Monday, December 25, 2017

{Travelog} Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea in winter!

Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea!

This post is all about the 2 days we spent at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea in end December. We got our 2 days Tokyo Disney tickets though Klook during its year end promotion and the tickets allow direct access to the park. We arrived at the park around 9am and there were lesser crowd than expected. 

Before the trip, I've identified the must-visit spots and must-try specialities after reading the guidebook and watching introduction videos  on Disneyland and DisneySea, so we had a rough idea on how to navigate through the parks. However, as Disney has Christmas special showtime, upon receiving the map and event schedule at the park entrance, we re-planned our route to ensure we do not miss the shows we wanted.

My childhood dream place :)

Tokyo Disneyland, here we come!

The map guides, never loose these:

Welcomed by the giant Christmas tree!

Day 1: Disneyland
This was how we navigated our full day at Disneyland:

Adventure Land > Fantasy Land > Tomorrow Land > Western Land> Cinderella Castle

You may obtain the full Disneyland map here.

Adventure Land
• Jungle river cruise
• Pirates of the Caribbean river ride 
• Wild West train
• Alice's Tea Party 
Lucky for us to arrive on sunny day with clear blue sky.

Disney Stories Time 
10:45am was the parade show by the Disney characters! Many of the visitors brought along picnic mats and reserved their seats as early as 9:40am, this allow up close view of the parades. We just stood behind them to watch the parade.

Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall
As we didn't make any restaurant reservation, we decided to have early lunch at the banquet hall to avoid the rush, it was the right decision as we saw long queue as we were leaving the hall. We were really impressed with the quality of services and professionalism of staffs here, once I informed them of our food allergy, they have an English speaking staff attended to us and offered to separate the sauce which contains the shrimps. 

We also bought their chocolate mousse and blueberry cakes which were served in Alice in the Wonderland cup and saucer, and they are ready to be taken home as souvenirs, only cost ¥750 each. Pay extra ¥1000 and you'll get the heart shape plate too!

Fantasy Land
After lunch, we took the fast passes for the Haunted House, our passes were valid from 1:00pm-2:00pm, still a bit of wait so we proceeded to queue for the next ride, which is one of the must-try..

•  Pooh's Hunny hunt! this one is so popular and we all agreed it's the best of all the rides, we spent 50min in queue while munching some honey popcorns. Worthy wait as the ride was quite a different experience from any others.
• Haunted House - not recommended for young toddlers as they may be scared by the skeletons and ghosts from Nightmare Before Christmas and Ghost Bride, but otherswise this would be quite an interesting ride too.

Disney Parade: Happiness is Here
Yeah, another colorful parade by Mickey and friends. 

Tomorrow Land
• Lilo & Stitch Encounter - Stitch had interactive conversation with the audience in Japanese, pretty easy for kiddos to understand the jokes. 
• Star Tours: the Adventures Continue (fast pass again, cut the queue & the 3D starspeeder ride was pretty awesome!)
• Pizza Galatica - this restaurant is worth visit with Tony the alien chef running the place, the pizza was not bad too.
• photo with the aliens near the restaurant, where the staff was on standby to help take the photo.
Note: Toy Story was closed for renovation, otherwise that would be one of the must-visits!

We came in peace..

Western Land
•  Big Thunder Mountain 
we managed to catch the roller coaster ride in the mine before the sun was down, the queue was really long and it was quite a joy ride, but in my opinion was nothing for the thrill seeker.

Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlight
At around 7pm, we bought the signature Smoked Turkey Legs (cost ¥750 each) and waited for the spectacular night parade. The turkey leg was quite big and more than sufficient to fill up our tummies until end of the day :))

I knew I'm qualified as a royal Disney fan as I could name almost every character from the parade!

Once Upon A Time @ Cinderella Castle  
At 7:15pm and 9:15pm the light show begins. This was really a magnificent  light show worth waiting for. Make sure you get a place for unblocked view of the light show and fireworks.

After the light show, we tried out few other rides that we missed earlier, like the Flying Jumbo, Snow White's adventure (quite boring), but there were few that we did not managed to get such as the Peter Pan's Flight, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Mickey's PhilharMagic; despite trying many rides, we did not have enough time to explore Toontown and Critter Country, and it's unfortunate that Raging Spirits and It's a Small World were closed during our visit.

By 10pm, its the Park's closure hour and with that we ended our first day visit at Disneyland. C fell asleep as soon as we reached our apartment, which was located just 10min away from Disneyland by bus (read on for my review on this fantastic Airbnb apartment)

Note: it's a Small World was closed for renovation at time of visit, and it's expected to reopen only on 15, April 2017.

We brought home a giant Winnie the Pooh and a small Pooh... ah, luckiest day for the kiddos :)

Day 2: DisneySea
After our first day experience at Disneyland, we were better prepared this time. Upon arrival, big guy rushed to get fast passes for the Toy Story Mania! ride and made reservation for lunch at the Horizon Bay restaurant; while little ones and I met Mickey & Minnie @ the Mediterranean.

The fast passes and priority seating tickets :))

Then, we began our exploration:

Lost River Delta > Port Discovery > American Waterfront > Arabian Coast > Mermaid Lagoon > Mysterious Island 

You may obtain the full DisneySea map here.

Lost River Delta  

  • Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (fun! Fun!)
  • Photo outside the temple of the crystal skull

Port Discovery 

  • Aquatopia
  • Popular boat ride that made me kind of dizzy. One of the kids' favorites.
  • Nemo & Friends Searider **POPULAR**
  • A 3D right in the searider mimicking the scene in Finding Nemo that felt so real.. someone actually had severe motion sickness that she had to leave the hall. So if you are bringing young children or have history of motion sickness, beware. 
  • took Electric steamer to Mediterranean Harbor

Mediterranean Harbor
  • Venetian Gondola ride. Short ride but allow a different view of the bay.
  • Attempted to win lottery for Big Band Beat but no luck :(( just scan your ticket at the lottery machine for a chance to win reserved seats for the super popular show. So, yeah, we missed this show :(

Disney Character Dining @ Horizon Bay Restaurant 
We met Mickey, Minnie and Pluto while having 3 course lunch at the nicely decorated restaurant with priority seating (which we booked earlier). Cost ¥3xxx per adult and ¥1,7xx per kids. Again, they took note of our specific request seriously (food allergy) and we waited for about 5 minutes for the English speaking staff to assist us on changing the menu. 

All food served came in Mickey form, tooooo cute!

It's a childhood dream came true moment for me too :")

Little C was in cloud 9 :)

C bumped into Mr Incredible on the way out!

Arabian Coast

  • Jasmine's Flying Carpet
  • Sindbad's Storybook Voyage  (missed this as the kids not keen)
  • C was so determined to go for the flying carpet ride which was quite a long queue, so we munched some rice crackers that we brought along while waiting in queue. It was quite nice to have an elevated view of the Arabian Coast from the flying carpet ride.

Mermaid Lagoon

  • Ariel's Playground 
  • Jumping Jelly Fish
  • Explored the lagoon and found the handsome Prince among Ariel's treasure, the duo had fun running wild in the fantasy lagoon and played the Jumping Jellyfish

She found the prince :)

American Waterfront 
• Steps to Shine stage performance 
We missed the Big Band Beat broadway show but was right on time for the Steps to Shine performance in front of SS Columbus ship by Mickey, Minnie, Duffy and StellaLou. It was a short 20-25 minutes performance in the open air and the duo loved it. 

We had the burger from Cape Cod while watching the show, it only cost about ¥400/burger set, so balanced off the pricey lunch. 

• Fantasmic! Show @ Mediterranean Harbor 5:30pm
This was one magnificent show where Mickey the magician fought with the Maleficient's evil dragonWith real fire, splendid fireworks and ever-changing lighted Christmas tree, this show really amazed us.

• Tower of Terror
We skipped this but big guy went ahead and it was a scary 60m fall from the lift shaft and even big guy found it scary. No way little ones and I going to take that!

And I just realized I didn't take any picture of the amazing structure, WTH! :O

• Fortress Explorations
While waiting for big guy (it was a good 60min queue!) we explored the castle & ship, and watched the Christmas firework show from atop the castle. 

 • Toy Story Mania! **POPULAR**
This was one of the most FUN games where we get to do target shooting on a moving ride. I achieved a score of 136,600, while E and C scored 97,000 and 59,000 each, not bad kiddos! Wish we could play again but it was already 9:30pm by the time we finished and there was still a queue of eager visitors waiting for their term..

Mysterious Island 
• 20,000 Leagues under the Sea
• Journey to the Center of the Earth **POPULAR**

While Big Guy was queuing for the Tower of Terror, we visited the 20,000 Leagues under the Sea which took us under the water full of shipwrecks and we met all the aliens living underneath the dark water of DisneySea. Spooky? Nah, pretty interesting submarine ride :)

Journey to the Center of the Earth was our last ride in the park at 9:45pm (we have the fast passes so skipped the long queue, yeah!), but also the most exciting one as the ride literally sped out from the volcano mountain and I nearly had my heart popped out when the ride took a sharp dip >~<

With that, we ended our fantastic time at DisneySea and headed back to or Airbnb apartment for a warm Ramen supper and a good night rest.

Tina's Apartment at Horie Rokku Chome on Airbnb 
Rating: 5.0/5.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The apartment is well equipped and you can tell it is well taken care of - with proper beds, well equipped kitchenette & laundry facilities, and the apartment is decorated with Disney theme characters - Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan & even a tiny hidden Mickey. It is located right next to the bus station where the bus no 9 and 57 go straight to Maihama station for ¥150/pax. From the Maihama station, its about 5 minutes walk to DisneyLand and 10minutes walk to DisneySea. Instead of spending double or triple the price for a hotel within Disney, we opted for this lovely accommodation. Besides the above facilities, a pocket wifi was provided and it is only 5min away from few eateries, Lawson and a 24 hours supermarket as well. Absolutely convenient, on the first night of arrival, I even cooked up a pot of hot pot for the whole family with fresh ramen, beef slices and loads of mushrooms & vegetables - all ingredients & soup based purchased directly from the supermarket.

The hot pots we had in our apartment :)

So with this, it's the end of my post on our wonderful Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea visit. 

Some important tips to note for first time visitor:
  •  do buy the park access tickets before your visit if possible. you may get the 1 day pass @¥7,400, 2 day pass @¥13,200 Or 3 day pass @¥17,800 (kids have a cheaper price and do note this price is valid at our time of visit). Each pass is valid for 1 park's entrance only, however you may request to upgrade your 3rd day park ticket to access both parks at the same day - you have to ask the staffs before leaving the park on the first day.
  • there are many channels to purchase the tickets, e.g. Directly from Tokyo Disney website, from JTB (Japan Travel Bureue) which has offices in some overseas countries including Malaysia, through travel agencies such as Klook and print at home; or just purchase at the park itself
  • come early and come prepared knowing which rides / shows that you wanted, and get the fast passes to cut short your waiting time (you may get the Tokyo Disney leaflet at the Narita airport's arrival hall). Fast passes can be obtained by scanning the barcode on your ticket at the designated fast past stations, and you may obtain the next fast pass in an hour's time (the validity period is printed on the fast passes, make sure you don't miss the time)

  • For complete Disney experience, there are many restaurants and snack bars around the park offering their signature food, such as the smoked turkey legs, flavored popcorns (honey, garlic shrimp, milk chocolate etc with optional special container), potato churros, Mickey Popsicles, Mickey waffle etc. Generally snack is priced around ¥350-¥1000 (restaurants charge higher price). I couldn't find the Alien mochi which was one of the snacks that I really wanted to try, I guess it was replaced with Darth Vader mochi.
  • During winter, the sunsets early around 4:30pm, so best to aim for all the outdoor rides / park visit and leave the indoor rides for later, e.g. Toy Story Mania, Ariel's Playground, Tower of Terror, Nemo Searider etc.
  • Crowd at Disneyland and DisneySea can be heavy on weekeends or holiday seasons, so suggest to visit on  weekdays if possible. You can actually check on the Disney Tokyo website for their crowd calendar.
  • Lastly, I would recommend keeping Disney visit to the last of your travel itinerary so you end the trip with thrill and excitement, and that would seal a wonderful memory to the trip. :)
Useful links:

  • Disney Resort map  here
  • Purchase Disney Tickets online here
  • Book your Tokyo Disney Resort here

Hope you find this post helpful, and feel free to feedback, share to others who is planning for a visit soon! Please do note that this is written purely based on our experience and as we were not able to cover all rides within the 2 days visit and some rides were closed, you would have to find out for yourself what are other exciting rides or shows that we have missed.  ;-)


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