Turn back all ye who hate my ranting... So I'm still trying to formulate an impression of my visit to TDL. I had been there many times in the past, but 7 years had passed since my last visit to TDL other than a brief visit to see Dreamlights 3 years ago. I had learned that showing up before the park opens is essential when, 7 years ago, Pooh's Honey Hunt opened. This time, my cousin and her family who accompanied us, suggested we get there 1/2 hour early. We did. By that time, there were lines, hundreds long, in front of each of the entrance gates. By the time my cousins arrived 15 minutes later, the lines had merged and there were masses of people in front of each gate. I had never seen this at any of the Disney parks I'd ever gone to in all of my life. By the time the gates opened, the mass of people extended down to the ramp from the train station. This is probably the equivalent of the Disneyland Esplanade...solid people. This was, unfortunately Spring Break and one week prior to the debut of the 25th Anniversary. My only thought was that if I were alone, I probably would have left. When the gates opened, people bolted and ran at top speed through the World Bazaar. I had seen this before at TDL. I turned to my brother and said "It's very non-Japanese, huh?" I can only imagine that some smaller children and slower runners get trampled in the process. It's really an unbelievable sight. This is necessary because within an hour or two, all of the Pooh fastpasses will be gone and the wait time will be approximately 180 minutes. My cousins told me that they usually only expect to ride 7 attractions a day. At $58. a person...that's $8.29 a ride! Overall, you can't complain about the park's physicality. It's a nice park. A little overly familiar because of it's resemblance to WDW, but there are a few things that stand out...Pooh's location between Fantasyland and Toontown...The Haunted Mansion's Location between Fantasyland and Critter Country...etc. The Japanese embrace this park in a similar way to Southern Californian's former relationship to Disneyland...this is essentially a "day park". For this reason, the events come fast and furious and the merchandise is plentiful. What struck me, however, was how much of the merchandise is crap. Cellphone strap characters, eraser guides, meaningless boxes...these are cultural artifacts that somehow resonate in Japanese culture, but are far more utilitarian in ours. We don't NEED a Stitch ear wax scoop. We don't NEED a Marie toilet cover. It seems to me that the best souvenirs in US Disney parks somehow remind us of the experience and occupy a special place (something to be looked at, worn, admired, placed in a special area) Do you really want to be reminded of TDL as you sit on the toilet scraping wax from your ears?! While, in the past, I might have come home with BAGS of merchandise...I found myself carrying out only one bag...with a toy gun from the Pirates store...non-Disney. I was amazed that an unbridled collector such as myself found nothing special enough to buy. Maybe I'm changed....maybe the nature of the merchandise has changed. At any rate...I came home far lighter and richer than I expected. There is also a "brainwash" element in the whole TDL experience. You have to lower your expectations because of the crowds. You have to accept that it is geared to Japanese culture in subtle ways...emphasis on shows and parades. There is a strong emphasis on the "current." Perhaps one reason I LOVE Disneyland Paris is because it honors the legacy of Disney...not just the fad...the Old Mill...etc. I think TDL reflects the Japanese love of fad. Not a bad thing...but not a great thing for an aging Disney fan. That said, I happened to hear the brass band in World Bazaar and they were FANTASTIC...reminded me of Future Corp. It happened suddenly and just reminded me of the days when you would happen on random musical events because that's what happened at Disneyland or Disney World. The sense that there was so much going on that you were only scraping the surface. With so many scheduled events, (and I'm sure this one was also...I just didn't bother to look) it was nice to have a serendipidous one. The castle was covered with a picture of the castle to obscure the decorations for the 25th anniversary. I thought that was cheap and contrary to Walt's philosophy of never wanting people to feel like they'd missed something. It fooled us all from the entrance, but became weirdly boxlike as you got closer. Only Tinker Bell was visible from one of the turrets. The Meet the World location was scaffolded with Monsters Inc. imagery. While I would have probably spent most of the day at DisneySea, traveling with children made that impractical. Next time.