Christy shares about a day at Tokyo Disneyland with her two boys. This day also happened to be her first time to Tokyo Disneyland.
When I learned we would be living in Japan for a few years, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea were two of the first items to make the bucket list. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to check one-off and had an incredible day at Disneyland Tokyo! Myself, a good friend and my two little boys joined the line of sun umbrellas waiting for the parks to open. Having grown up going to Disneyland in Anaheim, I never saw much of a point to sun umbrellas. That said, with the heat and humidity of a Japan summer, they are a godsend for lines here and will make the entire day more comfortable. Due to Covid, the hours are currently reduced, so the gates do not open until 10 am and the rides close at 6 pm. Shopping and a couple attractions, such as the castle walk-through, are open until 7 pm. We arrived a little over an hour before opening and were the fifth group in line at our turnstile. I was a little apprehensive of how much we would be able to do but even with the reduced hours and toddlers in tow, we easily rode everything we wanted to with the smaller crowds and short wait-times.
The gates opened promptly at 10 and we joined the fanfare of being the first wave of guests entering the park. The cast members waved us down the World Bazaar, Tokyo’s equivalent to Main Street, which brought us to the Disneyland Band playing “When You Wish Upon a Star” in the castle plaza. Almost all of the, already fairly small, crowds split to the right and left at the plaza which left us with only a few other families to enter Fantasyland through the castle itself. Being able to enjoy taking pictures and appreciate the castle without many people was a special opportunity. The interior of the castle also had beautiful mosaics depicting scenes from Cinderella on the walls and led us into Fantasyland.
The Fantasyland rides had no wait so we parked the stroller then proceeded to enjoy some flying elephants and carousel horses before we walked on the Disney classic, “it’s a small world”. The kids loved spotting the Disney characters throughout the ride and the adults loved the AC. As we walked back out into the Japan heat, I remembered the tip to upload our tickets into the Disneyland Tokyo app in order to get a time slot to ride the new attraction, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, which is only allowing entry through this method currently due to its popularity. We got a 12:45-1:20 time slot which left us a good amount of time to keep enjoying Fantasyland.
We then got in line for the first big surprise of the day: Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. We anticipated the boys being excited to see their favorite Winnie the Pooh characters but weren’t expecting us adults to be as amazed as the kids. We rode in honey pots which seemed to move freely across the floor, often circling around each other and switching locations and order. The floor then had us bouncing along with Tigger as he moved us along through the Hundred Acre Wood as well as fun interactive moments. This ride is certainly not one to miss.
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Alice’s Tea Party finished out our Fantasyland morning before our growling stomachs led us to the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall for some Caesar salads, flank steak and potatoes off the buffet line. The customer service here was on an entirely new level, even for Disney. Seeing we had the two young kids and three trays of food, two cast members jumped in to assist us getting to the table grabbing everything we would need along the way. They were also incredibly sweet to my now-rather-tired-and-needing-a-nap kids. This was something which stood out to me all day. I am used to excellent service from Disney cast members but the cast at Tokyo brought that to a whole new level with how they engaged with my kids. From the servers to the shopkeepers to those in attractions, every cast member went the extra mile to make them smile. After our meal, we flew off to Neverland in a pirate ship before loading the toddlers into the stroller for a much-needed nap while we made our way to Tomorrowland.
With sleepy kids and a little time to kill, we took advantage of the Child Swap ride option available when kids are under the height requirement to ride an attraction. I waited in line for Space Mountain and rode while my friend stayed with the kids. Then, after I finished, we switched places except my friend got to enter through the exit to skip the line entirely. You first tell a cast member working the attraction that you are wanting to use the Child Swap. Then, they will scan the ticket of whoever will be riding second to alert their system you are using the option. By the time we each rode Space, we had arrived at our time slot for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast so we set off towards our enchanted adventure.
Just the view as you walk towards the Beast’s castle is breathtaking. A smoky haze rises eerily from the crevices surrounding the castle while the carriage which carries Belle’s father to the village sits outside. You enter across the stone bridge into an engaging queue which takes you through the rooms of the castle. In some you might see Chip move if you are lucky, a footstool wag its tail, or the shadowy reflection of a Beast. In many ways, its design reminded me of the Haunted Mansion where the queue is an important aspect of the ride and creates an ambiance which captivates guests. Another similarity lies in each attraction having a staging room guests are ushered into before they board the vehicles for the ride itself. Except rather than a room that is actually stretching, you find yourself faced with a giant staircase with a stained glass window at the top and balconies to the right and left. Before your eyes, the stained glass begins the story of the Beauty and the Beast until soon you are joined by Belle and the Beast themselves as she meets him for the first time and his roar echoes through the castle. You then move into a second, equally captivating queue to board your giant teacup that will dance you through the remainder of the attraction. With another trackless floor, similar to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, and immersive rooms which move you through the story with song and dance, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast was an incredible experience.
After a tasty, frozen treat in the shape of Minnie and a slightly close call with a mean-looking wasp, we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters and Star Tours to finish out Tomorrowland. The Happy Ride with Baymax also looked quite popular but was ticketed with time windows, the same as Beauty and the Beast, and we had chosen the other as the priority.
As we entered Adventureland, we found adventure with the Pirates of the Caribbean, which was very similar to the California ride with a few track changes. We then faced the longest wait of our day, a whopping 20 minutes, to board the Western River Railroad. The fact that this wait felt long is indicative of just how spoiled we were the rest of the day with ridiculously short lines. The train brought us around the Rivers of America, to prehistoric times, then back to where we had begun. We then went on the Jungle Cruise expecting a familiar experience, which it was, until we entered some ominous looking ruins towards the end of our boat tour. Inside felt almost like Indiana Jones with ancient ruins, a magical monkey and visual effects transforming our surroundings. It was a fun surprise and added another element to an already great attraction. My Japanese is very limited so we missed most of the jokes but from how hard our fellow adventurers were laughing, our tour guide was also hilarious. Stitch then brought havoc and song to our Enchanted Tiki Room experience which was especially enjoyed by my 4-year-old and was our final stop in Adventureland.
After a quick ride on Big Thunder Mountain, which had no wait, we headed to our last attraction of the day: Splash Mountain. Both kids met the height requirement so we had a zip-a-dee-doo-da ride with a four and a two-year-old who somehow were not intimidated in the least by the big drop. With 6 pm nearing, it brought the perfect end to our experience of Tokyo Disneyland. While I know we will never experience lines that short again at Tokyo Disneyland, I am excited to return when they are back to more normal operations to see the attractions, parades and shows which were not available at this time. I cherished getting to grow up with the magic of Disney Parks throughout my childhood and I am excited I will get to share that experience with my boys as they spend a few years growing up in Japan.