Tokyo DisneySea Marks 15th year: Popular Theme Park Helps Make ‘Wishes’ of Visitors Come True

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Tokyo DisneySea, the only Disney park in the world with a theme based on the ocean, is currently featuring a series of special events to mark its 15th anniversary. A special program, titled “The Year of Wishes,” will last until March 17 next year.

I recently visited the park in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, with popular voice actor Toshiyuki Morikawa to check out the latest musical show and other commemorative attractions. Morikawa voiced the role of Nicholas P. “Nick” Wilde in the Japanese-dubbed version of the blockbuster Disney animation “Zootopia.” Nick Wilde is the red fox, one of the leading characters.

To my surprise, Morikawa confessed he had never been to Tokyo DisneySea before. He said he had been in the area a couple of times, but never had the chance to enter the amusement park.
But once we entered, he told me it didn’t feel like his first visit.

“The place reminds me of something happy a long time ago. I find it relaxing,” he said. It could be that the park — which always gives visitors a warm welcome — gives adults nostalgic feelings.
Morikawa stopped to pose for some photographs in front of the Wing of Wishes — a large ship-shaped monument near the entrance.

“This is absolutely gorgeous,” said Morikawa, who was apparently galvanized by the glittering monument. “I feel like embarking on a trip.”
As the anniversary program’s main theme is wishes, all Disney characters wear what are called Crystal Wishes that glow in various colors to represent desires. For example, the red crystal that Minnie Mouse wears represents love. The blue crystal worn by Donald Duck symbolizes friends. Mickey Mouse wears a clear crystal — representing unity of all the colors of the wishes.

Visitors to the park can participate in the program by wearing a Crystal Compass — a special souvenir sold during the yearlong commemoration. Visitors will be greeted by a Wish Crystal, a special light-and-sound effect, when they successfully place the compass at Crystal Points located at seven themed ports of call in the park.

“This is just like joining an orienteering event!” an excited Morikawa said.

When Morikawa saw visitors taking photographs with the Disney characters, he said: “I hope Nick will join them some day. I’ve heard he’s already been to Disneyland in California.”

Hmm, I thought, his wish could come true if he collects enough crystals.
Then came showtime. We first watched “Out of Shadowland” — a musical that debuted this summer. With the help of projection mapping and other state-of-the-art technologies, the live entertainment features the story of a young, shy girl who overcomes her fears and anxiety. Singer-songwriter Angela Aki was among the music creators.

We moved on to see “Big Band Beat.” The revue — featuring Mickey Mouse as one of the main performers — has been changed recently.
From the very beginning, Morikawa was really into it. Being a member of a rock band himself, he apparently observed the entertainment more from a professional performer’s viewpoint.

“This is great. I wish I could watch it over and over again,” he said. “There are so many things I could learn from it for my upcoming dinner show.”

The “Tower of Terror,” a popular attraction intended to make people scream, was just across the street from the theater. Though it is one of the highlights of the park, we had to give it a miss. I would have liked to have seen Morikawa’s reaction to it.

We ended our visit by going to the Mediterranean Harbor to see “Crystal Wishes Journey,” a new show arranged for the anniversary.

One after another, boats carrying the Disney characters turned up to present a grand show of dancing and singing. It was really hard to decide where to watch as there were so many characters all over the area. Morikawa, who was watching the spectacle from the best position — right in the center — appeared to be stunned. “Oh this is so moving. I’m speechless,” he said. “It truly reflects how the park became so successful during its 15 years of devising concepts and ideas.”

Morikawa concluded that just one day wasn’t enough to appreciate Tokyo DisneySea. “It’s a great place to relax. It’s sophisticated. It’s delightful just to take a walk there,” he said. “I’ll definitely come again.”

Tokyo DisneySea opened on Sept. 4, 2001, as the second theme park at the Tokyo Disney Resort following Tokyo Disneyland. It has seven themed areas called “ports of call.” During its 15-year history, the theme park has introduced a variety of attractions, shows and facilities as the “park that will never be complete.”
By Aiko Komai / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer


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