By Robert Wheatley
This article was originally created for The Odyssey Online and has been modified by the author.
This summer I went to Tokyo with my sister, and it was an incredible experience. Japan’s a wonderful country with amazing hospitality and a ton of things to do, even if you’re sticking to the capital, and it provides many attractions and sights you won’t get anywhere else. It’s not a cheap trip, by any means, but it’s a country absolutely worth a visit.
It’s not just unique for its scenic landscapes, delicious food and culture: it’s also the only place you can visit one of Disney’s most remarkable theme parks: Tokyo DisneySea.
Inspired by the ocean and legends surrounding it, Tokyo DisneySea is a monumental attraction full of exceptional rides and theming that truly makes it one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. Disney Tourist Blog writer, Tom Bricker, actually cites Tokyo Disneyland as the second best out of all the Disney parks, because it boasts incredible takes on original Disney attractions and has unique but effective transportation like Venetian gondolas and electric trams.
As soon as you enter, you’re met with the beautiful facade of the Hotel MiraCosta: an Old-world Italian-inspired building that sits right inside the park. A huge globe ‘floats’ in the plaza, overlooked by Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.
The hotel is beautiful, but it’s the volcano on Mysterious Island that really takes your breath away. This structure is entirely man-made, but the attention to detail and the way it overlooks the park really delivers the escapism Disney is so well known for.
We arrived around 10 am but the park was already packed; the lake surrounded by guests awaiting the Pirates Summer Battle “Get Wet” performance. Despite this, the lines were just as crowded on all the rides, and that’s where FASTPASSES come into play.
FASTPASSES are your key to faster ride access but only work for rides with FASTPASS access. While they’re free, they’re also limited, and can only be received from nearby the specific ride after you scan your Passport (park ticket). Your FASTPASS will give you an allotted time to return for your ride, so, until then, go have fun riding some other rides!
Toy Story Mania was up first, and unlike most dark rides in the Disney parks, this ride purely relies on 3D illusions and on-screen animations to dazzle its guests. Themed like a shooting gallery, you’re firing a virtual mixture of darts, gun pellets and balls to rack up points from the targets moving about the screen as each round gives you a new scene to play on. It’s an incredibly popular attraction for a reason: it’s incredibly fun, and a must-visit ride.
It was overwhelmingly hot that day, the park even warning guests to take time to hydrate and sit in the shade, so we went to grab a snack. We got some loaded potatoes, one with just bacon and one with just cheese, both of which come to around ¥700 (£4.75) which ended up lasting us for most of the day. If purchasing food or booking one of the Disney restaurants in advance is out of your budget, you can actually just bring your own meals into the park: perfect for anyone with allergies, special diets, or if you’re just living that student lifestyle.
Afterwards, we headed up to Mysterious Island, but not before I unintentionally slowed our progress by taking tons of photos of the wonderful scenery leading up to it.
We reached the volcano: a huge man-made geographical entity with its inside decorated with a mixture of steampunk scenery built into it. A colourful walkway surrounds the crater, along with the grand entrances plugged into the walls leading into restaurants and rides.
We headed for the odd mechanism which spiralled down to the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride. Your submarine possesses a window that fills with water and bubbles that makes it look like you’re travelling the depths of a ship graveyard, with odd undersea creatures lurking in the depths around you. While it’s nothing remarkable, the ride’s got a fairly short queue of around 30 minutes — definitely worth it if you’re waiting for a FASTPASS slot to another ride.
Shortly after, it was time for the attraction I had been longing to experience: Journey to the Center of the Earth. By far my favourite attraction in the park, this dark ride has you explore crystal caverns, odd alien-like creatures living under the earth before you lose control of your vehicle and hurtle down into a weird lair of unhatched aliens.
After a few more caverns you’re finally met with a giant bug-like creature that clearly doesn’t want you there, and soon the vehicle throws you into the darkness and literally shoots you out the side of the mountain! The sheer uniqueness of the ride and the intensity makes it one of the best attractions I’ve ever experienced, by far. It’s got its jump-scares with fire and lightning, and thrills with the escape from the depths of the earth. Aim to get a FASTPASS for it, as lines get long.
We were getting tired, and it was still really hot outside, so as the sun set we headed for our final attraction: Raging Spirits. Set in an ancient temple excavation site, your minecart hurtles down twists and turns and even a loop as it dives under ruins and construction platforms amidst a dense jungle surrounding you.
While it’s the only attraction at Tokyo Disney Resort that actually inverts, my sister and I considered it to be one of the least intense attractions on offer. It’s based upon the same ride at Disneyland Paris, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril, but it’s got far better visual effects like mist emerging from ruins, and just looks far more interesting. Still, get a FASTPASS for it if you want to ride, as I’d honestly not recommend lining up long for it.
Tokyo DisneySea was an incredible experience: the park is rich with charming scenery and the fantastic rides you’d expect from a Disney park that always makes them worth a visit. Still, theme parks aren’t cheap and are typically very busy during the summer, so I’ve got a few tips that’ll ensure your experience is as cheap, and fun, as possible.
First of all, get FASTPASSES, and get to the park early. It gets super busy really quickly, and the lines are practically always long, so FASTPASSES are a must.
If it’s the summer, stay hydrated and bring water bottles. I was disappointed that there weren’t any obvious vending machines or stores in the park selling water bottles, and so I advise bringing your own to fill up at a drinking fountain. Standing in line outside can really hit you hard, too, so make sure you take the time to sit in the shade now and then.
Get the Multi-Day Passports if you’re going to visit Tokyo Disneyland as well, and get them in advanced. This will save you money, and it’ll make it quicker to get into the parks.
If you ever go to Tokyo you’ve got to visit at least one of the Disney parks, and I’d highly recommend DisneySea for its uniqueness as a Disney attraction. Not only is it easy to get to from the centre of Tokyo, and provides an entire day of entertainment, it’s got rides and sights you won’t get anywhere else.