After a memorable past few days in Okinawa, we were now ready to fly to Tokyo for the second half of our trip! The next few days would entail stops at Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea — in the Chiba region — followed by a weekend in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo. Little did I know that the Shinagawa part of our trip would be thwarted by a super typhoon (which I’ll get into in a later post).
We arrived at Haneda International Airport on a Wednesday afternoon and took a bus to the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel, located a mere 10-minute walk away from Tokyo Disneyland.
Unfortunately, the view from room my mom and I stayed in was of a nearby construction site. But we did see the Cinderella castle from Disneyland in the distance. We took a peek at my aunt and uncle’s room across the hall, and they showed us their view: a beautiful Tokyo Bay. The sun cast a glimmer on the calm, blue waters of the bay, creating a pristine picture — a stark difference from what we would see a few days later.
After receiving warning that Typhoon Hagibis was on its way toward the Tokyo region, we decided not to waste anymore time and made our way over to Disneyland.
The journey over to Disneyland was an experience in itself! We caught the cutest, Mickey Mouse-themed shuttle bus over to the monorail station. That’s where we boarded yet another Mickey Mouse-themed train over to Maihama Station, where Disneyland is located.
Having gone on numerous trips to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., I couldn’t help but compare and contrast it with the Tokyo park. There were certainly traces of the Anaheim park here, but Tokyo’s definitely had its own character and charm.
One of the most fascinating parts about it, for me personally, was seeing all the parkgoers dressed up in full-on Disney garb, complete with hair and makeup — also known as “Cosplay”! At first, I was fooled into thinking that a random girl dressed in a Snow White outfit was an actual park character. But then I realized that something was a little off about her.
We had a few hours to grab a quick dinner at a fast-food joint — where I got the cutest Mickey-shaped cheeseburger — and go on a few rides before catching the Electric Parade, which brought back a flood of childhood memories of watching the Electric Parade at Disneyland back in the U.S.
We had two more full days to enjoy all that the Tokyo Disney parks had to offer before Typhoon Hagibis arrived. So we spent Thursday at DisneySea and Friday at Tokyo Disneyland again.
DisneySea is unlike anything I’d ever experienced back in the states. As the name suggests, the park is divided by separate ocean-inspired tales, from “The Little Mermaid” to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Most friends I’d talked to beforehand said they preferred this park over Disneyland, mostly because it caters to the adults (especially since it offers alcohol).
Despite my constant anxiety over the storm coming, I wasn’t going to let that ruin my time. I tried to make the most of the day and enjoy everything the park had to offer … and I did!
As evening arrived, so did the rain. We scrambled to pick up ponchos in one of the gift shops before the crowds began flocking into the stores with the same idea.
The night ended with our group waiting in line for Turtle Talk amid a torrential downpour. It was miserable, to say the least, and we probably looked ridiculous (but so did everyone else). But in retrospect, I thoroughly enjoyed the bonding experience.
Also, after finally getting into the Turtle Talk theater, I found it amusing to see Crush from “Finding Nemo” speaking to the audience in Japanese while our group must’ve looked like a bunch of deer in headlights.
Here are my favorites from DisneySea:
- Soaring: Fantastic Flight
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Turtle Talk
The following day was a constant drizzle — certainly not as bad as the previous night. We donned our ponchos and embarked on our second day at Disneyland.
Frankly I preferred Disneyland over both DisneySea and surprisingly the Disneyland in Anaheim. I personally thought Tokyo Disneyland had a better variety of rides, food and attractions AND wasn’t quite as crowded as I’m used to seeing Disneyland in California. Of course, I’m sure part of that was because a storm was coming, but still. Plus, who doesn’t like observing enthusiastic parkgoers Cosplaying?
My favorites at Disneyland:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- Western River Railroad
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- It’s a Small World
- Haunted Mansion
After a fun yet rain-sodden day at Disneyland, I rushed back over to the hotel, where I planned to meet up with a Japanese friend named Eri. I actually met Eri during my first trip to Japan back in 2013. She was our tour bus assistant!
Eri was kind enough to take the train from her workplace all the way over to my area — at least a one-hour commute — just for a quick dinner with me before the rain really came down.
Though neither of us could speak each other’s respective languages very well, we still found a way to communicate via LINE’s translator (thank you, technology!). Being able to meet up with Eri made me realize that true friendship can transcend any language and geographic barrier. It was the perfect way to end the day.