Being a huge fan of amusement parks, I had to visit Tokyo Disneyland! There are actually two parks in Tokyo, located next to each other, under the Disney banner: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, and I spent a day in each.
It is impossible to switch between the parks as you see fit throughout the day, even though they are next to each other, as the ticket for each is valid only for a specific date. And it does not make sense to buy tickets to both of the valid for the same date 🙂 That sucked a little bit. I preferred Disneyland Paris, where we could walk in between the parks whenever we wanted.
Which one to choose: Disneyland or Disney Sea?
If you have two days, as we did, get a two-day ticket and enjoy both of them. If you do not have enough time then, it depends on what you’re into.
Disneyland Tokyo is a classic Disney experience. It’s great when you have a small kid but lacks attractions for adrenaline rush seekers. There are a couple of more intense rides, but the park aims mainly at the younger audience and Disney magic. To be fair, there were some fantastic parades and shows, and everything was super kawaii, so we were not bored at all.
Disney SeaWorld is aimed more towards an older audience. There are no intense and thrilling rollercoasters, but the rides are spectacular and more exciting than Disneyland’s.
Out of all the amusement parks in Japan, I liked it the least. I didn’t dislike it, and I had plenty of fun; it’s just other parks were way better 🙂 The Disney castle and some parts of the park were out for renovation and were closed for visitors. It felt like we were on a construction site surrounded by crowds and an unending stream of strollers and kids.
A lot of rides were similar to the one in Disneyland Paris. They were cute but aimed at kids, and I was missing thrill rides. We were allowed to hold onto our bags in all of the rides, meaning they were pretty relaxed.
While visiting the park, make sure to take part in at least one parade, they are a lot of fun! We managed to watch one from the queue to the ride so that was pretty awesome.
One significant difference between Tokyo Disneyland and the one in Paris was all costume coordinated visitors. It didn’t matter how old everyone was; the groups were wearing similar clothes showing that they came together. Almost everyone had a headband and themed popcorn box ( even we couldn’t resist the cute headgear and popcorn box).
Popcorn is a thing in both parks, a little bit more in Disneyland, though. You know kids and all:) But then again, aren’t we all kids inside!
And by the thing, I mean that every single person has a special bucket of popcorn to walk around and munch on!
I have never tried so many tastes of popcorn! Carmel, honey, curry, shrimp and garlic, raspberry, milk chocolate, and the list goes on!
You can either buy popcorn in a regular boring paper box, or you can invest in a cute box/purse and just get refills in it. If you are thinking about trying different tastes, refills end up being cheaper than regular one-time containers.
The problem with popcorn stands was that it took forever to buy anything. The queues were around 30-40 min! But once we got our bucket, we were all set to queue for a ride for the next 2 hours 🙂
It is the only DisneySea in the world, and I enjoyed it immensely. I loved the climate of the rides, and even though they weren’t as intense as I thought they would be, they were phenomenal! Of all the themed parks I have been to, this one had the best rides atmosphere-wise.
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
It was the best ride of them all. The ride itself was incredible, and the special effects were stunning. What surprised me a lot was the queue design. The second we stepped in into the temple, we were hooked.
It is an experience that screams incredible from the first moment you start queuing until the end of the ride! And no on-ride video or picture can portray how fantastic the ride is!
The regular queue was around two hours long, but there was a single rider line. When we took it, we found out it was only 15 minutes long instead of 2h! So if you can separate from your friends/boyfriend/girlfriend for 3 minutes during the ride, it is totally worth it!
Soaring: Fantastic Flight
Most of the reviews vote it as one of the best rides of Tokyo DisneySea. It was pretty new (opened in July 2019, and we visited in November 2019), so the queue to it never went lower than 2-3 hours. Even during the evening show! It was the longest queue of all attractions, and after reading about it online, we decided to skip it. It is a motion simulator that soars in the sky over different exciting locations in the world. And we just figured it’s not thrilling enough to wait that long.
If you would like to go, though, I recommend running to the fast pass booth as soon as the park opens. The fast passes for “Soaring: Fantastic Flight ” were gone in less than an hour.
Tower of terror
We stepped into an abandoned hotel from 1912 New York. The pre-ride story was in Japanese, but the effects were still pretty interesting. While we were on a ride, we had a fantastic panoramic view of the whole DisneySea, until the moment we suddenly dropped down… 😀
Journey to the Centre of the Earth
It is a dark thrill ride that takes you deep underground with a dramatic climax. It is one of the best rides in DisneySea and cannot be found in any other Disney park in the world!
We heard a lot about it, so we were looking forward to it quite a lot. Imagine our disappointment when we found out it was closed!
Raging Spirits is an outdoor rollercoaster that’s one of the few Disney rides to go upside down with a 360º inversion.
To be honest, we were not really impressed by it. Every time it got some speed, it started breaking to slow down. Sure there was one loop, but it was over before my body realized I was upside down 🙂
Like everything at SeaWorld, the queues were around two hours long, so either grab a fast pass, wait till evening or use a single line, as it is definitely not worth waiting for two hours.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
It is a dark ride where the submarine goes into the deep ocean in search of Atlantis.
We loved it and tried it a couple of times! It was a fully immersive experience that made us feel like we were under the sea.
The queue was not long. During the whole day, it was never longer than 30 minutes.
Big Band Beat Show
It is a 30-minute Broadway-style show featuring dancers and a live band playing swing and jazz tunes from the 1920s to the 1940s.
Many websites recommend going, but you need to enter a lottery (one chance only) using your park ticket at the Biglietteria in Mediterranean Harbor to get tickets for the show.
There is also the possibility of obtaining unreserved seats, but that requires a lot of queueing. And Japanese people do love queuing 2-3 hours ahead of time for everything! We decided we’d rather spend our time somewhere else.
Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage
It is a DisneySea version of “It’s a Small World” from Disneyland. It is a calm boat ride following the adventures of Sindbad and his tiger.
It was a calm and charming ride, and we loved it. The queue was also only 30 minutes throughout the day.
Toy Story Mania
It is another super popular attraction with three hours waiting line.
It is an interactive 3D game with Toy Story characters where you sit in a ride and get points by shooting lasers. When we saw the video of what it was about, we decided to skip it; we thought it was not worth standing in the queue for that long only to shoot lasers. Plus, that game is in almost all parks in one way or another.
If you would like to go, though, run fast and get a fast pass. They were gone in two hours after the park opened.
It’s an evening show on the water at Mediterranean Harbor. Many Disney characters sing songs accompanied by special effects using gigantic water screens, lasers, lights, and fire.
It looked marvelous! The problem was, it was also extremely popular. The show started at 19.30, and people started queuing at 17.00 ….. so, yeah… Japanese really do love their queues. We were lucky and managed to find a nice spot right before the show, but the number of people was insane! And we were there during the middle of the week!
If you think you can just walk into Disneyland or DisneySea and enjoy all the rides in one day, you’re wrong! The queues are insane, with most of them taking two or even three hours. Very rarely were we in a shorter line.
You need a battle plan! Figure out what attractions you want to do first, grab fast passes for rides while you wait in a queue for other rides.
Most of the super-popular rides in both Disneyland and Disney SeaWorld have a fast pass system. There is a special booth in the vicinity of a ride, where you scan your ticket. After scanning, you get a ticket with a time slot for using the fast pass. When the time arrives, you have to go to a special fast pass entrance and skip most of the queue.
The downside is that you can only use one fast pass at a time. So if you are too slow and get a fast pass for 17.00-18.00 time slot on your first ride, then your fast pass is blocked for most of the day. Remember to check the fast pass times in the front of the booth; they will indicate how long you have to wait.
There is only a limited amount of fast passes an hour, so they tend to run out around 12 on slow days and even faster on busy days.
We didn’t make a battle plan for Disneyland as we had zero idea how crazy the queues were. For the second day, we did our research 🙂 We walked fast to the end of the park to grab a fast pass for the Indiana Jones ride and then took some rides in the vicinity, which didn’t have long queues (most people linger around the park entrance in the morning). Once we did our fast pass ride, we went to the next attraction on our must-do list and got a pass for that one. And we continued this way until we could no longer get any fast passes.
- Buy the entry ticket online. The queue is insane. Seriously… Japanese start queuing at least an hour before the official opening hour. And that’s just a queue to the entrance. There is another one to the ticket office. Voyagin and Klook are the two companies that are authorized to sell tickets online. I’ve used both of them on different occasions never had a problem.
- Go during the week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Again, it is insane queue-wise during the weekend. We have gone Tuesday and Wednesday in November, which was supposed to be quite relaxed and it was soooooooo full of people.
- Have a game plan! Decide on what to see before going in. A couple of attractions have quite long queues, so decide on logistics beforehand. Use fast passes!
- Stay until the end of the day. In the evening there are almost no queues. We managed to get into five different kids’ attractions by simply walking in. During the day, they had 1-2h queue! This tip is more accurate for Disneyland as kids get tired in the evening; teenagers in DisneySea don’t care how tired they are and stay until late.
- Use rides during parades and shows. With so many people watching them the queues get smaller during this period.
- Use single lines. Japanese are really not into doing single lines; they prefer going together in a group and don’t like to separate. The difference is enormous! The standard line was almost two hours long for the Indiana Jones ride, while the single line was 15min!
- Get food and popcorn to go. You will have plenty of time to eat while in the queue—no need to waste time sitting down.
- Plan lunch later, after 3 pm, as most people eat around 12-13 and the queues for food are horrible.
And remember to enjoy! It is a fantastic experience even if you don’t do all the attractions 🙂