Our 1-day Tokyo Disneyland touring plan covers our ideal day in the park with attractions ordered to minimize time in line and maximize efficiency. To that end, these are the attractions we would do, the restaurants at which we’d dine, the shows we’d see, and the details we’d try to enjoy. (Updated March 5, 2023.)
In our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Planning Guide we recommend 2 days at Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) if you have the time, as the park has a really impressive attraction slate (and often, long lines). Accordingly, you’ll have to skip some things if you only have one day at TDL. If you’re visiting Tokyo DisneySea, check out our 1-Day Tokyo DisneySea itinerary.
This Tokyo Disneyland touring plan has been updated following the reopening of Japan’s border to international tourists. Although the parks reopened a while ago and pent-up demand is through the roof, operations are still scaled back for some inexplicable reason. As such, this itinerary is very much tentative and subject to change. We hope to have another update this summer or whenever things get back to normal. With that major caveat out of the way, here’s our 2023 Tokyo Disneyland itinerary…
Tokyo Disneyland is basically “Bizarro Magic Kingdom” and this applies to attractions, too. If you only have a single day at TDL, your time is best spent doing original attractions that are unique to Tokyo Disneyland. Aside from Splash Mountain, any rides you’ve experienced at other Disney theme parks around the world are skippable. You can see the full attraction lineup in our Tokyo Disneyland Attraction Guide post.
This Tokyo Disneyland 1-Day Guide assumes you’re visiting during a weekday at a moderately-crowded time of year. Unless you’ve been to Walt Disney World or Disneyland on New Year’s Eve or some other major holiday, you probably have never seen the kind of crowds the Tokyo parks get on weekends or during busy season. If you visit when it’s busier, you will wait in long lines for everything, including to get into the park. Read When to Visit Tokyo Disneyland in 2023 to prevent yourself from having these issues.
One final note before getting started is that you should consider staying at one of the Disney-branded hotels if your budget allows. See our Hotel Reviews & Rankings at Tokyo Disney Resort for comparisons and recommendations. Staying at the Disney hotels gives you the “Happy 15” perk, which is 15 minutes of early entry into the park.
Once you wake up from wherever it is that you are sleeping, eat breakfast, and then get started on your day…
Arrive Early – If you’re staying at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, plan to arrive at the Happy 15 entrance no less than 45 minutes before official park opening. If you’re staying at a non-Disney hotel, you will want to arrive even earlier than that because the regular turnstile lines will be even longer than the Happy 15 line.
On busy days, we try to arrive an hour before park opening (even if you get there that early, you’ll still find other people in front of you in line. If you’re eligible for Happy 15, your first destination is easy: Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. This is the blockbuster new trackless dark ride inside Beast’s Castle in Fantasyland that seats guests in gigantic tea cups that dance in rhythm to the music from Beauty and the Beast, while showcasing scenes depicting the story of the classic Disney animated film.
Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast also sells Disney Premier Access, which is essentially a paid replacement for FastPass. If this Beauty and the Beast ride is incredibly important to you, consider buying that. (It’s also included via standby in this itinerary.)
Monsters & Pooh/Pan Dash – If you’re not eligible for Happy 15, you should save Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast until later in the day. The vast majority of the early-arriving crowd heads there first, and you’ll be behind all of them. You’ll be wasting valuable time stuck in line behind thousands of other people while wait times are low elsewhere.
Consequently, our strategy for first thing in the morning is running to Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek (use the shortcut through World Bazaar into Tomorrowland on the right) and doing that first. Alternatively, you can proceed directly to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt in Fantasyland and do that first. With that in mind, there are basically two options for starting the day:
Option 1 (Maximize Efficiency):
Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
Peter Pan’s Flight
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Option 2 (Minimize Backtracking):
Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek
Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
Cross through Cinderella Castle’s Central Plaza to Adventureland
Pirates of the Caribbean
If you choose the first option, which is what we’d strongly recommend, you will keep bouncing around throughout the day. Tokyo Disneyland is not that large of a park, and if you can handle walking around Japan, you’re probably fine criss-crossing a theme park a few times in a day.
If you choose the second option, you’ll proceed with the lands in clockwise fashion, doing Westernland and Critter Country after finishing up Adventureland, ending the day in Fantasyland. This second approach is actually a surprisingly organic and efficient way to do Tokyo Disneyland (save for Big Thunder and Splash Mountain, which might have long lines when you arrive at those attractions).
Here are some additional notes, plus how to fill out the middle of your day, regardless of the first option you choose…
Splash Mountain Single Rider – Although Splash Mountain is similar to its US cousins, we still highly recommend doing it in Tokyo Disneyland. Critter Country at Tokyo Disneyland was built specifically for Splash Mountain, and the level of detail in this entire area–including in the queue and on the ride itself–is unparalleled.
The other reason we recommend doing it is because there’s a Single Rider line that is relatively unpopular, meaning you can wait about 5-10 minutes for this attraction, even when the posted wait time exceeds 2 hours.
The design is the main draw, with the food being pretty good, too. Go here for an early lunch, as this place gets busy at lunchtime. (“Rope dropping” Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, mentioned below, might be a good alternative.)
Mickey’s Magical Music World Lottery – The popular new stage show in Fantasyland Forest Theatre, Mickey’s Magical Music World utilizes a free lottery system for seating. This is now accomplished via the Tokyo Disney Resort app rather than at a physical in-park location. We recommend picking an afternoon showtime for Mickey’s Magical Music World.
If you win, great. If you don’t, oh well. Mickey’s Magical Music World is good and worth seeing, but it’s not altogether dissimilar from any montage musical at other Disney parks or aboard Disney Cruise Line. It’s not in the same league as Big Band Beat at Tokyo DisneySea, which is an absolute must-see.
Afternoon Shows – When crowds are at their peak in the middle of the afternoon, consider watching one of the park’s less popular shows: Country Bear Jamboree and/or The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha E Komo Mai!”
The latter is a bit divisive (I like it), while the former is undeniably awesome. If you’re visiting between summer and Christmas, note that you’ll get a seasonal version of Country Bear Jamboree, which is basically like winning the lottery.
Daytime Parade – We really don’t have a ton of attraction recommendations, which may cause you to wonder why Tokyo Disneyland will take so much time: it’s the entertainment. There are (at least) 2 must-see parades, plus other shows and entertainment, all of which eats big chunks of the day.
Disney Harmony in Color! Parade is the new parade for Tokyo Disneyland’s 40th Anniversary. This will start on April 15, 2023 and likely run until April 14, 2028. As with its predecessor, Harmony in Color will likely be incredibly popular, so you’ll want to grab a spot ~45 minutes before parade time. Consult our Tokyo Disneyland Daytime Parade Viewing Tips for recommended locations. (That covers the current parade, but the advice will be the same.)
Dinner with the Queen – So I’m putting the next two items right next to one another, even though they probably won’t work out to be that way unless you’re a pig like we are. You either want to do an early dinner at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall and snacking throughout the rest of the night, or snacking all afternoon and a late dinner.
Strategic Snacking – There are some mega E-Ticket attractions at Tokyo Disneyland that you won’t find on any map, and these are the snacks. From the highly-touted popcorn to Tipo Torta (think churros, except actually awesome) to Toy Story Alien Mochi to Squeezers mango drinks to the seafood pizza at Captain Hook’s Galley to the pizza (and bizarrely-awesome show) at Pan Galactic Pizza Port, Tokyo Disneyland has some amazing snack options.
Ambiance on the Rivers of America – Right around sunset, consider doing the Rivers of America Trifecta: Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes, Western River Railroad, and Mark Twain Riverboat. The canoes are great with the late afternoon light in your face, Wester River Railroad is stunning at dusk, and by the time you get to the Mark Twain Riverboat, it should be dark.
Every truly patriotic person enjoys a good nighttime cruise aboard the Mark Twain. In fact, I believe Mark Twain said this about nighttime cruises on his namesake ship: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Sage words, Mr. Twain.
Night Parades & Shows – You’ll want to get good spots for both the seasonally-changing Cinderella Castle nighttime spectacular (currently nothing) and Dreamlights. Other guests will stake out spots early, but the good news here is that guests in the front “rows” are required to sit and there are no kids on shoulders (it’s prohibited–and enforced), so you’ll be able to see over other guests.
Because of this, you shouldn’t have an issue getting spots 30 minutes before showtime with good visibility. You could theoretically get one spot for both, but with the way they are usually spaced apart during the course of the night, I don’t recommend this.
Sometimes the Cinderella Castle show is being shown twice nightly. While the second show is far less crowded, it also interferes with the best time to do attractions with minimal waits. As such, we recommend seeing the first showing of whatever that might be, and doing attractions immediately after Dreamlights.
Fantasyland Favorites – As soon as Dreamlights passes, you will want to high tail it to the headliner rides you haven’t yet done. On a normal night at Tokyo Disneyland, you’ll have a little less than 2 hours left in the operating day after Dreamlights. Here are potential plans of attack:
Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek
Watch the Happy Ride with Baymax
Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast
Ride the Happy Ride with Baymax (if time allows)
Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast or Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (if time allows)
Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast
Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
Watch or ride the Happy Ride with Baymax
Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast (if time allows)
Okay, let’s explain the pros/cons & problems of these approaches. First, it’s a race against the clock after Dreamlights ends to your next destination. If you’re not fast and you pick Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, you’re behind a ton of people with the exact same idea. Either of the Tomorrowland headliners are lower stakes and easier to ride with short lines.
Second, we’ve recently run into problems with Tokyo Disneyland cutting the line for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast before park closing. It used to be the case that you could get in line until the minute the parks closed. That’s still the case for most attractions, most of the time. But not always. So if Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is really important, you need to line up for it at least 60 minutes before park closing.
Third, we see little reason to actually ride the Happy Ride with Baymax. The fun of this is the energy of the audience, and that exists whether you’re riding or standing outside the attraction doing the little dance and wave routine. That part is a ton of fun, but the attraction itself is so-so at best, and a long wait for what it is. Don’t miss being part of the fun at the Happy Ride with Baymax…but that fun does not require riding it.
Finally, actually results will vary. Post-reopening, we have had success doing Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast back-to-back-to-back, getting in line the final time less than 5 minutes after park closing, and never waiting more than 15 minutes for it (the final ride was a literal walk-on, with empty tea cups). The very next night, the line was cut ~30 minutes before park closing and the posted wait time was still 45 minutes.
Without question, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is the most popular and inconsistent ride in the park, and this holds true even at the end of the night. You may get lucky riding it three consecutive times like we did, but based on subsequent nights at Tokyo Disneyland, it appears that was an outlier.
We have had far more predictable and consistent rules riding Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and other Fantasyland or Tomorrowland attractions at the end of the evening. Regardless of what you do last, take the long route out through Fantasyland Forest and towards Tomorrowland, where the dances lights on Space Mountain and the future is a desolate place.
Slow Stroll Through World Bazaar – World Bazaar closes roughly 30 minutes after park closing, but I would not plan on shopping during that hour. The stores are chaotic, with guests rushing to buy trinkets or cutely-boxed foods for friends and family who didn’t accompany them on the trip. Instead, slowly make your way out, noting the differences between World Bazaar and Main Street. Look at the windows, which honor Imagineers, Disney executives, and Oriental Land Company executives.
Some of these things are going to have to be cut depending upon how much time other things take, but if you’re able to do even half of the things on this 1-Day Tokyo Disneyland Plan, you have knocked out a good chunk of the park’s highlights. Regardless, you’ll have a great time if you follow this itinerary.
Have you done Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast at Tokyo Disneyland? How long did you wait? What was your strategy for knocking out this and other headliner rides? What would you include in your ideal visit to Tokyo Disneyland? Does your day or strategy differ at all from what we’ve shared in this touring plan? If you haven’t visited Tokyo Disneyland yet, what do you plan on doing? Any questions? Share your questions and thoughts in the comments!