Tokyo Disneyland vs California’s Disneyland

Growing up 20 minutes from California’s Disneyland really had a lot of influence in my interest for all things Disney. During my high school years, I was a proud Disneyland Premium Annual Pass holder! Every chance I got, I would head over to Disneyland to walk around and marvel at the happiest place in the world. Of course I made it my mission to visit Disneyland in one of my favorite cities in the world—Tokyo.

First of all, happy Silver Week (シルバーウィーク) to the ex pats and Japanese people of Japan! Silver week is a 3 day holiday where (a percentage of) Japanese workers have off. The Japanese are such hard workers that most of them don’t even have these holidays off (like me). I still work, but Monday happened to be my day off, so we decided to check off this major activity that has been on my to-do list for years.

We met at the lead train at 7AM in Shinjuku to take the train to Chiba prefecture (yup, Tokyo Disneyland is not even in Tokyo). We had to switch trains; on the way over to the next platform, the Disney fans started to appear. The fans were all dressed in Disney gear: matching Disney shirts (so many couples were matching, groups of girls with the same hairdos and same outfits, god Japanese people WHY so cute!?), Duffy bears on their bags, small stuffed toys, Disney bags, etc. We were all heading the same way, it was obvious where we were all going.

On the train to Chiba
On the train to Chiba

We arrive at the gates around 7:50AM and the mass of people was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Stepping off the train started to give me a little panic attack. The mob of black haired people smashed up to the gates and filling up backwards started to scare me. I almost wanted to turn back; I imagined waiting in line for 4+hours, waiting in a line to walk across the park, getting shoved and not getting my money’s worth but I figured we were here already, so we should make the most out of it! I’m glad we stayed ;D

You can buy advance tickets online, but for the first day of Silver Week, they were sold out. We waited in line to buy tickets and this took about 10 minutes. The gates opened and we all flooded into the park!

Tokyo Disneyland decorations for Halloween

Visiting Disneyland during Halloween is one of my favorite seasons to go. I love the pumpkins, the characters dressed up in Halloween outfits, the colors, the Halloween treats, and all the cute Halloween themed details.

Entrance of Tokyo Disneyland in September 2015
Entrance of Tokyo Disneyland in September 2015

We walk down Main Street, and already I begin to notice the differences. The buildings look so much smaller than Disneyland in California. The street is shorter as well. I was shocked when I saw the castle in front of us. We can already see the princess castle?! It didn’t look too far away. It made me sad realizing that this Disneyland is much smaller than mine back home.

Now, here is a run down of my opinions, as well as the rides we went on (first things first, get Fast Track tickets for Astroid Blasters or Haunted Mansion! Only 1 ticket until the time on your current card has passed, ~1-2 hours)!

Star Tours – The first ride we went on. I kept laughing when I heard C3PO speaking Japanese. I don’t think Tokyo Disneyland has all the cool different versions California Star Tours has. I’m pretty sure it’s the old version, because I remember seeing the movie before.

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Inside Star Tours
Space Mountain – always a fun ride to go on. Unfortunately, they had NO MUSIC playing at all! I was really upset on the ride, actually. The music makes the ride so much fun, it makes me feel like I’m a super hero flying around space. Tokyo Disneyland made me feel like I was on a cheap ride, no lights, no music, what the hell? Not good. Very disappointed and unsatisfied!!

Pirates of the Caribbean – lacked detail. This is one of my favorite rides in Disneyland because there is so much detail, everywhere you look! I was always impressed by the designer’s ability to make the surroundings look so good. The California version design set even inspired me to work as an interior designer in Disneyland (short lived aspiration, but the inspiration is the point im trying to make!) Here, I felt like they just put the basic bare minimum. I felt like it was just the shell. A naked, priates of the Caribbean ride. Again, not good.

Pumpkin Churro snack. Delicious! 310 yen ($2.60 USD) 🙂

We watched the parade. The music wasn’t loud enough, the dancing was boring. I was happy to see the first parade, but later in the day we kept running into them to the point that the parades were really annoying and inconvenient.

Lunch at Tomorrowland Terrace – Mickey Pineapple and Avocado Burger set with fries and small drink. Really cute, but the buns were not as tasty as they looked. ~990 Yen ($8.25 USD)

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Around the entrance is the penny machine! Bought first penny at Tomorrowland Terrace!

Halloween Penny souvenir
Halloween Penny souvenir

Wandered around Main Street searching for more pennies. Got these at the Penny Arcade, Home Store, and one near Pirates

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We looked at pennies at Pooh Corner, The Home Store, Western Wear, but I wasn’t too fond of them. The pennies are 100 yen each, and made out of copper plates, not real American pennies, of course.

Wandered around the shops, searching for Halloween treats and not finding any. One of my favorite activities is also looking at all the delicious snacks and candies Disneyland has for decorated Halloween! Unfortunately, Tokyo Disney does not share this same passion. They had a lot of packaged candies and even Disney fastfood Ramen for 880 yen, which was cute, but really expensive for some ramen. I guess it would make for a nice souvenir for the rich people!

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California Disneyland Halloween Treats 2013
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California Disneyland Treats 2013
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California Disneyland Halloween Treats 2013

Visit to Disney Gallery to see some original art sketches. They also provided drawing classes, which you have to sign up for in advance. We spent a good amount of time here admiring the artwork, especially since Yuuki-san is an animation artist!

We took pictures with the castle and the Halloween decorations, but we lack patience to get a good picture.

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Tokyo Disney Ghost decorations
We wandered into Critter land and needed to use the bathroom. The lines were so long, but we went and then rewarded ourselves with another seasonal treat: Pumpking Sofuto Kurimu! Pumpking Ice Cream! About 320 yen again. Delicious.

The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents ‘Aloha E Komo Mai!’ –Japanese people love Stitch. He’s everywhere! He even has a Stitch Encounter ride, where you get to speak with him I guess, but since it was in Japanese, I figured it was not worth my wait and we didn’t go on it. This show was cute, full of singing birds like California’s, and a Robot Stitch in the middle with his guitar. Robot Switch spit on me at the end and I got wet. Be careful.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Maybe my favorite ride here. We don’t have a ride like this in Disneyland. It was a cute musical of all the best Disney movies, Lion King, Little Mermaid, Toy Story, Aladdin, etc—In Japanese. The theater show is 3D and comes with smells, water, so I guess technically 4D! My mind was blown! I loved it!

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Outside Disney’s PhilharMagic ride
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey – classic ride, as good as Disneyland’s. These are underrated! Worth the short wait, ~45 minutes or less usually.

Peter Pan’s Flight – closed! So sad!

Country Bear Theater – At first, I didn’t like it as the goofy looking bears aren’t my thing. But then they started singing Beach Boys and Elvis Presley and my nostalgia of California flooded in and in no time I was clapping and singing the few English phrases they kept in the song.

Haunted Mansion (Jack Skellington Style) – another favorite of mine. The house is made from red bricks, which is odd because I’m used to the white house in Disneyland! Again, a smaller building lacking details (for example, the scene with the genie ball doesn’t have stuff floating in the air like California’s does!). The waiting room with the pictures that stretch was very different from California’s. The paintings were paintings but looked like jewels or something weird, I was surprised that this ride differed a lot from the California Disneyland version. Regardless, still a good ride. I enjoyed it, although they really need to step up their designs to be as good as California’s Disneyland.

We walked through Toontown and sat down to watch the Electric Parade. This was very nice. The lights were many and bright, full of color. It was cool seeing this parade. Later in the night, there was also Once Upon a Time show in which they light up the castle with animation and music. Look for a good spot before the show starts to really enjoy it.

the beautiful castle
a beautiful evening in Tokyo Disneyland

Buzzlightyear’s Astroid Blasters – This time, my guy even complained about the decorations! Haha! He said, ‘why does this look so cheap?’ but this was redeemed after we experienced how fun this ride is. A competition ensured. This ride is so fun because you have a mission to hit all those ‘Z’ targets with the little guns that never seem to work that are attached to your two/three seater little car. While you’re competing, you can twirl the car around to mess up your friend and give them a bad angle 😛 We went on this ride three times to try to beat our score! They let us get back in line at 9:59PM, one minute to closing time.

Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! – I liked this ride too. Like Astroid Blasters, you have a little tool to use on the ride. A flashlight attached to your car makes the targets move when you shine the light on them. Again, the story was in Japanese so I didn’t understand what they were saying when we moved around, but it was cute and fun.

My thoughts on Tokyo Disneyland: As a product of Disney, it is of course very enjoyable and guaranteed to make you happy, if you are a Disney fan. As a loyal Disney fan, I had a great time. However, I was shocked by the lack of detail in Tokyo Disneyland. It’s hard to explain, but it’s missing a little bit of magic that California’s Disneyland certainly contains. The fact that this was apparent numerous times throughout my day is also a disappointment. I feel like they could definitely improve their decorations and details. Many times I felt like they were rushed to complete the setting, and therefore left out what wasn’t 100% necessary (kind of how you would turn in a bad report if you wrote it the night before in a few hours). One of my favorite parts of going to Disneyland is feeling so immersed in the world, because of their amazing attention to detail, that it feels like a break from reality. Tokyo Disneyland has some work to do on this aspect. Especially, they MUST add music to Space Mountain, because that really ruined the ride. The parades were too many, and annoying. The workers were top quality, I think. Japanese are so polite and courteous, this was no exception in Disneyland J

Was it worth 6,900 yen ($58 USD)? Yes. Could they improve the park? Yes, a lot. Would I go again? Yes.

Favorite ride? Mickey’s Philharmonic. Worst ride? Space Mountain (for reasons mentioned above)

The crowd? Not so bad considering it was a national holiday! Our longest wait was probably 40 minutes for Astroid Blasters and the Haunted Mansion!

Did I have a good time? AMAZING!
Next time to Tokyo DisneySea!

*Have you been to Tokyo Disneyland? What is your favorite ride? The worst ride? Which do you like better, DisneySea or Tokyo Disneyland? Share in the comments below!*

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