Now this park is something else! I actually have mixed feelings about this park. On the one hand, there are so many cool and unique things to see and do. There is a mile-long attraction list + even more food places and shows. However, it’s almost too much. It lacks the the classic elegance of Disneyland because they jammed so much theme into a small space. It is sensory overload. Often times I thought to myself… “I see what you’re trying to do here, and it mostly works, but something is still off.” I think they could have toned it down a bit, but at the same time… it was SO MUCH FUN to explore.
If you’ve read my post on Tokyo Disneyland you can skip down to my Top Choice section.
As for the basics, here’s what you need to know to enjoy Tokyo DisneySea:
WHEN TO GO
Avoid holidays, major festivals and weekends, and make a point to investigate all the holidays and school breaks they have. That sounds like a given, but it is really important there. Unfortunately, I had to go while I had the chance and that was in March during the Cherry Blossom Festival AND Easter. The crowd calendar classified it as one notch below “violently crowded”. Not ideal. But, that is why planning the day out was so important!
Arrive early. I arrived 1.5 hours before gates opened and still had about 300 people in front of me. If you stay at one of the Disney Resort hotels you get 15 minutes early admission. Worth considering!
Finally, check the closed attraction calendar. I had to decide on what part of my trip to fit in Disney and I made that choice partly based on the attractions I wanted to see, as some of them were closed at the beginning of my trip but open at the end. Which brings me to my next point…
HOW TO PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME
I am the queen of fitting in a lot of sights in a little amount of time, but I was still no match for Tokyo Disney’s crowds. I recommend 2 days PER park (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea) in order to see it all. However, circumstances prevail. If you’re doing this visit in one day like I did, you MUST know ahead of time what attractions are different from the ones you’ve already seen or are available to you in your hometown. The (good) problem about DisneySea is that nearly every attraction is unique.
Take advantage of fastpasses! The reality is, you’ll probably only get about 2 of them if you go on a busy day. They run out by 12pm usually. So choose wisely. You should also take advantage of single rider when it’s available.
Tokyo Disney has 2 parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. This post will be on Tokyo DisneySea.
WHAT TO SEE, EAT, DO
Holy dinglehopper! When I turned the corner and my eyes registered what they were seeing, a colorful underwater mermaid fantasy, my childhood dreams instantly came true. I was obsessed with Ariel when I was younger. I used to tell my Mom that I couldn’t get out of the pool because my scales would dry up.
While this area was mostly geared towards young children, it is totally worth exploring.
- Ariel’s Playground – This is a playground, but it’s also a great walkthrough attraction with a few surprises and no lines.
- Mermaid Lagoon Theater: King Triton’s Concert – I was absolutely floored by this show. Ariel floating above your head as she sings and swim-dances to classic Little Mermaid songs (and also new ones), joined by other puppet-like characters and projections, made this theater come alive. The set is spectacular and it’s so enjoyable you forget that you can’t understand a word they are saying.
The rest of the lagoon features kid-style rides and nothing I felt was worth the wait, but make sure to walk through and enjoy the theming throughout this very special land.
This area was the most beautiful part of DisneySea in my opinion. It was decked out with Moroccan lanterns, tile, colorful flowers and stunning architecture.
- Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage – I really enjoyed this ride. I love dark rides in general, and I love storybook themes. This storyline featured the adventures of Sinbad and his loyal tiger cub Chandu.
This is the land that truly defines Tokyo DisneySea. I found the 2 most unique attractions here. This is where you want to run/walk to as soon as the gates open.
- Journey to the Center of the Earth – Tokyo Disney’s description: “The enigmatic genius Captain Nemo has unearthed a heretofore unknown world deep underground. During your journey on board a unique subterranean vehicle, the volcano suddenly shakes and erupts, taking you where even Captain Nemo has never been before.”
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Tokyo Disney’s description: “Home to an ancient, advanced civilization, Atlantis is said to have sunk to the bottom of the ocean long ago. Some say the people of that continent lived on and adapted to the world beneath the waves. Board one of Captain Nemo’s powerful submarine boats and join him in his undersea search for Atlantis.”
- DisneySea Transit Steamer Line – This attraction is a short boat ride around the lake. It’s not a must see but it was really nice to sit for a minute and enjoy the view. I waited until mid-day when I was tired and past the rush of trying to get to the major attractions. The queue was not horrendous so it was a good option.
- Fortress Explorations – This was enjoyable. There is no queue for this attraction, you simply walk through the fortress and galleon and explore on your own, enjoying the views from the top of the towers and the hands-on interactive features.
This is the land that had me scratching my head. I didn’t feel the attractions and theming had a cohesiveness to it. Some of the attractions were kind of randomly thrown together under the guise of Americana. There was only one ride there that I found to be worth a stop if you had the time.
- Tower of Terror – Similar to the former U.S. version, but with enough differences to make it worth adding to the list.
- Aquatopia – I wouldn’t say this is a must ride, but it’s fun because you don’t know which way the car is going to turn so the element of surprise spices it up.
- Nemo & Friends SeaRider – Not like the Nemo rides in the U.S., a bit along the same lines as Star Tours.
Lost River Delta
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull – Different enough from the U.S. ride to warrant adding it to the list and it has a single rider line.
- Raging Spirits – Pretty much just a roller coaster but because this ride has single rider and you almost walk right onto it, I’d add it to the list.
Attractions with a fastpass:
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Mysterious Island
- Indiana Jones Adventure – Lost River Delta
- Journey to the Center of the Earth – Mysterious Island
- The Magic Lamp Theater – Arabian Coast
- Nemo & Friends SeaRider – Port Discovery
- Raging Spirits – Lost River Delta
- Tower of Terror – American Waterfront
- Toy Story Mania – American Waterfront
Attractions with Single Rider:
- Indiana Jones Adventure – Lost River Delta
- Raging Spirits – Lost River Delta
Don’t get a fastpass for rides that have single rider. For whatever reason, it is not that popular in the Asian parks. This will save you buckets of time!
Highest Wait Times:
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Mermaid Lagoon Theater: King Triton’s Concert
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
- Raging Spirits
- Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania!
- Turtle Talk
Your priorities should be with the rides and food, but if it works out… these are the best shows:
- Mermaid Lagoon Theater: King Triton’s Concert (see my review above!)
- Seasonal show in the Mediterranean Harbor (when I went, it was Easter-themed)
- Big Band Beat (a swing jazz show over in the American Waterfront)
- Fantasmic (always great!)
Just like Tokyo Disneyland, the food options are endless here. I recommend reading through the options on the Tokyo Disney website. They do a good job of organizing what you can find, and where. I focused on fan-favorites, character-themed foods and restaurants with a great ambiance. Some of the food on my master list was available at both parks, so I split it up evenly and according to my initial-morning fastpass plans.
This is what I tackled on my wish list:
- Little Green Men Mochi – Mamma Biscotti’s Bakery (Mediterranean Harbor) or the food cart outside Toy Story Mania (American Waterfront)
- Gyoza Sausage Bun – Refreshment Station & Nautilus Galley Seas (Mysterious Island)
- Mickey Churro – Several carts around the park
- Duffy Desserts – Cape Cod Cook Off (American Waterfront)
- Popcorn! There is a popcorn craze going on at Tokyo Disney, and the popcorn buckets are ridiculously cute. I didn’t have time to try all the popcorn (it is not uncommon to wait in line for 45 min to get popcorn), but I did try blueberry and honey and they were both amazing. As of 2019, bold is unique to Tokyo DisneySea, and non-bold is found at both parks:
- Milk Chocolate
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Shrimp
- Chinese Spice
Recommended Quick-Serve Restaurants Due to Food + Theme:
- The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge – Super classy bar which honors an American President, on a classic American ocean liner.
- Casbah Food Court – I loved the Arabic design, and the food was delicious if you like curry and Middle Eastern / Indian food.
- Sebastian’s Calypso Kitchen – The environment makes this a win
I don’t recommend going on a holiday, but at the same time… the decor was really pretty! DisneySea treated me to an Easter wonderland complete with a themed Easter egg hunt.
HOW TO GET THERE
If you’re not staying at one of the Disney hotels, the metro is the best bet. Seeing as how you’ll be getting up super early to get to the gate before thousands of people show up, I recommend choosing a hotel that is no more than 1 train away from Disney. Take the Keiyo Line and get off at Maihama Station on JR (Japan Railway). From there you can walk or take the nifty Disney monorail. You’ll know you’re on the right metro when you see tons of teenage kids with a Disney popcorn bucket on a lanyard around their neck.
And that’s it! Enjoy your time. Try to get 2 days, but if you only have one just make your priority list and go early. Keep your cool with the crowds, and count your blessings… you’re at TOKYO DISNEY RESORT!
If you didn’t get a chance, check out my post about Tokyo Disneyland!
– The Time Traveler