Friday Favourite Five – Rides at Tokyo Disney

I can’t believe its been over a month since I was in Tokyo Disneyland already! This year is flying by, but I can’t complain because every day that goes by, I’m a day closer to my next Disney trip, so I can’t lose!

Today’s FFF are the rides I loved most during my time in Tokyo, so here they are!

1. Splash Mountain

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Yes, Splash Mountain is in every Disney park, I know, I know! BUT there was something about this one, I can’t really put my finger on what exactly, but it just seemed better than all the others! I love it, and I rode it more than all the other rides, k.

2. Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek!

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While its not as exciting as Buzz’s Astro Blasters, and there’s no scoring involved (which bothered my super competitive mum!), this was really fun, and the setting was perfect!

3. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull

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Another ‘non-unique’ ride, but again, this ride blew me away! We had a Fastpass so we got to skip the enormous queue (always makes rides better), but it would’ve been worth the wait!

4. Journey to the Center of the Earth

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The ride inside the volcano! Totally different from anything at any other Disney park, and the perfect combination of gentle ride and rollercoaster!

5. Caravan Carousel

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A double decker carousel of fun! Ride an elephant, a camel, or even Genie himself!

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Unique Rides at Tokyo Disney

As I’ve touched upon in my diary posts, Tokyo Disneyland Resort is packed with totally unique experiences, and probably the biggest aspect of any Disney park is the rides! And while maintaining some true Disney classics, Tokyo manages to throw guests into the unknown with some wacky twists to the traditional line up..

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The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents ‘Aloha E Komo Mai!’

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Yes, you can go to The Enchanted Tiki Room in other Disney parks, but those shows don’t get hijacked by a ukelele playing Stitch, do they? (PS. you can check out short clip of the show on my Instagram!)

Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes

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Quite possibly more of a workout than a ride, you and your group can paddle around Tom Sawyer Island, working as a team and taking in the sights, but watch out for the Riverboat!

Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek!

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I LOVED this ride! Set inside Monsters Inc itself, the queue runs through the lobby of headquarters before you board your cart and your mission begins! Similar to Buzz Astro Blasters, you’re equipped with a torch to find the hidden monsters as you zoom through Monstropolis.

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Tower of Terror

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I can hear you, I know there’s a Tower of Terror in every Disney park.. But this one is unique, promise!

Unlike the others, Tokyo’s ToT isn’t sponsored by The Twilight Zone, and therefore has a totally different design (as you can see!) and a different storyline; a historian, a cursed statue, we all know where it goes from there!

Aquatopia

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Fun and totally bizarre at the same time, hop aboard a buggy that follows a totally random path through the water, spinning and swirling, with the occasional splash or spray!

StormRider

We didn’t actually get to ride this on our trip; the queue was huge and Mum doesn’t do well on these sorts of rides so we decided to pass. It’s a simulator, where guests board a mission to defeat a powerful storm, but not everything goes smoothly!

Raging Spirits

Another ride we didn’t try! Raging Spirits is a more hardcore rollercoaster, with a 360° loop as you travel through an excavation site of an ancient temple.

Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage

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A ‘Small World’ style boat ride through the stories of Sindbad’s adventures. Great for little ones, or just a bit of air con on a warm day, and it normally boasts a super low wait time.

Caravan Carousel

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Yes, a double decker carousel! Choose to ride upstairs or downstairs, and then take your pick of noble steeds, from horses to camels, elephants, and you can even ride Genie!

Mermaid Lagoon

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An underwater wonderland full of unique rides, from Blowfish Balloon Race to Jumping Jellyfish and more! My favourite ride here was Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster, which is just outside the main underwater area; it was just a mini coaster, but super fun to ride when its dark out!

Journey to the Center of the Earth

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That glorious volcano in the centre of the park? Yep, this is the ride inside it, and its awesome!

Travel down through the earth to discover new lifeforms and ecosystems, but not all the inhabitants are friendly, so be prepared for a quick getaway!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

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Another journey of discovery, head underwater to discover what’s lurking in the depths of the ocean underneath the volcano.

Fortress Explorations

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Explore the Mediterranean fortress, and search for clues as part of The Leonardo Challenge (in Japanese though, just to warn you!)

These rides truly add to Tokyo Disney’s unique quality, and I haven’t gone into too much detail so as not to spoil too much, so now you just need to go and try them yourself!

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Top Tokyo Disney Tips

Being in Tokyo Disneyland is a totally unique experience, and expecting a regular Disney park experience could leave you a little out of your comfort zone, so here are some of my top tips for doing Disney Tokyo-style!

Language and Culture

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– Do not expect English – I’m serious! While there may be the occasional announcement in English or clip of English singing, all of the shows, parades and attractions are in Japanese, and most of the cast members speak very limited English, if any, so be prepared to mime, signal and act out your conversations, and embrace it – everyone has a laugh over it! Also don’t stress over not knowing the language, all you really need is hello and thank you, and you’re pretty much set.

– Everyone is really friendly – cast members are literally everywhere, and their job is basically to wave and say hi. Smile and wave back, and you make their day!

– Generally, the Japanese are pretty small – if you’re short (like me!) its ideal, say goodbye to watching parades on tip-toes! If you’re fairly tall, however, you may be asked to move at times, purely to be considerate to other guests. Similarly, the seats on rides tend to be a little smaller than on their American counterparts.

– Personal space isn’t a big deal – you know when you’re waiting for a lift and its a little crowded so you decide to wait for the next one? Yeah that doesn’t happen so much in Japan, so be prepared to be a little out of your comfort zone if you like your space.

Park Life

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– Tokyo Disneyland utilises the classic Fastpass system – going to the machine, getting your pass, and only holding one at a time. Be sure to make good use of these, Fastpasses are taken pretty seriously and you get to skip a lot of the line, and it could save you some major waits.

– Characters randomly appear around the parks throughout the day, rather than at specific places and times, and they tend to have a slightly more eclectic range: The Rescuers, Wolfgang Puck, Jiminy Cricket etc, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a princess! They’re also not big on autographs, so although they’ll sign them, you won’t find anywhere to buy an autograph book.

– There’s no running, but expect a stampede – at park opening, cast members are everywhere to remind guests not to run, but that doesn’t stop it! Expect stampedes heading to the most popular rides: Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror etc

– Do not be afraid to dress up – people in Tokyo Disney go all out, from matching outfits to Disneybounds, and everyone has at least one thing Disney in their outfit

– Don’t expect wifi – unlike Disney World where you get free wifi everywhere, there’s no wifi connections available in the parks.

– There’s no Photopass option – with the exception of a few meet and greets, there are no dedicated photographers in the parks, and no Photopass option. You can buy your ride photos, or order prints from your character meets, but that’s pretty much it.

Shows and Parades

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– You can reserve your spot for a show or parade up to an hour before, and bringing a plastic mat to put down will save you burning on the hot concrete

– Some shows have priority seating – you can take part in a lottery to win these priority spots once per show each day, so be sure to pick up a show guide to find out where these lotteries are held

– Be prepared to be asked to remove hats and Mickey ears – if you’re standing to watch a parade or show, or even in attractions like Country Bear Jamboree and Philharmagic, you’ll be asked to remove any hats or ears so as not to block the view of those behind you.

– Take the ‘get wet’ signs seriously – if you’re in one of these zones, its not a maybe, its a promise. We watched crowds get seriously soaked in these areas!

Hotel, Tickets and Travel

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– If you’re staying in a Disneyland resort, you get access to the parks 15 minutes early – don’t turn your nose up, it can mean the difference between a 20 minute wait and a 90 minute wait!

– The easiest way to get to your hotel or the parks is by train – the Japanese train system is flawless, and the JR line has a train station at Ikspiari, from which its less than 5 minutes walk to the Disneyland or Tokyo Disneyland hotel, or you can transfer onto the monorail.

– Like in the parks, don’t expect wifi, but ask just in case – we asked about the wifi, and were told there wasn’t any, but they provided us a little router for our room

– Parkhopper tickets are only available to guests staying at Disneyland resorts – otherwise its one park per day

– The monorail isn’t complimentary – you’ll need to buy a pass!

– All of the partner hotels are right near a monorail stop, and there are also resort buses to take you to the parks

– The swimming pool at Tokyo Disneyland hotel is pretty small – don’t expect Floridian flamboyance!

– There’s a Bibbity-Bobbity Boutique in Tokyo Disneyland hotel for your little princesses

– Don’t forget your handstamp – if you’re leaving the park for a while, to parkhop or popping back to your hotel, don’t forget to get your hand stamped as you leave so you can get back in! Its a UV stamp, so don’t worry if you don’t see anything on your skin, and its pretty tough so washing hands/swimming won’t rub it off

Food and Drink

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– Don’t expect Western food everywhere – while there are some Western options, most of the food is very much oriental based, and the Western options are a little odd: pizza with seafood etc. Portion sizes are also smaller than in American parks, but still very filling!

– There’s no dining reservations, but there is priority seating – similar to Fastpass, head to the restaurant first thing, and you’ll be given a ticket with an allocated time to return

– There are water fountains everywhere, and its the norm for people to bring in their own bottles to fill up

– Beware of the coffee – I’m not a drinker, but my mum and sister both hated the Japanese coffee, apparently its crazy bitter. Also, some bottled drinks in the vending machines look like fruit teas, but are actually iced coffees.

– On the subject, you won’t find a lot of milk or milk-based products – around 90% of Asians are lactose intolerant, so milk for tea and coffee, ice-cream etc is fairly limited.

– Also beware of the popcorn – there are popcorn stands everywhere, but you’ll only find salted in a few locations. Flavours include honey, curry and soy sauce!

– People save tables, and its taken pretty seriously – if you see a bottle or a jumper left on a table, don’t move it and sit there. Everyone does it, and everyone respects it, so find somewhere else.

Shopping

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– The same merchandise is everywhere – don’t stress that you might have missed an opportunity to buy something, chances are it’ll be in the next shop you go into!

– There’s a Disney Store at Ikspiari, which is the shopping centre on the monorail loop – it has different products to what’s available in the parks

– There are biscuits everywhere – souvenir biscuits are a big deal in Japan. They come in millions of shapes, sizes, fancy tins etc, and there are entire shops dedicated to them, so don’t resist!

Weather

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– Be prepared for all conditions, and possibly all at the same time – it can be burning hot and bucketing down with rain and blowing a gale simultaneously!

– Because of how extreme the weather can be, shows and parades can be cancelled with little notice, or modified for the safety of the cast members and guests

– Carry an umbrella – not only will it keep you dry during those mega downpours, but it will also provide great sun protection, and don’t worry about looking silly, loads of people do it

– Don’t expect air-con – while most buildings are cooled during the summer months, its not always that instant super-cool feeling you might expect; more like a comfortable temperature once you’ve adapted to it

Tokyo Disney is a totally unique experience, and the most important piece of advice I can give is this:

Just do it. Go, experience it all for yourself, and you’ll have an incredible time, I promise!

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Tokyo Disney Haul

For me, the only thing that was going to be more exciting than my Tokyo trip, was all the wonderful goodies I knew I would find in Japan. I packed the bare minimum (which by my standards is still probably more than anyone else) so I could fill my case to bursting with amazing ‘stuff’ to bring home, and I think I did a pretty good job..

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This isn’t even all of it! BUT a fair few of these goodies are for giveaways, so its not all mine, but I’m going to share what I did buy just for me!

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Nanoblocks have a small following here in the UK, but they were everywhere in Tokyo Disneyland; every character you could imagine in teeny tiny Lego-like building blocks. I was going to resist, but when I saw the castle I couldn’t help myself, and because the Tokyo Monorail was just so darn cute, I ended up getting that one too, and I’m really excited to give building them a go!

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Next, the wearable goodies! The Japanese really go all out when they dress for Disney, and the range was endless! From the parks, I got myself a pair of sparkly Minnie ears, a Minnie scrunchie, the amazing LGM ears, monorail socks, and Winnie the Pooh clip-on ears. A lot of people in the parks choose to wear clip-on ears, and they came in a pretty impressive range from Minnie to Pooh to Stitch. I picked up some Tsum Tsum hairbands from the Disney Store just outside the parks, and the Tsum Tsum socks came from some crazy shops we found in a Tokyo shopping centre.

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As we all know I’m a total homeware nut, and I honestly expected more of it in the parks but the range didn’t span much more than mugs and chopsticks in most places, but I did manage to get some cute lunchboxes, a large rice bowl and a plastic cup, as well as a Tokyo Disney mug and a Tokyo Disneyland hotel mug to add to my collection, as well as some Winnie the Pooh nail clippers – random, I know – and The Queen of Hearts plate came with one of our desserts in the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. From another store in Tokyo I also got some cool Pooh and Mickey sushi mould sets, as well as my favourite buy of the holiday: a Toy Story Little Green Men tea set! I had really hoped to get a tea set while in Japan, and this little guy stole my heart. As you can see in the top picture, the cups all stack up into a tower, and the head lifts off the teapot to act as another cup/sugar bowl, while the body is the pot; I’m in love!

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I also picked up a few crafty bits from various stores around Japan: a Minnie Mouse tape measure, some Disney washi tape, sew on Tsum Tsum appliques and a tin of little paper tsum tsum cards!

As well as all these wonderful goodies, there is one more beautiful buy, which I’ve snuck a picture of as its going to be my birthday present, so I can’t have it until October (waa!), but I have to share..

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We came across a Samantha Thavasa store in a shopping centre and I just wanted to have a quick look until I found this beautiful Dumbo purse – the picture doesn’t do justice to just how gorgeous it is!

I’m a pretty happy girly!

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Tokyo Disneyland Day 3

Last day, waa!

Up bright and early once again to make use of our Magic 15, we headed round into Adventureland to get in an early Jungle Cruise before the queues got crazy long. Jungle Cruise is new to Tokyo, so really popular later in the day. It’s the same as the American version – over-acting and cheesy one-liners – but entirely in Japanese, so we were clueless as to what was actually being said and just went along with it. It was still fairly quiet after that, so we jumped on the Western River Railroad for a quick loop. Again, pretty similar to its Western counterparts, looping through Frontierland and round Tom Sawyer island, but with the random bonus addition of a tunnel full of dinosaurs..

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By this time, the park was open and so were the restaurants, so we stopped into Cafe Orleans for breakfast – a seemingly small but incredibly light and filling crepe – before splitting up for the day as Dad and Hannah wanted to go out into Tokyo, while Mum and I stayed in the park. The aim of the day was to hit as many of the bits we’d missed on day 1: Country Bear Jamboree, the smaller Fantasyland rides, Philharmagic, Toon Town etc, and we were pretty lucky with queue times, not waiting more than 30 minutes for anything. We’d already snagged a Fastpass for Splash Mountain for the afternoon, so we headed into the Hungry Bear Restaurant for lunch, mainly because everywhere else was rammed (not that it wasn’t there too!) but the food was actually pretty great: curry and rice in a nice air conditioned room!

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By the time we’d got back to Splash, we were pretty chuffed about our Fastpasses as the queue was well over an hour, so we felt pretty smug as we sauntered to the front of the line. I’d definitely say that this was one of the best Splash Mountains of any Disney park! The plan from there was to wander round the World Bazaar a bit before scouting a prime spot for the Happiness is Here parade, but as we picked up ice cream sundaes from Squeezers Tropical Juice Bar, there was a park announcement to say that the parade was being cancelled due to the strong winds; I mean, it was WINDY. I was pretty gutted as this was the one parade I was desperate to see as its they Tokyo equivalent of Festival of Fantasy, but as most of the floats consisted of balloons and inflatables, I could understand the reasoning behind the cancellation.

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With that in mind, Mum and I headed back to the hotel to chill out for a bit, knowing that Hannah and Dad would be coming back soon for us all to leave for Tokyo together, so we sat in the Dreamers Lounge in the hotel lobby with a drink and cake before going to meet them, and with that our Tokyo Disneyland adventure was over..

I can honestly say that Tokyo blew me away. I expected the same old, but still awesome Disney park set-up, just in Japan, but everything still managed to be unique, from each ride to the atmosphere and the people; it really is a totally different experience, and I can’t recommend it more!

Tokyo Disneyland Day 2

Following our early night, we were up bright and early to hop on the monorail round to DisneySea to utilise our ‘Magic 15’ tickets, giving us early entry to the park, and while some may sneer at the mere 15 minutes extra we were given, it was totally necessary! We headed straight for Toy Story Mania as we knew how ridiculous queues could get, and sure enough, even getting in early gave us a half an hour wait! Knowing how many people would charge our way at park opening, I ducked out of the line for a second to nip across to Tower of Terror (which is right next to Toy Story Mania) to pick us up Fastpasses as I knew that it would also have a crazy wait time after later on, and while I was at it, the park opened and the hoards descended!

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With the two big’uns sorted, we continued on around DisneySea. Now you might be thinking ‘that’s an unusual park name’, right? Well it’s a totally unique park! From American Waterfront, which has a sort of Streets of America feel to it, with a huge classic cruise liner docked at the pier, we moved round to Port Discovery, which has a futuristic feel, then into the Lost River Delta. In a very Epcot World Showcase crossed with Animal Kingdom kind of way, this area houses the Indiana Jones ride, set in a huge Incan temple, and the roller coaster Raging Spirits, which we didn’t fancy due to the full loop! From there we moved on to the Arabian Coast, an entire land that is basically Agrabah, with all Aladdin themed rides and scenery, including the Caravan Carousel, which is double decker!

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We moved from area to area pretty speedily due to following our empty stomachs to find somewhere to eat, and from Arabian Coast we went into the Mermaid Lagoon. From the outside, you see a few rides, and then the huge underwater palace of King Triton from the Little Mermaid, but follow the path under the rocks, and you enter the kingdom of Atlantica itself! There’s a whole under the sea area with rides, a theatre and Sebastian’s Calypso Kitchen, which is where we settled down to some food before continuing on through the park.

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Another of the parks unique features is the enormous volcano at its centre, which is constantly active, spewing smoke and glowing with magma. It houses two rides, a submarine style ride, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which runs through the pools underneath the volcano, and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, during which you travel down into the earth under the volcano, before spiralling up and speeding back down the side, to a great view of the park! By this point in the day it was getting pretty hot, so we grabbed an ice lolly on the bridge across to the Mediterranean Harbour area, and it just so happened that a show was just about to begin, so we found a spot to watch from. Minnie’s Tropical Splash was kind of like a boat parade, with some characters making their way off the boats and into the crowded audience to dance and spray water around, and by that I mean totally and utterly soak everyone in the ‘get wet’ zones. Each of the boats also had water cannons, and they were very liberal with the spraying!

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With the jet lag still slowing us down, we decided to head back to the hotel for a little bit, before monorailling back into the park for Fantasmic. Shows and parades are taken pretty seriously out here, with people being allowed to stake their claim of a good spot an hour beforehand, so we got in about 40 minutes before the start, and found a patch behind an empty priority seating area, knowing that there wouldn’t be too many people in front. As an added plus, the cast members ask all guests to remove any hats or Mickey ears so as not to block the views of those behind, which was great! The show itself was set on the main lake of the Mediterranean Harbour, unlike in Disney World where it has its own set, so it was all done on a central floating stage, that could transform into Mickey’s Magic hat, covered in LEDs to show clips from Disney classics, and also have characters stood on top. Maleficent appeared out of another floating contraption, setting fire to the water, with the volcano firing away in the background, and for the finale, the boats of characters circled the central hat. Unfortunately due to windy conditions there were no fireworks, but they made up for that with lights and lasers which were pretty spectacular!

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With most people filing out of the park at this time, we jumped on the DisneySea Electric Railway, which runs from the American Waterfront to Port Discovery to see the park all lit up for the night, and wandered back through to Mermaid Lagoon to do a few smaller rides while they were quiet. By this point everyone else was pretty exhausted, so headed back to the hotel, but I wanted to stick it out til park closing so I flew solo for the last hour, hitting up Magic Lamp Theater (with English subtitles), which was just a short pantomime/3D show, before meandering back through the park to get some evening photos and do a little shopping before jumping on the monorail back to the hotel!

DisneySea really is a fantastic park!

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Tokyo Disneyland Day 1

So after almost 26 straight hours of travelling, we finally arrived at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel just after 12.30am Sunday morning. I was totally and utterly exhausted, and unfortunately it had all taken a toll on my poor little body, and after just two short hours of sleep I was awake again with stomach pains, and promptly spent the next few hours feeling rough as hell, and heartbroken at the thought of being too ill to head into the park for opening.

Fortunately, it didn’t take too long for my system to flush (if you get my drift!), I scraped a little extra nap and we got straight down to business!

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So we’re staying at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, which is literally 100m walk from the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland (and also the monorail station that connects us to DisneySea), so we were in the park within minutes, and first priority was breakfast, so we hit up The Great American Waffle Co. in the World Bazaar before starting our park exploration. Naturally, as we were out that way, Pirates of the Caribbean was our first ride, and from there we worked around the park clockwise: Adventureland to Frontierland, to Critter County for Splash Mountain followed by a quick Mickey churro before continuing on to Fantasyland and onwards.

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Still running on definitely not enough sleep as a family, we began to flag early afternoon, so we sat down to eat at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, a restaurant I’d read about while researching the trip and was desperate to try, and it did not disappoint! Food was on point, theming was on point; we were impressed.

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At this point, we decided to take the rest of the day fairly easy; we were tired, feet were sore, so we opted to finish up the main rides, watch the  Dreamlights Electrical Parade, which we did nomming on a Mickey burger (the bomb), and call it a night so we can get a head start on DisneySea in the morning!

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