Japan Trip Report: Tokyo Disneyland

I’ve been traveling for the past week and a half and now that I’m home, it’s taken me awhile to get back to normal. Rob & I spent Valentine’s Day weekend eating our way through Portland (pics to come someday) and then last week we were in San Francisco for work. I know I’m lucky to be able to travel but it’s pretty exhausting! Yeah, I know – first world problems and all. 🙂

Let’s back track to our Japan trip (I still have at least 3-4 more entries after this one — so bear with me).

Wednesday, 11/14

First day in the Tokyo Disney parks! We decided on Disneyland for our first day so that we’d experience something familiar to start.

This is the Disney Resort Line (aka monorail) that takes guests to the parks.

And this is the Disney Resort Cruiser that acts as a shuttle from the various on-site official hotels to the Bayside resort line station (so that guests can then connect to the Resort Line to get to the parks). Our hotel was across the street from the station so we never used it but I just loved the cruiser — it’s SO CUTE.

When I was planning our trip, I read numerous reports online that the Japanese are serious about Disney and arrive early to get into the parks. If you arrive even an hour after park opening, fast passes will be gone and ride lines will be hours long. This was NO JOKE. We woke up early to take the Resort Line to Disneyland well before the 9am opening and as we rounded the corner to the park, there were already lines upon lines of people waiting to enter. Oddly enough, the ticket booths had no lines because everyone was prepared and already had their tickets ahead of time like we did.

This was the crowd in our immediate vicinity waiting in line to get in to the park (can you spot Rob?). It was INSANE. But everyone was super organized and polite. I don’t even want to imagine what it’s like during high season.

Entering the park! SQUEE.

Everything was at once familiar and overwhelming. In a general sense, I knew where the lands were located (the layout is similar to Disneyland in Anaheim) but just like when we visited the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, everything was so much bigger and nothing was quite “right.” It seriously took me the better part of our first day to get oriented with the park.

So the first thing I always get asked is if the rides and attractions at Tokyo Disneyland are the same as Disneyland. For the most part, the answer is yes. There’s always exceptions, though — and I’ll try to highlight a few along with some pics.

First up — instead of Main Street USA, they have the World Bazaar! And it’s covered due to the inclement weather in the winter months. Outside of the name and the roof, though, the storefronts are very similar to Disneyland.

This is the view of the World Bazaar as you head out of the park.

Inside the World Bazaar along with the festive Christmas tree.

Another difference is that the World Bazaar has side alleys like the one above. I LOVED THIS. At Disneyland, when you enter the park, you have to walk all the way down Main Street to the hub in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle before you can veer off to the various lands. But these side alleys are SHORTCUTS so you can head directly to Tomorrowland on the right or Adventureland on the left without walking the length of the World Bazaar. I’m sure these were designed and built to help the traffic flow, particularly during busy times.

At the end of the World Bazaar is the Partners Statue and the first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle!

While beautiful, I have to admit that I prefer the landscaping & gardens around Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom (and of course, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland is my all time favorite castle).

One of the two rides unique to the park is Monsters Inc Ride and Go Seek in Tomorrowland.

It’s so popular that THIS is the Fast Pass line! We had only been in the park about half an hour and the standby line was 140 minutes with fast passes already at 6:00pm. This is exactly why it’s important to arrive early!

It’s an interactive ride (think Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters) where you use flashlights (like the one Rob’s playing with above) to make the hidden monsters move, make noises, etc. So fun! Though it threw me for a loop to hear all the characters speaking Japanese, LOL.

The other exclusive ride is Pooh’s Hunny Hunt in Fantasyland.

We missed out on getting a fast pass for this ride so we ended up staying until park closing to get in line (and it was still a 30 minute wait!). SO WORTH IT. The honey pot ride vehicles spin and bounce in and out of various rooms. I don’t know how to describe the ride other than it’s AMAZING! I loved it. Plus, the ride is trackless so each time the experience is different.

There’s Westernland instead of Frontierland.

And New Orleans Square isn’t a separate land — instead, it’s part of Adventureland. Similarly, Haunted Mansion is located in Fantasyland (it’s in New Orleans Square at Disneyland and in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom).

By far, the most popular snack at the resort is POPCORN. No, not your typical butter popcorn — FLAVORED popcorn!

There are carts all over the parks and we did our best to try them all! Spoiler – we did not succeed but we had fun trying. 🙂 The first flavor we tried was curry, which I didn’t think I would like. The strong smell didn’t help. But surprisingly, it ended up being my favorite. YUM YUM.

Honey popcorn was a VERY close second. You might notice that each popcorn cart also sells souvenir popcorn buckets. Collecting these buckets is just as popular as the popcorn! EVERYONE (not even an exaggeration) has one — people even bring old buckets to refill with popcorn and carry around. I REALLY wanted one as my Disney souvenir but I never saw one that I loved. I don’t know what I would have done with it anyway, LOL.

The quintessential Disney souvenir is a set of Mickey ears.

The Mickey (or in this case, Minnie) ears tend to look more trendy than the American counterparts.

These Minnie ears made me scratch my head. Not sure I like the earrings.

And some of the ears doubled as a scarf with gloves! I ended up with a Minnie version of this. 🙂

I absolutely LOVE to see the Disney parks all lit up at night. It somehow feels even more magical.

The lights are more restrained as compared to the US parks (they’re trying to be conscious of their energy consumption since the earthquake in 2011) — but just as lovely!

Friday, 11/16

We spent our last night at the resort at Disneyland just soaking in the atmosphere.

So hard to say good-bye! We had such a great time!

Tokyo Disneyland Rides/Attractions Count:
Mark Twain Riverboat – 1
Captain EO – 1
Space Mountain – 1 (There was NO MUSIC! So weird).
Pirates of the Caribbean – 1
Monsters Inc Ride & Go Seek – 1
It’s a Small World – 1
Pooh’s Hunny Hunt – 1

Up next: Tokyo DisneySea! (LOVE this park!)

For more pics from our first day at Tokyo Disneyland, check our Flickr here.