Recently we spent two days at the Tokyo Disneyland park.
Here is what I learnt!
Tokyo Disneyland has two parks, the first is the traditional Disneyland park while the second is called Disney Sea. Disney Sea has nothing to do with sea life, so if your are thinking it’s like a SeaWorld theme park, think again. The Disney Sea park is based upon a number of Sea type themes, so think Nemo, Mermaids, Venice, submarines and somehow Aladdin gets a look in as well. Both parks are quiet different. Disneyland is traditional, so it has all the rides and attractions like all Disneylands across the world. It’s has the Jungle cruise, Tea cups, Space mountain, Buzz lightyear Astro blasters, Splash mountain etc while Disney Sea has the Tower of terror, Indiana Jones, Journey to the centre of the earth, raging spirits roller coaster… more of the bigger rides but also plenty for the younger ones. In comparison to Disneylands parades Disney Sea has shows surrounding their centre piece the Mediterranean Harbour and both had nighttime shows and fireworks. It’s hard to compare the two, both have a lot to offer depending on what you are looking for. My advise is to visit both if you have the time or if you only have one day available, I prefered Disney Sea, but I have been to the traditional style park before. Check out their website before making your descion.
Park tickets can be bought online or at the gate. When you buy tickets online you have to nominate which day you are attending and if you buy a two day passport you have to go to the second park the following day. This is where it’s a bit different to other Disney parks I have visited. You cannot move between the parks until you get a three day pass. They strongly suggest that you prepurchase your tickets before hand as some days they get so busy that they have to shut the gates and not allow any more people to enter ( during the time we were there they only allowed prepaid tickets holders on the weekends) This was a bit of an issue for us, before we left we were still undersided whether we wanted to go to both parks and on what days, so we left it till we were in Tokyo and took pot luck at buying at gates. We got up early on a week day and arrived for opening and secured a two day pass no problems. I strongly suggest you go online before you leave to see if there is any conditions on tickets for the time you are going and make your decision from there.
Transport to the Disney parks is easy! From Tokyo station you get on the Keiyo line to Maihama. If you are traveling to the parks for opening, basically follow the crowds and the children (and adults!) dressed up all Disney. It’s a JR line so it is included in your JR travel pass if you have one. From the Maihama station it is a quick walk along the path to Disneyland or if you are heading to DisneySea you need to purchase a monorail ticket (about ¥260 single ticket) and get taken right to the door.
The parks opening and closing times vary according to the season. We went in November and the parks were each open from 9am till 10pm for Disneyland and 8am till 10pm for DisneySea. It got very cold after sundown (4.30!) but we packed jackets so we were toasty. I find that you need to be there all day to experience it all so we plan for a long long day! Check website for the times for when you are going.
Food stores/ cafes/ restaurants are everywhere in the Disney parks. I checked online before we went and saw that they allowed food to be brought in as long as it was eaten in specific areas. On entry to Disneyland I did notice a small sign that said no food to be brought in, but the security guard on bag check didn’t mention anything. By bringing in some food for snacks and lunch we avoid the high prices and long lines! It also meant that we didn’t have to stop long to eat and could keep going to get in more rides! We did stop and buy dinner though, by then our legs needed a big rest. We also got a bucket of popcorn each for after dinner snack, they sell different flavours at different locations, the caramel was our favourite!
Like any theme park, there is going to be lines and you may have to wait for a long time. The Tokyo Disney parks are no different, although we never waited any longer then 1 hour for a ride. They also, like most Disney parks around the world, offer fast passes at no extra charge. These passes allow you to skip the line on certain rides, you grab a fast pass from a vending machine near the ride and turn up within the time period specified. You can get one fast pass from each “land” at a time. It’s a great way to experience the more popular rides without the long wait.
Merchandise sales are huge, there are lots of stores as well as road side carts to entice you into buying everything Disney. Most items are found at each store, while there are a few items that are specific to certain shops. Tokyo Disney has a mascot called Duffy and it is huge amongst the Japanese, the main store was filled with customers and throughout DisneySea there was special spots to take photos of you Duffy near.
Of course there is the obligatory character meets and greets, where you can meet your favourite Disney characters and get a photo taken for an additional fee. We stood in a line for 20mins ( shortest line we could find) to meet Goofy. We didn’t want to buy a photo so one of the staff took a photo for us on my phone, but it was a one shot deal! Think they really want you to buy the pic.
Lastly I want to mention the cast (staff) at Tokyo Disney parks. I cannot highly praise them, even when the day was coming to an end and we we’re barely functioning they continued to smile, wave and be so happy! Most have some English while all try to help with any questions or concerns. Obviously all the rides are in Japanese, but that doesn’t spoil the effect. While getting on and off the rides the staff are so helpful, using gestures to demonstrate what they want you to do, eg take your bag off, go to number 5 line, move forward, pull down bar etc. They will also ask you how many in your group, but don’t worry about having to know numbers in Japanese, just put up the corresponding fingers.
If you find yourself in Tokyo with a day or two to spare, definitely check out Tokyo Disneyland.
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