To avoid crowds, there are good times to visit Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea, and really bad times to visit in 2019. Some days have low wait times, while others have 45 minute waits for popcorn. Additionally, seasonal entertainment, weather, and day of the week are all important factors to consider when thinking about when to plan your vacation to Tokyo Disney Resort. (Last updated January 1, 2019.)
We are Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea Annual Passport holders who visit during every season, and have spent a total of around a month at Tokyo Disney Resort in the past year. Yeah, we might have a slight addiction. Each time when we start to plan our next visit to Japan, we start by contemplating what we want to see and accomplish–both at the parks and generally, in Japan.
Narrowing things down to the season during which you want to visit is a crucial first step from our perspective. This isn’t California or even Florida. The differences between January and April, for example, are significant. In January, you will certainly find cold weather and might even be greeted by snow in different parts of Japan, including Tokyo Disneyland, which will be (appropriately enough) celebrating Frozen Fantasy. In April, weather is mild, the cherry blossoms start blooming, and the parks are celebrating Easter.
To that end, let’s start by taking a month-by-month look at what you can encounter in terms of seasonal offerings, crowds, and weather…
Seasonal Event: Anna & Elsa’s Frozen Fantasy at Tokyo Disneyland
Weather: 40-55° F with mostly sunny days and light precipitation.
Crowds: Low until Christmas week; heavy thereafter.
Note that this month by month look is a high level overview, and makes generalizations about crowds and weather. For exact dates of Tokyo Disney Resort seasonal events, consult their official monthly calendar. In addition to the events on this calendar and that official one, the Tokyo Disney Resort 35th Anniversary ‘Happiest Celebration!’ is currently underway and will run until March 25, 2019. This celebration will primarily occur in Tokyo Disneyland.
In terms of weather, it gets cold in the winter and then increasingly warmer until peaking during the spring months. Late-June through early-August are the worst times to visit from a weather perspective terms of both precipitation and debilitating humidity.
Last year, we visited during several the parks during several times of year. Most noteworthy for the purposes of this post was our summer visit. While we enjoyed the Natsu Matsuri and Pirates Summer festivities, the weather bordered on miserable. Japan’s sweltering temperatures made world news due to temperatures over 100F and a record-breaking heat wave that has killed dozens. Obviously, temperatures this intense are not normal for the summer in Japan, but this type of weather is possible, and that’s something to consider when planning.
Around September, the weather starts to cool again in the fall leading to colder weather again in the winter. From September through November, things are generally pleasant. December through February are once again “weather wild cards” with freezing temperatures and even snow possible. If you’re averse to cold weather, you should avoid these months.
Weather once again becomes more temperate in the spring, with April and May being quite nice. Our calendar above covers in-park crowds, and indicates that April is generally low season for Tokyo Disney Resort. Note that April is cherry blossom season in Japan, so you are likely to encounter heavier crowds outside the parks during peak sakura times. (Ditto that with mid to late November and fall colors season.)
As for crowds, you definitely want to consult something more precise than our overview. Things like Japanese national holidays can have a considerable impact on certain dates, and crowds can turn on a dime from being light to heavy when school is out of session.
For a bit more precision, we recommend consulting Crowd Calendars for Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. These are incredibly great resources for choosing which days to visit the parks once you’ve narrowed down your rough travel dates based upon the season or special events you want to experience. There’s a lot of info in the crowd calendars, and they have never steered us wrong.
One thing to note is that crowds fluctuate more at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea more than any other parks in the world. We’ve been on “low” days in the middle of the weeks that are lighter than mid-January at Disneyland, and we’ve been on weekends that feel like New Year’s Eve in Magic Kingdom.
A lot of people of apprehensive about visiting Tokyo Disneyland due to photos that circulate of humungous lines to get into the park and crazy congestion, and while the former is true every day (the Japanese like to show up early!) the latter is only true on the busiest days of the year. I want to underscore this because the perception of crowds in these parks has taken on a life of its own and is, frankly, overblown.
With that said, it is very important to choose your travel dates wisely to avoid weekends and holidays, otherwise you risk being caught in one of these ‘crazy congestion’ times. Our 3 favorite times to visit are mid-May, early to mid-September, and early-November.
If you go in mid-May, you avoid the the Golden Week crowds, get better weather than earlier in the year, and will be able to see Disney’s Easter, which is awesome. In our experience, this is the sweet spot in terms of weather, crowds, and seasonal events.
If you visit in early to mid-September, you’ll be able again have milder weather and you will beat the Halloween crowds (which get bad!)while still being able to enjoy the Halloween festivities.
We’ve dubbed going for the last two days of Halloween and the first week of Christmas as “HalloXmas at Tokyo Disney Resort.” This is our absolute favorite time of the year to go thanks to seasonal offerings. Note that Halloween itself is bad crowd-wise, but the following days are light. Weather should be temperate throughout the trip, but you might need a light jacket.
We love Tokyo Disney Resort, but we think it would be sort of extreme (and not EXTREME! in a good way, like chugging a bunch of Mountain Dew and hanging out with Chuck Norris) to visit Japan without seeing other parts of Japan, so you should definitely consult a calendar of happenings around the country before finalizing your dates.
As noted above, cherry blossom and fall colors seasons are going to be busy throughout the country. This is particularly true in Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, and other areas known for seasonal beauty. If you’re just visiting Tokyo on your first trip to Japan, this shouldn’t be as much of a concern.
Once you’ve determined what time of year you want to visit, it’s important to plan the particular days you will be visiting. The most important takeaway you can glean from this article is do not visit Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea on weekends. That’s really important, so let me reiterate with some dramatic emphasis: DO NOT VISIT TOKYO DISNEY RESORT ON WEEKENDS!!!
This is true no matter what time of year you visit, even during the lowest seasons, weekend crowds are bad. Like Times Square on New Year’s Eve (minus the B.O. and vomit) bad. This is because Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are locals parks more than even Disneyland in California, meaning they get crowded with Annual Passholders on the weekends when they are off school and work.
Saturday is the absolute worst day of the week, with Sunday a close second (until around 5 p.m. when locals start heading home). Friday is the third worst day, especially in the afternoon and evening, as people head to the parks to kick off their weekends.
In terms of the rest of the week, we can’t really say we’ve noticed a significant difference among Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, save for Monday arguably being slightly busier with a few locals doing long weekends and tourists kicking off the start of their vacation head to the parks. This difference is negligible at best, and we would not recommend avoiding Monday as a result.
One final thing to consider is the strength of the yen as compared to the dollar. Last summer, the dollar was the strongest it has been against the yen in ages, and the purchasing power we had on our summer trip was wonderful. Cheaper meals, tickets, and hotels helped offset the higher airfare costs for the international flight.
Since then, the yen has strengthened a bit, but is still weak (historically speaking) as compared to the dollar. Consult conversion charts while planning your trip to see where things stand prior to your visit.
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.
If you’ve been to Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea, what did you think were the best or worst times to visit? Thinking about visiting at any particular times of year? Other thoughts on avoiding crowds at Tokyo Disneyland? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!