DisneySea is one many Tokyo theme parks, it’s one of a kind and opened in September 2001 in Urayasu, Chiba just outside Tokyo. It is located right next to Tokyo Disneyland in the Tokyo Disney Resort and is accessible on the same train network. DisneySea was celebrating it’s 15th anniversary while we were there. We were very restricted time wise and were only able to visit DisneySea. We chose DisneySea purely because it is the only one.
DisneySea cost 335 billion yen to build and in 2013 attracted 14 million visitors, making it the 3rd most visited Disney theme park in the world that year. DisneySea was so popular that it hit the 10 million visitor milestone 307 days after opening! It’s fair to say that it’s a pretty popular park.
While in Tokyo we stayed at the Royal Rihga Hotel near Shinjuku. I liked staying in Shinjuku and I wouldn’t advise anyone to stay out near the Tokyo Disney Resort if you are only visiting for one day. It’s easy enough to get via public transport.
DisneySea has an overall nautical exploration theme and consists of 7 areas whilst still encompassing all the we know and love from Disney. You’re still able to have your photo taken with all your favourite Disney characters, this time we had a photo with Goofy. There are Disney stores everywhere as you would expect, containing every piece of Disney merchandise imaginable and I was able to purchase Disney pins for the lanyards the kids got at Hong Kong Disney and Mickey ears ice blocks!! So all the important things covered. Below I have outlined all you need to know for your DisneySea visit.
Getting to the Disney Resort is relatively easy from Tokyo. The easiest way to explain it is if you have a Japan Rail Pass (click the link for further information on getting a JR Pass) and are staying on the Yamanote Line, get the Yamanote train to Tokyo and then there are two trains that go to Maihama, these are the JR Keiyo and JR Musashino Lines. This way you can use your JR Pass and won’t need to purchase another ticket. Depending on where you’re staying there may be quicker ways to get there, the diagram below shows how to get there on the rail system from Shinjuku.
We took the train which is the most efficient way to get there. There is also a shuttle bus from Shinjuku Station which is dependant on Tokyo traffic so my advice is to take the train.
Once you arrive at Maihama it’s a short walk across to the Resort monorail. You can walk to the parks from Maihama but the monorail is efficient and cheap at 200 yen ($2.30AUD) for a full day trip per person. You also get a nice view across to the Resort.
You can purchase your DisneySea tickets online, although we didn’t this time as I wanted to ensure we chose a day with good weather. We were in Tokyo for 4 days and only had time for one of the parks, we were lucky enough to get a lovely sunny day. We purchased our tickets on arrival, we were there on a Thursday and we walked straight up to the window with no queues in sight. We didn’t arrive at opening but we were there soon after, below are the entry fees for 1 – 4 day passes as of Dec 2016.
The prices above are for both Tokyo Disney parks – Disneyland and DisneySea. As you can see the price cheaper for each extra day. My advice would be allow one day for each park, we covered DisneySea in one day and we didn’t stay until the end. We also aren’t big rides people so might be why we managed to get around in one day. You can upgrade your ticket to a multi day pass but you must do it before leaving the park.
As outlined earlier there are 7 themed areas at DisneySea, here is a brief outline on what to expect from each one:
Walking in the gates of Tokyo DisneySea is like walking into the Italian seaside. The area is said to resemble the ports of Portofino and Venice. There are replica gondolas and canals where you can ride and be serenaded just like you would in Venice. This is the area you will find the Tokyo DisneySea Mira Costa Hotel, there are also numerous Disney shops and restaurants in this area. It opens on to the park harbour where you can board a DisneySea transit steam liner which circumnavigates the park. Alannah enjoyed the Fortress Explorations attraction which is styled like a huge castle/fortress with interactive map activities, we were there just on dusk and I got a few ripper photos of the whole Mediterranean harbour.
This area is directly across from the entrance and you can’t miss Mount Prometheus at its centre. This area is quite small and only consists of the Journey to the Centre of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attractions. Make sure you stay until the sun goes down and see the volcano erupt at the top of Mount Prometheus.
Mermaid Lagoon is located directly behind Mount Prometheus and is aimed at the young ones. Attractions consist of Flounders Flying Fish Coaster, Scuttles Scooters, Mermaid Lagoon Theatre, Jumping Jellyfish, Blowfish Balloon Race, the Whirlpool and Ariels Playground. The coaster here is just perfect for the little ones and most of the rides the toddlers can ride on their own. My kids are past this age now so we just had a walk through and a quick look.
You will see this Arabian themed world miles away as you are walking towards it. Alannah had a go on Jasmine’s Flying Carpets and we all went on the Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage which is very similar to the It’s a Small World ride found at Disneyland. The Magic Lamp Theatre shows are only in Japanese like all the shows so we skipped over all them all. The enormous Caravan Carousel is also located in the Arabian Coast. This is another area mostly suited to the younger kids, Alannah wasn’t interested in much here.
Some of the bigger roller coaster are in this area. Alannah went with my sister on the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull and Raging Spirits which is a roller coaster with a 360 degree loop! While I was waiting for them an American man gave us the tip about getting in the single riders queue. This enables you to jump the queue but will mean you likely wont be sitting together. Most of the rides had wait times above 40 mins when we were there, the single rider queue cut the waiting time to around 10 mins. I had the opportunity to chat to the American man while I was waiting for Alannah on the ride and I asked him what he thought of the park. He said it was amazing, the only one of its kind and he has been to them all. He said Disney had outdone themselves with this park.
You are able to get the DisneySea Transit Steam Liner from here too. Great way to get to the front of the theme park without having to walk. The steamer does a loop of the park and you are able to get on and off at the front of the park and the rear which saves you walking as the park is pretty large, particularly good for those with little kids (you are able to hire strollers at the park if required).
This area also has rides suitable for young kids and me! I rode the Aquatopia, little watercraft that whirl and take unexpected turns! You can fit three on at once so we were able to all ride together which was nice. The Searider took you in a submarine to explore whats under the water. This area has an electric railway which looks like an old tram, it runs from the Mediterranean Harbour to the Port Discovery at the back. Another good way to get around without having to walk everywhere. All of these worlds have shops and food carts where you can shop as you go. Everything available in the park is also available at the large Disney Store at the front of the park so if you miss something you don’t have to go all the way back to find it.
Home of the Tower of Terror, we all gave that one a miss but you could hear the kids screaming from half way around the park. This is to the left as you enter the park and you can’t miss it as you can see the huge replica of S.S. Columbia from most areas of the park. The S.S.Columbia houses mostly restaurants and a lounge, there is a big stage in front with a number of performances each day by famous Disney characters.
Also in here is the Broadway Music Theatre with Japanese speaking shows, it would be great if they shows were also shown in english but I understand that your in Japan and the majority of people visiting are japanese. Hong Kong Disneyland had chinese and english which was great. A good option for the little kids is the Toy Story Mania. There’s a character greeting at Village Greeting Place. There are also many restaurants and refreshments stops in this area.
I have been told that during holiday season and weekends you should book your restaurant very early, we didn’t have any problems getting food although we grazed most of the day and then had pizza and pasta in Mediterranean Harbour on the way out. So if you are going during busy times keep that in mind. You can do this online through priority seating, it opens each morning at 9am, although the website is Japanese only. After 10am all bookings must be made at the restaurant directly.
We did not see the need for a Disney FastPass. A FastPass enables you to register your attendance through a machine which provides you with a ticket that gives you a time. You have to return at that time to have your ride. You can get a Disney FastPass for the big ticket rides, there are 7 in the park that you can use your FastPass at. Could be a good option if you only have one day passes and you really want to ride the big roller coasters. Christine from Adventure Baby Blog, a reliable source on all things Disney, tells me that FastPasses are free. There’s a system limiting the amount that you can have at a time, these must be used before requesting another one, they are linked to your entry ticket.
As stated previously, the single rider option is another good way to cut the wait time. You can also go in the single rider queue in pairs, it just means you wont be seated together but hopefully in the same carriage/ride. Having said that, if everyone did it you then wouldn’t have a single riders queue!
I have very mixed feelings about DisneySea, I have to be honest and say that it wasn’t what I was expecting. I had envisioned a cross between Disneyland and Ocean Park in Hong Kong. I had thought there would be a creatures of the sea theme with aquariums and ocean themed rides. Well, I was wrong!
Now that’s not to say that I didn’t like it. I just asked Alannah what she was expecting and she said a cross between Ocean Park in Hong Kong and SeaWorld! So how did we both get it so off track. It’s still a great park and if you’re in to roller coasters there is plenty there to keep you busy. I think this park would be a better option for teenagers although there is enough there to keep little ones entertained also. It also depends if you have been to a Disney Park before, if you have been to Disneyland like we have in Hong Kong and we are going to LA next year, this was one of the reasons I didn’t hesitate when making the decision to go to Tokyo DisneySea.
Maybe the name is a little misleading, might be better off being called DisneyEarth seeing as DisneyWorld is taken! It didn’t have the same Disney feel about it that I have experienced at other Disneyland parks. It has all the merchandise stores you expect to see and we only saw characters at the entrance and the character greeting areas. It was lacking a parade which is always a favourite when visiting a Disney Park. I can’t deny it though kids will still love it and it’s still one of the happiest places on earth!
We also visited Universal Studios Japan located in Osaka. This was my first Universal Studios and it blew me away, particular the Wizardry World of Harry Potter. You can also reader post on the top things to do in Tokyo with kids for more ideas.
Have you been to DisneySea? Are you planning on going? Would love to hear your comments below.
Sal & Co.
We didn’t have enough time to visit both Disney parks, for a comprehensive guide of Tokyo Disneyland, from Samantha from HaveSeatWillTravel.