Here I am at the airport again :O
We arrived at around 22:15 on November 25 and then had to go through immigrations/customs which was reasonably fast. However, we didn't get out that quickly because Christa's bag was pretty much the last one to come out of the carousel lol wtf. And when we finally got it, she discovered that the retractable handle was stuck in the down position -__-. Not the most excellent way to start the trip but luckily it's a 4-wheel spinner and was OK to roll without the handle although it was still very much a pain.
We took the Keikyu line to Shinagawa and then transferred to the JR Yamanote line to get to Shinjuku.
We booked an Airbnb apartment about 2 minutes from the New South exit of JR Shinjuku station and arrived just around midnight, unpacked a bit and settled in. I stopped by the 7-Eleven just downstairs and then we went to sleep.
November 26 was our first real day in Japan, and our plans were visiting DisneySea! I had done a bit of research before we arrived, so we already had a general idea of what we wanted to do, where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. Check out my Planning for DisneySea post for more information.Christmas Wishes was ongoing at DisneySea (Nov 9 through Dec 25) while we were there as well as Christmas themed shows and merchandise.
Getting there (06:30 to 07:30)
We woke up at around 05:15 and got ready, intending to be at the station at 06:15 to arrive at the park about an hour before it opened. Unfortunately, I was the reason the plan ran a little askew because while we were buying breakfast at the convenience store, I realized I forgot my jacket and had to go back and get it since I had anticipated it being cold. The store isn't that far from the apartment, but enough time had passed and we were already a bit late, so we ended up catching the next, next train. We took the JR Chuo line from Shinjuku to Tokyo and then transferred to the JR Keiyo line to get to Maihama. Tokyo is a big station but the Keiyo line in particular is pretty far away from where we arrived. There were quite a few moving walkways and escalators in between, and we needed almost all of the transfer time allotted to get to the right tracks.
We got to Maihama at around 07:15 and then went to the Disney Resort Line. There were quite a few people walking to the parks, but since it was raining and it was our first time there, we wanted to take the monorail. It's not particularly cheap, but it's an exciting introduction to the Disney experience :)
Christa decided to get an all day monorail pass because you can keep the ticket. I chose to just pay per ride because it was a little cheaper and just settled for taking a picture of her ticket lol.
We got off the monorail at the DisneySea stop (it's the last one on the loop) and then made our way to the lines. We accidentally got shuffled into the line for people allowed to enter the park 15 minutes early and had to bow out lol. It's not super confusing but I think we just happened to choose the wrong line.
Off to the races (08:00 to 21:15)
The line started moving at 08:00am exactly and we quickly got to the turnstiles within 5 minutes or less and joined the crowd rushing into Disney. There wasn't much running because the ground was wet and the cast members were cautioning everyone to go slowly lol. Most people heeded this but just walked at a very quick pace. We didn't stop to look at any of the preliminary stuff because 1. it was raining and not especially picturesque, 2. no one else was doing it, 3. we were trying to get our fast passes and on a ride ASAP!
We first went to the Tower of Terror and got Fast Passes valid for 08:45 to 09:45. Then we speed walked to the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride where the standby wait was just 5 minutes (basically the time it takes you to walk through the queue) and we didn't really stop anywhere long enough for me to take a picture lol wtf. But really, that was good because there was essentially no wait!
We then headed towards the Indiana Jones ride. On the way, we quickly devoured the convenience store breakfast I bought - a croissant for me and a musubi I gave to Christa. (When we went back for my jacket, Christa accidentally forgot her breakfast at the apartment :O.) Again, the wait was quite short and we were able to get on the ride without much waiting at all!
By the time we finished the ride, it was already about 08:45, so we decided to get a fast pass for Journey on our way back to Tower of Terror to use that fast pass. Our Journey fast passes were valid from 09:25 to 10:25.
Despite the fast pass, we still had to wait a little bit at Tower of Terror, but by then, the standby line was already 60+ minutes, so I'm glad we were able to bypass most of it. The queue for ToT is supposed to be quite nice so I tried to take a few pictures and didn't mind the 15-20 minute wait.
The ride itself is incredibly similar to the CA one, but I think I like the CA one a bit better for some reason and I can't put my finger on it. It doesn't have anything to do with the theming (in which DisneySea far surpasses CA in many ways) but just the drops and lifts of the ride seem "less than" the CA version. I haven't ridden the CA version in a few years but I do remember enjoying it and maybe the DisneySea version just seemed more abrupt. Christa pretty much agreed with me.
Some merchandise in the gift shop after exiting ToT -
Since we were near the Toy Story ride, we went over there to take a few pictures.
There were unexpectedly still fast passes available, and we were eligible to get another by then, so we got passes for 20:35 to 21:35 lol. We got the fast pass at 09:40, so this meant that we wouldn't be able to get another fast pass until 11:40.
The Big Lotteria was also supposedly in the area, so we set off to look for that to find out if we were able to get reserved seats for the Big Band Beat show. It took us a little bit and some help from a cast member or two to find it, but eventually we did and were successful in getting reserved seats for the 14:30 show! Getting them in the morning was helpful because then we knew we had to plan around that show time but didn't have to dedicate time to waiting in the standby line to get in.
On the way to the Biglitteria, we had a cast member take our picture here lol.
By that time, we were well within the time frame to return and use our fast passes for Journey, so we headed back over there. This time I tried to take my time in the queue a little more, but the fast pass line still didn't really have much of a wait in the pre-elevator area, so the pictures aren't composed as nicely as I would have liked and most of these were taken while walking in a dark area wtf.
|Elevator to take you "down" to the center of the earth (but actually it takes you up)!|
After finishing Journey a second time, we continued to just kind of take it easy and went on 20,000 Leagues under the Sea ride because it was in the proximity with a 10 minute standby wait.
Vulcania (counter service restaurant serving Chinese food) was also in the area, so after finishing 20k Leagues, we took a look inside at the theming but decided not to eat anything.
|If you look closely at the top third of the photo near the middle left, you can see the car from the Journey ride exposed on Mount Prometheus|
The gyoza is pretty straightforward although the shape is a little unusual. It was nice and hot and crispy but the sauce will help with flavor (as typical for most gyoza). Christa ate two of these and I tried one just because I knew I needed to eat something but I don't typically like gyoza.
We still wanted a bit more to eat and had passed this amazing smelling caramel popcorn cart several times before, so that was our next stop to finally buy some ourselves. Luckily, the line wasn't too crazy long, but there were these really annoying large pigeons lol.
Now with something to continue to munch on, we got seats for the 11:50 Perfect Christmas show at around 11:10. After buying the popcorn, we just chose the area closest to us called "Lido Isle" according to the map which already had quite a few people waiting. Cast members were using towels to dry the stage area and were also helping people find seats.
The view of Mount Prometheus from where we were sitting.
I specifically brought these plastic floor mats with me for us to sit on. I thought we would need them in the morning before the gates opened as well, but since it was actively raining during that time, everyone was standing. It worked just as well in this situation since it was still raining occasionally and the area was wet. Cast members were coming through the area and wiping down what they could, but we were fine with this mat.
It only got more and more crowded as the start time neared lol. The first two pictures below were supposed to show the across the harbor/other stages that were also intensely crowded but I'm not sure if you can really get the full affect. Despite the amount of people, the cast members kept everyone really organized and no one was disruptive and stood when they should be sitting, etc.
The show started a little bit late, but just by a few minutes. Donald was the first to come to our stage area and then he was quickly joined by some friends.
The show ended at about 12:25 and we were eligible to get another fast pass at this point, but the current available return times for the Indiana Jones ride conflicted with our Big Band Beat reservation, so we continued to leisurely explore the park to kill a bit of time and wound up in the Port Discovery area. We decided to check out StormRider because it only had about a 10 minute standby wait.
|Aquatopia was closed during our visit|
We continued a leisurely walk through the park from Port Discovery to the Lost River Delta, stopping to take pictures where we previously had just rushed past.
In front of the Indiana Jones ride
By the time we reached the Indiana Jones ride, the fast pass return times had changed such that we would now be able to watch BBB and also use the pass, so we got them. (Return time from 15:05 to 16:05.)
I hadn't had anything really substantial to eat at that point, so I stopped for a Yukatan Sausage Dog at Expedition Eats.
We continued to explore the park, going from the Lost River Delta to the Arabian Coast which we had not yet set foot in at that point.
We didn't stop for any rides or food (Christa was looking for something to eat from a cart but didn't want to wait in a long line) and continued to Mermaid Lagoon - another area we had neglected so far.
Christmas Triton and reindeer dolphins
|Attempt at a quick OOTD picture whenever I see a full length mirror lol|
We left Mermaid Lagoon through the gift shop and continued on our way to explore parts of the park we hadn't seen yet towards Mediterranean Harbor and the American Waterfront and also find something (small) for Christa to eat before the BBB show.
|Front view of the Tower of Terror|
We sat on a nearby bench while she ate and relaxed, charged and waited for the BBB doors to open at 14:10 for the 14:30 show.
We started over to the BBB venue at 14:10 and was able to walk right in with our tickets. It was good to sit down indoors in a nice chair for a while lol. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the show because pictures/recording isn't allowed, but it was a good show! It's a jazz show with a live band and singers and dancers and pretty much all in English. Because we were visiting at this time of year, the show had a special Christmas section complete with Christmas themed costumes and songs. I really wish I could have taken a picture or two, but at the same time, I guess I enjoyed the "magic" of the show a bit more without staring through my phone. I would recommend this if you like Broadway performances (singing, dancing, acting). I'm not really/specifically a Jazz fan but it was still really enjoyable because the talent level is quite apparent.
The show was over at about 15:10, perfect for our Indiana Jones fast pass return time, so we headed back to the Lost River Delta and quickly rode the ride again.
I wanted to try the Sindbad ride which we had bypassed earlier in lieu of checking out more of the park and finding something to eat, so we went back to the Arabian Coast after stopping to take pictures with the Raging Spirits ride since it looks really cool.
However, at this point (around 15:35), since we were eligible for another fast pass and there wasn't another ride we were dying to get a fast pass for, we just ended up taking fast passes for at 17:55 to 18:55 return time without particularly caring if we were able to make it back for it.
We continued to Sindbad's Storybook Voyage ride which had a standby wait of 5 minutes.
I did really enjoy the effort/time put into creating the ride and the animatronics are zounds above It's a Small World but also newer as well, so that's only to be expected. It's not a particularly "exciting" ride, so I think you really have to curb your expectations there and just really want to be immersed in the storytelling to really enjoy it. I probably would have taken another ride on it at some point to get another look since the wait was only 5 minutes, but there were other things to do and see, so we left it at that.
I had also read some great things about the Casbah Food Court theming, so on our way out of the Arabian Coast, we popped in to take a look but neither of us was interested in eating there.
We passed Mermaid Lagoon again on our way to Mediterranean Harbor but didn't actually go into it and I was able to get a bit of a better picture of it.
It was a bit early for dinner (maybe around 16:30 at this point), but since we wanted to get seats for Fantasmic and then use our Raging Spirits fast passes right after, we stopped at Zambini Brothers' Ristorante counter service restaurant for dinner.
This was our first time sitting at a table for a meal at the park lol. I ordered a margherita pizza and Christa got meat sauce pasta and minestrone soup. (She had intended to order salad but somehow ended up ordering soup on accident and didn't feel like correcting it.)
We left the restaurant at around 17:00 and was surprised to find the sun had gone down and the sky was completely dark lol. We headed over to the area we had previously sat in for the Perfect Christmas show ("Lido Isle") and got our seats for the 17:30 Fantasmic show. By this time, it was getting quite cold to just be sitting in one place outdoors lol.
|Mount Prometheus after dark|
I personally haven't seen Fantasmic at another Disney park in a while and my memories of it make it out to be quite lame lol. In fact, I don't really have any particularly strong or good memories of any other show/parade at another Disney park except that they draw huge disruptive crowds. In contrast, the crowds at DisneySea are well managed/well behaved/considerate and in comparison, this was much more enjoyable for me. I also really liked this presentation of Fantasmic as well and didn't really expect to. Christa, who has more recently seen and remembers better the other shows, said she preferred the Disneyland CA performance, although she agreed that this one is very different from that one and that maybe if we had had better seats, it would have seemed like a better show.
The show ran for about 20 minutes and then we rushed over to Raging Spirits back in the corner of the Lost River Delta to use our fast passes. The shows tend to draw large crowds of people away from the rides (us included) so we wanted to try and get to the ride ASAP to keep whatever waiting we would have to do to a minimum. Even with the fast passes, we still had to wait around 15 minutes, which really isn't that bad considering the standby wait time was about 70.
I have to agree with a lot of the other ride reviews I read that called the ride overrated. It is as described - a roller coaster with a 360 loop, but overall not particularly exciting in any specific way and not worth a 70 minute wait to me. I wasn't unhappy that we used a fast pass on it or tried it, but I'm just glad we didn't try to get in the standby line.
We were feeling the jetlag/fatigue of being at the park all day at this point, so we decided that we would use our Toy Story fast pass which was still about a couple hours from the return time and that would be the last ride of the day (instead of staying until park closing at 22:30).
In the meantime, I wanted to ride on the Electric Railway (and didn't want to walk), so we went to Port Discovery to catch it one way to the American Waterfront. The wait was about 10 minutes.
Back at the American Waterfront, we wanted to find the New York Deli which, according to the online menus from TDS when I had done my research weeks prior, were selling the Little Green Men dumplings aka the aliens from Toy Story mocha ice cream. We had passed it earlier, so we found it pretty quickly but I was extremely puzzled when I didn't see the "dumplings" on the menu outside, so I quickly searched the menu again online and found it listed. We went inside apprehensively and saw the aliens in the mock food display on the side but again, not on the menu above the ordering counter! The lines were quite long and we didn't want to wait in there for nothing, so I ended up trying to ask the staff if the item was available to which he replied yes, but honestly, I still wasn't convinced lol. No one else was ordering it but it seems like a popular item! I even walked around through the tables and booths to see if anyone else had them on their trays but I didn't see any. It wasn't until I saw two people walk away from the counter with the product that I finally relaxed a little that we weren't wasting our time. The lines were still quite long and slow moving at that point, so I went to go find a table with our things while Christa waited in line.
This ended up killing quite a bit of time, and we didn't leave the restaurant until around 19:30 after taking some time to just sit down and relax.
We still had about 40 minutes to kill before our return time for our Toy Story fast passes, so I went shopping in McDuck's and finally got my Shellie May pouch (at the very end of the day lol) which was pretty frivolous at that point but whatever. I hadn't actually bought anything else at that point except for food, so I figured I had to get at least one souvenir specific to DisneySea.
Then we literally just sat on a bench outside the store for 15 minutes and talked about how tired we were lol.
At about 20:15, to prevent ourselves from falling asleep on the bench, we walked over to the Toyville section to take some pictures before going on the ride. It really is quite wonderful looking at night with all the lights!
While we were in Toyville, the fireworks started going off at 20:30 that are supposed to be viewable "park wide" and we probably could have seen it if we ventured just outside the area a bit, but we were way too lazy at that point lol.
At 20:35 exactly, we presented our fast passes, and walked into the ride.
As expected based on a bit of online research, the ride is essentially exactly like the one in CA (aside from the queue area) with just a much longer line lol. Since we were both reasonably familiar with the CA park, the ride wasn't too much of a big deal, but we were happy to use the fast pass on it and just walk on without an 80+ minute wait and have this be our last ride of the day.
We passed through a few gift shops in Mediterranean Harbor while making our way to the exit and purchased a few last minute things before exiting the park.
We caught the Disney Monorail back to Maihama station and then backtracked our way to Shinjuku from there. By the time we got back, it was a bit after 22:00 and we just poured our exhausted selves into bed lol.
Final thoughts and considerations
I had a lot of concerns about this a few weeks out before the trip. We had felt confident in purchasing them, but since there were a lot of warnings about printing only on A4 paper, I got a bit nervous as I tried to do more research. I didn't find a lot of personal accounts about using the eTickets from people who did not have A4 paper. I'm not sure if it's because they're aesthetically not as worthy of being a keepsake (as compared to the actual ticket you can purchase at the window) or because no one prominent (first 4-6 pages on Google) is writing about it in detail. Regardless, we had purchased them so we intended to try and use them. I had printed several copies of the ticket, all slightly different in terms of margins/sizing (although that wasn't necessarily wholly intentional) and brought them with me to the park, just in case. The ticket is not only important for entry but also for getting fast passes and trying the lottery for shows.
The above picture is the exact ticket I used for park entry and also on all the machines within the park. I didn't have any particular issues with it or how the QR code was placed/located on the paper in this position. I believe this version of the ticket was printed on legal (8.5 x 14") paper and then cut down to approximate A4 size and folded 3 times. I also had letter (8.5 x 11") paper versions but this one seemed the most accurate to me, so this is the one we tried and was successful with.
If you scroll down to about the bottom third of this page from the TDR website about their eTickets "Attention on Printing Tickets", you'll notice the listed requirements. The one factor that kept tripping me up was the third aspect of #3 which asks, "Is the left edge of the two-dimensional barcode more than 2 cm apart from the edge of the paper?". The printed tickets that seemed the most reasonable looking to me did not meet this requirement in the slightest. I did have one version that did but it was also accidentally "fit to page" printed (vice "actual size" which was preferred") and therefore the QR code was a percentage smaller and that's why I had the actual 2cm. ????
But I guess regardless of all of this, the ticket we ended up using and had success with did not have this 2cm margin and was perfectly fine. I'm not sure where that requirement comes from or why it's listed that way if it's not necessarily true, but I guess the bottom line is that my e-ticket that looked as pictured above was functional for my day at DisneySea. I feel that if your ticket is printed and looks similar to this, you shouldn't have a problem either (but of course the best way to guarantee that is to actually print on A4 paper).
After reading through many different blog posts, I noticed that some people complained about the price of the park entrance fee! Idk if it's just my point of view as an American (usually the people who complained were not), but 6900yen, even being generous and exchanging at 1USD to 100yen ($69), is a good price imo! Well, considering the cost of going to just Disneyland in CA is now close to $100?? I practically consider the price of Tokyo Disney Resorts to be a steal at the actual current exchange rate, and we paid around $57 for entrance each. Maybe similar parks outside the US usually have a lower entrance fee? If so, I'm jealous lol. Anyway, Christa and I were personally happy with price of the entrance fee for what was available in the park.
There were a few people in blogs who riffed on the storylines for rides and shows mostly being in Japanese, but I find that so...odd. You are literally IN Japan. Despite the fact that it's a Disney Park which isn't Japanese in and of itself, why would the primarily language of anything in Japan be English? Sure, there are likely a few English speaking visitors each day, but to actually be perturbed by the lack of English, so much as to blog about it? I find that astounding and even a bit pretentious. I honestly feel like for some reason some people have this unrealistic expectation for everything to be available in English wherever they go, but really? I understand it as a warning to those who understand zero Japanese, but as a complaint I found it unsavory.
Beyond that, it's not impossible to understand what's happening in the shows or rides regardless of language, and if it is incredibly essential, a cast member will likely be able to help you out if you ask. Christa and I are nowhere near fluent in Japanese (we can understand bits and pieces of simple sentences), but we were able to get along in the park without too much confusion based on the primary language being Japanese.
Our visit to DisneySea was on a day that there was anticipated rain. The weather reports for Japan are usually highly reliable and if it is supposed to rain, everyone will have umbrellas, even at a theme park.
Regardless, DisneySea was still a pretty well functioning park in the morning despite the rain although some areas were a bit slippery when we first entered. I think that after the crowds were able to clear up a little bit and it was no longer actively raining, cast members were then able to start "mopping" the water better as they did for the Perfect Christmas show stage area. I also saw cast members wiping down benches and other sitting areas too. We were extremely fortunate that none of the shows we wanted to see were cancelled because of the rain, but I know that in more extreme cases, that can happen and some rides can even be temporarily shut down.
The rain, clouds and overcast sky were bummers for photo taking, but we were still able to get some pretty good pictures without too many shadows from an insane sun at least. I wish we had had some blue sky in some photos (like in the Mermaid Lagoon area), but I'm not disappointed with what I have.
More generally, as it was late November, it was a bit cold, especially when the wind was blowing. I'm not overly used to cold weather and many aspects of the park are outdoors (especially the Christmas shows and Fantasmic) and some standby queues. However, I did feel like I was able to get along fine wearing a Heattech camisole under a knit turtleneck and long sleeve polyester dress with OTK socks and OTK boots with the option of taking on and off my faux leather cropped jacket and leather gloves throughout the day. The inside portions of some of the rides are a bit warm so it was good to have the option of layering for some occasions. Mid morning, I thought I would want to remove the turtleneck from under my dress, but in the end, I'm glad I left it on because I would have had to go through the trouble of putting it back on at some point later in the day and it wasn't unbearable.
Rides and shows
If I had to rate them on a scale of 1-5,
5 being the best, would recommend, would gladly experience multiple times in a day, would wait in line
4 being good!, would recommend, would experience again with a wait time but not a high priority
3 being alright, would likely experience again with a short wait
2 being OK, would experience again only to kill time or to rest feet while sitting with a short wait time
1 being very eh, would hesitate to recommend to others, wouldn't wait in line
Journey to the Center of the Earth (x2) - 5/5We also saw 4 shows which I would rate as follows:
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (x2) -5/5
Tower of Terror - 3.5/5
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - 2.5/5
StormRider - 3.5/5
Sindbad's Storybook Voyage - 3.5/5
Raging Spirits - 2/5
(Electric Railway) - 2/5
Toy Story Mania! - 3/5
A Perfect Christmas - 5/5I should note that my ratings are obviously very personal and indicative of my having previous experience at Disneyland in CA as well (especially in regards to the rides that have CA counterparts). The ratings are not meant to say how "good" the ride is, but rather how much I personally enjoyed it based on what little time we had at the park, and what I would consider doing for another visit to DisneySea. Some of the rides I think I would rate better if I could have ridden them more than once, but I can only rate them as they stood based on what I can determine atm.
Big Band Beat (Christmas edition) - 4.5/5
Fantasmic! - 4/5
Colors of Christmas - 1/5
All this being said, I would highly encourage people to try each ride/shows for themselves at least once, and I was glad I got to do so for these rides and shows!
I had consulted a couple crowd calendars that estimated the amount of people who would be at the park on any given day and one had very high numbers and another had more reasonable numbers. I think that the lesser number was likely more accurate because I didn't feel that we had to deal with a LARGE amount of crowding and fast passes didn't run out in the early morning for any of the rides (many did run out at around 17:00, give or take a few hours except Toy Story which ran out much earlier). This seems to go along with the weather (rainy) which usually discourages park goers a little bit. I mean, if you have a choice, why would you choose to go on a bad weather day when the rain could possibly interfere with your park experience? I am thankful that we ended up going on a day with a more moderate crowd which allowed us to go on some popular rides not once, but twice! Truly though, I do honestly believe that crowds can get very big and lines very long which would dampen a visit. Even with the "smaller" numbers at the park, we saw a line at a food stall that was at least 50 people long from what we could see wtf. For certain popular things at certain times of day, you just have to be prepared to wait! I think you just have to have a realistic idea of what the day will be like and do your best from there.
Because of this, we missed quite a few of the supposedly extremely detailed and beautiful queues. However, I'll personally take a short wait time over standing for an hour + and inching forward incredibly slowly just to see a queue although I don't doubt that they were amazing.
These were the fast passes we were able to grab and their return times in order of receipt:
Tower of Terror - 08:45 to 09:45The fast pass system at Tokyo Disney parks is no different than other Disney parks.
Journey to the Center of the Earth - 09:25 to 10:25
Toy Story Mania! - 20:35 to 21:35
Indiana Jones Adventure - 15:05 to 16:05
Raging Spirits - 17:55 to 18:55
If you're unfamiliar with the fast pass system, it's essentially a pass that allows you to bypass the standby/"regular" line for a ride and instead take an alternate route through the queue which gets you on the ride faster. These are free but you do need your park ticket available in order to be eligible to get them. Not all rides have fast passes, but usually the popular ones do and only a limited amount of FPs are given out each day per time intervals and they will eventually run out unless the park is particularly empty. There will be a sign at the fast pass ticket area letting you know what the current return times are for the passes that will be given out. You cannot choose your return times.
It's one fast pass per park ticket but any guest can use any fast pass and it's not locked to the person whose park ticket was used to get it. For example, if I wanted to ride ToT but Christa didn't, we could both get fast passes using our own park tickets (and therefore have two FPs) but I could go on the ride twice (solo) using each of the fast passes one at a time as long as I have one to present to the cast member. You can also give your fast passes away to others if you're generous and you're leaving the park before your return time or can't make it to the ride during your return time because of another obligation. May as well make someone else's day rather than just throw it away, right?
You are not eligible for another fast pass until the beginning return time for your current fast pass has passed or two hours have passed from the time you received your fast pass - whichever comes first. But you don't actually have to use the fast pass before getting the next one. For example, we got our first FP of the day with a begin return time of 08:45. The next time we'd be eligible to get another will be 08:45 regardless of when we rode ToT using the fast pass. We got our next FP (after 08:45) and its begin return time was 09:25, so we couldn't get another until it was 09:25 or later regardless of when we used our FPs at Journey. At about 09:40, we got fast passes for Toy Story that had a begin return time of 20:35 which is much, much later in the day. In this case, we would be eligible to get another FP at 11:40 (two hours from 09:40) instead of 20:35. It sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy. The fast pass itself will also help you out and tells you when you're next eligible at the bottom of the ticket in English.
To use your fast pass, simply return to the ride during the time interval represented on the ticket and present it to the cast member at the "fast pass" line entry point which should be clearly indicated with a sign. You must have it with you in order to be eligible and lost passes will not be honored. Each person on the ride needs their own fast pass. The cast member will look at your pass to see that you are actually eligible to get in the line and then you will continue with your fast pass into the fast pass queue until another cast member collects it somewhere around the middle or end where the fast pass queue meets the standby queue.
I read that a few people were able to use their FP despite the being late for their end return time, but we personally always returned before the final return time and did not worry too much about this. I do think that others in front of us may not have returned on time but were eventually let in anyway on some rides (after a bit of negotiating) and turned away at others, so it's definitely a gamble not to return at the appropriate time.
There is no consequence for not using a fast pass.
We also "won" the lottery for reserved seats at the Big Band Beat show which was incredibly convenient so we didn't have to wait in the "standby" line to get in.
There is one place to enter the lottery and it's called "Biglietteria" located at the edge of Mediterranean Harbor before American Waterfront.
(It's indicated by the green star in the upper left area.)The lottery for each show time ends half an hour before the show starts (ex. 14:00 end for 14:30 show). I don't believe anyone has completely figured out how the machine picks winners and losers.
I was using a fairly new iPhone 6s (purchased just a week before the trip) and sharing a portable wifi unit with Christa that had been provided by the Airbnb hosts.
(I also had my old iPhone 5s I could use if needed as long as the wifi was still working but wanted to take prioritize using the iPhone 6s because of the better camera.)
Overall, we had a full, pleasant day at Tokyo DisneySea. The weather could have been better, but it certainly could have been worse. I was glad that we had a plan going in and was able to accomplish all that we wanted to do and much more. There were small aspects of the park that were left unexplored (S.S. Columbia for example), but we left feeling tired and with sore feet but satisfied with the day we had. Given the chance, I would visit DisneySea again but would want to try another season/holiday (like Easter/spring or Halloween) but would probably not enjoy it as much during the hotter months just due to the amount of walking you have to do and how little I enjoy being sweaty. I think as long as the crowds were at a similar level to what we had this day (or less), a one day visit will feel sufficient for the average Disney park-goer who has been to other parks before and does a little planning beforehand. But without a doubt, I'm sure we could have also spent another day there and still found exciting and interesting things to see, do or experience.
If you have any questions, I'll do my best to respond, but anything related to planning will hopefully be picked up/answered in my next post!
See also: Japan trip Spring 2016 Day 6: Tokyo DisneySea !
Part 1 - Day 1, November 26: Tokyo DisneySea
Part 1a - Planning for Tokyo DisneySea
Part 2 - Day 2, November 27: Hair Salon NALU, Shibuya & Harajuku
Part 3 - Day 3, November 28: Ghibli Museum, Shirohige Cream Puff Shop, Ikebukuro, Rikugien Garden & Nagomi no Yu
Part 4 - Day 4, November 29: Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari & Fire ramen in Kyoto
Part 5 - Day 5, November 30: Minoo Park, Kaiyukan, Tennoji, Namba & Umeda in Osaka
Part 6 - Day 6, December 1: Shibuya, Yokohama (Chinatown) & Seirinkan
Part 7 - Day 7, December 2: Ueno Zoo, Alice Café & Yebisu Garden Place
Part 8 - Liz Lisa & Other shopping purchases
Part 9 - Budgeting for a week in Japan
Part 10 - Travel notes: Planning, Tips, Accommodations & Pocket wifi
✦ Japan trip Summer 2015 posts
✦ Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
✦ Japan trip Summer 2014 posts