In today’s edition of my Tokyo Disney trip report, we actually visit Tokyo Disneyland! To get caught up in my planning of this adventure, check out part one of this series. Or, to check out the amazing Disney hotel we stayed in, click here.
Now, let’s get to the magic!
Starting Our Day at Tokyo Disneyland
Finally, the day came for us to go to Tokyo Disneyland! As I’ve never been to a Disney park outside of Walt Disney World, I was incredibly excited. We started at rope drop, to get the most out of our day. Fighting back happy tears, we walked through the entrance and found ourselves in the World Bazaar. This area is similar to Main Street, but this one was covered! I know that lots of people have said this before, but seriously, Florida could really use a covered Main Street. It’d be a large area for people to hide in during those 3:00 PM rain showers, and nice cover from the crazy sun.
We did a quick walkthrough of the Grand Emporium and, after some searching, I found a unique pair of Minnie Mouse ears. Unfortunately, Tokyo Disney had a lot of the same ears that the California and Florida parks do, like the silver ears and the ever-popular Rose Gold ears. I selected the 35th Anniversary ears that have a cute little ribbon on the side and the back of the ear says “35 Tokyo Disney Resort.” At least I’ll always remember where they came from! I do recommend visiting the Emporium earlier in the day or saving it for later in the evening, because both times I was there during the day, there was an actual line outside you had to wait in to enter the building and shop.
With ears successfully purchased, we left the World Bazaar and headed toward the castle. With the park having just opened, not many people were gathered around the Partners statue or the castle, which allowed us to get some good pictures. This is also a great time to head to your favorite rides and grab a FastPass. Tokyo Disneyland still operates using paper FastPasses and the distribution centers for popular rides such as Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Space Mountain and Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek will sell out very quickly. Without FastPasses to these rides, you could end up being in line for eighty minutes or more depending on the time and park capacity. We grabbed FastPasses for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, the ride I most anticipated going on, and then made our way to Adventureland.
My family and I have a routine every single time we visit the Magic Kingdom. We turn left off of Main Street and head straight for Pirates of the Caribbean. I treated Tokyo Disneyland the same way.
The Tokyo version of Pirates is modeled similarly to the original Disneyland version, in both the exterior and interior of the ride. The ride has the creek scene past the Blue Bayou and all of the skeletons of the pirates doing pirate things that the Florida version just completely skips out on. I was excited to finally see the full story of the ride. This ride is also one of the few in the whole park that has English audio, which means that I got to hear one of my favorite lines in the entire world: “We wants the redhead!” Yes, the wench auction scene is still alive and well in Tokyo and is currently the only Disney park in the world that still has this show scene.
We all too soon disembarked our boat (though we did end up riding Pirates about three times in total throughout the day) and made our way to the back to Adventureland. This is where you’ll find attractions like Jungle Cruise: Wildlife Expeditions, Swiss Family Treehouse, Western River Railroad and The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha E Komo Mai!”, The Western River Railroad and Enchanted Tiki Room. Reviews will have to wait until later on in this Tokyo Disney saga, as we didn’t end up doing them our first day.
We can, however, talk about Jungle Cruise: Wildlife Expeditions. The queue to this ride is incredibly similar to the one in Florida, with even the same goofy soundtrack playing while you’re waiting in line. Unfortunately, once we boarded our boat, that was where the understanding stopped. The entire ride is done in Japanese, and with a ride that is very dependent on you understanding your skipper, it was a bit of a weird experience. Needless to say, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this ride. I did find it interesting to see all of the show scenes––many were similar to the Florida version, but the “dead tired” zebra scene did have “The Circle of Life” playing in the background, which I thought was a fun addition. They also utilize projection mapping in their temple, which created a really unique effect with the walls and lit up the entire room, which was really cool. I recommend going on this ride, but manage your expectations.
Great American Waffle Company
We had worked up a bit of an appetite by this time in the morning, and nothing says breakfast like a classic Mickey waffle. The Great American Waffle Company might be one of the busiest quick-service locations in the entire park. Every time we passed by, the line was out of the building and wrapping onto the street, and you had to stake your table out if you wanted to actually sit and eat, but it’s worth it. I love a good Mickey waffle, and these were the best I had ever eaten. It was also really cool that you got to watch the cast members create the waffles right in front of you while waiting in line to order.
The menu is simple, with four waffle flavors to choose from: Mickey waffle with maple sauce, Mickey waffle with chocolate sauce, Mickey waffle with strawberry and custard sauce, and a rotating seasonal option. There’s also a menu item called the “petit waffle”, which is essentially a cup of plain mini Mickey waffles. I chose the Mickey waffle with chocolate sauce, which came in at 450 yen ($4.13 USD.) There is an option to add vanilla ice cream to any of these waffles, for an additional 210 yen ($1.93 USD.) My boyfriend picked the seasonal option, which at the time was an apple and caramel ice cream waffle, for 700 yen ($6.43 USD.) Both of these waffles also came with whipped cream on the side, and mine had chocolate pearls on top.
I highly recommend visiting here for breakfast. It’s quick, cheap, and really, really, good. The waffles are hot, fluffy, and crunchy (and I could eat about a million of them.) It’s everything you want a good Mickey waffle to be.
With Mickey waffles devoured, we ventured into the most magical portion of any Disney park: Fantasyland. The Tokyo Disneyland Fantasyland area consists of Alice’s Tea Party, “it’s a small world”, Castle Carrousel, Snow White’s Adventures, Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall, Dumbo The Flying Elephant, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Haunted Mansion and Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
I’ll start off by saying I have a real bone to pick with Tokyo Disneyland and their Fantasyland dark rides (with the exception of Haunted Mansion and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, they’re safe.) All of these rides were so fast. They couldn’t have taken more than a minute and thirty seconds to get through once you loaded into the vehicle. It seemed like you were speeding through all of the show scenes- which is literally the opposite of what you’re supposed to do on a dark ride- and you didn’t really get a chance to see or appreciate the ride. These rides also were entirely in Japanese. My advice to anyone who is visiting, spend your time elsewhere and come back to these if you are able to. I was really let down by these particular rides, but they seem to have about twenty minute wait times (even Peter Pan’s Flight!), which is a redeeming factor.
However, the magic was restored with “it’s a small world.” The Tokyo Disneyland “it’s a small world” attraction had just recently opened on April 8th, 2018 after undergoing an extensive year-long refurbishment for the parks 35th anniversary. With that refurbishment came a new color scheme for their facade, a new loading area called the “Small World station,” and over 40 different Disney characters were added to the ride, scattered through different show scenes. If you love the classic “it’s a small world,” this attraction may not be for you. However, I was in absolute love with this ride and genuinely wish it was the version we had in Florida. I loved the addition of all of the bright colors and finding all of the Disney characters, and I normally hate IP’s invading beloved attractions. Fair warning: During the day, the line for this attraction can be a bit long, but if you wait until later in the evening, it turns into a walk on that you go on again and again, which we totally did.
We then went on Mickey’s PhilharMagic, which actually had a decent crowd of people waiting, which made me happy to see. This show is the same exact one that plays in the Magic Kingdom in Florida but is entirely in Japanese.
Our next attraction was another absolute favorite of mine, the Haunted Mansion. Luckily, we were visiting during the Christmas season, so we instead got to ride Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare, the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. The overlay seemed pretty similar to the one that they do in California, but that’s not a bad thing. This was also another attraction that had some English ride audio, Madame Leota spoke English, and the graveyard scene was playing a mix of Grim Grinning Ghosts and Nightmare Before Christmas music. However, all of the pre-show rooms are in Japanese. Personally, I didn’t care if I could understand the ride or not, I was really excited to finally see the ride overlay (and Zero, because he’s the cutest ghost puppy, ever!)
While we didn’t ride Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at this time because our FastPass was for late in the night, we’ll talk about it now since we’re already in Fantasyland. Tokyo Disneyland and Japan as a whole loves Winnie the Pooh and I am so happy to see my favorite bear get the love he deserves. Ever since I was a baby, Winnie the Pooh has been my favorite Disney character.
We basically walked onto Hunny Hunt with our FastPasses, which was great because the line was a 95-minute wait. Unlike the other rides, this attraction is popular no matter what time of day it is. The popularity is warranted though, this is one of the few trackless Disney attractions that can be found around the world, making it very special. The story of the ride is similar to Florida and California’s––there’s a blustery day in the Hundred Acre Wood, you bounce with Tigger, Winnie the Pooh dreams of Heffalumps and Woozles and ends with Winnie the Pooh getting his hunny. What sets this ride apart from those two is that it is SO much better. The show scenes that were built really bring you into the story, surrounding you in the world of Winnie the Pooh. My favorite part was the Heffalump and Woozle scene, where I noticed that due to the trackless ride system, every time you ride you could end up experiencing something different. There were some cars in the room with us following a Woozle, others were getting blown away by a Heffalump and some were following Winnie the Pooh. Every time you ride this attraction, you could end up with a different experience, which could explain why it’s so popular.
Tokyo Disneyland Snacks
Playing in Fantasyland works up an appetite, so we backtracked to Adventureland for some snacks (and maybe a ride on Pirates.) We got a tapioca bubble tea that was mango flavored from Squeezer’s Tropical Juice Bar for 410 yen ($3.76 USD.) This was good, with a strong mango flavor, but rather generic. For good bubble tea, I recommend visiting Bell’s Crepes, located right next to the train station you get off for Tokyo Disneyland.
We also got the Pork Belly Bao Bun that was Mickey glove-shaped from Boiler Room Bites for 600 yen ($5.51.) The pork belly was decent enough, and there were mixed greens on top of the pork to give it a nice crunch. There was a smaller ratio of pork to bun, leaving us with a small chunk of just bun once we finished the sandwich. However, the bun was moist, soft, and doughy, so it wasn’t bad eating it by itself.
Due to it being pretty cold and rainy the day we visited, we did not ride Big Thunder Mountain or make it over to Tom Sawyer Island. We instead decided to take refuge in the warmth of the Country Bear Theater. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the Country Bears, and almost always skip it when I’m in the Magic Kingdom. But, we were in a foreign park and wanted to do as much as we could, so we gave the bears a watch. They were putting on their Christmas show, Jingle Bell Jamboree, which previously Josh was able to get some great pictures of. The show was cute enough, with everyone dressed in their Christmas best. I did like the way that the audio for the show was handled, a few songs would be in Japanese, and then the next song would be in English so everyone could sing along. The finale of the show even had both languages, a really nice touch for those who don’t speak the language. It seems that the Japanese really like the Country Bears because in the Trading Post store I was able to find keychains and plushies of many of the bears. They even have their own merchandise cart called the Country Bear Bandwagon.
After our quick Country Bear break, we wondered into Toontown. Adorable, with bright colors everywhere you looked and goofy architecture surrounding you, Toontown truly feels like where the toons live. In this area of the park, you can visit Minnie’s House, Donald’s Boat, Chip ‘n’ Dales Treehouse and Goofy’s Paint ‘n’ Play House. There’s also Gadget’s Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. For the little ones, there’s Toon Park, a play area for kids to climb on statues that Mickey himself made! I really liked this entire area, it felt very immersive. But, it can feel very crowded very quickly as it isn’t a very large area. We ducked into Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin as it started to get very cold and rainy at this point in the day. The queue for this ride was actually deceivingly long––every time we thought we were close to the loading area, we entered a whole new span of rooms. I enjoyed the whimsical queue, though, and got a kick out of these license plates on the wall. Can you figure out what they all mean?
We did enjoy the ride, though. If you are familiar with the version in California, these are virtually the same ride. The biggest difference I found was in the electrocution room. In Tokyo, the entire room goes dark and flashes light instead of just a portion of the room, like in California. This was also another ride that was entirely in Japanese.
After leaving Toontown, we actually ate dinner, but this report is getting increasingly long, so we’re going to save where we ate and what we thought for another time. Instead, we’ll just jump right into the last section of the park: Tomorrowland. The Tokyo Disneyland Tomorrowland section consists of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Stitch Encounter (a Stitch meet and greet, not the weird Florida attraction), Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters and Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is almost the same ride that we have in both California and Florida (except in Japanese), with characters and locations from the entire Star Wars franchise. The only difference is that the recently added ending, with the ship landing on Batuu, does not occur in the Tokyo version. As there has been no talk of Tokyo Disneyland receiving a Galaxy’s Edge expansion, I think it’s okay that they don’t use this ending.
We then braved the eighty-minute wait for Space Mountain and waited outside, in the cold. I’m not entirely sure why the Cast Members had us waiting outside when there were perfectly good, fully-built indoor queues, but that’s what ended up happening. So, we essentially waited outside for about seventy minutes, going back and forth through switchbacks, until it was our turn to go up the ramp. Once up the ramp, there was a small wait outside on a balcony, where we got views of the nighttime electrical parade, and then we were inside and in the loading area. This Space Mountain is like California Disneyland’s, due to the ride vehicle being a two-seater. Although, I have to say I was a little disappointed by this ride. I’m used to the Florida version, where there are lots of twists and turns and drops. The Tokyo version seemed to be fast and have a lot of twists, but not really any drops. This was one of the few rides where I actually preferred the Florida version.
The last ride we did of the night was Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! Since it was nearing closing time for the park, a lot of people were starting to leave, meaning that the wait time for this attraction was actually reasonable. This is a big ticket ride and will have long wait times during the day. If you can imagine a dark ride for Monsters Inc., with Boo and all of the crazy-looking monsters for that movie in it and then cross that with Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, that’s basically Ride & Go Seek! You get flashlights, like where your blaster gun for Buzz would be, and you shine your light on a hardhat set piece with the Monsters Inc., logo on it. If you shine your light in the right spot, it’ll reveal a hidden monster. The idea is cute enough, but the competitive person inside of me wanted to know how many points I had, and this isn’t a ride that keeps score. I personally liked Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters more. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t a fan of this ride, I just enjoyed Buzz more.
That was our first day at Tokyo Disneyland! The original plan was to only have one day at Disney, but later on in the trip, I snuck away and did a solo split day between Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.
What do you think of the park? Do any of these rides make you want to fly over and see the park for yourself, or do you think the domestic parks are better? Let me know and leave me a comment below!