After a morning full of attractions we had worked up quite an appetite. Because we were staying at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, we were able to get reservations in advance for Crystal Palace. On this day, they weren’t completely necessary and probably could have been made on the day of. Still, it was a nice perk to have everything squared away before our day began.
Like Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace in Tokyo Disneyland is a buffet meal. There aren’t any characters (Winnie the Pooh characters inhabit the Magic Kingdom version) here but otherwise the restaurant looks the same with a Victorian theme. The portion sizes are somewhat smaller in Japan than America, though that stereotype is a little overblown, so it was a conscious decision to go stuff out faces. We did just that and enjoyed the meal. The cuisine was mostly western food but there were some Japanese twists on the offerings. I’ll have a review soon enough but this was my least favorite of the table-service restaurants we went to and was still quite good. The desserts were definitely the highlight.
If you have ever wondered if eating five plates of food and then going on Space Mountain is a good idea then I can assure you that it is not. We tried this, in the name of research, and managed to walk away without feeling too bad. Part of that is because Space Mountain in Tokyo Disneyland is a bit smoother than Magic Kingdom’s version. I enjoyed the queue, as well, which had a giant spaceship hanging overhead.
At this point we’d experienced a night in DisneySea and a wonderful morning in Disneyland with next to no lines. Everything had gone perfect and the parks were pristine so we decided to test our luck and check out ToonTown.
I’m a notorious ToonTown hater and would like it be replaced in the original Disneyland immediately. I thought Tokyo’s version was superior and more enjoyable. The plant life was richer and there were some beautiful areas, including Goofy’s garden (seen above) with actual plants growing. Some beautiful cherry blossoms were blooming in the land, as well.
There wasn’t much of a line at any of the characters houses/boats/whatever so we walked through Goofy’s and Daisy’s. Inside of Goofy’s house there is this weird attraction where you point a little cannon at a screen and digital paint shows up. Think of it as a stationary, little kid version of Toy Story Mania. Four adults should not have been doing this but there we were and the result was the worst 30 seconds of our whole Tokyo Disney Resort experience. Having said that, I think the visual of four adults, trying to figure out a very simple attraction, hunching next to a bunch of 5-year-old kids is funny.
After climbing around Daisy’s boat, I took a seat as the afternoon showing of Dream Up was going by in the distance. While the view wasn’t the best, soaking in the music and seeing the floats again was nice. The excitement from the parade’s premiere that day was palpable, with members of the press all around.
After Toontown, we walked through Fantasyland to Haunted Mansion. Because of cultural differences, Haunted Mansion resides in Fantasyland instead of a more realist location like in Disneyland or Magic Kingdom. The change was minimally noticed. Unfortunately, the facade of Haunted Mansion was getting worked on so we weren’t able to see the foreboding building. On the bright side, the attraction was great, most resembling Magic Kingdom’s version. We escaped becoming a ghost and headed to the day’s main event…
Country Bear Jamboree! The Country Bears play the whole original show at Tokyo Disneyland instead of the cut down version we’ve grown accustomed to stateside. Americana has become a big part of Japanese culture and, strangely enough, I think they do it better at Tokyo Disney Resort than either of the resorts in America. I’ll save diving into that thought for a different post, but Country Bears are just a snapshot of that. The show is pretty popular, more so than Magic Kingdom, and the crowd actively participates.
My favorite group of bears switch between singing in Japanese and English and the results are chaotic and an incredible amount of fun. After seeing the full show, it really bothers me that the Magic Kingdom version is condensed. I don’t understand why that decision was made. Are people’s attention spans really that limited that we need to cut a 20ish minute show to 12 minutes? I wish they would bring back the whole show in Magic Kingdom and also wish it was more popular. The Tokyo Disneyland version of this is a clear example of why I think that. It’s in pristine condition and hilarious. They even do the holiday and summer vacation seasonal shows.
After tasting a little bit of heaven, we ventured over to the river and took a sunset cruise on the riverboat. This is one of my favorite activities at Disney castle parks, regardless of resort. Tokyo Disneyland’s river, set in Westernland, is very similar to Disneyland’s. The train loop around the area is slightly different but everything else is very reminiscent of other riverboats. That night was especially beautiful so I’ll shut up and let you see some photos.
As I’ve mentioned before, the park was not busy at all on this day. We continued our river expeditions, hopping over to Jungle Cruise which had no wait at all. Jungle Cruise was all in Japanese and still managed to be my favorite version of the storied attraction. I did find it refreshing to not hear some of the standard puns involved but this version of Jungle Cruise stood out because of how playful the skippers were.
Our first time on Jungle Cruise, our skipper had the boat roaring. She was interacting with some teenagers and we, even without knowing Japanese, found this entertaining. She even startled Mackenzie, one of our group, at one point which is a moment we all found hilarious except for Mackenzie. If you are worried about the language barrier here, don’t be. The skippers were very demonstrative in their gestures and laughter transcends language.
This version of Jungle Cruise also looks the best. The animatronics appeared sharper, as did the colors and lighting surrounding them. There is also a cool temple scene with projections that make this ride a standout.
Our afternoon was both eventful and relaxing. Even with a lack of crowds I recommend a relaxing afternoon at any castle parks. This will help you avoid getting overheated and really tired. Slow boat rides, shows and train rides are ideal.
We did a little shopping and then eventually found a place to sit for Tokyo Disneyland’s nighttime parade, Dreamlights. Around this time, I went off to get some water with Melissa while the others saved the spot. I caught a little bit of World Bazaar (Tokyo Disneyland’s Main Street) and the mini-shows they had going on to celebrate Tokyo Disney Resort’s 35th Anniversary.
Around this time I spotted Chris from TDR Explorer. His site was a big resource for us as we planned our trip so I went over to say thank you and introduce myself. He couldn’t have been more kind. I highly recommend using TDR Explorer and the Tokyo Disney E-book they recently put out if you are going to Japan. He was kind enough to hand me a map of Shanghai Disneyland that he was passing out to followers throughout the week. It was the first of a few fun interactions we had throughout our Tokyo Disney Resort. Check out his site here.
Finally, it was time for Dreamlights. This was one of the aspects of Tokyo Disney Resort I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint. Dreamlights is far and away the best parade I’ve ever seen. The floats were impeccable and full of character, the soundtrack was energetic and the theme of the parade was subtle and beautiful. Here’s a bunch of photos from that night, where we had a great view of the parade and castle.
After the parade ended we all stared at each other in a bit of disbelief. Dreamlights takes Tokyo Disneyland up a few notches all by itself.
After we picked our jaws up off the ground we realized that it was past time for dinner. We perused over to China Voyager in Adventureland and enjoyed our counter-service meal there. This restaurant offered ramen as well as a few Chinese options. It has some detailed decorations and resides along the water, making it a quiet and relaxing place later at night. China Voyager is popular so going at off-hours worked well.
Our night was drawing to a close so we headed over to Fantasyland, hoping to take advantage of the low crowds. We did just that, going on five of the land’s attractions in about half an hour. If you are able to pull it off, doing Fantasyland attractions right before close is the way to go. Crowds are sparse and the land is quite vibrant at night.
It’s a Small World was scheduled to reopen from a refurbishment shortly after we left. On this night it wasn’t open but it was clear that the ride was on the verge of opening. The facade was beautiful and looked exceptionally sharp. We closed the night with a ride on Peter Pan’s Flight, which is also sharp and well maintained. There was no one ahead of us in line and we walked in with one minute to spare.
After rushing around the Fantasyland rides, I split from the group to take some photos around Fantasyland and the castle. I didn’t have much time as the park wasn’t busy so security came around a bit quicker than usual. Still, getting a land as boisterous as Fantasyland essentially all to yourself was quite beautiful. I didn’t take as many photos as I should have but instead just soaked in the peaceful moments before moving on to the castle.
Tokyo Disney Resort doesn’t allow tripods which led to me having to be a bit more creative in my nighttime photography. I used a green pod for much of the trip, which led to the ground, benches and trash cans as a stabilizer for the photos. For the most part, I was pleased with the results. I have my new Tonika 11-16mm lens to thank for some of these photos. The lens led to sharper images and easier nighttime/dark ride photography. I worked fairly hard on my photography for this trip and am thankful my friends were patient whenever I stopped to take a photo.
Speaking of photography, Melissa and I were able to meet both Tom & Sarah Bricker that night. They are the creators/writers on Disney Tourist Blog and Travel Caffeine. Tom was busy taking photos so I didn’t want to interrupt for long. We were able to chat with Sarah for quite a while and were very happy to have met them. It’s not a stretch to say that we probably wouldn’t have been on this trip if it weren’t for their blogs. Meeting them in Japan felt like a full-circle moment. If you aren’t following their two blogs, you should be.
The 35th Anniversary centerpiece (if you want to call it that) is lovely and pays homage to all the other anniversaries celebrated at Tokyo Disney Resort. There were also mini-shows with projections in World Bazaar to celebrate the anniversary. Thank of it as Animal Kingdom’sTree of Life Awakenings or Magic Kingdom’s Kiss Goodnight. The shows were fun and beautiful, a perfect way to end the night.
We staggered back to our room, exhausted and drunk off a perfect day at Tokyo Disneyland.
The next morning saw us in Tokyo DisneySea for our first whole day there. I had planned to write about our morning in this installment but seeing how we’re over 2,000 words already we’ll save that whole day for its own post. It’s not my intention to stretch out this trip report to this degree, I guess I just have a lot to say about these amazing parks. Thanks for bearing with me, I hope you’re enjoying these posts!
To continue on to part 3, click here!
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Categories: Trip Reports