What to do if you have One Day at Tokyo Disney: Tokyo DisneySea
This post goes out to all of the requests for what we recommend doing if you have just one day to explore Tokyo Disney. Here we provide some recommendations for visiting the Tokyo DisneySea theme park.
If You Have One Day at the Tokyo Disney Resort
If you only have one day to spend at the Tokyo Disney resort, we recommend spending it at DisneySea over the Disneyland theme park. Why? Because DisneySea has amazing details, lots to do, and is unlike any other Disney park we have been to. We think it may be our favorite stand-alone Disney park! Since the one day park tickets do not allow for a park hopper option, you have to pick one and we strongly recommend DisneySea.
What is Tokyo DisneySea?
Tokyo DisneySea is one of two theme parks at the Tokyo Disney resort. Tokyo Disneyland is similar to Disneyland in California, Magic Kingdom, and Disneyland in Disney Paris (of the parks we have been to). So if you want the traditional Disney castle and rides, this may be the option for you. We however, love Tokyo DisneySea because it is a completely different experience. There are 7 unique lands and the theming and attention to detail in the park are extremely well done.
The Hotel MiraCosta sits just inside the entrance to Tokyo DisneySea. After walking under the hotel overpass, guests will be in the section of the park known as Mediterranean Harbor. This area primarily consists of shops, dining, and the main viewing area for daytime and nighttime shows on the harbor, including Fantasmic.
The other six lands include: Mysterious Island, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery, and the American Waterfront. We recommend visiting all of the different lands. Each one has its own feel. If we had to pick our favorite land in DisneySea, it would be Mysterious Island which includes a fortress, a ship, the volcano, and a couple of awesome rides based on Jules Verne. We were also surprised by how much is in Mermaid Lagoon. We would strongly encourage you to peek inside the main building in this area.
For us, our must do rides, in order, include: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tower of Terror, and Indiana Jones Adventure. Tower of Terror is a similar ride to the version in the US, but the theming and story are different. The details in the queue, the plot (which is in Japanese, but you can still follow along without knowing Japanese), and the ride itself make it a must-do. Indiana Jones is similar to the Dinosaur in WDW when it comes to the ride-type. It may be similar to the ride in CA, it has just been a while since we have done it in Disneyland. Either way, it is a must do. Journey to the Center of the Earth is probably our favorite ride of them all. It has animatronics, an adventure, and a little bonus speed.
Go on the must-do rides early in the day and try to get fastpasses to save time. There is a good chance you will want to do at least one of these rides more than once. For us, the ride we would want to do more than once is Journey. (Currently Tokyo Disney still uses the paper fastpass system.)
Other Rides you should do include: Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Nemo & Friends SeaRider, Raging Spirits, Aquatoptia. Most of these rides will have shorter waits. Sinbad is normally a walk on, so fit this in whenever you are in that area of the park.
Must Do Shows
There are also two really good shows at Disney Sea: Big Band Beat and Fantasmic. Big Band Beat has a free lottery system. How it works is you scan your park ticket and if you win, you get reserved seating for the show time you selected. We were there 7 days and didn’t win once, haha. If you have luck like ours, we would recommend waiting in the standby line for the first show of the day because there are no lottery spots for that show, so it fits more people. When you visit Tokyo DisneySea, google to see what the show schedule is for Big Band Beat and if the lottery will be available that day and where the lottery location is.
Fantasmic takes place in the harbor. The general premise of Fantasmic is similar to the one in WDW and Disneyland, but the show is different. We saw a modified version because of high winds, but it was still awesome. There are no seats for Fantasmic, instead you stand around the harbor. If you want a good viewing spot, we would get there at least 30 minutes prior. You may want to set aside more time depending on if it is a busy time of year and how much you care about having a close spot.
One warning about this show is that it was canceled 3 nights we were there. We think it was canceled because of the weather, though no official reason was provided. There is a board that lists show times in the Mediterranean Harbor that you can check later in the day to see if the show is still taking place. They will also make announcements when it gets closer to the scheduled show time.
If you have time, the boats, gondolas, and trains are really nice in the park. We visited in winter, so it was a bit cold when on the boats. If you only have one day, these may be something to pass on.
Game Plan If You Only Have One Day
Get to the park before park open. When we visited in January, it wasn’t too crowded, so we typically got to the park 20 minutes before open and had no problems. If you go during a busier time of year, you may want to arrive earlier. Some mornings, we did see people waiting at the gate 2 hours before open. This was 100% not necessary when we were there in January. Even if you arrive to find a long line to enter the parks, it is amazing how quickly cast members get guests into the parks so don’t worry!
If you have done Toy Story Mania in the US, it is the same ride and games (just in Japanese). This is hands-down the busiest ride at DisneySea and the one everyone will run to at park open. If you only have one day and have ridden this in the US, we highly recommend skipping this ride.
Instead, we suggest going and fastpassing Tower of Terror and then heading over to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth without a fastpass. After Journey, you could also ride 20,000 Leagues under the Sea if there isn’t a long wait. If you have time before your fastpass on Tower, we would recommend heading over to Indiana Jones. You can either fastpass or ride Indy depending on the standby wait time.
After you have done our 3 must-do rides, the next thing to consider is Big Band Beat. We highly recommend seeing the first show for Big Band Beat. There is no lottery/reserved seats for this show, so it fits more people. Be sure to check the schedule for the timing of the first show. When we were there, it wasn’t until 12:15 or 12:45. We were lucky and arrived 5 minutes before and there were still seats. Cast members told us that normally you want to line up 45 minutes before the start of the show.
For the middle part of your day, explore all of the various areas of the park. Go on the other rides and see some of the daytime shows. Other things to consider while at Disney Sea: keep taking advantage of the fastpasses. Once your window opens to get another fastpass, do it! If you have done our must do’s and want to fastpass new rides, Nemo may be a good option (it is a screen-based simulator). If you want to ride Raging Spirits, we HIGHLY recommend the single rider line to save time.
Grab snacks throughout the park as you are hungry. The food and merchandise lines are sometimes longer than ride lines. If you are able to eat at off times, this is another great way to save time. The food in Tokyo Disney is awesome and not to be missed. We will be sure to do a post on the must eat food items.
We would end the night by watching Fantasmic. If you have time after the show, walk and explore the rest of the park at night. The area that houses Toy Story Mania is especially pretty at night. The beauty and feel of all of the park’s different areas are completely different after the sun goes down. Shortly after park close, the cast members will politely ask you to leave.
Tokyo DisneySea is not to be missed. It is a great park with awesome rides and shows. While it will be a busy day, it is possible to see most of this park in one day. If you love Disney details and don’t want to be rushed, we strongly recommend at least two days. If one is all you have got, we hope we have provided at least some advice to make the most of it! Also, please keep an eye out for other posts with more advice on visiting Tokyo Disney.
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