The Ultimate Guide to Your First Visit at Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo DisneySea is, without a doubt, the very best of all the Disney Parks around the world. Sorry, Paris, California and Shanghai, this place just got ya beat! Maybe it's the imaginative themeing, the stepping into another world charm, the kindness of the employees or the respectfulness of the crowds. Whatever it is, this place truly is magic.
DisneySea is made up of seven themed ports of call; Mediterranean Harbour, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and the American Waterfront. Various ports are based off historical locations throughout the world and others are complete fantasies.
Most people who visit DisneySea will only be here for one day. Although ticket prices here in Tokyo are much lower than anywhere else in the world, unless you're HUGE Disney buff you'll most likely only spend the one day per park so making the most of your time here is of the utmost importance! A one day visit to any Disney park is a daunting task, with so many places to visit, attractions to ride and things to eat, how can anyone fit everything into just one day? Looking back, I can't believe how much we managed to pack into the short time we had, so trust me, with the proper planning and knowledge it's more than manageable to see and do a TON inside this unbelievable fantasyland.
It's very difficult to create a universal schedule or itinerary to follow since everyone's experience will be totally unique. Maybe you don't like the big rides or maybe you want to take it slow. Perhaps you're there over Christmas and want to spend the majority of your time attending special holiday performances. So, instead of making an hour by hour agenda, I'm going to try and give you tips on what is worth checking out, thoughts on what's worth skipping and pointers which will allow you to see and do as much as possible. I've found that as great as some online itineraries are, they can make you feel very rushed and that if you're not making every stop happen, you're falling behind. Even if you miss out on something you thought was a "must-see" don't let that get you down! This park is full of surprises and new adventures you might not have seen coming! The key is to do your research and make a list of what's important to you! Hopefully, this blog will help narrow down how to get the most out of your DisneySea experience!
I've broken this post up into preparation, tips & advice, rides, shows, food and entertainment! I've seen so many other great blog posts and wanted to make mine a little bit different but just as helpful. At the bottom of the post I've also provided what our day at DisneySea looked like to give you an example of exactly what can be done in just one day!
When to Go
One of the biggest questions before visiting any Disney park should be "When should I go?" This decision will impact your experience and how many things you can pack in. I suggest using a Crowd Calendar. These are so useful when visiting any park. They help you see when the busiest and least busy days will be over the year so you can better plan out your travels. These calendars not only incorporate last years crowd count statistics but also special events, holidays and school vacations. Weekdays (excluding Fridays) are often the safest bet! We went on a Tuesday and the crowds, while still busy since it was during the 35th Anniversary event, were perfectly manageable.
Another thing you must check in advance are any ride closures. While ride closures and repairs definitely happen and sometimes can't be prevented, often, especially in the Tokyo Disney Parks these are planned and announced long in advance. A few YouTubers I follow went to Japan a few weeks before we went and were sad to find that many of the most popular rides were closed down. This is because Disney wanted to make sure they were in tip top shape before the 35th-anniversary events. If you're coming a long way just to see this place, you want to make sure you've done a bit of research in advance to ensure those rides you've been looking forward to are in working order.
Buying tickets in advance is very important! The crowds tend to line up here even 2 hours before the park opens and the last thing you want is to need to spend time buying your ticket on top of all this. You can buy tickets online through the official DisneySea website, the easiest option. They call their 1-Day tickets "passports". A 1-day passport costs 7,400 yen per adult (approx. $67 USD) and 6,400 yen per child (approx. $58 USD). You can also buy tickets to the Disney Parks at 7-Eleven kiosks but often finding the English buttons can be very difficult so unless you're Japanese is pretty strong I wouldn't advise going this route.
The last option is for anyone staying on Disney property hotels. You can easily buy your passports at the reception desks here but frankly, while I'd love to dream of one day staying at these hotels, the prices are incredibly high. Plus, if you stay off property, think of how many souvenirs you can buy in the park with the money you saved!
TOKYO DISNEY PARK INFO & TIPS
As mentioned above, if you're staying off property, finding your way into the park, as early as possible is very important. The best way to make your way into the parks is to take the train to Maihama Station. This is the main entry point to all the Tokyo parks. From here take the Disney Resort Monorail to Tokyo Disney Sea Station (10 minutes, 260 yen).
The crowds at DisneySea are much heavier than in the US parks. Japanese fans are highly passionate about everything Disney and as such, even on a light day it might feel very busy at times in certain areas. But you can rest easy because almost everyone is so polite and respectful of people’s personal space and there won’t be any rude line skipping from these incredibly respectful people.
Waiting in line for the park to open might be the most agonizing part of the whole day. To get the most out of your day you want to arrive at least one hour before the gates open. On busier days I would recommend two hours. This is so you are as close to the front of line to get inside as possible. If you’ve got a portable wifi try to use this time to look over your plan again, post some pics from your trip so far on Instagram or even research any plans for the next day. Ensure you grab a map of the park to study up as well as one of the Today booklets. The Today booklet is in Japanese only but lists all the different speciality merchandise and food items available exclusively this month. Can’t recommend reading this thing more! Great way to pass the time. You don't want to miss all those limited edition items which Japan parks specialize in. If there is something you are really interested in, ask any cast member to help translate the Japanese for you. When the gates finally open and you walk through, you'll pass by dozens of cheerful cast members waving their oversized Mickey hands to greet you. It's a ritual which every Disney park performs and which I've come to love so much. They all just seem so happy to welcome you to their park!
FastPasses & Wait Times
The FastPass system in Tokyo Disney is a little different from the other parks. You can get one FastPass every 2 hours. This important to keep in mind so you don't miss out on nabbing a FastPass to help you expedite your way onto some of the most popular rides. The rides in the park which offer FastPasses are; Journey to the Center of the Earth, Nemo and Friends SeaRider, Venetian Gondolas, Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, Raging Spirits 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Aquatopia and Tower of Terror.
Checking ride wait times is a great way to make the most of your time in the park. If you see a short wait time for an otherwise very busy attraction that is your opportunity maximise your time park. I would recommend the TDR app for the most updated ride times.
BRIEF GUIDE TO THE PORTS
Mediterranean Harbour is modelled after Italian port towns of the Renaissance era. While no one specific town was used as inspiration, you are surrounded by shockingly accurate renaissance architecture, Venetian canals, bobbing gondolas and traditional Italian restaurants. Since Mediterranean Harbour is the first land you enter as you walk into the park is acts as defacto "main street" with a host of souvenir shops and restaurants. Another unique aspect of this land is that the buildings around the waterfront are not just facades. Inside are the hotel rooms of the MiraCosta. Guests can peer out at the park all day! While these rooms are certainly not cheap, there is nothing quite like them anywhere in the world. Seeing people on their balconies, enjoying the view, makes the illusion of this being in an actual city all the more realistic.
On either side of the harbour are two access points towards Mysterious Island. The bridge of the left is designed after the famous 'Ponte Vecchio' in Florence with all the ancient shops and stores practically hanging off the side of the bridge. To the north of the Harbour is an expansive medieval Fortress where you can dine at Magellan's or play within the Fortress Explorations. The Mediterranean Harbour definitely has the most restaurants and souvenir shops so if you're looking for something to eat or a specific piece to bring home, this is the best place to go.
Mysterious Island was inspired by Jules Verne's science fiction novels involving underwater adventures, sea creature and the infamous, Captain Nemo. The world looks like an aquatic steampunk dream. Despite the name, the island is no island at all. Rather, it is built into the enormous land mass which can be seen across the park. This is Mount Prometheus! Throughout the day the volcano atop the mountain erupts with a huge burst of flames. Mysterious Island is made up of rocks and water with bits of industrial metal carved into the sides, so it looks like it's under constant excavation. The bright green and yellow metallic structures look so iconic against the red rocks. Mysterious Island has some of the most interesting and unique rides in the park and also several snack kiosks and shops to grab a quick bite to eat, all in a relatively small area.
The Lost River Delta
The Lost River Delta feels like stepping into the ancient ruins of Central America. You'll see stone temples rising from the treetops, ancient pyramids and crumbling structures. Despite having two large roller-coasters, there is little else to see and do while over here. But the lush greenery and adventurous scenery makes it a lovely place to come and relax if you're just looking to take a break!
Mermaid Lagoon might be my favourite area of the park but what it makes up for in appearance it lacks in quality rides. Very much the opposite of Lost River Delta. The exterior and interior of the Lagoon are inspired by the Little Mermaid. The castle seen in the centre of the lagoon was made to look like King Triton's Palace. Seashell shaped coral the size of small buildings pop out of the ground and welcome in visitors. The interior of the Lagoon is worth exploring during the late afternoon to escape the heat or on a rainy or chilly day. The rides inside are geared towards younger kids so older kids and adults might find them a little simplistic. But the design is stunning, it really makes you feel like you're under the sea. Ariel has a character meet here and the lines are usually pretty short so be sure to check it out on your way through. They also have some of the best souvenir shops if you're a princess fan!
The Arabian Coast feels like the great city of Agrabah from 'Aladdin' which was originally inspired by the book, '1001 Arabian Nights'. The largest cafeteria-style restaurant is located here serving up Middle-Eastern, Indian, and Japanese food. This part of the park feels huge. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the volume of people, head here to get some space! There are various very unique rides to be found here as well as the Magic Lamp Theater and some incredibly themed shops. Aladdin was always one of my favourite movies and exploring this port was like walking into the movie itself. If you see line up throughout the day around here this will be for Abu's Bazaar, a small arcade where you can play various games for 500 yen a turn with the chance to win some incredible prizes, even if you don't wind you're guaranteed a special Tokyo Disney pin. If the line is short, don't miss out.
Port Discovery is probably the weakest of all the lands at DisneySea. Labelled as the marina of the future, it feels like a less realized version of Tomorrowland in Disneyland. Some of the rides are themed after Finding Nemo/Dori and others seem to fit in more with Mysterious Island's steampunk motif.
The American Waterfront is a historical reinterpretation of New York, New England and Cape Cod in the early 20th century. In the New England area, walking along the street, you really do get that coastal, seaside village feeling. Fishing rods hang off the pier, waiting for the fishermen to return. The New York side of the park also features Toyville Trolley Park which is their interpretation of Coney Island with Toy Story characters inserted throughout. New York during the industrial revolution was a town ready to burst with ideas. So many of those inventions are on display here including an elevated railway, the S.S. Columbia cruise ship and sprawling city shop fronts.
Toy Story Mania FastPass
When the gates open you’ll see everyone quickly walk towards the left towards of the park to the Toy Story Mania fastpass queue. Many blogs might tell you to skip this but we opted to walk with the crowds and just see how long the line would be to get a fastpass. Despite arriving so early it looked like there were already so many people ahead of us. But everyone walked at a fast but sensible pace and despite the line looking long, we got ourselves a fastpass in under 15 minutes! By directly making your way with the crowds from the entrance toward Toy Story Mania, you might feel like you're missing out taking in all the sites along Mediterranean Harbour but don't worry, they'll be lots more time later in the day to admire the design of this park. The first thing is to get to Toy Story and then you can relax!
Tower of Terror (Alternate FastPass)
Tokyo DisneySea's Tower of Terror is another one of those rides which is on the top of everyone's list. If you miss fastpasses for Toy Story Mania, this is your next stop for fastpasses. It helps that both rides are so close together to save you some time. In the early morning, the standby line is pretty short since so many people are lined up for those Toy Story fastpasses. If you have been on any of the Tower of Terror rides in the other Disney parks, the ride system is the same, but the story is completely unique! The narrative focuses on an American adventurer called Harrison Hightower III. Hightower owned one of America's most prestigious hotels and made it his mission in life to fill it with rare and ancient treasures. He searched the globe for these antiquities and eventually found a statue in African known only as "Shiriki Utundu". Unfortunately for Hightower, the statue carried a curse and once he moved it into the Tower, the curse took over everything inside, including Hightower himself. The reason I go into details here to explain the story is that the entire ride is in Japanese, so if you're interested in knowing the story, it's best to get a little primer before heading inside. That being said, the ride is so exhilarating, scary and incredible that even without understanding the language, you'll be spellbound the entire time.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey to the Center of the Earth is often only a 20-30 minute wait early morning so jump in the queue. Journey to the Center of the Earth is a ride completely unique to DisneySea and takes riders throughout the enormous Volcano. Journey focuses on the historic Captain Nemo and his discoveries underground. You ride a subterranean vehicle which journeys into Mount Promethus where you'll come across glowing insects, rock monsters and ends in an exhilarating finish, but I won't ruin the surprise.
20,000 Leagues under the sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one of the best dark rides in any of the Disney's parks but is usually less than a 20-minute wait. If you've been on the Finding Nemo Submarine ride at Disneyland, the concept is very similar but with a different story. Instead of Nemo the fish, at DisneySea we have Captain Nemo, who is our guide into the depths of the ocean. Passengers ride in Neptune submarines, each of which have their own portholes so the riders have their own individual view of the ocean around them. The ride feels so long and is such a blast even if you can't understand what's being said since it's all in Japanese. You'll enter the Kraken Reef, see the remains of Atlantis, study bioluminescent fish and even catch a glimpse of a city where humanoid-fish creatures live!
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal
Despite having a similar ride system as the other parks, it is widely thought that this Indiana Jones ride is far superior to all the other ones. And this is all in spite of the fact that the ride revolves around the worst movie. While the line for the ride might be consistently long, they make the most of your time waiting. Incredibly detailed statues, paintings and music effects make you feel as if you are really descending down into the depths of ancient Amazonia. Although the markings are not very clear, there is a single rider line here and it is almost always fairly. Chances are you might even get put on the same car as your friend - but even if you're separated you'll both have such a blast. If you can't wait in line or go single rider, the fast passes for this ride are available and would make a great option for your first or second fast pass of the day.
Sindbad’s Storybook Village
Located in the Arabian Coast is one of Disneysea's most charming and memorable rides. Since the park is more geared towards thrills, there are not as many dark rides in the park. This is an exception and what an exception it is. This dark ride takes you on a gentle boat journey through the legendary adventures of Sindbad. The entire story is told with some of the best animatronics I've ever seen. The concept is similar to It's a Small World but with a much more engaging story, lifelike animatronics and a catchy theme song! I had to ride it twice since the entire thing is a feast for your eyes and you'll miss so many of those little details upon first viewing. The cutest part of the journey is Chandu, Sindbad's sidekick, an adorable little tiger cub who gets into mischief but also helps Sindbad along the way!
In the centre of the Arabian Coast is a double-decker carousel, inside a beautifully arched Arabian rotunda. Look, the ride might be nothing innovative or over thrilling, but the lines are never long and the carousel itself is so stunning. With so many iconic characters and animals to ride, it's really a sweet sidebar from the thrill rides. You can choose between riding the top or bottom carousel. We, of course, chose the top! There is something about a carousel which just makes you feel like a kid again.
Jasmine’s Flying Carpets
Many people will tell you to skip this ride, and if you're pressed for time, you should, but if you have some time to kill while waiting to redeem fastpasses, this is a great way to spend the time. Not only is the wait almost always short, but it offers up some charming views of the Arabian Coast. The ride is essentially the same as the classic Dumbo ride but with colourful magic carpets from Aladdin.
Surrounding Mediterranean Harbour is a giant stone fortress which looks like just another piece of decoration. But unlike many other parks where this would simply be for looks, the entire structure is itself an attraction called Fortress Explorations. The fortress is modelled after a Renaissance stronghold for a fictionary secret society. Throughout, you and your friends can explore interactive exhibits which transports you back in time. You feel like a regular Leonardo DaVinci. This is always one of the most overlooked areas of the park and will never be very busy except on rainy days when people come here to escape the weather.
The Venetian Gondolas are exactly what it says on the label. Two gondoliers paddle you and a dozen guests around the Mediterranean Harbour. While this might seem a little boring nothing could be further from the truth. The Venetian Gondolas are a joyous, relaxing way to enjoy the incredible views which can be seen throughout DisneySea. When the sun is about the set behind the mountain is the best time to get on the gondolas since the views during sunset are unbelievable! The lines are usually around 30 minutes so keep that in mind and sometimes longer right before sunset. The gondolas are driven by two charming young men who talk the entire trip, as well as sing you a ballad or two. While nothing they said was in English, the Japanse people on our boat were laughing up a storm and I imagine that the ride would include the same funny dad jokes that are on the Jungle Cruise. There really isn't a bad time to come on this ride (well except for perhaps when it is raining) but overall this ride is the perfect one to come on when you need a break from the busy nature which is a day in the parks.
Aquatopia can be found in Port Discovery and looks like an amalgamation between bumper boats and Autopia in Disneyland. Aquatopia is one of the few rides all over the world which uses a trackless system. The trackless ride means that no matter how many times you get on, the ride is a little different. Each boat moves around the water randomly. Some are sent into the caves, some twirl in place and others chaotically wander around the waterfalls and whirlpools. Despite being the water, you never really get wet so even if it's a cool day you can still ride. At night this ride is absolutely mesmerizing but it can get busy during certain hours so just keep checking the wait times and head over when the line isn't too long as the ride isn't' worth spending too much time waiting for.
If you have some money to splash out you can't go wrong with Magellan's. This is one of the most popular restaurants in the park so be prepared to wait. You can always put your name down on a wait list and come back when your table is ready. The restaurant opens at 10am, so arriving around then is your best option for making your reservation. If you have the option, ask for a table in the 'secret room' which is located behind a trick bookshelf which opens up into a secret wine cellar. Magellan’s feels like the regal and secretive meeting place of people like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo where they would go on a dark and stormy night to discuss science, art and all things in between. Magellan’s is a fine dining table service restaurant and creates dishes like wagyu beef, grilled scallop salad and Crème brûlée. The menu is a Prix fix with different price levels. They range from $45-$77 USD but for the food you get this is MORE than worth it! Plus, the ambience and decor really can't be beaten!
New York Deli
If on the other hand you're looking to spend a little less cash and are on your way through the American Waterfront, stop by New York Deli. This counter service restaurant is heralded as one of the best places to eat in the Disney Park universe. Mouthwatering piles of meat piled on top of soft bread and crunchy pickles. The theming inside is once more, unparalleled. Details you'd expect in a fancy sit-down restaurant are all over the place. Here you're treated like a king at the price of a pauper.
Mama Biscotti’s Bakery
This little cafe is the perfect place to visit after your morning rush of Toy Story Mania fastpasses and early morning rides. Here is where you'll be able to find a good cup of coffee to keep you going all day as well as a HUGE selection of fluffy Italian and Japanese pastries. Picking up a selection of a few is a great plan in case you get caught in a long line when hunger strikes!
Down the stairs from the Mysterious Island Gift Shop is one of the real treasures of the park. The Gyoza Dog is Tokyo's answer to a hot dog, for an on-the-go treat! In its simplest form, it is an enormous dumpling bun stuffed with minced pork. The bun itself is like biting inside a cloud. I cannot express how soft this snack really is. The snack only costs ￥430 and will definitely fill you up if you're looking for something to keep you going during that mid-morning period. This place fills up FAST during the dinner and lunch rush so visiting outside those hours is preferable. But even when there is a huge line, the menu is small enough that people will take your order before you even reach the counter which really speeds the process along! So don't be afraid to wait in line, it's worth it!
The Ukiwah Bun can be found in the coastal themed harbour of Port Discovery. Ukiwah translates into English as "lifesaver" which is why these adorable little buns are shaped like tiny, round red and white lifesavers. They are served in a plastic wrap with the image of Donald on top which makes it looks like Donald is jumping out of the lifesaver, so cute!!! But they aren't just cute to look at, they are delicious to boot. Stuffed with shrimp dumpling filling inside a soft bun, they are the perfect thing to eat on the go. At only ￥450 you might find yourself eating two!
Sea Salt Ice Cream Monaka
A monaka is a Japanese treat, traditionally served with a dollop of red bean paste inside two mochi wafers. Here at the park they have revamped it into something cool for a hot day. Two crispy wafers, in the shape of a seashell, contain sea salt ice cream and a dollop of raspberry filling instead of the red bean. The combination of the tart berries, sweet cream and hint of salt is ABSOLUTE perfection! Grab one of these while you're visiting Mermaid Lagoon as the seashell design makes for a great photo op in front of Ariel's kingdom! I'm amazed they're only ￥310, less than $3 USD if the exchange rate is good.
Herb and Tomato Popcorn
Disney Popcorn is an iconic treat but the flavours in Tokyo are next level! And while they might seem a little outta this world they are more worth giving a try. The flavours usually available are; Milk Chocolate, Soy Sauce and Butter, Curry, Honey, Black Pepper and our favourite Herb and Tomato (which is basically PIZZA!). They often have limited edition flavours available during holidays or special events. Speciality flavours such as Strawberry, Milk Tea, Jalapeno and coconut. But the best part about the popcorn are the adorable souvenir buckets they come in. Buckets can be purchased in some of the souvenir shops or certain featured ones can be bought at the popcorn vendors carts. We got the BuzzLightyear bucket which looked like the real Buzz Toy in it's collector's box. It looks incredible up on our shelves so definitely worth the price. The popcorn costs ¥350 for a regular box and around ¥1400-¥2000 for a souvenir bucket. BUT a refill of the bucket will only cost your ¥500 so if you're travelling with friends and are up for sharing this is a great deal! Grab the bucket and try as many flavours as you can!
Chandu is the little tiger sidekick in Disneysea's stand-alone ride, "Sinbad Storybook Adventure". If you've ever had a curry bun, you're going to love Chandu's Tail. These treats can be found in the Sultan's Oasis in the Arabian Coast. Year round these buns are filled with creamy chicken curry and during the springtime are filled with spicy beef and cheese. curry At only ¥500 these are a steal and look...how could anything get any cuter?!
Toy Story is such an important movie in Japan and they LOVE their Toy Story merch and themed food! One of the most popular items in the park are these ice cream mochi. Mochi are little dumplings made from gluttonous rice and here filled with ice cream in three flavours. The mochis are shapes into the heads of the aliens from Toy Story and served stacked one on top of the other like they would be in the crane machine. Three mochi will cost you ¥360 and they often have speciality souvenir carriers which cost ¥880.
Vanilla Smoothie & Coffee Jelly
For an afternoon pick me up there is nothing better than the Vanilla Smoothie with Coffee Jelly over in the Sultan's Oasis. There are so many layers of flavours, it makes it a joy to drink. The sweetness of the smoothie is cut with the bitter coffee, a fantastic blend. A cup will run you ¥500. Although small in size, it's BIG in flavour.
On a hot day, or even just as a way to relax your tired body, there is nothing better than an ice cold beer. Oh wait, yes there is - a FROZEN beer! Down beside the model of the Nautilus in Mysterious Island is where you can find this elixir. For only ¥700, this is one of the best drinks in the park.
DisneySea has some of the most unusual character meets I've seen in any Disney Park! While there aren't as many dedicated meet and greet spots where you can line up during certain times, the characters seem to roam around the park, surprising guests as they go. We were lucky enough to meet both Jafar and Abu in the Arabian Coast! Other unlikely characters seen roaming the park are; Abu, Ariel, Bernard, Bianca, Chip, Dale, Clarice, Cruella De Vil, Donald and Daisy Duck, Duffy, Gaston, Genie, Gepetto, Goofy, Gideon, Indiana Jones, Jack Sparrow, Jasmine, John Worthington "Honest John" Foulfellow, José Carioca, Jungle Monkey, Marie, Max Goof, Max, Eric's Dog, Mickey and Minnie, Miss Bunny, Pinocchio, Pluto, Prince Eric, ShellieMay, Gelatoni, Stitch and Thumper
Big Band Beat
Big Band Beat is the most popular musical theatre show at DisneySea. If this sounds like something you really want to see there are two ways of securing spots in the theatre. The Biglietteria (ticket booth) in Mediterranean Harbour has a series of lottery machines where you can see if you have "won" tickets to one of the various showings. Simply scan your passport ticket and see if you're one of the lucky ones. This is totally random, so no need to come here asap. We were lucky enough to win tickets to the afternoon presentation. If you don't manage to win the lottery, not to worry, the first showing isn't available for the lottery so you just have to line up to secure your seats. For the other shows, there are always a limited amount of seats available in the rush line. The performance itself is a 1920's Broadway-inspired show featuring a live band, amazing singers and Mickey himself with Minnie, Daisy and Goofy. It's so much fun and great break from the go-go-go nature of one day in the park. The show itself is around 30 minutes long so it's not a huge part out of your day.
Fantasmic! is my favourite performance across all the parks in the states so I was very excited to see it in Tokyo. Unlike in Disney World where they are bleacher seats surrounding the dedicated pond or Disneyland where it is set in the Rivers of America, the show in Tokyo is set in the Mediterranean Harbour where visitors have a 360-degree view of the show. You can literally move around the entire time (so long as you don't want a super good spot) to view the show from different perspectives. Fantasmic! is a show about the forces of good and evil, with Mickey as our hero with cameos from the majority of the Disney-verse characters. There are pyrotechnics, fireworks, brightly coloured boats carrying all my favourite princesses, light displays and more! The entire show is so exciting, energetic and exhilarating that your jaw will be on the ground the entire time. Many people go to find spots for the show hours before it starts. If you see people sitting on the ground well before show time, this is why. While a good spot is great, there are so many better things to do with your time and in a park this big with so many places to view the performance, there really isn't a bad spot to watch!
King Triton’s Concert
If you don't manage to nab tickets to Big Band Beat, the other show worth seeing is King Triton’s Concert. This is an abstract, puppet show based on The Little Mermaid. Very similar to 'The Lion King' musical, humans both manipulate or act inside large mechanical puppets which bring the world of the Little Mermaid to life! While the show is a bit disjointed, if you're a fan of the movie it's a real treat.
Tokyo Disney is obsessed with merchandise. I'm not joking. Read up online to find out when new merchandise is scheduled to hit the park, because if you happen to arrive on that day, even if it's the middle of the week, you'll be shocked to see how many people will arrive, solely for the purpose of buying the new merchandise. And versus every other park in the world, this place just has better stuff. More interesting, abstract, weird and wonderful things. Here are some of my favourite things to buy and places to shop.
DisneySea has a plethora of speciality Mickey, Minnie and other themed ears which are completely unique to Japan. During our stay, we were lucky enough be there during the 35th Anniversary of the Resort and got a pair of incredible Minnie ears which were exclusive to this event. There are so many Tokyo specific ears which are so great to bring home with you to wear in other parks and watch people gaze at in awe. There are oversized Minnie Bow headbands which comes in a multitude of colours, various headbands with lesser known animated characters, oversized hats and adorable minature hats which you can pin on any headband you own.
Il Postino Stationery
One of my favourite stores in the park is Il Postino, which sells darling stationery. "Il Postino" is Italian for "postman" and here you can find Disney themed cards, pens, notepads and more! So often some of the souvenirs we buy are just things for our walls or go unused, but here you can get stationary for your home or office which you'll use every day and think of those fantastic memories! I would recommend picking out the notepads or pens since they make for great gifts. Tokyo Disney specializes in custom products and you can customize the pens with different toppers to make it unique to you or the person you're buying it for.
Sleepy Whale Shoppe
Inside King Triton's Palace is one of the most unusual souvenir shops. To enter the shop you walk through the giant gaping mouth of an enormous whale. Stare up at the ceiling to admire the detail and how much it looks like being inside of a whake. Fittingly enough, everything inside the store is Little Mermaid themed clothes, sweets, accessories and more. The items here I would check out are the sublimation shirts which are made up of all different characters from a certain movie creating a beautiful pattern.
Around the corner from the whale is 'Mermaid Treasures', a beautiful interpretation of Ariel's bedroom that she would have had under the sea. Tiny mirrors, the perfect height for little ones, are scattered throughout making them feel like this is a place just for them. For the older folks, try out the Gachapon, vending machines. Designed to also look like giant coral structures, you place a few coins inside and turn the handle to see which tiny character you'll receive!
The opening scene of Aladdin when he runs through the marketplace and steals that iconic loaf of bread is faithfully recreated here in the Agrahbah Marketplace. The Marketplace is the best place to find Genie and Chandu merchandise. The giant Chandu bag is definitely the thing I regret not buying most! The Genie merchandise is also something you don't often see in any other park so this would make a really unique piece to bring home. The genie neck pillows are especially hilarious.
McDucks Department Store
Scrooge McDuck is a Disney character that I feel that us 90's kids, who grew up with DuckTales, have so much nostalgia for and whom is rarely even talked about these days. Scrooge McDuck is known as the richest duck in the world and therefore his shop along the American Waterfront is fantastically opulent and luxurious. This store has a large selection of Duffy Bears and accessories for the bears. Duffy Bears are one of the most iconic items from DisneySea as he is their mascot. Aunt Peg's Village Store is notoriously THE place to buy your Duffy but it is small and VERY crowded, so if you're not looking for something rare, I think purchasing your Duffy at McDucks is the better option.
One of the most popular items that you'll see everyone wearing are these Pass Cases. They really are a coin purse with a slot on the back to put your fastpasses, annual pass or even a credit card or two. They come in a plethora of character designs, some unique to DisneySea but every one just as cute as the other! I fell in love with Gelatoni while we were in DisneySea and bought that one but the Mickey Ear Hamburger case is definitely the most famous!
What to Skip
Churros in any Disney park are a popular option. The lines for them are often just as long as some of the rides! While I wouldn't tell you to outright say they don't taste great, I think there are so many more unique options to be had in the Tokyo parks. During the holidays, the churros are often seasoned with speciality flavours which make them a little more interesting but I think overall you're better to skip it and try something you can't get anywhere else in the world!
Nemo & Friends SeaRider
This ride is one of the newest in the park, and anything new breeds huge lines! The ride itself is a simulator set in the Finding Nemo universe. While it might be fun for the smaller kids, it's not worth the huge wait!
Mermaid Lagoon Rides
Mermaid Lagoon is full of rides for little kids. They can be fun if you're out of things to do, but are very simple and short and not worth time out of your busy day.
You might see fireworks on the schedule of events and think, "hmm, I've never heard of DisneySea having fireworks..." Well, the reason for that is because they're not very impressive. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea both share the same firework show, meaning it's not very visible from either park. And compared to the fireworks shows in the states, they really don't pack the same punch.
This rollercoaster is heralded as being the most intense ride in the park with its full 360 loop. But the line is long, the ride is short and the themeing just isn't up to par with the other amazing rides to be found at DisneySea.
OUR SAMPLE ITINERARY
8:00 am Arrived an hour before park opening
9:00 am After opening walked to get FastPasses to Toy Story Mania
9:30 am Watched the Happiest Celebration on the Sea
9:45 am Journey to the Center of the Earth (20min wait)
10:15am 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (5 min wait)
10:30am Explored Mermaid Lagoon Exterior + shopping
10:45am Chandu Tail Snack at Sultan's Oasis
11:00am Met Abu
11:10am Rode Aladdin's Flying Carpets (5 min wait)
11:20 am Met Jafar
11:30am Rode Sinbad's Storybook (5 min wait)
11:45 am Explored Agrabah
12:00 pm Explored Arabian Coast and Rode Carousel (no wait)
12:10 pm Popcorn snack break
12:20 pm Redeemed Toy Story Fastpass
12:45 pm Got Fastpass for Tower of Terror
1:00pm Ice Cream break in front of Tower of Terror
1:20 pm Ate Ukiwah bun along the Port of Discovery
1:45pm Shopping in American Waterfront
2:20pm Explored the S. S. Columbia
2:45 pm Tower of Terror FastPass redemption
3:20 pm Big Band Beat
4:30 pm Fashionable Easter Parade
5:00pm Shopping along the Mediterranean Harbour
5:30pm Venice Gondolas (30 min wait)
6:30pm Gyoza Dog in Mysterious Island
7:15 pm Single Rider Indiana Jones (30 min wait)
7:45pm Exploring Interior of Mermaid Lagoon
8:00pm Fantasmic! Show
8:30pm Shopping and late night treats
9:00pm Park Close
Even if you're not a die-hard Disney fan, there is so much to see and do here. The park is so immersive and definitely transports you out of this world. Despite, none of the lands being set in Japan, there is a vein of Japanese artistry and technological development which runs through the entire park. The first time I came to Japan, I missed out visiting this park. I regretted it the instant we left Tokyo. Don't make the same mistake as me! Check it out and let me know what your favourite part of the entire park was!