Scenes from Disney Parks: “Sea of Dreams”

It’s been a while since my last ‘Scenes from the Disney Parks’ post, but one of my favorite songs started playing in iTunes the other day while I was editing photos, and this idea just struck me. The result is this set of photos and another advertisement post begging you all trying to convince you to visit Tokyo DisneySea. Before we get to the photos, I implore you: please watch this video:

That is the commercial for Tokyo DisneySea’s 5th Anniversary, along with the anniversary theme song that I referenced above (here’s a higher quality, Japanese version of the commercial). For me, this commercial fully encapsulates the spirit of Tokyo DisneySea, and why it’s such a special place. I think this commercial will resonate with old school fans of Walt Disney World, especially EPCOT Center, and you’ll probably see why Tokyo DisneySea reminds me a lot of EPCOT Center, despite being very different thematically. If this commercial doesn’t make your eyes water a bit or make you want to visit Tokyo DisneySea, there’s really nothing I can write or show you that will convince you otherwise. (YOU ARE SIMPLY SOULLESS! 😉 )

My goal with this set of photos was to capture the romanticism of Tokyo DisneySea in a similar manner as what’s conveyed so eloquently in that commercial. I know that my normal vibrant style of photography doesn’t smack of ‘romanticism’, but hopefully the photos offer scenes you feel you could step inside with a loved one, feeling the glow of the sun or the warmth of the lights during an evening in the park.

All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D810 DSLR—check out my full Nikon D810 Review for more details about the camera. I also have more sample photos from the D810 here. You can click on each photo to view it in high resolution and a larger size in my gallery (please do that–WordPress compresses photos and they really lose some of their impact) and to see EXIF data on it.

If you’re a casual reader not interested in photo jargon, hopefully you still enjoy this new set of photos from Tokyo DisneySea!

While we were in Osaka–our stop before Tokyo–it became clear that a potentially debilitating typhoon was heading for Tokyo. Because of this, we cut short our time in Osaka and took an early train to Tokyo so we weren’t stranded. Within about an hour of arriving at Tokyo Disney Resort the weather got really bad, but we still had this crazy idea to head into DisneySea. What was probably an ill-advised idea turned into one my best experiences in a theme park ever, as we pretty much had the entire park to ourselves. I thought this scene of the Aquasphere during the typhoon was a fitting image.

I don’t think I’ve been shy about my love for the Cape Cod area of Tokyo DisneySea. It’s such a small area (it’s actually a sub-land of the American Waterfront), but it packs a punch. Even with Duffy-mania here, this land has a certain calm and intimacy that I just love. I’d love to jump in one of these boats and just sit on that water for hours.

There’s something about New York City late at night that has this almost mysterious vibe. I don’t really know how to articulate it, it’s the same vibe I get, oddly enough, when listening to the Eagles’ rendition of New York Minute. Maybe that song is why I get the vibe from NYC? In any case, late nights in the alleys of the American Waterfront section of Tokyo DisneySea give me that same vibe. Standing under the popcorn lights of the Broadway Theatre give a warm, fuzzy feeling that’s a nice contrast to that.

Mount Prometheus at dusk, dominating the horizon. Like a sleeping giant, Mount Prometheus always has this ominous beauty about it, as if it’s always moments away from eruption.

No single thing embodies the spirit of Tokyo DisneySea quite like the S.S. Columbia, as it houses the stellar Teddy Roosevelt Lounge, the best theme park bar anywhere, plus the eponymous S.S. Columbia Dining Room all in a regal ocean-liner setting. That setting itself is pretty ambitious, but then there’s the fact that it looks like it’s actually in the ocean! Look beyond the bay wall on the right of the photo–that’s Tokyo Bay in the Pacific Ocean, and those specks on the horizon are real boats.

Fortress Explorations is a play/exploration area that seems aimed as much at adults as it is kids. It’s a beautiful area to stroll through, offering stunning views of the park out over the water.

Several of the photos here are from the same two nights in the park, when I was really fortunate to have some amazing post-typhoon storm clouds rolling through. These sunsets seemed to last forever, with beautiful light starting well before sunset time and the sky really lighting up with color well after sunset. Both nights, I was racing around the park with tons of camera gear, going for the “epic” shots. I caught this scene out of the corner of my eye and stopped dead in my tracks. It’s nothing epic, but I just loved the way the mosaics on the front of the Arabian Coast entranceway lit up as they reflected the waning sunlight.

Here’s a “sunset” photo from one of those evenings a bit before actual sunset as the sun slips behind the lighthouse in Cape Cod. Several of the photos here were shot with my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, which I’ve been using a lot more as of late for landscapes. It really brings something different to the table than my normal ultra wide angle perspective.

This foreboding dusk sky is fitting for a scene of Indiana Jones Adventure. Walking through Lost River Delta at night isn’t exactly a romantic experience–think of it maybe more along the lines of going to a horror movie with someone special in the hopes of holding each other close. Not to say that Lost River Delta is like a horror movie, but you get the idea…

I’ve stuck with photos showing the adult side of Tokyo DisneySea for all of the shots above, but I just can’t resist sharing one of Mermaid Lagoon with the giant clouds dwarfing Triton’s Castle. For me, Mermaid Lagoon is the whimsical side of an otherwise serious park–like the Mickey Mouse ears playfully thrown into an otherwise stylish outfit.

Finally, this last one is my favorite of the bunch. Anyone who has been on these gondolas knows they are a truly magical experience (and I don’t use the word magical liberally) thanks in large part to the energetic gondoliers. As this boat was going around the harbor, I was literally running from bridge to bridge, chasing it, and trying to capture some of the sunset light in the background. When I got to this spot, I furiously began shooting with one hand, while waving to the boat with the other. The front gondolier looked to the passengers, said something in Japanese, and everyone started waving at me. For me, it was one of those moments of convergence, with the boat in the foreground, Mount Prometheus in the background, a stunning sunset overhead, and a boat full of happy guests waving. Unfortunately, my waving introduced motion blur into the best shot with everyone waving, but I really can’t complain about this one.

Want to learn more about photography to take great photos in the Disney theme parks and beyond? The best place to start is Tom’s Photography Guide, which covers a variety of topics from links to tutorials, tips, and tricks to recommendations for point & shoots, DSLRs, lenses, and more!

If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.

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Your Thoughts…

Do you feel Tokyo DisneySea’s sense of romanticism? Wish the US parks had advertising like the commercial in that video? Have any favorite photos among the shots above? Have any additional questions about how I captured these shots? Please ask or share below, and I’ll offer my feedback!

15 Responses to “Scenes from Disney Parks: “Sea of Dreams””
  1. Martha March 7, 2015
    • Tom Bricker March 8, 2015
  2. rorosen February 28, 2015
    • Tom Bricker March 2, 2015
  3. rorosen February 26, 2015
  4. rorosen February 26, 2015
  5. Jones February 26, 2015
    • Tom Bricker February 26, 2015
  6. rorosen February 26, 2015
    • Jones February 26, 2015
    • Tom Bricker February 26, 2015
  7. rorosen February 26, 2015
    • Tom Bricker February 26, 2015

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