Whether you’re a massive Disney fan like myself, or you’re just looking to experience something fun while you’re visiting Tokyo, a trip to Tokyo Disneyland can be the highlight of your Japan vacation. Disney parks are well known for creating memorable experiences for the whole family, and I’ll be the first to tell you that Tokyo Disneyland does not disappoint. It’s the perfect mix of familiar Disney favorites and exciting new elements that give the park (and its sister park, Tokyo DisneySea) their own flair and make them deserving of a spot on your itinerary.
But planning a trip to Disney – any Disney park – can be tough. There are lots of different logistics to consider, and when you’re trying to plan a trip to a theme park in a totally new country where you don’t even speak the language, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you think to plan an awesome trip to Tokyo Disneyland. By focusing on a few key aspects of your trip, you’ll find that most of the other details fall into place.
Ready to plan the trip of a lifetime to Tokyo Disneyland? Here are some tips to help you through the process:
FIGURE OUT HOW YOU’LL GET THERE AND WHERE YOU’LL STAY
Tokyo Disneyland, unsurprisingly, is not actually in Tokyo. It’s situated just outside of Tokyo, in a city called Urayasu. If you choose to stay in Tokyo, it’ll take you roughly a half-hour to an hour, depending on where you’re specifically located, to reach the parks by train. You’ll want to get off at the Maihama Station stop. From here, Tokyo Disneyland is a quick five-minute walk.
You do, however, have some other options. Many hotels throughout Tokyo actually offer a free shuttle bus service that will take you directly to the park. Make sure you ask about this before booking.
Additionally, you can choose to stay at a Tokyo Disneyland hotel. There are four official hotels on the Disney resort property:
- Disney Ambassador Hotel
- Tokyo Disneyland Hotel
- Tokyo Disney CELEBRATION Hotel
- Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta
These hotels offer a themed Disney experience, a resort-like atmosphere, and ultimate convenience when it comes to enjoying Tokyo Disneyland. They do, however, come at a pretty steep price, so you’ll want to weigh your options – and your budget – carefully.
You also have the option of staying at a Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotel. There are currently seven of them and all within close proximity to the parks.
- Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels
- Sunroute Plaza Tokyo
- Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel (The hotel where we stayed)
- Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel
- Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel Club Resort
- Hilton Tokyo Bay
- Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay
They also have the added convenience of shuttle buses and the monorail. Something to note is that the monorail system in Japan, unlike the US, is not free. You can purchase a single trip ticket which costs ¥260 for ages 12+ and those 11 and younger ¥130. There are also day passes which were the best option for us as we had plans to visit the parks for three days. 3-day passes are ¥1,100 for ages 12+ and ¥550 for those under age 11.
DETERMINE IF YOU’LL GO TO ONE PARK OR TWO
There are two Tokyo Disney parks: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Depending on the amount of time you’ve got to enjoy the parks, your budget, and the group you’re traveling with, it may make sense to visit one – or both – of the parks. I highly suggest visiting both parks. We purchased a three-day pass. Once again, unlike the US, you have to choose the first park you want to go to on day one, another on day two and then you can park hop on day three. You cannot change your mind about the park you want to enter on day one as you will not be permitted entry. Park tickets have to be used on consecutive days, meaning that you can’t miss a single day, so be ready to enjoy the parks daily. Also, remember to get stamped when leaving the park as it’s the only way you’ll be able to re-enter, even while park hopping on your final day.
Tokyo Disneyland is an experience geared more toward children. You’ll find rides that mirror the ones you’ll find at other Disney parks, like the Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster. You’ll also find plenty of rides and experiences unique to this park, like Pooh’s Honey Hunt and the popular Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek attraction. Fireworks at the park begin precisely at 8:30pm and end at 8:34pm, and is rather tame compared to everything else at the park and what we’re accustomed to here in America.
Tokyo DisneySea, on the other hand, offers a different experience and you’ll generally need 2-3 days to experience it all. Designed to attract an older crowd, older kids, teens, and adults will love DisneySea. It’s also the only park where alcohol (beer) is served, and home to Duffy and Duffy merchandise if it’s what you’re looking for, meaning that you won’t find any Duffy merchandise at Tokyo Disneyland.
Tokyo DisneySea is also home to some of Disney’s best shows, great parades, and an impressive selection of rides, DisneySea is unlike any other Disney park, boasting totally new “worlds” and brand new attractions. Rides like Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull are well worth the wait in line! However, be forewarned that you’ll be spending a very long time in lines unless you have a coveted FastPass which you’ll have to get early. Unlike the US, there are no magic bands, and you have to get your FastPasses in the park; however, they’re usually snatched up as soon as the park opens.
RESEARCH RIDES AND ATTRACTIONS
While all Disney parks have some similarities, they really try to make each one memorable and unique. Tokyo Disneyland has seven different “lands” to explore: World Bazaar, Tomorrowland, Toontown, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Westernland, and Adventureland. Each contains different rides that fit the theme – for instance; you’ll find rides inspired by classic Disney films in Fantasyland, while Westernland houses Big Thunder Mountain and other rides inspired by the frontier culture of the American West.
Since you realistically can’t do it all while you’re in the park, it’s smart to make a plan before you go. Figure out which rides you absolutely want to ride, which ones you’d like to do if there’s time, and which ones you can do without. The Tokyo Disneyland website does a great job of laying out all of your options with this helpful attraction guide. You can filter rides to eliminate ones that may startle young riders and rule out rides with height restrictions, or use it to figure out which rides are the most exciting ones in the park to keep thrill-seekers happy.
And while it’s fun to focus on the rides, don’t forget about the shows and parades! These can be a great way to break up your day, give your family a chance to sit down and relax, and escape the heat of the afternoon (if you’re visiting during the warm summer months). Stick around until the evening to catch one of the best parades across all of the Disney parks – the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights.
PLAN FOR MEALS
Unlike Disney parks in America, which allow visitors to bring in snacks from outside, Tokyo Disneyland does not allow outside food and drinks. You can bring a picnic lunch to eat in a designated spot outside the park’s entrance, but that’s all. Because you’ll be limited to eating the food within the park, you’ll want to prepare accordingly.
Fortunately, it’s hard to go hungry in a Disney park. You’ll find a variety of tasty snacks and treats wherever you turn. From sweet shops selling ice creams and churros to grab-and-go favorites like smoked turkey legs, hot dogs, and popcorn, there are lots of quick bites to enjoy throughout the park. And if you’re looking for a meal? There are several full-service restaurants within the park to enjoy. Indulge in the buffet at Crystal Palace, dine at the Blue Bayou restaurant adjacent to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, or splurge on dinner and a show at Mickey and Minney’s Polynesian Paradise Review in Adventuretown.
Planning a trip to Tokyo Disneyland might sound stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! By sorting out the details around where you’ll stay, how you’ll get to the parks, where you’ll go, what you’ll do before you arrive, you’ll be set up for a seamless experience at one of the happiest places on earth.