If you’ve ever planned a trip to Disney World or Disneyland, then you know how easy and convenient it is. You can do everything online without the need to talk to a representative. Piece of cake. However, when it comes to an international Disney park like Tokyo Disney, things can get a bit tricky.
This is where this article comes in. Although it can be a bit overwhelming, if you properly do your research, it really can be just as smooth as planning a Disney trip in the States. To help, I’ve created this guide: 5 easy steps for planning a trip to Tokyo Disney.
TRY TO VISIT TOKYO DISNEY IN JANUARY OR SEPTEMBER
I’d say this is probably the most important advice I can give you. Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disney are the busiest parks and it can get very crowded. Which is why you should visit during the slow season.
I went in January and it was the best decision I ever made. You should also know that the best days to go during the slow season is the weekdays, specifically Tuesday through Thursday, the ultimate slow time.
Avoid going to the parks during the weekends. It can get very unpleasant in terms of crowds. I cannot stress this enough!
When we went to Tokyo Disneyland on a Tuesday, most rides were empty so all we did was walk in and hop on the ride. Others only had a 5-minute wait. It was so funny watching the cast members just stand there waiting for someone to walk into their rides. It was amazing. I remember riding 3 rides in the span of 20 minutes, no FastPass necessary!
STAY AT A DISNEY HOTEL OR PARTNER HOTEL
If you want to take advantage of being one of the first people to enter the parks AND have a stress-free commute to the parks, I suggest staying at a Disney hotel or Disney partner hotel.
If you’re only planning on doing one day at the parks, then it’s not really necessary, but if you aren’t, you definitely should stay on Disney property. The commute from central Tokyo to Urayasu can be a hassle, especially in the mornings and evenings. I stayed at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel, a Disney partner hotel, and it was one of the best experiences of the whole trip.
The hotel is situated right across the street from the Disney resort line, which takes you around the entire Disney resort, the parks, and Ikspiari (their version of Disney Springs). It was convenient and so satisfying just crossing the street to catch our train to and from the parks.
The same goes for the Disneyland Hotel, the MiraCosta Hotel, Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay, and the Hilton Tokyo Bay. All of the nearby Disney Tokyo hotels are easily accessible and a small walk to the resort line.
SHERATON GRANDE TOKYO BAY HOTEL
If you can’t choose a hotel and if you’re looking for something affordable, I highly recommend the Sheraton. The room was so amazing and we were lucky enough to stay in their newly renovated wing.
They offer so many amenities, we were slightly overwhelmed. The food was delicious, the hotel itself was beautiful, the little shopping area in the hotel was extremely useful, (I got sick and required some medicine). And they have their own mini Disney store!
You can easily buy Disney tickets right at the hotel and you’re guaranteed admission even if the park reaches capacity. Their body wash also smelled really good! Another great thing about the partner hotels is that you can book them on Booking.com and other travel websites, so you can use your points if you have any.
PURCHASE A DISNEY RESORT LINE MULTI-DAY PASS
Now you really only have to do this if you’re staying on Disney property, or if you’re planning on commuting to the parks more than one day. Like mentioned before, the Disney resort line moves you throughout the entire Disney property. It’s one large loop going in circles around the resort, with 4 stops total:
- Stop 1: Resort Gateway Station. This is where you’ll find Maihama Station, the train stop you’ll get off at if you’re visiting the resort from central Tokyo. You’ll also find Ikspiari, their version of Disney Springs. And finally the Disney Ambassador Hotel, as well as other entertainment facilities.
- Stop 2: Tokyo Disneyland Station. You’ll find Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland Hotel.
- Stop 3: Bayside Station. This is where the Tokyo Disney partner and official hotels are located, (and where I stayed).
- Stop 4: Tokyo DisneySea Station. Here you’ll find Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta.
DISNEY RESORT LINE AT TOKYO DISNEY
The Disney resort line multi-day pass is sort of an unlimited MetroCard. You can buy it for a certain amount of days, and use it as much as you’d like to within the time frame. You can go back and forth between the parks, Ikspiari, and your hotel.
KNOW WHICH RIDES YOU WANT TO DO FIRST
This one is very important. Unlike Disney World, you can’t book fast passes beforehand. This is probably the only negative thing I can say about Tokyo Disney. Because you can’t pick fast passes in advance, it’s all about timing your day and your rides.
People take their rides very seriously. The locals will line up for hours before the park opens in order to be first and run to the ride they want to get fast passes for, or just run to be the first in line, which can become an hour-long within 10 minutes of the park opening. And I do mean RUN – cast members are forced to hold signs reminding people to walk instead of running. Fast passes also sell out very quickly.
TOKYO DISNEYLAND RIDES
At Tokyo Disneyland, the most popular ride is Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. It’s so popular that fast passes sell out within the first 2 hours of the park opening! We wanted to ride that ride because it’s also unique to Tokyo Disney, so of course, that was the main focus on our Disneyland day.
We got our FastPass at opening hours, then, later on, we got Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We really didn’t have to get fast passes for the remainder of the day because as mentioned before, the park was so slow there was no need!
TOKYO DISNEYSEA RIDES
At Tokyo DisneySea, the most popular ride is Toy Story Mania. It’s so popular it’s insane. Fastpasses sell out within the hour of the park opening. When entering the park, we found it so interesting observing the entire crowd just turn left to go get in line or get a FastPass for Toy Story!
I don’t blame them though, it’s an amazing ride, but we opted out of this one this time. Instead, we got fast passes for Tower of Terror, (which it’s a completely different theme than the other Disney parks and has a terrifying monkey), Journey to the Center of the Earth, (which I found to be a little underwhelming if I’m honest), and Tower of Terror again because we loved it so much!
PICKING YOUR FAVORITE RIDES
Now returning back to my point: you should know the must-rides for you. That way you can plan and know where you have to run to, (or speed walk really really fast), to get your FastPass in the morning. Know how popular that ride is and if it’s one of the most popular ones, get a FastPass for that one first and get the least popular rides later in the day because you can’t get them all the same time. Planning saves you time, which allows for more fun!
You should also know that Tokyo DisneySea is an extremely large park. The minimum you should plan for it is 2 days. It also has the most thrilling attractions out of the two parks, therefore the favorite to most people.
It also has the most interesting theme spots such as Ariel’s Playground, Agrabah Marketplace, and the Italy section. Nothing you’ve ever seen before! Take your time exploring Tokyo DisneySea, it is beautiful.
BUY YOUR TICKETS BEFOREHAND OR AT THE HOTEL
You’ve most likely probably heard of this one. Well, you hear it a lot for a reason! No one likes the morning lines to get tickets, watching everyone rush by you because they already have theirs. Buy your tickets online, or at the Disney hotel, you are staying at. You can even buy Disney tickets at 7-elevens and Lawsons in central Tokyo if that’s where you’re staying, it’s so easy and convenient! Just don’t do it when you reach the gates.
Tokyo Disney tickets are also the most affordable Disney tickets in my opinion. Compared to other parks, it’s moderately priced. The food and merchandise are also surprisingly affordable if you were wondering!
WHAT TO KNOW FOR VISITING JAPAN
Citizens of many countries can get a free 90 day entry to visit Japan for tourism.
Be sure to check the official Japanese Immigration Website for the latest information for your specific country.
The currency used in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY). The current exchange rate is approximately 1 USD to 108 JPY. You can check the latest EUR exchange rate on Google.
While traveling, our number one tip is to use a free Charles Schwab Debit Card which gives unlimited worldwide ATM Fee Refunds and the true exchange rate.
BEST TOURS IN TOKYO
Some of the best tours and things to do in Tokyo are:
- Tokyo Temples and Shrines Morning Tour
- Tokyo: Sushi Making Class
- 2-Hour Asakusa Food Hunt & Cultural Tour
- Photo Shoot in Tokyo with a Private Photographer
WHERE TO STAY IN TOKYO
We recommend booking your hotels on Booking.com to get the best rate and many hotels offer free cancellation in case your plans change.
Some of our favorite hotels near Tokyo Disney are:
AirBnB is also a great option in Tokyo (and you can save $44 using that link to sign up!).
BEST TIME TO VISIT JAPAN
The best time to visit Japan is during the shoulder seasons of March to May or September to November. These times have the mildest temperatures and will be less crowded than summer.
BEST BOOKS ABOUT JAPAN
Read more about Japan before you go! Some of the best books about Japan are:
WHAT POWER ADAPTERS DO YOU NEED
Japan uses standard Type A and Type B adapters also commonly used in the USA. However, keep in mind that the voltage is different so be careful with your electronics and bring a voltage converter if necessary.
You can buy a universal adapter that will work in any country and has extra ports for USB cables to charge your phone and other devices.
We also always travel with a portable battery pack which is great to keep your phone charged on long journies.
TRANSPORTATION IN JAPAN
- Public Transportation: Japan has extensive public transportation by both bus and train. The high speed trains are particularly good.
- Rental Cars: If you want flexibility, we recommend renting a car at the airport. This provides the easiest way to see certain landmarks, though parking in Tokyo can be expensive.
- Uber: Uber is sometimes available in Japan, though it depends on the area (mostly in Tokyo and Kyoto). However, the rules are constantly changing about Uber in Japan due to the strict permits that are required for drivers to offer rides. Metered taxis are readily available. You can use the popular JapanTaxiApp instead of Uber.
Our top recommended travel insurance companies for Japan are:
- World Nomads: Comprehensive coverage for medical, travel delays, and electronics.
- SafetyWing: Cheaper monthly coverage primarily for medical, starting at $37 for 4 weeks of coverage.
MORE ARTICLES ABOUT JAPAN
So far, I think Tokyo Disney might be my favorite Disney park, in terms of uniqueness and convenience. Walt Disney World, of course, will always be my OG. But these two parks are the parks that I will always continue coming to.
We hope that this article has helped inspire you to visit Tokyo Disney. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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