By Terrie Yamamoto
We went to Tokyo DisneySea on Tuesday, June 17, 2008. We had just come back from Walt Disney World in January, so we decided to only go to Tokyo DisneySea and not Tokyo Disneyland. I have heard that the weekends (just as in America) are very crowded. We didn’t see as many children as you see at Disneyland, more couples on dates. If you are going to Japan and you have the time to spare, I suggest you plan at the most three days at the resort, a day and a half for each park. I believe you can do it at a leisurely pace and see most of it. At a minimum, plan one full day at one of the parks. I’d suggest DisneySea, since Japan is the only place with a DisneySea park. Tokyo DisneySea is a park that Disney fans should visit at least once if given the chance. It reminded our family of Epcot.
The park was open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. We caught a shuttle from our hotel (Le Meridien Pacific in Shinagawa). We arrived at the park around 10:30 a.m. There wasn’t a crowd to get in (we bought our tickets the day before at the Disney Store in Odaiba). The park probably can be done in one day if you rush. If you go two days, I guarantee you will see everything and you could do it at a leisurely pace.
Tokyo DisneySea has seven lands, all with a “sea” theme. (Editor’s note: you can follow along with Terrie’s narration here, at the DisneySea lands page.) The first land you encounter is the Mediterranean Harbor. This looks like an Italian town and is very impressive. There also is a hotel here. My two sons enjoyed the gondola ride with singing gondoliers. This had a pretty slow queue as the loading and unloading took some time.
Next (going clockwise) is American Waterfront, similar to Main Street. We rode the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line. It is a boat ride that gives you a tour of all of the lands. Riding the Steamer Line from the American Waterfront is a roundtrip ride (it doesn’t stop at the other lands). I believe if you board at some of the other lands it is a form of transportation of getting from one land to another. I recommend riding this soon after entering so that you can get a feel of the park. You should also ride the gondolas (Mediterranean Harbor) if the line isn’t too long. I think it gets more crowded as the day goes on especially after the fireworks.
Port of Discovery is the next themed area. This area had a futuristic theme. This is where the attraction “Storm Rider” is, which would be an excellent ride if you understood Japanese. It is a similar ride to Star Tours, except you are riding into the center of a storm. This usually has FASTPASS available, but on our visit the FASTPASS was closed. We stood in line about 20 minutes. They load around 50 people at a time. It has a presentation first, then you enter the ride. It’s kind of like the Aerosmith Rockin Rollercoaster, except this presentation seems much longer and the amount of people that go in at one time is a lot more. So the queue will stand still for a awhile and then move up quickly once they let the next batch of people in.
The next land, Lost River Delta, is like Adventureland. This is where the Indiana Jones ride is, and the Raging Spirits roller coaster. This seemed to be the coolest area on a very humid day.
Arabian Coast, the next land, reminded us of Fantasyland. They have a ride similar to Small World called Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, with the same type of dolls. However, it isn’t as tame as Small World – you ride through a storm and get a little wet. They also have a double decker carousel, some games and a 3-D show.
Toward the center of DisneySea is Mysterious Island – a Science Fiction type area. This is where Journey to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Center of the Earth rides are.
Also in the center is Mermaid Lagoon, which is similar to Toon Town at the Magic Kingdom, with playgrounds and kiddy rides. Even if you don’t have small ones, you should still take a look at the area. It is magical in Triton’s Kingdom.
We rode almost every ride at DisneySea except the following:
- Journey to the Center of the Earth (closed for refurbishment)
- Tower of Terror (skipped it since we rode in January at Disney MGM)
- Raging Spirits (my sons did not make the height requirement)
- Big City Vehicles (just like the vehicles on Main Street in Disneyland)
- Caravan Carousel (My sons did not want to ride – they are eleven and nine)
My sons rode everything in Mermaid Lagoon, which are kiddy rides, except the Whirlpool (looked like it would make you motion sick, like the teacups). My sons liked every ride – the rides in Mermaid Lagoon not as much as the others (they are getting too old for kiddy rides). My husband and I rode everything, except the rides in Mermaid Lagoon and the ones listed above, and liked everything except Aquatopia. Aquatopia was a little boring and had potential to make some people motion sick. My sons enjoyed it, though.
All of the rides are fun to ride once but since we don’t understand Japanese, once is probably enough. If we understood Japanese or if it was in English, I can imagine how much more enjoyable it would be. Disney is not about roller coasters but about the whole package, so not understanding the language you miss a lot of the attractions’ highlights.
This is the 25th anniversary of the Tokyo Disney Resort. We were there during the opening phase of the celebration, and they had a few special activities. At Tokyo DisneySea they had four shows performed for the 25th anniversary. In total, there were 12 “shows” listed on the entertainment schedule. However, people started staking out spots to watch the shows about 1 hour before the show, so we didn’t see that many shows. We only had one day and wanted to ride. We saw three shows:
- Primavera: Springtime Sun show is located around the Mediterranean Harbor. The Mediterranean Harbor is the first “land” that you encounter upon entering the park. The characters move from one staging area to the next. And there also is a boat sailing around the harbor. The water is a lake similar to the one at Epcot. This show is for the 25th anniversary.
- BraviSEAmo! is a night time show on the Mediterranean Harbor similar to Epcot’s night time show. We felt, however, that this one was better than IllumiNations. This show is not special for the 25th anniversary.
- Dreams, the fireworks, was the last show. This is marked as performed in honor of the 25th Anniversary. I think it is because the music is to the “new” Tokyo Disney Resort theme song. This was very disappointing. I guess we were expecting something like Magic Kingdom’s or Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary fireworks. The good thing was that it was right after BraviSEAmo! And we didn’t have to move to watch it.
The food at DisneySea was “ok,” nothing special. In Mysterious Island, there was a refreshment stand that had an unbelievably long line. I couldn’t understand why everyone was going to that particular stand. Then we realized that the stand sold a giant gyoza (dumpling). It looked like the size of COSTCO hot dog. We really wanted to try one, but the line was just too long.
Overall we enjoyed DisneySea. Would we go again? Yes, if we were in Japan and had a free day. My sons said next time they want to go to Tokyo Disneyland. I believe it is because even though they don’t understand Japanese, they know what the rides are about and what is being said at Disneyland.
[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Terrie for sharing her experience at DisneySea. If you have been to an overseas Disney park and have a tip, photo or experience to share with other readers, please send them to email@example.com.]