Tokyo DisneySea is Japan’s second gate to Tokyo Disneyland, with lands and attractions based on various ports of call, both real and imagined. This guide to Tokyo DisneySea attractions contains short reviews and numerical scores for every ride and show in the park. If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort, this is a great place to start when determining what to do and when to do it. Unlike Tokyo Disneyland, (see our separate Tokyo Disneyland Attraction Guide for more about that park), DisneySea is incredibly unique, and unlike any park you’ve ever experienced.
The guide will give you a rough idea of an itinerary, which is very important at Tokyo DisneySea, as lines can be very long. Preferences vary, but we’ve tried to keep this as objective as possible with enough description so you’ll know whether particular attractions will appeal to your group. This Tokyo DisneySea guide includes headliners, smaller attractions, and shows. Besides Mermaid Lagoon’s kiddie rides, we don’t recommend skipping any attractions if you have the time to experience them all as pretty much everything in Tokyo DisneySea is varying degrees of awesome.
Tokyo DisneySea is the best Disney theme park in the world. This is not just because of its stellar attraction lineup, but also because of its transportive sense of place, dining options, general ambiance, and the infectious attitudes of other guests and Cast Members. It’s difficult to fathom if you’ve never been, and this may seem like unattainable hype that the park could never live up to, but the whole of Tokyo DisneySea is so much more than the sum of its parts.
While originally envisioned as a more mature park to appeal to Japan’s aging population, Tokyo DisneySea has shifted its direction a bit since opening in 2001 to appeal more to the core audience of Tokyo Disneyland by adding attractions and characters based on Disney intellectual property. Regardless of the recent change in direction, Tokyo DisneySea remains a decidedly adult park. It’s almost akin to EPCOT Center until the mid-1990s, and that’s meant as incredibly high praise. It’s really a theme park unlike anything else Disney has to offer. There is still plenty to do for kids, but they’re more likely to prefer Tokyo Disneyland, as much of the brilliance of Tokyo DisneySea will be lost on them.
Because so much of Tokyo DisneySea is predicated on its ambiance and entertainment (Japanese fans secure spots for shows far in advance, so expect to spend a lot of time waiting for these shows if you want decent views), in order to experience a good amount of what the park has to offer, you should expect to spend to spend at least two full days to spend in Tokyo DisneySea. We have found that even two days still only gives you a taste of the park and would recommend 3 days if time allows. Tokyo DisneySea is like a fine wine, and after the initial morning race to avoid the crowds, it’s a park that you really need to slow down to enjoy.
Since this guide is written in English on a site catering to US Disney theme park enthusiasts, it assumes that you’re a Disney fan. If not, these recommendations might be extreme for you–you may be able to see all you care to see in a single day.
Top Tokyo DisneySea Attractions
Big Band Beat (10/10) – This 30-minute Broadway jazz revue featuring tap dancing, an orchestra, and other performers is housed in the Broadway Music Theatre, which harks back to classic theaters in New York City. The theater is beautiful and the show is fantastic, with incredible production value and talented performers. While most of Big Band Beat is traditional non-Disney jazz numbers, there are appearances by Disney characters. Mickey Mouse also appears for an impressive finale. The show is our favorite stage show at any Disney theme park in the world. It’s popularity bears this out, as Tokyo DisneySea employs a kiosk-based lottery system for reserved seating (the first show is first-come, first-served). Big Band Beat is entirely in English and is a headliner that should be experienced in mid-afternoon.
A Table is Waiting (7.5/10) – Performed in a small seaside venue next to the SS Columbia, A Table is Waiting is a comical show focusing on various types of cuisine from around the world. The music and costumes are great, and although there is some Japanese dialogue, most of what’s happening is conveyed in a visual manner that’s very easy to follow. The highlight is a bizarre scene (that might be the Japanese poking fun at the United States) in which various components of a hamburger assemble themselves into a hamburger by jumping on a bottle of ketchup. It’s a funny show even without understanding the dialogue. A Table is Waiting features Japanese dialogue and songs, and English songs.
Fantasmic! (9/10) – Fantasmic! is a musical battle between the forces of good and evil set in Mickey’s dreams with stunning effects, including pyrotechnics, water, lasers, fire, and a huge dragon. It’s performed nightly in the Mediterranean Harbor lagoon. While each version of Fantasmic has commonalities with the others, this has less in common with the Walt Disney World and Disneyland shows than those do with one another. This seems largely due to the 360-degree nature of the show at Tokyo DisneySea. While very impressive technically, it seems like the storytelling component isn’t as powerful here as the Disneyland version. Do not skip this “clone,” even if you’ve seen both US versions. Here are our other tips for the best places to view Fantasmic, and tips for photographing it. Fantasmic’s dialogue is entirely in Japanese, with songs in English. The second show of Fantasmic is much less crowded, so do that if it’s an option.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (10/10) – A hybrid dark ride and thrill ride, Journey to the Center of the Earth is Tokyo DisneySea’s flagship attraction. Starting with the approach that goes inside Mount Prometheus, Journey to the Center of the Earth is incredible. Its queue is meticulously detailed, taking guests through a cavern strewn with office desks and lab materials where Nemo and his crew have been studying their excavations, before taking them on a terravator deep down beneath the surface of the earth. The attraction takes guests on excavators through several different areas deeper and deeper below the earth, from a forest of mushrooms with cute little creatures, to a sea with a special effect that will make you jump from your seat, and more. The climax is intense and spectacular.
This is often cited as the best Disney attraction in the world. It is awesome, no doubt, but I don’t feel it’s the best. Still, the queue is awesome, the special effects are great, the scenery is great, and the finale is very impressive, so what’s there not to love? We recommend going straight to Journey to the Center of the Earth when the park opens, getting a FastPass for it, and then immediately getting in line for it via the standby line (this obviously assumes you’ll want to do it twice). Journey to the Center of the Earth has minor dialogue in Japanese, but language is immaterial to understanding what’s going on.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (9.5/10) – A sea rover based dark ride into the depths of the sea. Unlike the old Walt Disney World version, you never enter any water in this version–it’s all an illusion. Guests board a ride vehicle called Neptune with room for about 6 people and go through a suspended dark ride. This is a great attraction that is brilliantly executed and suspends disbelief. In typical Tokyo DisneySea fashion, the scenes and effects are pretty spectacular and detailed. You won’t be able to see it all on one–or even four–rides through.
Guests can use lanterns to illuminate objects out the portholes make the experience engaging, and the various monsters and friendly creatures encountered along the way are cool. It’s a nice change of pace from the E-Ticket thrill rides. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is very popular, but it tends to be one of the last attractions to run out of FastPass. Either do it early in the morning after Journey to the Center of the Earth and Indiana Jones Adventure (skip if the posted wait is above 30 minutes) or wait until only it has FastPass availability remaining and get a FastPass for it. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is in Japanese, but the important storytelling is all visual.
Venetian Gondolas (9/10) – Venetian gondolas captained by two charismatic gondoliers from the Palazzo Canals to the lagoon in Mediterranean Harbor and back. The scenery and the romanticism of gondolas is the big draw, but the gondoliers can be a highlight, too. They sing, and some will even interact with the boat in English if you make an effort to engage them. This attraction is most fun at or shortly after sunset, but lines are shortest first thing in the morning. Due to its low capacity and popularity, its lines can get long as the day goes on.
Fortress Explorations (10/10) – A Tom Sawyer Island-like play area featuring 10 very memorable exhibits. It is EPCOT Center caliber “edutainment,” that not only showcased some still-impressive technologies from centuries ago, but also the revolutionary thinkers who devised the devices. Kids (and even many adults!) will have fun exploring it and learning a thing or two. There is even a game you can play that includes a map, but that may require speaking Japanese (we have not tried to play it). Do Fortress Explorations whenever convenient, probably in mid-afternoon when lines are long for everything else. Signs are all in English.
Tower of Terror (10/10) -A free-fall thrill ride with an elaborate lead-in and excellent story. While Journey to the Center of the Earth is widely viewed as Tokyo DisneySea’s best attraction, we’d give Tower of Terror the nod over it. Unlike the US versions, this has no Twilight Zone tie-in. Instead, the New York City Preservation Society gives tours to the hotel previously owned by dubious explorer and collector of exotic artifacts, Harrison Hightower. The story centers on Hightower’s disappearance, which was supposedly caused by idol Shiriki Utundu. As great of a storytelling job as the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version does, we think the Tokyo DisneySea version does even better.
The sheer number of artifacts, different pre-show rooms, and newspaper clippings means that you’ll need to experience this several times before seeing it all. This is one attraction where, we feel, it would have been nice to know Japanese, as that’s what the NYC Preservation Society guides speak in the pre-show. Newspaper clippings are in English and it’s still easy to understand what’s going on without speaking Japanese, but I’d love to know every little detail about this attraction…and there are so many details. Like the other versions, the thrilling fall is the least important part of Tower of Terror. Grab a FastPass for this after your Journey to the Center of the Earth FastPass (they run out quickly).
DisneySea Electric Railway (8.5/10) – Relaxing and scenic elevated railway ride through the American Waterfront and a little bit of Port Discovery. The DisneySea Electric Railway is awesome in the same way that the TTA is awesome. This is the type of relaxing “ambiance” attraction I could envision myself riding over and over to do some sightseeing in the American Waterfront if I were a local with unlimited time. The views along the way are great, and you see parts of American Waterfront buildings you wouldn’t see otherwise. Do this whenever, the line should always be fairly short.
Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage (10/10) – Slow moving boat ride featuring vignettes of Sindbad the Sailor’s adventures, featuring a cast of over 100 Audio Animatronics. I’ve gushed a lot over Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage already, so I’ll keep this succinct. Sindbad’s is a nice, long ride with a catchy song, lovable characters, and rarely any waits. We both consider it our favorite attraction at Tokyo DisneySea, with Chandu the tiger being one of our all-time favorite theme park characters. Do this whenever. Sindbad’s is entirely in Japanese, but there are English “maps” of the ride available upon request (request one–they’re worth saving).
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (10/10) – Hybrid thrill ride and dark ride aboard a transport vehicle through the Temple of the Crystal Skull (same ride system as Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland and Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom). People shrug off this attraction as being substantially the same as the Disneyland one, but we disagree. The premise and track layout, along with many effects are very similar, but there are differences throughout. There are also two effects that totally make the experience. Indiana Jones Adventure is one of two attractions at Tokyo DisneySea with a Single Rider line. We highly recommend using it (if your party can handle being in a foreign country in Asia, you’ll be fine splitting apart for like 5 minutes) as it will cut wait times significantly. During one of our visits, we waited 5 minutes in the Single Rider line when the normal queue had a 150 minute posted wait. If you are unwilling to use Single Rider, do this immediately after Journey to the Center of the Earth, first thing in the morning.
Mermaid Lagoon Theater (7.5/10) – Abstract puppet-based show based on the Little Mermaid. The puppets and presentation of the show are beautiful, but the pacing is poor, and the show literally just abruptly stops. The new version of this show opened in Summer 2015, and is definitely an improvement over the old version of the show, but feels like it took a tech-first approach in many segments, and feels disjointed as a result.
Caravan Carousel (7/10) – Double decker carousel. Proving that just about anything is better in Tokyo DisneySea, this takes the classic Disney carousel and kicks it up a notch, with an ornate look, and a second level. One of my fondest Tokyo DisneySea memories is being on the second level of this during sunset on the last night of our first trip to Tokyo. For what it is, it’s pretty cool.
The Magic Lamp Theater (6.5/10) – 3D show (plus pre-show) featuring the Genie interacting with a Cast Member performer. It’s an enjoyable, albeit bizarre 3D film with good effects and nice, organic interactions with the Cast Member. This show is entirely in Japanese, but an English close captioned device is available for it. You’ll definitely want that. Do this whenever.
Toy Story Mania (7.5/10) – A 3D screen-based shooter game with Toy Story characters. This is the best version of Toy Story Mania, with a really cool queue and load area. It’s also the most popular version, with insane lines for FastPass first thing in the morning that make the old Disney’s Hollywood Studios race look tame. The attraction itself is a direct clone. If your time is limited, we highly recommend skipping Toy Story Mania. FastPasses are gone within an hour of park opening, and wait times regularly exceed 200 minutes. Focus your limited time on doing (and doing again) the unique Tokyo Disney Resort attractions. If you absolutely must do it, the only good options are: 1) get in line for the turnstiles at least 30 minutes (preferably an hour) before the park opens, run (RUN!) to it when the park opens, grab a FastPass, and then get in line for Tower of Terror; or 2) get in line about 45 minutes before the park closes, which will be right around the time they cut the line. Either way, make sure you check out this area at night.
Turtle Talk (8.5/10) – Kids interact with Crush from Finding Nemo in a screen-based attraction that mimics portholes out of the SS Columbia. Gains points for a much better presentation than the Epcot version (brilliantly integrated into the lower level of the SS Columbia), but loses points for being entirely in Japanese, meaning most English-speaking guests won’t get as much out of the experience.
DisneySea Transit Steamer Line (7/10) – Relaxing, scenic boat ride with a couple of route options from Mediterranean Harbor to Lost River Delta or Cape Cod (round-trip). We recommend the latter. It’s a great way to slow down and see the park.
Aquatopia (6/10) – A self-guided water “car” ride that weaves around a path. Aquatopia uses the trackless ride system from Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and combines that with water, but there’s not really any substance to it. It’s mildly fun and pretty at night, but still nothing special. You will probably be left with a “that’s it?” feeling from Aquatopia, but it’s still an enjoyable ride that’s often a walk-on at night. It’s fun, so do it. It’s just disappointing given the ride system utilized.
Blowfish Balloon Race (3.5/10) – Mermaid Lagoon is full of kiddie rides, none of which are anything special and should only be done by those with small children. This one is a mildly-exciting spinner in King Triton’s Castle with hanging baskets. Skip it.
Happiness on High (4/10) – Tokyo Disney Resort has a nightly fireworks show (for now) that goes off between the two parks and is visible in both of them. It’s short, and is canceled in even light winds. It’s also super short.
Jasmine’s Flying Carpets (6.5/10) – Spinner ride a la Dumbo. Offers great views of the Arabian Coast and has a great lighting package. Definitely something to consider doing at night if time allows and the line is short.
Jumpin’ Jellyfish (3/10) – Slow-moving up and down jellyfish ‘towers’ in King Triton’s Castle. Waste of time.
Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster (4/10) – Very short, unthemed kiddie coaster located outside in Mermaid Lagoon. Only do this if you have kids who can’t go on other Tokyo DisneySea attractions.
Scuttle’s Scooters (3/10) – Whirly kiddie ride that goes around on a circular track. Skip it.
The Whirlpool (3/10) – Same idea as the Mad Tea Party at Disneyland, without iconic status or any great views, located inside King Triton’s Castle. Don’t bother.
Raging Spirits (4/10) – This is the “intense” thrill ride at Tokyo DisneySea, which has a 360-degree loop. It draws long waits, is incredibly short, and locks you in so tight that the experience really has no sensation. Almost identical in layout to the Indiana Jones coaster in Disneyland Paris, and only slightly better. Theming is good, and the exterior looks really cool at night. Single Rider is available and recommended, but even it moves slowly. The much better way to experience this attraction at night is by grabbing a beer and watching the mesmerizing for about 10 minutes. We’re not even kidding.
This leaves out roaming atmospheric performers like Kitchen Beat, seasonal entertainment like Mickey & Duffy’s Spring Voyage and Christmas Wishes, and character meet & greets, but it’s all of the significant, year-round attractions. If you have the time, try to do every attraction that isn’t one of the Mermaid Lagoon kiddie rides, as even the lesser attractions aren’t bad. If you have small children, you’ll probably even want to do the Mermaid Lagoon stuff!
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
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What other questions do you have about Tokyo DisneySea? If you’ve been, which attractions are your favorites? Which ones do you skip? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Tokyo DisneySea yet, which attractions are you most excited about? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!