Day 9: Tokyo Disneyland

I became a reluctant Disneyphile about 12 years ago when I finally visited Disneyland in California with some friends.  Since then, Scott and I have kind of made it part of our thing having gone to Disneyworld during our honeymoon, and last year with Scott’s mum and aunt.

Since we happened to be in Japan and Tokyo, why not, while we’re here, go to Tokyo Disney Resort?

The first thing that went through my mind is why would I really want to go to something so western?  Well, Tokyo Disney Resort does have what people have described as the coolest park in the system, Tokyo Disneysea.

I think Scott and I were both surprised.  Firstly, it wasn’t full of western tourists.  Apparently the Japanese love Disney and it shows, and it’s very Kawaii (かわいい), or cute.  Like, way kawaii.  You think that groups going around in the same t-shirts at WDW or Disneyland is cute?  That’s nothing compared to what you see at Tokyo Disney Resort with people dressing up.  Combine otaku and Disney and, uh… yeah, just wow what you see.

The gift shops are decidedly different for the Japanese market.  Pin collecting is not a thing at the Japanese parks, although you can find pins.  We picked up park pins and Hallowe’en pins, and you can find character pins and packages though they can be hard to find.  It’s definitely not common.

Popcorn is a HUGE thing at the parks, and different flavours like the usual caramel, chocolate and salted.  You also see flavours like curry!  Also collecting popcorn buckets is definitely a thing.  I may or may not have specifically gone to Tokyo Disneyland itself just to get a Stitch bucket. LALALA. 🙂

Actually, it was worth it.  More on that later.

While some park staff speak some degree of English, the language spoken at the park is Japanese most definitely.  It’s not like Disney have transplanted foreign workers to work the park.  Some, yes, but the staff is mostly local.  It is mostly Disney run by the Japanese and they do an amazing job of that.

If you think service is kicked up at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland kicks it up.

The Monorail system is definitely kicked up, and it’s is actually run by the holding company that runs Tokyo Disney Resort.  Interestingly, it’s a pay system so have a SuICA or Pasmo card handy, and plan your days accordingly.  It’s not like Walt Disney World where you have free access to the busses and monorail.  I can’t rave enough about how clean and modern this monorail system is, relative to WDW.  Also, you can ride at the front, and it’s fully automated – not pilot.

From Shinjuku, it takes about 45 minutes to get to Tokyo Disney on the Maranouchi and Keiyo lines to Maihama station.

The parks are not that expensive.  CAD$69 for one park.  After 6pm, CAD$42.  That’s a bargain relative to the US parks where you’re paying well over $100 for just one park and that’s not with a park hopper.

The hotels are expensive, hence why we stayed on points at the Hilton Tokyo near Shinjuku.  Rooms with points were not available at the Tokyo Bay Hilton and I was not about to pay their prices, especially when I had points to use.

Now about the parks.

The attention to detail as you walk into Tokyo DisneySea is stunning.  I can say, without a doubt, it is probably the best part based on attention to detail in the system.  The Mediterranean Harbour, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast – all stunning, but what really got Scott and I was Mysterious Island with the Journey to the Centre of the Earth ride, which was sadly closed

The rides are big person friendly, so the park is designed for all.  The park is also accessible from what I could tell.  In fact, one thing I could say about Tokyo, at least, is that it is reasonably accessible with elevators, escalators, high visibility lines and markings on walkways with people with sight impairments.  Definitely way more than anything I’ve seen in North America.

Do take the boat ride around the whole park.  It’s worth it, and stunning!  Do see the mountain erupt, there’s nothing like it in the other parks.  Definitely try the Sailing Day Buffet – you won’t eat at any other Disney park, like it!

Duffy the Disney Bear – wait who?  Yes, Duffy the Disneybear.  You’ve seen him at Disneyworld, but he’s not a big phenomenon as he is in Japan. In short, Disneysea is Duffy’s park.  He’s everywhere, along with some of the other characters, and he hails from the Cape Cod region of the park with Sally-Mae, his female cohort.  At least, that’s how I understood it.

In Arabian Coast, I saw the Genie from Aladdin and he practically pounced on me!  I got a great picture with him and various characters from the film!

The pop corn buckets in the park run from about CAD$18.00 to CAD$22.00 depending on the intricacies of the bucket, and we’re not talking a bucket.  We’re talking an honest to goodness awesome souvenir.   Hence why we decided to go to the Tokyo Disneyland park itself.  I wanted a Stitch bucket.

Tokyo Disneyland surprised us.  Firstly, the covered walk way on Main St is a beautiful idea.  It makes the area feel like one of those indoor shopping arcades, which it essentially is.

The park, while it has some similarities to the way WDW and Disneyland are laid out, you still have differences that make the park unique and interesting.  Take Toontown for instance, starting with the traditional Disney characters and progressing to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”  WHAT?!  Yes, Roger Rabbit!  A staple of my childhood!  Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is a BLAST!  You must go on it!

Tomorrowland has the original style Starjets which is the original version of Astro Orbitor.  By the way, given JAL sponsors the ride, I’m very surprised they have “USA” written on the side of the ride.  Shouldn’t it be JAXA which is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency?

We did not make it over to Critter Country, Westernland or Adventureland so I cannot comment on those areas, but one thing is for certain.  Scott and I want to come back and do both parks again and spend a few days.

The highlight was the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights.  It is a stunning parade, and it totally makes the Main St Electrical Parade look pale in comparison.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, below.  You have to see it, and to think that I didn’t really care to stay and watch the parade, until I saw the start!

We were a hit with the light up ears from WDW and magic wands that I ordered prior to our trip.  You can’t actually get them in Japan (surprising given the land of tech!).  Several kawaii girls stopped us and asked if we could have their pictures taken with us. LOL!

At the end of the night, we headed back to Tokyo DisneySea because Scott wanted a Duffy bear.  Fact: You cannot get Duffy stuff at Tokyo Disneyland!  He’s only available at Tokyo DisneySea, when at the Tokyo park, so keep that in mind, if you become a Duffy fan.

Scott’s photography skills shone through during the trip, and he did an amazing job at the park, and throughout out trip so far.    You’ll see a mix of both of our pictures from the the day below.

All in all, a fascinating experience and one that we really both enjoyed.

It is a bit embarrassing as this is my longest blog on the trip.  That said, I know a lot of people have been asking me about Tokyo Disney Resort.  Do make the trip to Japan, experience Japan, it’s amazing.  If you can include a stop to Tokyo Disney Resort, do it for DisneySea alone.

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