The Liniest Place on Earth

This weekend is the start of Golden Week here in Japan. This is a glorious period where four different national holidays all fall in the same week, including a block of three holidays in a row.

Unfortunately, because the holidays are based on the birthdays of late emperors (unofficially, of course) this is a holiday that shifts around and some years it’s awesome, some years it’s average. This year the block of three fall on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Because one of the days falls on a Sunday, the government provides a substitute holiday on Tuesday. It doesn’t do the same for Saturday, though, because that’s a work day for many people. However, a Saturday holiday doesn’t help me and is therefore useless. (Bah humbug. Something like that.)

Many Japanese combine these days off with their paid holidays and do some traveling. The smart ones get out of the city and/or the country. The foolish ones go to Disneyland.

The Tokyo Disney Resorts (which are actually in Chiba, not Tokyo–this makes sense when you remember the New York Jets and New York Giants actually play in New Jersey) consist of Tokyo Disneyland, which looks a lot like the Disneyland in Anaheim, except is about three times as large, and the nautically themed Tokyo DisneySea, which is intended as a date spot and is the only Disney resort in the world that serves alcohol. The food there is awesome, too.

Unfortunately, they are also the most popular Disney resorts in the world and pretty much the entire population of Japan tries to squeeze in them during holidays. I’ve dubbed the place Tokyo DisneyLine, because pretty much all you do once you get there is stand in line and tell your children, “No, we are not there yet. We are yet hell and gone from there.” One time we had to wait 45 minutes just to get a Fast Pass that would let us cut the line at a popular ride. (Don’t you judge me; the stand-by line for the ride was over 90 minutes long.)

I remember a couple hundred years ago, I think on a high school trip when I was still living in Hayden, Colorado, we went to the Disneyland in Anaheim and, although we had to stand in line, I remember the Space Mountain line wandering around a performance area where Pat Boone was singing. If I remember correctly, he was putting on a surprisingly entertaining show (Although at that age, seeing someone you’ve seen on television is kind of cool no matter who it is.) Or that was the trip where we tried to smuggle my dad in the country via Tijuana, Mexico and our stuff got stolen out of our car in the Disneyland parking lot.

Tokyo DisneyLine has nothing like that, though (the small music performances, not the smuggling and theft). You just stand and move, move and stand, spend five minutes on the ride and then go stand in another line for 90 minutes for the next five minute ride. (There’s something disturbingly philosophical about that now that I think about it.)

The best time to go, though, is during school. You just play hookey and head down there. We did that once with our oldest and I got to ride Space Mountain three times in 20 minutes.

That’s a happy place to be.

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