Tickets to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are considerably cheaper than Walt Disney World or Disneyland tickets. Current cost for Tokyo Disney Resort tickets is ~$60 US for a 1-day ticket to either of the Tokyo parks. The longest pass they have short of the annual passes is the 4-day ticket, which costs ~$150 for adults.
Pretty cut and dry, so there’s no point in fixating on this. The one big plus side I’ll mention here is that all of the excellent seasonal entertainment in Tokyo is included in the regular cost of admission, so if you’re normally go to hard ticket events in Walt Disney World, you won’t be paying those extra costs at Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea.
Unless you already have an Annual Pass to one of the US parks, this cost will be considerably lower.
Whether you save money on food at Tokyo Disney Resort depends a lot on your dining patterns and your appetite. Japanese portion sizes are unquestionably smaller than US portion sizes. Counter service restaurants are priced about the same at Tokyo Disney Resort as they are in the US parks, with table service restaurants being cheaper than their US counterparts (and there’s no tipping in Japan). Overall, I believe food quality is higher in the Tokyo parks.
Frankly, though, we find ourselves spending much more money on food at Tokyo Disney Resort. If you’ve seen my articles on snacking at Tokyo Disneyland and snacking at Tokyo DisneySea, you know that’s a big part of the experience for me. Those snacks are not cheap. Think of snacking at Tokyo Disney Resort much like the kiosks during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival: small portions, and expensive. If you’re trying to do Tokyo on a budget, excessive snacking is not a wise idea.
If you like to snack or you have a large appetite, expect to spend more on food at Tokyo Disney Resort than you would in the US parks. That is, unless you eat at the buffets at Tokyo Disney Resort, which are incredibly high quality and are all you can eat. Each park and each hotel has one buffet. I highly recommend both Crystal Palace in Tokyo Disneyland and Sailing Day Buffet in Tokyo DisneySea. Not only do these have great food, but they often have some of the snacks that cost ~$4-5 each in the park. As for the best counter service values, restaurants that serve personal pizzas (not pizza by the slice) are your best options. This means Pan Galactic Pizza Port in Tokyo Disneyland and Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante in Tokyo DisneySea, with these pizzas running about $7-8.
These are the four basics, and I think when you do the math after being patient and looking for deals, you might find that a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort is within reach. It may require a good amount of research and pre-planning to find that sweet spot of hotel and airfare prices, as well as saving a bit longer or forgoing a trip to Walt Disney World (I would absolutely forgo a year or two of trips to Walt Disney World if that’s what it took to get to Tokyo), but it is potentially do-able.
Reducing the expenses of a trip to Japan to four components of a theme park visit isn’t going to cover everything. Presumably, you are not just going to visit Japan for Tokyo Disney Resort. From the city of Tokyo to the shrines of Kyoto, Japan is an incredibly beautiful country with many things to see, do, eat, and experience. It would be a shame to go and only visit two theme parks, even if you are a huge Disney fan and they are the two best Disney parks. So, naturally, you are going to have more expenses than what I’m listing here, but it’s impossible for me to know what else you’re going to do since there are so many other things to do (and since this is a Disney blog, covering the Disney component of the trip plus airfare is what makes the most sense).
There are two other things I will mention. One is an important one, and (in keeping with the general tone of this blog that has otherwise been absent from this “serious” post) one is a ridiculous one. The important one is the Japan Rail Pass for foreigners; it’s a pass only available for purchase outside of Japan, and allows unlimited travel on the various JR lines for 7, 14, or 21 days. This means unlimited Shinkansen (bullet train) transportation. If you’re only visiting Tokyo, it’s not worth buying this pass, but if you’re heading to Osaka or Kyoto, the pass pays for itself based on one round-trip bullet train use. I would highly recommend visiting Kyoto–it’s one of the greatest places in the world.
The other tip is to look for the “100 Yen Special” vending machines. It is always a huge moral victory for me when I find one of these little beauties, which probably seems silly because saving 20 cents on a beverage in the grand scheme of an Asian vacation isn’t much…but it’s a victory nonetheless. Plus, I think these have better and more interesting drinks than the “fancy” vending machines.
Again, I understand that the tips in this post are still is not realistic for everyone. I also understand that I am very fortunate to have the advance-planning flexibility, party size, etc., to make visiting Japan within reach. I just hope this article comes across as a sincere attempt to help others crunch the numbers and potentially save money in the booking process, rather than coming across as a cold and unrealistic statement that “Tokyo Disney Resort is cheap!” (It’s not.)
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.
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Does this help make a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort more realistic for you in the long term? Does visiting Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea interest you? If you have any other comments or questions about the expense of visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, post them below and I’ll try to answer!