of cloning and playing off of Americana when the park originally opened.

I liked the kinetic energy of the blurred guests in this shot.

The planter just inside Tokyo Disneyland’s turnstiles was decked out for Frozen Fantasy. There are a handful of days (probably less than 30?) when this planter does not have a seasonal display, and instead features a floral Mickey Mouse. I’ve seen it only 2 days in all of our visits to Tokyo Disneyland.

As I came back through World Bazaar, I saw this beautiful scene. It’s almost like a rainbow of clouds behind Cinderella Castle, and I love the way there’s a tiny sliver of sunlight still kissing the castle’s side.

The sunset was beautiful, but all of the color was off in the distance, making it difficult to capture from most vantages in the park. Pretty much the only good photos I captured were with my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

I met back up with everyone shortly after sunset; seeing the evening rush at Hungry Bear Restaurant, we opted for Country Bear Jamboree first, hoping the crowd would die down.

While everyone else lined up for Hungry Bear (which was still a madhouse), I rushed over to Camp Woodchuck, wanting a dusk shot of the campfire. I promised I’d be back before our order was ready.

We both know this is a promise I’ll seldom keep. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m basically a photographic raccoon. If left to my own devices, I’m easily distracted by shiny objects that “need” immediate photographing.

In this case, I spent a lot of time tinkering with the campfire shot, and then waiting for the Mark Twain Riverboat to pass. Oops.

The ambiance in Westernland is perfect at dusk. Thanks to the tranquility, moody lighting, and kinetic energy the criss-crossing transportation attractions provide, it’s wonderful.

By the time I got back to Hungry Bear Restaurant and found our table in the sprawling complex, my food was lukewarm.

It didn’t matter to me. Hungry Bear Restaurant is delicious even when lukewarm, and I love the sweet, buttery curry served here. It’s amazing that the restaurant is still this busy on an off-season day right before the start of Dreamlights, but it’s worth the wait and chaos. Speaking of Dreamlights, after dinner, we quickly made our way to the parade route, hoping to find a last-minute spot. That’s where we’ll pick up on the next page. Click here to continue reading on Page 2…

10 Responses to “Tokyo Disneyland Winter Trip Report – Part 4”
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