I can already hear you calling out “But Disney parks are for kids!” Well, this park is special. In Japan, DisneySea is considered ‘the Disney park for adults’ and is one of the most popular dating spots for couples living anywhere remotely close to it. DisneySea is also the only Disney park worldwide to be themed around oceans and to offer alcohol in their restaurants. (Epcot also serves some alcoholic beverages in the International Pavilions) Tokyo DisneySea -- Photo by Kim Dao
An even better reason to add Tokyo DisneySea to your itinerary this year is its 15-year anniversary! Titled “The Year of Wishes”, during this commemorative year from April 15, 2016, until March 17, 2017, you’ll be able to see elaborate crystal decorations, new shows during the day as well as a new fireworks exhibition in the evening. Special merchandise for the occasion is available in the park’s shops, as are special menus at the restaurants. The park is also hosting great events and new Disney character meet & greets. Check out the websitefor details!
I made a list for you of the 10 steps to having an authentic Japanese experience at Tokyo DisneySea. Check it out!
Step 1: Choose a hat/mouse ears
Right after entering the park, make sure to equip yourself with a character hat or mouse ears. You can get them at the shops on the way from Maihama Station or at the ones right at the entrance area after entering the park. While the shops outside the park only carry a couple seasonal hats and ears, the selection in the shops inside the park is insane. Of course, you can also save some money and bring your own if you already own a pair.
Color coded at Tokyo DisneySea -- Photo by Kim Dao
Step 2: Wear matching clothes
When going as a group, the locals love to dress up in matching clothes. This trend can range from wearing the same T-shirt or sweatshirt to full-blown dresses or costumes. Some even go in their school uniform. You can either already arrive at the park in your matching outfits or you can buy a matching T-shirt at the park. They are usually limited edition shirts, which can only be purchased at this park during a certain time period. Which means, they make for a great souvenir of your awesome trip in Japan.
Step 3: Get DisneySea FastPasses
Be prepared to wait in line. A lot. The Tokyo Disney parks are usually extremely crowded, especially in the summer and on the weekends. This can lead to waiting lines of up to 3.5 hours for the popular attractions. My tip is to arrive at DisneySea early and check out the park information board in the Mediterranean Harbor (the first larger area after you enter the park) to see which attractions are new, as they will be the most crowded ones. Then sprint to the attraction you definitely can’t leave the park without riding and get a FastPass. FastPasses let you bypass the long queue during a specific time period printed on the pass. But note that you can only hold one FastPass at a time. Sometimes attractions won’t offer FastPasses, you’ll usually find those on the park information board as well. If you don’t mind not riding in a group, you can also check to see if an attraction has a Single Rider Lane, which will let people riding alone hop into empty seats at the front of the line.
A great tool to figure out the least crowded (= best) days to visit Tokyo Disney Sea is the Crowd Calendar!
The crowds in Aladdin's kingdom -- Photo by Kim Dao
Step 4: Eat popcorn
The Tokyo Disney parks have made an art of their popcorn. Different flavors of popcorn are sold in different areas of the park. We stumbled upon milk chocolate and curry, they were delicious! The snack stations that sell popcorn also offer special popcorn containers in the shape of Disney characters which you can hang around your neck, and refill!
Step 5: Eat pricey food
I’m not joking, the food at any Disney park definitely can’t be called inexpensive. Even though the prices might seem a little steep, the food tastes pretty good. They even have themed desserts in different parts of the park. You’ll find 36 restaurants and snack stations throughout the park, so you definitely won’t have to go hungry on your visit. We had hot dogs, smoked chicken and churros that were shaped like Mickey’s head. If you’re out to save some cash, though, then stock up on bentos and onigiri at a convenience store outside the park. But I recommend you do try some of the DisneySea food, simply because all their menus are super cute. I mean, a churro with mouse ears?! Awesome!
Selfies, selfies, selfies -- Photo by Kim Dao
Step 6: Take lots of selfies
To commemorate the special day, don’t forget to take loads of selfies! With the amazingly detailed decorations that you’ll find throughout the park, with your friends and matching clothes, while waiting in line, with the special park food… the opportunities are endless!
Step 7: Meet DisneySea peeps
The opportunity to take a photo with your favorite Disney character is priceless! We ran into Stitch & Angel, Daisy Duck, Chip ‘n’ Dale, and even the villain Jafar. Different characters show up at different times in different areas of the park. Check out which characters you can meet in which location here.We found Prince Eric -- Photo by Kim Dao
Step 8: Find Prince Eric
Do you remember the statue of Prince Eric, which Ariel hid in her underwater cave with all of her other treasures? Well, they’ve also hidden a statue of him at Tokyo DisneySea, in Ariel’s playground in King Triton’s underwater kingdom. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the rest of the playground while you’re searching for the prince!
Step 9: Stay to watch the night show & fireworks
Fantasmic!, as the night show in the park’s Mediterranean Harbor is called, is a spectacle you shouldn’t miss. They impressed us with 3D projecting, awesome water effects and music from the movies. We were really sad that the fireworks were canceled the day we were there because of weather conditions, but I heard that they are really cool to see! All in all the park offers 11 different shows, check out the line-up and schedule here.
Don't miss the night show at Tokyo DisneySea -- Photo by Kim Dao
Step 10: Be like Kim & Chris
The greatest thing about going to a Disney park is that you get to be a big kid again. Nobody will glance at you sideways for running around and being goofballs like we were. That’s the magic of Disney! Enjoy yourselves, eat all the fun food, and make happy memories!Having fun at DisneySea! -- Photo by Kim Dao
Check out the vlog we shot of our day at DisneySea and subscribe to the Odigo YouTube Channel!
Do you have other suggestions for things to do at DisneySea or Tokyo Disneyland? Share in the comment thread!