a tale of two hearts

Tokyo Disneyland

Dear Lucas,

I know you probably think you had fun at Disneyland but the truth of the matter is your Dad and I had more fun watching you at Disneyland then we did as kids ourselves in Disneyland.

Yep, going to Disneyland as a kid was one thing, going to Tokyo Disneyland with your toddler...is even better!

So if you feel a little gypped that you were so young when you went to Disneyland, don't sweat it, cause the best is yet to come.


Yep, that's you Lucas riding the tea cups at Disneyland. I love how calm you look in this pic, moments later your eyes widened. I don't think I've ever seen anyone experience the tea cups as though they were a roller coster. You had this, 'ahh, I'm kinda scared but kinda loving this' look on your face!
Oh you know, just your regular Tokyo Disneyland patrons. Yes, these were visitors just like us, not Disney employees. Needless to say we felt a little underdressed for the occasion that day.
Yep, you are butt naked in this pic, hence the look on my face. 
As you do, just casually strolling through Disneyland picking up some lunch!
I love this pic of you. On this trip we discovered you'd learnt how to run!
You know how you have naps during the day, yes well this is what Dad and I do while you nap.
This. I can't even. Oh Japan how I love you!
You two are the best.
That's you dancing away at the Enchanted Parade!
They say Tokyo Disney is like Anaheim...really?! Cause I don't remember seeing anything like this? Japan you get 10/10 for commitment to the cause.
Just goofing around with Goofy! Clearly we were on the same wave length cause I had no idea he pulled the exact same move as me...we're totally best buds!
Seriously, were else in the world would you find 7 girls dressed up as Darth Vader (ok appart from Comic Con that is)
It's a small world through the eyes of a toddler...A-mazing!
You just sat down to eat your snacks and all of a sudden a line started forming of girls who wanted a photo of you. Yep, 'you're big in Japan'.
When I say we were a little under dressed, I'm not kidding, see that crowd!
Lucas we can totally appreciate your confusion in this photo, we too thought Jonny Depp was in Disneyland, but nope, turns out it was just one of your average Japanese Disneyland patrons yet again. How long he'd been growing and styling that beard for this visit to Disneyland we'll never know!
You were asleep in the pram so I decided to borrow your little ears just so I could feel somewhat dressed up.
Yep, we strike again, you're asleep and we're eating ice cream...
...and having photos of just the two of us, just cause we can!

Visiting Tokyo Disneyland with a Toddler

When did you go?
In last week of October and beginning of November. We did a two week holiday in Japan and visited Disneyland on the first and last day of our trip. 

We were only planning on going one day but we loved it so much we found a way to squeeze in another day at the end of our trip.

How old was your boy and could he go on many rides?
Lucas was 14 months. We were really surprised at how much he could do. We were there for two days and we had lots more rides he could have gone on but we just didn't have the time. Most of the rides when you boil them down are pretty much the 'It's a small world' ride with a different theme and upgraded technology, which sounds super boring but to a toddler was amazing! And when you get to watch your kids eyes light up it's pretty amazing for you too!!

Apart from the rides, when you go to Disneyland with a toddler, you're forced to notice all the incredible details in the park and there is so much! There are live bands playing, the gardens are so manicured, the details of the little stores, lamp posts and fences. It sounds silly I know but it all adds up to create a pretty spectacular visual smorgasbord. 

Any tips on visiting Tokyo Disneyland with a Toddler?
Not sure if these are tips per say, but here are a few things that worked for us:
  • Get there early and have a short hit list of rides you want to go on: Lucas still hadn't adjusted to Tokyo time so we were up really early of a morning, which meant that we got to the park really early. We were only planning on going to Disneyland for one day and we didn't want to be rushing around all day so we decided to just focus on the classic rides: Small World, Dumbo, Tea Cups and Carousel. Because we got there early we got all of those done and went on a few of those twice and managed to have lots of time to go on a few other rides, see the  Enchanted Parade and a show. Disneyland rides can be horrendous when it comes to queues so we didn't want to put any expectations on what we were going to go on, we were just keen to be together and soak up the atmosphere.
  • Pack lunch or eat lunch early: We were up at 4.30am most mornings so we had early breakfasts, so when we were at Disneyland we had lunch at around 11am, which we didn't really think anything off until we saw the lines at lunchtime!! Wow...you would not want to be waiting in those lines with a hungry toddler!!! 
  • Use the fast passes if you want to go on the popular rides...cause waiting for 90 min in a queue with a toddler is never worth the 6  or so min ride that follows: For our second day we had a plan of attack and went for the popular rides. As soon as we entered the park we went to the Fast Pass machines, we then went to line up at Pooh's Corner, Lucas fell asleep for his morning nap while we were in the queue so they gave us a 'Fast Pass' for that ride too. Fast Pass's allow you to skip a large part of the queue and you tend to wait only 10-15 min for a ride so you can explore rather then getting stuck in a queue for over an hour! 
  • Pack snacks: Lucas eats and snacks all the time so packing snacks is a must for us, but if your toddler isn't fussy then there is lots of popcorn on every corner in any flavour you want!
  • Go in the last week of October!! Read below to see why.
Was it what you expected? 
We had no idea what to expect, I'd read a bunch of blogs on Tokyo Disney and they all said it's like Disney in California, plus a few new rides, popcorn is all the rage, so you have try that and oh the little Mickey ears that you can have engraved with your kids name on them, well they don't have them in Tokyo, which I was a little bummed about but got over pretty quickly when Lucas picked out some ears that he loved and wanted to wear.

And were the blogs right? Pretty much, but it they left out a few things!

There aren't many western tourists, so you're very much aware that your in Japan the whole time. Some of the rides have voice overs that are only in Japanese and some of the shows are only in Japanese. We had a toddler who's still learning how to talk so it didn't bother him and we were doing a holiday in Japan so it's what we were expecting. But if you had kids who were a bit older you may want to give them a heads up on that so they're not disappointed when they get there.

But the biggest surprise was the costumes!! 70% of all the visitors were dressed as Disney characters!! AND NO BLOG EVER WARNED US ABOUT THAT!! So were were totally confused as to what was going on! We asked so many people about the costumes but no one really understood what we were asking so we just concluded that it was just what they did. We've never seen anything like it (if you attend comic con then maybe you have). Grown adults, men, women, grandmas, dressed in full on outfits, so much so we had a lot of trouble spotting the "official" Disney characters. Most people were wearing the costumes with such pride that it felt almost disrespectful to be taking photos of them, but we did take photos when we saw people mucking around. I have to admit the sheer scale both in terms of the number of people in costume and the extravagance of the costumes...it was something else!! I've never seen or experienced anything quite like it.

So when we decided to head back for our second day in Disneyland I was trying to convince J that we should get dressed up, even if it was something as simple as matching Disney jumpers but he was all.."nawww, you don't want to do that" and I was all "when in Japan...come on!" I couldn't find a jumper in all three of our sizes so I lost that battle. And good thing I did! Cause on our second day to Disneyland...NO COSTUMES!!

What?! Yeah, we were so confused. We kept looking down at our watches and asking each other, "What time do you think the people with the costumes are going to start arriving?" "Oh maybe they're still getting ready, so they probably come an hour or two later, maybe?". Come lunch time we realised they weren't coming and the park was full of...well regular people. While a touch disappointing I strangely found it reassuring to finally see families where the mum and dad were just you're good old average mum and dad and not Prince Charming and Cinderella or Daffy and Donald Duck (all the while the kids were in an plane top and shorts...yes these were actual things we saw!)

So off we went asking people why no one was dressed in costume and this time someone finally understood us! 


Turns out, for Halloween, in the last week of October people get dressed up in character costumes when visiting Disneyland. That would explain the girl in the snow white outfit with a gun wound on her head and the vampire mini mouse that was walking around!

Oh Japan...you are amazing!!

So the biggest tip we have for anyone wanting a truly Japanese Disney experience - go in the last week of October!!