Thursday, August 24, 2023

DisneySea then ANA First Class Tokyo to Honolulu

Today we woke up at our hotel next door to Tokyo Disney Resort and we could finally visit one of the parks. Lydia was extra excited because I take all my best girls to the Tokyo parks and she knew she had finally made it to one of the top echelons.

Making me a cute little friend has netted her some extra points as well.

First we had to get back on the Disney Resort Monorail.

Japan had a problem. The prime minister called Tokyo Disney and desperately explained that the nation just didn't have enough cutesie characters to sell stuff with. Sure Disney has infinite characters and merchandise but that just wasn't enough. So Duffy the friggin' Disney Bear was created. Wikipedia sadly proclaims that "Duffy is unique among Disney characters in that he was not first featured in a Disney movie or TV show." AKA some junk character we just made up. I had the unfortunate opportunity of meeting this abomination on my very first trip to DisneySea in 2005. They've apparently multiplied since then. Disgusting.

Ok I kind of nerded out on DisneySea history.

"The idea for the park can be traced to a proposal to build a second theme park in Southern California called "Port Disney" in Long Beach, California, with the RMS Queen Mary as the main attraction. The idea was scrapped after Disney endured financial trouble with the Euro Disney project. Later the idea was passed on to the Oriental Land Company to expand their resort."

We had the opportunity to visit the Queen Mary in Long Beach before our big Hawaii trip.

We only had time to go to one of the two Tokyo Disney Parks, and DisneySea was the obvious choice. It is unique in the world whereas Tokyo Disneyland is more of a copy of the classic.

The park is divided into seven themed areas, or "ports of call". The parks opens up into Mediterranean Harbor which is a vaguely Venetian Italian type place.

You can see this park is organized a bit differently than a classic Disneyland. The classic layout is main street leading you to a castle which acts as a hub with spokes leading you to the different themed areas. Here the layout feels more organic if more difficult to navigate at times.

Japan's parks definitely have their own social sensibilities. There was a Columbus statue here, and Tokyo Disneyland is home to the only remaining Splash Mountain.

I assume this is the story of how that bear crime against humanity was born.

We sort of accidentally ended up at a live show: Big Band Beat: A Special Treat. ""Big Band Beat: A Special Treat" keeps the concept of a stylish revue featuring swing jazz in this modified version of the original show. Enjoy the fantastic dances by the Disney Friends, and most of all, you will be wowed when Mickey Mouse hits the drums!"

There was a particularly fun dessert that it took me a bit to find, but I finally tracked it down to the Zambini Brothers' Ristorante.

I ordered us an authentic Italian meal. Long pizza, spaghetti and meat balls, a churro, oolong tea, a beer, and the object of my desire: "Little Green Man". Food and everything else here is pretty reasonable. All of this cost $26.80.

The desserts are based on the claw vending machine aliens from Toy Story, otherwise known as Little Green Men, or LGMs for short. So this is sort of a pun in the Japanese language because "man" means bun. So these are little steamed dessert buns. I think there was one of each filling: chocolate, vanilla, and red bean.

The taste of success.

Mount Prometheus is sort of the symbol of the park instead of a castle.

Lydia and Ernie really liked the feeding/changing rooms here. While Ernie was munching I went on a walkabout.

The localized Disney Japanese food being sold in the gift shops was impressive. A tragedy of my life is seeing cool stuff like this that would be a good present but no one to gift it to who would appreciate it. Who shall I give my Mickey Mouse furikake?

It was yet again hot as friggin sin out here.

I wanted to make sure we took Big Ern to Sindbad's Storybook Voyage because this park is the only place it exists.

Not only is the ride fun but it features an original song, "The Compass of Your Heart" written by Alan Menken, the EGOT and eight Academy Award winning composer of the music for films such as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and Pocahontas (1995). It was a banger.

Everything was chill until there was a thunderstorm scene. There was loud noises, flashes, and water spraying on us. It was more than a first time theme park little guy could handle. Since Ernie is teething he now enjoys using my fingers as chew toys so I let him repeatedly bite me in order to feel better. I think that worked out pretty well.

We thought it was fun that they had their own Disney branded drinks, such as green tea.

Next we headed to Mermaid Lagoon. It was nice because it was all indoors and was a nice break from the blazing sun.

I thought this shop inside a whale was especially cool. I guess Monsto the whale from Pinochio was too scary because this was just a generic Sleepy Whale Shoppe.

The food at these places was especially weird and fun to look at.

We invested the time standing in the sweltering heat to get a picture taken with a character on the sweatiest day of our lives.

Minnie and Ernie hit it off. We tried to get some with us holding Ernie but the stern photographer lady informed us that it was only one photo person, and that this 4 month old baby had already had his allotment and was not allowed in our photo. Ok Hitler!

Minnie really needs to put those gloves in the wash after this because I am sweating to actual death.

While Lydia tended to the boy I headed to Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. I went on the single rider line and flew through.

Time really flew by. My mindset quickly turned from "I have all the time in the world" to speed walking just to see all the zones. Our day was cut short by heading back to the airport to go home.

I was sad to have to leave all of the legitimate characters who had been in actual Disney movies behind, but on the plus side I'd pulled off a little bit of magic: we flew over here in business class but I had wrangled a FIRST CLASS flight out of Tokyo. First class is hard to come by. This is only the third time that comes to mind. The issue isn't even the expense in points necessarily but the availability. It's so hard to find and there aren't very many seats to begin with. Many planes won't have it at all so that's an added barrier. Partially because we wanted to take the first class opportunity and partially for goofs this flight wasn't going back to the mainland but to Honolulu!

My first and probably best first class experience was on Etihad. We got to the lounge like 12 hours early and just basked in luxury. I don't expect to ever top this. I had a first class Singapore Airlines flight by myself but someone got so jealous they did everything they could to sabotage it.

Flying first class out of the country that the company is based is baller because then you get to use all of their amenities. There was a cool private check-in area, which fed into a private little security area and immigration check which was baller. There legit was no line there for either.

Anyway our first order of business was to head over to the ANA Suite Lounge.

EJM flying fancy.

There were a decent amount of food available to order. The room itself and the seating weren't that impressive honestly but the food and booze were satisfactory.

The amenity kits were nicer. The menu was a bit fancier. Maybe the tv was larger. Surprisingly we lost some things from our earlier ANA business flight. Apparently the seats are configured in a way that doesn't allow for a basinet to be installed. So that was a big bummer.

Today's amuse bouche was complicated:
"ANA signature stick
marinated sea bream with soup stock jelly
gizzard confit
mushroom duxelles & marinated shiitake mushroom"

More exotic things were quick on the heels of the amuse:
"poached octopus & water shield with citrus gelee
jellied cherry tomato
deep-fried corn & edamame wrapped in yuba
deep-fried young sweetfish with leaf bud
grilled duck & burdock root roll
Japanese omelet with conger eel & cucumber"

I got all that fancy Japanese goodness and Lydia chickened out and got the western menu. She did get some caviar though which I was jealous about.

Lydia shared some of her caviar. It has actually been a goal of mine to have airplane caviar for such a long time I had forgotten about it. Success!

Lydia had a boring ol steak while my parade of unknowns continued.
"Simmered wagyu beef with steamed yuba
squid & peach with egg yolk vinegar & yogurt
grilled eel with soy-based sauce & fried kamo eggplant
steamed rice, miso soup & Japanese pickles"

While we didn't get to have the bassinet the center wall thing did come down so we could see each other real nice.

Honolulu was a bit rough because we arrived at the hotel in the morning and were ready to rest but they didn't have a room ready for us for hours.

Hotel names are getting out of hand. We stay at the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach. The hotel was fun an historical, and first opened in 1901.

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