Walt Disney World in Orlando is the most common park of the happiest Empire on Earth. But, have you thought of visiting the international parks? Situated on the edge of Tokyo Bay sits one of Disney’s 3 Asian International branches: Tokyo DisneySea & Disneyland. Opened in 2001, it made waves in the theme park industry centered around Japan’s “kawaii” ever-present culture.Unlike any other parks in Disney’s empire, Tokyo’s atmosphere puts a twist on what visitors usually expect. Cast and crew fully commit to the experience of every Disney fanatic that enters through the world bazaar (Tokyo’s Main Street U.S.A). Among so many other choices, these are the top 9 reasons to visit Tokyo Disney above all else this year!
New Spin on Classic Rides
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Japan has a very unique culture. “Kawaii”, I mentioned above, means “cute” or “lovable”. I have never seen anything like it! The animation and vibrant aesthetic perfectly matches the reputation of Disney. The attention to detail of “cute” things in this top ranking park is presented in their food, buildings and merchandise.
The fandom atmosphere is emphasized because of this kawaii culture, making meet and greets much more sought after and anticipated.Mickey’s teddy bear, Duffy, is the face of “cute culture” here at Tokyo Disney. Duffy’s merchandise is all around the park and the character shows up in most shows along with other lesser known original Disney characters.
2. Wildly realistic showcases from Little Mermaid and Aladdin
Okay, you guys. These showcases will absolutely blow your mind.Imagine getting to experience an Arabian night in Japan, or go Under the Sea and inside King Triton’s castle. At Disney, these things are possible! These two showcases truly set DisneySea aside from all other parks. The Little Mermaid showcase places you directly inside King Triton’s castle, and leads you directly into Ariel’s grotto.
This iconic princess’s secret hiding spots is visible from a bird’s eye view as well. You can see all her gizmos, gadgets, and thing-a-mabobs. Ariel’s Eric statue is the centerpiece to this masterful hidden gem of Tokyo DisneySea.
My favorite display was Agrabah Marketplace. Not surprisingly since Disney always delivers, this Arabian display makes you feel like you’re in the actual scenes of Aladdin. It was absolutely beautiful with a replica of Aladdin’s hut. The merchandise is all Arabian themed with plenty of options for all things Aladdin.Needless to say, I have never been more in awe of an attraction than I have been here. What’s more is that the colors really pop, and the props represent vibrant Arab culture perfectly. Kids adore this!
Food is one of the best reasons to visit Tokyo Disney. A big part of the Disney parks experience is the unique variety of snacks! Setting this park apart from the rest, Disney played on Japan’s unique tastes. Flavored popcorn is a staple to the TDR park goers “must do’s”. Among the typical gourmet flavors, you’ll find country-specific assortments.
Some other popular snacks native to Tokyo Disney:
Alien Mochi (or other flavors of different characters!)
Mickey Shaped Churros
Flavored churros are also quite the hot commodity in Tokyo Disney. Melon soda (a popular flavor in general for Japan) is one of them.
Picture also generously donated by Kayla Nemueller!
Mickey Ice Pop
Tokyo Disney is located right on Tokyo Bay, making the views from the park rides exceptional. The main reason why this park is so popular is because of the nautical theme. Attractions are built around this nautical theme including the New England village-style Mediterranean harbor, Mermaid Lagoon (Little Mermaid), Arabian Coast (Aladdin’s world), Mysterious Island, Lost River Delta (Indiana Jones Ride) and riverboat taxis for transportation.
5. Spin on classic rides
Tower of Terror has a new story line that diverts from the original in Hollywood Studios, Orlando.Pooh’s Hunny Hunt was my FAVORITE. I have always been a die hard Pooh fan and being able to walk through the pages of the book was unreal.
There is one part of the ride that’s totally different from the WDW version but I don’t want to spoil it. Can you say heffalumps and woozles?
Toy Story Mania recently opened recently in Tokyo Disney. It was predicted to be way cooler than the one at WDW because of the features. Thousands of people were there to get a fast pass. I hate to say it but, I definitely shoved my way through and slithered my way in front of a ton of people to get one of the LAST passes! Our fast pass time was 2 hours before our flight departure and yes, we made it by the skin of our teeth!
The theme is Andy’s Room and boy, the line to the ride was entertaining. You get to be the size of a toy as you prepare to blast your way through the Mania.
This was the line in the morning before the ropes even dropped to the rest of the park.
6. Tokyo Disney main attractions: unique rides
Tokyo DisneySea’s MAIN attraction: The Volcano…
Take a dive into an every-so-often erupting volcano on this thriller roller coaster – Journey to the Center of the Earth. Try to get a fast pass as soon as you can because we waited 2.5 hours in line for this one… SO. WORTH. IT. THOUGH. Grab this fanny pack so you can hold all your essentials for the long wait.
Pooh’s Hunny Hunt is a trackless dark ride, more details above on Reason 5!
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is another dark ride, imitating a submarine adventure. You get to control the lights while searching for the lost city of Atlantis!
7. Attractions outside Tokyo Disney
Although you have seen the best park in the world at this point, you must have at least some plans to see what’s outside of Disney’s nautical theme park. After all, you did fly all the way to Tokyo. This “kawaii” city needs to be taken in one section at a time. How much time do you have? I lived there for one year before moving South, and didn’t see everything. It wasn’t even until I lived in southern Japan that I went to Tokyo Disney! Crazy, right?
- If you’re an outdoor adventurer, I recommend the multitude of hikes within the vicinity of the Tokyo prefecture.
- There are a ton of Big Buddhas to visit that require some level of athleticism, but most are very easy to get to with Japan’s train system.
- Mario Carting around the city through Street Kart. You need an International Driver’s License for this. Prices and routes are listed on their site! There are different locations so make sure you select which shop you are leaving from.
- Walk the Shibuya crosswalk – it’s EPIC at night on a Saturday!
- Shinjuku train station – one of the most large and confusing train stations in the world.
- Imperial Palace and other temples
- Experience the streets of Harajuku (try to find a festival going on!). We always told people to go on Takeshita street on a Sunday as a joke. The famous cotton candy store is here!
- Temples, obviously. There are PLENTY of them around Tokyo. Take a moment and experience the serenity and respectfulness of the culture by visiting one! Sensoji is a good one, it’s one of the oldest spots in Tokyo.
- Tokyo Skytree – absolutely beautiful views from the top. Get a bird’s eye view of Sensoji Temple!
- Themed cafes – there are so, so many to choose from. For starters, there’s a ninja, or cat, or robot (expensive – there’s a show included), or kawaii monster themed restaurant. There are seven Alice in Wonderland themed cafes, too!
That’s just scratching the surface! I hope you have so much fun. Don’t leave Japan without doing at least 5 of those.
A little further outside of Tokyo if you have time
Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Sapporo. Sapporo is the biggest Northern city and I recommend flying. If you visit Sapporo in the Winter, go see the snow monkeys! Hiroshima is known worldwide for the historical aspect. You should know, but if you don’t, this is one of two cities that were bombed as a response to the devastating Pearl Harbor attack in World War II. My guide here will tell you which sites to see downtown regarding the memorial sites.
Being so far away, it’s easy to assume Tokyo itself is expensive. Tokyo Disney is actually the least expensive of all Disney’s international resorts. If you follow these tips, you will be on your way to TDR with a bigger budget than you thought! Never underestimate the power of reward points, seasonal discounts and a savings account ;)
Use the Booking map below to start booking your trip!
9. An erupting centerpiece…
Plainly, there is no other park on Earth with better thought and creativity than DisneySea. Centered around an adventurously nautical theme, the main attraction is a volcano – erupting every so often, literally! Inside the volcano is the roller coaster ride Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Tokyo Disney is something everyone needs to see, not just the die-hard Disney fans like me. The experience is next to none other and will raise your bar for theme parks, not to be surpassed. I hope this post has eased your mind about the cost of visiting this insanely entertaining park and skepticism of all the hype!