Do you recognize the area where the picture here was taken?
Somewhere in southern Europe? Good guess. A fishing village along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea? Good eye.
But wrong… and wrong. What you’re looking at is the “Mediterranean Harbor” area of the DisneySea theme park outside Tokyo. I took that picture on the park’s third day of operation in 2002.
As I strolled the pathways of the meticulously themed area, a
surreal feeling came over me. I suddenly realized that I was an
American immersed in European culture… in the middle of Japan!
DisneySea turns 5 this year, and I’m still struck by the
authenticity of “Mediterranean Harbor,” with its “Porto Paradiso” area
(shown in the picture) and its “Palazzo Canals” (a section that’s a
dead ringer for Venice). Nobody does faux culture better than Disney.
In making guests feel like they’re there – wherever “there” may
happen to be – Disney typically includes wine in the dining experience.
At DisneySea’s “Mediterranean Harbor,” Cafe Portofino is a buffet
restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and several wine choices.
For more elegant dining, Magellan’s offers gourmet cuisine and a more
expansive wine list. And for those in a hurry, numerous fast-food
choices are available at Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante, which is said to
be housed in “an old winery.” At Disney parks, even the history of a
restaurant can be fantasy-based.
What Disney has learned is that wine is very helpful in creating a
sense of place. But you needn’t travel to a Disney park for such an
experience. All you need to do is open your wine club shipment from