The Tokyo Disney Resort kicked off what is expected to be an exciting year of events with the opening of a new attraction — PhilharMagic at Disneyland. On January 24, 2011, Tokyo Disneyland debuted the brand new 3D show attraction, which is located just beyond Cinderella’s castle in Fantasyland.
Opening day fell on a Monday during the coldest time in Japan when the Parks are only open until 7pm nightly. I was flying in for opening day and there is only one flight a day from Taipei on Delta so I was definitely pushing it on making it in time. I couldn’t arrive any earlier as I was in Hong Kong for their 5th anniversary celebration the day before and had to go home first to unpack/repack for my continuing trip to the US immediately after Tokyo.
By the time I got settled in my hotel and to the park it was nearly 5pm. The resort as a whole seemed like a ghost town — not too many people walking around, only a few cars in the parking lots, and very few bicycles in the lot. I was not sure what to expect with PhilharMagic as I was arriving late and figured the masses would’ve gone home by now. As soon as I went through the castle, I found the line. The queue time said only 35 minutes, which was a pleasant surprise given normal queue times at Tokyo Disney!
The line snaked around quite a bit and went back and forth from the marquee entrance all the way back to the castle. If this was only 35 minutes, I am rather curious how they are going to handle line control and a queuing area when it’s 2+ hours. If they queue to the left of the attraction, it will interfere with the new PhilharMagic store.
Given PhilharMagic is a show, I was surprised at how quickly the queue line moved and at what frequency we were moving. About 15 minutes after entering the line, I was at the theater doors. Once you hit the doors, expect to wait some more. Like many stores and waiting areas at Tokyo Disney, it was stifling hot inside. Granted it was rather cold outside, but the dramatic change in temperature was making me wish I could take off my sweater.
The interior queue line breaks off into 3 lines. One is kept closed off and used for handicapped and disabled persons, while the others go back and forth alongside brightly painted walls with musical instruments. The ceiling is intriguing and the bubble tipped chandeliers change colors periodically. After you get to the actual theater lobby, Cast Members keep you at bay until it’s close to showtime.
Picking up opera glasses is the only critique I can really give to Tokyo on this one. There is a nice theater themed display to the right where you pick up your glasses. There is only one area and if you are in the right line, you are ok. Those of us who were in the left of the two lines struggled to make our way in to get glasses. It was like a busy intersection in a big Asian city. There were people going every direction and I was physically squished in between people to the point where I couldn’t move and had a bit of trouble breathing as I was being crushed from every side.
After emerging unscathed from the opera glasses area, I was in the main lobby filled with PhilharMagic and Disney memorabilia. The walls were adorned with Disney show posters and the “lobby” had glass cases with scenes from several Disney movies featured in PhilharMagic. Aladdin, Peter Pan, and Beauty and the Beast were the movies featured in the cases. If you have plans on getting photos of these, try to be in the front of the line for the show as people obviously flock to these first thing.
I did not get any photos inside the theater as CMs were quite strict on cameras. The announcements say no flash photography or equipment that has an illuminated screen throughout the show, and like many other attractions, the CM said NO photos at all — not just flash photography. Seems like I am always getting singled out! In any case, I was sitting at the rear of the theater and the view was crisp and clear. Tokyo’s theater features a concave screen so the action seems to be happening all around you. This was definitely an awesome element to the show (something I don’t remember experiencing at Hong Kong or Magic Kingdom’s shows).
Prior to opening day, rumors were circulating about the show being entirely in Japanese and it was. Hong Kong has the English version seen at WDW, but Tokyo chose to redo everything in Japanese. The songs are all in Japanese, except one part (I think). During the “you can fly, you can fly” chorus in Peter Pan, I am pretty sure it was in English. Perhaps translating that portion to Japanese was not as melodic sounding.
The 3D was good and the in-theater effects were stronger than I remember at Hong Kong. There has been some discussion that some elements may be different — either way, it was a great effort by Tokyo Disney and OLC. This is likely going to become a very popular attraction at Disneyland — especially given how much local fans love Donald Duck.
Upon exiting PhilharMagic, you have the option to enter the new exclusive PhilharMagic store. My personal recommendation is to hit the store when a show is going on. It became quite packed and was hard to maneuver around to pick up merchandise as people poured in. The store has a slick design and features some great PhilharMagic merchandise. There are pins, a framed pin set, small and large size beanies, lots of edible treats, cups, mugs, and stationary items.
One of my personal favorites is the framed pin set (7,000 yen) that commemorates the attraction opening. It does not seem limited but given how quickly they were flying off the shelves, I opted to pick mine up as well. The price is quite steep, but it is a nice set in a wooden box that can be set on a desk like a regular picture frame. Most of the pins are available for sale individually and there is one PhilharMagic pin that is not part of the box set as well.
In addition to the pins, I also purchased the PhilharMagic bag, the lenticular postcard, and the small Donald beanie. He was the most popular one I saw people carrying in line and I love the oversized sorcerer hat. There is a new popcorn bucket available that has Donald’s butt hanging out of the top. Sadly I didn’t get a photo of it as it was near park closing by the time I got out of the PhilharMagic store.
I spotted much of the PhilharMagic merchandise at the other stores, including the Emporium, so if you plan to do all your shopping at once and leave everything in a locker, you should be able to pick up most, if not all, of it.
Overall, despite any language barrier with the show being in Japanese, the new PhilharMagic is definitely worth checking out. It’s a fun show and definitely seems well-received by the Tokyo Disney fans thus far. Looking forward to all the other new events and celebrations taking place this year — going to be a big year with the 10th anniversary celebration for Tokyo DisneySEA, the introduction of Fantasmic, and a few other new attractions in the works! I have a feeling I’m going to be visiting Tokyo Disney nearly every month this year!