Trip Report: Tokyo DisneySea

December 31, 2019, 11:20 PM

You’d be surprised by how many locals are willing to wake up early in order to visit Tokyo DisneySea. The day began with a packed subway, an adorable Mickey-centric monorail, and simultaneous exhaustion/excitement.

As we bust into paradise, I check my unofficial Tokyo Disney Resort wait time app (which is quite handy and takes information directly from the Disney website). FastPasses for Soaring: Fantastic Flight were already closed!

As we stare in awe at the beautifully detailed entrance, we completely ignore my well thought out itinerary and walk over to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth rather than grabbing a FastPass first.

I had never seen a more crowded queue in my life. After approximately 15 minutes of waiting without much moving, I checked the wait time app where it claimed Journey had about a three hour wait already! It also said FastPasses were being distributed for 10:55-11:55, so I got out of line and got us our vouchers. A great use of our time (ha)!

We then wandered Mysterious Island to try finding the 20,000 Leagues queue. The immersive quality of the port was unbelievable, and can’t be enjoyed without experiencing the stunning scale.

We finally found the line, and waited about thirty minutes - it was quite a busy day, both for us and the park. The ride was a weird science fiction voyage that twists the standard dark ride with its submarine quality. I didn’t quite understand the ride, but the visuals were enjoyable. My travel buddy found the attraction dull, and while it was worthwhile for a lower wait time, I didn’t consider it a highlight whatsoever.

Afterwards, we headed over to Casbah Food Court for a curry breakfast. The food was mediocre, but the atmosphere was decently themed.

This was followed by a cruise on Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage! It was cute and charmingly Small World-esque, but some of the magic was removed due to the language barrier.

We continued to lose ourselves (figuratively and literally) in the extravagantly detailed settings of Arabian Coast (well themed, but not as impressive as some of the other ports), American Waterfront (although not jaw-dropping, it is heavily detailed), and Mysterious Island (which left me breathless with its intriguing design) throughout the morning. In addition, Mediterranean Harbor was specifically impressive although I’ve visited Italy.

We then got our second FastPass for Tower of Terror. I hadn’t ridden Tower of Terror and have been terrified of drop towers all my life. Nonetheless, I was ecstatic to finally have the guts to ride this beast (even though I’ve ridden Nitro, this I actually feared).

Then, the moment I had been waiting for occurred... a journey to the center of the Earth! After being confused by the loud beeps and whistles of the Terravator, I was excited to see if this “jewel” lived up to the hype. The pre-boarding queue was excellently themed, causing my excitement to increase more and more!

So, how was the ride? Short. It was very short. The beginning felt remarkably like 20,000 League, and was quite pretty (I preferred the scenery here more for reasons I’m unsure of). However, the problem with this beginning, 20,000 Leagues, and Na’vi River Journey is the lack of emotional pacing. Even if these scenes are pretty, they don’t elevate the story or immerse you in the stakes.

Then, we saw the lava monster for a second, everything got very loud and fast, we tumbled down a single hill, and the ride was over. The finale had a fun thrilling component, but the overall experience didn’t give me the same completeness nor satisfaction that I expected. It was fun, but it didn’t live up to its 180 minute standby time (luckily we didn’t have to go through that). In my opinion, a better use of your time if the line is long and the FastPasses are out is walking around the amazing Mysterious Island. Unlike Radiator Springs Racers and Cars Land or Gringotts and Diagon Alley, the land gives a lasting impression, but the ride does not.

Anyway, after discovering that Fortress Explorations was nearby, we tried out the various hidden gems in this interactive area. The arena-style of exhibitions was neat, with our favorite part being the exploding cannons. A nice walkthrough furthering the park’s adventurous theme and theming!

We then sat in on the first Big Band Beat performance. It was a highly Americanized, brassy musical revue worth doing if you have the time and enjoy music/dance. We were going to ask for a translation wand (we had asked the 20,000 Leagues person but they didn’t know what I was talking about), but the lights had dimmed already. It’s a good thing we didn’t considering the show is in English! Anyway, it was funny to see all of the locals enjoy the show even though some of them didn’t understand what the performers were saying.

After that, we discovered the immense detail and decoration that makes Mermaid Lagoon our every other flat ride-filled kiddie land to shame. Meanwhile, we grabbed our third FastPass of the day for the Mermaid Lagoon theatre.

This was followed by lunch at Cafe Portofino. Unfortunately, the food’s quality wasn’t great and the portions were far too small.

Next, we rode the Venetian Gondolas! The singer was AWFUL, but the unique views of the atmosphere were nice. For fans of boat rides or relaxing (or being in an incredibly photogenic setting), it was definitely worth doing.

Afterwards, we entered the Song of Mirage lottery even though I haven’t heard the best reviews. We figured that if it has a lottery, it must be popular for a reason.

Then, we trekked to the top of the park to ride Aquatopia. It was a trackless flat ride that, while not stunning nor innovative, made us smile.

We then saw plentiful gratuitous dancing in Song of Mirage. Although the storyline was in Japanese, the projected scenery was surprisingly well done and made the show absolutely worth our time.

After that, I impatiently waited to single ride Indiana Jones Adventure (or whatever it’s called here). When you wait for a single ride, you realize how important it is to share a theme park experience with those you love. However, I continue to single ride in order to cut back wait times. After finishing this futile philosophical contemplation that always results without change, I made it on to the vehicle. This lightened me up for multiple reasons - I’m not sure if I was more excited for the ride or relieved to get off the line! Single ride is much slower here than in the states.

Indiana Jones has never been a favorite of mine. While it is fun, I found it to be too jerky and campy to be considered the pinnacle of modern imagineering some claim it to be. However, for some reason, this ride felt more wild and enjoyable even though I was aware of all the twists.

Then, we used our Tower of Terror FastPasses. The queue got me beyond nervous, but it was well done - I am still unsure of how that doll disappeared. As we thought of whether to get off the line like chickens (or, since we’re in Japan, teriyaki chickens), we reached the conclusion we would stay.

The actual ride experience was not too long or scary, but incredibly thrilling and extremely fun. The best ride of the day!

After this, we ate quite a good, fast dinner at the deli restaurant. As a frequent New York visitor, I was impressed by the quality and value of the meal.

Then, we used our semi-pointless King Triton’s Concert FastPass. Although abrupt (it tells an abbreviated Little Mermaid story but stops at Under the Sea before Ursula or Prince Eric are introduced), the show was elaborate and the scenic design was expertly crafted. Although imperfect, I find the technical aspects of this performance to be a true gem.

After that, I utilized the single rider line for Raging Spirits against my better judgement (saying that reviews were negative would be an understatement). While not original and occasionally dull with structure, it was fun and had a few hints of thrill. The night definitely helped the fog effects to work more effectively, and it got the adrenaline pumping. However, it is not a must-do by any stretch.

After this was the lowlight of the day, Nemo and Friends SeaRider. This was a cute-ish simulator similar to Star Tours as in it makes you barf and isn’t very fun. I seriously think this disgusting ride was meant to make you sick (or maybe I’m just biased). Close this charm-less, utterly yucky screen torture, Disney!

To conclude the evening, we jumped on an hour long line to ride the Tower of Terror for a second time even though we were both tired beyond belief. However, this blast was incredibly playful and completely worth it since we had screaming locals onboard, which simply enhanced the ride’s joyfulness.

In addition, I forgot to mention how everyone dresses in group costumes. It is very “kawaii” (cute in Japanese) and gives this park a spirit/charm that the US parks’ citizens barely ever have.

As the day ends, I remember the day’s highlights - Mysterious Island (which is better than any ride in the park), Tower of Terror, and Song of Mirage/King Triton’s Concert’s scenic design.

Tokyo DisneySea may be crowded, but the incessant attention to detail when it comes to theming give this park a unique beauty that is rarely seen in such a commercially-driven business. Although the attractions may have not reached top five status as I expected a few of them to, Tokyo DisneySea lives up to the hype.

Replies (1)

Edited: January 1, 2020, 3:55 PM

Great write up and advice. Thank you!

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