Day 8: First Day at Tokyo DisneySea

Today was our first day at Tokyo DisneySea! As I will say time and again in this trip report, this was a moment I had been waiting to experience for 10 years. (Like the one about traveling alllll the way to Japan, this eventually came to be an excuse to do, eat, and buy just about anything over the course of the trip!)

I was sooooo excited to see this masterpiece of Disney Imagineering married to Oriental Land Company’s extravagant spending. And I was dying to remember what it felt like to walk into a Disney park I’d never been in before. So why is the first paragraph of my journal entry for this day composed entirely of swears?

Because for all my open-mindedness and going with the flow in the Tokyo portion of our trip, I still had a rigid view of what makes the perfect Disney day—and I forgot that I would no longer be the commando park-touring expert I am in the States. We did so much frun stuff this day, but in between I was ruining it for myself by getting frustrated about not knowing where anything was and the absolute best way to see and do it all! Add to that 8 hours spent in the freezing rain with only a sweatshirt and (eventually) a poncho, and then the realization toward the end of the night that I was getting ill, and I pretty much spent the whole day not enjoying myself because I was stressed out about not enjoying myself! Consider this a cautionary tale…

We woke up early so there would be time to check out of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel and into Hotel Mira Costa and still have 45 minutes or an hour to wait in line before Tokyo DisneySea opened. Checkout went very smoothly (except for the part when I momentarily stopped breathing as I signed a bill for more money than I’d ever spent on a single night in a hotel EVER). We were able to leave all our luggage (and our jackets—what were we thinking?!) with Bell Services to transfer over to Mira Costa. From there, we went to catch the monorail to Tokyo DisneySea/Hotel Mira Costa using the free 3-day monorail passes given to us by Tokyo Disneyland Hotel.

There are Pasmo/Suica swipers on Disney’s monorail station gates


Today, no Lurkyloos for you, Disneyland!


I love that they tell you how long til the next monorail. The longest wait I saw was 6 minutes.


More gratuitous pictures of Mickey-shaped hand straps…


Allow me to demonstrate how one uses a Mickey-shaped monorail hand strap


My first bad idea of the day was to tell Patrick to go wait in line at the gate while I ran to the hotel to check us in and grab breakfast at Mira Costa’s sundries store. This would have been a good idea if we had both had a phone, and I now think we should have just spent the extra dough to keep Patrick’s Japanese cell phone for our entire trip. (In fact, I’ve gone back and edited the intro post of this trip report to include a section on using cell phones in Japan, cuz this was another confusing part of planning that required some research.)

OK, I know it looks huge in this pic, but I was surprised how cramped the lobby was. The ceiling is high, but the circumference of the rotunda is small. Also, the place reeked of cigarette smoke, something we hadn’t noticed at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. Maybe cuz it’s such close quarters?

As I checked in, I was offered passes for us to use Mira Costa’s private entrance into Tokyo DisneySea—completely unexpected because the Disneyland Hotel won’t let you use park-entrance privileges until the morning after you check in—but we couldn’t use them because I couldn’t call Patrick to get him to hop out of line and meet me. Another thing about check-in: I couldn’t get them to give us monorail passes for longer than 2 days, even though Tokyo Disneyland Hotel gave us 3-day passes for a 1-night stay. I was trying to get coverage for our whole trip, since the last night would be at the Ambassador and, I assumed, not include monorail passes because it’s not on the monorail (now however, I’m not so sure—they may still give them out since there’s a station on the other side of the mall from the hotel).

After I checked in, I located Mira Costa’s sundries store, which turned out to be about 1/4 the size of the one at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. It had no refrigerated food and slim pickins in the packaged food department. I think I got us cereal bars. I took the long breezeway from the front of MiraCosta back toward the monorail station and then went downstairs to the gate to look for Patrick. But when I got there, the crowd was a sea of umbrellas and I couldn’t find him!

I darted around bellowing his name and panicking for about 10 minutes before I realized there was ANOTHER entrance on the other side of the monorail station and he might be there. When I ran over there, I found him right away, because in Japan, even Patrick is a giant!

What he was looking at while I was freaking out


I passed the rest of our time in line being grumpy, til eventually the race gates opened and we were all dashing into Tokyo DisneySea! I wish we’d stopped to take a picture of this—it was hilarious: As this huge crowd is surging into the park, cast members are standing at various points along the path smiling and waving and politely murmuring things that apparently translate as “Run, please. Everybody run!” and “No walking. You there—pick up the pace!”

While most of the crowd peeled out to the left to go to Tower of Terror, we ran with a smaller group straight to Journey to the Center of the Earth. Patrick’s brother got shots of this happening all over again when he was there the next day:

We did our patented trick of getting FASTPASSes first and then immediately riding the ride—which seems to have been patented in Japan too, because everyone else was doing the same! It was crazy to stand there waiting for Patrick to get FASTPASSes and watch the return times increase every 30 seconds or so.

Because this ride is a journey to the center of the Earth, it is very dark inside, but Patrick managed to get a few pictures of the pre-show areas. The queue usually snakes by a research station and some elaborate display cases, but it was early enough that we bypassed these, much to Patrick’s dismay. Little did he know we’d one day spend hours in the queue—plenty of time to take pictures then!

Most of the queue is “upstairs.” It takes you to a set of industrial-looking elevators that will lower you miles down into the volcano to catch another ride further down into… the Center of the Earth!

The elevators are a stroke of genius. The theming is pitch-perfect Jules Verne, and although you’re probably only going down a couple of stories, the sound design and lighting changes make you feel like you’re really going down as many levels as the indicator shows. (Note: I have since learned that the elevators actually take you UP—and I am delighted to have been so completely fooled!) The car shakes slightly, you hear the sounds of various kinds of machinery get louder and then softer as you pass them, a little bell whizzes by at each level, and bars of light scan up the walls at each “floor.” When the elevator stops, there is a solid crunch, and if you hang back while the other guests spill out into the tunnel, you can hear dirt falling on the roof of the elevator car!

Cast Members stationed near the elevators direct you to one of the two sides of the ramp leading down to the car loading area (kind of like Space Mountain at Disneyland). You really feel like you’re now miles under the earth, and you can hear machinery as workers excavate the surrounding caves.

At the bottom of the ramp they load you onto these amazing vehicles that look like a cross between an ore cart and a train’s observation car, with a sort of industrial-strength cow-catcher on the front. Here’s a picture of one going into the tunnel. It was super dark so I did a Photobucket hatchet job on it… aw, heck—you still can’t tell what it is!

My first impression of the ride was “loud, fast, and too short” but that changed as we rode it 8 or 9 more times over the next few days. Don’t give up on this ride if you’re not impressed after one go. Every time you ride it, new details appear, and the thrilling part at the end just gets more and more exhilarating. (It’s hard to believe JTTCOE was built on the same platform as Test Track—it is [20,000] leagues beyond Test Track in theming, storytelling, score, thrills… everything!)

Also, the first time we rode, we were sitting in the third row and couldn’t really see anything. You have to sit in the front! Before we left I’d polled a couple of Japanese-speaking friends to learn the best way to ask, “May we sit in the front row, please?” But I mangled the pronunciation so badly that none of the CMs knew what I was asking for. We eventually paired it down to “ichiban seki?” which means “First seat?” and got the front row every time!

Our next stop was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The queue is covered but outdoors and spirals around one corner of the lagoon inside Mysterious Island.

When we got to the loading area, we must’ve accidentally asked for our own ride car while trying to ask to sit in “front”—probably since there kinda isn’t a “front” in these ride cars—cuz they put us in one all by ourselves. Whoops! The cars are arranged with three benches that seat 2 people each: one in front of the car’s center window, and two at opposite angles in the windows on the sides. You see different areas of the sets depending on which window you sit in, so try to ride in a different place each time.

When I was planning the trip, I kept getting 20,000 Leagues and Journey to the Center of the Earth confused because they were both elaborately themed Jules Verne adventures we don’t have in the States. Once you’ve ridden them, you’ll never confuse them. While JTTCOE becomes a thrilling high-speed adventure, 20KL (I think just invented that abbreviation) is a classic elaborately themed dark ride. I’m sure the thrill-seekers think it’s boring, and we hardly ever needed FASTPASSes for it, but we adored it. The theming is fantastic, the music is lush and evocative, and [SPOILER?] the dry-for-wet effect is so good, Patrick didn’t even know we hadn’t actually gone underwater until I mentioned it after our second ride.

Our next step was to make reservations for lunch at Magellan’s, the super-fancy Mediterranean restaurant in Fortress Explorations, which hangs off the side of Mount Prometheus.

From there we ambled over to American Waterfront to pick up FASTPASSes for Tower of Terror.

We briefly poked into the Tower of Terror gift shop, which is designed to look like it’s been set up in the mansion’s indoor pool. Plenty more pictures of that later!

Our next destination was Lost River Delta to do the single-rider line at Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. Along the way, we were bewitched by the luscious scent of strawberry popcorn emanating from this cart.

*I* almost bought some, and I don’t even like strawberry!

I have never been more thankful to be tall…


On to Lost River Delta!

Tokyo DisneySea only offers single rider on three rides—Indy, 20KL and the coaster Raging Spirits—and it isn’t always open. In this case, being at TDS in Top Season worked in our favor, cuz on that day, it was open!

The standby line snakes around outside before snaking around even more inside!


The inside of the temple is stunning. I know I’m repeating myself, but the scale, the interactive bits in the queue, the attention to detail… our minds were being BLOWN!

There’s a big hole in the ceiling!


And here are the remains of all those who fell through the big hole in the ceiling!


I’ll have lots more pictures later in the report, but suffice it to say… sure, I guess you could say Tokyo DisneySea’s Indy ride is just like the one in Disneyland—if everything in the one at Disneyland actually WORKED! Did you know that a laser is supposed to shoot out of the giant skull’s eye in the main room and blow something up right by your car? I didn’t until we rode Indy at TDS. And there’s none of this “just paint some stuff and hit it with black light cuz we ran outta moolah” business—everything is carved and sculpted and 3D and, well, finished. There’s also a neat alternative effect before the ball scene that just knocked our socks off.

Back outside, we continued along the path toward Arabian Coast, past two elaborately themed counter-service restaurants, right next to each other! This was another difference we noticed in Tokyo: Not only are there at least twice as many restaurants in the parks, but they are all OPEN! Maybe it’s because it was Top Season. But I can’t help but think that management at the US parks would never put two counter-service restaurants both serving BBQ fare right next to each other and across the river from a ginormous Mexican restaurant, and then theme them all to the hilt. They’d put in one BBQ/TexMex joint and then only open it after noon, on weekends, in the summer….

Our next stop was Raging Spirits, and off-the-shelf coaster with fabulous curb appeal and not much going on behind the façade, story-wise. People had tried to warn us it was lame, but we had to see it was lame for ourselves. I’m warning you: It’s LAME!!!


The most exciting thing about Raging Spirits is the part where they make FIRE burn in WATER!!!

“Psst! Hey buddy! Don’t come in here—it’s LAME!”


Usually I love rollercoasters. Maybe I was soured on the whole thing because the Single Rider Line took about 20 minutes and I’m an entitled single rider (in addition to being an entitled Disneyland annual passholder and an entitled D23 member, along with millions of other entitled Disney fans). But Raging Spirits only lasted something like 2 minutes, and I just wasn’t in the mood to get whipped all over the joint in the pouring rain. Plus, the grand finale, a plunge through a steam-filled sinkhole, was one of those “Oh wait—that’s it?” moments. I dunno… maybe I shoulda given it another chance like I did JTTCOE. But not in the rain!

Off to Arabian Coast! I was pretty sure this would end up being my favorite land because I love Epcot’s Morocco so much. It was just weird to see it in the rain—the weather that day was much better suited to Mysterious Island.

First stop: Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage! I have heard this ride dismissed as an Arabian version of “it’s a small world,” but I think that’s missing the point (and this from someone who actually enjoys small world!). Yes, it’s a boat ride past characters singing a song in a round, but that’s where the similarities end. For one thing, Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage has a plot, with elaborate set pieces and some clever special effects to match. And while these characters are also very stylized, it’s in a completely different way. Patrick, who designs characters for a living, was so enchanted by them that this became one of his favorite rides in TDS. Every time we rode it we found something new. The only quirk was hearing Japanese come out of the mouths of Middle Eastern characters—but then think how often English comes out of the mouths of non-English-speaking characters in our parks!

(Chandu the Tiger was Patrick’s favorite—don’t tell!)


Back out into the rainy Arabian Coast!

Sindbad’s Storybook Exit


Yes, Patrick may have gone back to purchase this later…


I have decided that this was THE most elaborate pair of mouse ears I saw in all of Tokyo Disney.

Double-decker carousel!

This reminds me a bit of Tusker House!

I think Casbah Food Court was my favorite themed restaurant in Tokyo DisneySea. It was gorgeous and designed so meticulously you could imagine you really were in an ancient bazaar (minus the squalor!). Unfortunately, every single dish they offered had curry in it—no lunch for me!

This is the water station!

We continued on around the river to Triton’s Kingdom but didn’t stop in.

Then it was back through the volcano on our way to lunch.

Patrick adored photographing this thing!


We poked into Nautilus Gifts to get me a poncho and some gloves for the rain and the freezing cold. This was where we first noticed something peculiar about the merchandise at Tokyo Disney: Here was a gift shop halfway between Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and it had not one scrap of merchandise themed to either ride! I mean, I think there were some geodes on key chains and maybe a sailor hat or two, but it was mostly just the usual Disney character crap. Patrick’s uncle is a big Disneyana collector and dealer, and he said that when the park first opened, they had tons of stuff like we were looking for—models of the Nautilus, replicas of things from the ride, etc.—but it didn’t sell (partly because the Japanese don’t have enough space to horde collectibles the way we do!). I guess the clientele is more interested in things that are “disposable” and have characters on them.

It was about time for our lunch reservation at Magellan’s, so we headed back to Fortress Explorations. I checked in and waited in the tiny upstairs nook while Patrick ran over to Port Discovery and scored us FASTPASSes for StormRider.

Magellan’s is supposedly the swankiest restaurant in Tokyo DisneySea, although I thought the SS Columbia Dining Room came pretty close. You enter on the upper level and are escorted down below—I almost had an Adventurer’s Club flashback at that, though of course all the bawdy fun is missing.

There seem to be at least three dining rooms, including one that’s hidden behind a sliding bookcase—next time we’ll ask to eat in there (but with my mangled Japanese, they’ll probably escort us to our very own car in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!).

Instead, we ate in the cozy back room.

Our room had its own globe, though not as impressive…

Dunno if you can read these, but here are the pages of the menu:

I busted out my calculator and started trying to figure out how cheaply we could get outta there by comparing the set menu and a la carte menu.

Ah, bread… free, free bread!


Since the a la carte menu choices were basically identical to those on the set menus, we split the cheaper of the two set menus and ordered an extra appetizer. The set menu was ¥2,800 for an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert or ¥3,400 if you wanted Veal Cordon Bleu, Beef Bourguignon, or “Today’s Fish.” Actually, the prices aren’t that bad considering that Walt Disney World’s Signature Restaurants only give you an entrée for that amount.

Cream of Pumpkin Soup


Shrimp and Avocado with Lime Dressing


Grilled Sangen Pork with Balsamic Sauce


Crème Brulee


Adorable Sugar Bowl


Patrick liked everything we had. I thought the pork was overcooked, as it almost always is at restaurants, but I’d taken a chance because fine-dining places usually get it right. Everything else was well prepared but nothing on the menu sounded that interesting to me. I can’t really get a handle on Magellan’s. The service was fabulous, but it’s Tokyo Disney—you get great service at the gyoza cart! I was surprised by how limited the menu was, and not in a good “this is what the chef found at the farmers market” way. What’s the point of having identical a la carte and course menus? And why are all the choices so old-school “fancy restaurant”? I haven’t seen Veal Cordon Bleu and Beef Bourguignon on a menu since the ’80s! Maybe it’s supposed to go with the Old World feel of the restaurant, although Blue Bayou doesn’t serve Caribbean specialties and the SS Columbia Dining Room doesn’t offer old-timey ocean liner fare like Beefsteak & Oyster Pie and Pheasant Under Glass.

I definitely need to try Magellan’s again and see if I can figure it out… At any rate, we had a pile of FASTPASSES burning a hole in our pocket, so after tea we headed out.

Fistful o’ FASTPASSes


We had a little bit of time to kill before our JTTCOE FPs were good, so we returned to Patrick’s favorite photo spot(s)….

And then we stumbled on Vulcania restaurant. It looks like a cafeteria for all the unseen workers in the caverns of Journey to the Center of the Earth, with dining areas tucked around industrial-strength boilers and other equipment. Patrick was smitten!

Shield your reproductive organs!


Vulcania serves Chinese food. We ate there later and gave it our “pretty dang good!” seal of approval.

Looks like lunch wound up in lockdown! Must’ve started a food fight…


The “Wanted” poster


[Hey, you! I can tell you’re scrolling!]

One of the famous Gyoza Sausage Bun carts…


…And its ubiquitous ginormous line!


I think this is the 20KL FASTPASS distribution area…?


On the lower level of Mysterious Island is a quick-service place called Nautilus Galley.

I wish you could go inside Nemo’s submarine—then there’d be no reason to bother going to Disneyland Paris at all!


Patrick was taking a picture of the other side of his beloved drilling machine when a CM asked us if we’d like to have our picture taken with it together.

After our second ride on JTTCOE, we went over to American Waterfront to use out Tower of Terror FASTPASSes.

Outside the restroom—genius!

Looking back toward Broadway Music Theater, home of the popular show Big Band Beat.

I smell a Facebook profile pic!


As you may know, the storyline for Tokyo’s Tower of Terror is completely different than those of the US TOTs. And if you don’t want to know, get that scrolling finger ready…. NOW! Tokyo’s ride is a huge hotel owned by a megalomaniacal explorer named Harrison Hightower III (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Imagineer Joe Rhode). The lobby features numerous paintings depicting Hightower plundering various archeological and historical treasures around the globe, usually with a pack of angry indigenous persons hot on his heels.

Eventually, his nefarious deeds caught up with him when he swiped one artifact too many—a cursed idol called Shiriki Utundu. On New Year’s Eve 1899 he was to show off the idol to the public and the press at Hotel Hightower, but when he entered the penthouse elevator, something went horribly wrong. The elevator crashed to the lobby with only the idol still inside, and the hotel was immediately closed to the public. Now, more than 100 years later, it has been reopened for tours given by the New York Historical Society.

Guests are ushered into a library/drawing room for a presentation that gives more details of the fateful night when Hightower disappeared. It’s all in Japanese, but the animated stained glass window and other effects make it pretty clear what happened.

I dunno whether to spoil the surprise or not, so let me just say that there is an effect in this room that is so astonishing, I still can’t figure out how they did it. I mean, I know logically how it is probably accomplished, but I trained my eyes on it the whole time we were in there, every time, and I still did not see any of the “strings” so to speak. It just looks like magic! In fact, anytime we rode TOT for the rest of the trip, it was basically only to see this preshow again (and the queue theming). The actual drop sequence of the ride is quite similar (identical?) to the one at California Adventure.

After the pre-show, you queue inside a HUGE warehouse containing all the treasures Hightower plundered over the years. The attention to detail in this room is unbelievable.

I loved the clever labels on his filing system…

After the ride, you are of course deposited in the gift shop, but even that is a sight to behold. They’ve done it up like an indoor pool that’s been converted to a shop, and if you’ve ever been to one of the grand old hotels of the early 20th century (like the Biltmore in Downtown LA), you will know what a fantastic job the Imagineers did.

One side of the old diving board…

The other side!

Shiriki Utundu was on EVERYTHING! But the closest we could find to a sculpture/figurine was a bobblehead. They should do a BigFig!

From the hotel, we wandered around past the Sailing Ship Columbia toward Cape Cod.

It still boggles my mind how much detail there is in the theming. I mean, there’s not even anything to do in these shacks on the docks or the other boats—they’re just there to look at!

Cape Cod. Oh it looks quaint and peaceful all right, but lurking underneath the pleasant façade is an insidious compulsion that has gripped the hearts and minds of all its inhabitants, whipping them into a frenzy of mass consumption, and its name is… DUFFY!!!!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular mania, let me tell you the story that was told to me: Duffy is a rather generic-looking stuffed bear that Disney introduced at Walt Disney World a few years back. It flopped wildly. Nobody wanted a Disney character they’d never heard of who looked like any other, cheaper teddy bear (except for the hidden Mickey in his face, of course). Well, in a masterstroke of marketing genius, somebody shipped all the surplus Duffys to Japan and came up with an elaborate back story that explained Duffy was the personification of Minnie’s love for Mickey, whom Minnie sends with Mickey when he goes away on trips. Voila! The Japanese ADORE Duffy. They buy him in all sizes and clothe him in all manner of adorable outfits. He hangs around their necks or pokes out of their purses or is simply carried all over the parks and even downtown Tokyo. In January, Disney introduced Duffy’s girlfriend, Shelly Mae, and she set a new Disney record for number of units moved in a day. So now all of Cape Cod appears to be devoted to Duffy, Shelly Mae, their wardrobes, their accessories, and the collecting of these. There’s even a walkaround Duffy who—despite the fact that he’s modeled on a character that is already a stuffed animal—looks almost nothing like him.

The scene in the Duffy giftshop was reminiscent of the one at the candy shop on my first night in Tokyo Disneyland, and we couldn’t get outta there fast enough. Unfortunately, we never ended up spending much time in Cape Cod cuz there was nothing to do there besides Duffy. It should be noted that a few months after I wrote this installment, Disney reintroduced Duffy to the American Disney parks. It will be interesting to see if he’s as big a hit the second time around…

Off to Port Discovery!

After getting burned by Raging Spirits, we decided to take the advice of the many people whose description of Aquatopia was basically “like Autopia, but even more boring.” If it hadn’t been raining for most of our trip, and if the wait had ever been less than 45 minutes, we prolly would have tried it.

Too bad nobody warned us about Stormrider.

Actually, I didn’t think it was that bad, but Patrick HATED it. It’s a motion simulator ride kind of like, oh, Star Wars meets Soarin’? There’s the usual lame excuse to put a bunch of civilians in faux jeopardy on some harebrained expedition that would be instantly scuttled by lawyers and/or government regulatory boards in the real world, and then everything goes predictably wrong and then suddenly it’s over. I was just left scratching my head, and I don’t think I would have been any more clued in even if I spoke Japanese!

From Port Discovery we took the tunnel back to Mysterious Island.

I was getting hungry, so we decided to try the Gyoza Buns everybody always talks about. The line was, amazingly, not terribly long, and we were excited to learn that the cart took credit cards.

I dunno. I like gyoza, but these had some herb or spice in them that I don’t like—like bay leaves or something.

By this time, the rain and the freezing cold and the no jacket were starting to catch up with me, as evidenced by this photo…

… but fortunately, it was approaching check-in time at Hotel MiraCosta, when we would be reunited with our coats!

This time, our key cards worked a few minutes before 4:30pm. We had what Disney calls a Porto Paradiso Side Superior Room Harbor View. The room was laid out identically to the one at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, but with a shorter hall. The shower room also wasn’t quite as nice, but MiraCosta is 7 years older.


Please excuse all the flaming orbs of light in all these pictures—I had to monkey with the contrast in Photobucket to get the rest of the room to show up!

More soon-to-be-stolen toiletries!


I will never need to buy slippers again…


Spa price list


I’m not sure if all the rooms at MiraCosta are smaller than those at the Disneyland Hotel or if it’s just that we were in a different category of room. Either way, holy CRAP was our view magnificent!

We were basically right over the archway that leads into the park. I think this is our room:

The décor had only the slightest Disney touches, which was fine by us but may disappoint some. Here’s the detail on the big carved mirror:


Mount Prometheus erupts every hour on the hour.

We freshened up, got our coats and scarves and hats and gloves, and headed back out to shop for souvenirs. Patrick’s grandma had given us a generous budget with which to purchase something (or things) for his uncle’s birthday present, so we had the enviable task of spending someone else’s money on anything cool that caught our eye.

This is the part we forgot to take pictures of on our mad dash into the park—the “lobby” area with its huge globe fountain, and the passageway through the hotel and into Mediterranean Harbor.

We went looking for dinner and ended up at the table service place Ristorante di Canaletto on the canals in Venice.

Unfortunately, we encountered our first and only wait at a restaurant—45 minutes—so we went off in search of an alternative.

We struck gold at The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge aboard the SS Columbia. What a gem! A table service restaurant with reasonable prices and no waits or crowds—kind of like our fave overlooked spot in the Magic Kingdom, The Plaza Restaurant. The theming here is, again, amazing. It doesn’t even feel like theming. It feels like you’re aboard a meticulously restored ocean liner… what Long Beach’s Queen Mary would feel like if somebody would invest a bunch of money in her.

Patrick ordered some kind of melon soda float, I believe… You could pay extra and keep the glass, but we didn’t.

Baked Camembert Cheese with Garlic Toast ¥800


Roast Beef Sandwich on Graham (wheat bread) served with Fried Potatoes ¥1,260


Deep-fried Prawn Sandwich on Danish (more like a flattened croissant than a sweet pastry!) served with Fried Potatoes ¥1,200


We went halvsies on the sandwiches. The roast beef was a little weird cuz it had cocktail sauce on it for some reason (maybe for the horseradish?), but at least the fried prawn sandwich wasn’t actually on a Danish—and was delicious!

The stairs up to the SS Columbia Dining Room


We stopped in at the Sailing Day Buffet to get some pictures for PassPorter’s forthcoming Tokyo Disney guidebook. They wouldn’t let both of us come in without paying, and it turns out the umbrella bags they hand you at the entrance are not just a courtesy, they’re mandatory! Keeps the floors dry, I s’pose…

There’s a grand, block-long department store in the American Waterfront called (what else?) McDuck’s. It is another place to feed one’s Duffy/Shelly Mae addiction.

We decided that Uncle Matt needed at least some form of Duffy merchandise as a representation of Tokyo Disney custom, so we got him the smallest one we could find.

“Oh yer gon’ ta buy mah Duffys!!!”



One thing I didn’t get was where people got all the different Duffy costumes—we only saw the same one in every shop!

We worked our way along the edges of Mediterranean Harbour by going through the various shops. There was one devoted to a peculiar selection of almost-but-not-quite hip clothing and souvnenirs. We’d end up going back there a couple times thinking we’d find something that really interested us, only to leave disappointed.

More lovely displays…

We headed back up to our room for ringside seats at Tokyo DisneySea’s nighttime spectacular, Bravesimo. I think it’s about the Goddess of Water falling in love with the God of Fire. I wasn’t quite as enchanted as I’d been with Legend of Mythica, but it’s quite the spectacle, and I liked it in an IllumiNations kind of way. I guess a lot of people are excited to see it get replaced by Fantasmic! later this year, but since I’ve never been a fan of any “character jamboree” (as I like to call them), I’m kind of sad to see a unique, non-Disney-character-based show disappear.

You can see a wonderful 3-part HD video of BraviSEAmo on YouTube here:

This guy would give Disneyland’s Murphy the Dragon a run for her money!


I’m sure there’s a Grand Finale in there somewhere…


As soon as the show was over, we dashed downstairs to get in our last two FASTPASS rides. Despite the fact that the park was only open til 10pm, we still managed to squeeze in JTTCOE, 20KL, and TOT; a trip on the DisneySea Electric Railway; and a lot more photos of Mysterious Island!


Journey to the Center of the Earth FASTPASS machines—wicked!


I guess we went on Indy again!


Gee, there wasn’t even a line at Tower of Terror?


I smell another Facebook profile pic for Patrick!

Finally we staggered back up to the room, I had my aforementioned meltdown, and we zonked out. Looking back on it now, I see we still had a ton of fun that day—and it only got better!

Up Next: Second Full Day at Tokyo DisneySea!

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33 Responses
  • Katrina
    November 27, 2018

    It looks like no matter which country you are in Disney is a magical place

    • Jordan Jeffers
      November 19, 2021

      Great photos thanks!

  • Jasmine
    November 24, 2018

    Such a lovely home…felt like I was on a mini-vacation. Yes, we are blessed to have good friends.

  • Lovely
    November 1, 2018

    Thank you so much for the information it did help us as we traveled to Tokyo Disney Sea. After going and working hard to make the most of it, I must say I don’t see how anyone could spend so many days there. We enjoyed our time but to me Tokyo Disneysea is form over function. The rides are beautiful, well prepared, thoughtfully presented but then the ride itself is, meh. We thoroughly enjoyed Tower of Terror, but all the other rides were either a bore or just ok. We were very thankful for the fastpasses because if we had to watch the posted 70 minutes for some of the rides we might have cried ?

    • Carrie
      November 1, 2018

      Glad you had a good time!

  • Lynsey
    February 8, 2017

    I am going through your entire Japan trip and I just want to say… THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your experiences in great detail!!! We are planning on 1 day at Tokyo Disney and 2 days at Disneysea. There are so many things I was not sure about, but your blog has answered all my questions! Just… THANK YOU! So excited for our trip!!!

    • Carrie
      February 9, 2017

      That’s awesome! I’m so glad to be able to help. Have fun!!!

  • Emi
    November 9, 2015

    I’m quite late to reading this but thanks for posting the menus of the places you went. I’m a really picky eater and was trying to find out if there would be anything that I’d eat at the park. I know there are still a few other places not in this post but even just looking at what you’ve shown here, I know it’s looking dismal for me and I should probably try to bring something in lol.

    • Carrie
      November 22, 2015

      Interesting! What’s sorts of things do you like to eat?

  • Mel Marshan
    December 22, 2013

    We leave for Tokyo on Xmas day, and are in Tokyo until 4th jan. Obviously right in peak holiday period unfortunately. We want to go to Disney sea. I haven’t been to a disney in ten years so don’t really understand the fast pass… Some people tell me you can only get one… But you seemed to have many. Can you let me know how it works? Thanks

    • Carrie
      December 22, 2013

      Oooh! A Christmas trip to Tokyo sounds so exciting! With traditional FastPass you can get a new FastPass as soon as the window printed on the bottom of your ticket opens — usually about every 2 hours. IF the cast members are not enforcing return times on Fast Passes, this means you can collect passes every 2 hours all day and then use them whenever you want. With the advent of MyMagic+ at Walt Disney World, guests are limited to a certain number of FastPasses per day and they must use them within the standard return window. Disneyland has also begun enforcing the return window, even though they don’t offer MyMagic+. You might want to poke around on’s Tokyo Disney message board and see if anyone has reported being turned away at a ride in Tokyo when presenting an expired FastPass. When we went, they didn’t care if the window had passed, which allowed us to stockpile the passes and use them more than 2 hours later.

      • Audrey
        April 5, 2014

        Word on the street is that TDR is strictly enforcing fast pass return times these days. Going in a few weeks but probably won’t risk trying to find out!

        • Carrie
          April 6, 2014

          Interesting… well if you find out anything official, let me know!

  • matt
    November 10, 2013

    I enjoyed reading your article. Too bad it was a rainy day.
    My friends and I also had a great time at DisneySea we created a video of our experience:

  • Gavin
    November 5, 2013

    If you had a choice of only doing one park or the other, which would you choose? We will probably have time to do 1 park and not sure which one would be best? We have been to Disney in Hong Kong but nowhere else. Great read by the way….

    • Carrie
      November 5, 2013

      DEFINITELY Tokyo DisneySea—there is nothing else like it in the world! Tokyo Disneyland is of course wonderful, and we liked seeing its variations on the familiar rides and buildings, but if you can only do one, do the one containing 80% stuff you can’t find anyplace else! The theming alone is worth the price of admission.

  • Solomani
    June 1, 2013

    Read the whole trip report. Disboards led me here and I have to say great report. I mainly wanted to read in detail about TDL and TDS as I will be visiting both in June with my family. I haven’t visited either in 10+ years so nice to get a refresher. I picked up a bunch of hints from your posts so thanks 🙂

    One question – did the PassPorter book come out? I couldn’t find it on Amazon.

    • Carrie
      June 1, 2013

      So glad you enjoyed the trip report! Unfortunately, the PassPorter got shelved when everything changed after the tsunami, but we hope to revive it some day. I just need to get back to Tokyo first!

  • Alanthia
    April 8, 2013


    I would like to ask another question. Did you stay in a Superior Room at the Hotel Mira Costa? If so, do the windows open fully for one to take in an unobstructed view of the harbour/ lagoon? I read somewhere that the windows can only open by 10cm. Is that true?


    • Carrie
      April 8, 2013

      Yes, I believe it was called a Superior Harbor View Room, and I don’t think the windows opened all the way because then you would have been able to fall out. But as you can see from the photos taken of the lagoon in the report, we had no problem viewing everything from behind the windows.

  • Krissy @ Shiawase Life
    November 29, 2012

    I stumbled upon your site in a search for Duffy pictures (long story) but I am SOOO glad that I did! I grew up in Japan and visited the Tokyo Disney Resort MANY times but have NEVER seen such a wonderful and detailed trip report (and I just read *this* post).

    Thank you for temporarily curing my homesickness, as I am thousands of miles from home now, living in VA!

    • Carrie
      November 29, 2012

      Welcome! Thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad this post was able to at least temporarily help with homesickness. We missed Japan for many weeks after we returned—I can only imagine what it must be like to miss an entire childhood there!

  • Peachy
    November 24, 2012

    Hello there!

    Great blog, great trip report – We are a Japanese couple living in Australia and love Disney. We’ve been worldwide and still love Tokyo the most. Hope to stay in Tokyo to take advantage of a yearly pass one day.

    Just wanted to point out – The Duffy costumes are mostly handmade or dressed at home by Tokyo-ites =)

    • Carrie
      November 26, 2012

      That is fascinating—they do such a great job. Thanks for sharing!

  • Matt
    September 15, 2012

    Could you use the fastpasses after the time window had closed like they do in Disneyland or were they strict that you had to use in within the hour?

    • Carrie
      September 15, 2012

      You know, Patrick and I talked about this just now and tried to remember… we never remember being turned away with expired FPs at *any* Disney park, and since it’s our practice to use them beyond the window elsewhere, we would’ve done the same in Tokyo. But I’m not sure how many FPs we actually got, since often the line looked as long as standby. So I guess I can’t say for certain that they aren’t strict about it in Tokyo…

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