Can faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust rekindle P.K Sanjun’s love of Disney? Here’s his experience of the 35th anniversary festivities.
If you read our article about Daiichiro Tashiro’s trip to Tokyo Disney Land and Disney Sea, you may have noticed that he wasn’t the only one grooving along with the Three Caballeros in one of the pictures.
▼ At the bottom there is our Disney fanatic Daiichiro, but hang on… zoom in some more…
▼ This is another SoraNews24 reporter entirely!
That’s right, Daiichiro was accompanied by our very own P.K. Sanjun, normally more likely to be spotted roaming the streets to catch Pokémon or finding ways to score deep discounts at the local McDonalds. So why was he here, at one of the officially licensed happiest places on Earth?
“Tashiro invited me, and his eyes were so super-duper puppy-dog sparkly with excitement that I just couldn’t bring myself to say no.”
But why would anyone turn down the chance to turn a reporting gig at Disney in the first place?! Well, it turns out that P.K. has quite the checkered past with old Mickey.
“Actually, when I was a young boy I adored Disney. I was just five years old when the Tokyo Disneyland opened in Chiba, and because I lived so close I would visit it three or four times a year right up until I was a high schooler. I would dread going home so much that I’d screw up my face when I heard “When You Wish Upon A Star” play, because that meant the park was closing. Then I’d think, “I’ll come again!” and would find myself pulled back soon after.”
“But then…I think it was like, 15 years ago now? I went to Tokyo Disneyland again with about ten of my friends, and it was just awful. Just a cacophony, it was way too much for me. I was relieved the second any of the attractions finished.”
▼ P.K., haunted by dissatisfied memories
It was then that he decided he had officially become Too Old For Disney. The star-studded delights that had thrilled him as a child were now too loud, too gaudy and too much effort to put up with. P.K. decided than and there that he was never going to set foot in another Disney park again. No more trips to Tokyo Disney Land, and even the opening of Tokyo Disney Sea in 2001 wasn’t enough to tempt him back.
So when Daiichiro invited him, P.K. tried to convey this tale of disillusionment. Daiichiro, who loves Disney so much he lives in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, where the parks are located, sunnily replied: “Oh, don’t be like that! Let’s just go!”
▼ Could you say no to that face? P.K. sure couldn’t.
And so they went.
As the two men arrived at Maihama Station, P.K. fought back a newfound wave of malaise. How was he going to get through all of this over-the-top Disney cheer? Worse still, Daiichiro seemed to have received a dramatic power-up just from being in vicinity to the Magic Kingdom. He even forced P.K. to go to a souvenir store shortly after they entered the park.
“You can’t just go around dressed like that,” he chided. “Let’s not waste this day out! We’ll get you a new outfit!”
Poor P.K. wandered around the goods store, thinking I don’t want to be here!!! on repeat as Daiichiro advised him to pick out the gaudiest item in the store. “That way you’ll cast out all your embarrassment!”
▼ Shortly before the makeover
As you can tell from the image, P.K. wasn’t entirely convinced by his new attire, but Daiichiro convinced him the fetching hat and shades really suited him. Then he gave a pep-talk:
“Welcome to the kingdom of dreams and magic! Today, I’ll be your personal Walt Disney, guiding you through the wonders of Tokyo Disney Sea and Disney Land! Can you feel Tinkerbell’s magic pixie dust settling on your shoulders? You can fly! You can fly! You can flyyyyy~♪!”
How was P.K going to survive a whole day with this guy? He most definitely wasn’t going to call anyone “Walt”, least of all Daiichiro. There was a whole eight hours to go until the park closed… P.K. gritted his teeth. You can fly, he repeated to himself. You can fly.
The first port of call was maritime park Tokyo Disney Sea, which P.K. at least appreciated was more targeted towards adults – you can even drink alcohol here.
Still, it was Disney, so they were bound to spring madcap whimsy on him at some point. He girded himself.
P.K.: “So like, where’s all the dreams and magic you promised?”
Daiichiro: “What? No, it’s Tokyo Disneyland that’s the kingdom of dreams and magic. This is Tokyo Disney Sea. An ocean of adventure and imagination, hidden right in plain sight! Oh, there’s a great example! Look at that statue of Christopher Columbus. Do you know why it’s facing the Italy-themed area, Mediterranean Harbor?”
P.K.: “Uh… Well, Columbus is famous for landing in America, so…”
Daiichiro: “Nicely imagined, sir! Indeed, Columbus arrived in the Americas with the help of Spain, and he even died in Spain. But get this… He was actually Italian!”
P.K.: “So he’s looking out towards his hometown?”
Daiichiro: “Correctamundo! It’s not like he’s just stood there for no reason. They arranged him like that to get your imagination fired up!”
P.K.: “Huh. That’s… kind of nice, I guess.”
The revelations didn’t stop there. P.K.’s critical eye was soon drawn to the mascot of Tokyo Disney Sea, Duffy the Disney Bear. During Daiichiro’s effusive tour spiel about the park, he paused in Cape Cod to mention that it was one of Duffy’s most popular hang-out spots.
P.K: “Duffy, huh. The little bear guy? Why the heck is he so popular, anyway? Mickey and Donald I get, they’re established characters, but you can’t just give a basic teddy bear a name and act like it’s something special.”
Daiichiro: “Wait, excuse me? Sanjun… Did you just say that Duffy is a ‘basic teddy bear?’”
P.K.: “He isn’t?”
Daiichiro: “Duffy is a special teddy bear made by Minnie. She gave it to Mickey so that he wouldn’t be lonely when he traveled out on the sea. Mickey was so delighted with Minnie’s present he hugged Duffy really tight, and do you know what happened then? Mickey’s happiness lit up Duffy’s very face!”
P.K.: “You lost me again.”
Daiichiro: “Take another look at Duffy’s face. Can’t you see Mickey?”
P.K.: “I see it! The white spots on his face make a Mickey Mouse shape!”
Daiichiro: “Right, and it’s not just his face! Each of his paws has that same shape. You see, he’s a very special bear, all packed with love and warm feelings. Imagineering at its finest!”
P.K. hated to admit it, but he was thoroughly impressed by all the foresight and planning the Disney team had put into that little bear. Looking at him again, Duffy even seemed… kind of cute…?
The rest of the tour of Disney Sea was accompanied with more cheerful narrative from our Disney devotee Daiichiro, and P.K. actually found that he was enjoying himself. Trivia or not, the scenic views of Tokyo Disney Sea are nothing to sniff at!
With Tokyo Disney Sea tackled, it was time to head to the kingdom of magic and dreams itself: Tokyo Disneyland. The two gentlemen settled down to watch July’s special show, “Hello, New York!”. When the show finished, P.K. couldn’t help but notice that Daiichiro, who had spent the entire day fizzing and bubbling with Disney cheer, was strangely silent.
P.K.: “Wow, that show was great. They really pulled out all the stops! Where are we headed now?”
P.K.: “You okay?”
After a lengthy silence, Daiichiro croaked: “I cried twice.”
P.K. was lost for words. “Hello, New York!” was an overwhelmingly happy story about all the Disney characters having a fun day of tourist delights! What parts were there even to cry about? As he tried desperately to think of when he should have been sobbing, Daiichiro explained: “It was so happy. Happier than I could have imagined… I can’t believe there’s a perfect, happy show like this in the world…”
P.K. looked frantically left and right. Not one of the other guests was weeping! This deep emotional chord was reserved only for a pure-hearted Disney maniac like Daiichiro Tashiro. As Daiichiro wiped his eyes, the conversation naturally turned to other theme park performances the two of them had seen.
Daiichiro: “So how did you feel about the Electrical Parade back in the day, Sanjun?”
P.K.: “Well, it had great music, and a lot of characters showed up… I went nuts about it when I was a kid. I’m a bit worried about what you mean when you ask ‘how did you feel’, though. Did I miss some hidden meaning or character or something?”
Daiichiro: “No, what I mean is… What’s your perspective on it?”
P.K.: “Perspective? Like an economic perspective? When I think of it like that, I guess it costs a ton of money just to power all those lights for one performance -”
Daiichiro: “I always watch the parade… while imagining that Walt is watching down on me from above.”
▼ “You know, Walt loved the smiles of his guests more than anything else. So rather than thinking about watching the parade, I think about how happy he would be to see all of us watching and enjoying it. It’s probably selfish to think that, I guess, but before I knew it I was crying…“
The other shows, both the dance-themed “Let’s Parti Gras!” and the castle light show “Celebrate! Tokyo Disney” passed in a spectacular blur, and soon the eight hours of Disney delights were finished and done with. And as for P.K.? Even though he had started this trip determined to be anywhere else in the world, he had to admit he’d had a really good time. The constant trivia tidbits definitely helped – he didn’t feel like they’d even scratched the surface of all the plans and stories and fun facts the park had to offer.
The more P.K thought on it, the more he felt like he could appreciate the love and care put into building a park where the guest’s experience is paramount. Every little thing had its justification for being there… Everything sparked the imagination.
▼ “You did good, Walt.”
And hey, turns out those trivia tidbits are really fun. P.K.’s favorite was the one about Splash Mountain – you know that flash at the top? That’s a real person taking your photo! Incredible, right?
So what was P.K.’s final verdict? Is he a born again Disney fanatic?
“I still think I would only really want to go to Disney Land again if I can be accompanied by a true fanatic. Tashiro’s burning enthusiasm melted the ice around my heart, even when I was at my most physically exhausted.”
So what are you waiting for? No matter how burnt out on Disney’s dramatics you are, track down a deeply invested ingenue and you too can experience the park like a carefree grade-schooler once again. And what better time than while all three of those special shows are still running?