Our first day at Tokyo DisneySea
After a genuinely outstanding first day exploring Tokyo Disneyland, we set our sights on Tokyo’s second park, DisneySea.
Jetlag was on our side, and we were up ‘n at ’em by 5:30AM, and down for breakfast by 6:30AM. A nice perk of staying “Concierge” level at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel was the daily complementary breakfast at the Dreamer’s Lounge, located just off the main lobby. It offers a nice mix of both Japanese and Continental choices, including the tiniest Mickey waffles I’ve ever seen.
( ^ Did you spot the hidden Mickeys?!)
DisneySea is located just behind Disneyland, meaning a quick, 2-stop monorail ride from the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel station. This was our first morning using the monorail system, and we were instantly impressed. Monorail cars rolled in every few minutes, had comfy seating available, and – best of all – were so dang CUTE.
The crème de la crème of Disney Parks
And, just like that … ta da! We made it to DisneySea.
The park is based off of the myths and legends of the ocean, featuring 7 nautical themed lands that are essentially ports of call: Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery, and American Waterfront. Disney is known for its attention to detail, but Tokyo DisneySea really knocked it out of the park. Each land was so meticulously crafted, it really felt like you were in another world.
The entrance of DisneySea opens into Mediterranean Harbor, Tokyo’s take on an Italian port city. Care for a bowl of pasta, scoop of gelato, or gondola ride along one of the canals? It’s all here! Far from feeling cliche, the land truly feels authentic. I had the privilege of traveling through Italy in high school, and this felt just like Sorrento or Venice — only far cleaner & much less smelly!
Oh, and remember how I mentioned the extremely popular Hotel MiraCosta located inside DisneySea? Well, this is it. What looks like multiple, separate-but-connected buildings is actually the hotel. And the guest rooms look out into the park, how cool is that?
DUFFY, EVERYWHERE. We only had to take about 5 steps inside DisneySea before we were bombarded by him and his gal pal, Shellie May. Duffy is largely ignored back in the States, with the average American parkgoer unaware of his entire existence.
But, my GOD, he is an icon in Tokyo — right up there with the Mickey and Minnie!
And, whaddya know…barely 3 hours into my time at DisneySea and I’d already bought Duffy earmuffs, a Duffy bag, and a Shellie May purse & keychain. Hello, bandwagon. Let me happily hop on board. I didn’t expect to leave DisneySea as some bonafide Duffy fan, but hey — the Japanese absolutely adore him, and it was impossible not to get bitten by the love bug.
Just like Tokyo Disneyland, DisneySea has some pretty superb entertainment. They do shows along the water of Mediterranean Harbor, including the special 15th anniversary “Crystal Wishes Journey” and “Fantasmic.”
That blue barge/float out on the water was carrying Santa Claus, who says hello to everyone during the “Christmas Fantasy” show. The viewing area was already packed by the time we made it over to take a peek, but we were able to catch it in full the next day. It features Mickey and friends, a handful of princesses, and THE catchiest soundtrack.
Just beyond Mediterranean Harbor is Mysterious Island, a land based off the storytelling of Jules Verne. The centerpiece of Mysterious Island, and of DisneySea in general, is Mount Vesuvius. This ginormous volcano is kind of like DisneySea’s “Castle” — it’s the park’s structural highlight, and it can be seen from just about everywhere.
Mysterious Island is one of the smallest lands, but it’s home to the best attraction in the entire resort: Journey to the Center of the Earth! The ride mechanics are similar to Test Track at Epcot, or Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure. You buckle up inside a steam-powered mine vehicle that takes you deep inside the tunnels of Mount Vesuvius, where you meet all sorts of crazies.
Since we got to take advantage of the “Happy 15” Early Entry (a Disney Hotel perk), we were one of the first ones to the queue. We immediately grabbed a Fastpass to save for later, and then jumped in the Stand By line.
I didn’t know much about the ride before getting on it. Mark and I were lucky enough to get a car to ourselves for the first go, which totally upped the tension & “I’M SCARED” factor.
Verdict: I LOVED IT. The theming was amazing, details were beauuutiful, and thrills were legit. I think we ended up riding it almost 10 times over the 3 days we spent in DisneySea. And it still wasn’t enough!
The second ride in Mysterious Island is 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, another Jules Verne attraction based on Captain Nemo.
It reminded me of the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland, before Finding Nemo came along. The main difference, though, is that you’re not actually underwater. You ride in suspended pods, with viewing windows that have double paned glass containing water, which give the illusion of being under the sea. It’s a neat effect, and probably saves the park a ton of money on maintenance.
The most kawaii land in the park is, hands down, Mermaid Lagoon. It’s another small land, with most of the attractions set indoors and slightly underground. We were operating on mega sensory overload this first day, so we didn’t take the time to fully explore Triton’s Kingdom. But all in good time.
Just beyond Mermaid Lagoon is the gorgeous Arabian Coast. Aladdin was one of my favorite movies growing up, so I was really digging this land. It was like you were walking through the streets of Agrabah. At one point, Jafar even stepped out for a meet and greet.
( ^ How perfect is this gal’s jacket?!)
This was a Chandu tail, based off the lovable baby tiger in Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, a slow water ride in the Arabian Coast. It was essentially a steamed bun filled with chicken. And damn good!
I’ll have to do a full run down of all the absurdly epic DisneySea snacks at some point, cause I swear these eats were otherworldly. Not only were they adorable, and perfectly themed to the land they were in…but they actually TASTED AMAZING too. Far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced at any other Disney park.
Lost River Delta
After wandering through the Arabian Coast, we came upon the next land: Lost River Delta. It was sort of like the Adventureland of DisneySea. It’s at the back of the park, home to a big ruined Aztec temple that plays host to their Indiana Jones ride. It also has a Disney Steamer Line, where you can hop a boat bound for other ports in the park.
Lastly, Lost River Delta has the Raging Spirits roller coaster, which reminded me of an upgraded version of the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland Paris.
Port Discovery reminded me of an aquatic Tomorrowland. Even the land’s soundtrack sounded tech-y and futuristic.
From here, you can hop on the DisneySea Electric Railway, which takes visitors on a short ride to the NYC area of the American Waterfront land. There’s also Aquatopia, a fun little trackless water ride that uses the same technology as Pooh’s Honey Hunt in Tokyo Disneyland.
And next year they’re building a Finding Dory ride! So basically, it’s a sign that we need to come back ASAP.
( ^ These hats!!!)
And here we are, the last of the lands. The vast American Waterfront.
The land is split up into two main areas: Cape Cod and the NYC Harbor. Cape Cod is the original “hometown” of Duffy, so the fuzzy wuzzy bear is everywhere. You can grab him in popcorn bucket form, edible form from Cape Cod Confections, or as a plushy toy from one of the shops.
The second area is the NYC Harbor, home to Tokyo’s Tower of Terror. Here it’s called Hightower Hotel, and it forgoes the Twilight Zone theming for an original storyline based on rich art collector, Harrison Hightower.
I love, love, loved it; the facade was so intricate and detailed, and it was fascinating to see the thematic departure from what I’m used to at Disney California Adventure. (I only wish the Tower there would stay Twilight Zone, instead of the Guardians of the Galaxy nonsense — but that’s a rant for another day…)
The NYC Harbor has as a dock where you can board the SS Columbia, which looks like a mini version of the Queen Mary in Long Beach. There are a few eateries inside, including the swanky Teddy Roosevelt Lounge, where we grabbed cocktails a few days later.
There’s also a stage area where they put on shows. It was lightly raining this day, so the characters couldn’t do their whole performance. Instead they came out in these ridiculous saran wrap raincoat outfits and did a short consolation prize-type “wave hello / goodbye.” It was cute.
As the NYC Harbor wraps back around to the front of the park, you walk through an area meant to emulate the city in the 20th century. It’s full of shops, restaurants and delis proclaiming to sell “World Famous Dill Pickles”, and perfectly themed stoops. I loved everything about this land! (Which, I realize doesn’t say too much since I loved each and every land at DisneySea, ha.)
There’s obviously a lot I’ve left out: the shows we watched, the food we ate, the things we bought, all the rides we rode… I could go on forever, waxing poetic about DisneySea. But I’ll spare you the unending post and save it for next time.
This place fast became my favorite Disney Park, and I hope it’s becoming very obvious why!