Difference between revisions of "Tokyo Disney Resort"
Revision as of 16:41, 9 September 2010
Tokyo Disney Resort (東京ディズニーリゾート)  in Chiba, Japan, was the first Disney theme park resort to open outside of the United States. It is by far the second most annually-visited theme park complex in the world, behind Walt Disney World. It is noteworthy that it is not owned by Disney but by the Oriental Land Co., Ltd.
Tokyo Disney Resort consists of two theme parks. Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド), a "Magic Kingdom" park just like all the others, was the first Disney theme park to be built on non-U.S. territory. The park opened in April 1983 (but had been finished for a few months and the company waited for better weather) and was an instant success. Tokyo Disneyland's sister park Tokyo DisneySea (東京ディズニーシー), which opened in September 2001, is an oceanic-themed park exclusive to Japan. With over 14 million visits, Tokyo Disneyland is the third most visited theme park in the world behind Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and the original Disneyland; DisneySea follows in fifth place, behind fourth-place Disneyland Paris.
Tokyo Disney Resort also includes the Ikspiari (イクスピアリ) shopping and entertainment complex. On October 1, 2008, Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil unveiled ZED, its first permanent show in Japan, at Tokyo Disney Resort.
Tokyo Disney Resort is something different from all the other Disney parks. People are friendlier, but you cant forget that you are in the largest city on Earth when you are wandering, amazed at the fantastic shows and rides in both parks, as it is very crowded and you can expect huge queues even for the smallest attraction on a normal day. Remember also that english doesn't seem to be very popular in Japan and here is not the exception.
This is no Walt Disney World, in other words, it's small and can be easily tackled in about two or three days, maybe more. But whatever effort you place into coming here is well worth it if you like Disney stuff.
Japanese is the primary language spoken here. However, assistance for English speakers is also widely available, because of the presence of American and other foreign cast members. Chinese and Korean are also spoken to a lesser extent.
Don't expect all cast members (ride attendants) to speak English. Most communication when getting on and of rides is done by finger symbols, which seem to be standardised across all attractions.
Maps are available in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese. (If your native language is not one of these, the English map will work fine.) All the maps do a very good job of letting you know how to get around. The Japanese maps, however, are a little bit more informative. They include highlights on some of the special events going on in the park, including special food menus and merchandise, most of which can only be had for a limited amount of time. They also sort the restaurants, shops and shows into different categories. If you know katakana, hiragana, and a little bit of kanji, this might also be a helpful resource. Nearly any park attendant should have maps available if you lose your map or forget to pick one up.
Some rides like the Jungle Cruise are rendered almost meaningless to non-Japanese speakers. You can try and laugh along to avoid embarrassment if you like. Some other attractions, like MicroAdventure! (known as "Honey, I Shrunk The Audience" at Disney's American parks), have English translations with headphones in the back row - make sure you get to the front of the queue or you may miss out on yours. Special stage shows may be entirely in Japanese, entirely in English, or in a mixture of both. It is difficult to ascertain what language a show will be in or whether translations are provided before you get to see it. Signs in English outside a show are no guarantee that it will be in English or that translations will be provided.
Most international visitors would probably land at Narita International Airport (IATA: NRT) . If you have a Mickey Mouse urge right upon landing, there are buses operated by Airport Limousine , albeit infrequent, that will bring you to Tokyo Disney Resort in 60-90 minutes at a cost of ¥2400 (children ¥1200). The alternative by rail is to take the Narita Express to Tokyo and transfer to the JR Keiyo Line. The ride takes 90-100 minutes, and costs ¥2570 or can be boarded free with the Japan Rail Pass.
Tokyo International Airport (IATA: HND) , also known as Haneda Airport, is the closest airport to Tokyo Disney Resort and mainly serves domestic flights. Haneda also has a few international flights to Seoul-Gimpo, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Beijing, and Hong Kong. There are more buses , also operated by Airport Limousine, that run to the resort 3 to 5 times per hour. The one-way cost is ¥810 (children ¥405) and the ride takes 50-70 minutes. The rail alternative from Haneda is cheaper than the bus, but you will need to take three trains: Keikyu Express Line (from Haneda Airport to Shinagawa) or the Tokyo Monorail (from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho), JR Yamanote Line (from Shinagawa/Hamamatsucho to Tokyo), and finally JR Keiyo Line (from Tokyo to Maihama). This costs ¥690 via Keikyu, or ¥760 via the Tokyo Monorail, and will take about 1 hour.
As with virtually all of Japan, the most practical way of getting to Tokyo Disney Resort is by train. Tokyo Station is the western terminus of the JR Keiyo Line, and Maihama (舞浜), which is adjacent to the park, is the sixth stop east. The ride costs ¥210 and takes about 15 minutes on an express train.
As you exit JR Maihama Station, the Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center is immediately to your left. If you will be staying at one of the Disney Hotels or the Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels (see Sleep below), this is where you check in, and your luggage will be shipped straight to your room for free while you enjoy the parks. The Welcome Center is also the place to purchase park tickets, the Resort Gateway Station of the Disney Resort Line monorail (see Get around below) is located above the center, and the entrance to Ikspiari is nearby.
From the Tokyo/Yokohama region, follow the coast of Tokyo Bay to Chiba, exit at the Urayasu ramp and then go out at Route 357, go straight on the road about 1km, and make a U-turn at Mihama Rittai Road (美浜立体道路). There are signs in both Japanese and English from the freeway and surrounding roads.
Tokyo Disney Resort has ample parking spaces, but be forewarned that parking fees are astronomical. If you want more information about the car park and the circumstances of the surrounding streets, you can contact the Tokyo Disney Resort information line at 81-045-683-3011.
Parking at the two theme parks is ¥2,000 for passenger cars, ¥4,500 for buses, and ¥500 for motorcycles.
Parking at Ikspiari is ¥500 for the first hour and ¥250 for every additional half-hour. A purchase of ¥3,000 or more at one Ikspiari shop/restaurant will give two hours of free parking; seeing a movie at AMC Ikspiari will give three hours of free parking.
The three Disney Hotels charge a per-night fee for the use of their parking facilities, costing ¥1,000 per night at Disney Ambassador Hotel, and ¥1,500 per night at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel and Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta.
Most visitors will have little reason to travel to Tokyo Disney Resort by bus, due to the more convenient JR Keiyo Line. However, some hotels around Tokyo Disney Resort have free transportation service to the resort.
Long distance bus services come here from all over Japan, but the Shinkansen is much faster and easier to use by non-native speakers of Japanese or persons who don't understand the language.
Ticket prices seem decent by Japanese standards, but in truth, visiting Tokyo Disney Resort is about as equally expensive as visiting any of the other Disney theme parks around the world. Children aged 3 and under are admitted free.
A car is not necessary for visiting Tokyo Disney Resort. The resort has a well-developed transit system of buses and monorails. As with the rest of Japan, expect the transportation to be punctual.
The four-station Disney Resort Line monorail, with its spacious interiors and Mickey Mouse-shaped windows and pull straps, travels in a counterclockwise circle around the two theme parks. The stops are, in order, Resort Gateway Station (between JR Maihama Station and Ikspiari), Tokyo Disneyland, Bayside Station (gateway to the Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels), and Tokyo DisneySea.
The fares are listed in the chart below; children age 5 and under ride free. Suica and PASMO farecards can also be used.
If you're going straight to the parks from Maihama Station, it'd probably be easier and faster (and best of all, free) to just walk from the station. There is an elevated walkway, about 1,090 feet long, linking the station with the Tokyo Disneyland entrance. To get to Tokyo DisneySea, it is about a fifteen minute walk in the opposite direction. Simply walk along the wide tree-lined footpath in front of Ikspiari, then turn right and follow the monorail line after you pass under it, and enter via the pedestrian entrance to the bus drop-off area.
The Disney Resort Cruiser is a free bus service.
See and Do
If you can, it is a good idea to get a map ahead of time and plan out what rides and attractions you would like to get to first. Like any other large amusement park, Tokyo Disney Resort can be quite crowded. Even on weekdays there can be a large amount of people in the park and if you want to maximize your experience, it's best to have at least an idea of what you would like to do before you get there. It may even get you on one or two more attractions. If a physical map cannot be had ahead of time, the park website is just as good, if not better.
The two theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, complement each other. The two major symbols, Cinderella Castle at Disneyland and Mount Prometheus at DisneySea, are exactly the same height, and from Ikspiari you can see them both.
Before you reach the ticket counters, your bag will be inspected by a clerk, but you don't need to show your ID card. Generally the check is very brief, and not at all thorough. At the ticket counter, you will not need to show any ID either. While not everyone speaks English fluently, most employees understand enough to get you the basics. You will receive a receipt, your passport (ticket) and a map.
Tokyo Disney Resort uses a time-saving tool called FastPass, available only for the most popular rides. Simply insert your ticket into a machine at the ride, and you'll get a FastPass ticket with a return time printed on it. If you return to the ride during the time on the FastPass (usually a time frame of an hour), you will have a shorter wait for the ride. You can only have one FastPass at a time, you can't FastPass another ride until two hours after you received your last FastPass. It's a good idea to always get your next FastPass when it becomes available. If you wish to use FastPass, you need to do so as early as possible. Even on regular working days most attractions have given away all FastPasses for the day around noon. They cover the machines afterward and then you will have no choice but to stand in the long lines.
Visit the Screening Room  on Tokyo Disney Resort's website for a collection of short videos showing all of the attractions in both parks.
Tokyo Disneyland  is a "Magic Kingdom" park just like all the others. Fans of Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom may be a little bit disappointed, as the layout is nearly identical, right down to Cinderella Castle.
The seven theme lands of Tokyo Disneyland are, starting from the main entrance and going clockwise around Cinderella Castle, World Bazaar (it's known as Main Street, USA everywhere else; and this version is covered by a Victorian-style iron-and-glass canopy), Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland. With just a solitary exception, the attractions are essentially the same as those found everywhere else.
Tokyo DisneySea , which opened in 2001, is an ocean-themed park exclusive to Japan. Like Tokyo Disneyland, it is arranged in a circle around a central landmark, in this case Mount Prometheus, an artificial volcano that "erupts" intermittently. There are a couple of rides that have a water spray, but you shouldn't expect to get too wet.
Starting from the main entrance and going clockwise around Mount Prometheus, the seven theme "ports of call" are Meditterranean Harbor (a reproduction of Venice), American Waterfront (a reproduction of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States), Port Discovery (a science-themed area), Lost River Delta (a reproduction of a tropical rain forest), Arabian Coast (based on Disney's Aladdin), Mermaid Lagoon (based on Disney's The Little Mermaid) and Mysterious Island (based on the books of Jules Verne).
Aside from the Tower of Terror (which can also be found at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's California Adventure, and Walt Disney Studios Paris) in American Waterfront and the Indiana Jones Adventure (which can also be found at the original Disneyland in California) in Lost River Delta, all of the attractions in DisneySea are unique to Japan.
Cirque du Soleil Theatre Tokyo
Located between Disney Ambassador Hotel and the beamway of the Disney Resort Line monorail, the theatre is home to ZED , Cirque du Soleil's first permanent show in Japan.
ZED ticket prices
Seating chart: 
The World Bazaar, Tokyo Disneyland's entrance area, is anchored by the Grand Emporium, which can be seen to your right immediately after you have entered the park. This is the largest store in the park with over 3,000 different types of merchandise.
The largest store in Tokyo DisneySea is Emporio which anchors Mediterranean Harbor. Other notable shops are McDuck's Department Store in American Waterfront; and The Sleepy Whale Shoppe, Mermaid Treasures, and Kiss de Girl Fashions, three interconnecting shops in Mermaid Lagoon.
Ikspiari , pronounced like "experience" without the last syllable, is Japan's answer to Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney, with more than 140 stores and restaurants, and a 16-screen movie theatre. It's no surprise that there is a Disney Store here, by the way.
Bon Voyage, shaped like a giant suitcase and hatbox and conveniently located on the elevated walkway linking JR Maihama Station with Tokyo Disneyland's entrance, is the answer to the World of Disney stores in Florida and California, which essentially are Disney Stores on steroids. Inside, you'll find the grandest selection of Disney merchandise available under one roof anywhere in Japan.
Major credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere. Remember that American cards only allow a one charge purchase, meaning that a ¥10,000 purchase will be charged once, instead of ¥5,000 now and ¥5,000 next month. (This system allows Japanese to keep their interest low.) They will ask you (sometimes) if you want to be charged once. Say yes and the transaction will go smoothly, say no and you will double your time at the counter.
If you haven't brought enough money, there's one ATM at each park entrance (at the information desk). But only Japanese cards will work in these ATMs. At Ikspiari there is an international ATM on level 2F near "Local Motion".
If you are arriving by car/bus you may consider having a cooler in the car and having a picnic. If you do decide to eat in the park scout out the restaurants before you intend on eating. This will give you a better idea of their menus and the fastest way to get there when it is time to eat.
In the parks
Most dining opportunities in the two theme parks are counter service restaurants, most of which serve Western, Japanese, or Chinese cuisine. If you really want to save cash, though, your best bet may be to stick to the many snack carts scattered all throughout the parks.
Table service restaurants are also found in the parks, but are far less common than counter service restaurants. The finest in-park table service can perhaps be found on board the SS Columbia, the fake ocean liner in Tokyo DisneySea's American Waterfront.
The Crystal Palace, located on the World Bazaar/Adventureland walkway, is the only buffet in Tokyo Disneyland. Its Tokyo DisneySea counterpart is the Sailing Day Buffet, located in the "cargo terminal" adjacent to the SS Columbia.
Tokyo Disneyland has one buffeteria (Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall in Fantasyland), and Tokyo DisneySea has three (Cafe Portofino in Mediterreanean Harbor, Horizon Bay in Port Discovery, and Vulcania in Mysterious Island).
Tokyo Disney Resort's restaurants do not accept reservations per se. A Priority Seating booking is essentially a restaurant FastPass. When you make a Priority Seating booking, you will receive a designated time to return to the restaurant, and you will then be seated with a minimal wait. Note that waiting times may vary, especially during peak periods.
Keep in mind that Priority Seating bookings will be held for no more than 15 minutes past your designated time frame for a restaurant in either of the two theme parks, and no more than 10 minutes for a restaurant in any one of the three Disney Hotels. Also note that capacity is limited and bookings tend to fill up early, and that there may be times when Priority Seating bookings are not available.
Priority Seating may be booked through the Tokyo Disney Resort Reservation Center at +81-45-683-3333.
Priority Seating is accepted at the following in-park restaurants:
Ikspiari has a broad range of dining options, one of which is Japan's only Rainforest Cafe.
Most drinks are soft drinks. Coca-Cola and Kirin sponsor attractions, and are the main soft drinks to be found. Mets (Kirin's "diet" brand) beverages may also be found, in a few limited cases.
Alcoholic beverages are available at 16 restaurants in Tokyo DisneySea.  Keep in mind that, under Japanese law, persons under 20 and those who plan to drive a car are prohibited from consuming alcohol.
Tokyo Disney Resort's combined reservations number is 81-045-683-3333, and is open 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM (visit TimeAndDate.com to find the local time in Tokyo: ).
Online reservations and contact information are available at official websites.
Within the resort
There are nine hotels within the resort, all rather expensive.
These hotels are accessed by taking the free Disney Resort Cruiser bus service from Bayside Station on the Disney Resort Line monorail (see Get around above).
Outside the resort
Because of the excellent connection to Tokyo Station, you do not necessarily need to stay in an on-site hotel and have the freedom to search for a cheaper accommodation off-site. Being at the park when it opens is still easily possible.
The Tokyo Disney Resort Partner Hotels Program is made up of five hotels located in the Shin-Urayasu area right next to the resort. All of these hotels are located within a kilometre or two of JR Shin-Urayasu Station, from which Maihama is the first stop in the direction of Tokyo Station. For some it may be easier to get the complimentary shuttle service that runs frequently to and from the Disneyland park entrance.
Good Neighbor Hotels