Tokyo DisneySea is a new type of Disneyland. It has the fundamentals of Disneyland parks, but presented in a new, unique way. When I visited a couple of years ago, it blew me away at how this park captured the imagination and felt like I had been visited several times. It is highly detailed, photogenic, and just plain fun.
TDS is divided up by ports instead of lands, since the theme is the sea. In the center of the park is a volcano – Mount Prometheus – that erupts throughout the day. It is the “castle” for DisneySea. Each port has a unique theme with equally unique attractions.
Mediterranean Harbor serves as the entry port for TDS. Unlike most other Disney parks, you’re not greeted by the rest of the area right away. A quite courtyard is the area past the turnstiles, and in the middle is the AquaSphere – a globe seemingly held up by water. Above and past this kinetic sculpture is the Hotel MiraCosta. It is the quintessential hotel inside a theme park because of its wonderful views of the Mediterranean Harbor from rooms. This means one can get a very comfortable seat for Fantasmic.
Past the arches under the hotel is the whole of Mediterranean Harbor. The theme transports guests to a Southern European waterside, most like Italy. Gondolas sit in the water while small village shops line the street. To the right as you emerge from the entrance is a Fortress. In it is the Leonardo Challenge. Guests can explore the fortress while solving puzzles from the Renaissance Man himself. It’s a great interactive play area for kids of all ages! I had a great time solving puzzles, though I could only handle the easier ones because it didn’t use a lot of the Japanese language.
Besides the huge and lofty fortress, gondolas and a steamer line lets guests travel in the water way. The steamer is a transportation system while the gondolas are just for attraction purposes.
Within the harbor are shops and restaurants that feel like a Main Street, USA gateway. They’re great to shop at for that catch all end of the night souvenir. Food sticks to the general fare, but is always delicious.
Counter-clockwise of Mediterranean Harbor is Mysterious Island, home of Captain Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fame. This water caldera has a great story behind it. It is Captain Nemo’s home port. The Nautilus is anchored in the bay, and his labs and rooms are located throughout. As the story goes, he has harnessed energy from the volcano’s feed into the ocean. From it he has made way for more journeys to the unknown.
One of the “journeys” is the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. This is not the version of old where several guests sit in a submarine in a lagoon. The vehicle style is a small pod seating a few. Each person has a flashlight they control while being submerged. The light interacts with elements throughout the ride. The interesting and most different element about the attraction compared to other Disney park versions is that this doesn’t actually go underwater! Within the pod viewing area is a section in the glass that lets water fill it. This provides the great illusion of being underwater without having to maintain a huge tank for the ride. The finale of the attraction is magical where guests have gone through Atlantis and needing the help of its alien-like citizens to transport them back to the surface. It has a very “how did they do that?” vibe.
The attraction that is perhaps the trademark of the whole park, not just the port is Journey to the Center of the Earth. Using state of the art vehicles and huge animatronics, this is one of the best thrill rides Disney has made. Nemo has burrowed into subterranean layers and discovered a new world. Creatures and environments are found throughout the tunnels. But, a cave in forces guests to take a route that is quite dangerous because of a large creature found in the depths. The vehicle jets out of the top of the volcano and hurtles to the loading area in the end. Part of this can be seen from the outside, which helps give warning for what the attraction is like.
Besides attractions, shopping and restaurants can be found here. Two of the best eats are here: Vulcania restaurant, which has some fine seafood fare for the park, and a refreshment station has what I like to call Gyoza Dogs – sausages in buns. I visited the station several times on my visit.
Traveling counter-clockwise still, but a little inward is Mermaid Lagoon. This port takes guests under the sea instead of along a coast. Themed to the Little Mermaid, this is the closest to Fantasyland or ToonTown in other Disney parks. It has a more cartoony atmosphere and attractions. A couple are versions of rides seen in Disney California Adventure, among other places. Jumpin’ Jellyfish even keeps the same name, though this one seems more colorful and fun with black lights and decoration. Blowfish Balloon Race is like Flik’s Flyers, which both put guests in a rotating car around a central point. The Whirlpool is a traditional spinner ride. Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster and Scuttle’s Scooters are found on the outside of the Lagoon. The Coaster is similar to Goofy’s Barnstormer or Gadget’s Go Coaster found in the American parks. It’s a family friendly coaster that is short and sweet. Scuttle’s Scooters are similar to carnival rides where guests whirl around in a circle.
The main attraction inside Mermaid Lagoon is the Theater where a musical show featuring Ariel takes place. At the time I visited the park, the show had a more traditional feel to it, but will now be more of a modern rock concert type show.
The area, though cartoony, featured a lot of detail that made it seem like Ariel’s friends made this into something where humans could visit. The main shop was inside a whale’s mouth, and details were even in the ground where it was cushiony to make it seem like walking on a tongue.
Continuing on in a circle, the next stop is Arabian Coast. This, like its namesake, has an Arabian Nights theme for it. Aladdin is the main character focus, and two of the attractions can be found that have elements from the Disney franchise. The Magic Lamp Theater features a magic show with the Genie. Despite it being in Japanese, I enjoyed the whole show and it’s definitely worth checking out. There are ways of viewing subtitles now for the show.
Jasmine’s Flying Carpets are a recreation of the Dumbo-esque ride that is also found in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom and Disney Studios Paris. Another family friendly ride is the Caravan Carousel, which is a two story carousel.
The signature attraction for the area is Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage. This boat ride has animatronics with a cartoon look to them, but are about as small as small world dolls. That doesn’t mean every animatronic is this small, though. The voyage goes through the seven tales of Sindbad, and all connect via a memorable song called Compass of the Heart. The song was written by Alan Menken, who has written many songs for Disney, including co-writing those found in the Aladdin film.
This attraction is one of my favorites in any Disney park! Sindbad’s Voyage has a catchy and amazing song with effects that are breathtaking. It’s gentle like “it’s a small world” but has excitement with it too. It does get voyagers wet, as there is a rain scene with some drops from the ceiling.
Quick interesting trivia is that this opening day attraction is not the same version as it was a few years ago. The first version depicted Sindbad as more the villain in different situations. There was also no song to connect each tale. It was redone to showcase Sindbad more as a hero, and introduced an adorable sidekick – Chandu the tiger cub.