My daughter and I just got back from a trip to Tokyo Disneyland. It was her main birthday present for her 5th birthday. We went last year for her birthday too, but to Disneysea. I think this year was even better than last time and I'll tell you why.
1. A year is a long time in a kid's life and a 5 year old is so much more able to handle going there for a full day out than a 4 year old!
2. We went to Disneyland which I really think is a bit more suited to kids than Disneysea. Last year my daughter was desperate to see Ariel and all things related to her, so we went there. There are a lot more attractions and since you don't have to walk all the way round the giant pond like at DisneySea, you can get places more easily.
|On the bus to Disneyland, soo exciting!|
Our trip from Fukushima to Disneyland started at 4:15 am when we got up and quickly got dressed, jumped in the car, drove through the empty streets to the bus stop, raced into the convenience store, grabbed some breakfast and then were just getting back to the bus stop as the bus pulled up and we left at 5:15 on the dot. 3.5 hours later, we arrived at Disneyland at 8:40. 20 minutes before the gates opened, and already there were hundreds of people lining up to get in. It was already very hot, so we elected to go stow our luggage and then hang around in the shade until the line started moving. It took 10 minutes just to get in the gate. But once we were actually in there, the people dispersed through the park and it wasn't as crowded.
|The crowds entering Disneyland. This photo gives me heart palpitations.|
First thing was to try and get a fastpass for the Monsters Inc ride. There was already a huge queue for that, so we passed on that and got one for the Buzz Lightyear astro blaster ride. While we were waiting for our time to come to do that ride, we went on Space mountain and did the Stitch Encounter (All in Japanese, but fun). Amelia LOVED the Buzz Lightyear "shooting game", but I was glad to have used a fastpass to get on it since it was a bit lame really. But she liked it so much we had to do it again.
|The Easter parade. |
Even thought it is already Summer, Disneyland is still doggedly celebrating "Easter", so there was a special short parade with lots of dancers dressed as rabbits. I was surprised to see people parked on the parade route a couple of hours before, in order to get a front row view of the parade. I was especially surprised since it was so hot. The pavement was very hot, too. Most of them did have sun umbrellas up to keep the sun off but it must have been a long time to wait, roasting away there on the hot pavement. This scene was repeated before each parade and it seemed that most people were there by themselves and this was their way of enjoying Disneyland. Spending 2 or 3 hours "waiting", keeping their spot, alone, so no toilet breaks so they could enjoy the best view of the parade that I have a feeling they had seen many times before.
|The lunch time parade, Amelia's favourite: Rapunzel.|
Since the park was not crowded that day, rocking up to the parade route (especially in the critter country area) just as it started, we were able to get great vantage points all three times. I also think the terrace seating of the restaurants in Tomorrowland would have been great if you just want to see it go by and don't need to be right in the front.
In order to make the parades a bit more enjoyable, definitely take a ground sheet with you, just big enough for everyone to sit on. I got mine from the 100 yen shop. It will save you getting dirty and if it's hot or cold, provide insulation. I also bought some fold up squabs (also 100 yen shop) to save getting sore bums during long waits. My daughter loved them.
|Riding on the tea cups, a Disneyland must do.|
Another way I noticed that people were enjoying Disneyland was to go dressed exactly alike
. I wish I had asked some of them to let us take their picture but the link will show you lots of good photos of what I'm talking about. I totally didn't realise this was a thing. I even saw one couple dressed as Chip and Dale, in actual squirrel suits (and it was like 30 degrees). Disneyland is kind of like a parallel universe where that is totally ok.
There are some good tips on this blog post about visiting the Disney resort
. And this post tells you how to avoid busy days, using the busy day calendar
. I have found that week days in June tend not to be so busy as it's not summer holidays and most schools have already done their school trips by then (Yep Disneyland is a totally valid destination for a school trip!). The only problem is it is the rainy season so you might get rained on like we did last year (stock up on raincoats whilst you are at the 100 yen shop, too). This year it was fine but hot. If you can avoid the weekends, definitely go on a week day. On weekends you will be waiting for 3 hours for popular rides, very little bang for your buck there.
|The obligatory photo in front of the castle|
Also, there are perfectly good water fountains that dispense cold water after a few seconds all through the park, so when I ran out I just filled mine up again. I'm not sure why you would pay Disney prices to buy a bottle of water, but even on the very hot day we went we never saw other people using the fountains.
Also as you enter the park, there is a very nice shaded area on the far left, near the bus stops, with picnic tables where you could have a picnic if you wanted to avoid crazy Disneyland prices. You can get a stamp on your arm to re-enter the park as well, so getting on the Monorail or walking back to Maihama station area, there are some nice restaurant options for lunch or dinner in the Ikspiari shopping mall.
|The restaurant area of our hotel, behind the trees at the back is a huge queue of people waiting for their turn to have breakfast at 9:30 in the morning.|
We elected to stay the night as we wanted to see the night parade, fireworks and projection mapping show and then getting back on a bus home again would have been a bit much and meant getting home at 1am....
We stayed at the Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel
, which was nice and very close to the parks. I was also happy it had a Japanese style bathroom in our room! My only disappointment was that when we went down to have breakfast, which was included in our room rate, there was a huge queue of people waiting to be seated. We waited for over 30 minutes. When we finally got to sit down, the queue had doubled in length and there was less than an hour to go for breakfast...I would not pay extra for that breakfast buffet either. Definitely go to the convenience store in the hotel and buy some bread or rice balls instead. Or get on the free bus to Maihama station and get something at the mall or station.
|We found this great photo op at the Disney Store in Ikspiari Shopping mall at Maihama station. No queues, and someone was there to take photos, too!|
All in all it was a fantastic trip. I'll need a few days to recover!