Disclaimer: This is gonna be a looooooong post so please bear with me.
This metropolitan city has 2 theme parks under Disney: Disneyland and DisneySea. In other words? Land and Sea. They both have their own charms but Disneyland has been often described as a more suitable option for family with kids while Disneysea seems to attract more couples and adults.
My personal favourite? Disneysea with its beautiful Disney-inspired architecture, awesome live shows, and the limited edition Duffy Bear and friends.
8 or 9am, depending on the schedule. Make sure you check the timing before you go.
There are several attractions in the land where dreams come true, which are divided into several zones like World Bazaar, Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country etc.
Since my husband is not a big fan of rides, I can only give you a preview of what the rides entail through some of the videos uploaded on YouTube. Most are kiddy rides (read: not too scary) that I'm sure your kids will love, but be prepared for loooooooooooooong queues. You can circumvent that by running (yes, I mean literally run) to get your FASTPASS from the various ticketing machines located near the attraction you want to ride on. More on this later.
Exciting, right? Jeez, writing about it makes me want to go back again. >.< I really miss walking through the beautiful park and eating cute snacks.
Disneyland Tokyo also has a Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall, which is soooooooooooooooooooo beautiful. There's even a throne at the end of the tour where you can pretend to be royalty for a few seconds! Hehe.
I love love love the parades in Disneyland. They are so full of life and there is not a single boring minute as the gorgeously costumed dancers pranced past in their respective fairy tale theme. I will encourage you to catch both the day and night shows as they bring different elements to the table. They switch off all lights for the night show, but that's only to bring out the full beauty of their lights-adorned Disney floats. Check the videos below for a preview.
The timing varies but can be 8am, 9am or 10am. Check the timing here before you go.
The attractions here are super awesome because they appear to take things a little further where imagination is concerned. Also, because it's DisneySEA, all of the attractions are water-based. You can look forward to several zones like Mediterranean Habor, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta etc.
As mentioned, my husband is not very fond of violent rides so we limited ourselves to tamer rides (tamer, not kiddy...LOL). One of the rides we took was the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, only because the queue for the FASTPASS ticking machines was pretty non-existent. =x
Anyway, it was supposed to be a ride that takes you deep underwater where you can then experience the wondrous sea wonders that you will only get to see if you go really really deep. It was an interesting experience because you can then pretend to be Captain Nemo on one of his seafaring adventures. Cool, right?
Another ride I took was the Indiana Jones® Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. My husband didn't join me coz a) he was feeling out of it with the flu and b) he really really didn't like violent rides so he asked me to go ahead on my own. :x
I joined the extremely long queue but on hindsight, I should have joined the single rider queue because I WAS alone and it would have made things faster for me. If you are doing this as a couple, you MIGHT want to join the single rider queue but bear in mind that you may be assigned different seats. Anyway, the purpose of the single rider queue is so that the theme park employee can slot you in any time they have a seat that cannot fit a group.
Now this ride is reminiscent of the Revenge of the Mummy ride at Universal Studios Singapore because it involves similar jerks and jolts during the ride. It's damn scary but damn fun at the same time! I only wished I had time to try other rides but it was getting dark and the husband was, well, sick. T.T
Okay, one of the shows that you ABSOLUTELY MUST catch is the Mermaid Lagoon Theater (King Triton's Concert). This is a live-action show that involves 'mermaids' dancing through the air and telling the story of Ariel, the little mermaid before she met Prince Eric. It is superbly well-done and I cannot emphasize how much you should catch this show. It's totally in Japanese, of course, but hey, their actions should pretty much say out loud what the story is all about. :)
Another show that I REALLY love is The Magic Lamp Theater. Remember our beloved genie? He's here in a live action show featuring that mysterious merchant you saw at the beginning of the animated movie. Super awesome.
If you love the parades in Disneyland, then you will love the ones in DisneySea. But instead of rumbling on, I will leave the following video to show you just how beautiful they are:
Okay, now that I've pretty much covered as much as I can remember, let's move on to how you can maximise your stay at the Disney theme parks.
- Read this on how to utilise FASTPASS at both Disneyland and DisneySea. FASTPASS is basically a ticket that allows you to avoid the longer queue and advance faster to the ride at a particular timing. Only a limited number of tickets are available but it doesn't mean that you don't have to queue. You STILL have to queue, except you get to the ride a lot faster than a normal queue.
- If you want to get your hands on the FASTPASS for popular rides, then you need to arrive early at the venue coz people will be there earlier for the same purpose anyway. 30 minutes before opening hours ought to be sufficient.
- Bring a picnic mat unless you don't mind sitting down on the ground during one of the parades.
- Bring an empty that you can refill from the strategic water coolers scattered throughout the park. If you are on a budget, this will go a long way.
- Selfie sticks are a no-no in both theme parks. Your bags will be searched at the entrance so don't try your luck. You can also read more about their notice here.
- If you can only buy ONE souvenir from Disneyland or Sea, the consider getting the Duffy bear from DisneySea coz it's limited edition and can't be found anywhere else outside the theme park.
- Above all, behave like the courteous, civilized being that you are. LOL.
It depends, it can be 830am or 930am so make sure you double check the timing before you go.
USJ (Universal Studios Japan) is one of the most well-known theme parks in Osaka, probably due to the ever-popular Hogwarts that it houses within its grounds. Harry Potter fans will make it a point to visit this beautiful spot and stock up on wands/uniforms but to be honest, I found it a little lacking. While you get to visit the shops that you could only read about or watched on the HP movies, Hogwarts was smaller than I expected. Their merchandise was awfully expensive too...I don't know why but I didn't feel very motivated to spend. Except on the butter beer that was much hyped about in the books. LOL.
How does the butter beer taste like? Well, it's sweet but nothing to shout about unlike how it was described in the books. :/
I'm very tempted to buy the wands, of course, but whatever will I do with them? LOL. I can't use a wand to magick my way out of trouble or help me win TOTO sooo...it's a no for me. Now bear in mind that Hogwarts is an extremely popular place on high traffic days, so you are recommended to get a Timed Entry pass. Wednesdays and Thursdays are presumably the best days to go since the crowds only get bigger from Friday to Tuesday. I went on a Thursday so I was able to enter Hogwarts without a timed entry pass.
Other attractions include the Minion Park, Universal Wonderland and Snoopy Studios.
USJ also has a FASTPASS system like Disney, except it's called Yoyakunori and is only available for rides like Elmo's Go-Go Skateboard and The Flying Snoopy--all kiddy rides. An alternative is getting the Universal Express Pass, which is of course makes it more expensive. Some rides you can look forward to include:
I didn't take any of the rides back then coz I had hurt my foot and I didn't think it was a good idea to go on any exciting rides. :x
I didn't manage to catch any of the shows..(don't know why I was so unenthu when I really love theme parks)...but here are a couple of shows you can catch:
I didn't stay for the night parade because by then, I was tired from hobbling around and the weather was too cold for me to continue staying. Dinner was out of the question too as my husband felt that the food was too expensive and it was more worth it to splurge on good food that was more justifiably priced near our hotel. Plus, it was SOOOO crowded that I couldn't even find a place to sit down to wait for the parade. >.<
Okay, I must admit that this review is not very complete and perhaps a little biased because I wasn't in top form that day. I had hurt my foot while in an onsen previously. I didn't know it then, but I had in fact dislocated a bone. To make matters worse, my travel insurance refused to let me claim, citing that I had to seek medical advice in Japan and then come back to Singapore for a follow-up before I can claim anything. *rolls eyes* I didn't seek medical treatment in Japan coz I didn't know the language very well and I was worried that something might get lost in translation.
Anyway, despite the hype, I didn't enjoy my visit to USJ. I found it a tad 'soul-less' and too commercialized. Of course, I'm well aware that theme parks are technically 'tourist traps' but I didn't feel that way in Disney Tokyo. I guess they did it in a more subtle and effective manner? I don't know. Just my personal feeling. :)
Klook has a rather comprehensive article on how to enjoy Universal Studios so do have a read.
End of the day, I really really love Disney in Tokyo and I really really hope to return one day. If I had to choose between Disney and Universal Studios, I will go for DisneySea, hands down. Hehehe.
Get your tickets here: