There is one consistent consensus in our family, and that is, Japan is our absolute favorite place in the world!!!
Alan and I have always loved Japan, so it probably is not surprising that Bridgette now shares this same love for all things Japanese. From anime to sushi to kimonos, Bridge has been a fan girl for all things Japanese since she was about 3 years old when she dressed up as a Japanese girl for Halloween…and her passion has only grown exponentially since! In fact, she began having private lessons to learn the Japanese language last year, but it has definitely been much harder than she had anticipated. So, when Alan and I announced last Fall that we were going to take a family trip to Tokyo, Bridgette stepped on the turbo for her Japanese lessons in preparation for the trip.
This wasn’t Bridgette’s first trip to Japan. She’s been to Tokyo (twice!), Okinawa, Fukuoka, and Hakone. Yet, it’s still the one country that she keeps wanting to go back to! Fortunately, her mom and dad feels the same. 🙂
Even though Bridgette has been to Japan so many times already, Alan never got to join those trips, so this would be our very first trip to Japan as a family! That was definitely something to rejoice about, as we love it when Alan can join our travels.
Any trip to Asia warrants some time in Hong Kong to visit my sis and her family, so we got about a week and a half with them before we left for Tokyo.
We even stayed a few nights in a hostel in Hong Kong! We got our own private room, which was nice, as that meant we got our own private bathroom as well. It was close to Sham Shui Po, which is an area with lots of great HK style street food, so Alan was super happy about that. I would highly recommend this youth hostel, not only for its convenient location, but for its history. It use to be a part of the oldest government housing in Hong Kong, Shek Kip Mei Estate, and was preserved and transformed into a youth hostel. There’s a small museum on the property that we really enjoyed. It tells about the history of the building, using a mixture of donated exhibits and first-hand anecdotes and artifacts from former residents. Best of all? The museum is free to the general public!
Tokyo is about a 5 hour flight from Hong Kong. We took Hong Kong Express airline for its cheap fare, which usually means a red eye flight with a super early arrival or, in our case this time, a late evening arrival to Narita airport. Narita is also far from the city center of Tokyo, so traveling from HKG to NRT can really take up an entire day!
After arriving to Narita, we got our bus tickets for the Airport Limousine Bus (most cost effective and comfortable way to get from Narita to Tokyo city center) and then headed to our hotel, La’gent Hotel in Tokyo Bay. We picked this hotel because the pricing was really good, and they offered free shuttles to/from Disney Sea. We loved the open space play area as soon as we entered the lobby!
We had reserved a room with 3 single beds, but somehow, they upgraded us to a room with 2 singles plus a bunk bed! Bridge was ecstatic to see the bunk bed, and even though the room wasn’t very spacious, it was very cozy and comfortable, with all the amenities one could need while traveling.
We slept really well that night, and woke up early the next morning for our much anticipated trip to Disney Sea! Not before we ate a hearty breakfast though, included by the hotel, which came in these cute little bento boxes (ofcourse!).
The shuttle ride was about 30 minutes, and upon arrival to the Disney Sea parking lot/drop off area, we were shocked to see the amount of people there already. We weren’t expecting such a large crowd on a cold, rainy weekday in October but I guess Disney Sea is one of those places that is crowded year round.
Once we entered the park, we immediately saw some characters that Bridge wanted to take photos with. We were surprised that there weren’t any lines. When we got closer, we observed that in lieu of lines, people just gather around the character and wave or say/do things to get their attention. If the character points to you, then you can step in to take a photo together. It was hilarious (and cute) to watch as Bridge joined the other Japanese girls, waving frantically to each character in hopes to take a photo with them.
I don’t know if it was because we were there in October, the month of Halloween, of if it’s the norm for Japan, but a lot of patrons were dressed up in costumes. These weren’t young kids dressed in Disney princess dresses either! We saw groups of high school boys wearing Winnie the Pooh hats, young adult girls dressed as Anime characters, and many that were dressed as Disney characters which must have confused Bridgette because she asked to take pictures with them.
Note to self: When in Japan, we have to up our costume game!!
The rides at Disney Sea definitely seemed to gear more towards older kids and adults. Some of the rides replicate the ones in Disneyland and California Adventure, but most were new to us. The lines were insanely long…some up to 2 hours, so we didn’t get to go on all of them.
One noteworthy aspect of Disney Sea is their FOOD! Ofcourse, being in Japan, we wouldn’t expect any less. From garlic shrimp flavored popcorn to savory churros to cute green monster dumplings, we wanted to try everything! We did manage to have room for a proper sit-down lunch, where we devoured on yummy Japanese food like udon and unagi don. Finally, no chicken tenders and pizza at a theme park!!! LOL.
I was really looking forward to the evening fireworks, but sadly, they cancelled it due to inclement weather. There was a show call The Villains World, where all the Disney villains made an appearance and that was pretty cool. We did get a bit of sparkles from that show to make up for the cancelled fireworks.
In conclusion, we think it’s worth a visit to Disney Sea if you’re a Disney fan, but just manage your expectations for the crowd at any time of the year, rain or shine!