Welcome back to my Touring Japan series! This is the last post in the series and is all about Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea! Very similar to my post on USJ, I’ll be sharing all the planning, pictures, and afterthoughts on our time there. Being able to go to Disney was a childhood dream come true! The only difference in dream v.s. reality was that we were in Japan…and I loved it!
Reminder: we made this trip in April/May 2018, but I am finally sharing about it now…enjoy!
The amount of research and time I did in prep for the Tokyo Disney Resorts was the same as, if not more than, USJ. Though there is definitely more to see compared to USJ, there is also a lot more detailed information available to help in the planning process. Again, I just did my google search and found some very informational blogs, took my time reading through them, and started making decisions.
These are some of the sites I found helpful:
- tokyodisneyresort.jp (Official website in Japanese: Google Chrome can translate for you, or just use the English site)
The very first thing I had to consider was how many days we would spend there. Because there are 2 parks, I read up on what each had to offer. Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are highly recommended by avid goers and Disney fans. They each cater to a different audience, though are still family friendly. It seemed possible to have 1 day at each park and still do what we would want, so we decided on getting a 2-day pass and a starlight pass (meaning we can get in after 3pm). Most people recommended at least 3-4 days total, but we didn’t want to spend all our time in Tokyo at Disney.
To make the most of our time, we decided to book a room at the cheapest Disney hotel: Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel. We did look into AirBNBs, but there weren’t many in close proximity to Disney. And when we checked out, we would need to lug our baggage with us to Disney. That didn’t sound appealing. So even though it cost a bit more to get a room at a Disney hotel, there were other perks:
- Free shuttle to Disneyland & DisneySea
- Early 15 min. entrance to Disney
- Free luggage storage even after checking out
- Guaranteed admission (even if tickets sell out)
Just like with USJ, we would do a half day + 1 day at each park. Because we planned this to be at the beginning of our time in Tokyo, we headed straight to Tokyo Disney after arriving on the shinkansen from Osaka. To get to our hotel, the best option was to take the train all the way to Tokyo Disney and find the shuttle pick-up stop there. The shuttle then took us to our hotel, we checked in, paid for our room, purchased our park passes, and then went up to find out room and settle in.
At the Celebration Hotel, there are 2 themes to choose from: Discover & Wish. I chose Discover for us, as I thought it’d be more comfortable for Husband. The Discover theme is more masculine, I guess – Adventure. The Wish theme, on the other hand, seemed more feminine. It wasn’t grand, but I thought it was cute. The Mural in the background was very fun and detailed, plus the color scheme was just what I like! Once we were settled in, got our things put away/hung up, and repacked our backpacks, we got back on the shuttle to Tokyo DisneySea for our half day.
The skies had stayed gray all day, so we weren’t expecting nice weather. We were hoping it wouldn’t rain, though, since we hadn’t prepared anything for rainy weather. But with this less-than-ideal weather, the park wasn’t as crowded as it could’ve been. It probably also helped that it was a weekday. Husband and I entered, grabbed a map, found our bearings, and decided to just walk around first and see DisneySea. Of course, I was very excited to be at Disney for the first time EVER! The music just fills this place! Just like with USJ, the details that went into everything was very astonishing. I probably spent the first 15 minutes there just staring at everything and soaking it all in~
Aside from just being at a Disney park, the next big thing I was looking forward to was trying all the cute Tokyo Disney food! As we walked towards the Arabian Coast, I knew there was a snack I wanted to try: the Chandu Tail. Chandu is a little tiger character from their Sinbad’s Storybook Adventure attraction.
This snack is actually a curry-filled steamed bun! A lot like the pizza buns that I like to buy from the conbini. With the weather being cooler and possibly rainy, this warm curry bun was perfect. Husband and I were more than satisfied with this Disney park food purchase. I recommend it to everyone!
Eventually we found ourselves at Port Discovery. We had walked by other rides and attractions because of the long lines, but saw there was a Nemo ride up ahead and there weren’t that many people waiting. Plus it started raining, so to get some shelter, we also lined up under the outdoor shelter. It wasn’t too long before we were welcomed inside to Nemo & Friends SeaRider. The gist of the story here, as far as I’ve gathered, is that we all are on a submarine shaped like a fish, new technology shrinks us to actual fish size, and we are put into the ocean to explore what fishes do. Of course, we meet Nemo, Dory, and all the other seafaring friends during our time in the water. I have to say I really loved this ride. The story is cute, the graphics are amazing, and even though you’re in a room full of other people, it’s still enjoyable.
Leaving Nemo & Friends, we returned to the main entrance, having made a full circle around DisneySea. We were able to scope our where the other rides we would like to try were, and happily enjoyed the night scenery. While standing by the water, we were made aware of the DisneySea Show that would be starting soon: Fantasmic! Tokyo Disney was celebrating it’s 35th anniversary. We decided to wait and watch, and found a place right by the water, as close as we could get. The crowds eventually gathered around us, and even though it was raining and the wind was picking up, everyone waited in anticipation. Let me just share the original description found on the Tokyo Disney Resort website:
“This spectacular entertainment features Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice who creates a fantastic world of Disney through his powers of imagination. Filled with special effects using gigantic water screens, lasers, lights, and fire, this dramatic show promises an evening of unforgettable fantasy and excitement for all.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Husband had really enjoyed the shows when he was a kid at DisneyWorld, so that made me excited to see how it would go. The show was Amazing. Everything was done on the water at Mediterranean Harbor and they used a lot of techy special effects. Even in the rain, I could see everything. The lights were bright, the bangs were loud, the fire was so hot I could feel it from my vantage point. It was wonderful. The only bad thing was that there was a lot of movement on the water, which caused waves, which came over the ends of where we were standing and soaked our shoes and socks. Oops!
Of course, we couldn’t end our night without the fireworks show, which was also quite nice. Though, I have to say that it ended quicker than I thought it would. Husband and I stood there for a little bit longer expecting a very big bang at the end. But as nothing happened, we maneuvered out of Lido Isle and tried to make it back to Toyville as fast as possible! We wanted to get to Toy Story Mania! before the line got too long again.
When we finished Toy Story Mania!, there was maybe 1 hour left before the park closed, so we decided to walk around the park one last time before heading back to our hotel. Once we reached Lost River Delta, we saw that Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull barely had a wait time, so we made our way in line. And man, oh man, this ride has the capacity to hold a queue line so long that I would never want to wait in it!
I felt like we had to walk foreverrrrrr before reaching the actual ride itself. We had to walk around all the different ropes, into the cave, up a ramp, almost make a full circle above the ramp, then make a few more back and forth turns before reaching the ride platform. And this was all done with a queue of 5 minutes. But this ride was so enjoyable that after we got on Raging Spirits, a roller coaster right next door, we returned to this as many times as we could before the park closed for the night. We were actually willing to make that walk at least 3 times before the park closed. Lesson of the night, wait until 9PM to go on all the popular rides! There is barely a line, if any, and you can get on the rides until the clock strikes 10:00PM (that’s when the park closed while we were there in May).
So we made our way back to our hotel – a little cold, a little wet, a little tired, and a little hungry. Another benefit to staying at the Celebration hotel was that they had a conbini in the hotel. We headed straight there after getting off the shuttle and purchased some food before heading up to our room. Then we cleaned out our backpacks, repacked them in prep for our full day at Tokyo Disneyland, and got ready for bed.
We got up bright and early to get in the 15 min. early entry line for hotel guests. It rained the whole time! Luckily I had my small umbrella that we could share as we waited. So, how does this 15 min. early entry work? Well, we were a bit disappointed to learn this, but no one actually gets into the park until it officially opens. So the 15 min. early is just getting to line up inside the entrance way 15 minutes before everyone else without a hotel booking is also let in to line up behind you. They roped off the actual park area and wouldn’t let anyone enter until the clock literally struck 8:00AM.
Our planning was also a bit faulty, it seems. We had decided to walk towards the Tomorrowland area, and because Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! was in front of us, we decided to jump right into the line once the park officially opened. In the end…the ride was okay. It was supposed to be similar to Toy Story Mania!, but it wasn’t as exciting and fun. A bit underwhelming for us. What we should have done, though, was just grab a timed fastpass ticket for Monsters, Inc. at the kiosk (which we probably could have done while we were waiting for the park to open), and then gone on to collect as many fastpasses as we could for all the popular rides.
That is exactly what we did for the other popular rides in the Tomorrowland area, though, right after getting out of Monsters, Inc. We walked around and collected timed fastpass tickets for Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Star Tours, & Space Mountain. With all those out of the way, we walked over to Fantasyland, where we decided to line up at Pooh’s Honey Hunt, since the wait time wasn’t so bad. Pooh’s Honey Hunt was the most popular new ride at Tokyo Disney, so we were a bit surprised.
Pooh’s Honey Hunt was a blast! It was so fun and clever. I guess I didn’t know to expect this, but USJ & the Tokyo Disney Resorts do a great job of making the queue process entertaining by having so much to see while you wait. Valleyfair really didn’t have much of anything while you waited. I don’t know if this is how it is for all the other Universal Studios or Disney Parks out there (which I sure hope it is!), but I love all the attention to detail and thinking they put in to making even the wait times worthwhile. Thank you. I really appreciate it all.
With such an early morning, I got hungry early. The goal is always to eat lunch before everyone else to beat the lunch rush, and then have the chance to do more while everyone else is eating. We made way to Westernland to dine at Camp Woodchuck Kitchen. There were lots of people grabbing snacks from some of the outside stands, but when we arrived at our chosen restaurant, there was no crowd to worry about. We ordered a couple hot sandwiches and found a table inside to keep out of the rain that had started falling again.
We returned to Fantasyland and decided to line-up for It’s A Small World. The line was quite long, but there were also no timed fastpass tickets, and we had plenty of time before needing to head back to Tomorrowland to use our fastpasses there. We saw that It’s A Small World was so popular because it had been newly renovated. It looked spectacular too. I’d have to say this was the longest line we waited in during our time at all the parks. I thought it was kinda ironic.
But in the end, I felt the wait was worth it. The craftsmanship that went into all of this was wonderfully done! All the characters are a very cute cartoony style that Japan is so good at, and all our beloved Disney Characters make appearances during the ride. (I’ll share videos and more pictures on my Instagram @puaffections)
Our first fastpass came into play, which brought us back to Tomorrowland. We got on Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Star Tours, & Space Mountain. Husband was excited for Space mountain, as he had been on the ride in Orlando before. I really liked it too! It’s actually a bit scary as everything is so dark and you’re on a coaster going who knows where.
Eventually, we made it to Haunted Mansion, Snow White’s Adventures, Peter Pan’s Flight, Country Bear Theater, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Husband even kindly joined me for Cinderella’s Fairytale Hall, a tour inside Cinderella’s Castle. Did I already say that Cinderella is my childhood favorite Disney movie? Well, it is. This was another nostalgia childhood dream come true~
After a trip back to the hotel to rest, we returned in the evening in time to grab some snacks, scope out a spot to sit, and watch the parade. I ate the cutest Star Wars mochi, though only really liked 1 of the 3 flavors. I did enjoy the parade more than I thought I would. You know what…? The Japanese just continue to impress me every time I’ve been at one of their amusement parks. I feel like the parks could be similar in design to the 2 in the U.S., but I’m positive the ambience will be different from Japan. I mean, I still wanna visit the other parks someday, but I am very happy with my experience at the Tokyo Disney Resorts too.
Anywho, at the end of our day, we ended up going on It’s A Small World a couple more times as there were absolutely no lines! We got a whole big boat to ourselves! Like I’ve already mentioned, wait until an hour before closing time and lots of rides will be faster to get on. It may seem silly that this was the ride we returned to, but it’s just so beautifully made. We both really enjoyed the quality of the craftsmanship and artistry put into It’s A Small World.
Who wouldn’t take the opportunity to go again?
We slowly made our way back to the entrance of Disneyland, took some pictures of the castle illuminated at night, and let ourselves sleep in the next morning. We were exhausted after an already non-stop trip to and from Osaka, plus had to deal with being in the rain, and then staying on our feet for over a full day already. Too bad we learned too late that it would be helpful to plan a rest day into travel plans. Friends recommended this to us: take a rest day every 5 days. But that conversation didn’t happen until after Disney.
For our last full day, we returned to DisneySea mid-morning, letting ourselves get a good night’s sleep. We started our morning with a health boosting drink from the conbini, shuttled over to DisneySea, and explored other parts of the park that we didn’t see much of on our first day. We had a light snack at Mysterious Island, rode on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, then did Fortress Explorations as it continued raining on our last day at Disney.
None of my pictures really turned out for the Fortress Explorations, but I highly recommend that to anyone who gets to go to DisneySea. It was so fun to walk around, see, and touch a lot of the interesting things there. Husband and I spent a lot of time exploring and trying to figure out the Leonardo Challenge. And with all the rain, the crowds were very light, allowing us to enjoy our time without worry. We were the only ones out there looking around. And the view from the top is beautiful. It would be a beautiful spot for a picture on any better weathered day.
Concluding the exploration, we went on a lunch tour, looking for the recommended snacks in DisneySea. First we grabbed a Mickey Churro from High Tide Treats, the Ukiwah bun (shrimp steamed bun) from Seaside Snacks, Alien Mochi from Mamma Biscotti Bakery, and the Grilled Meat & Egg Wrap from a food cart right by the Railway in American Waterfront.
With a hop, and a skip, we found ourselves back in Arabian Coast and lined up for Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. Neither of us knew what this ride was about, aside from the main character being Sinbad. But as we got further along, we saw that this ride was going to be similar to It’s A Small World. And it was. Everyone was placed on a boat as it maneuvers the waters and turns to reveal the adventures of Sinbad and his adorable tiger, Chandu (whom our very first DisneySea food was to represent). The story was simple to follow even though we couldn’t understand everything being said in Japanese, but the characters were so well made + sound effects & great detail, this ride quickly became a favorite. Also, they continually sing a song chorus in English, and that easily got stuck in our heads – “…compass of your heart~~~” (click here and listen to it, I dare you: Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage)
Stepping into the Magic Lamp theater to take time out of the rain, we enjoyed the show and then returned outside to a beautiful sunny blue sky! I was so happy! We had mostly rainfall our whole time at Disney and now we had sun! Mermaid Lagoon was up next, and we lined up for Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster, just because it was outdoors. It was a short and simple roller coaster for younger park goers, but I fully enjoyed it too. Hahah. We ducked into Ariel’s Playground, just to see what it looked like, and guys…it was mesmerizing! I could totally get the feeling of being “under the sea” with Ariel and friends.
We met up with a friend for an early dinner before going on Toy Story again, then walked around the park, taking our time to chat before finally ending our time at Tokyo Disney Resorts. Though, we did go on Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage again as well. There was barely a line! As we walked out of the park’s entrance and made our way to the train station, we said our goodbye’s to Disney and to our friend, who had kindly come to spend the rest of her evening with us.
And that concluded our trip to Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea. It was wonderful. As the blogs I read from suggested, staying 3-4 days can help to make the pace a little slower, as well as give more chances to explore in depth every area of the park, but our 2.5 days was just enough. We left happily exhausted. Thank you Tokyo Disney Resorts for making our time enjoyable. We may just get to visit again someday.
Closed Rides while we were at Tokyo Disney Resorts:
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Tower of Terror
Favorite Rides at DisneySea:
- Toy Story Mania!
- Indian Jones
- Nemo, Friends & SeaRider
- Sinbad’s Storybook Journey
- Raging Spirits
Favorite Rides at Disneyland:
- Space Mountain
- Pooh’s Honey Hunt
- It’s A Small World
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Splash Mountain
Honorable Mentions (other things we were pleasantly surprised by):
- Fortress Explorations
- Haunted Mansion
- Dumbo (for nostalgia’s sake)
- Peter Pan’s Flight
Thank you for following my Touring Japan blog series! Part 6 is now complete, and so ends the summarization of our Anniversary/Birthday/Celebration Japan trip. I realize no one else may read this but myself, which I think I am okay with! I put a lot of hard work and planning into our whole Japan trip. I do wish I had written this all sooner, as my memory does fail when I try to recall some details of the trip (can’t help that it’s been over 1.5 years ago…), but just writing all this down and sharing all the pictures I have, it was a wonderful trip down memory lane.