I took a deep breath, not knowing exactly what to expect.
If it wasn’t for my husband being such a thrill seeker, there is no way I would be on the Tower of Terror, slowly rising up into the sky.
John was an old hat at crazy rides and rollercoasters. I’d been to Disneyland in LA when I was a teenager, but not being much of adrenalin junkie at the time, I chose the nice, happy-go-lucky easy rides like the teacups, where screaming is an unnecessary addition.
But not this day.
I was in Tokyo with John aka Mr Never-Let-The-Heartbeat-Rest-Under-120-Beats-Per-Minute.
The Tower of Terror was right up his ally.
The lift dropped.
I squealed like a piglet running away from becoming bacon, screaming in the only way possible when one is rapidly dropping from a height in an elevator-style ride.
People do this for FUN??
Up it went again, and down, DOWN, up, down, up, up up up UPPPPP to the very top with the most incredible view of all of DisneySea and then
WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOWWWWWW as dropped to the bottom.
I was fairly certain my stomach and heart were no longer part of my body and were hovering somewhere at the top of the tower.
But I laughed. Laughed in that I’m-so-terrified manner where laughing is the only thing stopping you from crying.
Before arriving at Tokyo DisneySea, I had no intention of going on the Tower of Terror. It looked like my worst nightmare. And if it wasn’t for John, I would never have lined up.
But somewhere in me, must be some small sniff of a thrillseeker. Secretly, through my terrified screams, I loved it.
As we looked at the photos taken from the height of the free fall, I clearly looked aghast, while John was sniggering away in his seat.
Spot the experienced rider.
But hey, this was what Disney was all about, right?
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOKYO DISNEY AND DISNEYSEA?
Tokyo has two Disney parks next to each other – Tokyo Disney and DisneySea. So what’s the difference?
Tokyo Disney is based on the traditional Disney theme parks around the world, with the Disney Castle and plenty of Disney characters everywhere. There are more rides, and they are more child friendly.
In John’s words, they looked boring.
And, the famous fireworks display is held at Tokyo Disney.
DisneySea, on the other hand, is unique to Japan.
It has some incredible effects, lighting and staging and more adrenalin fuelled rides.
Instead of the seven different lands, DisneySea has seven different ‘ports’ – including:
- Arabian Coast
- Mermaid Lagoon
- Mediterranean Harbour
- American Waterfront
- Port Discovery
- Mysterious Island
- Lost River Delta
The design at each of these ports is impressive and extremely detailed. As soon as we stepped into each area, we were transported to another world.
I loved the romantic feel of the Mediterranean Harbour at night when the lights came on:
And the playfulness and magic of ToyVille on the American Waterfront:
The beauty of the buildings and lanterns in the Arabian Coast:
And the brilliantly executed Indiana Jones Adventure in the Lost River Delta:
There’s another key difference between the two, something adults may wish to consider: Tokyo Disney does not serve alcohol, but Tokyo DisneySea does!
tokyo DISNEYSEA for adults: best rides
There’s a variety of rides to suit all levels of thrill seekers from the aforementioned Tower of Terror, to a seated 3D Aladdin show in the Arabian Coast and gentle 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ‘underwater’ exploration.
The Mermaid Lagoon was a visual feast, and definitely more child friendly than some of the other ports.
And I got to meet someone very special in the lagoon:
And YES – I am wearing Minnie Mouse ears. I don’t care that I’m a grown woman – this was Tokyo Disney, after all. I would have stood out if I WASN’T wearing some kind of cute accessory.
Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, I couldn’t convince John to buy any Disney accessories.
Our favourite rides were the Tower of Terror, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.
These three were full of thrills and spills, twists, turns, sudden drops, outstanding visual effects and upside-down roller coasters. Not recommended if you have heart problems, or might suffer from heart problems as a result!
At the end of our day, we hopped on a Venetian gondola for a punt along the harbour; our gondolier singing a song as we drifted under a bridge, voices echoing around us.
A romantic way to end the day!
My favourite ‘port’ was the Arabian Coast. I couldn’t stop photographing the beautiful lanterns.
And when nighttime rolled round, everywhere sparkled. Including Donald.
TOKYO DISNEYSEA FOR ADULTS WHO DON’T SPEAK JAPANESE
Ah yes, I hear you.
But what if we don’t speak Japanese?
Are there English translations?
While most tourist infrastructure in Japan has English translations available, the voiceovers in the rides at Disney were all in Japanese. That was the one thing that made it a little less than perfect, because neither John nor I speak Japanese.
However, the staff were all bilingual and there were English maps of the park presented to us at the entrance.
We would have loved to have understood what was being said in the shows, but the visual effects and rides were so spectacular, that we didn’t mind not being able to understand everything. Generally, it was all fairly self explanatory.
You don’t have to be able to speak fluent Japanese to enjoy Tokyo Disney, but a few words help. We got by with these four phrases:
Hello – Konnichiwa
Good evening – Konbanwa
Thank you – Arigato
Excuse me – Sumimasen
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT TOKYO DISNEY SEA?
We visited Tokyo DisneySea at the end of January – right in the middle of winter.
It was very cold (especially for us, coming from a Fiji summer) and exceptionally windy, but all the rides were working. However we had a beautiful mostly sunny day, which was beautiful.
The Disney parks will be popular year-round, but usually it is a bit quieter in winter.
We also chose to visit on a Friday rather than a weekend. Friday is still a busy day at Disney, so if you really want to beat the crowds, opt for mid-week instead.
SUSS OUT THE RIDES – THEN GRAB A FAST PASS
A fast pass is the best invention ever for Disney and it’s FREE with your day pass to the parks in Tokyo.
A fast pass allows you to come back at a set time and wait in the fast queue. Some rides, such as the Indiana Jones Adventure, was a 90 minute wait.
Once you have a fast pass for a ride, you have to wait a certain number of hours before you can get your next fast pass.
Grab one for the most popular rides early on (especially for Tower of Terror and Journey to the Centre of the Earth), so you can later come back in the designated time to beat the queue.
Once you’ve got your fast pass, you can go off to some other rides which are are less popular and have shorter queues. Then you can come back to main ride at the designated time.
While waiting in the long queues, either John or myself would go and get some food before coming back to join the other who was waiting in line.
GETTING TO TOKYO DISNEYSEA FROM TOKYO
Navigating the subway system around Tokyo is super easy once you get the hang of it, just like subways in any other major city. Signs are in both English and Japanese.
I used several apps to get around Tokyo including Google Maps and the Tokyo Subway.
From Tokyo Station, catch a train on the Key Line to Maihama Station.
At Maihama Station, you’ll walk across to the Resort Gateway Station, where you’ll board the Disney Resort Line – a Disney monorail that loops around both Disney Parks and back to the station.
You’ll need to purcahse both a monorail ticket AND the actual Disney park ticket, if you haven’t purchased your park ticket online.
IS TOKYO DISNEYSEA WORTH THE HYPE?
YES! 100% YES!
I was worried the magic of Disney would be a little lost on me as an adult. But honestly, we had the time of our lives. I conquered my fear of rollercoasters and elevator-style rides and John got his adrenalin junkie buzz.
The lighting and visual effects were outstanding, the design was superb and quite frankly, it was SO MUCH FUN. I can’t remember the last time I have had that sort of magical fun – probably not since I was a child.
I think I enjoyed visiting the Disney park as an adult more than I enjoy visiting Disneyland in LA as a teenager.
It is truly magic for children and adults alike.
Our only regret? Having only one day to do Disney.
MORE ON JAPAN
- Tips For First-Time Travel To Japan
- 4-Day Tokyo Winter Itinerary
- A Guide To Visiting The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
- Day Trip To Kiroro Ski Resort
- How Not To Plan A Ski Trip To Japan
- Essential Japanese Ski Phrases
DISCUSS: Have you ever been to Tokyo DisneySea or Disneyland? Did you go as an adult or a child and what did you think?
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