Last Thursday, a few local friends and I decided to go out for drinks in Koga. Three glasses of wine and one Melon/vodka mix later I found myself agreeing to go to Tokyo Disneyland the following Saturday. Saying that I am a fan of Disney is quite the understatement. Give me some liquor, and apparently my love for Disney knows no bounds (to my wallet’s dismay).
Drinking parties aside, I have a long history with Disney World. You see, being from Orlando, Florida, I’ve been there more times than I can count. Nearly every weekend, in fact. By the time I was eight or nine, I actually complained about going to Disney. Today, I’m a huge fan and regular Disney goer. This was my first visit to Tokyo Disneyland.
- General layout: essentially the same, with all the areas in the same general location.
- Rides: Most of the rides were incredibly close if not identical. And I mean, it was like copy and paste. Thunder mountain, for example, was 95% the same. The park had nearly all the best rides from Disney World. This included Peter Pan, Small World, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and even some of the lesser known ones like the Astro Orbiter and the Tiki Room.
- Castle: This stands mentioning. It was the Cinderella’s castle. France has Belle’s and Disneyland has Sleeping Beauty’s, so I was kinda hoping for a different one. That said, it was still amazing.
- Food: Quite different, actually. Everything from the snack foods to the ice cream bars. It was all different than anywhere I have been. TDL is also known for it’s popcorn flavors. They offered honey, soy sauce & butter, curry, caramel, and salted. (I recommend curry). The restaurants carried an array of food in may cooking styles. Most still had a Japanese twist to them, which is of course expected being we’re in Japan.
- Goods: all the items in the stores were wildly different. It’s actually an amazing thing for me as, up until TDL, the product at all the Disney stores around the world was rather boring. I’ve seen it all before! TDL focuses more on accessories, stationary, and housewares. The popular items were Minnie ear hair clips and hooded shoulder towels. I picked up a special “Summer Festival” towel.
- The attitude of the crowds: Naturally, the staff was very kind and helpful, but I’ve found that to be true at most Disney’s. What shocked me was the crowd. The culture here is just so incredibly considerate. The park was quite crowded that day, and while it certainly felt crowded, everyone was still pleasant to me. No pushing, shoving or yelling all day. When the parade came, everyone even stayed sitting to watch! Incredible. Many of them brought little tarps to sit on, and created little areas to hang out and enjoy snacks with families and friends. This is not unlike hanami in Japan. Really fascinating that it’s put to use in TDL too. I loved it!
- Space Mountain: This one gets it’s own bullet because it’s my favorite ride and this Space Mountain was a bit different. Imagine taking Space Mountain and sending it even farther into the future. It was like something out of a TV show or anime. Pretty great take on a classic! All the essentials of the ride were still there, of course.
All in all, it was quite fun. My favorite part was shopping because there were so many amazing new goods to check out. That said, the look and feel of TDL is so similar, I even forgot I was in Japan at times. Happily, our group managed to ride all our favorite rides multiple times and enjoy the Summer Festival Show and the Electric Light Parade.
For anyone looking to visit the parks, I would recommend Tokyo Disney Sea over Disneyland simply because it’s an entirely new experience. If you have the time and money, then definitely do both. It’s worth it to see how “Japan does Disney.” Oh, and you can eat curry flavored popcorn. That alone is enough.