I was in Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea for the first time in January, and I had a blast. :D I'm certainly no expert, but feel free to ask me anything you like!
A couple quick notes off the top of my head:
- Just like in Disneyland, CA, before each ride a cast member will ask you how many people are in your group ("Nanmei-sama desu ka?"). You can answer simply by holding up the appropriate number of fingers - I think I saw more people doing this than answering verbally. It might be useful for you to learn how to count to ten in Japanese, because, if I'm remembering right, while some of the cast members told us our row number in English, most of the time they said it in Japanese. (And I'll confess - when I was ordering our Splash Mountain photo, I said the number in English. The cast member understood me.)
- Before we went on the Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes and before we went into the Mickey Mouse Revue (both in Disneyland), a cast member warned us that the dialogue would be entirely in Japanese. I'm sure they'll let you in even if you can't understand them, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. There were also a couple of attractions - Disney Sea's Tower of Terror and Sindbad and maybe one other? - where cast members saw us (I was with my dad; we definitely do not look Japanese ;) ) and brought over little pamphlets that explained the rides in English. There are also a couple of shows - including the Little Mermaid and Magic Lamp Theatre shows in Disney Sea - that have handheld subtitle device sort of things. At each of those shows, a cast member came over to us with a piece of paper explaining how to use the subtitle device, and when we confirmed that we'd like one, the cast member went and got one for us. As you might be able to guess from all this, all of the cast members we met were EXTREMELY helpful, even when my Japanese was horrible. :)
- We didn't go to any restaurants in the parks that sold traditional Japanese food (blame my dad :P ), so I can't speak for them, but all of the restaurants and fast food counters we went to had bilingual menus. When we went to the Rainforest Cafe in Ikspiari, we even had a waitress who spoke fluent English! ... Which was good, because I was much too tired that night to want to deal with the language barrier. ;) The ticket booths had bilingual signs too, and the names of the different tickets are in English, although I don't remember what they are. The official web site can help you out with that. :) Note that the park hopper tickets work a bit differently in Tokyo than in CA - you have to choose which park you'll visit on the first day and which park you'll visit on the second day. Only on the third day can you start going to whatever park you want whenever you want, although I don't think I'd recommend going to both parks on one day. The monorail trip takes longer than we'd thought - and you have to pay for it!
- Overall I really was surprised by the amount of English in the parks. There is a LOT of it. Pirates of the Caribbean, for example, is entirely in English, except for the skull at the beginning. A lot of the atmosphere writing is in English, such as all of the punny signs in ToonTown. Also, all of the face characters we met spoke English. I find this really interesting, but I know I would be frustrated if I didn't speak English!! Think of all the jokes they're missing! :(
- Store employees in Japan tend to wander around the store shouting things. (Mostly "welcome!" and "please look around!," that sort of thing.) This unnerved me a bit at first but I soon got used to it.
Hopefully all that helps at least a little bit! :) Feel free to ask any other questions you might come up with, I'm always happy to talk about Tokyo Disney!!
love your tips and AWESOME icon!
Thanks so much for taking the time to write such great tips! This actually makes me feel A LOT better about the language thing! I'll probably thing of more questions as my trip gets closer, so thank you very much for being so helpful!
wow, kudos to <lj user="arisha'> for such an amazing, informative post! there's not a lot that i can add here, other than I've been to TDR more times than I can count and though I am ethnically Japanese, my language skills go little past conversational level, but many cast members are great with English when/if you get tripped up.
It's definitely good to hear that English is used often, that makes me feel less nervous! Thanks!
I actually did buy that and it just arrived on Saturday! Thanks to your husband, that book has been EXTREMELY helpful!
Basically he wrote it as "everything I wish I had known before we went." Especially since we've both forgotten most of the Japanese, and most of the things we wanted to remember for next time. He wrote it down for ourselves as much as everyone else, lol. Anyway, have an amazing trip! I love those parks so much, and I'm totally jealous. ;)