Many of you are probably familiar with Tokyo's famous attractions -- The Imperial Palace, Harajuku, Ueno Park, Shinjuku, to name a few. Oh, and of course, there are the Disney theme parks -- Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Besides these popular tourist locations, however, there are a couple more you might not have heard much about, such as the Roppongi district and Japan's taller version of the Eiffel Tower -- Tokyo Tower. Luckily for military personnel, many of these tourist spots are relatively close to the New Sanno hotel, making travel through the city much easier than normal. Let's take a look at some of these exciting places:
Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, Chiba Opened in April 1983, Tokyo Disneyland is virtually identical to Disneyland and Disney World resorts in the U.S., but on a slightly smaller scale. The seven themed areas are named as follows: World Bazaar, Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland. Tokyo Disneyland's ability to replicate the U.S. theme park's feel so accurately makes you almost forget that you are in a foreign land. Even the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride, recently updated with characters such as Jack Sparrow from the blockbuster film franchise, is entirely in English (most other rides, however, are in Japanese).
Tokyo Disneyland can be very, very crowded, so it would be wise to make use of the Disney Fastpass system. Using a Fastpass is simple -- all you need is a Tokyo Disneyland Passport ticket (be sure to keep it safe and unfolded or crumpled while you enjoy the park). Fastpasses expedite your wait in line at popular attractions, but visitors are only allowed to use the Fastpass for a specific timeframe, and for one ride at a time. Each attraction that issues Fastpasses has a row of Fastpass ticketing machines. All you have to do is insert your passport ticket into the machine, and a Fastpass ticket will be printed for the ride, indicating your one-hour window for using the ride's Fastpass queue. The attractions that allow Fastpass ticketing are: Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, Haunted Mansion, and Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!
A hop down the Disney monorail will bring you to the entrance of Tokyo DisneySea, the newer of the two parks. Opened in September 2001, Tokyo DisneySea was crafted with a slightly more mature audience in mind. Exploration is the recurring theme of the park, with seven areas that celebrate aquatics and adventure from all over the globe. In the Mediterranean Harbor, visitors are invited to take a gondola ride around, or dine in one of their classier restaurants. In the center of the park rests Mysterious Island, where visitors get to experience the fantastic world of Jules Verne firsthand on the attractions Journey To The Center Of The Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast are designed with the younger visitor in mind, with carousels and a Pirates Of The Caribbean-esque attraction called Sinbad's Storybook Adventure. The Lost River Delta, home to the rides Raging Spirits and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple Of the Crystal Skull, sits behind Mysterious Island, and runs right into the Port Discovery, home to the popular rides StormRider and Aquatopia. This brings us to the American Waterfront, home to what is arguably the most popular ride in the entire park -- the Tower Of Terror. This Tower Of Terror differs from all the others, however, in that it is not themed after the Twilight Zone, as is the case with the other Tower Of Terrors at other Disney parks. Tokyo DisneySea's Tower Of Terror tells the tale of a greedy billionaire who disappears from his extravagant hotel one day in 1899 after stealing the miniature statue of an idol named Shiriki Utundu. Guests are ushered into one of the hotel's elevators, where the real fun begins. If you are going to use the Fastpass system, it is recommended that you use it for this ride.
After a couple of days at these parks, however, you may become all Disney'd out. Or, maybe Disney theme parks just aren't your thing. In either case, it might be a good idea to peruse the Roppongi district of Tokyo. Just a hop down the subway from the New Sanno's Hiroo Station, Roppongi is home to a wide variety of shops and restaurants, including a TGI Friday's and an Outback Steakhouse.
On Roppongi's horizon, you may take notice of another of Tokyo's most famous attractions -- Tokyo Tower. Opened in 1958 and standing at an impressive 333 meters tall, Tokyo Tower is currently the tallest structure in all of Tokyo, and is even 13 meters taller than its inspiration, the Eiffel Tower. For a nominal fee, visitors can take an elevator up to the mid-section viewing deck of the tower, which offers a view of Tokyo unlike any other. Trips up to the very top are a little extra, as are tickets to the tower's wax museum and Guinness Book Of World Records museum. Hurry and see it soon, before Tokyo Tower will officially be dethroned as the tallest structure in Japan by the currently in-construction Tokyo Sky Tree, which will open sometime in 2011.
These places listed are just a few of the exciting sights that Tokyo has to offer. For those who want their vacations as simple as possible, Misawa ITT offers trips to Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea all the time, with the next one scheduled for Feb. 14-17. Hopefully, you'll see fit to experience the fun and amazement of these places next time you visit Japan's most famous city!
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