It’s not possible to visit Tokyo with kids, without a visit to Tokyo Disneyland!
This was J and Little E’s first visit to any Disney theme park, so they were both really excited. Look at the big grins on their faces! I am a big Disney fan myself, so I was excited to share this experience with my children.
The Tokyo Disney parks are split into two main areas, Disneyland, and DisneySea. Tokyo Disneyland is the more traditional ‘Magic Kingdom’ type park, with the Cinderella Castle in the centre and more child-friendly attractions, whilst Tokyo DisneySea is designed to be more for an older audience (with fewer attractions for younger children). No prizes for guessing which park we decided to visit in our one day there!
Interestingly, the Tokyo Disney parks are not actually owned by the Walt Disney Company, but by the Oriental Land Company who pays Disney for character and likeness licenses. Disney also leased their Imagineers to the company to design and build both parks.
This explains why there appears to be a corporate sponsorship programme for the Tokyo Disney theme parks. Most of the rides, live shows, and even the parades have been sponsored by a Japanese corporation. For example, the Space Mountain ride is sponsored by Coca-Cola (Japan), with the logo clearly displayed on the front of the ride.
In any case, there was so much to see and do, that we didn’t manage to cover even half of the park in one day. The park is wonderfully well-designed, with incredible attention to detail. Even the food is beautifully presented – my lunch had a Mickey, hidden in the form of a soft golden egg yolk inside my boiled egg!
Some of the most popular rides, such as the ‘Monsters, Inc Ride & Go Seek’ (a brilliant interactive ride) and ‘Pooh’s Hunny Hunt’ (which has an intriguing trackless system) had waiting times upwards of 100 minutes for the most part of the day and the Disney FastPass system for these rides would even run out of tickets within an hour of the park’s opening!
Travel Tip: Bring lots of water with you and make sure you refill the bottles at every opportunity. It gets hot in the queue, especially if the queue stretches outside the actual ride building in the afternoon, and there aren’t very many watercoolers around for you to refresh yourself.
However, even with the ridiculous amount of queuing, I gotta say that the children still enjoyed themselves. Every ride was magical – their eyes would grow round with wonder, and big grins appeared on their faces.
And on the way home, they were mostly silent and I could see them replaying in their minds the adventures they had that day.
1. Although, I admit that I’m not half as passionate about the parks than the Japanese Disney Fans. Those people are hardcore. They take Disney Fandom to the next level. Or higher than that. More like taking it to the next universe. They roam around in herds, festooned in Disney Official Merchandise, clutching multiple Duffy bears. There are even rules in Tokyo Disneyland forbidding anyone over the age of 11 to wear full costumes (unless it’s Hallowe’en) because you can bet that there will be some high-level cosplay going on all the time.
2. Which is why one should NEVER visit on a weekend, because that is when all the Japanese Disney Fans will be visiting, bringing along their well-organised visit strategies, will leave you in the dust. I mean, the gates open at 10am, and people are running, running, running for their lives in all directions. It’s crazy.