In case you didn’t know there is a magical place tucked in the little town of Tama – located within Tokyo, Japan. It’s where a special lady lives with all of her best friends! Her name? Hello Kitty! And yes she is a lady and not a cat. Make sure you tell your friends that, I get the feeling she doesn’t like being referred to as a cat. 😉 She lives in a castle called “Sanrio Puroland” although many people refer to it as “Hello Kitty Land”.
You might be familiar with Sanrio, they have locations all over the world and you can’t miss them – they are small, but colorful and bright stores. They sell lots of stationary, school supplies, and accessories as well as stuffed animals and apparel. We took our kids here during Thanksgiving week to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and I was pretty excited to go as well since I loved going to the Sanrio store when I was a kid. So here are a few things I learned about our adventure!
- Take the train. It’s a fairly easy train ride and the park is only a 5 minute walk from the Tama train station. You even get to walk down Hello Kitty Street. 🙂
- Buy your tickets beforehand. I got our tickets on GoVoyagin – it’s like the Groupon of Japan. We ended up paying $19.50 for each adult and my daughter. Kids under 3 were free. You don’t even have to print anything, you can just show the barcodes right on your phone. If you plan to go frequently or want to purchase a Puropass (like a FastPass), then you may want to get your tickets from the park’s website. Keep in mind, the price increases for weekend and holiday visits.
- It’s indoors. One thing that might really surprise you is that the entire theme park is indoors! I think this is pretty awesome since the weather conditions aren’t always great here in Japan. You don’t have to worry about your kids being too hot or too cold and you can leave the ponchos at home. 🙂
- It’s kind of small. Since the entire park is inside, you can imagine that this place isn’t all that big. It’s four stories high but doesn’t really have a huge circumference and there’s an escalator and elevator. But the steps are kind of built into the enchantment of the place so my kids loved going up and down the stairs. They do have a large stroller parking area and locker rentals so you don’t have to lug around your bags and coats.
- The details are amazing! No Hello Kitty detail was left behind here. You will see prints of Hello Kitty and her friends all over this place – down to the wallpaper and the vending machines!
- Even the food is themed! There are a few cafes/restaurants located throughout the park. They serve all types of Japanese cuisine as well as French fries, pastries, and ice cream. But you will see that Hello Kitty has made her mark on the food (and snacks), too!
- There are rides. Even though everything is indoors, there are a couple of rides within the park. One is a boat ride that takes you through a land of mechanical characters and the other is a little car ride where you take photos in different themed rooms. We had to wait about 25 minutes for each of these, but the PuroPass will get you in faster in case you’re in a time crunch.
- There’s an arcade. If you need a break from the rides or want to play some games, there’s a spot for that. The park has an arcade area with a small carousel and little 100 yen arcade style rides.
- There are plenty of opportunities for character meet-and-greets. If your little ones aren’t afraid of giant and crazy costumes, then they will love the characters at Hello Kitty Land!
- Catch the parade. There are a few shows that happen throughout the day. You’ll want to pick up a show guide at the front, but make sure to watch the parade! They will start roping off areas (just like they do at Disney) long before the start of the parade, so make sure you grab your seat early. They also sell light up wands for 1500 yen and your kids WILL want one so they can interact with the performance. Since we were there the day after Thanksgiving, the show was Christmas themed and it was a mix of Japanese and English songs.
- She’s worth the wait. You will have the opportunity to meet Hello Kitty herself! She has her own wing of the castle and it’s extra magical! We waited about 30 minutes, but I did see the wait times increase at times. You can also skip the line with the PuroPass. Once it’s your turn, you are ushered into her special house. There are lots of photo props and interactive areas – and it’s beautiful! Then you wait in another short line to actually meet her. You have the option to purchase a rose for 500 yen to give her during your meeting. In exchange she will give you a gift as well. We didn’t purchase this option so I’m not sure exactly what the gift was although it appeared to be a small notebook of some sort. Also, this was the only spot where personal photography was not allowed. We bought our Hello Kitty photo with the frame for 1600 yen.
- There’s SWAG! If you are celebrating a special occasion, head to the Information Desk when you first enter the park. They will give you a card that you wear around your neck with your name and celebration date. Then when you walk around, everyone will give you a sticker for your card and in our case, wish my daughter a Happy Birthday. It really made her day extra special! They even gave one to my son so he wouldn’t feel left out. Instead of ‘Happy Birthday’, his occasion was ‘First Visit’.
- Everyone is super friendly! Okay, maybe this isn’t surprising since it is Japan and all. But everyone was very friendly – not just the employees, but the people in the park too. It’s a pretty crowded and busy place, but anytime my son had a meltdown or fell (he falls a lot) – someone would stop and check on him. Also, everyone that worked there spoke enough English to communicate basic instructions which made things a lot easier.
Overall, we really enjoyed our day at Hello Kitty Land! If you plan to go, check the park schedule because it does close fairly early so you’ll want to give yourself enough time to explore everything. And if you don’t have kids, don’t let that stop you from visiting this little gem. We saw a lot of couples there without children and they looked even more excited than the kids we encountered. 🙂
Have you been to Sanrio Puroland? What did you think? Would you go if you had the chance?
I’m off to review the next event!