For the most part, Tokyo Disney Resort does things on its own terms. Oriental Land Company Ltd. owns and operates the Disney Parks in Japan, and the company does things in its own unique way.
What does that mean for you? Well, a lot of confusion if you’re someone who has visited the Disney Parks in the US numerous times. Tokyo Disney Resort comes as a shock when some things you’d expect work differently in Japan.
I’ll explain the most common things you can’t do at Tokyo Disneyland.
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Disney Pin Trading
One of the most asked questions I get is, “Does Tokoyo Disneyland do Pin Trading?” Sadly, the Parks don’t have Pin Trading anymore after it ended in the early 00s.
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea still sell pins, but it pales compared to the variety at other Disney Parks. Typically there’s a seasonal event or anniversary pin, and that’s it. Sometimes you’ll find random pins, but they’re few and far between.
Food customization is the biggest culture shock when visiting Tokyo Disney Resort because you cannot customize your food. Asking for your Mickey burger without ketchup or removing tomatoes off your plate, nope, it’s not going to happen in most cases.
That does sound a bit harsh. The reason for this rule is efficiency, and if you do ask for customization, it becomes an entire scene that’s not worth the hassle, and the answer is no 99% of the time anyway.
Sometimes you may be able to customize your meal, but this depends on the restaurant and type of dish. It’s not a standard like it is in other countries such as the US. You can ask, but don’t get upset if you’re told no. Also, many Cast Members may not speak English, so you’ll have a language barrier as well.
However, this isn’t unique to Tokyo Disney Resort; it’s almost everywhere in Japan. More specifically, chain restaurants like McDonald’s. Now, sometimes you can customize it if you ask, but as I already mentioned it can be a hassle.
Smaller restaurants may be more forgiving, but your mileage may vary.
What about if you have an allergy or need gluten-free? Well, that’s a good question, and the answer is you’ll have to order from the allergen-free menu. I have a guide that explains this in detail for you, and here is a list of Japanese words to help you.
Easily Find Vegan Food Options
Tokyo Disney Resort doesn’t advertise any vegan options, which makes dining tough. Be aware that if you ask a Cast Member about vegan food, there’s a good chance they won’t know if a dish is vegan-friendly.
Compared to other countries, vegan is still relatively uncommon in Japan. Even though more restaurants and places are advertising vegan options, Tokyo Disney Resort isn’t one of those places. We have a list of potential vegan-friendly dishes at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
My best advice is to buy food from the Seijo Ishii grocery store on the first floor of Ikspiari at Tokyo Disney Resort. It’s an entire grocery store and has plenty of fresh food for you. I also recommend the websites Happy Cow and “Is it Vegan” to help you.
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to bring full meals into the Park. You’ll need to eat them at the picnic areas outside Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
As for vegetarian options, the Parks sometimes have advertised vegetarian options. But, in the last year since the pandemic, these are few and far between now.
Use Magic Bands
Tokyo Disney Resort doesn’t use the Magic Band system, unlike Walt Disney World.
In the last few years, the Resort has finally begun moving things to the Official Tokyo Disney Resort App, which is the best place for making restaurant reservations and getting a Standby Pass.
Advance FastPass Reservations
You don’t have to stress about making any advance FastPass reservations at Tokyo Disney Resort.
As of this writing, there is no FastPass, but before the pandemic, the distribution of FastPass changed to Digital FastPass done through the app on the day of your visit. Right now, the official app offers the Standby Pass and Entry Request for some attractions like Beauty and the Beast.
Starbucks in the Parks
Sadly, you’re unable to get your Starbucks inside Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea. This also means the “Been There” mugs don’t exist in Japan.
With that said, there is two Starbucks right inside Ikspiari at Tokyo Disney Resort. Ikspiari is Japan’s version of Disney Springs or Downtown Disney.
Stay Past 10 PM Inside the Parks
Trains in Japan don’t run all night, and the last train from Tokyo Disney is around midnight. This means the Parks almost always close at 10 PM. Many guests take the train, making sense to close the Parks earlier so Cast Members can get home.
The only time the Parks are open later is for private events and the New Year’s Eve ticketed event.
Christmas or Halloween Parties
Speaking of ticketed events, Tokyo Disney Resort doesn’t have Christmas or Halloween parties, unlike Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. Your day ticket includes whatever seasonal event is on at the Parks during your visit; this includes Christmas and Halloween!
The seasonal events that run throughout the year have limited-time entertainment, merchandise, food, and decorations.
Photos or Video on All Rides
Japan is a country of rigorous rules, and this includes Disney Parks. You’re not able to take photos or video on all rides or attractions, which I’ll admit is a bit confusing and convoluted. I recommend checking the attractions page on the Tokyo Disney Resort website; it’ll say if photos are allowed or not.
“it’s a small world” allows photos and video while Pooh’s Hunny Hunt doesn’t. At the same time, photos and video are fine on Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. As I said, it’s confusing.
Is it seemingly arbitrary? Absolutely. But, ask anyone who’s lived in Japan long enough, and I guarantee they’ll have a story about rules and policies.
The best thing to do is listen to the Cast Members with their hand gestures. As a courtesy to everyone else around you, if you decide to take photos or videos, don’t bother those around you with flash, being loud (while vlogging), or your illuminated screen from your phone.
Get Free Buttons
One of my favourite things when I first went to Walt Disney World was getting the free button. Sadly, that’s not a thing at Tokyo Disney Resort. While there are celebration buttons, you have to buy them.
If it’s your birthday, you can ask a Cast Member for a birthday sticker. It’s free, and they’ll even draw on it for you! Depending on the Cast Member, they may be able to write your name in Japanese too.
Use US Disney Gift Cards
Does Tokyo Disneyland accept Disney Gift Cards from the US? The short answer is no. The Resort does have gift cards, but they are in Japanese yen, and you’re able to buy them from Guest Relations.
You can use your credit card from your home country, but I recommend having a backup credit card just in case. Sometimes systems at Tokyo Disney and throughout Japan may reject your credit card, so it’s good to have a spare and some Japanese yen on hand.
I hope that list was helpful to you, gives a bit more clarity, and calms the nerves a bit when planning your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort! Did anything on this list surprise you?
Let me know in the comments!
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