Even if you’ve never been to a Disney theme park before, I recommend going to Tokyo Disneyland at least once. One thing is for certain, if you’ve ever visited Japan for any significant amount of time, you know that Japanese people love them some Disney. As proof of this, Tokyo Disneyland is visited by more people annually than both original parks in the U.S. and any other franchise park in the world. Why is Disney so popular here? Sadly I’ve yet to unlock that mystery, because neither Mr. J nor I are big Disney fans. Still, when Mr. J got us a free pair of Disneyland tickets for renewing his life insurance plan we decided not to waste the opportunity for a nice date, and so at the end of May we found ourselves on a bus bound for Tokyo Disneyland.
Because Disney is usually insanely crowded and Japan’s summers and winters are long, picking what day and what time you arrive really affects how much you’ll be able to do there and how much you’ll enjoy yourself. To avoid extreme heat/humidity or freezing your butt off, I recommend a spring or fall date. You should also try to avoid going on the weekend (unless you like meeting all the different Disney characters), on a weekday that’s a holiday or part of a national holiday weekend, or a day when kids are out of school. You should also pick a day when you can get there before or close to when park doors open, because unlike other Disney parks, Japanese people are pros at using the fast pass system and fast passes tend to be completely gone before noon.
Although the tickets Mr. J got were good until the end of April 2015, we picked a Friday at the end of May to go because it wasn’t too hot nor a national or school holiday. If you don’t already have your tickets purchased, I recommend visiting a local travel kiosk or a discount travel voucher vending machine to save about 300-500 yen on each ticket. Tickets can be used at either Disneyland or Disney Sea, but are only limited to one or the other. Mr. J and I had already done Disney Sea a few years back, so this time we went for Disneyland instead.
If you live in or near a major city, there’s probably a resort or overnight bus that will take you there. Unfortunately the resort liner that used to run to Disneyland from the station closest to us went out of business, so we caught an early morning bus to Tokyo and then took the JR Keikyū line to Maihama station, where Disney Resort is located. From Maihama you have the option of taking the Disney Resort Line (monorail) to resort hotels or either park. On foot, Disneyland is a short walk from Maihama station, but Disney Sea is a bit of a lengthier walk through an enclosed mall area until you reach the park entrance.
We chose to walk to the park, and because there was no transport option that allowed us to arrive before park opening time, even at 9:00 a.m. there were tons of people already there.
I’ve heard a rumor that fast passes for Monsters, Inc. ride and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt are always the first to go, but that wasn’t the case when we visited. Instead of making a beeline to secure fast passes for Monsters, Inc., we definitely should have gotten ones for Splash Mountain first. Splash Mountain passes were gone by 11:00 a.m. and the wait for a regular ride was a whopping two hours plus. That doesn’t mean fast passes for Monsters, Inc. weren’t going like hotcakes, though. The ones we received at 9:15 a.m. already had ride times from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on it.
While we were waiting for the next fast pass availability, we decided to do the Star Wars Star Tours ride and check out the Easter Garden decorations outside of Cinderella’s Castle.
You can go up into the castle and see some nice artwork depicting Cinderella and Prince Charming’s story, but we were happy just to observe all the intricate mosaic work alongside the pathway through the castle and move on to Fantasyland.
The wait for Snow White’s Adventures was under 15 minutes so we took advantage of the short line and hopped on. All the background and character art pieces at Tokyo Disneyland are really top notch. The staff lady working the ride was especially genki.
We still had some time leftover, so we took a spin on the Castle Carrousel. We were the only adults riding without kids, lol.
After that we got our fast passes Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, which is by far my favorite ride at Tokyo Disneyland, and headed back to Fantasyland for an early lunch at the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. It was pretty crowded and we waited at least 40 minutes to get trays and be seated. I like Alice and Wonderland themed stuff so the meal was enjoyable, although a main plate with drinks and salad or dessert will likely set you back 2,500 yen or more ($25 USD or more) per person.
By the time we got done with our meal, all fast passes were gone for the day. At this point the wait for Splash Mountain was almost 3 hours long, but the wait for Haunted Mansion wasn’t too bad so we jumped in line.
We had time to chill out over drinks and take a spin on the canoes before our fast pass time for Buzz Lightyear. The Mark Twain Riverboat passed by us as we paddled. 🙂
Astro Blasters is my favorite ride because it’s fun to battle your friends and see who’s the better shot with the most points at the end. I easily defeated Mr. J! But to be fair, and considering it was his first time, he held his own pretty well!
One of Mr. J and I’s married couple things is buying loud patterned boxers for him to strut around the house in, so at the end of the ride we picked up a pair of little green men and army men pants from the shop outside. 😉
The heat was starting to get to us to we mostly explored inside air conditioned shops until it was time for Monsters, Inc. I’d never ridden it before, but it’s at lot like Astro Blasters. Instead of shooting to rack up points in pairs, any time someone in your buggy of six hits a target with their flashlight a monster pops out. It was pretty cute.
There wasn’t anything else we were really interested in riding, so we decided to challenge the two hour wait for Splash Mountain because Mr. J really wanted a go on it. The wait went a lot faster than we anticipated and it was definitely one of the highlights of the day.
After that we went back to the Great American Waffle Company shop we’d passed inside the World Bazaar area to chow down as a reward for our patience and conquering the mountain. 😀 We passed a pirate troupe performing in Adventureland on the way.
One of the other seasonal events they had running was the Easter Egg Hunt. If you were able to find all the eggs on the hunt list (we saw a lot of people taking cell phone cam shots of them) and bring your list to a special booth set up at the entrance of the park, you could win a freebie prize. We didn’t participate in the hunt, but also on the way to get waffles we spotted some Lady & the Tramp Easter eggs.
And by that time it was about 45 minutes to the Dreamlights Parade, so we did some quick souvenir shopping and went and staked out a decent spot nearby. Souvenir shopping is a big deal in Japan, and as a general rule you shouldn’t tell someone about your plans to go somewhere in advance unless you’re up for bringing something back for them when you return. Most people bring back souvenirs for their best friends or in the very least, their co-workers. All the edibles come individually wrapped and ready to dole out one by one. Come park closing time, stores will be packed and the chaos is comparable with day after Christmas sales back home, so I recommend making time for souvenir shopping before closing time chaos ensues. 😉
Unfortunately my iPhone was horrible at picking up the lights, so my apologies in advance for the poor image quality.
The only disappointment of the day was not finding any Lady & the Tramp (or Wan Wan Monogatari in Japanese) items to take home. Apparently this movie isn’t very popular, but it’s my favorite. Each time I find myself at Disneyland, there seems to be less and less available for it. 😦
One of the other big differences between Tokyo Disneyland and other Disney parks are the sheer amount of cosplayers and non-Disney people running around in costume. Groups of girls often wear the same themed outfit to not only stand out and look cute, but to easily keep the group together. Twinning (wearing the same outfit as your friend) is still a thing, too. Some years back my friend and I had a good time twinning Minnie Mouse.
If you’re absolutely gaga for Disney and you’ve got about $75,000 to drop, Tokyo Disneyland also does elaborate fairy tale weddings for a 50 person ceremony and banquet. Yikes! That’s almost as much as all of my university loans combined. D:
So how do you think Tokyo Disneyland measures up with the other Disney parks, and what’s your favorite ride? Drop me a comment below!