I have never been to Walt Disney World (never been to Florida, for that matter). Never been to any other Disney theme park except Disneyland. Until this past fall when we traveled to Japan. Within the first week, our daughter introduced us to Tokyo Disneyland. Unforgettable!
The assumption here is that the majority of you reading this have never been to Tokyo Disneyland. If you have, perhaps this elicits happy memories and feelings of that other Disneyland experience. For the rest of you, my hope is to bring you along moment by moment in anticipation of that first time stepping foot in this Japanese Magic Kingdom.
We are traveling about 90 minutes or so from our base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo. Our destination is the Disney Celebration Hotel, one of five Disney hotels of the Tokyo Disney Resort. Uh, this driving in Japan takes some getting used to!
We’re driving down the wrong side of the road — well, for Americans. Brits would remind me that historically, it’s us colonists who drive on the wrong side of the road, going back to the days of chivalry and horseback when clashing swords were held in right hands and shields in left but that’s another story.
Stranger still, I am sitting here taking this video from the driver’s seat which, instead, is over to my right where — in my American experience — the passenger sits.
Now here’s an example of just how kind these Japanese people are. The directional road signs are in both Japanese and English. Now that’s downright considerate, don’t you think?
We’re now about to cross Yokohama Bay on the way to Tokyo and Tokyo Disney Resort. These are all tollways, by the way. It’s one of the big differences here and why the majority of people use the train system to get from place to place (another story to come). We will be paying around 4,000 yen (about $30 US) in tolls one way just to get to our hotel.
This is an impressive bridge. Look at that view! There’s Yokohama to the left. Wait, stop the video! That tall building right there? That’s Yokohama Landmark Tower. Up until about 11 years ago, that was the tallest building in Japan. We’re going to go up there in a future Chaz Story but for now, let’s get back to the road to Disneyland. Here are the landmarks we are looking for to tell us how much progress we’re making. Do you do that when you are driving?
Anyway, this bridge is one. We’re about a third of the way there already. Up ahead next is Kawasaki — the city, not the motorcycle — where a famous scene from “The Fast and the Furious” was filmed. We won’t get any kind of view of it but it’s down there just across the bridge to our right.
The next landmark is Haneda International Airport. This is the east edge of Tokyo and where traffic pretty much always is slow. It’s pretty much smooth sailing after that. When you see a tall Ferris wheel on the right, we’re almost there.
And here we are! Disney Celebration Hotel. Of the five Disney-owed hotels, this is the most affordable. Another thing you quickly have to adjust to in Japan — masks and the cultural courtesy of protection from passing germs. This actually preceded COVID. If you have a bit of a cold, the norm is to either stay home away from people or, if it is not too bad, to be wearing a mask. Since this is September 2022 and Japan still hasn’t opened the country up to tourism because of COVID, everybody in public wears masks. As we enter the hotel, there’s an automatic thermometer (lower right of the picture below) along with hand sanitizer on the right and a delightfully friendly hotel host on the left.
We’re here! We’ll check in today and take it easy so we’re rested up for our day at Tokyo Disneyland tomorrow!
Next Chaz Story … Soaking in the Disney happiness and flavors of the Disney Celebration Hotel.