Disney holds a very special place in my heart. I was raised on Disney movies, and most of my all-time favorite movies are from either Disney or Pixar. I grew up in South Florida, and we lived in driving distance from four major Disney theme parks. We spent many family vacations and school trips at the parks. It’s also on my bucket list to visit all the Disney parks and castles. On our wedding day, the Hubbs gifted me tickets to three Asia Disney parks that we would be close to (Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Tokyo Disney Sea). Smart man knows his wife.
As you can see, Disney is really important to me. There was no way I was going to visit Tokyo and miss out on two Disney theme parks. When in Tokyo… am I right? Since there is so much to say about both parks, I decided to do them justice and split them into two blog posts. This particular post is going to only cover Tokyo Disneyland.
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Day 6 in Japan
We woke up very early because I am super serious when it comes to theme parks. I am one of those people who is first in the park, has a full game plan for the day, and would be devastated if we arrived late and missed out on something. Plus, since you pay for the full day experience, I like to actually be there the full day from open gates to closing fireworks.
We left our hotel and took the subway on our corner headed toward Tokyo Station, which took about 12 minutes. Next, we transferred to a second subway line that took another 16 minutes but took us right to the Disney area. Once you depart the cutely branded train, you walk down the train station and along a long sidewalk path leading to the park entrance. If you’re like us, then the park won’t be open upon arrival. So we took a seat in the sea of people who had also arrived early for the entrance.
I highly encourage you to buy your tickets in advance of arriving at Disney. We were visiting from America and purchased ours online and used e-tickets from our iPhones to scan and enter the park. We had no issues, and it saved us from waiting in lines that morning to purchase tickets. Not to mention that sometimes when you buy online in advance you can get a discounted rate, and you guarantee they won’t sell out for the day.
We had purchased the 2-Day Passport ticket that came out to ¥13,200 JPY ($118 USD) per person. That is actually really affordable for not only theme park tickets, but especially for Disney tickets. So that comes out to about $59 per day. In comparison, if you commit to four days at Orlando Disney parks, they will give you a discounted rate of $89 per day (totaling a whopping $356 + tax)!
We bought the 2-Day Passport since Tokyo has two Disney parks, Disneyland and Disney Sea. We planned to spend day one in Disneyland and then switch over to Disney Sea on the second day. I highly encourage you to see both parks, because when’s the next time you will be in Tokyo? However, if you only had time or funds to see one park, then it MUST BE DISNEY SEA. I’ll cover Disney Sea in the next blog post, so stay tuned to see what makes that park so special.
- 1-day and 2-day tickets are sold in senior, adult, junior, and child pricing brackets. Special rate tickets are not always sold like this, but sometimes as a flat fee for any age.
- There is a discount ticket called the After 6 Passport. This ticket allows you entrance into the park after six in the evening on weekdays only so you can enjoy the later shows and potentially shorter ride lines as families begin to head home early for the day. The price is an incredible flat rate of ¥4,300 JPY ($38 USD) per person. That’s a great savings!! You 100% won’t see the whole park from 6pm to closing, but with that savings it may be worth it to some.
- There is also a discounted ticket called the Starlight Passport for use from 3pm on weekends and holidays, and the price to enter is ¥5,500 JPY ($49 USD) for adults, ¥4,800 JPY ($43 USD) for juniors, and ¥3,600 JPY ($32 USD) for children.
- There are also 3-day and 4-day tickets available. I’ll say that we spent two full days, gate opening to closing fireworks in the park, and I felt there were things we could have still seen. We didn’t get to see every show in each land, and there were lotteries that we lost so we missed those shows. We just weren’t in Tokyo long enough for a 3-day or 4-day ticket to Disney. This was also our first time in Tokyo, and we were there for some culture and exploration too, not just the parks. I felt we experienced most if not all the rides. But should you be interested, the pricing is broken down by adult, junior, and child pricing on the Disney Tokyo website.
Tokyo Disneyland has a very similar layout to Orlando’s Disney World. The heart of the park is Cinderella’s Castle, surrounded by several themed lands: Tomorrowland, Toontown, Fantasyland, Critter Country, Westernland, and Adventureland. The main difference is that there is no Main Street USA to enter the park. Instead, at Tokyo Disneyland you enter the park in the World Bazaar, which has restaurants, shops, arcade games, and a double-decker bus tour attraction.
- In the World Bazaar and 10 other places around the park, there are mailboxes. Letters and postcards placed in these mailboxes will be imprinted with a special Tokyo Disneyland design and delivered to the post office. It would be neat to send a postcard to someone back home, or even to yourself if you scrapbook or like keepsakes. Wish I had known about this one on our trip!
On the exterior, the castle looked similar to other parks’ Cinderella castles. From the outside, there was a set of steps you could use to walk up and enter the castle, and this is where the similarities stop due to a different interior. From there, a room themed with the scene where Cinderella tries on the glass slipper was inside. It was very beautifully done with stained glass windows and tile mosaic floor and wall murals. There were several photo ops Hubby and I took advantage of. There was also one shop in the castle that sold high end statues, tiaras, and other more expensive china cabinet knickknacks.
Instead of me outlining every single ride in each land, below I have provided a taste of my favorite ride from each land (excluding FastPass rides, which we’ll discuss below).
- Tomorrowland’s Stitch Encounter allowed us to talk live time to Stitch in a humorous theatre style show. We visited in May, and it was a really nice escape from the heat. All other large attractions in Tomorrowland are FastPass.
- Toontown’s Gadget’s Go Coaster is a small but quick coaster that takes you through all of Gadget’s latest inventions.
- Fantasyland’s “It’s a Small World” was so fresh and different from all other Disney Parks’ versions. Seriously best in the world thus far that I’ve seen. I absolutely LOVED that they sprinkled Disney movie characters into the regular international children. For example, Belle was in the France area, Peter Pan was in the UK area, Jasmine and Aladdin were in the Arabian area, Simba and Timon/Pumba were in the African jungle area… And they had new characters like Elsa, Ana, Moana, Merida, and more… It was all really well done.
- Critter Country has a Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes ride where a bunch of people get into a large canoe and then you paddle yourself throughout the ride. We regrettably didn’t get to go on this ride, but it’s something I’ve never seen in a theme park, so I figured it should make the list.
- Westernland featured the Tom Sawyer Island Rafts ride that carried passengers from the mainland, down the rivers of America, and over to Tom Sawyer’s Island. We also didn’t have the opportunity to ride this one, not enough hours in the day. But it did look neat. I think by the time we had gotten to this area of the park, it was already closed because they close before sunset.
- Adventureland had one of my favorites: the Pirates of the Caribbean ride where we get ready to set sail with Captain Jack Sparrow. I think this version seemed more recently updated than the Orlando ride.
FastPass is a free way to skip the lines of the most popular rides in the park. If you were familiar with the old FastPass system at Disney Orlando Florida parks, then you already understand the system in Tokyo. But for those that are unfamiliar, Disney Tokyo allows you to get FastPass tickets once you have entered the park. All you have to do is bring your park ticket up to the participating attraction you’d like to ride and insert it into the machine, collect your newly printed FastPass ticket, and come back later at the designated hour window of time to skip the line.
There are eight rides that have FastPass:
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! (Exclusive to Disneyland Tokyo)
- Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Haunted Mansion
- Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (Exclusive to Disneyland Tokyo)
- The most important thing to understand is that the park will run out of FastPass tickets EARLY! Every ride only allots a certain number of FastPass tickets per ride per hour, and they are all distributed first thing in the morning. The day we were there, they ran out of FastPass tickets in under two hours of the park opening.
- There are some rules the machines will make you follow. Since you have to scan your park ticket to receive a FastPass ticket, the smart system tracks which FastPass tickets you already have, and then only lets you have one ticket for that particular time slot. There is usually a two hour wait period between FastPass ticket times. For example, if your first FastPass ticket window is from 10am, then the next allowable time you can have a FastPass ticket is beginning at 12pm.
- I suggest you arrive at the park early (before they open) and get in the queue to enter. Once the gates open, you should make a beeline to your number-one FastPass attraction and immediately get the ticket. Your goal should be to get a ticket for what you believe will be the most popular ride in the park; that way, you can guarantee you’ll ride it. Then your goal should switch to obtaining as many additional FastPasses as possible. So head directly to your next FastPass attraction to pull that ticket… and so on. You are able to hold several FastPass tickets at a time, as long as the two-hour rule is followed, so maximize and optimize on this timing.
- If you’re visiting with a group of people, then you can designate one responsible and fast person to hold all the park tickets. They can quickly go to the FastPass machines to retrieve all the tickets for your party while everyone else waits in another ride’s stand-by line, uses the restrooms, or grabs a bite to eat.
- The most popular rides for FastPass are Monsters Inc. and Pooh, since they are exclusive to Tokyo Disneyland. You can find the rest of these FastPass rides at other Disney parks around the world, and although they are great attractions, there is a little less of a draw in my opinion. The internet will tell you to get a ticket to these rides first thing in the morning because lines are heavy all day long. However, most of the morning rush will run to these rides for FastPass. We did the complete opposite to avoid crowds and ended up getting more FastPasses throughout the day. We gamed on the fact that later in the day those lines would die down. We still rode Monsters Inc. and Pooh, it was just later in the day in the stand-by lines. So you can take two different routes as one of the first people in the park, you can firstly go straight to the exclusive rides (more popular option), or you can go straight to the next best rides and avoid the crowds (what we did).
There is another way to skip the line at two of the best attractions in the park: Single Rider lines. Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain both have an option where you walk up to the FastPass line attendant and say you’d like to ride “single rider.” They will magically step aside and let you into that lane without a FastPass ticket.
My hubby and I did single rider as much as we could. There is a chance that your party gets split up when you go to ride, but these rides are only a few minutes each, so you can experience the ride and meet up after in the exit gift shop. At bare minimum, the ride wait times are half an hour, so for us to save a whole hour (minimum) of our day riding single rider, that left more time to do other attractions and shows.
One of the most interesting things we learned about dining in a Tokyo Japan theme park is that the Japanese love popcorn. This park had FIFTEEN popcorn stands featuring SEVEN different flavors: soy sauce and butter, caramel, curry, corn potage, honey, salt, and milk chocolate. They do every once in a while change flavors without notice on the map, so you may have different flavors when you visit. It is so popular they they even denote an entire section of their map to showcase the numbers of popcorn stands throughout the park.
Some other special snacks you could look into are character-themed mochi dumplings, Mike Wazowski melonpan, pizza spring rolls, Mickey-shaped churros, and mango soft serve ice cream (that has been compared to the dole whip).
As far as regular (non-reservation) dining goes, it seemed like every opportunity Disney had, they themed the food. There were eggs with Mickey Mouse-shaped yolks, Mickey Mouse glove bao sandwich buns, Mickey-head waffles, and Mickey and Minnie-head steamed Buns. I am sure this list could go on forever, but you get the idea. Very on-brand. Very cute. You will want to eat it all.
Parades and Shows
There are a bunch of shows throughout the day, but these are a few really special ones that I will highlight.
Dreaming Up! (Daytime Parade): You guys, this is a mandatory must-see if you come to Tokyo Disneyland. I think my favorite part of the day. The whole parade lasts about 45 minutes in person. However, Hubby and I loved the music so much that we downloaded the song, and it runs only about 20 minutes. It is the happiest and most catchy of all Disney songs I have ever heard. Really special. There are several reasons why this parade is so unique. One is that the parade music doesn’t play throughout the whole park; it actually plays the music specific to each float as the float gets to you. Another is that they include a diverse group of movies and characters. And finally, the floats are gorgeous animatronic machines. The characters literally fly off of the floats as they sing and dance. Just WOW. It’s the most beautiful parade that I’ve ever seen.
Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights (Nighttime Parade): This parade is during the night with all floats and some characters lit up with thousands of lights. I believe in Orlando I’ve seen this same style of parade, but this one was really much better. It was fresh and really well done. As I am writing this, I am trying to think of which was my favorite float, and they were literally one better than the next. Some standouts were Belle and the Beast (a personal favorite childhood movie), Jasmin’s palace and the Genie from Aladdin, Captain Hook’s pirate ship from Peter Pan, and the Ice Castle from Frozen.
Disney Light the Night (Nighttime Fireworks): Following the Electrical Parade, there is a five-minute fireworks display to signal the end of the evening and the park closing. This show will run rain or shine, so if it rains, then they may cut the Electrical Parade, but you at least get to see Light the Night, and Disney knows how to do fireworks.
In addition to those three most popular park-wide shows, there are other smaller shows in each land that have specific timing throughout the day. Some shows require a free ticket since space is limited and coveted. The way you can try to get a ticket is by heading to Tomorrowland Hall and scanning your park ticket at a machine. Tickets open up 45 minutes prior to each performance. You should have all of your groups tickets together when you are ready to scan. If you are a winner, then your show tickets will print. If you’re not a winner, then you can come back later and try to win for another show.
- Plan your day to include the top three parades/shows. Definitely don’t have a FastPass or dining reservation on top of one of these time slots.
- Arrive early for the parades. We claimed our curb-front spot early so we would have a less obstructed view over people’s heads. This really is important because you could be ten people deep and have a decent view of the elevated floats but no view of the characters and dancers on the street level. You will inevitably miss something if you arrive just when the show is about to start.
- If you had more than one day in Tokyo Disneyland, then I would recommend one day you experience all of these shows, and the next you skip them and do the rides with really short lines while everyone else is busy watching the shows.
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Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, and although it’s only the 6th largest park, it is extremely impressive. We spent a full day in the park, from gates opening to closing fireworks, and we didn’t even get a chance to see everything. I have visited eight Disney parks, and this is one of my top favorites. You can tell there was a different quality and attention to detail put into this park over the others. We had an absolutely magical time at our first Tokyo Disney theme park, and our next Amarvelous Honeymoon blog post will cover our time at Disney Sea, which (if you can believe) was even more spectacular!
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