Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland: Ultimate Guide
Christmas is uncancelled, sorta, at Tokyo Disney Resort this year! I go over what’s happening in the “Changes for Christmas 2020” section.
Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea is a special time of year for me. It was the first event I got to experience when I bought my first annual passport in 2013. Both Parks does a tremendous job capturing the Christmas spirit, even though the holiday isn’t celebrated as it is in other areas of the world. My heart is filled with joy whenever I walk through the turnstiles between the months of November and December.
This guide highlights the best aspects of this magical time of year at Tokyo Disney Resort, including what to expect for weather and crowds, and features my tips and recommendations to make the most out of your trip. And most importantly, find out what to eat and what merchandise to buy! (At least it is important to me).
Christmas at both Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea runs November 10 through December 25, 2020.
Table of Contents
- Changes for Christmas 2020
- Things to Know
- Best Times to Visit
- Tokyo Disneyland
- Tokyo DisneySea
- Food & Snacks
- Previous Years
Changes for Christmas 2020
Tokyo Disney Resort cancelled the remainder of the events for fiscal 2020. However, we’ve seen a trickle of seasonal offerings coming back. While there’s no Christmas event for 2020, both Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea are getting a few things for the holiday season.
I’ll go over them for you here.
Decorations & Entertainment
Seasonal decorations are appearing at both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. While the decorations won’t be as elaborate as in previous years, it’s still something! The atmosphere is also being lifted with the bands at both Parks playing Christmas music.
Mickey and Friends are doing special “greeting parades” at both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. These mini-parades are in lieu of full seasonal entertainment. We’ve seen these happening since the Park reopened in July.
Merchandise & Food
Keep in mind everything else in this guide applies to when the world wasn’t in a global pandemic. The portions below don’t apply to 2020. I’m leaving it in hopes that we see something return in 2021.
Things to Know
Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are a bit different compared to other Disney Parks. Here are a few key points:
- There is no hard-ticketed party (meaning there is no Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party)
- The Disney Christmas events are part of your day ticket at no extra cost
- Decorations start going up the day after Halloween ends
- Decorations, snacks, merchandise, and entertainment all end after December 25
(Read More: Buy your tickets for Tokyo Disneyland in advance and save time & money)
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is in November, when the weather still fair at 12°C (54°F) on average. December becomes much colder with an average of 8°C (46°F) and sometimes drops below 0°C (32°F) in the evenings.
- Read our guide on what to wear to stay warm
- Avoid November 3 (Culture Day) and 23 (Labor Thanksgiving Day)
- Avoid December 23 (Emperor’s Birthday)
- Weekdays (Tuesday to Friday) are usually not too busy
- Use the Tokyo Disneyland Crowd Calendar to check your dates and adjust accordingly
Another time to avoid is the dates around “7-5-3 Day” on November 15. While this isn’t a public holiday, a lot of people head to the Parks around these dates to celebrate. Read my detailed posts about visiting in the months of November and December.
If you time it right, you can experience both Halloween and Christmas on the same trip (as a split visit). Halloween ends on October 31 and the Christmas event typically starts around November 8 (depending on the year). While the end of Halloween is a busy time at the Park, the beginning of the Christmas event and a few days before it begins is rather quiet. This gives you ample time to tour around Tokyo and other parts of Japan.
Tokyo Disneyland has a fun and whimsical take on Christmas with cheery decorations and an energetic daytime parade, “Disney Christmas Stories.” The Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare overlay on the Haunted Mansion starts in September and runs until January 5, 2020. The “Country Bear Jamboree Jingle Bell Jamboree” is always a classic (even if it’s only in Japanese) and is on until December 28, 2019. The absolute highlight is the Christmas version of Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights (don’t miss this).
There are plenty of good spots to watch the Disney Christmas Stories and Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights parades. Grab a spot in Westernland, the hub area, or Tomorrowland in front of Tomorrowland Terrace about 30 minutes ahead of time.
Disney Christmas Stories has what is called a “show stop”, where the parade floats stop and there’s a short performance. This show has two stops where you’re able to get good views of the different characters. Our map below shows where the stops are and what characters are on which float.
Pro Tip: If you’re into character photos, watch other guests with the large cameras to see where they go. These guests know all the best spots for photos. The bridge between Westernland and in front of Cinderella Castle is an excellent spot or just in front of the Haunted Mansion (where the parade starts).
The best decorations are found in the hub area in front of Cinderella Castle. Don’t miss the Nighttime illuminations with the 15 metres tall Christmas tree in the World Bazaar.
The Christmas atmosphere at Tokyo DisneySea is unmatched (in my humble opinion). When you have the best theme park in the world decorated for Christmas, it’s something truly special. Throughout the Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Cape Cod, and Lost River Delta are gorgeous decorations for the season.
My favourite this year is without a doubt “The Three Caballeros” in the Lost River Delta. This time of year, I love to wander through the Park in the evening to soak in the lights. As an ex-pat living abroad, you’ll miss aspects of home (naturally). Having a place that captures the familiar Christmas spirit so accurately is special and comforting.
The evenings are the best time to experience Tokyo DisneySea with all the Christmas lights and decorations. Don’t forget to watch the short and sweet “Colors of Christmas” show in the Mediterranean Harbor.
It’s Christmas Time
New for Disney Christmas 2018 the daytime harbour show “It’s Christmas Time.” At first, I was a bit skeptical, but after experiencing the show, I’m confident in proclaiming this is the best show for Christmas at Tokyo Disney Resort. “It’s Christmas Time” features live singers, dancers, classic Christmas songs (even the one that Mariah Carey is famous for), and some of the most gorgeous costumes ever.
If you only have time for one thing at Tokyo DisneySea, make it “It’s Christmas Time” in the Mediterranean Harbor. The show happens twice daily (morning and afternoon). The best spot is in Mickey Square (the area you see when you first enter the Mediterranean Harbor), but this fills up quickly. I recommend the spot in front of Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante.
The live singers belting out Christmas classics (It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, All I Want for Christmas Is You, and Jingle Bells, to name a few) radiates the holiday spirit and you can’t help but smile. Adding to the excitement is the excellent dancing, detailed costumes, and appearances by Mickey and Friends (including Duffy and his band of furry allies).
Do yourself a favour after you’re doing riding all the best rides at Tokyo DisneySea and get a prime spot for this show.
Pro Tip: The best locations for character photos are the three main hub areas — Mickey Square, Lido Isle, and the small area just in front of Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante. You’ll have to grab a spot a good 60-120 minutes ahead of time to get the absolute best spots for photos.
Now that you know what’s going on at both Parks, let’s take a look at one of the best parts of Christmas: all the special merchandise and food!
Food & Snacks
It’s easy to find yourself eating all day while roaming the Parks. There’s a huge selection of food to choose from at Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Tokyo Disney Resort Hotels (Learn more about hotels at Tokyo Disney Resort in our guide).
There’s a nice mixture of sweets and hearty meals to choose from. My favourite this year was the special set at the Eastside Cafe. The video below showcases the snacks and food at Tokyo Disneyland for Christmas (including prices and where to find them)!
Here’s a quick list of my favourite items:
- Apple Jelly & Mixed Berry Mousse (Sweetheart Cafe)
- Yakiniku (Beef) Wrap (Event Booths in front of Cinderella Castle)
- Special Set at Eastside Cafe
In addition to the array of snack and meal choices, there’s a new offering called “Tastes of Christmas” in the American Waterfront. This takes a snack-sized dish and pairs it with a hot cocktail (there are 5 dishes in total). This is a great way to sample a variety of food and alcoholic beverages.
Here’s a quick list of my favourite items:
- Caramel Milk Cocktail with Coffee Jelly (Yucatan Base Camp Grill)
- Honey Mustard Chicken & Camembert Special Set (New York Deli)
- Rare Cheesecake (Mama Biscotti’s Bakery)
The merchandise for Christmas is adorable (especially the SnoSnow items). Here are a few things to know:
- Merchandise is released before the event begins (usually one week earlier) and is gone after December 25, with no options to buy it anywhere else
- The 35th Anniversary customizable keychains have a Christmas version (Monsters’ Inc and Lost River Delta)
- Some merchandise may sell out and not come back in stock (it’s hard to predict what items)
- Some items are available at Bon Voyage (outside Maihama Station) and at the Resort hotels
Duffy and Friends Christmas Merchandise
Duffy and his band of friends have two ranges of merchandise for the Christmas and winter season. You’ll find these only inside Tokyo DisneySea at McDuck’s Department Store, Aunt Peg’s Village Store, and Galleria Disney.
Tips & Recommendations
Follow my tips and you’ll be more than ready for Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea:
- December 25th is date night and the table service restaurants are busy or fully booked (make reservations in advance)
- Food and merchandise are always released the day after Halloween ends (before the event officially begins)
- Entertainment and decorations are almost always completely up and running the day before the event starts
- I recommend visiting Tokyo DisneySea on Christmas Day for the best atmosphere
- Listen to our podcast episodes on Christmas (Subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher)
- Grab a Japanese Today Guide at the turnstiles to see the latest photos of food and merchandise (and watch our videos on YouTube for English explanations)
- November is a bit warmer compared to December
- It gets cold in the evenings, so it’s best to dress warmly and layer
- Always buy your tickets in advance to avoid long lines at the Park
- There are Christmas-themed monorail day passes at the stations within the Resort (choose the machine with the design above it to get the one you want)
Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea is one of the most festive times of the year to visit, if not one of the best. Follow our tips and advice and you’ll have a memorable experience.
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