Sorry MiceChatters for the delay on the trip report. Since coming home from Japan, we have had a family tragedy/crisis.
This is long--so bear with me. AND--I am not good at posting directly to this site, so here is a link to my Shutterfly site--everyone should have permission to see our photos (we have hundreds more to post from the parks, as well as videos-but this is enough to get you started. These don't include our Tokyo city pictures)
For my 50th birthday celebration, we decided to travel to Tokyo Disney Resort. Originally, it was just a trip for my husband and me, but soon, our 3 girls joined in on the planning (ages 25, 23 and 18). We live in Northern California, near Stanford University, so we travel to California’s Disneyland often. In fact, we are all Annual Passholders. We also have been to Walt Disney World twice, sailed on the Disney Cruise, and have visited Disneyland Paris. So, I was very excited to add Tokyo Disney Resort to my list of Disney resorts visited. I especially wanted to visit Disney Sea. Our family of five flew out of SFO on May 25th for Narita Int’l, Japan.
We toured around Tokyo for several days before heading out to Tokyo Disney Resort on Friday, May 29th.
My husband, myself and our 23 year old (who has Down syndrome) left Tokyo’s Shinjuku station, which was very close to our hotel (Hotel Century Southern Tower) and transferred at the Tokyo Station for the Keiyo line for the Maihama Station, which—is the Tokyo Disney Resort Stop.
The three of us arrived around 11:00 am—and we went directly to the Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center to hand over our luggage, and to check into the Sheraton Grande Hotel at Tokyo Bay.
Here, we were given our room assignments and bought our 4 day passes to both Tokyo Disney Sea and Tokyo Disneyland.
Because our room would not be ready for a few hours, and our two other girls wouldn’t be out from Tokyo until the afternoon, we decided to get some lunch and look around the Ikspiari shopping mall as well as the TDR’s Bon Voyage store.
At 2 pm, we headed to the hotel via the TDR’s monorail—which was very exciting for me, as it set the tone for the next few days to come. From the Mickey Mouse shaped windows, to the Mickey handles, the clean cruiser is a real treat for Mickey fans!
Once at the hotel we were guided to our room, and were pleasantly surprised to see we had been upgraded to Concierge Level at the hotel! Now, I had joined the Starwood Preferred Guest club just to get a better rate when I booked the hotel. But to be upgraded to this level was a nice surprise. The Club lounge in the early mornings for coffee and a quiet internet room was nice, but the early evenings to have H'ors deurves, cocktails (no—I don’t drink…but if I did….yowza!), and sodas was a nice welcoming when we were exhausted from days at the parks.
Once the girls arrived we decided we couldn’t wait until the next day to go into Disney Sea—the MAIN reason I travelled all that way! In the hotel lobby, it was simple enough to by evening passes into the park (Starlight passes). My daughter with special needs decided to stay back in the room to relax, and so four of us headed into the park. We entered Disney Sea at 6:02 pm---and from that moment my jaw stayed dropped until we left the park at 10:00 pm.
Disney Sea is a feast for any true Disney Fan. No detail is missed. You are truly emerged into worlds and ports that tickle the imagination.
From walking past the world globe/fountain and under the Disney’s Hotel Mira Costa through the shopping way, you emerge into sites that feast the eyes.
Mt. Prometheus largely looms as huge flames abruptly burst forth with loud booms. The Mediterranean harbor with no detailed missed, reminded me of our trip to Italy and the Italian coast not even two years passed.
With the four of us dumbstruck at the beautiful scene…we decided to just chart our path quickly and head to as many large attractions as we could, as the crowds that evening seemed non existent. Hence, we headed over to Mysterious Island to ride “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”.
When walking into the volcanic crater of the Mysterious Island, we couldn’t stop taking pictures (I took almost 1,000 pictures on this birthday trip). We knew we had to stop clicking away with our cameras if we intended to move on, but at the same time we were awestruck. Travelling without my daughter who has special needs, meant we could travel quite a bit quicker—and that meant we could cover more ground.
I was excited to ride the two main attractions in this area, as I had read so much about them. Our impressions:
Journey to the Center of the Earth: 10 minute wait. Okay—this attraction was odd (to us). We all thought the ride vehicle was very cool (we loved the umbrella holders in the side of the cars!). We enjoyed how once past the scary earth beast the ride turned dark, and moved quickly as a mild roller coaster. We only wished that portion of the ride would have lasted longer.
Theming: A+ Attraction itself: B-
20, 000 Leagues Under the Sea: Walked right on. I know people think this ride is kind of hokey. I actually really enjoyed it. I thought it was fun and interesting. I liked how the attraction forced you to feel you were underwater, when only the windows actually filled with water/bubbles.
Theming: A+ Attraction itself: B
After this, we headed over to Mermaid Lagoon. Again, so impressive! My oldest daughter would have loved this as a little girl. We didn’t ride any attractions (we are a little too old for these)—but did enjoy the whole area. The “Sleeping Whale’ store is adorable. We knew that our daughter with special needs would enjoy this area.
Arabian Coast: Another feast for the eyes. I know this is Disney’s idea of an Arabian village, but it was just beautiful to behold. The smell of the curry flavored popcorn adds to the reality of it all. After several pictures of the beautiful Jasmine/Genie fountain, we wandered through the streets until we found the ‘Sinbad’s Seven Voyages’. Walked right on.
I truly expected this ride to be silly—and annoying.
I was pleasantly surprised. We all thoroughly enjoyed this ride, even though we could not understand a word being sung—it was very entertaining.. We loved the tune/song throughout the attraction.
Theming: A+ Attraction: A
We wandered over to “Lost River Delta”—where my husband and I waited as the girls rode ‘Raging Spirits’, a roller coaster with a loop. They had no wait for this attraction.
I loved the theming, but after riding the “Indiana Jones’ roller coaster in Disneyland Paris, I was afraid my head would jerk so badly, that I would regret it the rest of the evening.
The girls assured me the ride was extremely mild, in fact, almost boring. I mentioned I would ride it the next day.
(Later on riding this ride, I have to say, it was very mild as far as roller coasters go).
Theming: A+ Attraction: D
The theming here is amazing though. Truly a beautiful thing to view in the evening.
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull”—being from California we have ridden the original Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland countless times since it opened. But, I was excited to ride this, as our local attraction has a Southeast Asian theme, whereas this one has a Mayan or South American theme.
We had no wait for this ride, and walked directly onto the ride.
The theming through the queue was spectacular. We enjoyed seeing the life “archeological dig” with the South American theme.
We loved the smoke ring—and enjoyed the subtle difference to ‘our’ Indiana Jones attraction.
Theming: A+ Attraction: B+
As we emerged from the Indiana Jones attraction, the fireworks began. We stopped to enjoy the show while on one of the bridges over the “Lost River”.
Heading over to the “American Waterfront” we kept commenting to each other how Disney (well OLC) has outdone itself with this park. We all agreed, that this park is far superior to all the other Disney parks we have attended.
American Harbor: We headed down the main street past “McDuck’s Dept Store”—and enjoyed viewing the store windows, and the Electric Railcar. I loved the Waterworks building which held restrooms. Talk about the ultimate in theming in this area!
We headed directly to the “Hightower Hotel”—better known as “The Tower of Terror”. 10 minute wait.
The screams and flashes of lightening across the front of this impressive building sent shivers down my spine. It was an amazing site to view the first time. The building itself is superb and a massive delight to behold.
My youngest daughter is not fond of drop attractions, yet we convinced her to go into the attraction. We had a mere 10 minute wait—so we didn’t get to fully absorb the remarkable theming in the lobby of the building that evening (but would the next day).
While waiting for the elevator, we were in the queue with the military armor and masks.
The whole multi tiered storyline regarding Harrison Hightower and the idol Shiriki Utundu, as well as walking through Hightower’s impressive storage area really sets up the believability of this attraction. We were all awestruck at the disappearance of Shiriki Utundu while in the library!
At the ride’s end you come upon, the ‘Rajah’s Bathhouse’, a Tower of Terror themed merchandise shop. The detail in theming continued, and did not disappoint. I took numerous photos in this shop—as the paintings further impressed Mr. Hightower’s eccentric ways.
Theming: A+ Attraction: A+
By this time, it was almost 10 pm—and we needed to head out to the hotel. We knew it would be an early day, as we wanted to be back at park’s opening.
Saturday, May 30
I won’t go into much detail as I did the previous day, as we repeated many of the attractions.
Because we attended Disney Sea with a person who has special needs on this day, we moved through the park more slowly, but had the aide of a Guest Assistance Pass (GAC).
Let me explain, that unless you witness, or are part of the massive push/crowd that awaits the opening of these Tokyo Disney Resort parks, it’s difficult to really believe. I had read previously about this, but truly was surprised it was as bad as it was on that morning. Especially at Disney Sea (I knew it would be like this at Tokyo Disneyland).
While the Japanese are extremely polite and friendly in many ways, they can also become pushy, and disregarding of others when it comes to getting where they need/want to go.
Personal space goes out the window (and we Americans love our personal space).
The whole experience was very unpleasant. We all agreed, we would not do put ourselves through this again—even at Disneyland come Monday morning when we headed over that way.
What was also shocking to us, as Disney park enthusiasts, was the massive crush of Japanese who descend on the costumed Disney Characters at the main plaza area of the parks. Later in the day, while in the parks, the guests do line up neatly—but here at the park’s opening, it was a massive crush of people. It was disturbing to see. I felt sorry for the costumed cast members as the crush of people pushed towards them and at them. It just seemed a very dangerous situation for everyone there.
This is when we headed over to the ‘Guest Relations’ area of the park to inquire of a Guest Assistance Card (GAC). Having a GAC at our California Disneyland is truly a blessing when you attend the park with someone with special needs. I am aware that many people have abused these assistance passes in the past, so Disney has had to modify the uses of such passes—which is unfortunate. With our family, it is apparent that we do indeed have someone in need of the pass, and Tokyo Disney Resort did not disappoint.
Their GAC policy is similar to getting a fast pass for attractions—with some modifications.
How we used the GAC: We located a cast member at the entrance to an attraction, he/she then checks the length of time the standby line is to ride the attraction. He/she will then write on the GAC a return time for us to come back to the attraction (sometimes is was the same time as the standby queue, some times it was the Fast Pass return time. It varied upon attraction).
Upon returning to the attraction at the time indicated, we then are escorted through a separate entrance into the attraction, and are then able to load into the attraction vehicle with no wait time at all (we did not go through the Fast Pass line). Unfortunately, you will miss the heavily themed queues of the attractions—but your standing/wait time is nil (and I mean non-existent!)
This pass allowed us to see every attraction in the park, without any line waiting at all. The caveat, is that you can only have one wait time outstanding on the card, similar to having only one Fast Pass at a time. Even with these restrictions, we were able to go from ride to ride on this particular day with minimal times in between attractions. And, it was wonderful not to have to run back and forth getting Fast Passes for as many attractions as you needed for the day (especially when we were at Disneyland!).
On this second day, we rode all the previous attractions of the day before, with the addition of going to the Cape Cod area of the American Harbor (and ate lunch at Cape Cod Cook off), and to Port Discovery to ride the Aquatopia—no wait and Storm Rider-10 minute wait with GAC. We ate Strawberry popcorn—and it reminded all of us of the pink popcorn you can get at home. The sea salted popcorn was okay. But, I’m sorry, our popcorn at Disneyland (CA) is still the best.
Our impressions of Storm Rider were: Unusual ride—but none of us were impressed. It just was an odd ride to us. Theming: B+ Attraction: C
Aquatopia: I know many people are not fond of this ride, but we thought it was a lot fun.
Theming: A- Attraction: B+
On this second day, were able to do a lot more exploring as well as snacking and shopping. That evening, after a rest, we headed back into the park. We had dinner at the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge in the USS Columbia. This is a beautiful lounge & restaurant with great pictures and information about this iconic president. Here, if you are inclined, is a full cocktail service bar (a beautiful bar at that).
On the third day at Disney Sea, Sunday, May 31, it was just my husband, I, as well as our daughter with special needs, as the two other girls returned to Tokyo to go back to Harajuku.
This day we dedicated to seeing the shows, parades and shopping.
We went to American Harbor to wait for the “Big Band Beat” show. After much expectations because of the rave reviews I have read on Mice Chat and other various Disney sites, when the show began, I thought to myself “oh no, this is going to be a 2nd rate cruise ship show”. L
Much to my amazement, this show far exceeded any cruise ship show. It was fun and upbeat show with live big band music, great classic songs and lively dances. It was a well done production—which surprisingly is done 100% in English. The most impressive entertainer in the show was Mickey Mouse, as he not only could play the drums (yes, he really did play them!) , he could tap dance along with his fellow show mates!. I told my husband the most talented person in the show was the guy in the Mickey costume. He agreed.
The reviews I had read were correct, and I highly recommend this show to anyone going to Disney Sea. “Big Band Beat”: A+
We then headed for Fortress Explorations—to view the hidden treasures of this area. The Spanish Galleon that waits below this area is being refurbished, so it was closed to guests. Between the labyrinths of walkways we found intriguing rooms with old world flair. One room depicts how the early explorers crossed the oceans guided by the stars, while another impressive room includes a large model representation of the planets of the solar system. A guest can turn these planets with cranks at arm level. Another enjoyable room is where a 100 yen coin allows a guest to navigate model galleons in water where you must avoid sea hazards such as serpents, whirlpools and storms. Rating of Fortress Explorations: A+
We arrived just in time to view “The Little Mermaid” live show in Mermaid Lagoon. This theatre is in the round, so no seat is actually a ‘bad’ seat—but we found that the seats we had acquired were actually advantageous as it allowed us to view Ariel from the front as well as the massive Ursula. This show is a cross between the Broadway production of “The Lion King” and a Cirque du Soliel. It did not disappoint, even though the whole show was in Japanese. It was truly a delight.
“The Little Mermaid” Show: A+
Afterwards we ate lunch at Sebastian’s Calypso Kitchen.
We viewed the water show, “Legend of Mythica”—and enjoyed the costumes and show (even if we couldn’t understand it all). We’d rate that show a B.
Before a return to our hotel for a break, we took the time to explore the MiraCosta hotel. What a beautiful hotel. I’d love to be able stay here. In the gift shop, my husband bought me a Disney Kitamura handbag (famous Japanese handbag designer) for my birthday.
After our rest at our hotel, we headed back in the evening to view
“Bravisimo”—the evening water show. This show, again in Japanese, depicted a love story between water and fire. The fire in the water was impressive—but overall, it isn’t any ‘Fantasmic’ (the California version), not by a long shot. By the end, it was so smoky, I could barely breath (we watched from the Ponte Vecchio bridge). I was kind of disappointed in the whole show as it was built up to be a spectacular spectacle on water. Our rating: B-
Our impressions of the whole park are this….it’s the best Disney “non-Disneyland” park in the world. It is better than any park at WDW, certainly far superior to Disney’s California Adventure, as well as the Walt Disney Studios park at Disneyland Paris Resort.
This park is beautiful, with amazing and impressive details in every corner.
Next review: Tokyo Disneyland!
Ps—the ratings are mine and my family members. You may not agree—but this was a collection of how my family felt about attractions and shows. Every guest sees things in different ways—and this is just our opinion.