101 Great Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea Tips
Thinking about visiting Japan before, during, or after the 2020 Olympics? These are 101 of our favorite tips to save time, money, or just improve the quality of your experience at Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland. These ideas will have you touring the parks like a local…even as you’re thousands of miles from home! (Updated January 29, 2020.)
If you’ve read any of our posts about Tokyo Disney Resort, you know we absolutely love these parks, and think you’d almost have to go out of your way to have a bad experience. (Well, unless you visit on weekend during a Golden Week.) As easy as it is to have a good experience, there are plenty of little under the radar things that can elevate your trip from good to great, or even from great to magical.
This list of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea tips could go on and on. As Tokyo Disney Resort Annual Passholders, we spend a lot of time in the parks, attempt to try every limited-time snack, special event entertainment, and checking out all of the cool new merchandise…but it’s an uphill battle. Things are changing constantly, and the Japan parks have offerings for every season…and seasons that you didn’t even know exist!
By the way, if you have some good tips be sure to add them to the comments. This is just a jumping-off point, and hardly covers everything that could improve your experience at Tokyo Disney Resort.
With that said, let’s dig into our 101 best Tokyo Disneyland tips…
- DO NOT VISIT TOKYO DISNEYLAND OR DISNEYSEA ON WEEKENDS OR NATIONAL HOLIDAYS. Sorry for yelling, but the difference between a Tuesday and a Saturday is more pronounced in Japan’s parks than any others in the world. These are truly local’s parks, and wait times and crowd levels really reflect that. Read more in our When to Visit Tokyo Disneyland in 2020 post.
- Seasonal versions of Country Bear Jamboree still run in Japan, and they will undoubtedly be named National Treasures and UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the next few years. Do not miss Country Bear Vacation Jamboree if you visit from May through October or Jingle Bell Jamboree (Country Bear Christmas) if you visit in November or December.
- No matter when you visit Japan, consulting our 1-Day Tokyo Disneyland Itinerary and 1-Day Tokyo DisneySea Itinerary for efficient touring plans. We’ve revised these itineraries countless times, and they will maximize what you see in a single day.
- Want a delicious meal in a stunning setting? Read our 3-Course $30 Meal at Disney’s Nicest Restaurant post.
- The biggest expansion of Tokyo Disney Resort in two decades debuts in 2020. Read our Opening Date & New Details for Tokyo Disneyland’s Colossal 2020 Expansion for info about the new Beauty and the Beast land, and more.
- Tokyo DisneySea is currently in the midst of constructing a $2.3 billion new land (and hotel) known as Fantasy Springs. This will debut in 2023.
- Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage is a life-changing attraction that is often overlooked. Do not miss it.
- Consult the Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea Crowd Calendars when choosing your dates to visit.
- Chandu Tails are a life-changing snack that…well, they’re not often overlooked. Nevertheless, do not miss them. Read about other delicious options in our Awesome Tokyo DisneySea Snacks post.
- We’ve stayed at all of Tokyo Disney Resort’s on-site non-Disney hotels, which are the best option unless you’re a high-roller who can splurge for Tokyo Disneyland Hotel or Hotel MiraCosta. These on-site hotels are all on the monorail loop, and regularly have rooms in the $150-200/night range. Read our Hotel Reviews & Rankings for Tokyo Disney Resort for info, room photos, and more about each.
- Always consult the Temporary Closure of Park Facilities page before booking your trip. Maintenance is an imperative at Tokyo Disney Resort, and many attractions receive work annually. Schedule your trip to avoid closures of must-do attractions.
- Tokyo Disney Resort now has an app that can be used for securing FastPass. This is essential for Soaring: Fantastic Flight and the same will be true for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, the app is only in Japanese, and you’ll have to jump through some hoops to download and use it. However, it’s worth the effort.
- Discount TDR tickets are sometimes available, and can save you some money. Read our Tips for Saving Money on Tokyo Disneyland Tickets post for tips and tricks to saving money on Tokyo Disney Resort park tickets.
- No matter the season, one thing you absolutely need to pack for a trip to Japan is an external battery chargers for your phone. This is essential not for sharing photos on social media, but so you have Google Maps to navigate Tokyo’s complex transportation network. Find more suggestions on our Unique Disney Packing List post.
- Contrary to conventional wisdom, the only ATM at Tokyo Disney Resort is not in the basement of Ikspiari. There are more convenient 7-11 ATMs in some of the third party hotel lobbies, including the Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel Club Resort.
- Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights will blow your mind, and should be experienced by everyone, even if you’re “not a parade person.” It’s the best Disney parade in the world, period.
- While taking the monorail is a fun and highly recommended experience, you can walk from Bayside Station to Tokyo Disneyland in a little over 10 minutes. This will save you time in the morning, and also the cost of purchasing a monorail ticket. (On the way back at night, the monorail will be faster.)
- Ikspiari is Tokyo’s equivalent of Downtown Disney. Read our Guide to Ikspiari at Tokyo Disney Resort for our full shopping & dining recommendations.
- For maximum savings on hotel rooms, plan a stay between Sunday and Friday. Weekend rates can be over double the cost of weekday rates, and weekends in the parks are busier, anyway.
- If you’re caffeine addicts like us, we recommend bringing your own “fix.” We use these Mount Hagen Organic Instant Regular Coffee sticks as they are a cost-effective and strong option. Highly recommended! All counter service restaurants at Tokyo Disney Resort have free water, and most will give you cups of free hot water. (However, hot water can be difficult to get due to the language barrier. It’s one of the few things that consistently gives us trouble.)
- We have used Airbnb throughout Japan, including for two separate month-long stays in Kyoto. It’s an excellent way to save money, and is particularly good for larger families, as most hotels in Japan are geared for solo travelers or parties of 1-2. Read our Tips for Using Airbnb post for our recommendations for booking an Airbnb for a Tokyo Disney vacation.
- For the easiest parade viewing experience, watch the last running of the parade from the rail near the Partners statue. This provides an elevated view and is not as good for ground level performers, but is great for photos with the floats in the background. The best ground-level view is the left side of the Central Plaza curb (directly in front of Crystal Palace).
- If you do opt for hotels, we recommend doing a split hotel stay with one hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort for that portion of your trip, and one hotel in downtown Tokyo for that portion of your trip. The commute to Maihama Station from downtown can take an hour, and transferring through Tokyo Station can be brutal.
- From the brilliantly-themed restaurants to the cute and delicious foods, eating is a huge part of the Tokyo Disney Resort experience. Consult our Tokyo Disneyland Restaurant Reviews for food photos and thoughts about almost every restaurant in the parks!
- One of our favorite times to visit is late October into early November. We call this “HalloXmas at Tokyo Disneyland” and have a full post detailing how to do both Halloween and Christmas in one trip. (BONUS: You see both seasonal versions of Country Bear Jamboree, which many experts say is the fastest path to enlightenment.)
- Speaking of which, Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland is my favorite time to visit. The decorations are beautiful, the entertainment is spectacular, and there’s excellent Christmas ambiance. Thanks to the beautiful tree, World Bazaar has a sense of warmth and character instead of feeling cavernous.
- You do not need to pack a voltage converter in Japan. However, outlets in most Japanese hotel rooms are limited, so we’d strongly recommend packing this compact 6-port USB charging station. If you’re like us, most of your devices charge via USB these days.
- Unlike Orlando or Anaheim, Tokyo has seasons. It can get cold (and even snow!) at Tokyo Disneyland in the winter. If you’re visiting from October through March, be sure to consult our What to Pack for Winter at Disney post.
- Did we mention that Tokyo has seasons? Because it can get super hot and humid during the summer. So much so that a big part of the summer entertainment involves hosing down guests with water. Consult our Summer Packing Tips for Disney post for some suggestions. (Even though that discusses Walt Disney World, it applies equally to Tokyo–the top photo in the post is actually from Tokyo DisneySea!)
- For a hassle-free way of getting from Narita or Haneda Airports to Tokyo Disney Resort, use the Airport Limo Bus. Cheaper transportation is available via the JR Lines, which is what we typically use. However, if it’s after a long flight and you have kids, the Airport Limo Bus is less of a hassle.
- Traveling to Japan is not cheap, but it doesn’t have to break the bank, either. While we don’t focus on every money-saving hack in these tips, you can find a ton of suggestions for cutting costs in our Tokyo Disneyland on a Budget post.
- Duffy is “a thing” in Japan. This might come as a surprise for U.S. fans who saw the character fail in the stateside parks. Trust us: embrace Duffy and his friends, don’t fight it. For more on this, read our “Phenomenon of Duffy at Tokyo DisneySea” post.
- Thinking about visiting during the Olympics? Read our Visiting Tokyo Disney Resort During Japan’s 2020 Olympics for the pros & cons of timing a trip during the games, and what else you might need to know.
- Tokyo Disney Resort merchandise is very taste-specific. If you love flashy designs and characters, you’ll likely love it. If you’re more into park or attraction-specific stuff, you’re likely to be disappointed. Read our “Tokyo Disneyland Merchandise: Awful or Awesome?” post for more info.
- If you are celebrating a special occasion, you can purchase buttons and other merchandise reflecting the celebration in gift shops. Guest Services will have free “Happy Birthday” stickers, too.
- Embrace your inner child and feel free to dress with a sense of “kawaii-ness” at Tokyo Disney Resort. Many guests wear novelty hats, loud character shirts, and other Disney-centric attire. Attire you might feel self-conscious about wearing in the U.S. parks will be celebrated in Japan. Consult Sarah’s What to Wear to Disney post for ideas of practical and nice-looking options.
- Tripods are not allowed in the parks, no matter what the size. If you want night photos like the ones on this blog, we recommend using the Pod Bean Bag.
- Single Rider is available at Splash Mountain, Raging Spirits, and Indiana Jones Adventure. Simply enter the FastPass return line and say “Single Rider.”
- Hilton Tokyo Bay is our favorite non-Disney hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort, and it has occasional flash sales and special Hilton Honors (free to join) member pricing. We’ve also found great prices at Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel, scoring rates around $125/night for both of these hotels.
- If you leave your hotel room early to make rope drop and have to forgo breakfast, two options that are quick and convenient are Sweetheart Cafe in Tokyo Disneyland and Mamma Biscotti’s Bakery in Tokyo DisneySea.
- Shops on World Bazaar are open up to an hour after the park closes. Unfortunately, this is when everyone seems to do their shopping, and you’ll find that a lot of inventory is sold out later in the night. Do your shopping in the mid-evening and take photos as the park is clearing out.
- The perfect place to warm up with a hot drink on a cold winter evening and enjoy the beautiful Christmas ambiance is Cape Cod at Tokyo DisneySea.
- “Priority Seating” reservations for table service and buffet restaurants can be made online 30 days in advance, but only on the Japanese site, which is mind-numbingly frustrating to use. Instead, make them in person at the restaurant podiums starting at 10 a.m. each day. That’s what we do, and we’re successful about 90% of the time.
- Thanks to stopovers and open-jaw flights, it’s possible to visit Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland, and Tokyo Disney Resort all on the same trip. Read our “How to Visit 3 Disney Destinations on 1 Airfare” post for the step by step process of booking this.
- Grab a FastPass for Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! at rope drop, then race to standby for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. If the wait is 30 minutes or less, do it. If more, move on to Peter Pan’s Flight and get a Hunny Hunt FastPass later.
- Parade mats are a big thing. We recommend packing this to help save your spot and also “claim your territory” so others’ don’t encroach upon your personal space. You can also buy Disney-themed mats in the parks.
- Want to splurge for a night or two? We recommend booking a night at Hotel Miracosta between the Tokyo (city) and Disney legs of your trip and taking a day to unwind in your room. Hotel Miracosta is inside Tokyo DisneySea, and is an incredible hotel experience that justifies the sky-high prices.
- If you stay at one of the three Disney hotels, you’ll be able to enter 15 minutes before everyone else through a special turnstile for “Happy 15.” This is a nice advantage if you want Toy Story Mania FastPasses, but it doesn’t offer much of an advantage at Tokyo Disneyland.
- If you’re truly a high-roller, you’ll book one of the specialty suites at the Disney-owned hotels, such as the Mickey Mouse Penthouse.
- Sherwood Garden Restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is the best buffet at Tokyo Disney Resort. Great for a midday break on a busy day.
- If you only have the energy to do rope drop or close out the park at the end of the night, choose the latter. To take full advantage of rope drop, you need to arrive at least 30 minutes before opening. By contrast, it’s easier to wait out the late night crowds as most people take the train home before the parks close.
- China Voyager and Hungry Bear Restaurant are our favorite fast options for food at Tokyo Disneyland. For the full list, check out our Tokyo Disneyland Counter Service Restaurant Rankings.
- Purchasing a multi-day pass for the monorail might not be the cheapest option unless you take midday breaks at your hotel, but it’s definitely the most convenient one. (Alternatively, using a PASMO card can be both cheap and convenient.)
- All restaurants at Tokyo Disney Resorts have English menus; if there is a language barrier issue, Cast Members will have menus with photos you can point at to place your order.
- Teddy Roosevelt Lounge is a must-visit bar (even if you don’t drink) in Tokyo DisneySea located aboard the S.S. Columbia. Let that sink in. A bar in Japan. Honoring an American President. On a classic American ocean liner. We think it’s the nicest Disney bar in the world–and we’ve been to both Club 33 lounges in California.
- Tokyo Disney Resort is famed for its unique popcorn flavors that are exclusive to certain spots in each park. While we recommend trying a few of these, don’t buy into the hype. You might love them, but you might find them massively overrated. (We do.)
- If you’re staying at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel or Hotel Miracosta, you’ll be given a monorail pass to use for the duration of your hotel stay.
- Tick Tock Diner in Disney’s Ambassador Hotel has cute and photogenic Mickey-shaped baked goods. We highly recommend it (unfortunately, it’s not open before the parks–you’ll need to go midday).
- The various storefronts and other props in Toontown are the Tokyo “cool kid” equivalent of the Purple Wall at Walt Disney World. Expect to wait in line for primo photo spots.
- You can exchange 3 single-day (or multi-day) monorail tickets at the station for a collectible pin. (You don’t have to actually surrender your tickets, which are also collectible–they’ll be stamped.)
- Vegetarian meals are becoming more common at Tokyo Disney Resort, but your best option for that is still the in-park buffets. (Plazma Ray’s Diner is also a good choice.)
- Big Band Beat, Hello New York, and Song of Mirage at Tokyo DisneySea and Let’s Party Gras and Dreaming Up at Tokyo Disneyland (as well as seasonal shows in both parks) have a free lottery system for seating. All of these shows are worth seeing, so plan accordingly if you lose. We highly recommend playing the lotto for Big Band Beat early in the day, and doing the first show of the day via standby.
- If you anticipate “needing” a princess dress or pirate costume while at Tokyo Disney Resort, buy it from your local Disney Store or DisneyStore.com in advance during a sale. Much cheaper that way.
- While we recommend packing cheap ponchos, Tokyo Disney Resort sells branded ponchos and umbrellas–one of the few pieces of merchandise that actually says “Tokyo Disney Resort” on it–and they’re not terribly overpriced.
- There’s a grocery store in the basement of Ikspiari where you can purchase foods to make cheap breakfasts. (At night, there are also markdowns on pre-made meals.)
- If Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights is cancelled due rain, don’t run off. In its place, Nightfall Glow runs, which is arguably a better parade than Paint the Night. (And definitely better than Walt Disney World’s nighttime parade: ~nothing~)
- Photography rules on attractions and shows are strict and difficult to ascertain. “No flash” also means no LCD screens in most cases, so hold your phone to your chest so no one else can see the LCD screen if you plan on using it.
- Our favorite counter service restaurant at Tokyo DisneySea is Casbah Food Court. You can read how they all stack up in our Tokyo DisneySea Counter Service Restaurant Rankings.
- Photos with roaming characters are a free-for-all. It’s one of the few scenarios where the orderliness of Japan gives way to mass chaos. Nevertheless, it’s a fun experience, and usually characters will go out of their way to seek out the confused foreigner if you have trouble being assertive.
- It’s possible to view all of Tokyo DisneySea’s harbor shows from Fortress Explorations. This “rear” vantage isn’t always the best, but these are mostly 360-degree shows, and you can show up and grab a spot at the last minute, unlike the front of the park.
- Crowds at Fantasyland attractions thin dramatically in the evening, especially if the weather is crowd or rainy. We routinely encounter a <10 minute wait at Pooh’s Hunny Hunt in the last half-hour the park is open.
- In parade and show seating areas, standing is not allowed, nor are shoulder kids or even large hats.
- Duffy and friends merchandise is only sold at Tokyo DisneySea. Certain Duffy items are limited edition, and sell out within hours of being released.
- If you’re into park audio or videos, you’re in luck–Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea release CDs and DVDs/Blu-ray for pretty much everything. Here’s a look at the excellent Tokyo Disneyland 30th Anniversary Blu-ray Set we bought.
- The monorail typically runs 90 minutes after park closing. This could be problematic if you stay out late in Shinjuku and return at Tokyo Disney Resort long after the parks close…and have to walk from Maihama Station to your hotel in the cold. (Not that this has ever happened to us…multiple times…or anything!)
- Avoid dedicated character meet & greets. The lines are usually long, and to get people through as quickly as possible, only one photo per party is allowed. The experience is rushed and often un-fun.
- Free Wi-Fi internet is not available throughout the theme parks at Tokyo Disney Resort, so you’ll either need a MiFi or international data on your phone.
- Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall–the popular Alice in Wonderland restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland–often draws a line. We recommend lining up 5 minutes before they open (often as early as 10 a.m.) to beat the crowds.
- Bell Services at all Tokyo Disney Resort hotels (Disney and non) will store your luggage, meaning you can enjoy the parks if you arrive too early on check-in day or have a late flight out on check-out day. (There are also lockers at Maihama Station.)
- The popular Green Alien Mochi that we highlight in our Adorable & Awesome Tokyo Disneyland Snacks post are also available in a 9-dumpling serving size for groups (or Sarah, all by herself!) at Mamma Biscotti’s.
- Hilton Tokyo Bay has an incredibly elaborate Christmas village with trains, Shinkansen, hot air balloons, and even gondolas. It’s worth a detour to see even if you’re staying at one of the other Bayside Station hotels.
- Coca-Cola is sold at Tokyo Disney Resort, but Diet Coke is not. You can find Coke Zero in some locations, though. (Diet Coke isn’t sold in Japan, but Coca-Cola Plus–Coke with a laxative–is!)
- Pan Galactic Pizza Port is an intergalactic franchise serving budget-friendly pizza and having the coolest alien show. We can only hope this becomes the next big IP, and Tony Solaroni: Crust’s Edge Land, Pan Galactic immersive hotel experience & cinematic universe are soon introduced.
- Chewing gum is not sold in Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea.
- HHonors Gold Members receive free breakfast at Hilton Tokyo Bay. This is a huge benefit as the breakfast here is incredibly high quality with a mix of Eastern and Western foods.
- Ippudo is one of the best ramen chains in Japan, and it has a location in Ikspiari. Highly recommended if you want to try great ramen but will have limited time in the city of Tokyo.
- You will not get wet on Splash Mountain, making it a suitable option for cold days, or nights when it’s often (inexplicably) a walk-on.
- You’ll have around 30 minutes for photos after park close. Start in the back of the park and work your way forward to World Bazaar or Aquasphere Plaza, which are always packed with people in the first 20-30 minutes after park closing.
- There’s a hidden 50,000 point target in the center of Zurg’s chest on Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters.
- Happy 15 is best used for character meet & greets, Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek, or Toy Story Mania.
- Stand to right of Partners statue for best photos of any parade and ideal show-stop positioning for holiday parades.
- In Tokyo Disneyland, the middle balcony of Tomorrowland Terrace or the terrace behind Stitch Encounter are good fireworks viewing/photography locations.
- The Cape Cod lighthouse platform is good fireworks viewing location in Tokyo DisneySea.
- Watch the courtyard behind Cinderella Castle within the first hour the park is open. You’re sure to spot some characters, but you might get lucky and see all Seven Dwarfs march through Fantasyland!
- Jungle Book monkeys and the Three Caballeros regularly appear near the Tiki Room in Adventureland
- Set meals at table service restaurants are significantly more expensive at dinner for a disproportionate increase in quality. We almost exclusively do lunch.
- Do your shopping early in the day to avoid crowds in shops at park closing. Avoid the Emporium and go for other smaller shops deeper in Tokyo Disneyland.
- Not all toilets are “fully-featured” at Tokyo Disney Resort. Typically, you can find good ones in restaurants.
- For first timers to Japan who are Disney fans, we recommend allocating one-third of your time to Tokyo and one-third to Tokyo Disney Resort. The final third should be spent taking the Shinkansen to Kyoto, which is our favorite city in the world. Read our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan for our tips, recommendations, and plans for visiting.
- Japan Rail Pass is not valid on the Disney Resort Line (monorail), so time your activation date to coincide with your days exploring Tokyo and Kyoto. Read our “Should You Buy the Japan Rail Pass?” post to determine whether it’s right for you.
- Slow down to savor the entertainment, Cast Member interactions, and little magical moments that occur frequently throughout Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. Both parks are so much more than their attractions and shows.
Okay, that’s it! This barely scratches the surface, so if you have any useful tips about Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea that we’ve missed, please share in the comments to keep the conversation going!
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
What do you think of the tips we’ve shared for best-experiencing Tokyo Disney Resort? Anything with which you disagree? Any of your own tips to add to improve others’ experience in Japan’s Disney parks? Any questions about these Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea tips? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!
>hot water can be difficult to get due to the language barrier.
“Hot water” is “o-yu” in Japanese.
>Chewing gum is not sold in Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo Disney Sea.
Is chewing gum sold in Disney parks in the U.S.?
the link to Klook is a dead link, and there aren’t tickets for Tokyo Disney on that website. What’s the next best place to buy tickets?
This is incredibly helpful – thank you so much! I appreciate the note about vegetarian options.
This will be our first trip to Japan and your suggestion about making Kyoto one of our other destinations sealed the itinerary I had drafted.
Hi! Thanks for all the tips. Great resource for TDR!
Hot water is “Oyu” (ãŠæ¹¯), you could try it next time to get your caffeine fix!
Ok, now I’m very curious about what this means:
“Not all toilets are “fully-featured” at Tokyo Disney Resort.”
1. Windy conditions will cancel Fantasmic so if conditions are good, consider prioritizing it over rides instead of thinking you’ll see it another night; otherwise you may miss out like I did.
2. TSM is exactly the same as in the U.S. so skip if there’s a wait. Indiana Jones is NOT the same, as the queue is really elaborate and a few aspects of the ride are unique. On a weekday you can sometimes do a near-walk on with Single Rider so do not skip!
3. Even if you don’t understand Japanese, act attentive and don’t browse your phone during the safety spiel. Otherwise you’ll be politely told to put your phone away and bring shame upon the U.S.
I got the Sinbad story card at the ride but didn’t realize others also had them. Next time…
This is super helpful and really fun to read, as are all of your articles! Seeing all of the social media posts of yours and Sarah’s has influenced my decision to plan solo trip to TDR in May 2019 right after Golden Week. I would love to see a post about going solo in TDR. I’m doing 7 days in the parks. I wanna really soak it all in! And I’m using all of your articles to make my plans. Thanks for all the amazing words and pics!
1. During certain days during the Halloween Event, guests can come to the park in costumes as Disney characters. I don’t know that this schedule is publicly available in English, but it’s really cool. So many guests go all-out on their costumes, and it adds a fun element to your day.
2. There are a number of characters you never see in the U.S. I remember seeing the Three Little Pigs and Marie from The Aristocats (who is SUPER popular because kawaii), among others.
3. I never meet face characters in the US, but at TDR it was really cool. We met Prince Eric at DisneySea, for example, and he was fantastic. They are taken from the same pool of character actors as the U.S. parks, so you can imagine that they don’t get the same chance to talk to the guests as they do in the U.S. Perhaps because of that, he was very happy to chat with us. It can be a fun, brief chance to converse with someone else in English, because (although it appears to be changing a bit) you won’t see many westerners at the parks.
4. Maybe we just got lucky, but despite the huge popularity of the various parades/events, we were able to find viewing areas not that long before they started.
5. Make an effort to spend time at DisneySea at night, it’s beautiful.
6. FastPass is closer to “front of the line” in Tokyo than it is anywhere else. Every time I (or anyone else) used a FastPass, they would immediately stop the standby line and let the FP holders through.
7. Go in with at least some kind of plan. I can’t imagine how stressful Tokyo Disney would be if you were to go in blind. All of the Japanese guests plan, are there early, and know how to use and maximize FastPass.
8. A lot of Tokyo Disneyland’s rides are exact clones of Disneyland or Magic Kingdom attractions, but not all of them. Attractions that are different that I sometimes see labeled as identical on other TDR reports include Splash Mountain and Snow White’s Adventures (which is still SCARY in Tokyo!)
7. Touched on above, but even if you’re not an entertainment person at the other parks, make an effort to see at least the big ticket shows at both parks. The entertainment quality is staggering.
8. One place that does NOT extend, however, is the fireworks show. They do one show for both parks. It’s short, NOT centered around the castle, and not choreographed or synced with music. Unlike the spectaculars associated with the US parks, it’s basically a version of Fantasy in the Sky no matter what they’re calling it this year. They are also canceled a lot due to wind (as TDR is right on Tokyo Bay); I was there for four days and they only went off one night. No need to prioritize them at all.
9. If you think you’re only going to visit one international park, make it Tokyo. If you want to do all of them and that seems like a realistic possibility, I would recommend Paris first, then Hong Kong, then Shanghai (which admittedly I haven’t been to yet), and then end with Tokyo. This is partially because…
10.Tokyo Disney Resort WILL alter the way you see all of the other Disney parks around the world. The standards it sets are unmatched by the others in all of the important areas.
11. Not sure if this has changed, but in 2010 they did not have English maps readily available around the park. You couldn’t just walk up to a map kiosk, for example, and grab an English map. They are available at Guest Relations at each park. Maybe someone who’s been more recently can shed some light on whether or not this has changed?
12. Don’t fret about the language barrier. If a cast member doesn’t speak English, they will find someone who does. Speaking a little Japanese will help, but you will get excellent service even if you don’t know any Japanese. All of the important information (signs, warnings, etc.) will be posted in English.
13. Tokyo’s subways shut down promptly at Midnight. It’s unlikely to affect you, as usually the parks close at 10, but something to keep in mind if you’re commuting and it takes you longer than you expect to leave the park.
14. If you are remotely passionate about Disney parks, you owe it to yourself to go. If anyone rolls their eyes about going to another country and visiting a theme park, leave them at home.
hi Tom (or any Disney experts out there) I have a question!
I plan on doing Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom in one day (park hopper) on September this year.
I know HS will have the new Toy Story Land, so which park do you recommend I visit first that day?
HS in the afternoon or Animal Kingdom?
I would love to know your opinion
All of this had me intrigued and wondering if I could plan a trip for when my kids are a bit older until you dropped the bombshell… NO DIET COKE?!?!? I seriously am not sure i can go a week without it.
Trust me, it’s worth it. Tokyo Disney is that amazing!
And Diet pop is, to my knowledge, an exclusively American thing. I’ve now visited eight countries and have never seen ANY diet soda outside of the US.
In Germany, Diet Coke is called Coca-Cola light. There is also Coca-Cola Zero, which I prefer.
It’s not an American thing. We have Diet Coke in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
Tip 102: try to visit during the second, third or fourth week in april, after the sakura / cherry blossom week, but before Golden Week starts. This period appears to be (one of) the least crowded times at Tokyo Disney Resort.
If you do this and, like us, really want to ride Toy Story Mania (even if Tom tells you to skip it 🙂 ), make sure to arrive +- 30-45 minutes before DisneySea opens. Next, walk (but not run) towards the TSM standby line as fast as you can, passing by hundreds of Japanese guests and ignoring the crowded fastpass line.
Last wednesday, we only waited about 30 minutes in standby for Toy Story Mania, a bit after 9 AM. In the evening around 9 PM, the line even turned out to be a bit shorter (although listed as 40 minutes).
No Fastpasses were wasted on Toy Story Mania last wednesday :), and on a relatively quiet day like this, Fastpasses for Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones and Raging Spirits were available until the evening….
Great info. I’m starting research for a trip in June 2019. Reading it makes me more excited about seeing the beauty of the Japanese people and culture. Thank you!
Great list Tom and great timing. We leave for Tokyo in 33 days!
I wish I knew about the story cards when I went. Would have loved them as a collectable. I used a waittime app to get get the story from unknown attractions (used with mifi of course).
People are unfailingly polite and friendly in Japan, and will go out of their way to help a confused looking westerner – and trust me, you’ll spend a lot of time in the train stations looking confused. Although you can get by with no Japanese (gesturing and smiling usually gets the message across), knowing a few words seems to delight people. We learned only the very basics – hello, please, thank you, white coffee and toilet – so it wasn’t difficult, but I felt it made our holiday interactions richer.
Last year ( and the year before) at the Tokyo Disneyland Park cast members were inviting guests to ride Monsters Inc, Ride and Go Seek after the official closing time. A fun way to end the day.
Any thoughts on visiting TDR on a Monday/Tuesday vs a Tuesday/Wednesday? We’re going the week of November 18th this year.
I’ve been planning a visit for October this year and the crowd calendar seems to indicate Mondays are very busy, almost all the time… Check the crowd calendar Tom suggested above and Google translate it. See what it says for Mondays during your vacation but if I were you and had a flexible schedule, I’d aim for Tuesday/Wednesday.
We started our visit to TDR just this past Monday (April 16th) and we were able to see a surprising amount of attractions. We were at DisneySea Monday and by the end of the day the only things we hadn’t done yet were Big Band Beat and the gondolas, which were easily knocked out our second day at DisneySea.
Edit: We did not do Midway Mania either, though that was intentional. We’ve done it 7489274 times in Anaheim.
That’s so encouraging to hear! I hope it’s the same in October *crosses fingers*
Thanks to all! We’ll be doing Tuesday/Wednesday. Any intel on vacation packages vs. purchasing separately?
The vacation package has Fastpasses included, which seems worth it to us?
101. Get a celebration sticker from Guest Services. I went to DisneySea on my birthday and everyone was insanely, genuinely happy to wish me a happy birthday. One cast member approached me at dinner to ask if I wanted another one and drew a cute picture of Mike on it with my name in Japanese, and another cast member backtracked into a queue (when it looked like he was on break or on his way out) to wish me happy birthday.
Awesome tips!!! We are going in July and will be at Tokyo Disney Resort splitting our stay between Mira Costa (1 night only – I can barley swallow how much the 1 night is.) & the following nights at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel.
We will be traveling out to Tokyo City & other regions from Tokyo Disney Resort. I know this is not the most ideal plan in regards to sight seeing but it was the best option for us in this case and how things worked out.
But we are fully prepared for their public transportation!
Can’t wait to go! And thanks for all your resources!