Having grown up in Florida, I was fortunate to spend many vacations at Walt Disney World. They used to have some pretty sweet deals for Florida residents, including super discounted rates for hotels during soft opens (this was during the resort expansion in the 90s). Having such fond memories, and living close to another Disney cluster, I decided to give Tokyo Disney a go, as part of a gift bestowed by my lovely wife.
Same, but Different
First, this park seems very empty. I purposely went during a slower time, but even then, the park felt eerily quiet. That being said, with more attractions than DisneySea, the wait times for attractions will hover below one hour each on a busy day. The exception to that rule is Splash Mountain, which is by far the most popular attraction there. If you have to use a fast pass for anything, this would be it.
Note: Space Mountain was closed while I visited, as was It’s a Small World, both for upgrades. We’ll see how popular they are after the refurbishments!
The park only has a few unique attractions: The Monster’s Inc. flashlight tag ride, which is Buzz Lightyear/Toy Story Mania without any scoring. It’s a nice attraction, but when the ride vehicles stop, they jerk you around a lot, so watch your back and knees! The only other ride I can think of that I’d not seen before was the Beaver Brother’s canoes, where you could canoe around the old west and see some Native American animatronics here and there.
Also, Mainstreet isn’t Mainstreet, but rather, a covered arcade area. It’s very nice to keep you covered from the sun, but really blocks the view of the castle from the entrance of the park.
Oriental Land Company
Tokyo Disney is not owned by Disney, but rather, the Oriental Land Company, a pretty robust tourism company in Japan. They lease out the Disney characters and get consultations from Disney proper when building new areas and attractions. You can tell the parks were designed more for domestic (Japanese) tourists as well: more snacks, menus that include sets (+ drink and side), and even special mascots exclusive to the Tokyo parks (Duffy and friends).
Tips for Your Stay
First, you’ll want to be aware that the monorail costs money to ride. If you have a Suica/Passmo card from the normal metro lines, don’t use them! A single trip is a flat rate of 260 yen per ride. The single-day and multiple-day passes save you a ton of money if you plan on using the monorail more than three times. You can purchase them at any monorail station before the turnstiles where you pay.
Most beloved favorites from Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom get little to no traffic from Japanese tourists (Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours). I’m not sure why, but they don’t! Same for a lot of the Fantasy Land rides. Big Thunder Mountain will get up to around 45-60 minutes for wait times, but it doesn’t seem to get too bad. When we went, we literally walked onto Pirates, which seems unheard of at any of the American parks.
Overall, I’m glad I got to see the park in its Tokyo form. It’s also worth mentioning that tickets are significantly cheaper here than in the USA: Adult one-day passes run around $65, easily making it one of the most affordable Disney parks to visit (ditto on pricing for DisneySea). If you’re out and about in Tokyo and want to partake in a little Disney magic, you can do so without draining your wallet at Tokyo Disneyland!