Tokyo Disney Sea With the Kids: How to Maximize Your Fun and Minimize Your Waiting Time

Slow adopters of anything ’Disney’, we reluctantly made our way to one of Disney’s most popular theme parks in Tokyo on a public holiday. The kids are now old enough to need their own tickets, so I hoped also old enough that they could wait out the queues, handle the chaos of a busy food court and settle for the less popular rides if need be. However, minutes into the journey after the first cries of resistance were fired, we lowered our expectations. The mid-winter ‘I don’t need a jacket’ is a favourite at ours. Nevertheless, we spent a joyous Coming of Age Day at Tokyo Disney Sea all wrapped up and ride-ready.

Tokyo Disney Sea

Simply put, having never been to either of Tokyo’s Disney resorts, we weren’t sure which of the two to start with, but ended up choosing Disney Sea based on a very convincing YouTube video the night before.

We took note of the pointers and the hurdles and upon entry to the parking area we knew immediately that we had made the right decision once we saw the wraparound queue overflowing from Tokyo Disneyland. I should also mention that our car sat-nav had us driving around the park’s perimeter a couple of times to make sure that we were appreciating our good fortune. When driving, I now always double up with my phone’s navigation services and have found these to come out on top, time and again.

Print and Sprint

Once we had successfully parked and had noted that we were on the Mermaid parking level (thanks to Little Mermaid's Ariel), we sprinted over to the grand entrance to swipe our pre-printed tickets. It was important to print out each ticket at home the night prior to visiting the park, so as to avoid the queue waiting to purchase their tickets on the day. Pre-planning won over living life on the edge, if only to avoid a long line and make entry to the park, with children in tow, efficient and quick.

FastPass is Your Golden Ticket

I am not new to the word Fast Pass being bandied about whenever the topic of Disney theme parks comes up. However, what I hadn’t noted was how it actually worked and how useful it is for the little people in our lives who frankly have no interest in queuing or waiting for anything — ever. Once inside, feeling clued up on the FAST PASS system and how it worked, we navigated our way to the Tower of Terror upon the request of my 7-year-old. If I can offer one bit of advice before getting to the park, is to print down the Disney park map and study it before you arrive. A game plan of whether you head left or right from the main entrance to your chosen ride can mean the difference between you getting a fast pass ticket or not. Thankfully we just made it but not without dragging little hands and screams of ’I’m tired!’.

By heading straight to our first choice rides, we were able to get tickets for our preferred rides, after the initial disappointment of the Toy Story ride being down for maintenance. This is never a bad thing in my book, having now experienced the Tower of Terror. I would want everything in optimum condition if I were to ever ride that again. Having made the height cut, I am still surprised my 4-year-old survived the drop-stop-drop-stop ride without screaming or floor-decorating. Maybe I have become soft with age, but an impressive achievement for the little one!

The Arabian Coast

The fast pass system was the starting point of our day at Disney Sea, followed by a hasty purchase of Disney gloves (flashbacks to an early morning tantrum at the house). From there we pondered how to spend the time before we were able to book our next Fast Pass ride. All Fast Pass rides were booked for later in the day and could, in our case, be ridden from the afternoon only. There is also a two-hour waiting period before another ride could be booked using this Fast Pass system. This, The Arabian Coast, offered some relief in the form of short queues and family-friendly (milder) rides. Our maximum waiting time was 20 minutes and we managed to get on a couple of rides before having lunch in a quiet food court. The key here was to arrive at 11:30 not 12:00 when the tables filled up to overflowing proportions.

The Takeaway

Overall we had a seamless day out at Tokyo Disney Sea and although the kids were raring to go at the start (we made it to the park by 9:00AM) we were all staggering to the parking lot by the end and ever-thankful for the car seats that awaited us. My highlight after a hectic day of dashing about the park and completing 7 rides (with children!) was The Arabian Coast. This corner of the park saved us time and again during the day, when we needed short-wait rides (Jasmine’s Flying Carpet, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage and the Caravan Carousel) and come nighttime, was an illuminated extravaganza. The rides lit up, much to the delight of our exhausted group and the souvenir store was something to transport the senses. There was an engraver expertly engraving the glasses with Disney-themes motifs and people’s names. The colours of bejewelled boxes made for enticing souvenirs, and the giant genie pillows and golden trinkets courtesy of the Aladdin franchise, were magical.

On the drive home the fireworks lighting up the sky from Tokyo Disney Land reminded us that a visit back was to be in our near future. I will most definitely put in the time needed to study the map.

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