Quick trip report of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea 3/22/19 and 3/23/19

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Our trip to Japan was a long time coming and my family and I finally got our chance to visit a week or so ago. We knew that we were going during spring holiday for kids in Japan and that with cherry blossom season it was bound to be busy. Before we got there we estimated we may be able to go on 2-3 actual rides per day, which was going to be fine because we were going to enjoy the ambiance and awesomeness that was Disney.

We checked into the Hilton the first afternoon and got into our room about 2 pm. We knew that we could get tickets at the hotel as long as we had cash to use as payment. We purchased a “twilight” pass for the first day at Disneyland (3 pm- close on Saturday) and a full day for DisneySea the next. It was very cold and windy and I believed that the crowds would be slightly lower because of the weather. Alas, I was so, so, so, so, so, so wrong! The line to get in at 3 pm was not terribly long but no one was exiting the park at all. There were so many people at the entrance and I knew that we were going to be in for an experience that we had never seen at any of the American parks. Plus, we had checked the Disney app we downloaded and knew that almost all fastpasses for rides were gone for the day. We were going to have to do standby for everything.

The main entrance to Disneyland had a wonderfully covered Main Street with a cute tree that lit up and worked in conjunction with a light show that played on the entire ceiling. The crush of people was so powerful and we were not able to stop and enjoy the show. We decided that if we were only going to be able to do a few rides that we would do rides we couldn’t do at home.

The vibe of the park was very much like Magic Kingdom and that made it pretty easy for us to navigate to our first ride choice–Monsters Inc., Ride & Go Seek! But the standby line was 70 minutes and I just couldn’t bring myself to wait that long. We headed over to the Stitch Encounter, which is basically Turtle Talk with Crush, but with Stitch and in Japanese. We had a cast member point out that the show was in Japanese and inferred that we may not enjoy it much. We decided to go in anyway and had a fun time watching all of the little kids and dads get picked on by Stitch. The line had been 30 minutes and I felt that it was worth it. We started to get seriously cold when we decided to go see the Tiki Room with Stitch–on the other side of the park. We ended up getting into the middle of the huge afternoon parade and inadvertently got to see the Hiro and Baymax float (which was kind of a bucket list item for me). We finished the parade and got to the Stitch show.

The show was fun and it was nice to get out of the bitter wind. We decided to get something to eat and ended up getting a steamed pork bun with a bun that looked like Mickey Mouse’s glove. At the time it tasted okay, but as we spent more time in Japan we realized that they were just okay. Seriously cute, though. Decided to see if we could get some fun experiences in Toon Town and my son hit his wall. We took a few minutes to eat a small pizza (we didn’t love that it hardly had cheese and even had corn on it) and some french fries. We looked around Toon Town and were just too cold to continue. We saw that many people were wearing these cute little blankets with Mickey Mouse hoods and figured that would be a great thing to buy our son to at least keep him warm. We went back to the main street stores and couldn’t even get inside. I have to admit that I wasn’t having a very fun time and I was seriously worried about how the DisneySea day would be on a Sunday. We finally found a little shop with a little bit of elbow room and bought the blanket. Pretty much saved the night.

We realized that there was really only one more ride at Disneyland that we didn’t have in the U.S. and made the decision to wait in the line for Monsters Inc., which was still 70 minutes long. We settled in and just went with it. The line was outside the building and it was still seriously cold. The wind off the bay is no joke. It had been about 60 minutes by the time we got to the entrance. We stepped inside thinking that the ride would be pretty much right there, but–you know how Disney is good at disguising some of their lines–we were in there for at least 30 more minutes. I was not happy but we were in for the long haul. It finally became our turn and we enjoyed the two minute ride. We used flashlights to shine on various M shaped buttons to make aliens jump out of different places. I was happy to do something I had never done before and our spirits were much lifted when it was over.

We couldn’t handle the cold anymore and decided to head back to the hotel. We did not try to get lottery tickets for the castle show and figured we would be able to see fireworks from our room. We walked to the bus stop and were back at our hotel in about 30 minutes. We opened the curtains and settled into the chairs to watch the fireworks, but sleep beckoned and we knew we needed to be at least an hour early before rope drop the next day to even have a chance of getting fastpasses for any rides. Fireworks were forgotten and we fell fast asleep. We had no idea what was coming next…

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We woke up very early the next day so that we could get to DisneySea at least an hour before rope drop. With the bus ride to the park drop off and the somewhat longish walk to the front gate we were in line by 6:50 am. There were already hundreds of people in line. The park opened at 8 am. By 7:30 am the line stretched forever behind us. We were jealous of all of the locals eating their little rice treats while they waited but the wait was not that terrible. The cold and wind of the previous day were nowhere to be seen and it was looking to be a beautiful day. As we waited we decided that as soon as we were through the turnstiles we would give all the tickets to my husband and he would beeline to Journey to the Center of the Earth (our one and only must do of the park) to get fastpasses. The official Disney hotel guests got in 15 minutes early and I really wished that we were with them! As soon as the gates opened (with no big Disney announcement or music) everyone surged forward and it became an exercise in making sure that my son didn’t get hurt. He’s 12 but not very big and we were definitely getting pushed by many big people. I worked really hard not to panic and we eventually got through the gate. There were thousands of people right inside the gate and they were beginning to run everywhere. I handed our tickets to my husband, and my son and I slowed down and caught our breath a little as we walked to the the ride.

We got a glimpse of several characters as they were getting ushered back into the buildings. It looks like just the people with the 15 minutes early pass got to have access to them at that time. I had no real idea of where anything was at DisneySea and just walked toward the volcano. I had grabbed a map but in our rush to get to the ride I never had a chance to look at it. We found my hubby in the Journey fastpass line and managed to get tickets for the next hour. I had a feeling we were really going to love it and I convinced the boys to stand in the standby line so we could ride it once and then use the fastpasses to ride it again later. We waited for 30 minutes in a really fun line and had the best fun ever! We truly had no idea what the ride was about and were very pleasantly surprised by the end. We were so happy that we had fastpasses for later. We got a snack and waited for our next fastpass time to hit and then got tickets for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Went back and rode Journey again and then back to 20,000. So. Much. Fun. I was expecting submarines and got something much more quick and much more immersive. Loved it. Headed over to Arabia and watched the Aladdin magic show. Still fun even though we were kind of shocked that it was all in Japanese. We actually forgot that was going to happen! Then we rode the Sinbad ride and headed over to Indiana Jones and Raging Spirits. Hubby had run ahead to get tix for IJ but accidentally ended up getting us tickets to Raging Spirits. We remembered that IJ had a single rider line though, so we decided to try to get in a “quick” ride before our RS fastpass return. The standby line was at 2 hours long and we ended up getting in an out in about 15 minutes. My son and hubby actually even got to ride together in the front seat. It was very similar to Disneyland with a couple of differences. It was a blast and we were officially in heaven!

Ran over to do Raging Spirits which actually just felt like Goofy’s Sky School in California, but with a loop in the middle. It was okay and not at all as exciting as we were expecting. But we got to do it and we were happy with that. We stood in line to take the boat back to the main section of the park and we checked out America. Duffy is such a big deal in Japan and so far we had never seen any merchandise in other parts of the park. Turns out there is a huge store in America and it was seriously packed. Duffy even has a bunch of friends that we never knew about and my son decided to buy himself the cat. I have no idea what her name is but she is very cute.

We couldn’t get fastpasses for Toy Story or Tower of Terror. This didn’t bother us too much though, as we have done them many times and home and we wanted to make sure that we did other things while we were in Japan. Hubby was happy to finally find a beer and I was happy to just look around and enjoy the scenery. This part of the park was very popular. Plus we saw so many people dressed similarly and we had the biggest laugh when we saw about 12 family members all dressed to the hilt as Ham from Toy Story. Very cute.

Decided to see if we could get into Magellan’s for dinner (ha, ha, ha) and there was no way that was going to happen. Plus is was way over our budget and couldn’t justify the cost anyway. Found a fun (and big area) with a pirate ship for kids to climb on and a fortress that had various areas dedicated to ideas of Leonardo da Vinci. So. Cool.

I wish we could have explored more, but we were getting so tired and hungry and we needed to head the Hangry meltdown off as soon as possible. But before we left we ended up getting to see Jack Sparrow as he climbed aboard the ship and started to play and take pictures with everyone! Yay!
We had pizza near the Venice canals and then went all the way back to Arabia to ride the double decker carousel and then decided to end the day with the Little Mermaid show. Up to this point we knew there was something to do with Ariel around the park but we hadn’t seen much. We went into this cave opening and found an entire new universe that I didn’t expect for one second. It was loud, bright, colorful and jam packed with kids. We essentially found the “carnival” part of the park and it was CRAZY amazing. We waited about 30 minutes to see an absolutely excellent show that was more elaborate than anything I have ever seen in the states. The rig that Ariel performs on is amazing and I loved every minute of it. We wound our way back through the throngs of people and to the front of the park. It had been crazy busy but there was so much space to work with that it never got more overwhelming than it did when we were in the initial line to get in. I was very happy with the experience and know that I will never ever be able to complain about a long line in WDW again. We now know how to deal!

Hope you enjoyed our little stay. Let me know if you have any questions and I will answer the best I can. Thank you!

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This is brilliant. It is interesting to read something so different. Thank you for sharing.

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Wow! Thank you for this report and pictures!

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Great report, I had a feeling that there would be a lot of people there. Tokyo is on my Disney wish list.

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Thanks for posting this! I was really hoping you would. We’ll be in Tokyo for a couple of weeks this summer and I’m still on the fence about Disney Sea. Loved your trip report!

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Great report @owenbohn!! Thank you!
So, paper fpp buffalo stampede, arrive 2 hrs before rope drop with snacks, memorize maps, every show is in japanese, food is bah humbug, take a jacket, don’t underestimate crowds, don’t miss journey, 20K and mermaid. Any other tips?

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Hi there! That is all correct. I would just say that some people on the facebook page-- Disney and Universal Theme Parks in Asia–just love the food offered at both parks. We didn’t really spend any time exploring the food options too much, so the food may be something that you end up enjoying quite a bit. I would also like to tell you to take time to look around. There are a lot of nooks and crannies that may hold an entire new world of wonderful. We were constantly surprised all day long! Hope you have a great trip.

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The Tim Tracker (on Youtube) does a great series of Tokyo Disney and DisneySea reviews, including the Hilton Hotel and all the food offerings. Was so interesting to see how different everything is, yet weirdly the same.

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