Today was a long, but spectacular day at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort. Kaela and I began by waking up swiftly with our alarm at 7:00 a.m. Kaela went to go make sure that Kyra and Heather were awake, since they decided to join us, while I packed our backpack for the day. The plan was to leave the house by 7:30 a.m., and we headed out right on schedule.
Our first stop for the day was at the local 7-11 down the street from our house. We all stopped for a morning coffee and pastry to tide us over until we had lunch in the park. We stood outside of the store since there was a trashcan right there and it is impossible to tell when we would stumble upon one again (just like the last time Kaela and I were here, a trashcan is a rare sight). We enjoyed our pastries and doughnuts before finishing our coffees on the short walk over to the Azuba-Juban metro station. Our plan was to, more or less, metro to the end of the line and then catch the JR line for a few stops to arrive at the doorstep of Tokyo Disney. Luckily, we still had our 72-hour metro passes and we were able to hop right on. After 35 minutes or so of riding on the metro, with a transfer as well, we arrived at the JR line.
We had a short ride on the JR line, only a few stops, before arriving at the Disneyland Park grounds. We were all a little confused once we got off, as we were unsure where to go, or even how to get into the parks! Most of the traffic was being directed to the Disney Rail line, which seems to be a monorail that takes park visitors from one location to another. We followed everyone else to the terminal and saw that it would be ¥260 each to ride the train, which would be about $10 for all of us. Since the JR line took us right by the park entrance (at 8:50 a.m. we could see the lines to get into Disneyland; they were enormous), we knew that the parks could not be that far. Kaela and I went to go find an attendant to ask if it was possible to walk to the parks. After miming some questions to a few different people, we were able to discern that the entrance for DisneySea was a 20 minute walk away, which won’t scare us into spending $10 for the monorail! With a rough outline of directions, we set off for the front gate of DisneySea.
The walk ended up taking us around 15 minutes (we seem to walk at a more brisk pace than others, particularly with me leading everyone, determined to get that first FastPass!). When we got to the main gate, we went directly to the ticket office to purchase our tickets for the day, get our bags checked (always gotta bring a few snacks, anyways), and get in line to enter. After a few minutes, we found ourselves within the park! The main entrance area was a massive open space with a fountain in the center that feature the world and, of course, a few disney characters around it. After pausing to a take a few pictures (of course), we set off into the park in pursuit of the fun-filled day ahead of us.
Since we were in a Disney-themed area, I took over navigation duties from Kaela. My hours of research in the days leading up to today have not been wasted! Knowing which rides are the most popular, I quickly led us to an isolated corner of the park near the entrance that housed Toyville and, more importantly, Toy Story Midway Mania. Since I knew that this ride was the most popular in the park, my plan was to FastPass this ride right away so that we could ride it later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, my plan came to an immediate halt when, after turning the corner into Toyville, I saw that the FastPass return time for Toy Story Midway Mania was for 9:20 p.m. that evening! At this point, it was around 9:30 a.m. and I was trying to come up with a new strategy. The stand-by wait time for the ride was 110 minutes. Since it was our first ride of the day, everyone wasn't too opposed to waiting, so we jumped in line to start our day off with the best ride. While everyone else got in line, I ran over to the nearby Tower of Terror to grab fast passes for us to redeem later in the day.
While we were waiting in line, Kaela saw the cutest Monsters Inc. shirt. She asked where the couple got it (they were wearing matching shirts) and they said it was from the Ride and Go Seek, Monsters Inc. attraction within the (other) Disneyland park. She was looking for a shirt souvenir, and she kept this one in mind as we progressed throughout the day. After about 40 minutes, we snaked our way through the queue and finally entered Woody's gaping mouth (the façade at the entrance of the ride). I had previous read online that the queue is much more impressive than the one at Disneyland, and this ride did not disappoint. The amount of detail within the building was astounding, and we paused to take several pictures as we worked our way up to the front. We were all pleasantly surprised when we found ourselves at the front of the line in exactly an hour (and this ended up being the longest time that we waited for any ride throughout the day). In the main location where the patrons boarded the ride, there was an oversized replica of Andy's bed. Moreover, the ride started by the car traveling under his bed, which we all thought was really cute.
We hopped on the ride and we all had a great time. Shockingly enough, Heather and Kyra had never been on this ride before, even the one at Disneyland in California! At the end of the ride, I found out that I had just barely missed the high score for the hour. Afterwards, we all agreed that Toy Story Midway Mania is a fantastic ride. If only we didn't always have to wait so long to ride it! After we finished Toy Story, we walked over to Mysterious Island, which is where 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth were located. These two rides are unique to Tokyo Disney and we had no idea what to expect going into them. One of the reasons I decided to spend the day at DisneySea, instead of the Disneyland park, is because it it many more attractions that were unique to Tokyo Disney, and not related to (or, at least, different than) other attractions that we have seen in Paris or California. This land is situated within the crater of a volcano, with walkways suspended above water. It is a very cool location and we spent our time walking around, and meandering through various shops looking for souvenirs. We continued past Mysterious Island and went to the Indiana Jones ride: The Temple of the Crystal Skull. We decided to do this in the single-rider line. Although we wouldn't sit next to each other, this would allow all of us to ride the at action within 30 minutes or so, and save us from having to wait in line for over an hour. This ride seemed to have the exact same track and path as the one in California, but had an emphasis on the Crystal Skull instead. It is a fantastic ride and it was fun to see a Japanese take on it, with Indiana Jones speaking Japanese as well!
After we finished at Indiana Jones, we headed back to Mysterious Island to get in line for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We waited 30 minutes or so before reaching the front (we had a snack of delicious 7-11 spicy shoestring fries while waiting). Once on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we were surprised with how scary this ride was! It featured a "submarine" that took guests under water to see various creatures and alien-looking figures. We all agreed that young kids would most likely be frightened by this one, even Kaela was scared! I still have grip marks from her hands on my arm to prove it. After this ride finished we grabbed a fast pass for Journey to the Center of the Earth and started walking back to the Tower of Terror to redeem our FastPasses. On the way, we passed by the Mermaid Lagoon, and Kyra felt compelled to check it out. The Little Mermaid must be her favorite Disney movie, and she made no secret about it. The detail in this area of the park, once again, was exquisite. This was a pretty cool area that functioned as the little kids area of the park, with rides catering to those too small to ride others. We spend 30 minutes or so walking through it and see all that the area had to offer, and no detail was spared. After we finished at the Mermaid Lagoon, and came up short in finding a suitable souvenir once more, we finished our walk to the Tower of Terror. We got right in the next lift, and quickly noticed that this version of the ride differed from the one in California, in that it was situated around a cursed idol that an explorer found during an expedition. After receiving a short intro and video, all in Japanese, we progressed through and waited in a line for 15 minutes or so before finally be able to board the ride.
The ride was structured very similarly, but the story was different and focused on the cursed idol. This is one of our favorite rides, since we all enjoy the feeling of free-fall that this attraction provides. Unfortunately, this ride had seat belts that go over the shoulder as well, which stands in contrast to California, since that ride only has lap belts. This made it more uncomfortable (exacerbated by the fact that my belt became locked in the tightest position, and I couldn't readjust it). After the ride finished, and we were all excited from the thrill, we walked over to the Arabian Coast to get some lunch. We were all looking forward to eating here for lunch since we saw that this location, themed after Agrabah from Aladdin, served curry. We all got a spicy chicken curry with naan and rice. The curry was delicious and we all finished our servings. We enjoyed taking a few minutes to sit in the shade before heading back out to see more of the park.
After lunch, we walked around and did a few of the other rides, such as Sinbad's Storybook Voyage, and spent an hour or so walking through the various areas of the park. We all thought that the park looked gorgeous, and we actually preferred this design in comparison with California's Disney parks because the detail was so high. Throughout the day, we continued looking for souvenirs and we just couldn't find exactly what Heather, Kaela, and Kyra were looking for. We all got in line for Raging Spirit's Single Rider line, and we waited for 30 minutes before asking to find the exit. The line hadn't moved at all in that time frame and we saw several coasters go out with empty seats! Heather was ready to go for this ride as well, even though it had a flip and sharp turns, and was planning on stepping outside of her comfort zone to complete it. Unfortunately, we didn't get the opportunity and we went to explore some of the lesser travelled areas of the park.
We got in line for a ride that resembled the Jungle Cruise and, after waiting 30 minutes, we were surpassed to see that the ride simply transported you to the front of the park! It actually wasn't much of a ride at all, but it was still cool to see the park from the persecutive of the water, we even got to ride through the Mysterious Island crater! Once at the front of the park, we continued our hunt for the perfect souvenir, and the elusive Monsters Inc. shirt that Kaela now had her heart set on. Kaela quickly developed a plan to look at the shops near the entrance for the shirt, but we didn't have any luck there (although the girls did spend some time looking at, and contemplating getting, some boxer shorts). Kaela decided to leave the park for a bit and continue the hunt for this T-Shirt at store locations near the entrance, or the train station where we arrived. We walked around for a while and, even after finding a Disney Store in the mall near the train station, we were unable to find the shirt that she liked. On the way out of the mall, we saw that there was a supermarket located on the ground floor. In desperate need of some refreshment, we got a few drinks to share. Heather was feeling adventurous and we even got a small bottle of sake to split, along with a can of Japanese Pringles.
We left the mall and started walking towards the main gate of the Disneyland Park. After walking through yet another Disney store with no success, we were beginning to feel defeated. Since we were only a few minutes away from the main gate, we continued walking hoping to see something. When we couldn't find a store that carried the shirt that Kaela wanted, she went to guest relations to ask if there was a location she could get it. After 20 minutes, there seemed to be some confusion as to which shirt was the one that Kaela wanted. Kaela saw someone with the shirt on within the park but the individual was gone before she could show the park worker. Determined to not let my wife leave disappointed (hehe.. my wife), I anxiously stood at the front gate scanning the crowd of people in front of me. As Kaela walked away sad and dejected, I scanned everyone's shirts enthusiastically with haste. Sure enough, after two or three minutes I was able to find another person that was wearing the shirt she wanted (that featured a large Sully on the front). I called Kaela over and she unabashedly approached them to ask if she could show the shirt to the Disney worker. Luckily, the young couple acquiesced to her request and told the Disney worker in Japanese where and when they got it. After making some calls, the Disney worker was able to confirm that the shirt was available outside the Monsters Inc ride, but that someone would have to go in to get it, since they would not make the sale right there. This meant that someone would have to purchase a "Twilight" Disneyland ticket to enter the park (about $40) to purchase the shirt. That's quite the expensive shirt!
At this point, we started walking back to DisneySea without the shirt, while I desperately brainstorming options to appease my wife. We were going back to the other park to make our Journey to the Center of the Earth FastPass time, and Heather suggested that I go into Disneyland to get a souvenir for each of the girls and then meet them afterwards. After we all rode Journey to the Center of the Earth together, which was an entertaining ride that reminded us all of the Matterhorn (but it was much faster and more exciting), I sprinted back over to Disneyland (which is honestly a 10-15 minute jog away) and purchased a Twilight ticket to enter the park. I went straight for the Monsters Inc ride and, sure enough, the shirt that Kaela wanted was front and center in the store. I grabbed two shirts (one for Kaela and one for Heather), and a shoulder cover with a hood for Kyra that made the wearer look like Mike from Monsters Inc.
I agreed to meet the girls at the JR station at 9:00 p.m., so I had 2 hours alone in Disneyland to discover the park! I quickly went around to all the areas to see what they looked like and take a few pictures. Without much time for rides, I went on the Haunted Mansion, which was pretty similar to the one in California, and then waited an hour in line to ride Space Mountain. This coaster was a little different than the one in California but, for some reason, I feel that the one in California was more thrilling. Also, I was able to catch part of the light parade, which actually trapped me on one side of the park for a few minutes. With only 20 minutes or so before I had to leave, I hurried to Splash Mountain (since I knew it had a single rider line) and got on right away. I enjoyed a last ride, and scenic view of the park, before running out of the park and meeting the girls at the train station! I was sweating at this point. In fact, I was sweating nearly the whole time I was in Disneyland because of how fast I hurried over from DisneySea.
When I met the girls again, they rewarded me with some curry popcorn (delicious) and we took the three trains home. Since everyone was so tired, the girls went straight to McDonalds for some Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, while I went to the local market to pick up some sushi (when in Tokyo!). Once we got home, we all were completely devoid of energy and headed to bed right away. We might have set a record, that will stand for some time, in terms of total steps and distance walked in a day. We're all looking forward to a rest day tomorrow as we travel to Kanazawa. I will sleep very peacefully tonight knowing that I was able to get Kaela the shirt she desperately wanted
Total Steps: 36, 482
Total Distance Walked: 18.84 miles
Justin and Kaela
The beautiful Tokyo Disney Castle at night!
In front of the globe in the entrance square.
Scenic Shots around Disneyland, including Kaela's tired face in Little Italy!
The entrance way to Disneyland Tokyo, and the Grand Bazaar.
Trying to find that Monsters Inc T-Shirt!
Toy Story Midway Mania fun!
In front of (and in the entrance way to) the Mermaid Lagoon or, better known as, Kyra's home.
The Tower of Terror really changed the girls' hair; they were so scared!
Cameling through the Arabian Coast