Tokyo Disneyland Isn’t at Its Best

My first visit to Tokyo Disney Resort was back in 2010 on a trip during the rainy season in June. Back then, I’d only begun visiting Disney Parks. That first trip to Tokyo spoiled me with its immaculate attention to detail.

I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Many Explorers who have had the pleasure of experiencing Tokyo Disney Resort can attest to how beautiful things are in Tokyo. Not to say it’s perfect, because it does have its quirks.

Since the reopening of Tokyo Disney Resort back in 2020 after closing due to COVID-19, the parks haven’t been the same. While this isn’t unique to Tokyo Disney, the parks here in Japan have been painfully slow to move forward.

While I don’t like to admit it, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are not at their best right now and here’s why I think so.

An Abundance of Caution

Japan has yet to reopen tourism fully. While the country technically allows tourists, it’s only through tour groups. It’s still unclear when the government plans to open for individual travellers. If we’re being honest, who wants to go on a tour group with heavy restrictions?

I know I wouldn’t.

As for Tokyo Disney Resort, they’re still in this middle ground with precautions. Recently the social distancing tape has been removed and dividers on attractions. But, we still see the partitions in restaurants (that’s not unique to Tokyo Disney, many restaurants throughout Japan still have partitions).

“Please use another table.”

The ticket situation is a complete mess, with no multi-day tickets or Annual Passes.

The foreign credit card issue isn’t new, but it’s worse in the last few years. Ways to buy tickets have been reduced to the Tokyo Disney Resort website, app, being a Disney Hotel Guest, convenience stores, and maybe a travel agent. To add even more complexity, if you’re a foreign resident with a non-Japanese credit card, it’s a roll of the dice if your card even works.

I have an in-depth article on how to buy tickets for Tokyo Disney Resort, so I recommend reading through it.

One good thing I can say is Tokyo does not have park reservations, so at least there’s that. Another change is the Resort introduced the Disney Premier Access, a paid FastPass.

Lack of Entertainment and Events

Entertainment at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea is nowhere near what it used to be.

While our two major parades at Tokyo Disneyland of “Dreaming Up!” and the “Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights” are still fabulous, they’re cut-down versions of the original with fewer performers. While Mickey’s Magical Music World is performing, it’s an alternate version since it made its debut, so we’ve never seen what it’s supposed to be. Then we have Club Mouse Beat and Jamboree Mickey too.

Then at Tokyo DisneySea, there’s a tiny “greeting” show for the 20th anniversary, an impossible-to-win lottery show on the Hangar Stage, a weird version of Big Band Beat, and another version of Jamboree Mickey.

The best Park for entertainment right now is Tokyo Disneyland, which wasn’t always the case. Both Parks have always had excellent offerings, but it makes me sad to see how lacklustre Tokyo DisneySea is right now.

Seasonal events are part of your day ticket and don’t cost anything extra unless you want merchandise or food. When it comes to these seasonal events, they’re a shadow of their former self. Over the last few years, these events have turned into nothing more than centring on merchandise and food with maybe a tiny parade.

You always felt you got immense value with your park ticket, but now it feels even less so.

Despite the Challenges, Things Are Moving

Despite all the challenges, projects are moving forward, which is lovely! Since its reopening in 2020, the Resort has opened:

It’s tough to believe that Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast celebrates its second anniversary in September, and many have not been able to experience it yet. I hope that changes soon.

We also have the Fantasy Springs expansion opening sometime in 2023.

Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea Will Bounce Back

With all that said above, I love the parks in Japan. I always have, and I always will. Despite my undying love for the Resort, I needed to share my honest thoughts.

Right now, Tokyo Disney Resort is navigating significant changes to its parks, even if it’s slow going. I think sometime in 2023 when things will resemble some sort of normalcy (whatever that may be).

What’s happened in the last few years has been challenging for everyone. I have confidence that Tokyo Disney Resort will bounce back. The parks in Japan will never be the same, much like all the other Disney Parks, but I’m confident in the Resort moving forward.

Tokyo DisneySea Mount Prometheus

Despite all the issues, the parks remain excellent because of their Cast Members and endless other aspects that make it the top Disney Resort that Disney and theme park fans want to experience.

The Resort will get through this rough patch. There are plenty of things coming, and we’ll continue to be here to share it all with you.

I believe in you, Tokyo Disney Resort.

We all do.

Are you planning a trip to Japan?

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Add yours
  1. Melody

    Lovely, honest article. Thanks for the great content as always, Chris. Your articles are a reliable and trustworthy resource for information, but also your videos provide much joy and cheer from TDR to the rest of the world. The world is lucky to have you around!!

  2. Leigh

    We all come to you for your authentic views. Thanks for being so upbeat and enthusiastic even in these continually trying times!

  3. Nrthwnd

    I sent an email back to you, but I repeat … no worries from me on how you’re feeling about the resort, of late. You and everybody there does honest, current and always informative reporting and reviews all that’s Tokyo Disney. One can’t get better info. from people who are there, all (if not most) of the time.

    Here’s to a better bunch of years, in the future! Can’t wait to get back there!

  4. Nicole Nelson

    Thank you for your honest review. My family unfortunately had to forego our trip this summer due to the tourism restrictions. Besides my distaste for the restricted guided tours as our only option to go, the deal breaker was we couldn’t go to Tokyo Disney. I’m glad we aren’t missing much at the moment. I look forward to a future visit with a renewed park in full bloom.

  5. Cindy

    I appreciate the honesty. I don’t like when things are glossed over. Looks like Japan has not escaped the trend of prices going up while the offering is going down. We’ll see if that’s just in reaction to the after pandemic or if the Disney parks will keep going on that trajectory. Either way, I appreciate being able to rely on your honest feedback about it. Keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂

  6. Diane (acrodisgirl)

    Good article Chris. It’s obvious from podcasts and videos that TDR is “less than” at the moment. Even if the country were open for tourists it seems like it is too hard to consider visiting. If logistics with booking and paying are tough for someone that knows the language etc it feels too much for me. Like you I’m optimistic that TDR will come back with the opening of new areas and hotels. I’m hopeful that they’ll go back to being more foreigner friendly but not as optimistic on that front In the meantime I’ll listen to you and Trish and watch you in videos. You’re rocking it. Keep being honest with us.

  7. Anna Peters

    Thank you for your honest opinion Chris, much appreciated. Totally agree that travelling independently from a tour group is the best thing so we are still waiting on Japan to open up to us. My family have all had four Covid vaccinations and have also caught Covid without any problems. Just flu like symptoms. I know the chance of catching another variant is possible but refuse to live in fear, as sadly many have done. Fingers crossed things are back to as much normality as possible soon.
    Keep up the wonderful work you are doing keeping us informed.

  8. anuro3

    OMG… You hit the nail on the head with this Chris… I am a regular goer to TDR (about 5 times a year for the past 11years)… I think many of us feel this way too but haven’t openly complained yet… To be fair , I think the parks lost a lot of money during 2020 to 2022 due to the pandemic and they are just trying to compensate for the loss. They do seem like they are constantly striving for a new balance which I don’t think they felt it has been reached yet considering they are constantly changing things up… For me the worst part has been the death of the fast pass system and all these stand-by and paid pass things… But if you spend the whole day at the park you can usually find a way to ride the attractions without waiting too long… The other things that has been killing me is that since im a huge Duffy fan, I hate that Cape Cod Cook-off and its heartwarming shows has been stopped with no sign of return since the start of the pandemic. To make it worse, they took Duffy which is the heart of Cape Cod area and put him in Lost River Delta with a Mexican sombrero which makes no sense and its story just seems totally unrelated to anything else… Then they just started this thing for the Duffy Tasty Summer Surprise event where the newly released goods for a couple weeks or so can only be bought online and you cant see them at McDucks or Aunt Pegs… I know they have had a crowd rush for those items during the first couple weeks but that was one of the fun parts… Anyways thanks Chris for telling it like it is and hopefully Disney is listening and planning to revive some of the lost magic soon… Still love Tokyo Disney Resort though…

  9. ScottishLassie

    That’s for such an honest update. My family has been waiting patiently to gain entry into Japan (was meant to be there 2020). While we’re actually booked onto a tour, I had added a few extra days at the end for Disneyland / Disneysea but until they lift the “chaperoned at all times” caveat to tours, I can’t see us being allowed to actually head off on our own for that.

    We’ve moved the dates twice now and our third attempt will be May 2023. Sadly that will be my last attempt as one of our party will be 81 by then and has refused to extend another year. I don’t blame them but would be so sad if they couldn’t see Japan as we’d booked to show that person they could still travel all over the world without their partner (who had died) but they now think they are too old for international travel as we initially booked back in 2019 before covid hit…I’m keeping absolutely everything crossed as flights booked (travelling business class as well!) that 2023 will be the year we finally get to go.

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