As we grow older, we tend to get too caught up in work, relationships, and other commitments so much that we forget to let our inner child out to play. Travel has reminded me that a child’s curiosity is pertinent to our health so I recently let 5 year old Kimi out to play at Disneyland Tokyo.
On my last day in Japan, I suppose you could say I threw everything out the window. Budget, morals & principles, diet, etc. Money was no object, and I treated myself to a day at Tokyo Disney where I meandered at my own leisure, lighting up at the smiles on all the children’s faces, eating Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches, and getting teary eyed watching the Christmas parade make its way through the park. I even bought my own Minnie Mouse hat souvenir which is something I never do when I go to theme parks. I’m out $30 on that one, but you know what? It keeps my head warm, and it goes great with my red coat. Comfort and style achieved in one purchase.
Easily accessible from Tokyo station via the Keiyo line, I started the day early expecting the usual attraction hassles: large crowds, long lines, etc. Engulfed in 60 degree weather and sunny skies, I didn’t expect to be greeted with such a calm environment and a brief 10 minute wait in line to buy tickets (6,200 JPY – $75 entry fee for one day passport). To this day, it was the shortest line I’ve ever waited in to enter a theme park, and even though it was moderately crowded once inside, it wasn’t unbearable. It sure hadn’t felt like Christmas had come, but the whole park was decorated in santa hats, gingerbread men, and holiday attire. A wonderful time of the year it was indeed, and on top of all that, wait times for the rides didn’t exceed 45 minutes! In most places, that’s unheard of.
Though Tokyo Disneyland is not as big or spread out like the parks in Florida or California, I like it much better. It’s clean, whimsical, appropriately understated, and at least in the off season, it’s easier to control the chaos and the damage done to the wallet.
My day was fairly stress free. Bouncing between Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland, I rode the rides, took my fair share of pictures of the iconic Cinderella castle, grinned at the different Disney character statues scattered around the park, and stepped into every shop on the grounds even though they pretty much sold all the same souvenirs. With the exception of the Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich I mentioned earlier, I didn’t spend money on overpriced, mediocre food, even though that’s suppose to be part of the experience.
Disneyland suits Tokyo so well. The bright colors, dancing, costumes, and festive characters are the essence of Japan. Fellow Disney lovers wandered the grounds donning many different movie character hats. Any person without one looked like the odd man out, hence the Minnie Mouse hat purchase (cheers to peer pressure). Couples, families, individuals of all backgrounds came to enjoy a day of fun away from their regular routine. In high holiday spirits, it was difficult to feel anything but happy and joyful.
As I encountered the longest line of the day on my way out, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as I discovered it was a line to meet Mickey Mouse. People of all ages exploded with glee, as if they were meeting the biggest celebrity on Earth (let’s be honest, Mickey Mouse is the best), and it was the first time I witnessed hugging in Japan. I couldn’t explain it if I tried, but those few moments I spent watching people take their picture with Mickey were the best way to wrap up my trip. It truly encompassed the immense love I have for the country.
So the lesson to be learned is that no matter what your schedule is like, always find time to unleash your inner child, whether it’s at Tokyo Disney or the swingset at the neighborhood park playground. It’s equally important to work hard as it is to hardly work.