Here are my tips to maximize your day at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea and save on your hotels.
The Japanese versions of Disney’s parks are a must-see for children and adults alike when visiting Tokyo!
Indeed, the Disney parks in Tokyo are very popular with adult customers. It is not uncommon to see couples in date at Tokyo Disneyland. There are also many young teenagers who go to parks as outings with friends. In short, everyone loves Disney!
There are two different parks and it is advisable to visit them both!
- Classic Experience
- Perfect for young children
- More spectacular and extravagant parades and shows
- Unique Disney Park around the world
- Rides that target older children
- A little more spooky atmosphere that might scare young children.
Buy your ticket in advance
To take advantage of this strategy to maximize your day, it is important to get your tickets before the day itself. Lines at counters can be massive.
It is possible to buy them:
- the many Disney stores in town (Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Odaiba, Tokyo SkyTree)
- with a Disney hotel reservation (online and at the front desk)
- convenience stores (7/Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart)
- online on various websites
The price of one-day admission tickets is approximately ¥7,500. There is no price fluctuation based on traffic or special events. 2,3,4 day tickets are also available as well as the option of park hopper. It should be noted, however, that the two parks are located 30 mins from each other by monorail.
Arriving at the park in advance
The lines to ENTER the parks are very long and I suggest you arrive at least 60-90 mins before opening on a weekday. If you have planned to visit Disney on a holiday or weekend, which is not recommended, it is recommended that you arrive at least 2 hours in advance.
This advice might seem excessive, but it is very important!
Busy periods to avoid
- New Year (late December-early January)
- School break (March-early April)
- Golden Week (late April-early May)
- Obon Week (mid-August)
- special events
It is possible to consult traffic statistics in the form of a calendar. Example for 2020.
The site is only in Japanese, but you can use Google Translate to translate the entire page.
However, here is a translation of the legend and an explanation of the calendar format.
Average waiting time for the most popular attractions/manèges between 10:00 and 18:00. It is possible to use Fast Passes for these rides.
Download a waiting time application
The most popular applications are TDR Alert and Wait Times for Tokyo Disney.
They provide information on the actual waiting time for
- attractions and rides
- the schedule of meetings with the characters
- schedule of shows and parades
If you can read Japanese, the official Disney application, available on the App Store Japan, will give more precise information on waiting times.
Fast Pass strategy
To maximize your time in the parks, it is imperative to understand how the Fast Pass works. This principle is common in all Disney parks around the world. This involves using the QR code on your ticket to generate a coupon that will allow you to ride the ride in question at a specific time without having to keep people waiting. Once you have obtained a coupon for a ride, you have to wait a certain period of time (~2h) before generating another one. It must also be done for each person in the group.
As soon as the park opens, go immediately to one of the rides to get your first id=”gid_0″>Fast Pass. The waiting time required before requesting your next Fast Pass will be indicated. As soon as it is possible to generate more, hurry up and do it!
It can take up to 30-45 mins to get a Fast Pass, but it’s worth it because the waiting time in stand-by on some rides can reach 2-3 hours!
Some of these rides are unique to Tokyo or offer a little something special. Their Fast Pass are often run out in the morning and you should get them as soon as possible.
The most popular rides
- Pooh Honey’s Hunt
- Monster Inc Ride & Go Seek
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster
- Toy Story Mania
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Tower of Terror
And while waiting for the time indicated on your Fast Pass coupon, you can stand by for other rides.
Tokyo Disney is in a period of restructuring and the Fast Passes have also been computerized since the beginning of 2020. Currently, you need to download the official Tokyo Disney Resort (in Japanese) application in order to use it in priority. It is still possible to go there with the conventional method (i.e. Fast Pass vending machine in front of the ride in question), but there will be more and more attractions sold out if the majority of Japanese use the application.
It should be noted that the Japanese prefer the “theatrical” rides versus the “thrill” type. Roller-coaster-type attractions are not as popular as Disney in the USA.
There is a lottery service to get reserved tickets for shows and parades. It is possible to participate in these lotteries for free on the official Japanese Disney application as well as at the following locations:
- Tomorrow Land Hall (Disneyland)
- Biglietteria (Disneysea)
The Big Bang Beat Show and the One Man’s Dream II are the most popular shows.
There is always the opportunity to line up for these shows on a “first come, first served” basis and there are several performances a day.
All the shows are in Japanese, but I assure you that they are entertaining even if you don’t master the language!
There’s plenty of places to eat in the park. Meal prices are very affordable and comparable to other Disney around the world. There is a buffet restaurant in each of the parks as well as hotels on site.
It is suggested to eat off peak, for example:
- between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m.
- between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.
Secondly, some restaurants offer table service and require reservations as stand-by lines are usually very long. If you are unable to book online, the best time to do so is when these restaurants open at 10:00. These culinary experiences stand out more at DisneySea.
: fine culinary experience (kaiseki) in an exceptional atmosphere
: Japanese theme
- Horizon’s Bay Restaurant : possibility to eat with characters
Near Maihama station, you can also find a multitude of restaurants cheaper than in the park as well as several convenience stores. A picnic area is at your disposal near the entrance. It is possible to leave the park to eat; don’t forget to get stamped to return.
The Ikspiari complex is an unofficial Japanese version of Downtown Disney. There is a grouping of more than 150 different restaurants and a multitude of shops for shopping.
Access from Tokyo
The train station that deserts Tokyo Disney is Maihama on the Keiyo line. The travel time from Tokyo Station to Maihama Station is about 30 mins; however, the transfer from platform to Tokyo Station can be very long and take 30 mins on its own!
Depending on the location of your hotel in Tokyo, the total journey could take more than 60-90 mins through heavy rush hour congestion. Then you can take the Disney Monorail to the park you wish to visit.
If you leave from the west of the city, there is a bus that connects Shinjuku (Expressway Bus Terminal) and the park entrance in 60 mins. This bus also passes through Tokyo Station, but I find the train more convenient in general.
If your budget allows it, I advise you to book a room in a hotel on the site. You’ll be able to get to the park faster and, most importantly, arrive before the crowd.
Then there is a selection of hotels in the vicinity of the site. These guarantee the availability of park admission tickets.
- Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel First Resort
- Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel
- Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel – Hilton Tokyo Bay
- Hotel Okura Bay
The Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel,Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel, a Marriott Class 7 establishment, is located right next to the park. The cost of a room in points varies between 60,000 and 70,000 points Marriott Bonvoy.
Nearby there are several other modest but ordinary hotels. The difference lies in the priority access, the possibility to reserve restaurants and the guarantee to have admission tickets available for their customers. There are many seasonal and special events in Disney parks and Tokyo is no exception; the parks are sometimes sold out.
You will still gain in time with an ordinary hotel nearby, but the cost is not justified if you don’t have access to the other benefits, in my opinion. Nothing prevents you from waking up in the early hours of the morning with a less expensive hotel in Tokyo! Trains from Tokyo start running around 05:00.
Discount ticket shops
A quick note on these shops, which are found in many places in Tokyo; it is illegal to use resale tickets to get into Tokyo Disney. There are occasional checks and access to the site may be denied if you cannot demonstrate that this is your ticket.
The tickets available in these shops sometimes allow you to enter a different priority door or are less expensive; people use this method to save time. These notes are often offered to Disney shareholders who subsequently resell them.
You can also purchase Priority Admission Ticket coupons for ~¥8,000. These coupons are NOT a substitute for an admission ticket, but are used as a single-use Fast Pass. So for ~¥8,000, per person and per attraction, it is possible to board without waiting! Pretty expensive in my opinion. These coupons are often given to people as compensation when a merry-go-round breaks down after they have waited in line.
I strongly advise against purchasing these discount tickets, priority tickets and Priority Admission Ticket. However, if you decide to do so, be advised that it is at your own risk.
If you want to follow my adventures on Instagram, my account is @wanderingaline