While it’s on my list, I still haven’t gotten the chance to visit DisneySea in Tokyo. My friend Jerry visited with his wife this past July and wrote up his one day touring plan of Tokyo DisneySea. I had a blast reading it and it makes me want to visit even sooner – hope you enjoy it! And thanks to Jerry for this great write-up.
One day at Tokyo DisneySea
When planning our 2-week trip to Japan, my wife and I could only set aside one day for a Disney theme park in Tokyo. We chose DisneySea. Tokyo DisneySea is generally seen as the more unique of the two Disney resorts in Japan (the other being Tokyo Disneyland). Tickets are relatively cheap it only cost us $66.45 (USD) for an adult ticket on Klook.com. Of course, be prepared to spend about $6 million on snacks and souvenirs. (Ed. Note: Seems low.)
When to go
Your best bet is to avoid visiting Japan in the summer altogether, because it is incredibly humid and crowded. If you absolutely have to visit during the summer like we did, then make sure you avoid weekends and Japanese holidays. We visited DisneySea on a Wednesday in July and it worked out great for us. Using FASTPASS for certain rides, we did not have to wait more than an hour for any attraction.
One thing you’ll notice immediately is how much the Japanese people embrace the Disney experience. It seemed like every couple or group coordinated their attire with one another, making for a very festive environment. Pig hats were particularly popular the day we went, and some girls even wore matching Japanese kimonos and wooden shoes in 90 degree weather. That’s dedication!
We lined up an hour before the 8:30am opening, which you’ll need to do if you want a jump start on the crowd. DisneySea is separated into 7 themed ports, so we prioritized getting a FASTPASS for the most popular rides and then visiting different ports throughout the day. (It’s important to note that Journey to the Center of the Earth, arguably the best ride at DisneySea, was closed for maintenance. And my phobia of coasters prevented me from riding another DisneySea exclusive, Raging Spirits. Your itinerary may also look different if you bring kids, as we chose fine dining over the two evening shows.)
Time sensitive attractions and grabbing FASTPASSes
(Ed. Note – FASTPASS at DisneySea works like paper Fastpasses at Disneyland, you go to a kiosk and get a return time for later in the day).
First on our itinerary was getting a FASTPASS for Toy Story Mania, located at the American Waterfront port. This was probably the most popular ride and everyone’s first destination, so getting a FASTPASS allowed us to come back later with little to no wait. After getting the FASTPASS, we headed to the Lost River Delta and queued at Indiana Jones Adventure. Afterward, we stopped at the Lost River Cookhouse for the Spicy Smoked Chicken and Sparkling Mango Tapioca Drink. Both were winners.
There are a couple of time-sensitive attractions that deserve your attention. At 9:15am, you should head to the Biglietteria to enter the lottery for Big Band Beat tickets. Big Band Beat is a music and dance jazz revue featuring Mickey, and it’s a really good show. It’s also one of the only attractions in English. Entering the lottery can get you a reserved seat for one of Big Band Beat’s five shows. If you don’t get a ticket via lottery, there are still some first-come first-serve seats available for the shows, but you’ll have to line up.
At 11am, you’ll want to make dinner reservations for Magellan’s Restaurant. Some call it the best fine dining experience of all the Disney Parks. We went at 11am and got reservations for 8pm, which was the earliest time slot available. It fills up fast!
Enjoying the attractions at Tokyo DisneySea
After making the reservation, we rode the Venetian gondola nearby. We thought that maybe the gondolas were on a track, because the boats were big and it seemed like a lot of work. But no, the gondoliers really were rowing! One of them even sang to us while steering. Seriously, give these guys a raise!
We didn’t really stop for lunch. Instead, we snacked on strawberry popcorn at Port Discovery and blue shaved ice at Liberty Landing Diner. (Ed. note – popcorn is a huge deal at Tokyo Disney, tons of unique flavors.) We were mostly saving our appetites for Magellan’s later.
In the afternoon, we hit up Mermaid Lagoon, which kids are going to absolutely love. It’s indoors, so it’s a great escape from the heat, and the ambience is amazing. King Triton’s Concert was excellent, featuring an acrobat as the Little Mermaid who literally flies over the audience, alongside some skilled Crustacean puppetry. The attractions at the Lagoon were all kiddie rides, but great for non-thrill seekers.
Next on our itinerary was Arabian Coast. It was not overly crowded compared to the other ports, so it’s an ideal afternoon stop. The Magic Lamp Theater featured a 3D film starring the Genie from Aladdin. Not as good as Universal’s Shrek show, but a nice break from the heat. Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage ride is pretty much in the vein of It’s a Small World, if you’re into animatronics.
After returning to American Waterfront to use our Toy Story Mania FASTPASS (which was only a 10-minute queue) we went to Port Discovery. Warning: only ride Aquatopia if you have no qualms with getting soaked. Like, literally hosed down. You will need more than an hour to get dry, so bring your ponchos. They show no mercy. Nemo and Friends Searider, a fairly standard simulator ride, is the most popular attraction at this port, so get your FASTPASS for that as well.
Dinner at Magellan’s
At 8pm, we returned to Magellan’s for dinner. We chose fine dining over the two outdoor shows, “Fantasmic!” and “Brand New Dream.” Magellan’s explorer ambience is great. The food is very good as well, even for the hefty price. You can choose from a few different set menus. There’s also an infamous secret room you can ask to dine in, which is essentially a wine cellar. We elected to eat in the main dining area, which is beautiful. Definitely one of the highlights of our day.
Overall, I have no regrets spending a day of my Japan trip at DisneySea. If you are seeking more thrills (or anything Harry Potter), then Universal Studios Japan in Osaka might be a better alternative. But for families and people looking for a unique Disney experience, you can’t go wrong with DisneySea. And if you’re in Asia, why not stop by Shanghai Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland as well! 🙂
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