Please welcome back guest blogger Kristin Dormuth! She recently had the amazing opportunity to spend a day at Tokyo DisneySea and is here to tell us all about it.
I recently took a trip to Japan, and I had an extra day before the tour started. Since I was so close to Tokyo Disney, I decided I had to go see it! With just one day, I went to Tokyo DisneySea rather than Disneyland (their castle park).
I’d heard beforehand that the lines to get in are super long, and they were not kidding! There were enormous crowds of people outside the gates, but everything was very orderly and once the park opened things moved pretty fast. Lots of people were wearing Disney shirts, and I lost count of how many Duffy bags, umbrellas, and hats people were wearing. (Duffy is sort of the unofficial mascot of the Tokyo Disneyland Resort.) The park opened at 8AM and I was through the gate (bought my ticket and got through bag check) by about 8:30. One thing that made me chuckle is that when I bought my ticket, they handed me a card. It explained in English that there may be long lines for the rides, and that I couldn’t get a refund if I couldn’t ride everything I wanted to. I guess they’ve had complaints!
Once inside, I headed straight for Mysterious Island to grab a fastpass for Journey to the Center of the Earth. I knew I wanted to do this ride, and I’d heard the lines could get to be several hours long. I managed to get a 4PM fastpass – lucky, since I needed to leave by 5 to get back to my hotel for my tour’s welcome dinner! Tokyo uses the “old” fastpass system, where you insert your ticket and get a return time. Interestingly, the fastpass itself is stored on the park ticket; the fastpass paper is just a reminder of when your fastpass is good.
I waited about an hour to go on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The queue was so detailed that it didn’t feel too bad! There was a big section showing Captain Nemo’s quarters on the Nautilus, full of books and maps. The ride itself was the coolest dark ride I’ve ever been on. The vehicles are suspended, like in Peter Pan’s Flight, and are enclosed like submarines with portholes to look out. The motion of the vehicles is very smooth and flowing (at first I thought it was a simulator), so you really feel like you’re underwater, and the lighting of the sets contributes to that feeling. I rode it twice because I liked it so much, and had to keep reminding myself that that sets and animatronics aren’t actually wet. It was very convincing! The ride itself takes you past shipwrecks and fish before the submarine is attacked by a giant squid. You electrocute the tentacles to get free (which is a pretty cool lighting effect) and then journey on to discover Atlantis. Each seat has a joystick to control a “lantern” so you can light up different things and examine the area more closely. There’s narration in Japanese, so I didn’t follow all the nuances, but was able to follow the general gist of the story.
Next I stopped for an early lunch in Volcania, a buffeteria in Mysterious Island. I got some cold ramen – the seaweed had a print of Mickey on it! The restaurant continues the theming of the land and was a neat place to take a break.
Overall, Tokyo DisneySea is amazingly detailed and well-themed. Every aspect has been designed, and none of the “real world” shows through. It’s the same level of immersion as Galaxy’s Edge, but for an entire park. I definitely understand why this is considered the best theme park in the world!
I was still a little hungry after lunch, so I decided to get some of the special flavored popcorn! Tokyo Disney is known for having a variety of interesting flavors of popcorn, and in fact the map has a section that tells you which flavors are available in which location. I got the Chinese chili popcorn, which was spicy-sweet.
As I munched, I wandered past Mermaid Lagoon to Arabian Coast. Again, the level of theming and detail was exceptional. I’ve been to Egypt and Jordan, and this area felt very much like a Disney-fied (but realistic) marketplace. It’s similar to how, for example, the UK pavilion in Epcot is a Disney-fied (but realistic) version of England. My next ride was Voyages of Sinbad, which was completely adorable. The storyline is that Sinbad and his tiger friend Chandu leave their home village for adventure. Along the way, they befriend mermaids, defend a Rukh’s eggs from bandits, free a genie who was wrongly imprisioned, meet a sultan, play music with a monkey tribe, and encounter a whale so large an entire island fits on its back. Again, I couldn’t understand the Japanese lyrics of the theme song, but the ride was still understandable through the sets and characters. And I have to praise the detail, once again – in the scene with the monkeys, there was even the scent of bananas. Another thing that impressed me was how fluidly the animatronics moved.
Next up was the Lost River Delta area, to go on Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull! This is the only ride in the park with a single rider line, so even though it’s very similar to the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland California, I decided to ride it since the wait was minimal. Again, the queue was jaw-droppingly detailed. The main part of it winds through the temple, which feels like an actual Mayan temple. It’s practically an attraction in itself. I was lucky enough to ride with a bunch of teenage girls who were really excited for the ride. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and it was a lot more fun to have us all shrieking along whenever a skeleton or spider popped out!
It started to rain, so I dashed through Port Discovery just long enough to take a picture before taking shelter in the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge in the American Waterfront section. It was nice, but I didn’t think it was exceptional. Definitely a relief to get out of the heat and rain, though! This area is also where DisneySea has their Tower of Terror. I didn’t get to ride it because the line was long, unfortunately. I guess I’ll just have to go back 😉
Finally it was time to use my fastpass for Journey to the Center of the Earth. Every time I’d been past, the line was 3-4 hours long (I think the shortest I saw was 2.5) so I’m definitely glad I got a fastpass! The ride itself was pretty cool, and as usual the queue had lots of interesting detail. It starts as a dark ride, going through the various caverns of crystal and strange underground creatures. Then there’s a rumble, and you see that the path ahead has been blocked by a rockslide. The vehicle makes a sharp turn and “plows” through the Earth, eventually discovering a giant arthropod monster (and really neat animatronic!) before bursting out of the mountain. At this point it becomes a bit of a thrill ride, going down a short drop and then rolling quickly along the crater edge of Mysterious Island before getting to the unloading area. It’s a cool ride, but honestly I felt like Indiana Jones was more thrilling, and I wouldn’t wait 4 hours for it. If you want to do this one, get a fastpass for it before you do anything else!
Overall, I’m incredibly glad I was able to visit Tokyo DisneySea. The level of immersion is amazing, and the rides are fun and somewhat different from the other Disney parks I’ve visited. I’d definitely love to go back at some point!
Would you be interested in visiting Tokyo DisneySea? What would you most want to see there?