Tokyo DisneySea is one of my favorite Disney parks! What makes DisneySea so spectacular is the amount of detail that goes into creating and designing the theme park. The differences in culture give the Disney theme park in Japan a much different vibe than the ones in America. You can clearly see the diversity in the food, rides, and merchandise at DisneySea.
Similar to the Disney California Adventure counterpart, alcohol is sold at DisneySea! There is a variety of beer and cocktails to keep the buzz going and endure the massive lines. In contrast, DisneySea has a variety of popcorn flavors other than the typical salt and butter that Disneyland stateside has. These unique flavors update seasonally. To have a better idea of what flavors DisneySea offers, I will compare the flavors offered now (April 2018) versus when I visited the park. After munching on popcorn, wash down the kernels with seasonal flavored drinks such as milk tea.
Although DisneySea is my favorite theme park in terms of design and creativity in food, the rides may not be as impressive by today’s standards. It lacks the thrill and creativity that Disney has among other theme parks. The rides were mostly based on old movies and animations that are now forgotten. However, it does capture the magic of what Disney was in the past and does not stray away from the elements and history that made Disney, Disney.
DisneySea magnifies the things that are often overlooked and underrated in the states, such as the Disney Bear, Duffy. Most American Disney goers would not have any idea that this character even exists whereas, on the flip side, Duffy is a HUGE phenomenon in Japan. Duffy is such a celebrity in Japan that it is impossible to ignore him through the merchandise, specified Duffy photo spots, and craze of teenage girls. As you take a walk around, you will see an abundance of Duffy merchandise such as teddy bears, shirts, purses. Duffy stuffed animals are used as decoration to take photos with or to prop up on a platform to take photos of.
Whatever the similarities and differences may be, one thing still remains the same at every Disney Park… the notoriously excruciating long lines. Fortunately, I will give you tips and information and share my experience to help better plan your trip and make it as enjoyable as possible.
Tip: Be sure to buy your tickets in advance if you can. During cherry blossom season (late March – April), students are out of school and normally go to the Disney theme parks during their Spring breaks. My traveling partner procrastinated on this so we wasted an entire day trying to find alternatives since the DisneySea tickets sold out. If you ever find yourself in this situation, head over to the Shibuya Disney Store and purchase an “open ticket”. Make sure you arrive at the entrance as soon as the theme park opens. Once it’s full, they will only allow DisneySea ticket holders with fixed dates to enter.
It should be noted that you are allowed to hold more than one fast pass at a time. The next time you are able to get a fast pass is either during the time of your latest fast pass or after the 2 hour cool down period. Fast passes were a big time saver and because of them, I never had to wait longer than an hour for any ride. So, PLAN WISELY!
(FP) = Fast Pass Available
* = Signifies different than Disneyland in America
The Mediterranean Harbor is similar to Main Street with the layout of all of the shops, restaurants, and refreshments lined up after you enter the theme park. You can get anything from clothing and souvenirs to household goods. Like Gibson Girl is to Disneyland Anaheim, Gondolier Snacks fills that ice cream void at DisneySea. Anything you can think of that was available at Disneyland, such as chocolate and confection shops, DisneySea does a great job to make these things available for you.
What is different from the typical Disneyland theme parks are the attractions. In Main Street, only the railroad is available but at the Mediterranean Harbor, you can ride on a gondola or take a the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line. Another difference is the design and architecture, which makes it a much more picturesque experience.
1. Ride a Venetian gondola
How elegant and romantic would it be if you could sit on a gondola as a gondolier rows the boats down the canals? How about with crowds of other people you didn’t know? Doesn’t that sound a little less appealing?
On my trip to Venice, I missed the opportunity to ride the gondolas, so I made it up at DisneySea. I am convinced that it would actually be the same experience, minus the cost. As the gondolier power rows your boat with long oars, they entertain you with song and conversation in Japanese.
2. Board a steamer for a ride around the park with the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line
The steamer is DisneySea’s choice of transportation. Similar to Disneyland’s railroad, it transports you across the park in style. Lines for the steamer can get surprisingly long but if you need to take a break from walking, this is a great way to rest your legs and enjoy the magical surroundings. The Steamer Line will take you to other lands across the water, but be sure to ask a Cast Member for the route.
3. Fortress Explorations
Similar to the Sleeping Beauty castle and Tom Sayer Island, The Fortress is home to the society of explorers, adventurers, scientists, and researchers around the globe dedicated to exploring the world’s ocean and foreign lands. This fictional organization originated in DisneySea and made its way to Hong Kong Disneyland. Fortress Explorations is a walk-through interactive area to explore, learn about explorers and adventurers, and test your wits with the scavenger hunts and puzzles.
4. Get the Gyoza Sausage Bun at Refrescos
One of the things I enjoy about other Disneyland theme parks is the variety of snacks. The Gyoza Sausage Bun is something different and only available at the Japan Disneyland theme parks. In addition to the Gyoza Sausage Bun, Refrescos also offers Maple Mickey-shaped churros, which I was told is a little hard and not worth trying (but try it out for yourselves!).
5. Mamma Biscotti’s Bakery
For bread and sweets, step inside Mamma Biscotti’s Bakery where you can pick up a quick snack or breakfast.
There are only two locations to get the Toy Story Green Alien Mochi (¥360), Mamma Biscotti’s Bakery and outside of Toy Story Mania. The Green Alien Mochi were flavored strawberry, custard cream, and chocolate. They were just too cute to even eat!
6. Hungry? Grab a bite at Ristorante Di Canaletto
A popular restaurant in Mediterranean Harbor where you can admire the Venetian scene as gondolas float by while eating Italian food consisting of their well-known Seafood Pizza or the Spaghettini Pescatore (¥1650). They also have full-course meals with choices of pasta or wood-fired pizza.
7. See Fantasmic at night
Watch the Fantasmic show at night over water in the Mediterranean Harbor. Like the classic show from the Disney theme parks in America, this show is definitely worth watching at least once.
8. Popcorn cart: Herb-Tomato
There are popcorn carts spread out throughout DisneySea. The one specific to Mediterranean Harbor currently has the Herb-Tomato flavor.
The American Waterfront is a depiction of what America is like, filled with iconic American buildings, ships, and the electric railroad. It is divided into two sections. One side represents the New York harbor in the early 20th century and on the other hand, is Old Cape Cod which is similar to a fishing village.
1. Score the highest points on Toy Story Mania (FP)
Toy Story Mania is an interactive 3D ride where you shoot targets from your seat. It is a very popular ride at DisneySea as people sprint from the gates to acquire fast passes. If you’ve already been to Toy Story Mania at Disney California Adventure, this ride could be skipped in order to discover more of what DisneySea has to offer. The only variation of the ride is the queue, which is more detailed than the one at Disney California Adventure.
2. Bite the heads off of Toy Story Green Alien Mochi from the food cart outside of Toy Story Mania.
These Green Alien Mochi snacks are one of the tastiest and photogenic treats at Tokyo Disney Sea. They can only be bought at this food cart or at Mamma Biscotti’s Bakery located in Mediterranean Harbor.
3. Turtle Talk
Turtle Talk has the same concept as Disney California Adventure where you can talk to Crush from Finding Nemo. As DisneySea is in Japan, Crush takes questions and answers in Japanese. If you don’t know any Japanese, I would say don’t even bother and skip this attraction as it probably would not be funny or entertaining if you don’t understand what is being said.
4. Barnacle Bill’s
Stop by the Barnacle Bill’s wagon to eat items such as meat on a stick and their flavorful and juicy sausages. Wash it all down with their flavored beer.
5. Tower of Terror (FP)
If you miss the old Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure before the change to Guardians of the Galaxy, Tokyo Sea’s Tower of Terror is your answer. The Japanese culture isn’t familiar with the American hit, The Twilight Zone, so they created a storyline with a little twist to go with a storyline within the park.
6. DisneySea Electric Railway
The railroads and trains played a large role in the development of the United States as it makes its presence in DisneySea in the American Waterfront. The Electric Railway only goes to Port Discovery, which is the next land over.
7. Cape Cod Confections
A shop that sells Duffy sweets and milk tea. The flavors of milk tea changes from time to time. When I went, they had a Berry Milk Tea. Now, their flavor is an Ice Caramel Milk Tea.
8. High Tide Treats
Craving the cinnamon churros you are used to? Drop by High Tide Treats for Mickey-shaped cinnamon churros.
9. Popcorn Cart: Garlic Shrimp, Blueberry, Milk Chocolate
During my visit, the Cape Cod popcorn cart had Milk Tea and Soy Sauce as its flavors. Now you can get unique flavors such as Garlic Shrimp, Blueberry, and Milk Chocolate.
1. Wet or dry, determine your fate on Aquatopia*!
On the trackless water attraction, Aquatopia, you are put into a small raft as you ride around in unpredictable directions, turns, and stops. Every hovercraft will take you on a different path so you can’t watch others to see where yours will take you next. Not only does the track vary, but also the wetness. It is truly the luck of the draw on whether you leave dry or drenched in water. In addition, certain times of the day can also determine if you get the regular ride or a really wet one. It is suitable for young children due to its flat and simple layout. Aquatopia was the only ride that I had to wait about an hour in line for as there were no fast passes available. If you don’t have time to spare, it is safe to skip Aquatopia.
2. Nemo & Friends SeaRider*(FP)
Previously, you could fly into a hurricane on a motion simulator called Storm Rider. Now, it is replaced by another simulator ride, Nemo & Friends SeaRider. The concept is similar to Star Tours where you watch a screen and the platform you are sitting on moves. Either way, both rides are different to the ones back in the states in terms of the video you are watching. If you are curious about this ride, do get a fast pass. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of this when it was Storm Rider and I was told that many people are not a fan of the new ride either.
3. Seaside Snacks
Swing by the snack cart serving Eukiwa Buns loaded with shrimp (¥450). Proceed with caution as you eat the bun because it is served piping hot!
4. Horizon Bay Restaurant
Outside of the restaurant on the terrace, you can pick up the Nemo & Friends Tipotorta, orange flavored (¥350) and a Pineapple smoothie (¥400) for a quick, sweet snack.
5. Breezeway Bites
Looking for fried pizza turnover? You can get this calzone-like pastry filled with seafood cheese curry or chicken & mozzarella.
4. Popcorn cart: Caramel or Black Pepper
During my visit, this specific popcorn cart flavor was Strawberry. Now you can get caramel or black pepper flavor here.
Lost River Delta
1. The Raging Spirits* (FP)
On the Raging Spirits, you are taken through ancient times on an outdoor, high-speed adventure as it twists and turns and goes on a 360-degree loop. You must store all of your belongings in the lockers provided. This is different than any of the rides in the states. Single rider is available and a recommended way to go, because this ride wasn’t worth the 70 minute wait time an hour after opening.
2. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (FP)
I would not recommend wasting a fast pass on this as this ride is essentially the same as Disneyland Anaheim and moves quickly in the single rider line. There are little differences but the layout is the same. I rode Indiana Jones as a single rider and was grouped with a bunch of screaming teenage girls causing my ears to continue to ring even after the ride.
3. Expedition Eats
Looking for another unusual snack in DisneySea? Perhaps the Yucatan Sausage Roll could fill that search. It is similar to a corndog but safe to skip.
4. Lost River Cookhouse
It’s not Disneyland without holding a leg of meat. Here, you can get a spicy smoked chicken leg and mango sparkling tapioca drink.
5. Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina
The only place in DisneySea where you can get Mexican food consisting of tacos and quesadillas. This cantina offers other items such as a beer cocktail flavored with mint and grapefruit syrup (¥680) and one of their limited time custard cake, azuki and strawberry flavor (¥1000).
6. Tropic Al’s
Tipotorta is like a pie in a form of a stick. At Tropic Al’s, their current flavors are chocolate and chili beef. Wash it down with a sparkling soft drink.
1. Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage*
The same concept as the famous, “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland, although it is more story-driven. This ride is worth checking out since the line goes by quickly.
2. Stop by Sultan’s Oasis for Chandu Tail
Grab Chandu Tail (¥500), a tiger tail-shaped steam chicken cream bun at Sultan’s Oasis. Currently, there is a “Spring tail” which is filled with chicken and cheese curry. Also, they have the Sultan’s Sundae, which is coconut ice cream with mango chunks, red jelly and pineapple syrup and Maple Cream Balls (¥360). The Maple Cream Balls has the option to add a soft serve.
3. Casbah Food Court
In the Arabian Coast, it wouldn’t be right if they didn’t serve curry with rice and naan. That is what Casbah Food Court is for. For dessert, you have the option to get a coconut pudding or mango mousse cake.
4. Open Sesame
Get your churros here! They have the regular Mickey cinnamon churro as well as a special purple churro (limited time only).
5. Popcorn cart: Curry flavor
1. Step inside the Triton’s Kingdom and watch Ariel’s live acrobatic show at Mermaid Lagoon Theater (FP).
Marvel at the magic and beauty that lies inside Triton’s Kingdom where there are “Little Mermaid”-themed kiddie rides and a live acrobatic show starring Ariel and friends at Mermaid Lagoon Theater in Japanese. As soon as you step inside, the creativity of the underground kingdom consumes you. There are numerous massive structures that make you feel small in the nocturnal playground.
2. Popcorn cart: Salted
I think this popcorn cart has always been the regular, boring popcorn flavor. I would skip it and try the more fun flavors.
1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (FP)
Originally, Magic Kingdom had this ride but was removed and replaced by Seven Dwarfs Mine ride. Now, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is only available to ride at DisneySea. Similar concept to the lackluster Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland, I would not prioritize this ride on the top of your itinerary.
On this ride, each submarine can comfortably seat six guests while it explores the deep dark secrets of the sea. The deeper the submarine goes, the more danger follows. When Atlantis is finally reached, due to the help of a strange creature, the submarine is able to ascend to the surface and escape the sea’s wrath.
2. Journey to the Center of the Earth* (FP)
Journey to the Center of the Earth is similar to Test Track at Epcot in Orlando. It is highly recommended to get a fast pass for this ride. Usually, those who are going to Tokyo DisneySea would race to get the fast pass to either Toy Story Mania or Journey to the Center of the Earth. If you’ve already ridden Toy Story Mania stateside and is not a priority for you, definitely go for Journey to the Center of the Earth instead.
When you approach Journey to the Center of the Earth, don’t be afraid to ask an employee where the fast pass line is if you’re lost. I was a little confused because their fast pass line looks like the actual line for the ride. It was ridiculously long but the line moves pretty quickly as there are multiple fast pass machines.
3. Nautilus Gallery
Pork Gyoza and Gyoza Dog (¥500) are sold here. Now, they have a special sparkling drink, green apple flavor.
4. Refreshment Station
Another stop for churros, the potato churro.
5. Stuff your face with Chinese food at Vulcania Restaurant
This restaurant specializes in Chinese cuisines such as fried rice, pork belly noodles, and dim sum. Alcohol is also served here with beers and seasonal cocktails.
Additional Tips and Information
- Leave your selfie sticks at home as it is not allowed at DisneySea.
- You are allowed to bring food if you want to save money or time.
- If you get soda here, they are never filled to the brim.
- Show up early before the park opens so you can snag your first Fast Pass and ride the first ride without a long wait.
- You can purchase half day tickets for about half the price.
- If you have the option, eat inside DisneySea and do not make a mistake like I did and eat at the Ikspiari Shopping Mall (not good).
- DisneySea is easily accessible, I wouldn’t recommend staying nearby as it can be expensive and there is nothing to do after the theme parks are closed.
- Prioritize your top 3 must-ride and do not get disappointed if you can’t ride them all.
- Pay attention to the little details around you, such as the cleaning staff. They can throw on a fun little show.