What’s Changed at Tokyo Disney Resort Since COVID

With Japan reopening its borders to visa-free travel on October 11, 2022, you can begin planning future trips to Tokyo Disneyland and Japan! The Disney Parks in Japan has undergone many changes since 2020, affecting how you navigate the parks.

Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate to visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea to experience these changes first-hand. As we work tirelessly to update all our content, I want to share with you all the changes we’ve seen at Tokyo Disney Resort that will impact your travel plans.

As Japan begins welcoming inbound tourists again, we’ll see more changes at Tokyo Disney. With that, here’s what has changed over the last few years.

Plan your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort with our 2023 digital guidebook! The ultimate way to make the most of your time in Japan.

Park tickets are simplified

Tokyo Disney Resort Ticket Prices

To control the crowd levels park tickets, you can only buy 1-day tickets, available two months in advance. Currently, there are no multi-day tickets or annual passes. I’m not sure when or if we’ll see the return of multi-day tickets or annual passes.

I have a complete guide that talks about everything you need to know about park tickets for Tokyo Disney Resort.

Cashless payments are more common

Since the pandemic, Japan has moved more towards accepting cashless payments. It’s become the norm for many places, including Tokyo Disney Resort. While you should still carry cash, your credit card should work almost everywhere inside Tokyo Disney Resort (even at the popcorn stands).

But you should still have other forms of payment, just in case.

If you have a Suica or Pasmo card, you can load that up with money and use it to pay for most things at Tokyo Disney Resort. If you have a compatible phone, you can load up a Suica on your device (iPhone or Android) and reload it with your credit card. Sadly, Apple Pay and Google Pay don’t work at the Resort.

With that said, getting your credit card to work through the online website is still a pain.

Disney Hotel bookings are a bit tougher

Toy Story Hotel Merchandise

Reservations for Disney Hotels are now open three months in advance instead of six. The change makes it more challenging for those travelling from abroad to plan. I hope the window for booking goes back to six months.

With the recent opening of the new Toy Story Hotel and a new Hotel on the way, there are a lot of choices when it comes to hotels at Disney.

Read my guide on choosing a hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort!

The FastPass system is gone

When Tokyo Disney Resort reopened the parks in 2020, a core part of the park experience didn’t return, the FastPass. I thought we’d see their return as time passed, but that’s not the case anymore. Other Disney Parks worldwide have already moved away from FastPass. It was inevitable that the Parks in Japan would do the same.

The writing was on the wall by removing FastPass machines, like Pooh’s Hunny Hunt.

As a result, we saw the introduction of Standby Pass, Entry Request, and Disney Premier Access. All of this is done through the Tokyo Disney Resort App.

Standby PassOn some days, select attractions and stores require a StandbyPass to stand in line. If you don’t have a StandbyPass, you won’t be able to ride or enter.Free
Entry RequestEssentially a “lottery” to experience select character greetings and shows.Free
Disney Premier AccessBest described as a paid FastPass to ride certain attractions once by skipping the line.¥2,000 per attraction

I glossed over these, but I recommend reading the Tokyo Dinsey Resort website for more details. Below is a video showing how to use the Disney Premier Access at Tokyo Disneyland.

Watch the video above or read our Disney Premier Access article

Crowds are lower

Over the last two years, capacity at the Parks has been limited, which has led to incredibly low wait times. As time went on, the capacity has been increased.

While we don’t know the exact number, Oriental Land Company has said the company plans to keep the capacity lower than pre-pandemic levels. The lower capacity helps make the experience more enjoyable for guests at the park.

In previous years before 2020, the crowds were soul-crushing. If you chose the wrong day to visit, you’d be waiting in the worst lines imaginable. Based on my experience, even during the traditionally busy days at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, lately, the wait times and crowd levels are nothing like they were years ago.

It’s still busy but nowhere near as unpleasant as it once was, which makes the day much more enjoyable.

The parks in Japan rely primarily on domestic tourism, so what we’re seeing now is a good indication of how things should go even with the borders reopening.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Busier days require reservations for stores

As mentioned above, a Standby Pass is sometimes required for shops inside Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. This is usually during big merchandise release days like Duffy, Halloween, Christmas, and Anniversary merchandise.

The Standby Pass isn’t always required, but knowing how it works is good—the Tokyo Disney Resort website lists when it is needed for specific shops.

Vegetarian options are almost non-existent

Casbah Food Court Outside Tokyo DisneySea

For years, vegetarian dishes were part of the menu at almost every restaurant in the Parks. Since the reopening, those dishes are all but gone. I don’t know if we’ll ever see them return.

There are still vegetarian dishes like the curry set at the Casbah Food Court, but they’re few and far between.

Masks are required

Note: With the stance on masks changing in Japan by the government on March 13, 2023, I expect this will change sooner rather than later. There’s no word from Tokyo Disney Resort yet. Universal Studios Japan has announced that masks are optional starting March 13, 2023.

Mask-wearing continues not only at Tokyo Disney Resort but throughout Japan. You’re expected to wear a mask almost everywhere. Even though you can opt not to wear a mask outdoors at Tokyo Disney (if there’s adequate space between others), most people choose to continue wearing them.

When you travel to Japan, bring masks because you are expected to wear them. I think this will continue for the foreseeable future.

I wear my mask everywhere I go; the only times I don’t is when I’m outside, and no one is around me. I’ll have mine on indoors, except when eating or drinking. It’s part of life in Japan, and I don’t give it a second thought.

As for restaurants, most still have plastic partitions on the tables.

COVID-19 protocols are set by the East Japan Amusement Park Association, which Tokyo Disney Resort and other theme parks in Japan follow.

No hugging characters

Update (May 8, 2023): Character hugs are back!

If you want to hug Mickey or Minnie while you’re at Tokyo Disney, sadly, you’re still unable to. While you can get your photos with them, it’ll be from a distance. All character greetings are like this, and I’m unsure when hugs will be allowed again.

Entertainment is scaled back

Stage shows and parades haven’t made a complete comeback yet, either. The parades like “Dreaming Up!” and “Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights” don’t have the dancers they once had. Other shows like Big Band Beat are still running watered-down versions.

Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights

While things are scaled back for entertainment, “Believe! Sea of Dreams” starts in November at Tokyo DisneySea and a new daytime parade at Tokyo Disneyland for the 40th anniversary.

Shorter Park Hours

The parks are only open from 9 AM to 9 PM most days. This has been the norm for quite some time. Before COVID, the park’s regular hours were 8 AM to 10 PM.

As with anything, expect things to change as the months go on. I wanted to keep you informed on what’s happening here at the Disney Parks in Japan. We’ll keep you updated!

More Things to Do in Tokyo

My recommendations for things to do in and around Tokyo! Plan a day at the Hello Kitty theme park, Sanrio Puroland, and an afternoon at the popular TeamLab Planets TOKYO. Take a tour around Tokyo with the convenient hop-on and-off bus. Spend a rainy afternoon inside Japan’s largest indoor theme park, Tokyo Joyoplis, near Tokyo Disney!

More on Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort Guidebook

Are you planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort? If so, you need our digital guidebook! Our guidebook is the most comprehensive resource available, covering everything you need to know about the park, including tickets, hotels, restaurants, attractions, shows, seasonal events, and more! With our guidebook, you’ll be an expert on Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea before you even set foot in the Parks. You’ll know what to expect, where to go, and what to do. You’ll also be able to avoid the crowds and make the most of your time.

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Add yours
  1. Alison M

    Hi Chris

    If you could view only one nighttime firework display, which park would you chose and where would you stand? I’ll be there start of June and have only one day in each park till late. One of our party is elderly so can only stay out late one of the nights (as would be too much for them to do it 2 nights in a row). Thanks

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