Tokyo Disney Resort Travel Guide: Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea

Musings, Travel

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In 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to visit all 6 Disney parks within a year thanks to a close friend who encouraged me to do it with her.  And even though it’s been a quick (read “LONG”) minute, I’ve heard your cries on Instagram and am finally writing up reviews of each international park and hopefully answering your questions on accommodations, transportation, food, and more!  To kick it off, I’m starting with Tokyo Disney Resort!

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Transporation

Transportation to the parks from on property and nearby hotels is easy and convenient.  Many hotels provide a shuttle that will either take you to the park or take to your closest monorail station. Disney-sanctioned hotels will even have the cute Mickey shuttle buses!

The monorail, unlike Disney World’s monorail, charges a fee.  But tickets are fairly cheap and if you know how many days you will be using the monorail, then you can buy multi-day passes which are a better value.  The monorail tickets can be bought at kiosks at the monorail station and they usually have cute seasonal Disney designs!

If traveling to the parks from Tokyo, you can take the metro (called the JR or Japan Railway).  It usually takes an hour to travel to the resort depending on where you are staying in the city and how many transfers you need to make.  But find the Keiyo Line or the Musashino Line, which both lead to Maihama Station.  Maihama Station lets you off at Ikspiari, which is like Downtown Disney or Disney Springs.  You can then board the resort monorail that takes you to the parks!

More info here: https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tdr/access.html

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Where to Stay

I’ve stayed both on and off resort and depending on how you want to spend your time in Tokyo, that is how you should plan where to stay.  If you are planning on visiting the parks for three days, I would suggest finding a hotel “on property.”  And I say that with quotes because similar to other Disney resorts, there are hotels within the vicinity of the parks, but aren’t necessarily associated with Disney. And these are great for those looking for cheaper rooms! But if you only have one chance to visit, I would recommend the Celebration Hotel! It’s one of the more affordable Disney hotels if you’re able to split the costs with a few people. I LOVED it! There are so many cute decor details (like bread and butterfly decals outside the room doors) and our room had the Joey Chou Alice in Wonderland mural along the wall.  SO MANY PHOTO SPOTS!

If you plan on visiting the parks for only one or two days and seeing Tokyo the remainder of your stay, then I would suggest finding a place in the city.  Even better, if you can find a hotel or airbnb near the Keiyo or Musashino JR Lines, it will cut down the number of transfers you have to make and get you to the magic that much faster.😉

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Food

TDR food is on another level.  Most, if not all, things are adorably cute.  However, I will say some of the food tastes a little processed.  Whether that’s good or bad is a different question, but do not expect to find fresh sashimi.  It still is after all, a theme park.

One of the more famed restaurants that is unique to TDR is the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall.  It is a cafeteria style restaurant that surrounds diners with the intricacies of Wonderland.  The signature dish is the Queen of Hearts hamburger patty, which is a fun heart shaped patty topped with a cheese crown.  However, since beef isn’t a super common meat in Japan, unlike the US, don’t be surprised if it tastes more like meatloaf.

japan tokyo disneyland resort sea disney style food eats stitch lilo hawaii curry popcornSome of my favorite TDR foods include the Mickey hand bun (Disneyland, Toontown), chandu tailchandu tail (Disney Sea, Arabian Coast), and Mickey chicken nuggets (DL, Tomorrowland Terrace but I like getting them in DS at Cape Cod Cookoff in American Water).  Other TDR foods that guests love are the different flavored popcorn and the Mickey shaped churro!  PS: Disney Sea has wine at Cafe Portofino in the Mediterranean Harbor area.🍷 Gotta thank the Nakajima sisters (Ayano & Natsuki) for helping us tourists with that one!😉

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Merchandise

I feel like there really isn’t much to say here because I think most Disney fans know that TDR merch is THE BEST.  Everything they sell is so much better than any other Disney park.  But aside from the ears, sunglasses, and apparel, I also really love TDR’s snack souvenirs!

Japan loves little packaged snacks.  And at both TDR parks, you’ll find whole sections of stores devoted to snacks and candies.  Even better, many of the snacks are cased in souvenir tins or containers.  So after you’ve eaten everything, you still get a fun case or tin as a souvenir!  I personally like bringing back the snack souvenirs as gifts for friends and coworkers.  But I always buy some for myself because it reminds me of my childhood.  My family was frequently in SF’s Japantown.  Preschool, summer camp, basketball leagues, piano lessons…it was all in Japantown for us. So growing up, we loved going to the Japanese markets to pick out whatever snack we wanted as our afternoon treat.  And now seeing some of my favorite childhood snacks wrapped up in fun Disney packaging just makes the child in me scream with joy!

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People

Part of the reason why this one of my top Disney resorts is because of the people.  Guests and visitors are not only polite and nice, but they’re trustworthy.  Japan in general has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and it’s because everyone respects one another.  Not saying you should leave your stuff around willy nilly, but if for some reason you left something behind, you have a good chance of getting it back.  Granted, there’s probably not much crime or theft that happens in Disney parks, you just get that extra reassurance that your belongings won’t be lost forever.

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Natsuki (left) & Ayano (right) 💖

Not many people there speak English.  So if you’re not knowledgeable in Japanese, be ready to charade your way through a conversation.  There are English maps and most signs have English translations.  Worst case scenario, have your map handy and point to what you’re looking for.  And better yet, also have a Japanese map with you so the cast member can read it in their own language instead of having to try to guess what the English map says.  But at least know “hello” (kon’nichiwa) and “thank you” (arigato).

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Unique Rides/Attractions 

Tokyo Disneyland is pretty similar to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. But they do have some rides and attractions that are unique to Tokyo! And of course, DisneySea is a completely different park, so everything they have can’t be found at any other Disney park. But if you only have a limited time, here’s what I would strongly suggest you try to ride in each park!

Disneyland park: Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek

DisneySea: Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, Magic Lamp Theater, Aquatopia, Nemo & Friends SeaRider

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Overall Thoughts & Suggestions

TDR is by far one of my favorite Disney parks.  I love the mix of Japanese culture and Disney magic, but overall it’s just a well-rounded resort.  Fun rides, easy transportation, various hotels, instagrammable food, and of course amazing merch.  But what really captures my heart are all the small details in the park.  The soap in the bathrooms are dispensed as mickey shaped foam, ramen egg yolks are also mickey shaped, and one time we swore the camel statue in Arabian Coast smelled like actual camel poop smell. They’re THAT dedicated to details.

To fully experience the parks, I would suggest a three day stay.  However, two days will still allow you to enjoy most of what the parks offer.  And I would probably spend a little more time in DisneySea versus Disneyland.  Only because DisneySea is completely different from any other Disney park.

If you’ve been to TDR, let me know what you love most about it! Or if you have extra tips, leave them here to so others can learn more too! And stay tuned for the next international international Disney park travel guide!🐭✈️

ABW

Disney Cruise: Aboard the Disney Wonder!

Disney Style, Travel

IMG_3094Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to sea we go!  A few weeks ago, I went on a Disney cruise with a group of friends and we were probably the only group of young adults without children.  I say young group of adults because there were actually older (probably retired) couples that were vacationing without children too.  AKA my life in 30ish years.

“Alisa, aren’t Disney cruises only fun for families and kids?”  On the contrary!  Yes, Disney cruises are aimed towards families, but as we learned, it is first and foremost a cruise.  Which means you still get great food and dining experiences, fun cocktails and drinks, and “adult only” areas.  All of these things just happen to have a little Disney magic sprinkled in.

So how’s a group of young adults supposed to enjoy a Disney cruise?  Well, let’s start with FOOD!

Each night we dined at a different “restaurant.”  The first night we ate at The Animator’s Palate, which honors the history of Disney animation.  You’ll find animation sketches everywhere and what once started as a still black and white drawing will then turn into a full-on colored animation by the end of the night!  Throughout the night, we were excited to keep tabs on the new changes we saw throughout the restaurant.  And to join in on the magic, we all Disney Bounded as Disney animated characters.  Erika and Vince of Village Haus were clever enough to bring a black and white outfit and then a colorful outfit to change into at the end of dinner!  So clever those two.  And spoiler alert (seriously, if you don’t want to know skip ahead now!): Sorcerer Mickey comes out in full force at the end and it was the best part of the dinner.

For our second night, we dined at Tiana’s Place, which obviously serves up tasty southern inspired dishes.  And we all decided to Disney Bound characters from The Princess and the Frog.  I probably ordered 5 courses that night, which was not ideal for my all white Mama Odie Disney Bound outfit.  And if you get a chance, take a lap around the room to see all the small details.  On one wall, there were cabinets filled with photos of Tiana’s parents, her dad’s recipe box, and various frog paraphernalia.  But again, the best part of the night was at the end of the dinner when Tiana and Louis led a fun-filled jazzy dance party!

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Before or after dinner (depending on your scheduled seating time), be sure to catch at least one of the Broadway-style shows!  The first night was “The Golden Mickeys Live Show” in which Golden Mickeys are awarded to different Disney movies.  I assumed the usual characters would make an appearance — princesses, fab 5, maybe even Stitch and other critter characters if Disney was feeling adventurous.  But Disney threw me a massive curveball.  There was one portion of the show that featured Tarzan, Mulan, and are you ready for this…Hunchback of Notre freakin’ Dame!!  I may have cried a little while surrounded by small children that were constantly their parents who that character was that was walking funny.

And I cried not so much because they were some of my favorite movies growing up, but because it was just so great to see them represented in a show!  Quasimodo is NEVER in a show!  Just to see them get their moment in the spotlight and get recognition was somewhat emotional for me.  “Alisa, these aren’t even real people, they’re freaking animated characters.”  I knooowww, but they get validation and credit for being worthy Disney characters for once! 😭  But my tears dried up halfway through the Mulan segment.  Hopefully, more on that in a later post.

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Aside from great dining and entertainment, the Disney Wonder is full of prime instagram spots.  So for all those social media butterflies out there, you’ll love bopping around the boat getting all those cute photos.  For our group of social media enthusiasts, we were on a mission to take the most #basic Disney cruise photos.  And with the help of Taylor Jackson, we got some amazing shots and quite possibly the best basic Disney cruise photo ever.  Check out Taylor’s vlog to see how he captured these amazing photos!

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^The winner of the most basic Disney cruise photo.

Eating + entertainment + cute photo ops = fun for young adults on a Disney cruise!  And of course add a few drinks into the mix for an extra fun time. 😏🍹  But in general, you can always have a good time anywhere and anytime as long as you’re in good company!  And honestly, I think this trip was SO MUCH FUN because of the incredible people I got to experience it with.  Did I mention that I also cried during the last night of our cruise at dinner because I was so thankful for great time we had together and to just be there in that moment with all of them?  Oh, I didn’t? 😅  Well, now you know how grateful I was to be on this fun trip with these extraordinary people. 🤗  Go check them out! –> Leslie, Erika, Lindsay, VinceTaylor

ABW