Are you a huge fan of Disney Parks? If you’re like me, then you grew up visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, or Disneyland in California as a kid, and the idea of planning another trip to the Happiest Place on Earth is practically an annual family event. This is why when my family planned our first trip to Japan, we strongly considered visiting the Tokyo Disney Resort.
Planning a trip to Japan can be a daunting task. There is so much to see in Tokyo alone that making time to see everything can be very challenging. Then there is Tokyo Disney. You may ask yourself like we did “Do I take a day for Disney? Or should I skip it and only focus on seeing “Japan” and Japanese culture?”
The short answer to this question is: If you consider yourself a Disney fanatic, the answer to whether you should take a day for Tokyo Disney is no – TAKE TWO! (Seriously, I will explain why). If you’re not a fan, and don’t make routine family trips to visit Mickey Mouse, then the answer all depends on you.
In this post I will provide my review of the Tokyo Disney Resort. I hope it will help you make the best decision for your family.
Two Different Theme Parks
The Tokyo Disney Resort is comprised of two separate theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. While you may be inclined to only spend a day at one of these parks (in order to not take time away from exploring all of Japan) each park is very different, and really worth a visit if you have the time and budget.
Below I will describe each of the parks in detail to the best of my ability; however, before I do, I will explain some of the differences of Tokyo Disney to the American Disney Parks.
I should note that while I have visited California’s Disneyland Park, most of these comparisons will be to Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort, as this is what I consider to be my “home park”, and the one I have by far spent the most time visiting throughout my life.
Most everything in both of Tokyo Disney Resort’s theme parks are written in English as well as Japanese. In fact, attraction names appear exactly as they do in the American parks. While many cast members know some English, most all rides and shows primarily use Japanese for verbal communication.
Don’t let this be a deterrent though. While we couldn’t understand a thing our Jungle Cruise driver said, she was very fun and entertaining to watch! It was also extremely enjoyable to hear popular Disney songs sung in Japanese during Mickey’s Philharmagic! Our kids got a good laugh – and we did as well!
Getting to the park has always been one of my favorite aspects of visiting Disney World as a kid, and still is as an adult. I love reaching the front gate to the Magic Kingdom by monorail, and it’s something I look forward to every visit.
Tokyo Disney has a monorail of its own. Unlike the Disney World monorail, which is setup with “tram-like” horizontal style benches; the Tokyo Disney monorail is setup much like a subway is. Benched seats line the perimeter of the car, however they were cushioned and comfortable. There was even Mickey shaped windows and handles for passengers to hold while standing.
The Tokyo Disney monorail surprisingly was not free like it’s counterpart in Orlando. A small subway-like fare was charged to ride. The monorail is used mainly to access the Tokyo DisneySea park from the Ikspiari shopping area located in front of both parks. It is not needed to access Tokyo Disneyland.
Tokyo Disneyland is another version of Disney’s most iconic and most notable theme park. It strongly resembles the Magic Kingdom from photos, however has many features of Disneyland California as well, plus has some magic of its own.
Upon entering Tokyo Disneyland, we immediately noticed a big difference in the Main Street USA portion of the park – here known as the World Bazaar. The entire street with its similar style gift and candy shops was covered! A massive roof was constructed over the street to keep guests out of the elements, and to add a unique look to the park.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first, but it actually was very nice. It was also one of the coolest (temperature wise) parts of the park, as the heat and humidity in July strongly rivaled that of Orlando. So any addition to keep us cool was welcomed!
The Tokyo Disney Resort was celebrating their 35th anniversary, so there was a large feature in the center of Main Street to commemorate this. There was shimmering lights and colors coming from it and a specially written theme song, titled Brand New Day was blasting.
The experience of entering with the music playing actually did an excellent job of providing that special Disney magical feel. It was very enjoyable and nicely done.
Tokyo Disneyland is laid out in a very similar fashion to both American versions. As you approach Cinderella’s Castle – which may I add is practically identical to the Magic Kingdom’s version in every way (except for a darker shade of stones on the lower half), the park branches out in much the same fashion.
Tomorrowland can be found to your right – which features an identical looking Space Mountain. Fantasyland is straight ahead and behind the castle. And Adventureland is off to your left. While this sounds exactly the same as both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland California, there are some different features to be found.
As shown above, there are some new and unique regions of the park (such as Westernland and World Bazaar). Even the well known regions have a different layout, and offer some alternative attractions.
Rides and Entertainment
Tokyo Disneyland features many of the same iconic rides as the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland California that we’ve all come to love. These include Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain to name a few.
There are a few totally unique rides and experiences as well. The most notable in my opinion would be Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek! Which is an moving car ride based on one of my all-time favorite Disney movies – Monsters Inc.
While we didn’t see all of the shows and/or parades, we did manage to see part of one. It was just as amazing as the American versions – but with a Japanese flare.
Food & Restaurants
While I cannot comment on all of the dining experiences at the park in order to properly compare it to that of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland California, I can say that Tokyo Disneyland offers a wide selection of food choices and dining options. There are plenty of restaurant selections featuring different cuisines including Japanese food, and also just as many snack kiosks and quick service food spots located around the park.
We grabbed a bite at one of these and had a very delicious maple-chicken sandwich put together in a waffle. It was very good!
What Stood Out?
While walking around the park I seriously could almost forget where I was. The park was SO INCREDIBLY similar in look and feel to the Magic Kingdom (especially in some locations) that I felt as if I was in Orlando during one of my many family vacations to Walt Disney World. But a quick look around at the people, who I would say were 99.9% Japanese reminded me where I was.
As I said above, the most noticeable difference was the people. While I wasn’t surprised to see many Japanese people, I was surprised to see just how “into Disney” they got. There were SO MANY people dressed up in Disney gear it was remarkable! From matching Disney T-shirts to character hats to Mickey ears and headbands, I was surprised at how much the Japanese embraced Disney. This was a very pleasant surprise.
The Cast Members
The cast members in all of the Tokyo Disney Resort were second to none and this REALLY stood out. They seriously never stopped smiling! As we entered a ride or exited one, or bought an ice cream or just walked around the park, cast members constantly greeted you, smiled, waved, even occasionally danced and sang!
In all my years going to Disney World in Orlando, I always thought the cast members were nice and friendly. However, the ones at Tokyo Disney win the gold star for going above and beyond what is expected. They made us feel so incredibly welcome, and were genuinely sincere in all of their actions. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, and made the visit that much more enjoyable.
Anyone who visits Disney World in Orlando knows they’re going to spend a fortune for their visit. Disney World prices have continually climbed to a point where they’re really unfair to the average income American family. Regular price for a 1 day adult admission to the Magic Kingdom in 2018 ranges from $109 to $129, depending on whether it’s peak or off-peak. Disneyland California reaches even higher with 1 day prices of $97 to $135!
Tokyo Disney has a much fairer price structure.
The cost for a 1-day adult ticket for either park as of 2018 is ¥7,400 (~$65). Kids tickets are even less. ¥6,400 (~$56) for kids 12-17, and ¥4,800 (~$42) for kids 4-11 years old. These prices are good for ANYTIME – peak or non-peak.
This is incredibly reasonable, and MUCH better priced than Disney parks in the United States! Our family of 5 was able to spend a day in Tokyo Disneyland for $364 less than one day at the Magic Kingdom would have cost.
Not only are the admission prices much fairer, but the cost of food within the park was incredibly reasonable as well. From the cost of meals to ice cream, everything was more reasonably priced.
You definitely get a lot more bang for your buck at Tokyo Disney than in the United States.
Tokyo DisneySea is a one of a kind Disney park with an overall “sea theme”. The park is divided into separate regions much like other Disney parks. Each region includes a portion of the giant lagoon that runs throughout the park, and many of the attractions incorporate the sea theme as well.
I had read that the park was often rated as the top Disney Park in the entire world. For this reason, we decided to save this for the 2nd day, so we could save the best for last.
As we disembarked the monorail, we entered this enormous plaza featuring a large fountain at the center hosting a giant globe. The south end of the plaza was comprised of several beautiful Mediterranean styled buildings with stone and stucco facades. A large archway in the center held a black banner advertising a “Disney Pirates Summer” which was the theme going on at the time. Already we were impressed, and we hadn’t entered the park yet.
As we approached the archway to enter the park, we could make out the iconic volcano centerpiece of the park ahead. We could hear cannons going off and pirate themed music was playing. There were people singing and cheering, and water was shooting up and in all directions!
Once we entered the park we realized that a pirate themed show was going on. There was a massive lagoon ahead of us with pirate ships circling in the water firing shots at each other while actors dove and shouted. The crowd looking on cheered in excitement as we walked by in amazement.
The lagoon was surrounded by an absolutely stunning landscape. A medieval looking fortress stood on one side of the lagoon, and beautiful Mediterranean styled buildings stood on the other.
As we made our way across a bridge, we could see further into the park. The scenery only got more amazing! A beautiful looking Arabian Coast area could be seen, as well an area that looked like it came right out of The Little Mermaid – called Mermaid Lagoon.
An enormous ship was docked in the harbor to the left. This area was designed to resemble the American Waterfront. Everything was incredibly well detailed and flawless in appearance. We immediately realized this park was a step ahead of all other Disney parks.
One of the greatest things about Tokyo DisneySea is the new and refreshing parts of the park. No other Disney park has anything like it anywhere in the world. Below is the official park map.
The lagoon runs throughout the park, which enhances the sea theme of the park as well as adding beauty. Each area is incredibly well done with an impeccable attention to detail.
The Mysterious Island portion of the park is especially unique and fun to explore. There are caves, lagoons, a medieval fortress, and massive volcano at its center. You could also board one of the pirate ships and simulate firing a cannon! The kids loved this.
Rides and Entertainment
While Tokyo DisneySea does have some attractions that can be found in other Disney parks – such as The Indiana Jones Adventure, Toy Story Mania!, Tower of Terror, and Turtle Talk, it also has many different and unique attractions found no-where else. Some of these include:
- Aquatopia – A whirling watercraft outdoor ride. This was a great ride, especially on a hot summer day like we had. It was one of our favorite rides in the park.
- Nemo and Friends SeaRider – A screen-motion thrill ride where guests meet many of the characters from Finding Nemo.
- Raging Spirits – A high speed roller-coaster in a jungle environment which features a 360° loop.
- Sindbad’s Storybook Adventure – A boat ride much like It’s a Small World, but to an Arabian themed story.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Explore the undersea world inspired by the famous novel in this moving ride.
- Journey to the Center of the Earth – Discover a subterranean world where you dodge dangers and fly through caverns on this fast paced thrill ride.
Food & Restaurants
Like Tokyo Disneyland, the park offered a plethora of various cuisines in both contemporary style dining and quick service. All of the prices were extremely reasonable, and the quality of the food was excellent.
One cool and unique feature found in both parks were the crazy flavored popcorn kiosks. Located throughout both parks, guests could purchase very unique flavored popcorn. Some of these flavors included: Honey, soy sauce and butter, cappuccino, white chocolate, curry, black pepper, and herb tomato!
What Stood Out?
As mentioned above, the people, cast members, and prices were the most wonderful and unexpected features that stood out from our Tokyo Disney experience.
Tokyo DisneySea stood out by itself as simply an amazing one-of-a-kind park. In our opinion, it is unmatched by any other Disney Park. The exceptional design, attention to detail, and impeccable customer service is the reason it’s ranked as #1 in the world.
After spending two days at the Tokyo Disney Resort, we left wanting to come back for more. We completely loved our Japanese Disney experience. It was absolutely worth taking two days out of our vacation to experience.
I highly suggest taking time to visit both parks; however, if you’re really tight on time, I recommend Tokyo DisneySea. It was a completely different experience, and a place every Disney fanatic should visit at least once.
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This Post Has 6 Comments
Thanks for writing this awesome article and examples helped alot..please keep on writing
Thank you for sharing
Thank you so much for your kind comment! 🙂 Much appreciated!
Before I hit this post, never knew Japan had its own Disneyland. I think its quite low profile outside of Japan.
Might bring the kids to the one in HK sometime soon.
Great post and I love the photos 🙂
Thank you for the warm and friendly comment! I greatly appreciate the feedback!
it is Very helpful for planning a trip..
thanks for sharing this
I have never heard of Disney Sea before, but it looks fun! Cheers for the Article! I definitely think I will be checking these theme parks out if I end up in Japan.