Tokyo Disneyland - Mr. Daps Goes to Japan

Tokyo Disneyland – Mr. Daps Goes to Japan

As the end of my trip to Japan began to near, it was time to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort once again. This time, the destination was Tokyo Disneyland. I will admit, I didn’t entirely know what to think ahead of the trip to this castle park. I had heard that really Tokyo DisneySea is what the Tokyo Disney Resort is all about. I had also heard that Tokyo Disneyland is just a hybrid of other castle parks and just a cookie cutter of copies. That turned out to have maybe an element of truth, but thankfully was not what I walked away feeling at all. So while my friends and family in the United States were celebrating Thanksgiving, my sister and I woke up ridiculously early (before dawn) and made the drive up to Tokyo Disneyland.

The drive to the resort was actually quite pleasant with not a ton of traffic. We arrived ahead of the opening of the park, along with a ton of other people. My initial thought was that this day was going to be busier than the day we had visited Tokyo DisneySea. I was right. After getting out of the car, we found ourselves in a line to get into another line it appeared. The line was between two sizable parking structures. They weren’t as big as Mickey & Friends or Pixar Pals at the Disneyland Resort, but they still clearly could hold a lot of cars… and people. Within a few minutes of getting in the line that went about halfway the length of our parking structure, the entire queue had been filled. A short time later, the line began moving. It would move for a bit, then stop. This repeated a couple of times until we came around the corner and I got my first look at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. It is beautiful! On the left was this magnificent hotel and on the right was the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland. But first, we had to go through security.

Security didn’t speak a ton of English but were VERY sweet. They were quite excited/happy/positive that I had brought a camera and that I was American. The experience to get through security was quick, efficient, and everyone we encountered was very kind. As we walked into the main esplanade in front of the Main Gate, Christmas music could be heard playing. Yes, the holiday season had begun at the Tokyo Disney Resort by then. We picked what looked like might be a decent length row to wait for the main gate to open to the park. Already guests from the hotels were entering thanks to early entry. Thankfully, we only waited about twenty(ish) minutes before we were able to enter the park.

My first thought as we walked into Tokyo Disneyland was sheer happiness. I almost immediately could tell that the demographic of the guests were quite different at Tokyo Disneyland than at Tokyo DisneySea. There were a LOT of multi-generational families entering with us. Children seemed very happy as they made their way into the park in their princess dresses and other themed outfits. First things first, I made my way over to the floral Mickey Mouse at the entrance for a photo. As the music played, I couldn’t help but feel anything but joy.

After a few minutes and photos, we made our way into the park. First stop was World Bazaar. This is Tokyo Disneyland’s covered version of Main Street. This did have a familiar feel to it but also a very different. The big difference is obviously the fact that the street and all of its shops are covered! I will admit, I never got used to this but that wasn’t a bad thing. Another big difference was the location of the Christmas Tree. Instead of it being at what Disneyland would call Christmas Tree Point (basically where the entrance of World Bazaar is (sort of), the Christmas tree is found right in the middle of the street in World Bazaar. It’s central to any direction one would come or go in World Bazaar. It really was pretty, especially with Cinderella Castle behind it!

We didn’t really do much shopping as we made our way through World Bazaar. I won’t say how many pictures I took, however. Finally, we made it to the end of the street. Just outside of World Bazaar there is a lovely view of Cinderella Castle and Tokyo Disneyland’s hub. There is also Tokyo Disneyland’s Storyteller’s Statue in a place that is quite easy to take photos with… except maybe first thing in the morning when it is quite backlit. This didn’t stop us, however. We took some photos and looked around the area, hoping to find their marching band. Sadly, we didn’t succeed on this quest. Knowing this would mess with our plan to ride Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, we decided to eat breakfast.

We saw the Sweetheart Cafe not far from us so decided to try whatever was offered, and maybe stretch ourselves a bit. We ordered several different options. This included a couple of different types of buns, one of which had curry in it if I recall. We also got a more traditional cinnamon role just in case the other two weren’t favorites. We sat down outside at one of the tables that had us close to where I hoped we’d see the band. We still weren’t successful. However, it was a lovely way to start the day and enjoy the morning. You can see our breakfast here:

After breakfast, we started wandering our way deeper into the park. This included taking some photos of Cinderella Castle and also checking out the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast queue… it was already quite long. The area around it was simply BEAUTIFUL, however. It brings the world that Belle, Gaston, and the Beast inhabited in the animated classic to life! It also has some areas that look very much like the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, specifically Gaston’s fountain and tavern. We decided to start with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt instead. The line was stretching out a bit outside of the normal attraction queue but we decided to just go for it anyway. As Christy hopped in line, I suddenly felt my heart fall down to my stomach as I had the dreadful realization that I had left my camera bag/backpack at the seating area outside of the Sweetheart Cafe! Christy waited in line while I bee-lined back to the Sweetheart Cafe, hoping that the bag was still there… and if it wasn’t that Tokyo Disneyland had a really good lost and found. I arrived back at our table and found it still empty from leaving it 20 minutes before. Underneath it was my bag. To say I was extremely relieved would be a major understatement!

Holding my bag securely on my shoulders, I made my way back to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt to rejoin my sister. The line had moved a little bit and I hopped back into it with her. We enjoyed experiencing the queue together, people watching, and noticing details around us. It was interesting to note the way that the queue had been built to accommodate guests throughout the year. There were some fun musical details to be found in different parts of the queue. There also appeared to be some mist vents that could be used to help cool people off as they waited. This wasn’t necessary this early in the morning, however. The wait wasn’t terribly long (under an hour), and we finally found ourselves boarding Disney’s first trackless dark ride. This was a very cute attraction and it was interesting to see how elements of this attraction have been used throughout the years in other trackless systems at Disney Parks, even in the recently opened Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway! The attraction definitely shows its age but also was a very enjoyable experience that I can only imagine blew people away when it first opened in 2000! Also, it was hard for me to believe that this attraction’s technology was 23 years old!

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Following Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, we made our way through Fantasyland, past Critter Country, and into Westernland. I really loved this area. This is where one finds Big Thunder Mountain, Tom Sawyer Island, the Country Bear Theater, and also the Mark Twain! The Western River Railroad can also be seen here but to ride it one has to go to Adventureland. After taking multiple pictures of the lovely scenery, we decided on a morning cruise aboard the Mark Twain. This was beautiful as the fall colors were popping out here and there around the Rivers of America. This was a case where things were very different and very familiar. All in all, it was a magical morning voyage!

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After disembarking from the Mark Twain, we started to explore Adventureland. There were some fun things to be seen as we wandered through and explored the areas around the Swiss Family Treehouse, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha E Komo Mai!,” and of course the Jungle Cruise: Wildlife Expeditions. As we strolled back toward World Bazaar, we also came across Pirates of the Caribbean. I absolutely love the exterior of Tokyo Disneyland’s version of this attraction. It is what Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean and New Orleans Square once looked like before being redone. The area in front of the attraction is just flat and expansive. It totally changes the feel of the entrance and I think it’s awesome. It also changes the feel of the area around it. It was one of those viewpoints that was probably very simple to most, and perhaps overlooked, but I loved it!

We also found in this area Cafe Orleans. Again, very similar but also different. In this case, Cafe Orleans is a quick service restaurant. Continuing with our trend of trying to be a little bit adventurous in our menu choices, we decide to have a focaccia sandwich. This sandwich had shrimp in it, cream cheese, honey roasted chicken, and also some lettuce in a focaccia bun. It was actually one of my favorite things I ate at Tokyo Disney Resort (not counting Magellan’s). It seemed a bit different when we ordered it but by the first bite I was sold. The shrimp was surprisingly well cooked and the whole thing was really quite lovely and refreshing.

After lunch, we decided to see if we could find a decent place to watch Disney Harmony in Color Parade. I had heard from some friends that this parade was one that shouldn’t be missed. My guess is really one shouldn’t miss ANY parade at Tokyo Disneyland. We ended up sitting pretty far back for the parade but it was still fairly easy to see things as everyone sits politely at Tokyo Japan. The parade had the same theme song that we had heard at Tokyo DisneySea for Let’s Celebrate With Colors. After a pleasant wait in the afternoon sun near the castle, the music for the parade began. Ahead of the parade, cast members danced their way down the parade route. The music definitely is an ear worm and months later, it is still stuck in my head. I have no complaints about this, my sister might have a different opinion however.

The Disney Harmony in Color Parade is a colorful collection of Disney and Pixar stories. If I caught everything, it included characters and moments from Disney’s Peter Pan (Tinker Bell), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Zootopia, Pixar’s UP, Pixar’s Brave, Disney’s Moana, Tangled, Pocahontas, Pixar’s Coco, The Incredibles, Toy Story, Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and then a grand finale. The grand finale included quite a lot of Disney royalty. Ahead of the float, royal couples from Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin lead a visually fascinating and colorful float with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Chip and Dale, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Pluto aboard it. The whole parade really was a lot of fun with tons of energy and I wouldn’t have minded watching it multiple times! The floats really were creative and interesting to look at as well. It was definitely difficult to try and film and photograph it at the same time. I filmed with one hand and took pictures with the other. While a challenge, I’m happy that I tried for it and I’m happy to be able to till have the memories from this magical day.

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After watching the parade, we made our way through the castle and Fantasyland on our way over to hop in line for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. We did get stopped by the end of the parade near where it left the park but that wasn’t a bad thing! It was fun to see the end of it again. The line was not nearly as long as it had been earlier as people probably were all watching the parade. It still extended a little bit beyond the queue. We hopped in line as the sun began to get lower in the afternoon sky. Within a few minutes of hopping in the queue, the line had doubled back and forth outside the front of the attraction. We still had quite a wait in store for this attraction but agreed that this was better than waiting and risking not going on the attraction.

The experience of Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast really isn’t just the attraction. It begins the moment you enter the queue. In many ways, it begins the moment you walk into Belle’s village. This transports guests into the story of Beauty and the Beast. Moving further into the queue, the story comes to life even more with different story elements found while moving closer and closer to the Beast’s castle. The Disney Imagineers really did a spectacular job of recreating iconic scenes and moments from the movie that are experienced while getting closer and closer to boarding the attraction. Some highlights included the forest, the drawbridge, the entrance to Beast’s castle, the library and… well, what am I saying? The whole thing was awesome. There were magical details to be found everywhere throughout the queue. This made the wait, albeit long, very enjoyable. It kept my eyes and camera busy as we kept finding more fun magical details. The prologue was also incredible and raised the anticipation level for this attraction with its storytelling elements and animatronics.

Finally, we reached the front of the queue to the place where we would board this trackless ride system. The attraction basically picks up the story of the movie from Be Our Guest begins. There are some incredible scenes that are recreated with probably the best animatronic figures and best effects I’ve seen in a Disney dark ride. Beyond all of that, the experience of riding this attraction was simply… yes, I’m going to say it… Magical! This is an attraction that brings the magic of seeing Beauty and the Beast in theaters for that first time (in my case as a little boy) to life! It is very clear, after riding this attraction, why people are willing to wait and spend money on Disney Premier Access to gain access. Personally, I’m glad we didn’t pay for the quicker queue the first time, though. We would have missed so many incredible details throughout the queue!

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After exiting Enchanting Tale of Beauty and the Beast, we decided it might be smart to eat dinner before gearing up for the night’s parade, fireworks, and attractions. Our decision on food ended up mainly being based on what we could get quickly. It turned out that this was at Tokyo Disneyland’s Pan Galactic Pizza Port, which was quite a bit different looking than the location of a similar name at Disneyland in California. While Christy ran in to get the food, I ran to take some sunset photos. While this was technically still late afternoon, the sun was already setting. I was glad to make the quick jaunt to take photos as I saw the beauty of this park from around different parts of the hub. Soon, Christy was texting saying she had both food and a table. I quickly made my way back for dinner.

Dinner was unsurprisingly pizza along with coffee and Little Green Men mochi dumplings. The dumplings weren’t just cute to look at, they were also the highlight of the meal! The pizza was just ok. The pizza we had earlier in Yokosuka had set the bar pretty high for pizza! However, it was nourishment and we were glad to be fed again as the sun went down and the pleasant afternoon turned into a cooler evening. It also seemed to get dark REALLY quick!

After dinner, we started to game plan our last few hours at Tokyo Disneyland before it closed. We definitely wanted to see Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights and Christy also wanted me to experience the Country Bear Jamboree and also Jungle Cruise. As we wandered around the parade route, we found an excellent spot that was near the Country Bear Jamboree. We decided to get front row seats for the parade and Christy would save the spot while I went and experienced the two attractions. Once we were situated, a kind cast member came up and checked out big our group was. We told them just the two of us and they said that was great because apparently there was a one for one seat saving policy along the parade route. All of that taken care of, I left my coat for Christy who was getting a little chilly. She started to read a book on her phone while I went off on an adventure in the dark.

My first stop was the Country Bear Jamboree. This was a surreal experience. It was ridiculously familiar but also very different. The queue had artwork that I had seen before in other iterations of the attraction. The interior of the theater felt like I was walking into Magic Kingdom’s version of the attraction. Then the show began. The show was full of Japanese singing/performing with some English sprinkled throughout. I see the Magic Kingdom’s version of the show on most of my visits to Walt Disney World. However, there were definitely moments where I was quite lost and quite amused. It really was a fantastic way to experience the attraction. It also has been given lots of love and tender loving care so it looks and sounds great!

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After doing some shopping, hoping to find some Country Bear merchandise, I decided I should keep moving so that I could experience Jungle Cruise and not leave Christy waiting for TOO long. I did take some photos throughout the land on my way over to Jungle Cruise. I hopped in a line that didn’t look like it would take too long. I immediately found myself enjoying finding different details in this queue as well… that was.. you guessed it, familiar but different. I enjoyed the queue and the cast members I encountered throughout. Finally, I boarded my boat for my cruise through the jungle. This is when everything changed. This was unlike any Jungle Cruise I had ever been on before. The skipper was incredibly animated as she shouted in Japanese and jumped up and down in the front of the cruise as we ventured into the night. The attraction itself had some pretty cool effects and I was really glad I got to experience it. I was really impressed with the storytelling and the special effects that created a very different experience than what I was used to in the United States. I would love to go on this attraction again sometime during the day as I think that would be an entirely different experience.

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After my adventure through the jungle, I decided I should probably go back to make sure my sister was ok. I also realized the night was getting quite a bit cooler and a dress shirt and bow tie simply weren’t cutting it anymore. I did make a stop at a couple more stores to look for gifts on my way (roundabout way?) back to our parade spot. I was a little bit more successful this time in my shopping than earlier.

Finally, I made it back to Christy for the short wait for Dreamlights. Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights is a nighttime electrical parade that is like the Main Street Electrical Parade with the technology of Disney’s Paint the Night Parade. As the parade began, the wind picked up and it definitely was not warm! Despite the wind buffeting us, the parade was a lot of fun to watch. There were Christmas elements added in to celebrate the season. The music was pretty much exactly what I had heard the last time the Main Street Electrical Parade was presented at Disneyland, other than the Christmas addition. The floats were beautiful as they glowed throughout the night. It was quite exciting also to see the Blue Fairy leading the way through the night! Overall, this was one of the highlights of the day. It also was oddly one of the more nostalgic experiences of the day. This parade was absolutely beautiful with vibrant colors and magical music. It was definitely worth sitting in the cold for. Oh, there was also a cute it’s a small world moment during the finale as well that really was beautiful. A small confetti-like piece of a costume also fell off a performer’s costume during the parade. My sister saw it, picked it up, and shared it with a Japanese girl who was next to us that had seen it fall and got quite excited but then it disappeared. You would have thought she had been given something created by Walt Disney himself by Mickey Mouse! It was very sweet to see how excited she was.

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After the parade, we decided to wander around and explore. Our wanderings so found us entering Cinderella Castle and going through their walk-through. After a quick elevator ride, we found ourselves up inside the castle. There, we were treated to basically an exhibit with different recreations of moments from Cinderella. These artistic recreations were done in multiple different mediums. It really was a fun treasure that seemed like it might be hidden or overlooked by most guests. The final room was set up for photos with a magical moment with a Disney photographer on hand. We didn’t wait in the line for photos here. Instead, we went outside and found ourselves on the balcony on the backside of the castle overlooking Fantasyland. This was a lovely vantage point and we took several pictures before continuing our stroll. We wandered through Fantasyland and then into Toontown.

Toontown really was quite impressive. It also was quite expansive. It felt like the original Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland as it probably was on opening day, but much bigger! It had been taken care of really well and it was a surreal experience walking through it. There was a lot more room, a lot to do, a couple of shops, and some dining options as well. Most importantly, a Jolly Trolley was also parked near its roundhouse. This was a popular place for photos and we were no exception. It really was a lot of fun to stroll around, even if we didn’t hop on any of the rides.

Noting the time, we decided we should probably go find a place for the fireworks. Having already seen the same show from Tokyo DisneySea, we knew that this was a short show. We also hoped that the experience would be a little better at Tokyo Disneyland than it had been at Tokyo DisneySea, where it felt rather far away. We wandered back to the hub and were surprised to find a place to sit just in front of the castle. There was only a few minutes to go until Sky Full of Colors began so we felt like we had struck gold.

Sky Full of Colors is not a long or massive fireworks spectacular. It included the same theme song that had been used throughout the other entertainment offerings around Tokyo Disney Resort for its 40th anniversary, Living in Color. This was coupled with other musical moments from Disney’s storytelling library. It was definitely a MUCH better experience watching the fireworks from this vantage point. It wasn’t to the same level of what I am used to in the United States with shows like Happily Ever After at Walt Disney World or Wondrous Journeys at Disneyland. It still was a nice “kiss goodnight” though as the end of our night was suddenly feeling very close.

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If my memory serves me correctly, Tokyo Disneyland closed that night at 9:00 PM. The fireworks were at 8:30 PM. We had a few minutes after the fireworks to make our way one more time around the park, do some shopping, take some last minute pictures, and enjoy the last few minutes of this magical day. We found some fun gifts for people in Fantasyland at Village Pastry. After picking up a few things there, we continued back through Belle’s village and Tomorrowland on our way to World Bazaar to wrap up the night.

First off, World Bazaar is beautiful at night during the Christmas season. It was hard to just not take tons of pictures. However, we also wanted to do some more shopping for people. We did do this, but weren’t as successful as we wanted to be. We ended up spending a lot more time looking through stores and finding some things (including an awesome mug for me… but not a gift… whomp) before finally giving up and calling it a night. Several pictures later, we were slowly walking out of World Bazaar and back out to the exit of the park.

As we were walking out through security, Christy decided we should go check out the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. The real hope was to find coffee and snacks for the drive home. The side benefit would be me getting to see the interior of this beautiful hotel. This really is a gorgeous hotel and I loved seeing the details inside of it. We weren’t successful with finding coffee or snacks, but I wasn’t complaining. I was sure there’d be a 7-11 nearby somewhere. After looking around the lobby for a few minutes, we started to descend the stairs to exit the hotel. We noticed at the end of a hallway to the right that there was a gift shop. We thought perhaps there would also be a coffee shop nearby. We were wrong. We did wander into the gift shop though and found some really fun “ugly” Christmas sweaters that were themed to Tokyo Disneyland. These ended up being souvenirs for the two of us, along with picking up a third one as a gift.

Bags in hand from all of our last-minute shopping, we finally started walking slowly out to the parking structure and the car. The day had been a very magical one. I found that I had definitely underestimated how much I’d love this park. As we walked to the car, we discussed the perfect amount of time someone should have for when visiting Tokyo Disney Resort. I decided that in a perfect world, two days at each park along with a flex day to pick up whatever was missed and also enjoy Ikspiari, which is Tokyo Disney Resort’s version of Downtown Disney District. We didn’t have time to even check that out on this trip as we were having too much fun seeing other things in Japan. Overall, everything I experienced at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea really made me realize how much I want to return and explore the parks even more!

After getting in the car, we did indeed find a 9-11 that was fairly close to Tokyo Disneyland. On the way there, we saw Tokyo DisneySea. As we drove past the beautiful S.S. Columbia at Tokyo DisneySea, I couldn’t help but marvel at all of the magical experienced packed into this resort that really is in the middle of a massive metropolis. It was a theme that I had noted throughout the trip to Japan. One could be in the middle of the a city somewhere and then find in the middle of a modern metropolis is a gorgeous temple, beautiful shrines, or a serene pond. There really are beautiful and magical surprises to be found all over the place throughout Japan, not just Disney. I am very thankful that I was able to visit Tokyo Disneyland. It was even more fun that it was with my sister. They are core memories that also are some of my favorite Disney memories now!

Have you been to Tokyo Disneyland before? What did you like the most there? Do you have any tips for anyone who is going in the future? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below! You can also read about my other adventures in Japan on the Mr. Daps Travels page of Daps Magic.

Tokyo Disneyland Photos – Mr. Daps Goes to Japan


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