The Tokyo Disney Resort
first opened its doors in 1983
, while the French
were still shouting and throwing bottles of cheap wine at the bulldozers clearing the way for Euro Disney
. At first, it only consisted of a single theme park
, Tokyo Disneyland
. But that single park quickly rose to become the most-visited park in the entire Disney empire, racking up nearly 300 million guests over the past two decades, the equivalent of more than twice the population of Japan
. Tokyo Disneyland was joined by Tokyo DisneySea
to form the Tokyo Disney Resort, which, much like Walt Disney World
, incorporates hotels and other attractions as well.
Tokyo Disney is not actually located in Tokyo. It is actually just outside of Tokyo, in the neighboring city of Urayasu, Chiba prefecture (yes, the same Chiba from Neuromancer). Its land is located on Tokyo Bay and was reclaimed to form the "Urayasu Resort City."
More practically, Tokyo Disney is on the JR Keiyo Line, at Maihama station. If you're visiting from abroad, there are direct shuttle buses to the resort from both Narita and Haneda, as well as buses from Shinjuku Station. But be warned: none of these buses are free, so you may save money by taking the train to Magic Mouseland.
You can get around the resort on the new monorail system, or in the Resort Cruisers, faithful duplicates of 1930's motorcoaches.
You will need lots of yens. Tokyo Disney tickets are called "passports," and range in price from ¥2,900 (for admission to Tokyo Disneyland after 6pm) to ¥17,200 (for 4 days of unlimited access to both parks). Annual passports to Tokyo Disneyland are ¥40,000.
Most things in Japan are eminently scammable, but this is Disney. If you attempt to cross them, they will probably send black helicopters to your house. So be a good little munchkin and do buy a passport before you go in.
If you've ever been to the Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland is pretty much S.O.S. You can ride on Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain, take the Jungle Cruise and see the Pirates of the Caribbean. And yes, they have It's A Small World.
The only thing that disturbs Tokyo Disneyland's aura of Americana is that it is in Japan, so those damn Tiki Birds will be making fun of you in fluent Japanese. But all the employees—I mean, cast members—of the park speak English and a smattering of other languages, and here and there you can see little artifacts of the Japanization of Disneyland: "Westernland," garbage cans that say "Waste Please," etc.
My favorite memory of Tokyo Disneyland is chilling with a few of my RYE friends over in World Bazaar (Tokyo's version of Main Street USA). Anyway, a jazz quartet of middle-aged Japanese men, decked out in candy-striped shirts and straw hats, began playing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, one of them started to sing, and he sounded exactly like Louis Armstrong.
Disney trains its people well.
"Where adventure and imagination set sail." DisneySea is unique to Tokyo, and a very interesting concept for a theme park. It has a turn of the century American Waterfront, classical Arabian Coast, classical-modern hybrid Mediterranean Harbor, and other lands designed around different seafaring cultures, sort of like the World Showcase in Epcot, except with more character tie-ins (Arabian Coast ties in heavily with Aladdin, and then there's Mermaid Lagoon). There are gondolas, an ocean liner, and a galleon to check out.
I have yet to visit DisneySea, but I want to.
As far as I can tell, the name "Ikspiari" is a re-romanization of the katakana transliteration of "experience." In essence, it's almost exactly like Downtown Disney in Orlando, with restaurants, shops, and an AMC multiplex cinema. There's a Cheesecake Factory, Planet Hollywood, and Rainforest Cafe, as well as, inexplicably, a blood bank.
Camp Nepos, inside Ikspiari, is a day care for Japanese rugrats, charging ¥3,500 for two hours. The name sounds vaguely dirty, but makes sense when you think about it.
There are now seven hotels at Tokyo Disney. The Disney Ambassador Hotel next to Ikspiari is the oldest, and since its construction a row of five hotels have been built adjacent to Tokyo Disneyland, operated by the likes of Hilton, Sheraton, Okura, and Tokyu. There is also the Hotel MiraCosta adjacent to DisneySea.
Rooms at the Ambassador run from ¥24,000 to ¥300,000 a night, depending on when you visit and how large you want your room to be. The cheapest rooms during peak season are around ¥40,000 a night. Other hotels offer similar rates. If that's too much for you, find a capsule hotel somewhere.
Copy and paste your way to http://www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/ for more.