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.
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 Resortfor 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.
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.
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.)
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 Reviewsfor food photos and thoughts about almost every restaurant in the parks!
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 Disneypost.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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!