Most of us grew up loving the wonderful movies of Walt Disney, and visiting one of the Disney parks to have a magical day is on many kids’ and adults’ wish list. Whether you have gone to a Disney park already or if it is your very first time, the two Tokyo Disney parks are sure to delight young and old. The rides are so impressive, whole worlds from the Disney movies you love the best have been faithfully recreated, the shows are of Broadway-quality, and every little detail in the park and everyone who works in the park will make your trip to a Disney park unforgettable.
Tokyo DisneySea History
The Tokyo Disney Resort is made up of two separate parks: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 and is operated by the Japanese company Oriental Land, who obtained the necessary license from The Walt Disney Company. At that time, Tokyo Disneyland was the only Disney park outside the US. It is also the only Disney park that was not invested in by the American company. DisneySea exists only in Japan and was built in 2001 right next to Tokyo Disneyland. At first, there was a plan to build the second Tokyo Disney park as a movie-themed park. But because Japanese people are not so used to foreign movies, they changed the plan to use a concept that was actually created for a new theme park in Long Beach, California, but that park eventually didn’t get realized.
The Tokyo Disney Resort is located in Maihama in Chiba Prefecture, which is not Tokyo city itself, but it is only a short 16-minute train ride away from the centrally located Tokyo Station. Besides the official Tokyo Disneyland Hotels, there are many other hotels in the area that are a perfect starting point for a trip to one or both of the parks. We can help you find the best deals for these hotels.
Tokyo DisneySea’s Eight Areas
The concept of the DisneySea park is “Where Adventure and Imagination Set Sail”, and there will be eight different themed areas in the park.
Mediterranean Harbor: This area’s theme uses the backdrop of a typical port town in southern Europe. Porto Paradiso has the motif of Italian port towns such as Portofino and Cinque Terre. The most popular attraction in this area is Soaring Fantastic Flight. At the Palazzo Canals, you can also ride on a Venetian-style boat.
American Waterfront: The theme of this area is a ‘good old port’ in the USA. Steamship Colombia, that has a restaurant inside, is the symbol of the area. The Tower of Terror is an unmissable attraction here, which looks like a very spooky version of an old-fashioned high-rise hotel in New York City.
Port Discovery: This area looks like a port in the future as it was imaged in science fiction novels from the early 20th century. It is not so much futuristic as it is retro-futuristic, taking you back to what was imagined to be the future a long time ago. Fun ride Nemo & Friends Sea Rider is in Port Discovery.
Lost River Delta: This wetland resembling area is made like an archeological excavation site of an ancient civilization in the rainforest of Central America in the 1930s. Indiana Jones Adventure, Temple of the Crystal Skull is a must-do attraction here.
Arabian Coast: The Arabian Coast will take you right to the world of the One Thousand and One Nights story as made by the Genie from one of Disney’s most popular movies of all time, Aladdin. Fun for the whole family can be found in Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, which is a boat ride resembling the ride It’s a Small World in Disneyland, but then set in the Middle East.
Mermaid Lagoon: The Little Mermaid was the start of the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, the movie became immensely popular and sparked a new generation’s interest in Disney movies. The Mermaid Lagoon is completely built to look like King Triton’s kingdom on the seabed. There are two separate areas; Under the Sea and Above the Sea. The show at the Mermaid Lagoon Theater is a popular attraction.
Mysterious Island: You can’t really miss the sometimes spewing volcano of Mysterious Island that looks like a volcano from the South Pacific Ocean. The motif of this area was inspired by the famous late 19th-century novel of Jules Verne. Prometheus Volcano is a symbol of the area. The Journey to the Center of the Earth is one of the most thrilling rides in the park.
(from 2023) Fantasy Springs: The eighth area is currently (December 2020) still under construction, but it is already known that the theme will be ‘a world of Disney fantasy lead by a magical fountain’. They will reproduce the typical world of Disney movies. We certainly can’t wait to see it once it is finished!
Unlike Disneyland, which is almost a copy of its sister theme park in the US, DisneySea has plenty of original attractions that cannot be found anywhere else; Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Rising Spirits, Tower of Terror (Japan’s original story), and Nemo & Friends Sea Rider are found only in Japan, which should give you a very good reason to visit DisneySea if you come to Tokyo! If you have limited time and are wondering whether to go to Disneyland and DisneySea, it is good to keep this in mind.
Tokyo DisneySea Visit Tips and Tricks
When you visit Tokyo DisneySea, watching a parade at least once is an experience you should definitely include. It is a good idea to check the parade schedule when you enter the park, as the schedule is subject to change. If you want to make sure that you will not miss the parade, you need to calculate the waiting time of the ride you do before heading to a good viewing spot for the parade.
Mickey & Friends Harbor Greeting: This show is held at the Mediterranean Harbor three times per day.
Transit Steamer Greeting: This show is held at Waterways of Tokyo DisneySea three times per day.
Disney Light the Night: This is a firework display (from 8 pm)
In order to minimize the waiting time, using the free fast passes will be very helpful. With a fast pass, you can enter from the fast pass entrance without standing in a long queue. There are three ways to get it, and it is a very good idea to familiarize yourself with the process beforehand so you will not have to waste any valuable time while in the park. There are 3 ways to obtain fast passes:
Hotel plan with fast passes: If you apply for certain plans of official hotels that are part of the Tokyo Disney Resort, you will get several fast pass tickets with your hotel plan. The number of tickets depends on the plan you choose. These tickets are very convenient because you can use them at any time without having to make a reservation using an app or the machines in the park. It is a special perk for those who stay in a Disney hotel.
With the app: In order to use the app, you have to download and register for the Tokyo Disney Resort App first. Then, once you entered the park, you can choose the attraction that you want to have the pass for. It will show the time you can enter. It is good to be aware that you have to wait for two hours before you can get your next fast pass.
From the ticket dispensers in the park: This method of getting a fast pass takes some planning. You will first have to decide which attraction is the most important for you to be able to ride, and head to that attraction first thing after you enter the park. You will find a ticket dispenser machine somewhere near the entrance of the ride, that will indicate the time you can enter with a fast pass. The machine will issue the fast pass when you put your entrance ticket to the card reader, so keep your entrance ticket for the park safe! In order to get your next fast pass, you will need to wait for at least two hours or until the time you will use your first fast pass, whichever comes first.
Tokyo Disney Hotels
There are many hotels around the park’s area. There are four official hotels of Tokyo Disney Resort, Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, Disney Ambassador Hotel Ambassador, Tokyo DisneySea Hotel Miracosta, and Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel. These hotels are completely in the style of Disney characters and movies, making them especially interesting for families. Some rooms even have special themes such as Cinderella, Beauty and Beast, and Mickey Mouse. A great benefit of staying in one of these hotels is you can choose a plan with special benefits such as getting fast passes and show tickets.
There are more hotels in the area, many of which are very comfortable to stay at. For example, Grand Nikko Tokyo Bay Maihama, Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay, Hilton Tokyo Bay, Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay, and many more. You can use the free shuttle bus service between the hotel and the monorail Bayside Station that stops at the entrance gate of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.
Tokyo Disney Resort Numbers
About 780 million guests in total have already visited Disneyland and DisneySea as of December 2020, this is how successful the parks are. It is said that Michael Eisner, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, mentioned it was a big mistake that the company hasn’t managed Tokyo Disneyland directly after seeing its great success. The number of guests per year is over 30 million for both parks together. This means that about 82,000 guests per day go to Disneyland or DisneySea, and that there are always queues for popular attractions. It is good to know that you may have to line up for two hours in the peak season for the popular attractions.
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we can help you create your perfect Japan tour including a visit to Tokyo DisneySea. Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!
Access: 5 minutes walk from Maihama Station of the Keio Line.
Entrance fee: 8,200 yen for adult / 6,900 yen for junior and senior high school student / 4,900 yen for 4 to elementary school student. There are discount tickets available depending on the time you enter. There are also discount tickets for multiple-day passes.
Hours: 9:00 – 21:00
*Please note that at this moment you need to make a reservation to enter to park because of COVID-19. They limit the number of guests to about 20,000 people per day, which also means that the lines are much shorter than usual.