We as a family are blessed. This time last year we visited Disneyland, California and it was the trip of a lifetime. This time two weeks ago we visited Tokyo Disney. I still can’t quite comprehend that we have visited two of the happiest places on Earth in the space of 12 months.
The two parks are same, yet different, to borrow a phrase. The technology used in the Japanese park is light years ahead of Disneyland CA. For instance, getting into the park each day in Tokyo was less of a palaver than in CA but at the same time there was minimal flexibility using multi-day passes. In Tokyo you need to inform the Disney powers that be which days you intend to go to Disney vs DisneySea (their version of California Adventure Park) for the first 3 days of your pass.
Trying to change the days around resulted in a difficult, frustrating conversation with the lady in the ticket window who couldn’t comprehend what we were trying to say. Thankfully a lovely man behind us in the queue came to our rescue and helped guide the conversation – the basic idea being we could pay to switch the days around. No thanks.
We weren’t sure if you could flit between the two parks as we did in CA as our Japanese and their English didn’t allow such a conversation to take place.
The crowds. Oh.My.Lord – I have never seen anything like them. Coming from big, empty Australia it was a total shock. Even rides like the carousel had massive, never-ending lines. Fast passes were often sold out by 10am for the really popular rides. There were rides that, despite us being there for four long days, usually til closing time, that we just didn’t get a chance to go on – I’m looking at you, Jungle Cruise.
The Japanese are extremely patient and adept at queuing so it wasn’t stressful, just time-consuming. Everyone is super polite and friendly and we managed to have a few conversations in broken Japlish which was fun. And the many beautiful babies to look at helped pass the time – I am a real sucker for babies and they were everywhere!
Where the parks really differ is the parades. We thought the CA parades were amazing, but they pale in comparison to the Tokyo parades. It seems that people spend the day at Disney in Japan just waiting for them – from the time the park opened each day people would stake out a good position, whip out a plastic mat, and just sit and wait. I have never seen anything like it!
There is also a jaw-dropping projection on the castle twice a night called Once Upon A Time, which combines all the princessy highlights from various Disney films. There was even a glimpse of Miss6’s beloved Anna and Elsa from Frozen – you probably heard her shrieks of delight from across the planet. It was narrated in Japanese but it was easy to get the gist. It was so lovely, it made me cry. PS – I am a sap.
I had read on different Disney blogs that showtimes were the best times to hit rides, and it is true. For instance, we walked straight on to Star Tours (the family’s fav) during one show, came off, went straight back on the line, and waited 45 minutes. It was unbelievable.
DisneySea is the newer park and despite having some incredible rides I personally preferred the Disney park propr. I felt the same about California Adventure – I love the old school themes and rides (hello spinning tea cups) and the magic feeling.
To give you an idea – we spent just one day out of four at DisneySea and we saw most things. It probably didn’t help that it was stinking hot the day we were at DisneySea and there was very little shade and so much concrete.
If you have young kids you’ll want to kill time at King Triton’s Playground. It is a massive subterreramn area with an eatery with good food, and plenty of rides for younger types. We spent hours in there.
Food-wise Disney Tokyo wins hands down over Disneyland. The food is Japanese twist on fast foods – no sushi (boo) but plenty of seafood options (yay). Lots of places have cute plates or bags you could get I you paid extra – guess who lugged home many of these items?
I had my birthday in Kyoto but was sick so decided to have a do over at Disney. We lunched at Queen of Hearts, which is all about Alice in Wonderland and located next to the teacups. Again we queued for ages. And ages. It is a funny set-up – sort of like cafeteria style but then you are shown to your table.
For my bday dinner we went to the Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean. I wanted to go in CA but it was so expensive. We tried to book a table but were told just to show up. I think I waited at least 45 minutes. The prices in Tokyo Disney were much more reasonable and I even had my most favourite food – lobster. The children weren’t keen on the kid’s set menu so they just had soup and a salad each and it wasn’t a problem. I was worried there would be a minimum spend but it wasn’t the case. In fact they were plied with bread rolls by the (somewhat overly keen) staff. We had been sitting for about 2 minutes when we were asked if we were ready to order.
We didn’t meet any main charcaters as again, you had to queue and queue and queue. We spent countless hours meeting all the princesses and fairies and Mickey and Minnie in Disneyland last year so didn’t feel the need. We did met random, minor characters such as Jiminy Cricket, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Goofy’s Cousin (whaaaaa?).
Do not miss rides include:
Pooh’s Honey Pot – an incredible ride that it is so much fun. I went on it three times and each time it was different. Get a fastpass and go on it – you’ll want to experience it more than once. Even with a fast pass I think I queued for about 20 minutes.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth – in DisneySea, one of the most exhilarating Disney rides I’ve ever been on. Miss6 hated it and was almost in tears. I did not know it was going to be a rollercoaster-type ride. #badMother
Aquatopia – again, DisneySea. You are in water on some type of vehicle that races around to different areas, often heading in the opposite direction that you were anticipating. We went on it a few times, including at dusk, where it was beautiful.
Toy Story Mania – the Hungry Dad queued for a fast pass while we went on a ride. I say queue but it was more a sea of people. Despite it being first thing in the morning our pass wasn’t until very late in the afternoon.
Peter Pan – I just love it.
Star Tours – we loved it in CA and we loved it in Japan. It was the first and last ride in Tokyo and I was even chosen to be the spy on my do over bday! Gals were so envious.