Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea reopened after 122 days of being closed. The longest closure in the resort’s history. After fighting with the reservation system to buy park tickets, I was able to secure a ticket for Tokyo Disneyland on July 1, 2020. The park’s official reopening date.
The park works differently now, for the time being. I’ll share my experience with you on the reopening day of Tokyo Disneyland.
These safety measures are temporary but I’m not sure how long they’ll be in place. It’s important to note that I think your trip to Japan in 2020 won’t happen. It’s harsh, but that’s the reality and I want to be open and honest.
Here’s what it was like visiting Tokyo Disneyland on its reopening day.
My 11 AM Entrance Time
Park tickets are, as of this writing, sold as 1-day tickets only with entry times at 08:00, 11:00, or 14:00. We don’t know how long this will be in place. I go into detail in another blog post. My entry time was at 11:00, as that was the only ticket I was able to get.
Arriving at the gates, there were temperature check stations with a Cast Member checks your temperature. If you have a temperature over 37.5°C then you won’t be allowed in. It goes without saying, that I was fine and was allowed into the Park.
Social Distancing at the Gates
The renovated front gates are done after a lengthy refurbishment and it was finally put to use! There were Cast Members directing for you where to stand and everyone followed the social distancing guidelines. Suffice to say, it was orderly and calm. You could feel that everyone was excited to get back inside.
At 10:59 an announcement came on from Toshio Kagami (Chairman & CEO of the Oriental Land Company) to welcome guests back to Tokyo Disneyland and to congratulate the Cast Members. The moment the announcement was over, everyone cheered, clapped, and even heard a few people crying in joy. Despite the terrible weather, everyone was in high spirits. Myself included.
Walking into Tokyo Disneyland after 7-months
The last time I was in Tokyo Disneyland was in November 2019. After that, I was travelling around and spent time in Canada and the US. I got back to Japan right before the borders closed.
Walking through the turnstiles (do we even call them that anymore, since they physically don’t have them anymore), I couldn’t help it but to smile. It’s the feeling of coming home after a long and treacherous journey. Even though, you know that things aren’t quite the way they use to be, at least you’re home.
The Cast Members waving to everyone as you walked into the World Bazaar, that’s the Tokyo Disneyland I know and remember.
🏰 Tokyo Disneyland! ✨
The Cast Members waving and saying “okaerinasai” made me tear up.
It means “Welcome home”
— Chris Explorer (@tdrexplorer) July 1, 2020
Waiting for the Character Greeting That Never Came
Once I pulled myself together after all the Cast Members waving, I thought to myself “I’ll try and see the character greeting at the front of Cinderella Castle.” You see, right now there are no regular greetings or even any entertainment. I figured I’d see the greeting then explore the rest of the Park.
I’ve never been so wrong.
The wind and rain were strong, so after waiting for about 1.5 hours, I decided to opt-out. The times for the greeting aren’t posted and the Cast Members don’t share that information. But, the best thing about this was seeing how orderly everyone was. There were clear markers on the ground telling you where to stand. It spaced everyone out quite nicely.
Chris, wait, there’s no entertainment?
You read that right, there’s no entertainment at the moment or even character greetings. Tokyo Disneyland has a castle greeting where the characters come out and wave for a bit (see the photo above). Then there’s a short parade along the parade route. That’s all.
As for Tokyo DisneySea (which I haven’t been to yet), it’s only a character greeting on the harbour with the characters in their Tokyo DisneySea attire waving at the most extreme social distancing you can imagine.
Riding Everything I Possibly Could
The Parks are being capped at about 15,000 guests every day. That’s fairly low. However, that makes for low wait times across the board. The highest wait time I saw was 25-minutes near the end of the evening for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. Throughout most of the day, everything was a walk-on.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea are among the most visited theme parks in the world. You almost never see all the attractions as a walk-on. Unless it’s typhoon season. I rode everything I possibly could, because how could you not? Also, there’s not much else to do besides eat, take photos, and buy stuff.
Social Distancing in Queues
The queues in all the attractions are socially spaced (is that a phrase? I’m making it one.), and make the lines look physically longer. I should mention there’s no FastPass at the moment either. The Cast Members made sure guests were standing in the proper spots. Most guests were following the rules rather closely, which is always comforting to see.
As for the attractions themselves, you’re spaced from other guests and I noticed some attractions the Cast Members would sanitize the handrails (Pirates). Overall, they did an excellent job.
— Chris Explorer (@tdrexplorer) July 1, 2020
As for the no screaming rule that everyone has heard about. Not once were we asked not to scream. When I rode Space Mountain, no one screamed anyway, which was quite eerie in itself. Tokyo’s version of Space Mountain has no music and only space sound effects. It feels like you’re really in deep space cause no one can hear you scream.
I did get a Honey Pot all to myself on Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. That’s never happened before.
The most notable thing was no preshows. The only one I noticed was in the Haunted Mansion (spoiler ahead if you haven’t ridden this yet). You walk right through the preshow area, including the stretching room. All the doors are wide open and you simply walkthrough. There were yellow markers on the ground telling you where to stand.
The best way to describe it is you’re in a queue with markers all the way through the outside, through the preshow area, right up to your doom buggy. It was a surreal thing to see. I didn’t take photos as it was too dark and Cast Members were asking us not to take any.
— Chris Explorer (@tdrexplorer) July 1, 2020
Doors Wide Open
Over at Monster’s Inc inside the main queue area, the side doors were wide open to help with the ventilation. That caught me by surprise. Once you exit the attraction, you don’t go through the gift shop (it’s closed). You actually exit back into the queue area and leave that way. That was quite unusual to experience.
You know when you are able to go on autopilot and when something changes and it catches you by surprise? That’s exactly what it was like exiting Monster’s Inc.
We Won’t See Tokyo Disneyland This Empty Ever Again (Low Crowds)
This is the most uncrowded I’ve ever seen Tokyo Disneyland. This was something I was expecting, but to experience it first hand is something else. It was easy to keep my distance from others throughout the day.
Reservations Are Annoying But I Ate Good Food
Many of the snack stands and smaller restaurants were closed. I was devastated to find out that my beloved Pizza Spring Roll from Toontown wasn’t available. OK, I’m being a bit melodramatic, but I’m allowed to be. Even the popcorn selection was slim pickings with only a few stalls open.
All the table service restaurants were by reservation only. While I tried to make a reservation, the Tokyo Disney Resort App (which is now in English by the way) kept having issues with loading the reservation page. That’s when I took my hangry self to Pan Galatic Pizza Port for lunch followed by Hungry Bear Restaurant for dinner.
Out of Season Snacks
The strangest thing to see was the Park selling the souvenir cups from the Very Very Minnie event, which was supposed to end on March 19, 2020. Of course, with the Parks closing, you can say it technically ended on February 29. Hungry Bear Restaurant was selling the desserts that come with a souvenir cup or plate.
It makes sense since there’s no sense in keeping them. Let people buy them!
For the record, I didn’t get any cause I have too many of those small cups as it is. But I did get this cute straw?
Wait, Touch Screen Ordering Kiosks?
While at Pan Galatic Pizzaport to get my Green Alien Mochi dance on, I was startled to see massively oversized touch screen order kiosks. It was a pleasant surprise and fits the theme of the restaurant so well. Tony Solaroni must have used some savings to make that sort of investment.
There’s still a human, sorry Cast Member, you’re able to order from if you prefer to do that. Also, I didn’t see any kiosks in any other restaurant.
Shopping Spree at the Emporium
It comes at no surprise that there’s a ton of merchandise to buy. However, there’s no special event merchandise. Only things you’d find on a normal day. If you live in Japan, have an Annual Pass (or use your day ticket), you can buy the special 37th anniversary and Disney Easter merchandise through the online store.
As of July 1, 2020, Japan requires stores to charge for plastic bags. For those that have been to Japan before, you know this is a huge deal. It’s part of the omiyage (souvenir gifts) culture to wrap everything individually. You’re asked if you want bags for every single item you buy.
You see how this is an issue, from an eco-friendly viewpoint.
During my visit though, I wasn’t charged for any of the bags that were given to me. I’m not sure why. Perhaps they’re wanting to get rid of their stock before changing the bags.
There is a well-designed eco bag that you’re able to get now too! Also, cool mugs. Don’t forget that Bon Voyage is also open too, outside the Park by reservation only.
Everyone Wears A Mask
Wearing a mask is required at Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Ikspiari. That’s not negotiable. Masking wearing is part of everyday life in Japan already, so it’s a non-issue requiring people to wear masks.
Tokyo Disney Resort takes sanitization seriously. There are hand sanitizers everywhere: ride queues (both before and after), entrances into stores and restaurants, and in the restrooms. I noticed Cast Members wiping down high traffic areas on the regular as well.
As for the attractions, I only noticed the sanitization happening on Pirates of the Caribbean. My guess is because some of the rides load and move quickly, so it’s not viable to be wiping down after every single use.
Following the Social Distancing
There are social distancing markers on the ground and signage throughout the Park. For the most part, everyone followed these rules very closely and listened to the Cast Members.
The Beast’s Castle Is A Tease
You’re able to walk through part of the new Fantasyland Expansion that houses the brand new Beauty and the Beast attraction. Everything looks like it’s complete, but we can’t see it all! The area was set to open on April 15, 2020, but with the closure that didn’t happen. Tokyo Disney Resort said it’ll decide on an opening date once both Parks are open.
We’ll have to wait and see.
With what I’m able to see though, I’m impressed (are you surprised?). Maurice’s House has the most of its structure visible and I’m living for the water wheel thing (I’m too lazy to Google what it is). This is where the Fastpass distribution machines are. That castle though, my goodness she’s something else.
We can’t overlook the new Minnie’s Style Studio Meet and Greet facility in Toontown and the Baymax attraction in Tomorrowland (that’s attached to a Popcorn shop). But, the most important being that there’s a Hairy Baby now residing in Tomorrowland and I’m all for this. Complete with Baymax inspired cat vending machines (from what I’m able to see anyway).
Tokyo Disney Resort Does It Right
Tokyo Disney Resort is the role model for how a theme park should operate in these trying times. Was it perfect? Not by a long shot (I’m looking at your reservation system), but with the cooperation of excellent Cast Members and rule-abiding guests, it makes for a pleasant and safe-feeling experience.
I felt safe and at home.
Universal Studios Japan, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland have also done great jobs at the reopenings, from what I could see. I wasn’t at those locations personally for the reopenings, so I’ve only gone off what our wonderful Explorers have reported on.
My thoughts on the day at Tokyo Disneyland. The Cast Members out did themselves.
Congratulations on the reopening. You should be proud because I am.
— Chris Explorer (@tdrexplorer) July 1, 2020
It’s a wonderful feeling to have Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea back. It does come at a cost with so many closures and the Park not operating at its fullest potential. That’ll come with time.
For now, I’m grateful for what we have.
— Chris Explorer (@tdrexplorer) July 2, 2020
Do You Have Questions?
I didn’t cover everything here on how things work. I have an article that explains things in a more straight forward way if you’re looking for facts.
Before You Go
I have more photos and videos that I shared through my day on Twitter and Instagram Stories. I’ll also have a video showing everything you read here soon, so make sure you subscribe to me on YouTube so you don’t miss out.