Trip Reports

Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report – Part 5

If you missed part 1, 2, 3, or 4 of this trip report, click on the corresponding number to catch up.  If you missed our Japan trip report, click here.  

And now, the end is near.  Two different trip report series about Japan, totaling nine different parts.  I did this my way.  Terrible joke and we’re off and running into this final installment of our Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report.  I had taken some photos around the base of Mount Promytheus while waiting for the rest of the group to meet up for lunch.  Eventually, we met and headed inside Magellan’s, DisneySea’s flagship restaurant.

Magellan's globe main room from bottom TDS

A flagship restaurant is a bit of an unorthodox concept but I think many Disney theme parks have them.  Carthay Circle in DCA, Blue Bayou in Disneyland, and Cinderella’s Royal Table (or Be Our Guest) in Magic Kingdom are the most prominent examples of this.  While I don’t think a theme park needs to have a go-to restaurant, it certainly doesn’t hurt.  Magellan’s only enhances the theme, design and beauty of DisneySea.

Magellan's beef TDS

While I’ll be doing a review in the next few weeks, I’ll go ahead and spoil the final verdict here.  Magellan’s is an incredible restaurant that is both sophisticated in theme and gorgeous to relax in.  The food was delicious too with prices significantly cheaper than other ‘flagship restaurants’.

Earlier in the day we had tried to get tickets to Big Band Beat, a Broadway style show in American Waterfront.  The park has a lottery system where you scan your park tickets (you don’t have to pay extra) and hope to get seats for one of the Big Band Beat showtimes.  We, unfortunately, didn’t win the lottery either day we were at DisneySea and had to settle for the general admission entrance.  To do that, we had to line up nearly an hour before the show outside of the theater.

Big Band Beat inside of theater TDS

We got inside without much trouble but I’d advise anyone to get there that early if you don’t win the lottery.  It was a hot day and the theater was really cooking.  Aside from that, the show was incredible.  Because Big Band Beat is in the American Waterfront the whole show is in English and showcases the big band music of the early 1900’s.  Along with the music, there is dancing, characters and a few surprises along the way.  It is a spectacular show that is not to be missed and pushes the American Waterfront into an elite land.

After the show we did a loop around Mediterranean Harbor, exploring the right side of the main harbor near Zambini Brothers Ristorante.  There are beautiful back alleys made up by Hotel MiraCosta and the restaurant.  Wandering these side streets put a stay in Hotel MiraCosta on my Disney bucket list.  The hotel sits inside of the park, with many rooms facing the harbor and other areas of the park.  Hotel MiraCosta is beautiful on the outside, blending in beautifully with the rest of Mediterranean Harbor.

Mediterranean Harbor alley with tunnell TDS

In most other theme parks this back alley would be one of my favorite details, a quiet romantic setting.  At DisneySea, I’m not sure it even cracks my top-25 aspects of the park.  Still, take this route when walking around the park sometime, it’s well worth it.

It being our last full day in the park (and last planned day), we were a little unsure of what to do next.  We had done all of the attractions and seen most of the lands in detail along with quite a few shows.  This isn’t to say that we were out of things to do but instead wanted to do everything again.  Time simply didn’t allow that as it was already late afternoon and DisneySea was a little busier on that day than it had been previously.

Mysterious Island from below TDS

We opted for a mix of our favorite attractions and exploring little paths we hadn’t been on.  This spot down by the water in Mysterious Island, right by the submarine, became a favorite of mine.  There is a snack stand down there, as well as tables and chairs, but mainly I liked coming down here to get closer to the colors.  At night, the beautiful blue-green tint the water has that matches the port is very evident.  The water has a pretty standard color throughout the park but it’s purposefully different in Mysterious Island, matching the pastel color scheme and geothermal theme.

We walked over to Port Discovery to check out the FastPass situation at Nemo and get a drink.  Melissa ended up with a delicious pineapple slushy drink that she loved.

Light Venetian Gondolas sign TDS

After a little bit of time in Port Discovery, we headed back to Mediterranean Harbor.  At this point we were circling between our four (rectangling? squaring?) favorite lands – Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Mysterious Island and Arabian Coast.  They are all fairly different but equally impressive.

We’d had pretty bad luck with the Venetian Gondolas all trip, mostly them being closed due to high winds.  We had planned to ride them around sunset the first full day in the park so we went with that plan again.  Unfortunately, the line was fairly long but we sucked it up and joined the masses.  I think we waited for around half an hour and that might have been the longest line of the trip.

Mount Promytheus from gondolas sunset TDS

The wait was well worth it.  The sunset was a bit of a dud but the Venetian Gondolas was anything but.  This is the most relaxing attraction in a theme park, and it offers outstanding views of the park.  Along with that, the Gondolas fit thematically and the gondoliers are charming and a joy to be around.  Our experience was beautiful and transportive, one of my favorite memories on that last full day in DisneySea.

Lady smiling Venetian Gondolas TDS

We hung out around the attraction’s exit for a bit, another little alley area with bridges over the canal.  Another transportive area that is a perfect place to linger if you want some photos or just like to hang out in cool spots.

Sunset Mount Promytheus Venetian Gondolas waving TDS

Dinner time brought us back to Port Discovery around blue hour.

Aquatopia night TDS

I’ve written about Magic Kingdom and Disneyland’s Tomorrowland numerous times on the blog and how it doesn’t quite work anymore, feeling static and tired.  The design needs a refresh (which it is slowly getting in Magic Kingdom) and the idea behind the land is ambitious but may be unsustainable without incredible upkeep.  Port Discovery nails the vibe, albeit on a smaller scale and slightly different theme.  The energy flows through the port with the constantly moving Aquatopia, a brighter and more interesting take on Autopia.  SeaRider has an excellent show building, easy on they eyes and slightly futuristic in design.  More than anything, I like the color scheme in Port Discovery.  While I’ve never thought the neon was a problem in Tomorrowland, the gold (and deep blues) throughout this land have me rethinking that position.  The gold and blue felt futuristic without feeling cheesy, something the neon doesn’t avoid.

We ate dinner at Horizon Bay Restaurant in Port Discovery.  I’ll review it soon but thought the counter-service restaurant was pretty solid but not spectacular.

Mickey Fantasmic! hat TDS

It had gotten a little later than we planned so we booked it back to the main harbor to watch Fantasmic.  This time we planned on watching the show from front of house, right as you enter DisneySea.  Unfortunately, it was already pretty crowded so we settled a little to the right a few rows back.  It wasn’t a great spot but was better than watching Fantasmic from the side.  Ultimately, we recommend showing up between 30-45 minutes in advance of the show and get as close to the front of house as possible.

Dragon dying Fantasmic! TDS

We all loved this version of Fantasmic.  I’d place it just below Disneyland’s version and way above Hollywood Studios.  The harbor is a great setting for Fantasmic, a circle view that can house gigantic floats and props.  If I had one complaint it’s that the show doesn’t feel as intimate as Disneyland’s.  But, Tokyo Disney Resort goes all out, especially on shows, and this is certainly no exception.

Pirate Egg man Sinbad TDS

We hustled back to Arabian Coast for one last ride on Sinbad.  This pirate egg axer was still up to his evil ways.  After, we rode Indiana Jones Adventure.  The others went on to ride SeaRider and Journey to the Center of the Earth, the latter of which they sprinted to right before closing.  I took the more relaxing route, getting one more trip around the park for some nighttime photos.  Here’s the best of the bunch, in Arabian Coast and Mysterious Island.

Raging Spirits outside close TDS

Arabian Coast alley night TDS

Mysterious Island Mount Promytheus and giftshop night TDS

Mysterious Island submarine night wide TDS

Around this time, Melissa exited Journey and found me.  We were both so sad that it was our last few minutes in the park that we decided to come back the next day, if only for a few hours before our flight.  Still, the last time through DisneySea at night (until next trip) was special.  Usually a sentence like this is hyperbolic but there is truly no other place I’d rather be.

We went out to the loop that encircles the main harbor and took the long way around, taking photos and soaking it in.  There were plenty of times during the trip where my eyes got a bit watery, overwhelmed by the beauty and journey it took to see it.  For some reason that night wasn’t one of those times.  Instead I was more content than I’ve ever been in my life.  There’s an elegant way to tie those sentiments into an ode to travel and the benefits that come with it.  Instead of that, here’s few more photos from that time.

Volcano Ship left side TDS night

Mount Promytheus night reflection front of park TDS

Volcano boat in focus night TDS

We finally exited the park and rushed back to Disneyland Hotel to get our bags.  That morning, we had checked out of our room and were changing hotels for the night, saving some money in the process.  We decided on Disney’s Celebration Hotel, Tokyo Disney Resort’s equivalent of a value hotel.  There was no issue grabbing our bags and catching the complimentary bus outside of Tokyo Disneyland.

I’ll have a review of both Tokyo Disney Resort hotels we stayed at in due time but the Celebration Hotel was decent albeit a little too far away.  The prices were solid but I’d ultimately try for a different hotel without the Disney name that was closer to the resort (there are many of them right by the resort including a Hilton and Sheraton).  We had no trouble checking in and enjoyed the hotel’s lobby props.

Mickey canoe Celebration Hotel

As I mentioned, Melissa and I decided to go back to DisneySea the next day.  We both decided that getting a little more sleep would be beneficial before our 30 hours of travel so we got up slightly before park opening and made our way there.  The bus ride was pretty interesting in daylight, passing through neighborhoods with baseball fields and the ocean looming in the background.  For the previous four days we were in a little bubble, getting back outside of that was interesting.

DisneySea globe TDS

Our day in the park was very simple, we just walked around enjoying DisneySea one more time.  It was a Saturday and the crowds had arrived so we skipped most of the attractions.  We did go straight to the Big Band Beat lottery and won!  I don’t know if winning the lottery is easier if you only try for two tickets, like we did that day, instead of four.  Obviously the results made it seem that way but maybe the law of averages were just working in our favor?

TDS American Waterfront water with reflection

We strode around the American Waterfront for a while, taking in some of the back areas that were free of the crowds.  That port is so large that there are plenty of areas that seemed new to us even after spending two plus days there.

Cape Cod cool clouds TDS

One of our priorities for the day was to ride the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line, the park’s boat transportation that goes from port to port.  We ended up riding it from the Cape Cod section of American Waterfront to Lost River Delta.  Later we rode it in reverse, which I preferred as it went through Mysterious Island.  This was yet another great form of transportation in the park.

Boat from boat American Waterfront TDS

We walked through Arabian Coast, rode Sinbad and went to lunch back in Mediterranean Harbor at Zambini Brothers Ristorante.  This was an Italian counter-service restaurant where we had a delicious seafood rice dish that I’ll review later!

After lunch we rode 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as it didn’t have much of a line.  The queue for that attraction is very interesting as the whole park is very self-referential.

20,000 Leagues queue Mysterious Island map TDS

We did quite a bit of walking that morning and afternoon, trying to see our favorite areas one last time.  We stumbled upon a Tokyo Disney Resort special – a high-five line!

High five line TDS

The cast members line the walkway with their Goofy hands and give guests high-five as they pass.  It’s silly, kind and a fun way to interact with cast members.  Speaking of, all of our experiences with cast members throughout the trip were excellent and the service was spotless.

We took the aforementioned boat ride back to the American Waterfront and caught our showing of Big Band Beat.  Seeing the show from the bottom level on a cooler day definitely made for a better showing.  This is the best stage show I’ve ever seen at a Disney Park and think it’s a quintessential DisneySea experience.

Ships from American Waterfront TDS

We walked around the American Waterfront for a while before doing a quick little loop around the main harbor on Facebook Live.

I apologize for being bad at videos 😉 and far prefer taking photos to that but it is a fun way to show people around the park.  We slowly exited the park, trying to plan our trip back before we left the gates.  Unfortunately, that’s still a work in progress.

We caught the bus back to the hotel and then took another bus to the airport.  Both instances were very easy and without complication.  As long as you have Google Maps and expect to get a little lost every now and then, going around Japan will be a breeze.

Our trip has been over three months now and I’ve dragged this trip report on long enough.  Frankly, I’m sad that this report is over and I’ve edited all of my photos.  I’ve done 9 installments as well as 4 podcast episodes about the trip and wish I could keep talking about it.  My expectations were so high going into the trip and every single one of them was blown out of the water.  Melissa and I talk about going back daily and are trying to find a way to do an even longer trip in the next few years.  We don’t know the exact details but do know we’ll be back sooner rather than later.  I could not recommend traveling to Japan enough, we had the trip of a lifetime and now have caught the travel fever even more.

TDS opening speech

Thank you for reading all about our trip!  If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave a comment down below.  If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages.  You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email.  All of those links are on the right side of this page.  Again, thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

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