While preparing our Tokyo travel itinerary, I wasn’t sure if I should include Tokyo Disney Sea. Mike, Eric, Paula, and I went to Hong Kong Disneyland just 8 months before going to Japan. Two Disneyland trips in just one year might be a bit redundant. Besides, Disneyland might just be a lot like Disney Sea, right?
Was I wrong!
Tokyo Disney Sea stands out from all other Disneyland parks because of its “nautical exploration” theme. It is comprised of of seven themed ports of call – Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, and Mysterious Island. As you would probably have guessed from the name “Disney Sea,” many of the rides take place on water or are inspired by the legends of the sea.
There is only one Tokyo Disney Sea in Japan and in the world! That alone makes it unique, and that should convince you to not miss it when you go to Japan.
We set off for the park and decided to take the train from Shinjuku, following these instructions from the Tokyo Disney Sea official website:
To summarize, this was the route we were going to take:
1. Take JR Yamanote line bound for Shinjuku / Shibuya, and get off at Shinjuku station (1st stop)
2. Take JR Chuo line bound for Tokyo, and get off at Tokyo station (4th stop)
3. Transfer to JR Keiyo / Musashino line bound for Soga and get off at Maihama station
4. Walk to the Tokyo Disney Land gate
Somehow, we got lost… or at least we thought we were lost. I’m not sure, actually. Anyway, a kind businessman who was on the same train we were in started chatting Paula up and told us that we can get off at Ochano-Mizu station and then get off at Tokyo station. I don’ know if his way was better and faster, but we got to our destination, and that’s what matters!
Upon arriving at Maihama station, we first grabbed a quick bite at Beckers Burgers, a burger joint operated by Japan Railways (JR), Japan’s largest train operator. We knew that a meal in Tokyo Disney Sea would cost an arm and leg, so we got something cheap to eat first.
From the Maihama station, we walked to the Tokyo Disneyland gate and made our way to the Resort Gateway Station, where we took the monorail to the park via the Disney Resort Line. When we visited in November, the station was already adorned with Christmas decors.
We finally arrived at Tokyo Disney Sea — and we were mesmerized! Suddenly, it was like we were no longer in Tokyo (although we were mesmerized by Tokyo too!). It was as if we were transported to the Mediterranean, overlooking Spanish- or Tuscan-inspired terra cotta stucco homes with red tiled roofs.
Park guests can choose from a variety of park tickets, depending on how many days you want to spend in Tokyo Disney Sea. We were laughing about the idea of getting a 2-Day, 3-Day, or 4-Day passport, saying “Wow, 4 whole days at Disney! Can’t get enough!” But after we visited, we were no longer laughing. The park is so big and rich in attractions that a 1-Day passport is not even enough to cover everything especially if you arrive late. We arrived after lunch (coz our pals Eric and Paula were having such a good sleep!), which I wouldn’t recommend. If you are planning to spend only one day at the park, make sure you get there as soon as it opens to really make the most of your stay. I must warn you: the lines for the rides are bloody long, no matter what day you go! (We went on a Tuesday). This is also the reason why we only got to go on a few rides, because a bulk of our time was spent standing in line, sometimes, for an hour! It might be a good idea to get a FastPass so you can skip the long queues.
As you enter the park, you will pass by the Mediterranean Harbor, which resembles an Italian port city, where you will see guests enjoying a relaxing ride on Venetian gondolas on a large lagoon.
The American Waterfront, which is like Tokyo Disney Sea’s version of Disneyland’s “Main Street,” represents the northeastern coast or waterfront of the USA in the early 20th century. This site is famous for its street performers and live entertainment.
At the Toyville Trolley Park located at the American Waterfront, Toy Story fans will go crazy for the Toy Story Mania ride. According to the official Tokyo Disney Sea website, at the Toy Story Mania ride, “guests are asked to wear 3-D glasses during their ride of the spinning vehicles that travel through virtual environments based on classic carnival games set up. There are shooters on the vehicles to let guests to shoot targets in those 3-D games like ‘egg toss’ and ‘balloon pop.'” Unfortunately, we didn’t get to ride because of the long waiting time.
One of the most famous attractions at the American Waterfront is the Tower of Terror, a 2-minute free fall ride from the top floor of the elevator of an old hotel named “Tower of Terror” because of the strange and unexplained disappearance of its owner. Passengers are strapped on to their seats as they are taken on a quick tour of the hotel. Tension builds up as they slowly ascend to the highest point of the hotel, and you will hear the passengers’ screams as they rapidly drop to the ground. I wish this thrilling ride was longer!
The next port of call that we visited was the Port Discovery, which is Tokyo Disney Sea’s answer to Disneyland’s “Tomorrowland” because of its futuristic rides, such as the Aquatopia, a 3-person ride where passengers spin around on a wide lagoon in all directions. This was a cool ride!
We also tried the StormRider. The name of the ride pretty much says it all — you board a vessel called a “StormRider” and ride into a tempestuous storm. Like Disneyland’s “Space Mountain,” this ride has plenty of tossing, turning, and delving into the darkness. You could get a little dizzy and it’s not really the most suitable ride for people with heart, neck, or back problems, but if you are looking for a little speed, this ride is the one for you.
Next, we made our way to the Lost River Delta. Within this port of call lies its most outstanding landmark, a doomed Aztec pyramid which happens to be the home of the ride Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.
Inside the Aztec Temple is a Fountain of Youth, guarded by a very wrathful Crystal Skull. A man named Paco has started conducting tours inside the temple without Dr. Indiana Jones’ knowledge or approval, and this gets the Crystal Skull hot under the colllar.
We zigzagged around inside the pyramid and passed through numerous skulls figures, elaborate murals, intricate carvings, and corridors and ceilings draped with trellises. Every minute detail inside the pyramid is so painstakingly thought out, that braving the long lines becomes more bearable (even pleasurable!) because the ornate interiors give visitors a good look at the well-defined architecture of this attraction.
After walking around, we hopped on a wagon which took us on a bumpy and speedy ride as we passed through walls etched with carvings and adorned with vines. We went through darkness and held on to the rails as we jerked up and down, as well as left and right from the rough ride. Then we came face to face with an angry-looking skull glaring at us with a blazing blue ray of light from each of its eyes. We were greeted by skulls and creepy crawlies, we were startled by flashes of light and lightning bolts, we went past a big gust of smoke and fire, and we got to meet Mr. Indiana Jones himself!
I’m going to end this blog post with the prettiest Tokyo Disney Sea Port of Call: none other than… The Mermaid Lagoon! Ariel is my favorite Disney Princess and just seeing her gorgeous underwater palace from afar made me want to cry tears of joy! I know, I know, I’m a child.
I was blown away by the outside of the Mermaid Lagoon but when I stepped inside, I felt like I was in a dream! I thought, “So this is what it’s like to be in the kingdom under the sea!” Everything was so incredibly beautiful and I was enchanted by the dazzling colors, festive lights, and charming attractions. I’ve seen The Little Mermaid so many times when I was a kid and to see it come to life through this stunning attraction was just so amazing even though most, if not all of the rides are for babies or children.
You might have noticed that most (though not all) of the rides in Tokyo Disney Sea are quite exciting and are more suitable for older children and adults. In fact, I read somewhere that they even sell alcoholic drinks in the park! I didn’t really get to go on all the rides but the ones that I did get to try are indeed more targeted to an older crowd. Nevertheless, it’s a great theme park to visit no matter how old you are because even if you don’t get to try the rides, you will still be able to appreciate the beauty of the park just by looking at the aesthetic architecture and precise designs of the different attractions, as well as every little detail that makes it sublime. The park itself is a work of art and if only for that, it is really worth visiting.
More of Tokyo Disney Sea soon on Part 2 of this blog post!
Tokyo Disney Sea
Address: 1-13 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture 279-0031, Japan
Phone: +81 570-008-632
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8:30 AM – 10:00 PM
How To Get There: http://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/access/