Full Details of Our Day Exploring Tokyo DisneyLand – Japan
As a giant fan of Disney theme parks, it was a requirement for us to visit the Disney theme parks in Japan. The reputation of these parks is quite high – even stating that they are the best Disney theme park in the whole. With five full days in Tokyo, we were spending two of them at these parks as recommended by those in the Disney community. Planning a trip to the Japanese theme parks is very different than planning the US parks. I did a ton of research and put together a guide.
Read our full guide that includes planning, what to expect, the must do’s, food, and more here!
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Tokyo DisneyLand was the first of two theme parks at the Disney Resort in Japan opening on April 15, 1983. Tokyo DisneyLand is made in the image of two US Magic Kingdom parks at California and Florida, and has seven lands – World Bazaar, Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland. In the Disney community, it is known to be the best of the Disney theme parks in the world and is in fact the fourth most visited Disney theme park in the world.
As advised, we set to arrive to the park at least an hour early and luckily it is very straight forward from Tokyo. We arrived just after 730AM and made our way to one of the queues for our waiting game. We loved observing all the people in their Disney attire with particular emphasis on head wearable items – and we are not just talking hats or traditional Mickey ears – they are decked out in merch that you have to see to believe. From giant plushes that engulfed the entire head to characters sitting on top of their head, the range was incredible. There was also a lot of representation from the Duffy world all around us. As we waited in line, it was clear this is a locals game – people came prepared with little stools to sit on, or mats – these guys were professional line waiters.
I read the parks open early and around 815AM, the hotel guests started entering the park – they get a 15 minute head start which honestly felt like nothing until we entered the part ourselves, and then at 830AM we started to funnel into the park.
A few things to note – the Disney Japan park app is very important for the day. Once you enter the park, you have to scan the passes of you and your group into one of the apps to sync the day (as of this post, this step can be done prior to entering the park). This then allows you to do several things in the app such as obtain priority passes for rides and entry times for shows. So those 15 minutes the hotel guests get are actually quite valuable in having complete access to all of this as well as get in the ride line of choice.
When we entered the park, we made a hard right to try and get the big ticket rides done before the crowds. It was hard to zoom by so many things in exchange for getting to ride queues – this park was 100% new for us and we could not wait to explore.
Our first ride of interest was the Beauty and the Beast attraction – one of the newest and most popular attractions in the park and for good reason – it is beautifully constructed with advanced technology with life-like animatronics and trackless ride system.
It was clear when we got through the turn styles that many people had the same idea. As we rounded the corner and zoomed past so many awesome things we could not wait to discover, we arrived at the ride entrance to cast members explaining it was temporarily closed. That was two for two each day at the Disney park that our first ride was closed.
We quickly regrouped and headed to the nearby Winnie the Pooh attraction where we hopped in a pretty long line. We booted up the app and kept an eye on the attraction status as we waited. The estimated wait time for the attraction was fortunately lower than what we waited. While in line, we decided to help our odds of riding the Beauty and the Beast attraction by purchasing a Priority Pass, similar to Disney World Orland’s Lightning Lane, so that we could guarantee ourselves the opportunity.
I was nervous waiting in the Winnie the Pooh ride that we were missing the chance to get on Beauty and the Beast once it opened but this ride was so fun! It is similar to the Disney World Orlando ride with a few notable differences including characters talking in Japanese and a room where all the honey pots are dancing with a few surprises. We really enjoyed this attraction!
We decided to head back towards Beauty and the Beast and see if luck was in our favor. As we approached the attraction, they started opening the line! We hurried and got into the queue as one of the first people in the line – we could not believe our luck! The outside and queue that takes your through rooms of the castle for this attraction were already stunning and it was difficult to contain our excitement.
The preshow was an amazing technology display and the animatronics were a sad reminder of the failed advanced animatronics at Disney World Orland (cough*yeti*cough). From the preshow you enter the kitchen where you get loaded into your chip tea cup to take you through the attraction.
There is a reason for the praise and hype for this ride. Every room is jaw dropping and completely immersive from the way your tea cup moves through the ride to each of the transformations that occur. Honestly, of all the rides that they put in Disney World Orlando, why on earth was it not this one??? We were so excited to know we had another ride coming in a few hours because there was so much going on at all times to take it all in. We walked off this attraction beaming with joy.
We decided to walk back a bit to start at the beginning of the park and make our way around the loop. On our way we passed Monster’s Inc Hide and Seek with a low wait time so we got in line for another brand new attraction. This one is so adorable using flashlights to interact with the various scenes while trying to find Boo. My only complaint was how fast the ride went and with the focus on shining the flash light on the various symbols I feel like I missed lots of great details. And I like that the guest interaction was more than just a typical shooter game so this was really fun.
Wanting some morning caffeine, we went to the park entrance in search of coffee and strange enough, the store front named Center Street Coffee House did not actually have coffee, but the Ice Cream Cone around the corner did! So we got breakfast ice cream and coffee – I just adore Disney vacations – and this ice cream was delicious.
It was mid morning now so we decided to walk back through tomorrow land. Space Mountain was closed for the day so we did not have much else to do attraction wise in Tomorrowland. I wanted those green alien mochi again – they were so good – so I jumped into Tomorrowland Terrace to enjoy.
We were certainly getting hungry for real food, we were approaching lunch time which we expected to make food lines very long, and then we had our Beauty and the Beast priority pass coming up. We decided to skip a few things on our walk and go right to lunch at the Huey, Dewey and Louie’s Good Time Cafe in Toon Town for the Mickey Bao Bun Chicken Sandwich. This sandwich was so delicious, we could not get over how good the theme park quick service food was in the Disney Tokyo parks. I knew this was a popular food item but it is certainly not just because it photographs well, 10/10.
Since we were situated in Toon Town, we walked around enjoying the fun quirks and took a spin on Roger Rabbits Car-Toon Spin. This area is very similar to the one in Disneyland California so we continued our journey back towards the Beauty and the Beast attraction for our Priority Pass. The second ride was just as good as the first and allowed us to take in more details since we knew what to expect. We also got to sit in the front row of the tea cup and it was a better experience. I think the Priority Pass is well worth the added cost for this attraction, especially if it means you get to ride it more than once! This ride also has single rider abilities but they were not allowing for them during our visit or else we would have gone on it again easily.
The area outside of the Beauty and the Beast attraction is reminiscent of the area in Disney World Orlando for Belle’s themed area. But the merchandise in the shops was far superior! The items you can purchase are so creative, we picked up a Beast soap holder from his scene when he is getting washed – what a great idea for a soap holder!
We had not seen the castle yet so instead of continuing further into the loop, we back tracked to Tomorrowland to get out first glimpse of the castle. It is a replica of the one in Disney World Orlando with a few variations on the coloring. We enjoyed taking lots of photos here before crossing the hub into Adventureland.
When going to a Disney park, there are a few rides that we have to it and one of those is Pirates of the Caribbean. This ride is identical to the one in Disneyland California but it is just one of those classics. Set in a more New Orleans style, we enjoyed walking through this area.
Ready for another snack, we hopped into Cafe Orleans and grabbed strawberry and pistachio cream crepe which was tasty and light. We walked through the next door and we just loved looking at all the different types of snacks they offer in this park.
We noted a crowd ahead and went through the stores to get to Westernland. As we got close to Big Thunder Mountain, we noticed a parade going on and the caliber of this parade had us bummed we missed the beginning! We found a spot to watch a few floats and they were just so large, colorful and interactive. The selection of characters to represent were ones you do not see very often. And the music was so catchy. Since they only do one a day, I had to watch the entire parade when we got home. If you are visiting, definitely make time to watch Harmony in Color.
Before the parade came to a close, we scurried into the Big Thunder Mountain queue. For some reason, the waving here was at a particular high instance since the queue rises to meet the loading platform so the people going up have a perfect opportunity to wave to the guests below. And we definitely did our fair share of participating. This ride on Big Thunder Mountain felt longer than the other versions and it was just as fun – definitely our favorite mountain!
We continued around the loop passing Critter Country where the only original Splash Mountain exists. The wait here was over an hour and we were shocked how quickly our day was flying by – I cannot believe I thought this was a half day park! We skipped it for now and continued towards Fantasyland to ride Haunted Mansion. This version of the Haunted Mansion is the original one that was in Disney World Orlando prior to refurbishments and changes so it was funny to go on this and recall what that ride was originally like. Haunted Mansion is another one that is another must ride when we visit a Disney park.
When we got off the ride, we noticed something we did not expect and have never seen before – characters just out and about roaming and meeting people. Belle, Mary Poppins, Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Snow White, five of the seven Dwarfs – we were just amazed. This could NEVER happen in Disney World Orlando and I have heard it happens occasionally in Disneyland California but this was just so many characters at once. We took a few selfies before going across the street to the next ride – Peter Pan’s flight. We often never ride this in Disney World Orlando cause the wait is always insane so it was nice to get to ride this with only a small wait.
We went towards the back of the castle and noticed there is a walk through experience. We waited in line for the elevator and got to walk around a small area that ended with a photo opportunity with the glass slipper and the throne. This was a bit underwhelming but I will say the view of the park when you exit down the stairs was worth it.
There were a few more dark rides in Fantasyland that we could do so we selected Pinocchio. These original dark rides really crack me up because they are so dark – both in the lighting but also in the content! Pinocchio was no exception and it barely resolves with a happy ending – classic! I hope these never go away because they capture something that does not exist anymore.
We were again on the early side of dinner and wanting to beat crowds, we walked into the insanely themed Alice and Wonderland Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. There was no line so we had an easy time selecting what we wanted. These buffets are really cool cause they are like cafeteria styled where you can take what you want off the counter and onto your tray. Then you take your tray to the register and seat yourself. We grabbed many plates from the buffet including salad, soup, prime rib, and the special make your own Mickey dessert. The theme in this restaurant is so fun and colorful, and the food here was surprisingly delicious – it really hit the spot. And on our way out, the line to get into the restaurant was really long so we did good!
We had so many more rides we wanted to do but we did not have a ton of park time left. We decided to hop aboard the train which was a really fun way to see more of the theme park. We also saw people on the canoes and I was really hoping to do that but the wait was too long. I was so shocked how we were running out of time! Before we left this area, we checked the wait time for splash mountain which still remained over an hour so we waved good bye for now.
We made our way to the front of the park to get a few more glances at the castle and to start browsing all the stores. This area in the park is so open and well curated and as the sun began to set and the lights on the castle and World Bazaar began to turn on, after all the running around all day I had to remind myself… we are in a Disney park in Japan… how amazing is this?
The stores here were plentiful and we spent time browsing each store making final decisions on purchases as the night drew to a close. And then the wildest things occurred. We approached a register and placed our items on the table to be scanned and suddenly all the phones in the store – including ours – began to alert. I looked down at the phone and saw an earthquake alert. It took a few seconds to understand that this was not a prediction or forecast – this was happening right now. The cast member gestured to us the place our hands on our head and sit on the floor – this interaction took a few attempts for us to understand exactly what we should be doing and thankfully others around us were doing the same thing so they know the protocol. As we sat there, Kevin asked if we should even be inside but I trusted the cast members to keep us safe. The park music stopped and in its place was an announcement on repeat but it was in Japanese so we do not know what was being sad. Then the merchandise on the shelves and light fixtures began to sway. It felt like we were on a boat for several minutes as the earthquake occurred. After a few minutes, everything returned to normal and the park music resumed and everyone went along their way. We completed the transaction for our purchase and we continued on.
Wow, what an incredible day exploring Disneyland! Even though there were so many familiarities at this park, it was so amazing to explore and experience. I really felt foolish that I thought we could do it all in a half day – this is certainly at least one if not two days depending on how much of a completion-ist you want to be. I think there is no question that we will return to Japan and this theme park in the future. We definitely could have used more time here so we will continue to explore – see ya real soon!