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The idea of spending hard-earned money on something that involves crowded places, long lines and piped-in music — all to end up with a stomach ache — seems crazy to me.Unless, of course, that something involves happy hour. And at Tokyo’s DisneySea, it does.

The nautical park next door to Tokyo Disneyland is the place to go to play in Ariel’s Playground, Journey to the Center of the Earth and drink a cold beer. That’s my kind of magic kingdom.

DisneySea has other pluses. It’s usually less crowded than its Disneyland neighbor. It has lots for young kids — rides based on storybook themes, short films, and the chance to meet Goofy dressed as both a gondolier and a weatherman. It’s a good place for grandma and grandpa, too, as many of the rides also involve tours of the park, like the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line.

But if you’re looking for rides that will make you scream, DisneySea has few. Its two major roller coasters – Journey to the Center of the Earth and Raging Spirits — have long waits and few thrills, I’m told. (I didn’t sample them myself — even the swirling teacups can make me green.)

You also need to plan early if you want to catch the big afternoon show, "The Legend of Mythica." Instead of parading through the streets, Mickey and Minnie and a few friends arrive through the Mediterranean Harbor. Even for an amusement grouch like me, it’s a spectacular event complete with fire-breathing dragons and tropical costumes.

And, much to my surprise, you can actually see the sea from DisneySea. A visit to the S.S. Columbia offers a view of the park on one side and Tokyo Bay on the other. And even on a cloudy day in August, we were able to see Mount Fuji. For me, it was better than giving Mickey Mouse a hug.

Know & go:Directions: From Tokyo Station, take the JR Keiyo Line or JR Musashino Line to the JR Maihama Station (South Exit). The ride takes about 15 minutes.

Prices for one-day passes: 5,800 yen for ages 18 and older; 5,000 yen for ages 12 to 17; 3,900 yen for ages 4 to 11; 5,100 yen for seniors.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Highlights: The park is split into geographical regions ranging from the Arabian Coast to the American Waterfront to the Mediterranean Harbor. Popular rides include 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Popular shows are Chip ‘Dales’ Cool Service – where most of the audience gets wet – and the afternoon water parade called The Legend of the Mystics. Shows and attractions change throughout the year. For more, check out www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/tds/index_e.html


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