Tokyo Disney Sea trip report

February 24, 2016, 6:03 AM

Hello from the world's best theme park, and probably the most crowded. I arrived at TDS fresh off a 6 day Tokyo city trip and am now ready for 3 days of the best Disney has to offer. My MiraCosta check in this morning at 07:45 went smoothly and I was told to report back at 16:30 when my room would be ready. So off to TDS, which is just outside the hotel door, literally. Unfortunately today must have been a non-school day or something as it appears every teenager in Japan was at the park. All the Fastpasses were gone within 2 hours and the wait times for the big rides were between 2.5 and 3.5 hours by 09:30. Geez. fortunately this is my 2nd trip to the TDR and I am not really here for the rides, just the atmosphere and sheer awesomeness of the place. But if I had flown in from Debuque, Iowa on a once in a lifetime Tokyo Disney trip I would have been pretty upset. And I am a meticulous planner. The crowd calendars were consulted and the Japan holidays lists checked twice. I even chose a cold, miserable month like February to visit as to keep the Tokyo masses at bay. And all indicators were that the next few days would be "people rattle" days. On my trip last year it was mercifully empty and blissful. Not today. In 10 hours at the park I rode 4 rides. : ( But, tonight's forecast is for snow, (YES!) and it's a Thursday, which is a school day in most parts of the civilized world, so maybe I'll catch a break. But hey, how can I complain when I'm at the best resort in the world? BTW, the area I thought the Frozen themed land was being built on was decidedly not having anything built on it. (The area to the left of Indiana Jones) Thoughts?
Tomorrow morning I'm using my 15 minute early entry perk to ride Toy Story Mania. WooHoo!

Replies (11)

February 25, 2016, 9:43 PM

Good luck, Brandon. Hope day two was better than day one!

February 28, 2016, 5:34 PM

Thanks, James. The crowds were a pain but any day at TDS is a win.

Day two started off great as I awoke in the MiraCosta, Disney's only hotel that is actually inside a park. I had read some complaints online about the small size of the rooms at MC but the room I got was bigger than any other Disney resort hotel that I've stayed in. The reservation process is a little strange and it seems every room at every hotel nowadays is a 'deluxe' even if it's a closet at a Motel 6, so I think my room my have been some sort of upgrade from the average room size. I did not splurge on a park view room which ups the cost a couple hundred dollars a night, and my budget was stretched thin already at $475 a night. If you stay at one of the three Disney resorts on site you get to utilize the 'Happy 15' perk. Tokyo's version of Extra Magic Hou... er, Minutes. So we were at the gates reserved specially for hotel guests and made our way back into Tokyo Disney Sea. (Even though the hotel is inside the park they make you leave the hotel for the Happy 15 in a way that leads you to the outside of the ticket gates. There is another entrance/exit that leads directly into the park that opens at the normal operating hours.)

And here is an abbreviated continuation of my rant about the crowds at TDR; there were teens, teens, and more teens everywhere. In school uniforms. At 8AM. Again. Japan has a school system, right? Of course they do because of all the school uniforms. But maybe it's some sort of cosplay? Anyways, it was super crowded again on a cold winter Thursday in February, oh well. How are the crowds on a warm, sunny, non school day in June I wonder? And at least the teens at TDS are all so well behaved.

I feel I really accomplished something special this morning as I got Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania. And the key word here is mania, as that is how it feels to accomplish this feat. Running with bulls in Pamplona has nothing on this mad dash for 3-D video game nirvana. Tower of Terror is right next door to TM so that's were we headed next. It has the best pre-show of any ToT, even if it is in Japanese. The special effect used is pretty awesome, It also has the best exterior, which looks even better at night.

For the rest of the day we wandered around, took photos, and enjoyed the atmosphere of the park. And people watching at TDR is special as well. The locals really get into dressing as the same characters or accessorizing in crazy ways.

Last day tomorrow.

February 28, 2016, 6:12 PM

Makes me want to go! What's the difference in queue between the one in TDS and in Hollywood studios?

February 29, 2016, 9:26 PM

I'm scared. Haha. I can imagine I'd be a nervous wreck. I'd try to get into the park first thing, and grab a Fast Pass for whatever the BIG ride for me happened to be, and then go to the next biggest one immediately afterward. By the time those two were done, it'd be noon. Ha!

But I'm not actually laughing. I'd probably just hit up the big stuff early, and set my expectations low, planning to be more of a spectator who enjoys the atmosphere, food, and landscaping more than the rides themselves.

Of course, this is coming from a guy who's local park is Hong Kong Disneyland, where unless it's Chinese New Year or Mid-Autumn Festival, the longest wait you'll experience (even for Mystic Manor) is 20 minutes.

I'll go to Tokyo Disney one day. I just have mixed feelings, and will need to do 3 days if just for 3 days of worth of Fast Passes at park opening. Gosh.

I love hearing about the parks. It's definitely a bucket list item.

February 29, 2016, 9:31 PM

Never have been to TDS but I can relate to seeing a lot of teens in uniforms when it's supposed to be a school day. Maybe it's their fashion? I've once had a vacation in Tokyo there are so many of them. A Japanese friend actually told me some of them were simply wearing those uniforms to look cute and young.

But anyway, hope your last day would be much better. Good luck!

March 2, 2016, 6:07 PM

Jeffrey- the difference is in the pre-show, which is not Twilight Zone themed. The theming is based on a fictional character named Harrison Hightower. An early 20th century American explorer who has collected artifacts (mummies, idols and such) from around the globe. Robert has a really good description in his TDS trip report from a few years back and I would recommend reading that as I don't want to give too much away. Just know that they spared no expense in creating TDS. Everything is as perfect and highly themed as you can imagine.

Gabriel- I visited HKD back in October and loved it. It was shocking that there were no crowds or lines anywhere. I raced to get to Mystic Manor at park opening only to discover there were 3 other people in line. At one point in midday while walking down one of the spokes towards the castle hub I saw literally zero people. Amazing. I hope the park can continue as it really is very nice.

Thanks, Brax. It did seem like they were actually teenagers, but who knows.

Last installment of Day 3 tonight. Thanks for reading.

March 3, 2016, 6:49 AM

Just about every HKD trip report I've read on numerous sites, indicated the park was empty when they visited, and most attractions, even the E tickets, were walk ons. Reportedly they do well on holiday seasons, so that must be where the bulk of their attendance comes from.

March 4, 2016, 4:51 AM

Day three, just in case anybody is still reading...

Day three started well with Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania, but it was my last day at TDR and my last in Tokyo before heading back to Abu Dhabi so there was that to not look forward to. And it was Friday so it was crowded again. But I think you get it, it's crowded at a park that is next to a city with 23 million potential visitors. The weather so far had been mercifully dry but the wind coming off Tokyo Bay was brisk to say the least. We wandered the park enjoying the picturesque scenery while trying to stay warm. I also got Fastpasses for Journey to the Center of the Earth which is truly awesome. Everything you could want in a ride is here; interesting queue, entertaining and original pre-show, dark and mysterious ride entry point, great looking ride vehicles, and the best dark ride ever.

After JttCotE we headed to the Disneyland (Magic Kingdom) side for the first time. If you visit Tokyo Disney Resort the Disneyland side is so much like the other versions you could probably just skip it or just plan for a half day to see the few unique things contained within. Plan to spend most of your allotted time at TDS. To get there from TDS you just hop on the monorail. You will need to buy a ticket for this privilege unless you are staying at one of the three main Disney hotels. By the time we arrived the only Fastapss available before I had to go to leave for the airport was for Haunted Mansion. This version was closed last year when I visited so I was glad to get them. It turned out to be almost identical to the WDW version, but it's always fun to ride.

One tip to remember if you are staying at one of the three Disney resorts, they offer special park hopper tickets where you can go between the parks to your heart's content during your whole stay. Anyone not staying at one of these three hotels has to pick a specific park for specific day for the first two days. After those two days you are allowed to park hop. I thought I could buy the regular tickets, pick my days, show up with my hotel key and park hop. Unfortunately, you have to buy these special tickets at the hotel, not online in advance like I did. Still, I wanted to spend 90% of my time at TDS so it was no problem.

The day was winding down and it was time to start thinking of heading to the airport. There is a bus service from the Disney hotels that will take you straight to your terminal at Haneda or Narita. They load and unload your bags which is very convenient compared to lugging your bags to the train station and switching trains a couple of times. Our bus was a large coach and there were only 4 other people riding. It felt like a private service just for us and was only about $15 for two people. A cab ride would have surely cost well over $100 to Haneda and more for Narita.

So, should you plan a visit to Tokyo Disney Resort? There are many factors to consider. The biggest barrier is the cost which is going to be outrageous for a family. And I would highly recommend that you not skip the best city in the world, Tokyo, when you visit. And that would just make the trip that much more expensive. If you are a Disney-holic like me, it's a no brainer. You should definitely visit TDS as it truly is the best theme park in the world. It's no Cedar Point with it's outrageous, adrenaline pumping rides. But TDS is exactly what Walt would have envisioned for the future of theme parks. It truly captures the spirit of adventure and imagination that are the hallmarks of Disney.

Thanks to all who read and I hope you make it to TDS someday.


March 4, 2016, 7:42 PM

We're going to Tokyo for the first time in May, so I have appreciated reading about your experience. Needless to say, we're pretty stoked to finally experience Tokyo DisneySea.

March 4, 2016, 11:38 PM

Awesome, Tim. If you have any questions let me know and I'll try to answer them. One tip, the ATMs at Tokyo Disneyland Resort only take Japanese bank cards and there are some things at TDR that only accept cash, such as food vendors. (The souvenir shops do take all credit cards.) There is one ATM on the TDR property (that I know of) that takes 'other' credit cards for cash and it's buried on the ground floor of the Ikspiari shopping complex. It's kinda out of the way and hard to find so be sure to bring some yen to the parks.

March 5, 2016, 9:20 AM

Fellow TPI Members,

MNThemeParks is a very small group that has a big impact in the theme park environment. They run events for poor children in theme parks (in Minnesota) that would not normally be able to go to a theme park. They cover all the costs, fees, everything. Right now they are looking to get tshirts for their leaders. If you go to the link below, you can complete several activities of no cost to you that give dollars directly back to the organization. A great way to support a great charity. Also, if you complete the activities as recognized, shoot me a private message and I'll send you a theme park prize pack. I love this organization and want to help them as much as possible. Thanks!

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