Tokyo Marathon + 13yo birthday = TOKYO DISNEY SEA!!!
Yes, the tween turned teen while we were in Japan for the Tokyo Marathon and celebrated the day with Mickey and Friends in TOKYO DISNEY SEA! How freaking cool that I arranged for a 13th birthday experience at such a place! (Totally mom bragging here) I hope it is one she remembers for a while, but even if she doesn’t remember (as shortsighted self absorbed teenagers are apt to); I had one of the BEST time of my life and wish I could’ve done more days at Disney.
A lot of people (Mr. FauxRunner included) dismiss the idea of visiting a Disney park while across the globe, but it truly was a great day and I wish I could’ve had more days there. Even if you have just one day like we did after compromising with Mr. FauxRunner, I totally recommend going to Disney Sea – it is the ONLY nautical themed Disney park in the world.
If you are a Disney lover or if you chose to go to DisneySea, here are some tips to make the best of your day.
Tokyo Disney Sea is more affordable than Disney USA
Our day of visit was a Friday. We bought single day tickets to Tokyo Disney Sea at the ticketing counter for ~$65, which was way way less than the price of regular tickets at DisneyWorld and Disneyland (~$120).
A four-day pass was only about $200 to $220. You have to choose your first day of visit at the time of purchase and which park you want to visit first (Tokyo Disney Sea or Tokyo Disneyland). Then Day 2 is the other park. And then Day 3 and 4 can be either park. Buy tickets at a Disney store in Tokyo (the one in Shibuya is pretty big) to skip gate lines.
Tickets can also be purchased at convenience stores (Family Mart or Lawson), major travel agencies, and JR (Japan Railway ticket) windows in Japan. But we did not try any of those.
You can also look online at https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tds/. To be honest, I found the official website rather confusing. The Disney store at Shibuya was much better help.
Stay in a Disney resort or a “friendly” hotel with transportation
It really is not hard to get to Disney Tokyo from Tokyo city. Take the train to Maihama station and then the monorail (260 Yen/trip) to Disneyland or Tokyo Disney Sea. We were not yet fully acquainted with the train system and went to Tokyo Disney Sea on our 2nd day in Tokyo. We appreciated the free shuttle to Disney from our hotel for the 45min drive.
Japanese seem to love lines!
This might sound weird, but everywhere we went people were happily waiting in lines. Even for a churro where the wait was … 35 minutes !! Yes, I sucked it up and stood in line too. Goal of the day was – eat every flavor of Churro and popcorn in the park.
Churros and Popcorns at Tokyo Disney Sea
When I first read about these, I laughed. I mean, churros in Japan? And its “just” churros. But it is not just churros. The different flavors blew my mind! Once we started out with Potato churro, there was no going back. I had to eat every single of the ones I came across – the traditional churro, Mickey churro where the horizontal cross-section was a Mickey, Cotton Candy, Garlic, Rainbow, and I forget the others! Don’t miss any is all I will say, even though the lines get rather long.
Popcorns was not far behind in their flavors either . Our favorite was Curry flavor (with lots of cumin!) over the more common black pepper, salt, caramel, milk chocolate ones. There was also garlic shrimp, which we did not try (vegetarians). You can get popcorns in regular bags or collector’s buckets. Of course the minions wanted the special buckets and as each cart only sold one type, we had to looking for the kind of bucket they wanted to the other side of the park! The buckets are cute, but a pain to carry and are now sitting lonely in a souvenir cabinet.
There is no concept of lines!
While completely contradicting the previous tip, we found this to be true while waiting in line for characters. After patiently waiting for some time only to see people coming up and heading directly up to the character or for the character/handler to single out someone randomly from the now circle of people waiting. I was NOT happy with that concept and we got out after just one character photo.
Vegetarians, be prepared at Tokyo Disney Sea
I’ve NEVER had to worry about getting vegetarian food anywhere in Disneyworld, USA. Chefs will even customize your order to avoid any kind of dietary restriction at dine-in restaraunts.
Not so in Tokyo Disney. We carried snacks and the breakfast box from our hotel, but when we did sit down at the gorgeous Teddy Roosevelt Lounge (after a long line, of course), there was absolutely nothing they would do with the menu. We asked them for a sandwich that was on the menu but to please hold the meat. Nada. We had to have cheese and crackers (literally 4 pieces) and sundaes as our “lunch”.
In fact, there is only ONE restaurant in all of DisneySea that has a vegetarian option, the restaurant in Venice at Mediterranean Harbor.
Fastpasses, old Style
Get there a little before the park opening time so you can get a Fastpass for the ride with likely the longest wait.
For Tokyo Disney Sea, the most popular FastPass attractions are Toy Story Midway Mania followed by Tower of Terror and Journey to the Center of the Earth. However, Toy Story is so popular you may have a wait to even get to the FastPass machine. You go to the FastPass machine scan your ticket and it’ll give you a paper Fastpass. The paper FastPass will give you the time you can get your next FastPass. If you play this system well, you can significantly cut your wait.
Use the single rider lane
I don’t know if it is a lesser known fact or if Japanese people do not like to be split up from their families and friends. Indiana Jones’ epic adventure and The Raging Rapids (next to each other in Adventureland) had wait times of 120 minutes or more and yet it took us 5-7 minutes in the single rider line every time. The minions must’ve done the Raging Rapids about 10-12 times on their own while we parents relaxed outside (with churros and popcorn in hand, of course). Towards the end of the evening, the birthday minion wanted to ride Indiana Jones again and we rode 6 times in the single rider lane – normal wait time of 120+ minutes.
You have to go up and ask the cast member about the single rider lane. We held up the number 1 in our finger sign and said single and were perfectly understood. It was the same as the fastpass line, but while the fastpass also pooled up about 10-15min from the ride, single rider line went all the way to the loading zone with no wait. They closed the single rider lane at 6pm even though the park closed at 6:30pm on our day.
Savor the experiences of the rides at Tokyo Disney Sea
Two of Tokyo DisneySea’s popular rides are Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While the rides itself are a letdown, the theming of the area and the wait lines is incredible. I loved Jules Verne growing up (In fact, I think those were the ONLY Sci-Fi books/shows I had read until Doctor Who blew me away) and to see those details was such fun!
DisneySea is like a bunch of adults who are kids at heart got a HUGE budget and they went nuts with it. It is a definite experience that should not be missed, IMO.
We went to Mermaid Lagoon to sit down and hopefully get a bite to eat (nope, not even vegetarian pizza).
But the theming was beautiful that makes the Mermaid parts of DisneyWorld look cheap. And the Little Mermaid show was enchanting although we didn’t understand a word of it.
And a special mention to the special variety of ICECREAM that I’ve never had anywhere else.