PHOTO REPORT: Christmas at Tokyo DisneySea 2018 (New Harbor Show, Decorations and Characters, ‘Soaring’ Construction, Mickey Soap, ETC.)

DisneySea It's Christmas Time!
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This Tokyo DisneySea Christmas photo report includes:

  • A look at 2018 Christmas decorations and the new seasonal harbor show, “It’s Christmas Time!”
  • Greetings with characters in special costumes unique to the Christmas season.
  • An update on the construction progress of the “Soaring: Fantastic Flight” attraction.
  • A quick revisit to Harrison Hightower’s Tower of Terror, spotlighting new details.
  • A peek inside the Toy Story Mania ride, in honor of the recently announced Toy Story Hotel.
  • Souvenir hand soap that dispenses foam in the shape of Mickey Mouse ears.

Tag-Teaming It at Tokyo Disney Resort

If you were following along with the hashtag #WDWNTokyo on Twitter, then you may have already seen numerous highlights from Tom Corless’ recent trip to Tokyo Disney Resort. No sooner did he leave Japan than I was “tagged in” as the local guy, so to speak.

This last week, I visited the resort for the first time since I started contributing to WDW News Today in mid-October. It was my third trip to DisneySea since I got an iPhone X back in January of this year. The improved picture quality has led me to rediscover some aspects of the park through a new lens (both literally and figuratively).

As of yet, we haven’t had many photo reports from here on the ground in Tokyo. Presumably, not everyone reading this is going to have the luxury of hopping on a plane to Tokyo Disney Resort, either. So in addition to Christmas coverage, this report will also touch down briefly in a couple of ride queues. Along the way, it will incorporate tips and observations from a local’s perspective.

Consider it a vicarious vacation … or overseas reconnaissance for your own future DisneySea trip. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover; there are 55 photos here. So get ready to tumble deep down the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland with this DisneySea Christmas photo report.

Christmas Character Greetings

Rather than move through my day at DisneySea chronologically, this report will give preference to Christmas stuff first. Let’s begin with an update on our Tokyo DisneySea Complete Character Greeting Guide. The one big blind spot in that guide was Christmas character greetings.

Some characters at DisneySea don Christmas scarves or brooches over their regular outfits during the holiday season. But there are also a few characters who appear in full-on Christmas costumes.

In Arabian Coast, I caught Genie in his Christmas costume right before he was about to retire for the day. (The primetime for character greetings at DisneySea seems to be between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.) In Port Discovery, I also caught Chip, Dale, and Goofy in their Christmas costumes.

The oversized teddy bear ShellieMay was out doing greetings by the Aquasphere in DisneySea Plaza, up at the front of the park. Like her furry boyfriend, Duffy, ShellieMay’s costume changes depending on the season. I wasn’t about to wait in line for this character, but I did manage to poach a shot of her standing by herself while she was in-between greetings.

“It’s Christmas Time!” in Mediterranean Harbor

The biggest new thing going on at DisneySea this season is the show “It’s Christmas Time!” This show runs twice a day in the central port of Mediterranean Harbor.

In some ways, “It’s Christmas Time!” feels like a jazzy outdoor extension of the show “Big Band Beat” in American Waterfront. The costuming and elements of the show, such as its tap-dancing reindeer segment, feel like they would right be at home there.

The opening number has some simple, saccharine lyrics, with a couple of human performers singing, “Happiness, cheerfulness, and friendliness, for all,” before Disney characters take the stage. On the plus side, the song is sung in English when it just as easily could have been sung in Japanese.

With “It’s Christmas Time,” there’s a lottery for tickets to the central viewing area in Mediterranean Harbor. I had never seen such a long line in front of the lottery venue, Biglieterria, before.

For past harbor shows, I’d been able to stake out a spot in the first standing row and have an unobstructed view of the stage. This time, however, the first few standing rows were inside the lottery zone, so I did find myself looking over people’s heads.

Luckily, I’m tall, so I was still able to get some pictures with my Pentax X-5. I actually watched both shows that day, the first at 11:30 a.m. and the second at 2:00 p.m. During the second show, different beats of the performance grabbed my attention. I was particularly impressed by the line of Christmas chorus girls.

American Waterfront and Lost River Delta Decorations

At DisneySea, American Waterfront and the back port of Lost River Delta are both decked out in a lot of Christmas decorations right now. The atmosphere is quite festive. Lost River Delta maintains its Central American theme by having messages of “Feliz Navidad” posted, along with images of the Three Caballeros: Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles.

Below, you can see some of the Christmas trees and other special installations that they’ve got up in these two ports until December 25. Click on any picture to enlarge it in gallery view. In the next section, we’ll check in on the construction progress of “Soaring: Fantastic Flight.”

“Soaring: Fantastic Flight” Construction

DisneySea’s version of Soarin’ is set to open in 2019. During the day, I scoped out the future attraction site. Construction was much further along than the last time I checked.

You can see how the ride building is starting to form over the fence now in Mediterranean Harbor. Compare this with the ride’s concept art and you’ll have a good mental picture for how it’s coming along and how it will look next year when it’s finished.

Incidentally, Soarin’ isn’t the only U.S. ride to be imported to DisneySea. My last article for WDW News Today delved into the backstory of Harrison Hightower’s Tower of Terror. In the process of writing that, I realized that I had not bothered to ever wait in the standby line for Tower of Terror at DisneySea. Today I was curious to see if there were any ride queue details I had missed.

Wanting to get the most out of the crucial first hour of park operation, I had arrived at DisneySea about an hour before it opened that day. Once the turnstiles got moving, my first order of business was to follow the morning rush over to Toy Story Mania. After securing my Fastpass for that ride (more on it later), I immediately went for Tower of Terror next.

Tower of Terror Revisited

A bit of Fastpass strategy: Tower of Terror is located nearby Toy Story Mania at DisneySea. If you’re there early for Toy Story Mania Fastpasses, you can probably do Tower of Terror on standby wait.

It was a 5-minute wait when I got in line for Tower of Terror. By the time I finished the ride, the standby wait would already be up to 70 minutes.

Along the way, I did pass by some cool new things. In the courtyard, I saw a statue perched atop a pedestal of skulls. Inside, I saw the abandoned front registration desk for the Hotel Hightower.

The lobby was mostly empty. This provided a rare opportunity to get a picture showing the full room, its central portrait of Harrison Hightower, and the condemned elevator where he was last seen.

On the loading floor, a Cast Member steered me toward the portrait room. It was my first time seeing this room. The line also took me past some idols I had never noticed before. I got one snapshot of them and would have liked to take more, but unfortunately, the TDR picture police stepped in (polite, but firm).

After the ride, I spent some extra time milling around the Rajah’s Pool, or “Tower of Terror Memorabilia,” as it’s known on park maps. This gift shop contains a number of interesting Indian-themed portraits of the imperious, white-bearded Joe Rohde lookalike, Harrison Hightower.

Inside Toy Story Mania at DisneySea

With Tokyo’s upcoming Toy Story hotel and the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this year, I thought it might be interesting to show how DisneySea’s version of Toy Story Mania compares to its stateside counterpart. For one thing, Toy Story Mania is the most popular ride at DisneySea. Its Fastpass machines draw insanely long lines in the morning.

In the ride queue, you might see some things that remind you of Florida. The “Carnival Games Play Set” box where you pick up your 3-D glasses is very similar to the “Midway Games Play Set” box that makes up part of the new entrance to Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios.

Journey to the Center of the Earth and Indiana Jones Adventure would be my second and third Fastpasses that day. The latter of these has a Single Rider option, however, so if you’re coming in from out of the country, you might want to do it that way instead. Then you can conserve your Fastpass for a ride exclusive to DisneySea like Nemo & Friends SeaRider.

TDR Christmas and 35th Anniversary Souvenirs

Finally, no trip to Disney would be complete without some souvenirs. My sister, who is a loyal WDW News Today reader, asked me to pick up a Christmas Daisy Duck plush for her. For my wife, I also bought a “Jingle Bell Jamboree” plush of Teddi Barra from the Country Bears.

Mickey Mouse soap is all the rage right now at Tokyo Disney Resort. In the parks, you’ll see people crowd around soap dispensers to get a squirt of foam mouse ears in their hands. The gift shops are also selling souvenir soap bottles. I nabbed one; there’s currently a limit of 3 per customer.

For my next trip to DisneySea, I want to get more pictures of “Hello, New York,” the new open-air show on the dockside stage in American Waterfront. For a parting photo, here’s one of the show’s grand finale.

Merry Christmas from Japan and Tokyo Disney Resort!

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About the author

Joshua Meyer

Josh is a Floridian turned Tokyoite who also contributes to /Film and GaijinPot. Growing up, all his family vacations were to Walt Disney World. His parents and sister are still WDW Annual Passholders, but now he finds himself reporting from the far-flung outpost of Tokyo Disney Resort. Previously, he wrote for TDR Explorer as "The Gaijin Ghost" (the name of his TDR-heavy photoblog). Follow him on Twitter @TheGaijinGhost.

1 Comment

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  • Joshua thanks for the pics of Tokyo Disney . question are you going to school or are you in the service. best wishes & thanks again for the pics. have to get packed now heading to wdw for all the Christmas beauty .

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