One of the most popular attractions in Japan is DisneySea: a one-of-a-kind Disney theme park located right on the water in Maihama, Chiba, about an hour and a half drive from Yokota Air Base.
The unique part of DisneySea is emphasized in the name itself: it’s based on water. Each section in the park has a water-related theme: The Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast and Mysterious Island, to name a few.
One of the biggest differences from Disneyland is the castle. Instead of the traditional Cinderella’s Castle, guests get to enjoy Ariel’s Castle made of shells. The inside is a colorful wonderland with rides suitable for young children and adults alike. Be sure to stop by the Mermaid Lagoon Theater for a show before exploring the caves to find Ariel’s “thingamabobs” collection.
DisneySea also houses some big-name non-water themed rides such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Indiana Jones. For rides specifically made for DisneySea, check out the Venetian Gondolas, Aquatopia and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Visit the DisneySea website for more details on each ride.
DisneySea draws in large crowds all year long. To get the most out of your experience, try to shoot for a weekday. But regardless of what day you decide to go, be sure to utilize the FREE FastPasses! Check for which rides participate on the guide map. Find the FastPass station near the ride entrance and simply scan your park entrance ticket. It will give you a small ticket with the ride name and a time range. Come back to that ride within the time frame for a much shorter line. You can scan for a new FastPass every two hours, or whenever your FastPass expires. For the more popular rides, especially Toy Story Mania, try to get your FastPass first thing in the morning. Depending on the ride, it is common for them to start running out before noon.
If anyone in your family has food allergies, you’re in luck! Disney, at all parks, focuses on tending to every visitor’s needs. Many restaurants on the property offer allergen-free options, which are indicated in the guide map. Once you arrive to your chosen restaurant, identify which allergen (try to learn it in Japanese, or come prepared with it written down) you need to avoid and they will pull up a safe menu for you.
Don’t forget the popcorn! A major part of visiting a Disney park in Japan is the plentiful popcorn flavors including Cappuccino, Curry, White Chocolate and many more. You can either purchase popcorn in a “Regular Box” (a small paper box) or through a plastic bucket shaped like a Disney character. The character buckets can cost between ¥1000-2500, or you can try to snag one at a resale shop before your visit for as little as ¥500. These buckets are carried around the neck and can be refilled throughout the day.
Finish the night by watching a magical light show on the harbor. Disney characters will ride on boats in an choreographed performance. Seats fill up fast so head over early to secure your spot. Fireworks are included on nights when the weather permits.
ITT offers monthly trips to DisneySea that include park tickets and transportation. Stop by or call 227-7083 for information on their next tour. If you would like to go on your own, stop by the Yujo to collect maps with directions to Disney by car or by train– don’t forget to ask the Help Desk if needed!
Photography credit: Susan Fourre