Tokyo DisneySea is really something special. It’s unlike any other Disney park (at least, those I’ve visited) and so thoroughly immersive in its themes. I knew I that if I had to choose one park for Kim to experience, it would be DisneySea. This was my second trip (see my first one here) and I was very excited to introduce Kim to its magic! Don’t get me wrong — I love Tokyo Disneyland (you can see my Tokyo Disneyland post here), but it’s so similar to Magic Kingdom that it isn’t 100% necessary if you’re just looking for a quick day trip and have been to the other parks.
Another option? Buy a ticket hopper for Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland and do both in one day! This time, we bought our tickets at the park — but last time, we bought them in advance at a Disney store in Tokyo. They’re also sold at some convenience stores and JR windows, as well as nearby resorts. Since the parks can get very busy on peak days, get your tickets in advance to avoid the risk of being turned away at the gate.
ShellieMay ears (similar ones on eBay)
heart sunglasses (under $10 with free shipping!)
Getting to DisneySea is very easy; though Japan’s transit system seems overwhelming at first sight, it’s actually pretty straight forward and easy to navigate with the help of a maps app. And if you get lost, just put your ears on and someone might point you in the right direction if you’re looking slightly confused. I’m not kidding, it happened for us! Google Maps is actually a lot more accurate out there than it was during my first trip, with the added perks of various mass transit directions, ticket prices (if you don’t have a JR pass, you’ll buy your tickets by fare price to your final destination), and the most accurate time tables.
If you have a JR Rail Pass (I’ll cover that in my Tokyo guide), you can just hop on the trains to Maihama station. If not, just figure out the total fare from your starting point to Maihama and buy that fare amount — and always hold onto your ticket, because you’ll need it for transfers and as you exit the station. You know how in NYC, the subway might say it comes every ten minutes but it’s more like 20? Well, if a train says it is leaving at 12:59 in Japan, you best believe it is taking off at exactly that time. Don’t lollygag.
Once you arrive at the JR Maihama Station, you’ll need to get your ticket for the monorail to DisneySea. You can walk, but why would you? You’ll already be walking so much during your stay, and their train has cute little Mickey hand handles and Mickey shaped windows that are worth a peek (and a photo).
Can’t Miss Attractions
Kim doesn’t like rides (I know, crazy), so we stuck to mostly shows, eating treats, meeting characters, and just wandering around. But last time I was there, we did the rides — so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I just wanted to make sure Kim had a great time! Two things you should not miss: The Big Band Beat and King Triton’s Concert. The former is a jazz show that was tremendously entertaining (and a good chance to rest your feet) — perhaps my favorite part. The latter is a fun show where you watch live action Ariel and friends sing, dance, and “swim” above you while singing The Little Mermaid songs in Japanese. What a treat!
Hold onto your DisneySea ticket to enter the lottery for guaranteed seats at Big Band Beat! To enter, go to the lottery kiosk in Mediterranean Harbor up to 30 minutes before the show. Enter your party size and scan your ticket. When you “win” a seat, the screen will tell you (and in our case, the cast members cheered), and print out a seat assignment for you. In the event that you don’t get a guaranteed assigned seat, make sure to get in line in advance of the next show for first available seating.
If you’re planning on rides (and you should), note that Toy Story Mania, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tower of Terror and Nemo & Friends are the most popular rides and will therefore have the longest wait. Plan accordingly: try to get a fast pass, or check the wait times and strategize your schedule.
Triton’s Kingdom in general is my absolute favorite. It’s beautiful from the outside, and when you walk inside it’s like you’re under the sea. It has kiddy rides, a gift shop, quick service, and the show I mentioned. Just take it all in. It’s a delight, and one of the most thoughtfully themed areas.
Don’t forget to scour the gift shops for the cutest Disney merch! You may notice that there are Mickey soap dispensers around the park (the foam comes out in a Mickey shape). Well, you can get your own to take home! The two parks have different merch, and in retrospect I wish I went to Disneyland just to check their gift shops for more offerings. Or maybe it’s good for my wallet that I didn’t. DisneySea is the place to get all things Duffy and friends — and you can’t buy this stuff in stateside parks. d
If you aren’t a hardcore Disney fan, you may not have ever heard of Duffy (Mickey’s stuffed bear) or his friends ShellieMay, Gelatoni, and Stella Lou. But surprise, he’s a HUGE Disney character in Japan and the main focus at DisneySea. If you want Duffy & friends merch, get it here. There’s also a chance to meet Duffy at one of the restaurants, but the line was long and we didn’t partake. But that reminds me: meeting the characters is usually a whole different experience!
Meeting The Characters
It seems a lot more laid back at Disneyland in California, but at Disney World, you either wait in a huge line to meet a character or you need a fast pass. At DisneySea, it’s much easier and interactive! Everyone makes a circle around the character and calls out their names. The character then chooses the person to give their attention to, until everyone gets their time. It’s very cute to watch a bunch of kids (oh, and Kim!) calling out, “Daisy! Daisy” as she ponders which is the lucky one. That would never work at Disney World, but everyone is much more patient and polite in Japan;)
As far as treats go, my two favorites are the Alien Mochi treats and the different flavors of popcorn. But let’s be real, just get all the treats! I recommend getting one of the special popcorn buckets and then trying a few of the flavors throughout the day. Obviously I had to get the Duffy popcorn bucket — last time, I got the Minnie Mouse bow — and it came with Chocolate popcorn, which was delicious. We also had the honey, which was great! Other flavors I’ve had in the past: strawberry, milk tea, soy sauce, and curry.
Dress On Theme
My last tip: dress up! You can’t wear actual costumes at any of the parks if you’re over 14 (I think that’s the same at DisneySea, but I may be wrong) — but if you’re not decked out in Disney gear, you might stick out like a sore thumb. Plus, it’s so much fun and adds to the experience. One of my favorite things is seeing all the groups in matching outfits; I love how everyone goes all out with their themes. Of course, I put on my ShellieMay ears and bag so that I could feel like one of the cool kids. It was difficult for me to resist buying all of the things, but I did buy an extra ShellieMay bag for a giveaway. Make sure to check my instagram to enter!
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