Ah Disneyland, who doesn’t like spending a wonderful day in the Magic Kingdom? To me it sounded wonderful and I’d wanted to go to Tokyo Disneyland for quite some time now. Of course you want to go in the off season, because you don’t want to spend all your time waiting in line, and the Japanese are terribly good at lining up for hours, I’m not. So we went yesterday, on a Monday in the middle of March, months before the summer starts and when kids of all ages are occupied with school on a Monday. Well that way of thinking would have worked when planning a trip to Disneyland Paris or one of its American counterparts, but not in Japan. What we failed to realize is that Japanese kids are in their end-of-school-year vacation now, as Japanese schools start somewhere in April and end somewhere in March. And apparently Disneyland was hoping to make a lot of money this time of year by offering (junior) high school kids special discounts, which seemed to have worked very well as the place was literally crawling with groups of teenagers.
There were so many people in Disneyland, I couldn’t believe it, there were long lines for literally everything. Do you want to go for a ride on ‘Big Thunder’, ‘The Big Splash’ or ‘Space Mountain’? Sure, no problem, please wait in line for 3 hours and 10 minutes. Do you want to eat lunch? Sure, no problem, please wait in line for 1 hour. Do you want to take a picture with Mickey Mouse? Sure, no problem, please wait in line for 45 minutes. Do you want to pee? Sure, no problem, please wait in line for 25 minutes. Do you want to cross the street when some parade is going on nearby? Sure, no problem, please wait in line for 10 minutes. Do you want to buy a turkey leg at one of the mobile food stalls? Sure, no problem, please wait in line forever, because the lines at these food stalls literally didn’t have a visible end.
Who does Mickey think he is?
Donald was more approachable
We had already waited in line for ‘Pirates of the Carribean’, ‘Jungle Cruise’, ‘It’s a Small World’ for somewhat less than an hour, mostly because these rides operate with big boats that takes many passengers at the same time, so the line goes quicker. The rides weren’t terribly exciting, and ‘It’s a Small World’ is a bit creepy with hundreds of little Chuckies waving at you and creepily singing ‘It’s a small world after all’ in English and Japanese, but they did have a Dutch display. The longest we waited was for ‘Haunted Mansion’ which was 1 hour and 45 minutes, and that’s what killed my Disney spirit for the day. The ride would’ve been enjoyable in other circumstances. But my feet were killing me, after hiking through Tokyo the day before in what turned out to be horribly uncomfortable shoes and standing in line for the other attractions. I was hungry because we had to postpone lunch for many hours due to the long lines (when we returned later there were only 2 people in line before us but it still took 15 minutes until we got our ‘fast’ food). And the ride just wasn’t great enough to justify 115 minutes of waiting. When I wanted to pee after lunch and saw the lines I just couldn’t take it anymore, and we ended up leaving about 6 hours before closing time. I’m just not blessed with Japanese patience.
My pirate of the Carribean
Our belated Toon Town lunch
Disney has this Fast Pass system, where you can insert your park entrance ticket and then the machine spits out a time for you to return to the ride so you don’t have to wait in line. A great system in theory, because that way you can spend your time enjoying the park instead of waiting in endless lines. You can only have one fast pass at the time but when your return time is more than two hours away you can go ahead and collect another attraction’s fast pass. Of course there were also long lines for the fast pass machines, which is quite ironic waiting in line to avoid having to wait in line. When we finally got our fast passes for ‘The Big Splash’ it told us to return at 21:15, when it’s really dark and cold and we probably wouldn’t really like to get splashed with water anymore. But at least the return time was more than 2 hours away so we got in another long line to retrieve a second fast pass, this time for ‘Haunted Mansion’. But the fast pass machine didn’t spit out a fast pass, instead it told us that we had recently gotten another fast pass and that we had to wait for another two hours before we were allowed to get another one. Oh. I guess we’d misunderstood the fast pass rules. We did return two hours later to get that desired fast pass, but the machines were closed then as all fast passes had already been given out. So unfortunately, the fast pass system did not work for us, and we never even got to use the ones we had for ‘The Big Splash’ because we left the park about 5 hours before we were allowed to use them. I hope we have better luck next time.
The Fast Pass machine telling us to come back in two hours
But of course we also had fun in Disneyland despite the insane crowds. The thing that amused me the whole time I was in Disneyland, were the Disney ears. Sets of Disney character ears are for sale everywhere in the park and there was a nice variety, ranging from Mickey and Minnie’s mouse ears to Dumbo’s huge elephant ears, I chose a pair of Stitch ears, and Yasu chose to look at my ears instead of wearing his own. The ears were surprisingly comfortable and I forgot about even wearing them most of the time, of course Yasu didn’t have that luxury because they were very prominent on my head, but he said they looked cute, so. The ears are very popular and every other person in Disneyland was wearing some, and for some reason it was a continuous source of joy for me. Even when I was standing in line for over an hour and my feet were killing me, seeing some cool high school guy wearing a pair of Winnie the Pooh ears, or a tiny version of Donald Duck’s hat pinned to his hair made me smile, sometimes even laugh out loud. And even though we didn’t get to ride any of Disney’s big attractions, we did get to join Alice at her Tea Party and spent a few very fun minutes wildly rotating in one of her teacups.
Mickey and Minnie
Stitch in a teacup
Yasu getting ready for some rotating fun
The park actually looks wonderful and all the different lands are decorated into the minute detail which makes the Disney illusion complete. And I’m definitely going to return there one day to visit both Disneyland and Disney Sea, I’ll just make sure to time my visit according to the Japanese school calendar not the Western one. Some people I know have had way better experiences at these parks, because of a lack of the endless crowds. And one of my Japanese friends actually told me that when she went in October once, the average waiting time was 10 minutes and she got to ride all the attractions in the park! That sounds more like it! I can’t wait to go again.