(As always click on the photos to enlarge and see the details… it’s worth it!)
We recently got back from a trip to Tokyo and the Tokyo Disney Resort. Of course by “We” I mean the royal “we” because Shane is afraid to leave his bedroom. I often have to coax his out with toaster pastries, Mountain Dew and the promise of a new Vinylmation figure he has never seen.
|Come on Shane, what do I need to do to get you to go?
Speaking of Shane, his last post was a hard hitting exposé of the Time Rovers in Dinosaur. In that same vein visiting Disney in Tokyo is similar to time traveling. I’ve discussed this before but the way the parks are run there (remember, Disney does not own or operate the parks in Japan) reminds me a great deal of how the parks used to be run in the states, say maybe 25 or 30 years ago. Things are clean, I mean REALLY clean. I mean shockingly, you can’t believe the place is almost 30 years old clean. Everything is just flat new looking. Even the old stuff looks new.
|Yea, no reason to come here.
For all the talk about how great the Tokyo Disney Resort is (and it truly is) and how they get better versions of all our attractions (they do) and attractions we can only dream of (yup, we just don’t have stuff that can compare) they also rarely upgrade or change existing attractions or areas. So Tomorrowland for example is the 1971 version of Tomorrowland. I mean it must of looked old in 1983 when it opened and yet it is so well kept, no sparkling new in its appearance that again it feels as though we traveled back in time to opening day.
|Go on grab it kid, it’s a rifle a freaking RIFLE my man!
Wouldn’t one of those plaques look cool in your room… COME ON!
But why is this? Do they spend more money on upkeep than the U.S. parks (or Disneyland Paris for that matter, but Disneyland Paris spends about $80 a year on upkeep so it doesn’t really count)? I’m sure they do. Is it because the Japanese somehow have a stronger work ethic and just plain out work us in terms of how they do their jobs? Again… probably… these are some virtually psychotically dedicated cast members. But I think it is something else.
|Yea, it really is just sitting out in the open like this, part of the Pooh’s Hunny Hunt line.
a box full of sharp, rusty (faux) tools yet no law suits, none stolen and not even
a crumpled Coke cup jammed in there.
I think that the very core of Japanese culture is very different than our own. Japan is steeped in ritual and customs. There is a proper and correct way to do things and an improper and unacceptable way to do things. I mean EVERYTHING. There is a “correct” way to handle money and pay for something. I mean physically a proper way to hold the money and hand it to a cashier (or in this case NOT hand it to them, money is placed in a tray on the counter and when change it handed back it is always with two hands as that shows respect). There is a proper way to blow your nose in public (you don’t, period). There is a proper way to hand someone a business card or accept one. There is a proper way to use an escalator (You ALWAYS stand to the left leaving the right half open for people to walk up). There is a proper way to eat various foods (for example you generally do not walk around and eat things like ice cream, you sit down and eat them where you bought them) or pour drinks (your dining partner pours yours and you pour theirs, don’t be an idiot and pour your own you rude slob!) Don’t even attempt to understand the dense myriad of rules about bowing, how deep to bow, to whom to bow, when to bow. Just accept that you are a foreign idiot incapable of understanding and move on.
|Yea, it’s not a joke and yes it seems insane. But guess what?
The bathrooms, even in public, are spotless and isn’t that
maybe worth a few silly signs?
Through all of this one thing that is VERY proper to do is FOLLOW THE RULES.
A rule is in place for a reason, do not question it, do not break it; observe it and you will be fine. The Japanese tend to not question rules too much and they certainly do dot scheme ways of circumnavigating them. This makes street crime virtually unheard of even in the densest parts of Tokyo… there is for all intent and purpose (or intensive purposes if you really are an idiot) no shoplifting or pick pocketing or mugging or petty theft or any of the stuff that makes living in our society a pain sometimes, because there is a rule against that.
|All this stuff is just sitting out in the open in a fast service dining location at
Tokyo Disney Sea (NY Deli). I almost grabed the top hat but thought
better of it.
One of the rules of society is that you simply do not touch stuff. I’m not sure why this came about but us Touchy McGrabersons over here must just freak them out. I guess it is our rough and tumble cowboy, pioneer spirit or something but while we feel the need to touch, grab, manhandle and mangle everything we see (just ask your Native American friends) the Japanese are more than happy to quietly observe the situation before moving on, no touching and no taking of photos either if the rules ask that you not (taking photos inside of the Tokyo Disney attractions is similar to a mission 007 would be called upon to complete).
|That’s a LOT of stuff right there!
Of course if you happen to be a guy designing a super detailed theme park in Japan your life just got a whole lot easier and the park just got a whole lot better. It is amazing how much stuff the Japanese parks have pretty much laying around. I mean small thematic details in queues, restaurants or sprinkled throughout the parks. Things that simply would be broken off, stolen and sold on eBay within moments of being put out should they dare do so in the U.S. parks.
|Tower of Terror also has stuff, it used to have more but some non Japanese visit the park
so well, you know.
Aside from the idea of these props not lasting long on U.S. soil is another issue: liability. Litigation is another U.S.-centric idea. The idea of suing the pants off of a company to get rich is not something that is ubiquitous in Japan… and so you will see things throughout Japan and in the parks that would not be possible in the U.S. of A. Look at the queue for the Pooh attraction, parts are like a garden shed full off tools and equipment. Take for example the sharp spiked rake hanging pretty much at eye level in the post show. No one steals it but likewise no one impales himself on it. They observe it, appreciate it, and then move on (unless they lose face to the rake, then they perform ritual Seppuku, those crazy Japanese).
|How nice, they provide a becnh to stand on in case the youngsters can’t reach the sharper
more deadly items.
Now don’t get me wrong. Not all Japanese are without a rebellious streak and so sometimes these items are glued or nailed down, but not always. And even if they are they are still within easy reach or simply wide open to be molested, and yet for the most part they are left alone. The net result is that things stay looking newer and fresher far longer then in the other Disney parks. Even attractions with no specific props set out still benefit. Buzz Lightyear for example. That queue is notorious for being a filthy mess in the stateside parks. Years of dirty hands rubbing and touching all the brightly colored flat walls leave them in a grubby, grungy state. In Tokyo you again feel the time travel effect as the walls shine brightly as if painted yesterday. Of course they do have increased maintenance budgets so maybe they WERE painted yesterday… but regardless they feel new.
|The Indy ride has lots of stuff to touch and grab and pry off as well, but you won’t
because you are civilized, follow rules and respect things (if you are Japanese at least).
No line cutting (rules, remember), no broken props or dirty walls, loads more detail and fun items layered into pretty much everything, spectacularly clean and a ridiculous number of well trained and dedicated employees; it really does remind me of the Disney parks from decades ago and it is a perfect storm to create the perfect park.
|Want soem nice fake fish? They are hanging there for the taking
at the Country Bear Jamboree.
So lets recap:
• We are slobs
• Japanese follow rules
• If you want really nice free authentic park souvenirs head over to Tokyo Disney with a big backpack and maybe a screwdriver
|Yup, more stuff to steal, I mean observe.
|Feel free to take these down, try them on, bring them home… or NOT you foreign slob!
|OK, most of this Tower of Terror stuff is behind a low rope but all of it is within easy
arms reach and there is much, much more that I was not stealthy enough
to get shots of before I was scolded for not following the no photo rule… how dare I?
|Yea, Pooh seems to be the king of the stuff in line. This is all just sitting there
out in the open, no fence, no ropes, no barriers… only manners keeping them