Tokyo Disneysea - know before you go.
While you can visit Mickey in similar Magic Kingdoms in Florida, California, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, Disneysea is a unique, one of a kind Disney park. It has a nautical, adventurous exploration theme with seven different worlds surrounding a large central lagoon. Some are more obviously Disney themed, others are unrelated but brilliant in their own way:
Mediterranean Harbor - beautiful Italian palazzos and shops surround the lagoon at the park entrance. You can walk through the narrow lanes of Venice, over bridges and even ride in a gondola. This is where you will find Disneysea's newest smash hit attraction, Soaring: Fantastic Flight. Similar to the flying simulator rides at Disney California Adventure and Epcot, Florida, this ride takes you on a journey over gorgeous landscapes around the world. What makes it even more exciting is that you experience breeze, splashes and even smells to match the places you visit on the ride. We were particularly impressed by the queuing area, designed to look like an ornate Italian museum.
Mysterious Island - dominated by an active volcano, Mt Prometheus, this is where you will find the steampunk styled world of Jules Verne. Explore 20,000 Leagues under the Sea in a beautiful dramatic submarine adventure , and Journey to the Centre of the Earth in a really thrilling ride before being launched out of the volcano.
Mermaid Lagoon - home to the Ariel the Little Mermaid, this is definitely a more obviously Disney themed land. Set within a really gorgeous magical cavern under the sea, with kid friendly rides, this is where we stumbled upon Prince Eric walking his dog Max, and Donald Duck in his scuba gear. The Mermaid Lagoon theatre shows a dazzling performance of King Triton's Concert, with beautiful puppets and a real life Ariel swimming over your heads in a literally aerial show.
Arabian Coast - Part Aladdin, part Sinbad the Sailor, this world is an interesting mix of Disney and more general childhood Arabian Nights fantasy. The 2 story carousel is gorgeous, and you can ride on the Genie as well as elephants, horses, and other animals. The live comedy magic show is great fun - even though it's all in Japanese, the slapstick physical silliness easily translates, and they have a flying magic carpets ride like the one in Disneyland Paris. Sinbad's Storybook Voyage is a beautifully animated boat ride similar to It's a Small World, but telling the story of Sinbad's adventures. Again, all the voices are in Japanese, but the animatronics and sets are so lovely that it's easy to follow what is going on.
Lost River Delta - queue to meet Mickey, Minnie and Donald in their adorable pith helmet explorer outfits at their base camp in the shadow of an epic towering Mayan Temple. This is where you will find the Indiana Jones Adventure ride, our favourite of the day. Thrilling and also joyfully nostalgic for all Indy fans, this runaway journey through the crumbling temple was simply brilliant. Next door is 360 loop thrill ride Raging Spirits, which was closed the day we went but looked great fun!
Port Discovery - home to Nemo and Friends SeaRider, a simulator ride similar in style to Star Tours. The audience are shrunk down inside the SeaRider, a fish shaped submarine, and accompany Nemo, Dory and Marlin on an exciting journey under the sea
American Waterfront - Designed to look like a New York port, complete with theatrical agents' offices, steaming manholes and a Broadway theatre, this part of the park is dominated by an enormous passenger steam ship, SS Columbia. Just around the corner, you walk into Cape Cod, dominated by the cute characters Duffy and Shelly Mae - these cuddly teddy bears are exclusive to the Tokyo parks and very popular! Key rides here is the familiar Tower of Terror, and our other favourite, Toy Story Mania. Wearing 3D glasses, you whizz around a fairground playing a range of hilarious games and trying to better the score of your friend sitting next to you.
*Download a PDF map of the park HERE*
Top Tips to get the most out of your day at Disneysea:
Book your tickets online: Skip queuing at the ticket booth at the park and prebook your e-ticket online. Bear in mind that even though they call it an e-ticket, you still have to print and bring a paper copy with you, you can't scan it on your phone at the barriers.
Arrive early: Disneysea opens at 8am, and we would recommend arriving in time to get the full opening hours in the park. You'll need it!
Avoid the crowds - while Disneysea is never really quiet, you can avoid the busiest days and long ride queues by visiting midweek rather than weekends and avoiding public holidays.
Use fast passes: Unlike many theme parks where you have to pay extra for a fast pass line jumping ticket, Disneysea allows you to scan your paper park ticket at special machines in front of popular rides which gives you an allocated time slot when you can use the fast pass queue. You can only do this every 2 hours, so we would recommend heading straight to your favourite ride as soon as the gates open and getting a fast pass, then go and queue for your 2nd favourite while you wait for your time slot. Repeat throughout the day as needed! Bear in mind that the earliest time slots are first come first served - by 12pm we were given a 5pm return time for Toy Story Mania. When you come back, scan your ticket at the fastpass queue.
Bring food: While Disneysea is no where near as expensive as other Disney parks around the world, they do allow you to bring in food, which we would definitely recommend to save some money. We took onigiri, which are easy to fit in your pockets, and water fountains are in most bathrooms, to refill your water bottle. One thing you should buy from the park though, is the flavoured popcorn. There are 8 different flavours dotted around the different worlds. We loved the garlic shrimp, which you'll find in the American Waterfront.
How to get to Disneysea
From Tokyo station, take the Keiyo or Musashino line direct to Maihama station. This will take about 17 minutes, and is included in your JR pass. If you don't have a JR pass, a single journey will cost around 220 Yen.
From Maihama station it's an easy 20 minute walk to Disneysea, or you could pay 260 yen to take the monorail.