We are huge Disney fans so of course on our latest visit to Japan we couldn’t miss Tokyo DisneySea, one of our top two Disney parks in the world (the other being the Magic Kingdom in Orlando). DisneySea rides are more adult-orientated than at its sister park Tokyo Disneyland, and there are many other attractions that are great to do without kids like have a cocktail in a 1920s lounge on a fancy cruise liner (yes, really!).
DisneySea is nautical themed with seven impressively themed ports inspired by both real places and ocean legends including American Waterfront, Mediterranean Harbor (which looks just like Italy!), and the unique Mysterious Island complete with erupting volcano.
Our detailed Tokyo DisneySea review includes our favourite DisneySea rides, recommended one-day itinerary, and other tips to help you make the most of your stay and avoid the crowds.
Top Tokyo DisneySea Rides and Attractions
Our DisneySea Highlights
I have noted with (FP) the rides that have DisneySea Fastpasses available (more on how to use these to skip queues below).
1) Tower of Terror (FP)
Tower of Terror seen from the SS Columbia ship
DisneySea’s Tower of Terror is as wonderfully terrifying as the others around the world. The theming is different—Japan’s Tower of Terror is an abandoned New York hotel in 1912—and the pre-ride story is in Japanese, but you can’t beat the anticipation as you ride the elevator to the upper floors of the hotel and wait for the sudden plummet.
2) Journey to the Centre of the Earth (FP)
The centre of the volcano on Mysterious Island where the Journey to the Centre of the Earth begins
Within a volcano at the heart of the park, Mysterious Island is the most fantastical of the ports. The main attraction is Journey to the Centre of the Earth, a dark thrill ride that takes you deep underground. It’s very atmospheric, even in the queue there’s plenty to see, and the ride ends with a dramatic climax.
3) Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (FP)
This dark thrill ride is a simulated off-road journey through the Temple of the Crystal Skull. A fun ride with great theming and a Japanese Dr Jones.
4) Raging Spirits (FP)
Raging Spirits is an outdoor rollercoaster that’s one of the few Disney rides to go upside down with a 360º inversion. The theming isn’t as great as on other attractions (although the fire and water feature is impressive), but it’s fast and we love a loop.
5) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (FP)
A dark ride on one of Captain Nemo’s submarines deep below the sea in search of Atlantis. A beautiful and immersive ride.
6) Big Band Beat Show
We loved Big Band Beat! This 30-minute Broadway-style show features dancers and a live band playing swing and jazz tunes from the 1920s to 1940s. The performers are professional, the dialogue is in English (we’re in America after all), and the Broadway Music Theatre is a beautiful space with comfy seating. It’s perfect for taking a break during a busy park day.
To get tickets for Big Band Beat you need to enter a lottery (one chance only) using your park ticket at the Biglietteria in Mediterranean Harbor. We entered at around 9.30 am for the 3.20 pm show and won! If you don’t win the lottery you can queue about an hour before the show starts for the limited non-reserved seating on the balcony.
Popcorn at Disney Japan is a big deal! The Japanese love to buy Tokyo DisneySea popcorn buckets in fun designs that they wear around their necks and refill throughout the day. There are stands all over the park with different flavours including curry (our favourite), black pepper, milk chocolate, caramel, tomato and herb, blueberry, and salt.
Buy some popcorn as soon as you feel a bit hungry as the queues become longer later in the day.
8) Fortress Explorations
Fortress Explorations is a hidden gem at DisneySea and a great escape from the crowds in the afternoon. It’s an interactive play area with ten exhibits within the fortress where you can study the planets and earth’s rotation, operate cannons and nautical instruments, sail miniature galleons (100 yen fee), and more. Don’t miss the views of Mediterranean Harbor from the top.
9) Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage
Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage is a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World. It’s a long, gentle dark ride on water as you sail pass Arabian scenes with Sinbad the sailor and tiger cub Chandu. It’s a relaxing, low-pressure ride with short queues so do it later in the day.
10) Lunch in Venice
Ristorante di Canaletto is a surprisingly good Italian restaurant overlooking the Venice canals. It’s one of the only restaurants in DisneySea with vegetarian options. We love the pizza here and it makes a nice break in a busy day.
You have to order a three-course set meal and lunch is much cheaper than dinner (2800 yen vs 4800 yen), so make a reservation as soon as they open at 10 am (online bookings are in Japanese only). Even then availability was limited and we had to have lunch at 10.50 am.
11) The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge
The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge is one of the best DisneySea attractions and is unlike anywhere else we’ve come across in a Disney park. It’s a 1920s themed bar aboard the S.S. Columbia cruise ship with amazing attention to detail that takes you back in time. Relaxing on a couch here with a cocktail is the perfect retreat from the crowded park.
There is usually a queue so go outside lunch and dinner times. Food is available but it’s not vegetarian-friendly.
Afterwards, head up to to the upper deck for fantastic views of the park.
The perfect way to end your day at DisneySea is with the spectacular Fantasmic! show on the water at Mediterranean Harbor. Classic Disney characters sing your favourite songs with special effects using gigantic water screens, lasers, lights, and fire.
Other Tokyo DisneySea Attractions to Consider
Gondola heading towards Mysterious Island
If you have the time, these DisneySea attractions are worth adding to your itinerary:
- Toy Story Mania! (FP) – We skipped Toy Story as it’s insanely busy in Tokyo. Even five minutes after opening the queue time was 70 minutes and the Fastpass queue was massive (and sold out quickly). If you really want to ride it, your best chance is to stay in a Disney hotel to get into the park 15 minutes early.
- Out of Shadowland Show – This 30-minute musical show is in Japanese, but the story is easy enough to follow and there are some impressive stunts. A good option for a break.
- DisneySea Transit Steamer Line – A relaxing way to get around the park or just ride it and enjoy the view.
- DisneySea Electric Railway – Same as the Steamer Line but by train instead of boat.
- Venetian Gondolas – If the queue isn’t too long why not ride a gondola in the Venice canals?
- Aquatopia – A trackless water ride that doesn’t get great reviews. The queue never got below 30 minutes so we didn’t bother.
- Mermaid Lagoon – This indoor world is full of kid’s rides, but it looks impressive and feels different from the rest of park. Worth a quick wander through.
- Caravan Carousel – Take a gentle ride on the second level of the carousel and enjoy views of the Arabian land lit up at night.
Most importantly, make sure you take the time to wander and explore both during the day and at night (when it feels more mysterious). There are many quiet hidden corners of the park and the theming is amazing throughout with so many details to appreciate.
DisneySea 1 Day Itinerary for Adults
The view of Mediterranean Harbor from the Fortress
Disney Tokyo is usually very busy so it’s vital to have a plan of action if you don’t want to waste your day in queues. We visited on a medium busy day (a Tuesday after a National Holiday in October) when ride queues were over 90 minutes for most of the day. Despite this we never queued for more than 20 minutes and did everything on our list by utilising Fastpasses (see below). This strategy did mean quite a bit of rushing back and forth across the park in the morning, but the afternoon was more relaxed.
Make sure to buy your tickets online in advance, arrive when the park opens (or before), do the major rides (or pick up a Fastpass) first thing, then leave the afternoon and evening for low key attractions without the crowds.
Here was our itinerary on a day when the park was open from 8 am to 10 pm.
8.05 am – Entered park and picked up Fastpass for Tower of Terror (9.50 am return time).
8.25 am – Queued for and rode Journey to the Centre of the Earth (20-minute wait).
9 am – Indiana Jones and Raging Spirits queues were already too long (ride one if not), so we had a curry popcorn break and headed to the Biglietteria to enter the Big Band Beat lottery and won!
9.50 am – Got Fastpass for Raging Spirits (10.30 am return time).
10 am – Made a lunch reservation at Ristorante di Canaletto.
10.10 am – Used Fastpass to ride Tower of Terror.
10.50 am – Lunch at Ristorante di Canaletto and missed our Raging Spirits Fastpass time as we could only get an early lunch reservation.
12 pm – Got another Fastpass for Raging Spirits (1.40 pm return time) and wandered around Arabian Coast.
1 pm – Out of Shadowlands show.
1.40 pm – Got Fastpass for Indiana Jones (6.30 pm return time!).
1.45 pm – Used Fastpass to ride Raging Spirits (15-minute wait).
2.10 pm – Queued for and rode Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage (5-minute wait).
2.30 pm – Fortress Exploration.
3 pm – Big Band Beat show.
4 pm – Wandered around S.S. Columbia ship. The queue for the Teddy Roosevelt lounge was too long, so Simon had a (gross) frozen beer on the waterfront.
5 pm – Rode the Transit Steamer Line from American Waterfront to Lost River Delta as the sun set.
5.15 pm – Ate tortilla chips and dips at Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina.
5.30 pm – Rode the Electric Railway back to American Waterfront and saw the park lit up just after sunset. (This doesn’t really make sense as we then had to return to Lost River Delta).
6.30 pm – Used Fastpass to ride Indiana Jones.
6.45 pm – Rode Caravan Carousel (5-minute wait).
7 pm – Had a cocktail in Teddy Roosevelt Lounge (10-minute wait).
7.30 pm – Ate pizza at Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante.
7.50 pm – Waited at Fantasmic show area. People who had arrived earlier were sitting on the floor so we just stood behind them and could see well enough.
8 pm – Fantasmic! show.
8.30 pm – Fireworks were cancelled and ride queues were still long, so we headed for the train.
It was a long but amazing day!
Note: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was closed on our latest visit. I would recommend riding it in the morning if queues aren’t bad or get it as your last Fastpass (they are usually the last ones to run out).
DisneySea makes you forget you’re in Japan
You definitely want to buy tickets online in advance to save time queuing on the day. You need to print off your e-ticket and can head straight to the gate.
We got our tickets from Voyagin. They are the same price as from the Tokyo Disney site (7400 yen/ $65), but it was easier as Tokyo Disney make you create an account and we already had a Voyagin account. You can use Voyagin to book lots of cool Japan activities and get discounts on things like the Robot Restaurant and Maricar.
If you’d like to visit both Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland, two day tickets cost 13,800 yen ($121). I don’t recommend trying to visit both parks in one day as there is too much to do in each and there are no park hopper tickets.
Avoid visiting DisneySea on weekends or holidays as it will be insanely busy. Check this crowd calendar to find the quietest day to visit—it’s in Japanese so use Google Translate and look for days with the lowest number.
If there’s a ride you really want to do, check Disney’s ride closure list to make sure it will be open. You can also see the Tokyo Disney calendar for park opening and show times.
Tokyo DisneySea Fastpass Tips
The Venice canals at DisneySea
Fastpasses are tickets that allow you to skip the queue on popular rides (although you may still need to wait 10–15 minutes at busy times). Using the Tokyo DisneySea Fastpass system is essential if you want to avoid queues of up to two hours or more. See the list above for the rides that offer Fastpasses.
Fastpasses are available from machines next to the ride entrance—just scan your park ticket to get one. You’ll be given a one hour slot when you can return for the ride. You can only have one Fastpass at a time, but as soon as your slot starts you can get another one. The best strategy is to pick up another Fastpass at the beginning of your slot before you go on the ride.
Fastpasses do run out so use them as early as you can. It’s best to arrive at DisneySea 30–60 minutes before gates open, although we arrived a few minutes after gates opened and we managed fine.
Download the TDR Now wait time app to see ride wait times and plan your Fastpass strategy on the day.
If you don’t manage to get a Fastpass for Indiana Jones or Raging Spirits, you could join the single ride queue which goes much quicker than the regular line.
Vegetarian Food at DisneySea
Pizza at Ristorante di Canaletto
Vegetarian food is limited at DisneySea but there are a few enjoyable options:
- Ristorante di Canaletto – The best option for a sit-down meal. Vegetarian options are marked on the menu and mains include a tasty margarita pizza and pasta. It costs 2800 yen ($25) for the lunch set including minestrone soup, pizza, dessert, and soft drink with unlimited refills.
- Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante – A cheaper counter service Italian with a tomato and mozzarella pizza (670 yen/ $6). It was pretty tasty although not as good as at Canaletto. Try getting an outside seat upstairs for good views.
- Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina – Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole (490 yen/ $4) is the only option.
- New York Deli – Ratatouille salad and french fries. We didn’t try these.
- Mamma Biscotti’s Bakery – Pastries and cakes.
You can also try popcorn, churros, fruit, and ice-cream from the stands around the park. You might want to bring your own food, especially if you want something more than pizza or fries.
TDR Explorer has a comprehensive list of all the vegan and vegetarian food in DisneySea.
You can see all the Disney restaurant menus online. It’s in Japanese so you’ll need to use Google Translate.
Although there are no vegetarian Japanese dishes in DisneySea, there is plenty of delicious vegetarian food in Tokyo that you can try during the rest of your stay.
Should You Visit Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea?
If you only have one spare day in Tokyo we recommend DisneySea over Disneyland. It’s unlike any of the other parks in the world with incredible theming, whereas Tokyo Disneyland is a more traditional Disney like Disneyland California and Paris and Magic Kingdom Orlando.
Attractions at DisneySea are more adult-orientated and you can even buy alcoholic drinks. We also found Disneyland to be even busier than DisneySea.
If you want to see all the classic Disney characters and Cinderella’s Castle, then Disneyland is for you.
Best of all, if you have two days we recommend visiting both!
How to Get to DisneySea
The nearest train station to Tokyo Disney is Maihama. From Maihama station to DisneySea you can take the Disney Resort Monorail to DisneySea Station (260 yen) which takes 10 minutes or you can walk (as we did) in about 15 minutes.
Allow about an hour to get from Shinjuku or Shibuya stations to DisneySea including transfer times and walking to the resort. You can use the Hyperdia website or app to check train times. Trains will be very busy in the morning rush hour.
If you are spending a few days in Tokyo, I recommend getting a Suica or Pasmo card, which you can top up and use as a ticket for all trains in Tokyo.
Tokyo Station to DisneySea
Take the JR Keiyo or JR Musashino line to Maihama. It takes about 15 minutes.
Shinjuku to DisneySea
Take the JR Chuo rapid line from Shinjuku to Tokyo then change to the JR Keiyo or JR Musashino line to Maihama. It takes about 30 minutes.
Shibuya to DisneySea
There are two options:
1) Take the JR Saikyo-Rinkai line to Shinkiba then change to the JR Keiyo line to Maihama. The Saikyo line technically ends at Osaki but some trains continue on the private Rinkai line to Shinkiba. This takes about 35 minutes.
We took this route to DisneySea as it’s fastest, but it has two downsides—trains don’t run that frequently so when we missed a train we had to wait 30 minutes for the next one, and it’s more expensive than JR lines (710 yen vs 400 yen for the whole journey).
2) Take the JR Yamanote line to Tokyo Station then change to the JR Keiyo or JR Musashino line to Maihama. It takes about 45 minutes.
We took the second route on our way back as it was late and the trains on route 1 are infrequent.
Tokyo DisneySea Hotels
On both our trips to Tokyo Disney we stayed in Airbnb apartments in central Tokyo. It’s worth considering staying near the parks—especially if you are visiting for two days—as the journey can take an hour and is very busy during the morning rush hour. It’s what we plan to do next time.
If you can afford it, stay in Hotel Miracosta which is actually inside DisneySea! You can’t beat the convenience and can even watch the Harbor shows from some rooms.
Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is another official Disney hotel in walking distance and the cheaper Disney Ambassador and Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel are a shuttle ride away. The advantage of staying in an official hotel is getting into the park 15 minutes early which gives you the chance to ride Toy Story Mania.
Non-official five-star hotels close to Disney Tokyo include Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel and Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay. Budget options include Hotel Mystays Maihama and Hiyori Hotel Maihama.
Search Booking.com (our favourite hotel site) for more hotels near Tokyo Disney.
DisneySea is one of our favourite things to do in Tokyo and we highly recommend it, especially if you are a Disney fan. With excellent rides, impressive theming, and an incredible attention to detail it’s a day of pure magical fun.
You might also enjoy our one-day adult itineraries for Disneyland California and Disneyland Paris.
Many thanks to Voyagin who provided us with complimentary tickets for our latest DisneySea visit.
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