A visit to Tokyo DisneySea is a highlight of any visit to Tokyo. It is often viewed as the best theme park in the world, and it's sense of immersion is second to none.
And if you happen to be visiting Tokyo between mid-November and Christmas Day, DisneySea is just that little bit extra special.
Why? Well, as you may have guessed, the whole park is bedecked in fabulous Christmas decorations and illuminations, as well as some of the attractions turning into festive versions of themselves. But there is so much more to it than that.
In case you didn’t know, DisneySea is divided into seven ‘ports’: each port represents a harbor with a very different feel, evoking a distinct time, place and personality. Such is the attention to detail in the theming that the sense of realism is uncanny. I dare anyone to walk through the American Waterfront and not feel as though they’re in the middle of 1920s New York!
So what happens at Christmas? These seven ports get draped in Christmas decorations that match their themes, and suddenly you find yourself with the chance to explore the world at Christmas time, all within walking distance! Let’s take a quick tour at how DisneySea decks its halls:
As the gateway to the park, the area serves as more of a shopping area than a place for attractions. At Christmas, the shops are packed with holiday goodies, including the increasingly popular snowman versions of Mickey and Minnie, known as ‘SnoSnow’. Don’t forget to look out for the unique gifts that show the Disney gang seeing in ‘Oshogatsu’ (Japanese New Year)!
This is where you get the classic Christmas look, with lots of red, green and gold decorations pinned to trees and garland. The Waterfront Park lies at the foot of the Tower of Terror, and aside from being decked out in it’s own splendid array of decorations it’s one of the best chances you’ll get to see to a character pass by wearing festive gear or a band striking up a Christmassy tune.
Don’t forget to check out the Christmas tree in this area - not that you’d miss it, as it’s over 15 meters tall! - and seeing the Big Band Beat show is a must: although they’re taking a break from playing some Christmas standards after a recent renewal, there’s still something undeniably festive about the performance, not least because of the delightful decorations adorning the lobby of the theater.
A walk over the bridge tucked behind the S.S. Columbia takes you into the delightful Cape Cod area, modeled after the New England harbor town of the same name. Seeing the white wooden facades draped in lights that reflect in the shimmering waters is endlessly photogenic. If the New York section was all glitz and glamour, here you get the ‘cozy’ side of Christmas, with faux gardens backing onto wreath-ringed doors. There’s no attractions to speak of in the Cape Cod area, but slowing down to soak it all in is heartily recommended. Take a walk up to the little lighthouse for the best views.
Lost River Delta
Modeled after a tropical rainforest in Central America, the Lost River Delta area offers a delightfully exotic angle on Christmas celebrations: drapes hang from the lampposts declaring ‘Feliz Navidad’, and tin cans are stacked everywhere, fashioned into rustic lanterns by the holes poked into them, throwing flickering lights of festive shapes everywhere. There are two centerpieces to the decorations here: one is the illuminated ‘Feliz Navidad’ banner hanging over one of the bridges, and the other is the huge tree covered in trinkets that ooze a Latin American vibe.
Check out the shows!
It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Disney without checking out one of the various shows staged in the park grounds throughout the day! And DisneySea boasts not one but two festive feasts for the senses.
The first is called ‘A Perfect Christmas’, which happens three times a day through the morning and early afternoon, and the second is called ‘Color of Christmas’, which happens only once, just before 8pm.
‘A Perfect Christmas’ is your classic Disney fare, with lots of boisterous singing, dancing and characters bouncing around the edge of the Mediterranean Harbor. The best place to enjoy the show is at the main stage that's right in front of the park entrance, but if that's too crowded then anywhere by the waterfront will work.
‘Color of Christmas’ is a more calm show. A giant cone encrusted with LED lights is erected in the middle of the harbor, and Mickey and the crew circle around it on a boat as it is lit up like a Christmas Tree, to the tune of some of the more mellow Christmas classics such as ‘Silver Bells’. A good place to see this show is from the top of the fortress at the foot of Mount Prometheus.
With DisneySea, you effectively have two parks to explore: one in the day and one at night. It is always worth cycling once more around all the different areas after the sun goes down and the Christmas illuminations come into their own. The aforementioned Cape Cod area is particularly spectacular. Just make sure you have a camera that can take good night shots with you!
DisneySea is a wonderful destination any time of the year, but if you find yourself in the Tokyo area during the festive season and pine for a real Christmas atmosphere, you can do no better than visiting here.