We love theme parks! There are a tonne of them in Japan — from really tiny and somewhat puzzling ones like an orange theme park (as in the fruit) in Hiroshima Prefecture (which I’ve been to, not pulling your leg!), to highly-specific parks aimed at hardcore fans such as Sanrio Puroland in Keio Tama Center. The twin Disney parks DisneyLand and DisneySea are our favorites (sorry USJ), and we can’t get enough of Uncle Walt’s kitschy Americana attractions and fake nature rides >:DDDD
Instead of cramming everything into a single visit, we like to pace ourselves. Last year we went to DisneySea, so this year we headed for Disneyland (and will probably go back to DisneySea next year). It’s actually the perfect time to go as Tokyo DisneyLand is celebrating its 30th Anniversary, and there’s lots of promos and specials going on! For example, they have a Heijitsu special that slashes JPY 800 off the original JPY 6200 admission if you go on a weekday. They also have a Natsu Matsuri special where tickets are just JPY 3300 if you visit the park from 3PM onwards.
There’s the usual rides like Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean — but undoubtedly the current biggest attraction (and the one with the longest lines at two and a half hours) is the newly renovated Star Tours. After acquiring Star Wars from Lucasfilm, Disney went about getting back their multibillion dollar investment by gussying up the ride and releasing a whole slew of merch featuring Disney characters in Star Wars costumes (Minnie Mouse in a Slave Leia outfit AHAHAHAHA NO).
The excruciating wait for a three-minute 4D movie ride (let’s face it, that’s basically what Star Tours is) is made bearable by the fun side attractions in the concourse area. There is a giant screen showing fake commercials for Sucal Heavy Industries (which built the Star Tours aircraft fleet), Naboo Holidays (Romantic and Exotic!), and our favorite — a recruitment ad for Imperial Fleet (BTW if you are looking for a little extra cash, the fleet is also offering a handsome reward for information on Rebel Alliance leaders).
At night, there are additional night-time attractions such as the Electric Light Parade and the fireworks — although both attractions are subject to cancellation in adverse weather conditions. Here’s a protip: try to watch the the parade near Westernland or Critter Country, and once the parade is done in that section of the park, make a mad dash for the attraction with the longest lines like Star Tours or Big Thunder Mountain. If you get there before the crowds disperse from the parade grounds, you will cut your waiting time by as much as one hour!
Long story short: Tokyo Disneyland is so, so much more fun that parks overseas — and a huge part of that is because the guests are so much nicer and more considerate to each other. They don’t cut lines, they clean up after themselves, and they volunteer to help take your group photos so no one is left behind the shutter (and in exchange, you can do the same for them). Crass commercialization aside, it truly is one of the happiest places on Earth, and is worth a visit every time you’re in Tokyo.