I will openly admit that I am not a massive Disney person.
Don’t get me wrong – I like Disney. I adored Disney movies as a kid, I do own a small tsum-tsum collection, and yes, I was one of the many fully grown adults who sobbed their way through Inside Out last year.
But I’m certainly not a Disney fanatic. I don’t get nostalgic over Mickey Mouse, I’ve never bothered watching Tangled, and I don’t think I’ve actually watched a classic Disney cartoon in years.
As such the idea of Disney Land has never really appealed to me. But this changed a couple of years ago when I first heard about Tokyo Disney Sea – one of Disney’s most famous and popular resorts! But what drew me in wasn’t it’s popularity. It was the fact that Tokyo Disney Sea is one of the most enchanting, beautiful theme parks you are ever likely to enter!
Situated in the coastal city of Chiba, Tokyo Disney Sea marks one half of Japan’s huge Tokyo Disney Resort.
Even the journey down to Disney Sea is pretty darn exciting! The resort is reached via Disney’s very own monorail system – a first for me – and it’s pretty impossible to hold on to the Minnie Mouse handles and not feel incredibly excited!
But it’s once you enter the park itself that the magic truly begins.
Tokyo Disney Sea is beautiful. I know I’ve already said this once, but I really can’t emphasize enough how absolutely stunning this place is.
The park itself is split in to seven main ports – each imaginatively themed after real-life destinations or famous lands from Disney lore. The park’s foremost locations are The American Waterfront and Mediterranean Harbor. The Mediterranean Harbor is modelled after Venice with a truly astonishing level of detail, and to incredibly romantic effect.
Venetian gondolas glide gracefully through the harbors enormous lake, ornate bridges overlook winding rivers, and classic Italian architecture surrounds you on each side. At the far left of the port, you can even find some fake ruins, and Mt Prometheus – Disney Sea’s impressive artificial volcano – can be seen in the distance, rising grandly from the centre of the park.
You really do have to keep reminding yourself that you have entered a theme park, not an entire new country! It truly does feel as if you’re in Venice itself, which – considering that’s unlikely to happen for real for quite some time – was an illusion I was very happy to savour.
The American Waterfront, on the other hand, is modelled after post war America; long cobbled streets lined with grand boutiques, theaters and vintage motor cars. In the huge dock you will also find the gigantic steam liner SS. Columbia (which actually serves as a restaurant), and famous rides like the Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania also call this port home!
The third port I visited was the Mysterious Island. Set in the heart of Mt Prometheus, this is home to both Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and a small, deep lagoon, which houses both a small cafe and 2000 Leagues Under the Sea. I didn’t go on many rides at Disney Sea, but I did try this one and thoroughly enjoyed it! A little dizzying and claustrophobic but very cool, with brilliant special effects!
But you can’t talk about Tokyo Disney Sea without mentioning its most beautiful port. I am of course, as fellow visitors are probably aware, talking about the Mermaid Lagoon.
Wow. Just wow. I have no words to describe how breathtakingly gorgeous the mermaid lagoon was. Can you imagine your childhood fantasy palace come to life? That’s how it feels looking at the lagoon.
The palace itself is a mass of swirling pastels, delicate shells and glittering mirrored tiles. Dreamy sea-shell spires jut in to the air above it, and Arial herself sits in all her glory atop a rocky outcrop at its entrance. The lagoon is a simply astonishing work of art, and truly the stuff that fantasies are made of. It was by far my favourite part of Tokyo Disney Sea, and no wonder! Just look at it!
Bearing the runners-up crown for ‘most beautiful port’ is the Arabian Coast. Aka, Agrabah – reconstructed in all it’s glory! A contrast of grand, richly coloured plazas, and playful, stone hewn city streets, this is great fun to explore, and really does bring you right back to your childhood! I found this by far the most nostalgic port, and it brought back many happy memories of being obsessed with Alladin as a child!
I simply couldn’t resist taking a ride on the main plazas enormous carousel, and the Arabian Coast’s gift shop was just dazzling! Although it was also very pricey. Ouch!
The final port I visited was the Lost City Delta in the furthest reaches of the park. This lush jungle/Hawaiian fusion is the adventurous heart of Disney Sea – home to the parks two most adrenaline-pumping rides; the Raging Spirits rollercoaster, and the Indiana Jones inspired Temple of the Crystal Skulls!
I, unusually for me, actually quite fancied a ride on Temple of the Crystal Skulls, which looked awesome – all fire and waterfalls! I’m still confused over how they managed to get fire and water at the same time. Haven’t quite figured that one out yet.
But alas, this was not to be, as the estimated queuing time was a horrendous two hours, which in sweltering 34C heat, was not going to happen!
So instead I opted for a much less adventurous ride on the Lost Delta Steam Liner, which takes you on a leisurely excursion through the park, providing fantastic views of its various ports from the water. I highly recommend taking a trip on the steam liner if you visit Disney Sea – it’s a brilliant way to view the park from an entirely new perspective!
Keen-eyed readers will notice that I’ve only mentioned six ports so far – the port I’ve missed out is Port Discovery. The reason I’ve left this one out is because, quite simply, I didn’t find it very interesting. The water rides certainly looked great fun, but it didn’t offer much to see, nor was it particularly memorable. Maybe when the Finding Dory ride opens next year it will offer more to see!
But next to the Mermaid Lagoon, my second favourite spot at Tokyo Disney Sea has got to be the Fortress Explorations.
Set in a small, renaissance-style castle, here you can clamber up twirling staircases in echoey stone turrets, to discover – amongst other things – a witch’s lair, a flying machine, and a beautiful, mechanized observatory.
While I have very little astronomical knowledge, I love anything to do with stars, so this room, with its dazzling constellation painted ceilings and gorgeous colours golds and deep blues was an absolute treasure to me!
But in addition to the numerous ports and rides at Disney Sea, there is another subject that badly deserves a mention; the snacks. The snacks – while unfortunately not cheap – are incredible!
At Tokyo Disney you can eat everything from Mickey churros, goyoza ‘hot-dogs’ (which I ate in the Mysterious Island and were absolutely delicious!), cappuccino flavoured popcorn and alien mochi. And if you only try one thing at Disney Sea, try the alien mochi! This deliciously gooey mochi has an ice cream filling, and is stupidly adorable to boot!
So, before I go, here are my 5 top tips for visiting Tokyo Disney Sea!:
Arrive early to secure fastpasses
I really, really wish I’d done this! These handy tickets will pre-book you on to a particular ride for a limited time frame, but rapidly sell out past opening time! So get there before the gates open to save yourself the stress and boredom of queues!
If visiting on a budget, pack your own lunch
Park food will cost you a bundle, so prepare some sandwiches or bring a bento box – you will save yourself a fortune!
Bring sun protection
There is little shade to be found at Disney Sea, and I did, embarrassingly, leave the resort with a sunburn. So come armed with a good sun-hat, plenty of sunscreen, and make sure to keep well hydrated!
Book any dinner reservations first thing
Many of the parks restaurants are reservation only, and the tables – like fastpasses – rapidly sell out after the gates open. Book your table first thing to avoid disappointment! Trust me. I learned the hard way.
Do any souvenir shopping before closing time
- The last couple of hours see a mad rush as customers rush to buy souvenirs before the park closes! Get any souvenir shopping done before dinner time to avoid stressful crowds.
So here’s my tips for visiting Tokyo Disney Sea, but do you guys have any of your own? If so, please feel free to share in the comments below!
But otherwise happy travels, and I’ll see you next time!
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