Tokyo DisneySea was the perfect vacation for our family. From the Disney hotels to magic carpet rides and buckets of popcorn, we were all enchanted.
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Disneyland. Where dreams come true and magic comes to life. It doesn’t matter how old you are, Disneyland makes you feel young and carefree. The excitement of being at Tokyo Disney got higher every day during the four days we were there – each day we all woke up excited to get to the park, and each night we went to sleep with stars in our eyes having experienced another magical day. This was the perfect family vacation as we get ready to leave Japan. Check out our Top 7 Tokyo Disney Tips and Tricks.
What is Tokyo DisneySea?
Tokyo DisneySea is one of the 12 Disneyland Parks around the world. It has a nautical concept, so all of the areas around DisneySea are called ports and involve water as part of the adventure. Here are the Ports with a few of the highlighted rides:
- Mediterranean Harbor
- Maricosta Hotel, shops, restaurants, Venetian Gondola
- Mermaid Lagoon
- Ariel’s Playground, Jumpin Jellyfish
- Mysterious Island
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth
- American Riverfront
- Tower of Terror, Toy Story
- Lost River Delta
- Indiana Jones, Raging Spirits
- Arabian Coast
- Jasmine’s Carpets, Caravan Carousel
- Port Discovery
- Finding Nemo, Aquatopia
What makes Tokyo DisneySea unique?
Tokyo DisneySea is one-of-a-kind amongst all of the other Disney Parks, being a creation specific to Japan and based on its own theme. The atmosphere in each port is immersive, starting from the grandest scale on down to the smallest details.
The Disney Imagineers outdid themselves with the science of Mount Prometheus; they didn’t have to make a Fourcault pendulum or a functioning planetarium in the Mediterranean castle, but they did; when you go “under the sea” in Triton’s kingdom, there are wave sounds and bubbles and sea creatures everywhere you look, and boats floating above you. So much effort goes into creating a magical experience! It is our favorite park. As Royce said when we were at the park, “Mommy, it’s so magical!” So many tiny details can go overlooked, like the Mickey-shaped soap and the hidden Mickeys in the hotel and around the park!
I am so glad that we spent 3 of the 4 days at DisneySea because we were able to really explore the park. I feel like we’ve gained a greater appreciation for all the detail that the park’s creators were hoping for. No wonder it is the fourth-most-visited theme park in the world!
Favorite Rides and Memories from Tokyo DisneySea
For the Kids
Everytime we ask the kids what their favorite ride was at DisneySea, it changes. Disneyland was pretty easy to decide: the kids and both of us loved the Jungle Cruise. Splash Mountain wasn’t open, so we didn’t go on it this time – Jeannie is finally tall enough to go on it, so we were sorry to miss it! Splash Mountain is Matt’s favorite ride of all. For DisneySea our favorites have been changing.
Most frequently Royce will say Finding Nemo is his favorite. The first time he rode this ride, over a year ago, he did not like it at all. He got scared and didn’t like some of the “surprises” the ride had. This time we prepared him and for it and he laughed every time he was splashed. He loved being able to meet and hug Abu from Aladdin. One of the mornings he woke up and ran over to our bed and said “Daddy, let’s go to DisneySea!”. Although he would be so happy when he woke up and even when he would go to bed, I think he had a hard time with the crowds and the heat and all the walking.
The look on Jeannie’s face as she fired the cannon on the Toy Story ride was unforgettable. The ride is kinda jerky as it rotates you back and forth to different screens. You wear 3D glasses, so images appear to be popping out at you, and she handled it like a pro. She had the most determined look on her face and although she pointed her cannon too high, she was winning in her mind! Jeannie was in her element this whole trip, waving at people, giving high fives and smiling.
She was much braver than last year talking to the characters – she needed us to be with her but she would talk to them. Ariel made it really special for her. She spoke English and chatted with Jeannie about having swimming races together and dancing. Then we took our pictures with the cute family we met in line – Jeannie won them over instantly. New friends are the best!
For the Parents
Matt and I love the Toy Story ride. We could ride it all day competing with each other to see who could get a better score. Let’s just say he may have gotten more points, but I have better accuracy!
What we really loved was all the family time. We decided to take a break from some of the rides and explore areas of the park that we hadn’t seen yet. Exploring the fortress was one of the most memorable times. There is a real Foucault pendulum!!!
The dedication to science really feels like a trip to an Italian Renaissance science academy.
We happened upon a planet chamber and since Royce loves planets we all loved exploring this room. We ran around the whole complex pretending we were taking over the castle and we had to protect it from pirates. The kids’ imagination came alive, and it was magical to be part of it.
Popcorn at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
I haven’t seen it at Disney World or Disneyland in California, but Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea have popcorn stations, where you get different flavored popcorn. From soy sauce to butter, curry to, honey or strawberry to garlic shrimp, there are many to choose from and long lines.
You choose a single serve package or buy a fun box to get refills in. You can bring it back again and again, every time you visit! Boxes include Cinderella’s carriage, Lightning McQueen car, Duffy the Bear, Mickey Ears and many others.
These are lifesavers when traveling with kids. The kids wear the boxes around their neck and snack all day. Being able to have a special treat can help prevent meltdowns or irritability due to hunger! Our favorite was the strawberry.
How to Save Money at ANY Disneyland
We found this out the hard way, but it was nice. On our first day at DisneySea we forgot a credit card. We found out as we were going to pay for the stroller rental, and since we needed to rush to the Toy Story line we didn’t have time to go back to the hotel. Once we got to the line we looked in our things and realized we had just ¥8,000, so decided we could use that all day and if/when we ran out we wouldn’t buy anything else. It worked great and was the day we that spent the least amount of money.
When we did this I noticed we spent much less because we had to actually think about how much money we were spending. The day before we tried about 4 different popcorns, but this day we only bought one. We made do with what we had instead of going and buying something just because it was easy. If you want to spend less money, bring less money!
We underestimated how much Jeannie loves princesses. It was our biggest regret that we didn’t get a princess dress for her to wear before we got there. When we went to the Disney store, the dress was ¥8,000! Pretty steep for a children’s dress! Luckily, Jeannie was very excited to hit the purchase button from Amazon for a Belle dress – boom, $20. Teaching instant gratification: avoided!
Plan Your Trip:
How to get to Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland
You can drive directly to any of the hotels or even to either of the Disneys. However, then you need to deal with traffic and parking. We flew into Haneda, booked an Airport Limousine bus and got to the Disney Celebration within an hour, and it only cost ¥830 per adult. When we left at the end of our vacation, we booked the same bus through our hotel and again they picked us up at the hotel. It was so convenient and a huge game changer. We had been planning on renting a car but then there was the thought of having to bring car seats. This saved us from all of that.
How to Buy Tickets to Tokyo DisneySea
We usually book our hotel directly from the Disney website and buy our tickets at the front desk. One of the biggest perks about staying at a Disney hotel is the Happy 15. This gives you an extra 15 minutes (more like 30) inside the park before it opens to get fast passes or get in line at a popular ride.
Where to stay
Disney Celebration Hotel
The Disney Celebration Discovery hotel is amazing. The hotel lobby has a fun Mickey explorer theme and a TV setup with cushions for kids to sit on while they wait, and Mickey’s voice tells you which floor you’re on in the elevator. The rooms have a whole wall painted with scenes from different rides at the parks. The kids loved finding on the wall all the things that they had seen in the park – it was really special.
And if that wasn’t great enough, they offer the cutest pajamas for the kids. When it was time for bed and we turned the lights off, there were stars on the ceiling! Downstairs they had a convenience mart to buy drinks and snacks for a very reasonable price. This was where we got breakfast most mornings. To top everything off, they offer a shuttle ride to and from the parks, which takes only about 20 minutes. And don’t forget the Happy 15 pass!
We spent one night at the Miracosta Hotel inside DisneySea. It was so fun to walk out of the hotel and already be at the park. It was absolutely beautiful. They also had the fun pajamas for the kids, which we loved. The price difference is substantial, but if you weigh out the value of being able to go take a quick nap or not have to travel to get to the park, then this would be a great place to stay.
I honestly think I prefer the Celebration hotel. Although it was nice the one day we stayed to take a nap at Miracosta and it was fun walking outside and into the park, I don’t think the price would be worth it for the whole time, and the kids loved the murals on the walls at the Celebration hotel.
Since moving to Japan, our kids have gone all over Japan with us. They have sat in the car for an insane amount of hours, and have taken countless airplane rides and ferries. It has been an incredible experience, and although hard at times, they have been troopers! This weekend was for them. Four days of playing at the biggest playground for adults and kids alike, it was one of the most memorable trips, and well-deserved for these little travelers.