The Ultimate First-Timer’s Guide to Tokyo DisneySea

A day with Disney always lifts my spirits. I’ve been a huge Disney fan since childhood. (I know I’m not alone here!) I dreamed of visiting Tokyo DisneySea one day as a teenager. It’s a park unique amongst Disney Parks and Resorts, themed entirely on water lands. It contains rides like Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It has a gorgeous pastel rainbow tiled Mermaid Lagoon. Disney Imagineers seamlessly wove nautical adventures across multiple lands into one another to create a beautiful park.

The Ultimate First-Timer’s Guide to Tokyo DisneySea

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the pastel mosaic entrance to Mermaid Lagoon.

Getting There

You can travel to Tokyo DisneySea by car but the best way is by train. If you ask me, nothing beats the excitement of counting down the train stops until you’re at Tokyo Disney’s stop. Additionally, you’ll be able to see some really cool signage at the station, like the below. I even got a fun water bottle, shaped like Minnie Mouse, that I saved and use often (it’s the perfect size to fit inside a handbag). The water bottle was only available at a concession stand on the train platform. I wouldn’t have seen or purchased it had I not arrived with that mode of transportation. The train is affordable and incredibly convenient. If you drive it’s good to be aware that there are lots on site with a fee of 2,500 yen for parking on weekdays and 3,000 yen for weekends.

Your destination is the JR “Maihama” train station. This is the only train station at Tokyo Disney Resort no matter where you originate from. Click here for detailed train line routes and transfer information.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of Disney signage at the JR Maihama line station.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of Disney character shaped water bottles at a concession stand on the JR Maihama line station platform.

Arrival Time

I’ve been to Tokyo DisneySea a couple of times and both times it’s been incredibly less crowded during the first two to three hours it opens for the day. If you want to feel like you practically have the park to yourself go when it opens. Stay as long as you like {during operating hours}!

Riding the Monorail

Once you arrive to Tokyo Disney Resort you need to travel to your destination, whether it is DisneySea, Disneyland or a hotel. The most fun way to do this is on the monorail (and probably the most efficient way too). Unlike the monorail at Walt Disney World in Orlando, which is free, you need a paid ticket to ride Tokyo’s monorail. The cost is minimal – simply a couple hundred yen (a few US dollars) but it’s good to know you need a ticket so you’re prepared when you go to enter the gate to take the escalator up to the station platform. The best part about the monorail is its Mickey head shaped windows and Mickey Mouse hand holds inside the cars.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the monorail ticket area at Tokyo Disney Resort. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the monorail. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the monorail and Mickey Mouse head shaped windows. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of a Mickey Mouse head hand hold and window on a monorail car.

Buying Tickets

Tickets for Tokyo DisneySea, on the resort property, are available at Tokyo DisneySea. In other words, you cannot buy a single park ticket to Tokyo DisneySea at Tokyo Disneyland. You can buy tickets in advance, however it doesn’t save you money and the Tokyo Disney Resort website (especially its mobile version) can get a little confusing. It’s highly unlikely Tokyo DisneySea, especially, will run out of tickets for the day you visit. Tokyo Disneyland (their version of Orlando’s Magic Kingdom or California’s Disneyland) gets way more jam-packed than Tokyo DisneySea.

They call their tickets “passports” and one to four days may be purchased. They do not have the typical American “Park Hopper” pass option. It’s a one park per day kind of land. The only option to have more flexibility in days and parks is with their three or four day “magic passport” option but even then it’s not a park hopper. No need to get into the weeds of that here, however.

A “1-Day Passport,” which allows you access to one of the two parks, is 7,400 yen per adult and 6,400 yen per child. That’s about $68 USD per adult with current conversation rates.

For more ticket information visit this page of the website.

Know the Lay of the Land

Tokyo DisneySea is divided into seven lands, much like how Orlando’s Magic Kingdom is divided into six. (Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, etc.). Starting in front of you when you enter the park, proceeding counterclockwise, they are:

  1. Mediterranean Harbor
  2. Mysterious Island
  3. Mermaid Lagoon
  4. Arabian Coast
  5. Lost River Delta
  6. Port Discovery
  7. American Waterfront

Click here for a map of Tokyo DisneySea.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of an Italian Venice waterway canal in the Mediterranean land in the park.The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the Cape Cod American Waterfront in the park.

Must-Do Tasks Upon Arrival

There are two things, in particular, you must do upon arrival to maximize your experience.

  1. Inquire about tickets for the Big Band Beat show at the American Waterfront. Most of the shows for this performance are given out by lottery. (The one exception is the first show of the day, but if you just arrived to Tokyo DisneySea do you really want to sit in a theater when there’s a ton of attractions to enjoy before needing a rest?). There are a limited number of open seats you can wait in line for before a performance but to maximize the magic of your day you’ll want to reserve a seat via lottery. That way you won’t need to unnecessarily stand in line, wasting time, for a gamble at an available seat. **The lottery can be entered from Biglietteria here by the Mediterranean Harbor waterfront. Click for detailed information regarding the lottery.**
  2. Fast Pass one ride: I recommend Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island, Raging Spirits roller coast in Lost River Delta or Tower of Terror at American Waterfront (which has a different storyline from the Tower of Terror attractions in Orlando and California). Do another if you can after your allotted pass time frame frees up. Fast Passes are in Japanese so if you need to ask a Cast Member to translate it for you don’t be shy! Getting another Fast Pass as soon as its available may be the difference in being able to enjoy an additional attraction that day.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the Raging Spirits roller coaster in the Lost River Delta land of the park. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the Raging Spirits roller coaster in the Lost River Delta land of the park.

Assess Your Not-to-Miss Attractions

Both times I’ve visited Tokyo DisneySea I have done my not-to-miss attractions first. The park is relatively small (even though it seems huge when you arrive) so even if you experience a ride in one land and hop to the neighboring land for the next you won’t be wasting time. This way you won’t be disappointed if you find you need to leave at a certain time or aren’t able to get onto a ride before closing.

A few of my not-to-miss attractions include:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (there’s usually no line in the morning)
  • Aquatopia (water gliders)
  • Tower of Terror (the story line is different than at other parks)
  • Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage (it reminds me of Walt Disney World’s “It’s a Small World”)
  • Raging Spirits (roller coaster)
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (a classic dark ride)

Don’t forget to check show times as well, as some of the most fascinating attractions at Tokyo DisneySea are their shows and parades.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride in Mysterious Island.

Challenge Yourself to Ride (and Explore) Outside Your Norm

There are certain rides I may skip on a usual trip to Walt Disney World. But in a unique circumstance, such as a visit to Tokyo DisneySea on the other side of the world, nothing is off limits. I was immediately drawn to the Caravan Carousel in the Arabian Coast inside a beautiful blue onion domed building. Sure, it’s more so a children’s attraction. But I was a kid at heart that day (well, perhaps always!) and I had the best time riding it! I even had my photo taken with the Genie. I also took some time to enjoy a leisurely ride aboard the DisneySea Electric Railway.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the Arabian Coast land. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo with the Genie on the carousel in the Arabian Coast. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the DisneySea Electric Railway train.

If you don’t usually walk around the park in its entirety – including corridors and walkways that perhaps only lead to more theming, challenge yourself to do so at this park. The theming is really beautiful and unlike any other Disney park or resort I’ve been to. I found the area below simply walking around the Arabian Coast. There’s a lot of hidden beauty like this around the Mediterranean Harbor area as well.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of Moroccan inspired alley in the Arabian Coast land.

Eat, Eat, and Eat!

One of the most fun things to do at Tokyo DisneySea is experience the unique snacks they have available (and food too if you opt to eat at sit down restaurants).

I simply loved seeing what each concession stand had we passed, or looking up our options on the park map. I had Green Alien Mochi, filled with pudding (you get one of each of three different flavors – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry – in your purchase). Another fun purchase was a pork bun in the shape of a circular life raft with Donald Duck packaging to complete the adorable visuals.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of a snack of Toy Story's Green Aliens in mochi form! The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of a snack of Toy Story's Green Aliens in mochi form!

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the Donald Duck life preserver pork bun.

You may have heard, but just in case you haven’t, POPCORN is a huge thing at Tokyo Disney Resort. Both Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland have various flavors around the park. They’re mentioned on the park maps as well. You can find “Salt” flavored popcorn in Mermaid Lagoon and Curry flavored popcorn in Arabian Coast, to name two!

Popcorn flavors include: 

  • Salt
  • Curry
  • Herb-Tomato
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Caramel
  • Black Pepper
  • White Chocolate

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of a Salt flavored popcorn stand in Mermaid Lagoon. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of a Curry flavored popcorn stand in the park.

Don’t be surprised if a lot of the menus include American food. Japanese people love American culture and, after all, Disney is an American brand. It’s part of the reason they love it and many Japanese people (their primary audience) go there for a taste of Western culture. If you are looking for a Japanese meal in Tokyo DisneySea I recommend Restaurant Sakura in the American Waterfront. This was certainly nowhere near the best Japanese food I had in Tokyo, but it was a good option for Japanese cuisine within Tokyo DisneySea.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of a traditional Japanese meal at Restaurant Sakura in the American Waterfront Land.

People Watch

If people watching could be an attraction unto itself there’s some prime people watching at Tokyo DisneySea. Things that fascinated me on visits:

  • The amount of entire families in matching Mickey Mouse shirts.
  • How many adult women dress up.
  • How elaborate some of the costumes people put their children in are. (Japanese children are the cutest – like the little girl in the Daisy Duck costume in the photo below.)
  • The amount of popcorn containers I saw people bought. (There are many different types of containers around the park – some people seem to collect them!)
  • How in love with “Duffy” they are, Mickey Mouse’s teddy bear. There’s even shows and events surrounding this character.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of a child in a complete Daisy Duck costume. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the monorail and Mickey Mouse head shaped windows.

Stop to Shop

They have some outrageous items in the shops at Tokyo DisneySea. They’ll certainly give you a glimpse into what the Japanese culture enjoys. It’d be difficult to find a picture book of the parks (I had a hard time locating any books on the resorts at all, nevermind various options) but you’ll find an abundance of graphic shirts, Mickey ears, key chains and plush toys. If you’re wondering if those are mini udon soup bowl keychain in the photo below you would be correct!

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the unique items for sale at the Tokyo Disney Resort.

Stay After Sunset

Stay after the sun goes down if you’re able to! There are night shows to behold and nighttime lighting that illuminates the park. It’s really beautiful it experience. Seeing the Toy Story area of the American Waterfront in the dark is a sight to behold. The hundreds of lights are simply mesmerizing. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is also very special and additionally visually appealing after sunset.

The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the Toy Story area in American Waterfront illuminated at night. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the nautilus ship at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in Mysterious Island illuminated at night. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. Photo of the cruise ship at the American Waterfront land illuminated at night.

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The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog. The Ultimate First-Timer's Guide to Tokyo DisneySea on Sometimes Home travel blog.

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2 Comments

  1. September 17, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    I didn’t know you were such a Disney fan. Seems like this is much more affordable than the US versions!

    • September 18, 2017 / 1:10 am

      I am! Yeah the tickets certainly are more affordable!

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