9 Days in Japan: Part 6 – Tokyo DisneySea

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog. As our world heals from this terrible pandemic, I hope you and your loved ones are in lifted spirits and staying healthy. Especially for those that have experienced loss, I am deeply sorry for the difficulties you are experiencing.

Before we jump into the post, I wanted to explain our recent absence. Due to the global outbreak of Covid-19 back in February, and the significant global travel bans, the Amarvelous Honeymoon Blog had decided to postpone any travel-related blog posts. We continued to share Amarvelous Wedding Blog posts and theme those around Covid-19 event guidance. Then we decided to take a full third quarter hiatus from all posts as the world was learning more about the virus and beginning the long road to recovering and reopening.

And here we are today! I am incredibly grateful for your readership, and I hope I can spread just a little cheer in your life by sharing my travels, stories, and pictures.

So let’s pick up where we left off and recap our most recent travel posts! My husband and I got married and went on an incredible six-week honeymoon around the world. All of the posts on England, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and a cruise through Asia can be found on our Amarvelous Honeymoon page.

The final country we visited was Japan, and we’re in the midst of an eight-part series. If you’re a Disney fan (assuming you are because you’re here with us today), the last post was on Tokyo Disneyland, and today we’re going to discuss my favorite theme park in the world: Tokyo DisneySea!!

I don’t even know how to put into words how much I loved Tokyo DisneySea. It is a must-visit destination for literally anyone visiting Japan and anyone who loves Disney. It was pure magic and so well done. I share my love of this park with anyone who will hear it, and I can’t wait to make you a believer as well.

Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp

🐭🏰🧜‍♀️🐚

Day 7 in Japan

We began our day arriving at the park an hour before gates opened. I had read online in other blogs that arriving at least an hour in advance was the normal protocol for serious ride-goers as lines only got longer as the day progresses. Since we didn’t want to miss a single ride, it was an early (and long) day for us. I’ll note that we didn’t stay at the DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta due to the cost, but if you can splurge, you are allowed an early park entrance, which does help get ahead of the lines.

We arrived an hour early and were still rows of people back from the main gate. We sat on the floor like everyone else, laid out the map of the park, and began to mark out our game plan. I like to pack a marker and cross out rides and shows we know to be closed (for example, Journey to the Center of the Earth was under construction while we visited), and then smaller kid rides that we definitely wouldn’t be partaking in. We’ll marvel at their beauty as we pass, but if it’s not on our ride list, it’ll get crossed off. This helps us to keep organized and ensure we hit every attraction we wanted to see before the end of the night. I also number the rides in the order we want to try and experience them, and I recommend that you do the same, whether your list consists of the thrill rides, the kid rides, the shows, or everything.

Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp

The park is nestled into the most perfect piece of land in all of Tokyo. As its name suggests, DisneySea is located on the sea! Similar to other theme parks around the world, there is a central water system that the attractions surround. However, this park has more than one central lake. The center of the park is actually an island floating in the middle of a moat, and then there are more rides on the outer perimeter of the moat. Everywhere you look, there is water. The most special part is that from multiple vantage points in the park, you can see the retaining wall and the open sea beyond it. Truly beautiful. It reminded me of The Little Mermaid 2, when Ariel’s daughter Melody was in the castle looking out beyond the wall to the sea (except this wall isn’t quite as towering).

DisneySea is split up into seven ports-of-call (themed lands). Below I have provided a brief description of each port, our favorite attractions, and some photos. (NOTE: FP=FastPass and SR=Single Rider)

  • Mediterranean Harbor: This romantic Italian-themed port town includes mostly shops and restaurants, but also a couple of cool rides.
    • Venetian Gondolas: This attraction can take out as many as 16 guests while two gondoliers ride you around and serenade you as you go.
    • Soaring: Fantastic Flight: This ride actually opened in 2019 after our trip but it’s pretty great so I wanted to add it in. It’s similar to the Orlando Florida Epcot and Shanghai China counterparts, except the aircraft is a Renaissance-era Dream Flyer and some of the landscapes you fly over are replaced by Japanese landmarks such as Mt. Fuji and Tokyo DisneySea.
  • American Waterfront: As a New Yorker myself, I felt all the New England charm while walking through the New York Harbor area and old Cape Cod fishing village. There were a bunch of fun small details that made us feel like we were back at home.
    • Tower of Terror (FP): Japan takes a really unique look at this familiar ride. Since The Twilight Zone is not well known in Japan, the ride is just called Tower of Terror and creators developed a full storyline for the drop ride that is very different from all other versions of this ride around the world.
    • Toy Story Mania! (FP): This was such a fun 3D ride which includes individual cannons that fire simulated projectiles as you compete in five mini-games while you ride through the full experience. They keep score as you go, so you can gloat to your friends if you’re the winner. Lines can get extremely long as it’s probably the second-most popular ride in the park. It’s modeled after the California Disneyland Toy Story ride.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Port Discovery: Going from old world ports to this futuristic marina was a trip! It had the most modern vibe in the park.
    • Aquatopia: This was one of the most unique rides in the park. The ride includes 36 personal (two person) hovercrafts which moves around on wheels on a trackless system in shallow water for the illusion of floating on water. The trackless system provides a surprise route, as you don’t know where the hovercraft will take you next.
    • Nemo & Friends SeaRider: A simulated experience where you shrink down and go on a Dory-guided tour through the ocean. Check out this awesome 360° video from Adventures in VR, and don’t forget to swipe the screen around to see the full perspective.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Lost River Delta: This port is farthest in the back of the park and is depicted as a remote Central American jungle inclusive of ruins of an ancient civilization.
    • Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (FP) (SR): This enhanced motion vehicle is nearly identical to the California Disneyland Temple of the Forbidden Eye. What a fun ride, and we hardly waited at all to get on due to single rider.
    • Raging Spirits (FP) (SR): A thrilling roller coaster attraction taking you through ruins of an ancient Peruvian Incan civilization. This ride was inspired by Disneyland Paris’s Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. This is the only ride in Tokyo Disney Resort (both Disneyland and DisneySea) to have an inversion.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Mermaid Lagoon: This one is for the Ariel fans. Mermaid Lagoon features the Palace of King Triton and seashell-inspired architecture. You will experience under the sea adventures with Ariel and all her friends in this mostly indoor port giving you a true under the sea vibe. This is also the perfect area to visit if it starts to rain, since it’s almost entirely indoors.
    • Mermaid Lagoon Theatre: King Triton’s Concert (FP): This show was really fantastic!! I could have watched it again and again. It included a beautiful display of live actors suspended by cables and floating through the air, puppetry, robotics, and display screens. This is definitely a must-see in my book.
    • Surprisingly, Hubby and I spent two to three hours here. There were lots of smaller rides in this area geared toward children, but Hubby and I rode all of them and enjoyed every single one. There was also a fun area with rope bridges and other obstacles.
  • Arabian Coast: A step into this port feels a bit like you’re in a waterfront Agrabah with architectural influences inspired by the Middle-East and India.
    • The Magic Lamp Theatre (FP): An indoor 3D pre-show and show featuring the Genie and friends was entertaining and a retreat from the heat.
    • Caravan Carousel: This isn’t just any carousel. This is a two-story carousel including famous Disney characters such as the Genie. A beautiful and unique take on a traditional ride. We rode at night, and it was magical. The pictures don’t do it justice.
    • Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage: This was my hubby’s favorite non-thrill ride in the park. It has a similar feel to It’s a Small World. You sit in a boat and ride around while the characters (which are even similar size and look to It’s a Small World) tell you the story of Sinbad. It had a nice song called “Compass of Your Heart” composed by Alan Menken playing in the background.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Mysterious Island: Based off of Jules Verne’s novel The Mysterious Island, this island is Captain Nemo’s lair. The center of the island is a volcano (Mount Prometheus), and it’s in this port where you will experience the depths of the Earth and sea.
    • Journey to the Center of the Earth (FP): This ride was regrettably closed while we visited, so although I don’t have a firsthand perspective, I had done my homework in anticipation of going to the park that day. It has similar technology to Epcot’s Test Track and is the most popular ride in the whole park. That is partly because this ride is exclusive to Tokyo DisneySea and you won’t find it anywhere else in the world.
    • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (FP): After you board a small submarine, you go on a sea journey with some unexpected turns. Although you are not actually underwater, the special effects in and around the submarine are really convincing. This ride is similar to other rides at Disney parks around the world such as California Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage and the Orlando Florida Magic Kingdom 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride (which retired in 1994).
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp

Pro Tips:

  • FastPass: Maximizing FastPass while at the park will help you to see everything in one day. Disney app now allows you to do FastPass directly from your smart phone. It’s so convenient, because you used to have to go back to the ride to scan your ticket. Now you can sign up for FastPass from anywhere in the park. Don’t forget to keep an eye on time and ensure you don’t miss the ride window. Once you are allowed to reserve another FastPass, do it! All rides that offer FastPass are listed above as “FP”. As you can see, there are plenty of options.
  • Single Rider: There are two rides in the park that offer single rider options: Indiana Jones Adventure and Raging Spirits. Single rider allows you to go through an entrance separate from the main line which will save you a bunch of time (similar to FastPass). Although my husband and I were in a new country, we didn’t mind splitting up for a few minutes of the ride to save the hour wait time. We made a game plan of where to meet when the ride ended, and basically walked onto both of these rides without lines. If you are trying to accomplish every ride in a single day, plus some shows and dining, then this is an awesome option for you to take advantage of.

Snacks

Disney is well known for creating inventive treats that are new concoctions, as well as serving familiar treats in the shapes of our beloved Disney characters. While in this park, we enjoyed several treats that were sometimes really yummy, and sometimes not.

  • First things first, a MAJOR shout out to the staff in the show lottery kiosk (more info on that process below) that truly made our entire day of snacks possible. Hubby and I had been wearing Disney celebratory pins for our wedding and did not win lottery tickets for the show. The staff recognized our pins, and the fact that we were not granted tickets, and asked us to hold a minute. They came back and presented us with two lanyards and a small piece of paper. This gift allowed us to consume UNLIMITED popcorn all day long from popcorn kiosks. It was incredible. Popcorn is nothing new. We have it in America and all over the world, but Japan Disney does it right. They offer the most variety of, and in some cases inventive, flavors that we’d never seen. On that particular day, they were offering seven flavors (an example of this can be seen on the bottom left hand corner of the park map above). As we went through the park, we tried every flavor, some more than once. It was wonderful. I think I liked all the flavors except the seaweed flavor which was too fishy for me. What a generous gift. We have never received any type of kindness like this from theme park staff. It truly made our day. We actually filled up on so much popcorn that we hardly ate anything else, but it was worth it.
  • I ordered a really tasty seashell-shaped sea salt (wow say that three times fast) ice cream in Mermaid Lagoon.
  • From the not-so-great side, we had a pasta dish from a restaurant inside the Mediterranean Harbor that was actually really awful. As an Italian myself, I’m a very tough critic and shouldn’t have ordered a pasta dish in a Disney Park in Japan. Mistake number one and I really blame myself for that. But word to the wise, just because it looks like you’re strolling down a Venice street, does not mean the food will taste authentic.

Pro Tip:

  • As I noted above in our popcorn gift section, we had been granted that gift because the staff recognized we were celebrating. If you aren’t aware, at most Disney Parks around the world, you can ask at Guest Services if they offer free celebratory pins. These are FREE SOUVENIRS, people! Disney usually offers a few kinds. Sometimes a generic “celebrating” or “birthday” or sometimes “just married.” It’s a long story, but we actually traveled on our honeymoon WITH “just married” pins from Orlando Florida Disney because we wanted to wear pins in the park and weren’t sure if they offered them. We had visited Hong Kong Disney ^^^^LINK: http://amarvelousevent.com/blog/two-days-in-hong-kong/ ^^^^^ a few weeks before Japan, and wore our Orlando pins to that park. At guest services we were provided new Hong Kong “just married” pins! Score!! Now in Japan, we asked at guest services if they gave pins, and unfortunately they didn’t (don’t let that stop you from still asking for the pins, as perhaps they changed the offering since 2018). So we wore our Hong Kong pins around the park, and I’m sure that had we not been wearing the pins, we never would have received the popcorn gift because those two ladies wouldn’t have known it was our honeymoon. To make a very long story short: get your free souvenir and wear them to the parks.

Land Shows

There are several land-based stage shows that are ticketed or walk-up. For the ticketed shows, tickets can be reserved in two ways: a computer-generated lottery system to win assigned seats, or a standby line. The lottery machines are located at Biglietteria in the Mediterranean Harbor just before the gondola bridge (or from the park app on your smart phone once you have entered the park), and I recommend you try lottery first before standby. Simply hold up your ticket barcode for everyone in your group, choose your show time, and then the screen tells you if you win or miss out on tickets. We tried our hand at the lottery and did not get tickets. And the standby lines were always a madhouse, so we missed the show I really wanted to see. Such a bummer as I am a theatre enthusiast and would have loved to have seen the production (even though it was probably in Japanese).

  • Big Band Beat (Lottery): A large production swing jazz show and known as one of the best shows in the park. This is the most coveted lottery ticket.
  • Hello, New York!: Presented in the New York area of American Waterfront and shows Mickey and friends enjoying the Big Apple.
  • A Table is Waiting: An outdoor show that follows a catchy tune and takes you through different cuisines from around the world. Seating is available on a first-come first-served basis.
  • My Friend Duffy: Presented at the Cape Cop Cook-Off, order a meal and sit back to watch the show while you dine.
  • Song of Mirage (Lottery): Brand new. In the Lost River Delta, Mickey and friends go on an adventure in search of the Rio Dorado.

Sea Shows

There are several sea shows in the Mediterranean Harbor ranging from a single barge to full-on productions. Many people claim a viewing spot as early as two hours in advance of the show. So if you are serious about having an unobstructed view, pick your spot, grab a snack to munch on, and park yourself there for a good deal of time. A few coveted spots to watch from are in Mickey Square (right in front of the harbor), Lido Isle (a small island to the left of Mickey Square), the bridge between American Waterfront and Mysterious Island, and the stage area in front of Zambini Brothers to the right in the harbor.

  • Mickey & Friends Harbor Greetings: Single decorated barge with Mickey and all his friends parading through the harbor to say hello. We saw this during our visit.
  • Transit Steamer Greeting: Brand new. Similar to above with Mickey and friends saying hello, except this time on an antique steamer boat.
  • To end the night, we grabbed a spot around the lagoon to watch the nighttime parade on the water that was called Fantasmic! It was absolutely magical. Such a creative display of moving boats, characters, water, lights, and pyrotechnics. Really impressive. Disney retired this show in March of 2020 and released a new show called Disney Light the Night, which is a fireworks and music display that can be seen and heard from all over the park and not just along on the water. You’re in for a real treat to end your night, because Disney knows how to say goodbye and thanks for visiting! The video below will give you a glimpse of the Fantasmic! show we experienced in 2018.

Video credit: TokyoDisneyResortOfficial

Pro Tips:

  • Sometimes if the park isn’t too crowded, shows will be on a first-come first-served basis, and you won’t need the lottery system.
  • Sometimes the first show of the day is first-come first-served and it’s just a 30-minute wait in line to gain entry. So if you’re at the entry gate early, you are almost guaranteed to see the show if you head straight to the theatre.

Decor

Easter in 2018 was April 1st, and we visited the park at the end of May while they were still decorated . Look at all these cool eggs!

We had the most incredible day at DisneySea. It was both of our first times there, we experienced a new park and new rides, were spoiled by the park staff, and just had the most magical time. Of our six-week honeymoon around the world, DisneySea is definitely the thing I rave about most. Whenever I know someone going to Japan I recommend it, whenever I learn about someone who loves Disney Parks or has visiting all the Disney Parks on their bucket list (like me), I share our experience with them. It was really an unforgettable day, and I can’t wait to visit Japan again and go back to DisneySea!

🐭🏰🧜‍♀️🐚

Although my post covers our 2018 experience, I wanted to provide you with a park update as Disney had planned some additions that were slated to open in spring of 2020. I don’t believe the park was open for that launch due to Covid, but it will be an exciting time once the park reopens.

Video credit: TokyoDisneyResortOfficial