The Ultimate Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Planning Guide 2017


Planning your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort is an overwhelming experience. Not only are you planning a trip overseas, but a trip to a place where you may not speak the language or have knowledge of the culture. That is where we come in.

We’ve done all the hard work for you! We have researched and refined our guide to give you the best, and most accurate advice for planning your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort. Bookmark this guide and revisit often.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. When to Visit
  3. How Many Days
  4. Park Tickets
  5. Costs
  6. Flights
  7. Hotels
  8. Getting There
  9. What to Bring
  10. Eating & Dining
  11. Money / Credit Card
  12. Internet & Data
  13. Japanese Language
  14. Culture
  15. Attractions
  16. Shows & Entertainment

Overview

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 the prefecture to the east of Tokyo. These are the only Disney Parks which 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.

Tokyo Disneyland Park is the first Disney Park built outside of the US and opened on April 15, 1983. Modeled 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 freedom to explore their creativity.

Summer Guide to Tokyo Disney Resort

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 in 2017 and in general, along with a guide for 2017 based on refurbishments, celebrations, and construction.

Here’s a quick summary:

Weekends

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.

Seasonal Events

Daisy Duck in Happy Halloween Harvest

The resort is very much 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 all the events which happen at the resort over a given year, starting with Christmas. The names of these events do change, so it is best to always check the official website.

These limited time events bring a variety of offerings for guests to enjoy. Live shows, parades, merchandise, and seasonal menus.

How Many Days

The largest amount 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. You are certainly able to stay longer, but be aware you will have to buy more tickets. How many days should you visit depends on a variety of factors such as budget and time.

Park Tickets

Guide to Buying Tokyo Disney Resort Tickets

After you decide how many days you wish to visit, next is purchasing your tickets! Here’s a very brief breakdown of the ticket options:

  • 4-Day Passport (1 day at each park followed by 2-day park hopper)
  • 3-Day Passport (1 day at each park followed by 1-day park hopper)
  • 2-Day Passport (1 day at each park)
  • 1-Day Passport (1 day at 1 park)

The easiest option for a 1-Day and 2-Day Park Ticket is through our affiliate Klook (read our disclosure). Use our exclusive promo code KLKTDREX to save on your first order. Our complete guide to tickets goes into detail about all your ticket options.

You may buy your tickets online as an e-Ticket but keep in mind that this printed version is your ticket and is not traded in for a small paper ticket. If you are staying at one of the Disney or Official Hotels, tickets are available to all guests and are guaranteed entrance. Meaning you can buy your tickets once you get to your hotel. Tickets are also available at most Disney Stores in Japan.

Costs

Coming to Japan is pricey, depending on where you live. You will have to think about flights, hotel, 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:

Food

  • 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

Merchandise

  • Character Stuffed Keychain (Badge) – ¥2000
  • Pins – ¥1000
  • T-Shirt – ¥2000
  • Duffy the Disney Bear Outfit – ¥5000
  • Character Plush – ¥3800

Transportation

  • 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)

Flights

Star Wars ANA Plane

Star Wars ANA photos by Brussels Airport. Used under the Creative Commons License.

This is one of your biggest expenses when traveling 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.

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.

Getting There

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. Luckily, we tell you exactly how to the resort from the airport and from anywhere else in Tokyo. The official website has an excellent English detailed guide on how you can get access to the resort through various means!

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, this informative blog post gives you a price breakdown.

Accommodations / Hotels

You have a variety of choices for hotels. All of which depend on your budget and time in Japan. A list of hotels on 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.

Be sure to read our full guide to Disney Hotels for further details. We also have a guide on how to book Disney and Non-Disney Hotels.

Here is a summary of your hotel options (in order of cheapest to most expensive):

Disney Hotels

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

Hotel MiraCosta Tokyo DisneySea

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:

Read our full article on what to pack for Tokyo Disney Resort!

Eating & Dining

Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall Tokyo Disneyland Doorknob

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 their 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!

Counter Service

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.

Table Service

Beef Tenderloin Magellans Tokyo DisneySea

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 the 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.

Snacks

Green Alien Mochi Tokyo DisneySea Container

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?”
  • これはどこですか?
  • 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.

Popcorn

Milk Chocolate Popcorn Review Tokyo DisneySea

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!

Hotel Restaurants

Each of the Disney Hotels has a variety of restaurants to choose from. From table service to buffets to character dining.

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 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

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). While there is not wifi inside the parks, if you have an unlocked phone, a rental SIM card is your best choice. For those with a carrier-locked phone, there are mobile hotspots for rental as well!

While out and about in Japan various locations offer free wifi hotspots:

Japanese Language

Tokyo Disneyland Sign in Japanese and English

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 at 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!

Cultural Differences

Minnie Mouse Tanabata Days 2015 Tokyo Disneyland

Traveling 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, 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 a 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.

Attractions

Toy Story Mania Tokyo DisneySea

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.

Before you visit, make sure to download our wait time app or visit tdrnow.com on your mobile device.

Read our full attractions guide for both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Where we go into great detail explaining which attractions to ride and a guide to FastPasses.

Tokyo Disneyland Must Ride Attractions

Best Tokyo Disneyland Attractions FastPass

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

Best Attractions at Tokyo DisneySea and FastPass Guide

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

Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights Christmas

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!

Read our full guides to entertainment for both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland Parade Guide Pinterest

Tokyo DisneySea

Pinterest Tokyo DisneySea Entertainment Guide

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!

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Select photos provided by Duy Phan Photography unless otherwise stated.

Ultimate Trip Planning Guide to Tokyo Disneyland DisneySea Pinterest

 

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