Planning your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort and its two parks, Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea, is an overwhelming experience. Not only are you planning a trip overseas, but travelling to the wonderful country of Japan. That’s where we come in with our updated free Tokyo Disneyland trip planning guide.
Our team has done all the hard work for you! With our extensive experience and research, we’ve refined our free guide to give you the best, and most accurate advice for planning your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort. After living in Japan for 6 years and many visits to both Parks, I want to share my years of experience to help you plan an unforgettable vacation.
In addition to this free guide, we’re also incredibly proud to offer a premium travel guide with even more in-depth planning information on Tokyo Disney Resort. For those Explorers who are avid planners, then it’s worth the investment to ensure you don’t miss anything. With almost 3,000 copies sold, it’s the best travel guide for your trip.
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Table of Contents
- When to Visit
- How Many Days
- Park Tickets
- Getting There
- What to Bring
- Eating & Dining
- Money / Credit Card
- Internet & Data
- Japanese Language
- Shows & Entertainment
UPDATED: October 1, 2019
Tokyo Disney Resort has two parks: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The resort itself is not in Tokyo, but in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, which is to the east of Tokyo. These are the only Disney Parks that are not owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company but rather owned by the Oriental Land Company, which licenses the brand from The Walt Disney Company.
Since the Walt Disney Company doesn’t own and operate Tokyo Disney Resort, it’s best to throw almost everything you know about planning a trip to a Disney Park as a lot of it won’t apply here. This guide makes sure you learn everything you need to know. I tell you this to save you frustration and confusion.
Tokyo Disneyland Park is the first Disney Park built outside of the US and opened on April 15, 1983. Modelled after the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Park in California, this is the park most familiar to those who’ve visited the American resorts. The most noticeable difference is the World Bazaar, which is essentially a covered Main Street USA.
Tokyo DisneySea is the second park at the resort. It opened on September 4, 2001, at a cost of 335 billion yen (approx US$2.7 billion). Often referred to as the crown jewel of Disney Parks, Tokyo DisneySea is the 4th most visited theme park in the world. Consisting of seven themed ports of call (or lands), this ambitious theme park displays what is possible when Imagineers are given the freedom to explore their creativity.
When to Visit
The biggest challenge is deciding when you want to visit the resort. There are many factors that you need to take into account Japanese Holidays, weather, and school calendar. Public holidays in Japan are vastly different compared to other parts of the world.
Our updated guide tells you the best and worst times to visit, along with my recommendations for 2018 based on refurbishments, celebrations, and construction.
Here’s a quick summary:
- The best time to visit is at the end of May for weather and crowds
- The worst time is Golden Week (Beginning of May), New Years, and the month of March (Spring Break)
- Best days to visit in general are Tuesday through Friday (always check park hours)
- Use the Tokyo Disneyland Crowd Calendar to check your dates
You may have heard the stories about weekends at Tokyo Disney Resort — that the parks are busy, crowded, and you wait for everything. The majority of this is true. As a general rule, you are best to avoid the weekends, if possible (exceptions do apply). Not all hope is lost if you find yourself visiting on a weekend.
- Our Weekend Survival Guide to Tokyo Disney Resort
- What I Learned Visiting Tokyo Disneyland on the Weekend
- 4 Reasons to Visit on the Weekend
The resort is a locals park, which results in OLC constantly offering something new (or updated) for guests. Events at both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea change with the seasons and sometimes in-between. Visiting in December versus May gives you a different experience. All the more reason to visit multiple times! Here’s a list of events at the resort over a given year.
- New Years (January 1 to January 5)
- Winter Events (January to March)
- Disney’s Easter (End of March to June)
- Tanabata Days (End of June to the beginning of July)
- Summer (July to August)
- Disney’s Halloween (September to October)
- Christmas (November to December)
These limited-time events bring a variety of offerings for guests to enjoy. Live shows, parades, merchandise, and seasonal menus. Check the event calendar for 2019 here and for 2020 here. Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube Channel where we do coverage of the latest merchandise and food for these fantastic events!
How Many Days
The largest number of days offered for a Park Ticket is a 4-Day Passport. The reason for this is a majority of its guests are locals who tend to consider 4 days long enough. If you plan on staying longer than 4 days in the parks, you’ll have to buy additional tickets.
If it’s your first time, I recommend at least 3 or 4 days. Read our full blog post that helps you decide how many days is best for you.
After you decide how many days you wish to visit, next is purchasing your park tickets! Here’s a brief breakdown of options:
- 1-Day Passport
- Choose between Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea
- 2-Day Passport
- Visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea each day (no park hopping)
- 3-Day Magic Passport
- One day at each park followed by a park hopper day
- 4-Day Magic Passport
- One day at each park followed by two park hopper days
- Starlight Passport
- Visit one park after 15:00 on weekends and public holidays
- After 6 Passport
- Visit one park after 18:00 on weekdays (excluding public holidays)
Tickets are available 60 days in advance and I always recommend buying them before you get to the park. This avoids having to wait at the ticket booths and wasting precious time. If you’re staying at the Disney Hotels or Official Hotels (this includes Hilton Tokyo Bay and Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel) then you have guaranteed park admission — even if the park is full — and you can buy them at the hotel.
For more details on park tickets for Tokyo Disneyland read our comprehensive ticket guide.
Coming to Japan is pricey, depending on where you live. You will have to think about flights, hotels, food, transportation, and how many more suitcases you will need to buy to hold all your exclusive Disney merchandise!
Here’s a list of average costs for various items at the resort, keep in mind that prices do vary and are subject to change. Use xe.com to convert into your currency:
- Small Soft Drink or Coffee – ¥240
- Set Meal at Counter Service Restaurant (Entree, drink, dessert) – ¥920 to ¥1500
- Entree Only Meal – ¥600 to ¥900
- Children’s Meal – ¥900
- Snack (Churro, Popcorn, etc) – ¥310
- Character Stuffed Keychain (Badge) – ¥2000
- Pins – ¥1000
- T-Shirt – ¥2000
- Duffy the Disney Bear Outfit – ¥5000
- Character Plush – ¥3800
- One Day Monorail Pass (on Resort) – ¥650
- One-way JR Ticket from Tokyo Station – ¥220
- One Day Car Parking – ¥2,500 (weekdays) and ¥3000 (weekends)
This is one of your biggest expenses when travelling to Japan, no matter where you are in the world. There are some ways to cut this cost, follow our detailed guide for more details. I also recommend setting up alerts with Google Flights with your dates. On average the best time to book a flight is about 3-months in advance.
There are two airports you can fly into:
- Narita Airport (just outside of Tokyo)
- Haneda Airport (within Tokyo)
Each airport has shuttle buses that will get you to Tokyo Disney Resort if you are staying on Resort. If Tokyo Disney Resort is part of a larger trip and you are staying off-site, there are plenty of options for you to get to the resort. Japan is well-known for its world-renowned public transportation.
As mentioned, Japan is world-famous for its excellent transportation system. English-language information is readily available at most major stations in Tokyo, so figuring out where to go is not impossible. Getting to the resort from Narita or Haneda Airport is intimidating, though.
Our full guide gives you all the details on how to get to Tokyo Disney Resort from the airport by various means and budgets.
JR Rail Pass
If you’re staying in Japan longer than 7 days and plan on visiting other parts of the country, I recommend buying the JR Rail Pass. Which gives you unlimited use of certain trains in Japan for different time periods. As an example, the cost of a bullet train (shinkansen) ride round-trip to Tokyo is just under the cost of the 7-day pass. To see if this is right for you, our informative blog post gives you a price breakdown.
Accommodations / Hotels
You have a variety of choices for hotels. All of which depends on your budget and time in Japan. A list of hotels in and near the resort is available on the official Tokyo Disney Resort website in English. Read our growing list of Tokyo Disney Resort Hotel reviews and recommendations to help decide what’s best for you. We cover both Disney and non-Disney hotels.
Here is a summary of your hotel options (in order of cheapest to most expensive):
- Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel (Discover & Wish)
- Disney Ambassador Hotel
- Tokyo Disneyland Hotel
- Hotel MiraCosta
Guests staying at the Disney Hotels receive the following benefits:
- Park Ticket Sales (includes Special Park Hopper tickets)
- Guaranteed Admission
- Complimentary Monorail Passes
- Entrance to the parks 15 minutes before regular guests
Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels
Guests staying at these hotels receive are able to buy park tickets right at the hotel. Also guaranteed admission to the park, even on sold out days. These hotels include Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel and Hilton Tokyo Bay Hotel, which is a popular option for guests.
Tokyo Disney Resort Partner Hotels
These hotels are located in and around the Tokyo Disney Resort area. All of which include park ticket sales and free bus shuttle service to and from the Resort.
Tokyo Disney Resort Good Neighbor Hotels
If Tokyo Disney Resort is part of a bigger trip to Japan, then staying at one of these centrally located hotels is an option. All of which include shuttle services to and from the Resort. Note that they do not offer park ticket sales nor guarantee admission into the park. You are best to buy tickets ahead of time.
What to Bring
Japan has four distinct seasons, which means what you bring to the parks will vary depending on the weather. Do not worry if you think you are bringing too much. Lockers are available at various locations throughout the resort for use.
As a general rule, the following items are essential for you to bring:
- Battery Charger
- Comfortable Walking Shoes
- Tote Bag or Backpack
- Refillable Water Bottle
- Hand Towel
- Duffy, ShellieMay, or Gelatoni
Read our full article on what to pack for Tokyo Disney Resort!
Eating & Dining
A concern for many overseas guests is what to expect for food offerings at the resort. While the focus is on the local tastes, there are plenty of food choices for those who are not as adventurous. Burgers, fried chicken, and chicken nuggets are options.
For those of you who want to try something different, there is no shortage of options. Japan takes its cuisine seriously and Tokyo Disney Resort does everything to cater to the local tastes and expectations. All menu items are on display as plastic food near the front of the restaurant to help you decide on your choice. (How convenient is that?!)
Seasonal menu items are rotated throughout the year as a “special set.” We recommend trying these dishes, as they offer usually an entrée, dessert, and drink. Another option is the Souvenir Set, which includes merchandise that is only available by purchasing that set. Check the food display cases to see these!
These are the “fast food” restaurants where you order at the counter. Your typical burgers, fries, and pizza are found at some of these locations. Other locations also serve more than your fast food, such as sandwiches, curry, Japanese udon, and seafood. The level of quality of most counter service restaurants at both parks outshines other Disney Parks in both theming and quality. Read my top 10 counter service restaurants for more details.
Looking for an experience that goes beyond simple counter service? Table service restaurants range from mid-end (¥3000 per plate) to the high-end (¥8000 per plate). Disney Hotel guests may book their reservations online ahead of time. If you are not a Disney Hotel guest you can book a table in the park for that day. We recommend getting your reservation early in the day to guarantee your table.
As mentioned early, Tokyo Disney Resort caters primarily to local Japanese guests, the service at these restaurants are second to none. No other Disney Park comes close to Japanese hospitality. While there can be language difficulties (see our section on language), the experience is wonderful and is crucial to your experience at Tokyo Disney Resort.
You have seen the photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Photos of the various cute, adorable, and ever-changing snacks at the Resort. One could easily survive off snacks alone during their entire visit! While we do not recommend trying that, it is certainly fun to try some of the different delectable choices. With all the cute, delicious, and Instagram-worthy deliciousness, it is hard not to open up your wallet.
While some snacks are available year-round, some are seasonal (much like the special sets at Counter Service restaurants). Grab a Japanese Park map and take a look inside. They list all the seasonal snacks (with pictures) and their locations. While it is in Japanese, simply take it to a Cast Member and they will point you in the right direction.
- “Where is this?”
- ko-re wa doh-ko de-su-ka?
Use that simple Japanese above and the Cast Member will know exactly what you are talking about. Just make sure you are pointing to the item on the map.
Technically a snack, but this deserves its very own section. Popcorn one of the most popular snacks at the resort. Given the number of flavours (limited and regular) and the many souvenir buckets to buy, it is no secret that everyone loves it. If you only have one snack make sure it is the delicious popcorn from Tokyo Disney Resort!
Each of the Disney Hotels has a variety of restaurants to choose from. From table service to buffets to character dining.
A small number of character dining options are available to guests. One at each park and one at the Disney Ambassador Hotel.
- Chef Mickey at Disney Ambassador Hotel
- Horizon Bay Restaurant in Tokyo DisneySea
Money & Credit Cards
Japan is a cash-based society, and by always having Japanese yen on-hand, you guarantee yourself to not run into problems. However, sometimes having to use your credit card is unavoidable. Tokyo Disney Resort accepts major credits cards. There are a few points to keep in mind:
- Credit cards are swiped, there are no terminals to enter your pin (Some places in Japan have these but the majority of the resort does not have these terminals).
- Most locations at the resort take a credit card. Small food carts may or may not.
- Your card MUST have a signature on the back.
- Chip and pin cards should work but have been known to cause issues.
- If your card is a credit card but also a debit card, they may or may not take it. Even though your card may actually be a credit card with debit functionality.
- Bring a backup credit card for when yours does not swipe or work.
- Some purchases (hotel charges, etc.) have been known to take up to one month to appear on your statement.
- Call your bank to tell them you are using it in Japan to avoid having your card locked
- Cast Members ask you how many payments you want your purchase split across, which is not something that is done in North America. They will default to asking you if you want it as one payment. They will do the hand motion for one. Simply say “Yes”.
Now, what about cash? 7-11 ATMs are your best option for taking out Japanese yen directly from your bank account back home. Only one 7-11 ATM exists on Resort and is found in Ikspiari (Tokyo Disney Resort’s version of Downtown Disney). Menus are available in English and other languages. Remember to tell your bank before you head on your trip.
How much money should you take out? It would depend on your banking fees – the higher the fees per transaction, the more you should take out to avoid paying more fees.
- Budget at least ¥10,000 per person (about $100) for one full day at the parks. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, and merchandise. ¥10,000 is one note which makes it easier to carry around.
Internet & Data
In May 2019, Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea began to offer free Wi-Fi in the Parks. Recently, Japan has made it easier for visitors to get SIM cards and mobile hotspots while in the country. Wi-Fi is available in the Disney Hotels for free (the other hotels you need to check their website).
If you have an unlocked phone, a SIM card is your best choice. For those with a carrier-locked phone, there are mobile hotspots for rental.
- Recommended: Mobal Japan Unlimited 4G Data SIM Card (Review)
- Recommended: Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot (7GB)
- Guide to Staying Connected in Japan
- Best SIM Cards for Japan
While out and about in Japan various locations offer free wifi hotspots:
You do not have to speak Japanese to enjoy your time at the parks. All the important signs and food menus are in English, and if you need assistance in English a Cast Member will find someone for you. Someone who speaks a level of English is always available in the hotels and guest relations.
While many of the shows have English lyrics, many of the story elements are in Japanese. The stories are simple enough that you are able to get the gist of what’s happening. Shows in the Mediterranean Harbour are a bit harder to follow story-wise for non-Japanese speaking guests, but they look fantastic so just sit back and enjoy!
Knowing the basics and key phrases in Japanese will help you immensely. Cast Members and people, in general, appreciate you attempting to speak their language. We have two simple guides which give you some basic Japanese phrases, specific to the parks. If you are not comfortable with speaking you can always print out the sheet too!
Travelling to a foreign country comes with experiencing first-hand cultural differences. Even if you are a Disney veteran some things are simply done differently at Tokyo Disney Resort. Here are a few cultural differences you will notice immediately:
- Smaller portion sizes for most food items. Overall, the Japanese eat smaller portions than Western countries. You may find yourself eating more often simply because of this.
- Guests are typically quiet on attractions. This includes thrill rides. While guests will scream out in laughter and enjoyment, do not be alarmed if most guests in your car are quiet as a mouse.
- Sitting for parades is the norm and for most spots, you are required to sit for the entire show. Bring your leisure sheet, snacks, and favourite distraction, and get cozy while you wait for the next parade!
- When paying for an item or after a meal, do not hand the cash (or credit card) over directly to the cashier, unless they put their hand out. There is a small dish for you to place your cash or credit card in. The cashier will put your change, card, and receipt back into the dish for you to pick up. This not only applies to the resort but Japan.
- Making customizations of your food is uncommon at the resort and around Japan. If the cheeseburger comes with tomato on it, that is what you will receive. Asking for customization can cause unneeded confusion. Unless you have an allergy, it is easier to alter your order yourself after you sit down at your table.
Both parks offer unique attractions not found at any other Disney Park, along with slightly altered versions to their US counterparts. Make it a priority to ride these attractions to experience the best of Tokyo Disney Resort! The following lists include unique and/or popular attractions at the parks.
Learn how to download the official Tokyo Disney Resort App to make your day easier.
Tokyo Disneyland Must Ride Attractions
- Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
- Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!
- Jungle Cruise: Wildlife Expeditions
- The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha E Komo Mai!”
- Stitch Encounter
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Splash Mountain
- Haunted Mansion
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain
Pooh’s Hunny Hunt is by far the best attraction at the resort in terms of theme, technology, and enjoyment factor. This means the wait times are usually high and the FastPasses run out quickly. Monsters, Inc. is another popular attraction which also has high wait times. Our suggestion is, grab a FastPass for Monsters Inc, then head straight to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt first thing in the morning. Once you have those out of the way, you are able to enjoy the rest of your day and start checking off that list.
Tokyo DisneySea Must Ride Attractions
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Nemo & Friends SeaRider
- Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage
- Toy Story Mania!
- Tower of Terror
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Raging Spirits
- Indiana Jones® Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
- Venetian Gondolas
- DisneySea Transit Steamer Line
While not unique to Tokyo DisneySea, Toy Story Mania! is the most popular attraction at the park. Wait times easily go over 3 hours on weekends and busy days. FastPasses run out rather quickly. If you have experienced this attraction at other Disney Parks, you can easily skip this and not miss too much. If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing Toy Story Mania! then make this your first attraction in the morning.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is easily the best thrill ride at the park. The painstaking detail in the queue and attraction itself make it worth waiting for. The waits get long on this one, so if you skip Toy Story Mania! make this your first choice of the day.
Not all rides have thrilling drops and over the top special effects. If you want to take it easy and relax, the Venetian Gondolas and the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line are the ticket. Experience it for yourself to see what we mean.
It is easy to spend your entire day riding attractions and waiting in lines. Jot down which attractions you must ride ahead of time and make your day that much easier.
Shows & Entertainment
Arguably, Tokyo Disney Resort has some of the best live entertainment ranging from an over-the-top swinging jazz show to seasonal entertainment in which guests are hosed down by Mickey Mouse himself. If you are a fan of parades and live entertainment, you have no shortage of options. Here are our recommendations for entertainment at Tokyo Disney Resort!
- NEW: Dreaming Up! Daytime Parade
- Made its debut on April 15, 2018, as part of the 35th Anniversary
- This is the replacement for the previous daytime parade: Happiness is Here
- Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights
- One Man’s Dream II – The Magic Lives On
This is a living, breathing guide with the goal to offer the best and most up-to-date information on planning for Tokyo Disney Resort. If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know in the comments!
Select photos provided by Duy Phan Photography.
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