23 Jun Day 11: Tokyo Disneyland
We took an early train from Shinjuku station to Tokyo Station where we got the Keiyo line to Maihama station. We were worried about taking trains early in the morning and hitting peak hour. We didn’t need to worry, while the train stations were definitely busy, it wasn’t really more than usual. The line to Maihama Station was fairly quiet and we easily got seats on the train. Fletcher was quietly munching away on an apple the whole journey. We arrived at Maihama Station and walked to the Disneyland entrance.
We had purchased e-tickets from the Disneyland website before we left for Japan. The e-tickets have a barcode and can be taken straight to the park gates with no need to exchange them beforehand. We arrived at the park at about 8:30am, half an hour before opening time. There were long queues leading from each gate. We were ushered past the first lot of gates as the lines were already reaching the path. We took our place at the end of one line and waited. We saw staff let in guests at 8:45, guests staying at the official Disneyland hotel are able to enter the park 15 minutes before the park opens. The gates were opened at 9am and it took us about ten minutes to reach the front and enter.
We walked through World Bazaar and I was pleased to see it was decorated for Christmas. In the centre was a large lit up tree. As we came out of World Bazaar, straight in front of us was Cinderella’s Castle standing tall from across the park. We headed straight to Fantasyland to get fast pass tickets for the ride Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. I lined up and scanned the barcodes on our e-tickets and the time we got to come back to the ride was 11:50-12:50. The queue time for it was already over an hour. We wandered around a little bit before deciding to line up for It’s A Small World. We found a spot for our stroller in the ‘parking’ area and joined the queue, which was a 15 minute wait time.
The line entered inside and we watched people getting on and off the boats. It was soon our turn and we were in a boat drifting along. Each scene shows a different country represented by their traditional costumes, while children singing ‘It’s A Small World’ plays overhead. As we were there over Disneyland’s Christmas period, ‘Jingle Bells’ also played. Fletcher absolutely loved watching all the little characters dance around and light up.
I loved all the little Christmas details, like Chip n Dale’s hats and Minnie’s tree decorated in pink. The lines for everything in Toon Town were always long. But we enjoyed just being there and seeing all the colourful buildings.
We decided to have an early lunch before it got too busy. We stayed in Toon Town for our lunch as it was close to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and our fast pass time would be starting soon. We chose to get a meal pack that came with a drink, chips and a Mickey shaped pizza. We were surprised that lunch was reasonably priced, rather than the usual theme park inflated prices. While eating lunch we were sitting near the end of the line for the meet and greet with Mickey Mouse and watched as it kept extending.
Once we finished lunch we headed to the Pooh’s Hunny Hunt ride with our fast passes. It was just the start of our return time but we still had to join a line. It was much shorter than the normal ride queue time though. When we first entered the line, it was outside. We walked past the giant story book that marked the entrance to the ride and then entered a scene from Winnie The Pooh.
The line then lead through different pages of the book, telling a story along the way. There was a group of highschool girls in front of us that were taking selfies every time the line stopped moving. At one point they left the line to go and take photo’s in front of the pages to the side. We left a spot for them for a while but eventually moved forward as the line kept moving and they weren’t coming back. People behind us also moved forward and the girls were still too busy taking happy snaps. I don’t think their fast pass would have ended up being very fast at all.
When it got to our turn, we took our seats in the large honey pot which glides along the floor. There are three honey pots in the ride at a time and at the start they align in front of a screen in the book to watch a short clip. The book then opens and the honey pots enter and spread out around the room, gliding around to different areas. The ride gets darker and Tigger appears on screens bouncing around, the honey pots then start bouncing with him. The ride then enters a fantasy land with colourful displays and lots of lights. The honey pots glide around quickly and it’s all a bit wacky. I was worried Fletcher would be scared as it was dark and we were spinning around. He had a look on his face that showed he had no idea what was happening. The honey pots then exited the room backwards and we came to the last page of the book that said ‘the end’, before stopping and leaving the ride.
We went to view Cinderella Castle which was decorated for Tokyo Disneyland’s 30th year. We then headed back into Toon Town where Fletcher played in the Toon Park, a little play area for toddlers. It was actually a really warm sunny day when we visited Disneyland, so the shady tree was a lovely spot to sit and watch Fletcher run around.
Fletcher had a group of people he was entertaining by running excitedly back and forth to a large ball. Within Toon Town there was a great baby centre with feeding rooms and nappy changing stations. The room was staffed and upon entering I was instructed on the correct nappy changing and disposing procedure. Toon Town was a great area for toddlers, with their own little play area, lots of colours and fun things to see.
After having a great time in Toon Town we got Mickey ice-cream sandwiches. I enjoyed eating Mickey’s face, it was delicious. We wandered around the park but couldn’t find any rides that had queues shorter than 45 minutes, which is too long to ask a one and a half year old to wait in line.
After his big play and walking around, Fletcher was worn out and fell asleep in the stroller. We walked around to make sure he stayed asleep and then we went and found a spot to sit for the ‘Happiness is Here’ parade. All the front row spots were taken but as they make a section where everyone in front must sit, it doesn’t affect your viewing. We chose a spot across from the Dumbo ride, which was just down from where the parade would start. As Fletcher was sleeping in the stroller we parked it next to us. A staff member told us it was fine but we would need to fold it up before the parade started. Fletcher woke up about 10 minutes before the parade started, which was when they started asking people to pack up their strollers.
There were many characters on huge colourful floats waving down at the crowd. There were also several characters walking along behind the floats and groups of dancers and other acts moving along the ground. These were a little bit harder to see over the people in front. The floats were very impressive with so much detail.
At the end of the parade, the last float featured a giant Goofy with Mickey riding on his shoulders and Donald Duck on the back. The big Goofy was holding a basket that contained crew dressed as Mickey and Minnie Mouse in gold outfits. Attached to the top of the basket was a large collection of colourful Mickey shaped balloons reaching high into the sky. The float had the number 30 in celebration of Tokyo Disneyland being opened for 30 years.
After the parade ended we thought about going on another ride but the lines were still way too long for a toddler. I would have loved to have seen the night time ‘electrical dreamlights’ parade but it wasn’t starting until 7:30pm, which would make it a very long day. We had expected long ride lines, although we thought we’d at least be able to take Fletcher on the carousel and maybe go on some family rides but they were all over a 45 minute wait the whole day. One thing we thought was crazy was seeing people sitting in lines for the shows, two hours before the show was due to start! We watched a bit of the outdoor shows from outside of the show area but certainly weren’t going to line up for seats.
I decided to hit the shops, thinking as it was early I’d be beating the crowds. I was so wrong. It felt like I was shopping amongst crazy people on Christmas eve. We had been given money from Tim’s grandparents to buy something for Fletcher. Not long before we left for Japan, Tim’s Granddad passed away, so we wanted a special present that would honour his memory as well as our holiday. He shared his birthday with Mickey Mouse, so we thought a souvenir from Disneyland would be perfect. I chose a large stuffed Mickey Mouse dressed for Christmas and on the bottom of his shoes was written ‘Tokyo Disneyland’ and ‘Christmas 2013’. I got a lovely little blue Disney tea-cup and saucer set with the rest of Fletcher’s gift money. I also bought a little Mickey to hang on our Christmas tree and a keychain for Tim’s Granny.
We decided to start the journey back to Shinjuku at about 4pm. On our way to Maihama Station we passed a store that had no crowd of shoppers and almost everything I had bought inside the park. We stopped to look inside before entering the station and taking a train back. The train was busier than in the morning, with passengers loaded up with Disney gear.
We got back to the hotel and I gave Fletcher his big Mickey Mouse toy which he smothered with cuddles. We walked to a nearby Family Mart store and got meals and drinks for tea. I enjoyed a Chuhai, which is a Japanese carbonated alcoholic drink, this one was orange flavoured and only a very low alcohol content. We had a great day at Tokyo Disneyland and although we didn’t get to go on many rides, we are still glad we made the decision to go.
Tomorrow would be our last day in Japan and we had to be organised in order to check out of Hotel Century Southern Tower in the morning.