We don’t normally write travel guides for theme parks. But Tokyo Disney Resort turned out to be much more complicated than we anticipated.
Yes, complicated. As soon as I began burning my first hour queueing for my first ride, I knew this super popular theme park would merit its own blog post. As our line moved at a pace that would put glaciers to shame, I realized that if you don’t plan your trip here well, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and enjoying very little.
So here it is, a travel guide especially dedicated to the Tokyo Disney Resort, presented in FAQs (frequently asked questions) format. You’re welcome!
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Which is better: Disneyland or DisneySea?
DisneySea, without question. It’s more visually appealing, and its rides more thrilling. But the most compelling reason you should pick DisneySea is that it is one of a kind. You’ll never find any other DisneySea anywhere else in the world, while there are many other Disneylands. Heck, there’s another one not too far away — Hong Kong.
I’ve only been to just one other Disneyland (Hong Kong), but I can tell you that it is way tooo similar to Tokyo Disneyland. There are differences here and there, but the key attractions and overall experience are the same. So here’s something that would make it easier for you to choose: If you’ve been to Disneyland Hong Kong or planning to go there, pick DisneySea.
That is, if you can choose only one. If you have more time and money, visit both. Why not?
When is the best time to visit?
You already know this, but I’ll just spell it out: Disneyland and DisneySea are incredibly popular. And I mean incredibly popular. Any Tokyo-bound tourist traveling with family or kids is most likely to have them in their itinerary. Hence, expect long, long, long lines especially during weekends and peak seasons.
What are the peak seasons? According to most online sources:
- Golden Week (April 29 – May 5)
- Obon Festival (August 13–15)
- New Year (December 31 – January 5)
I’ve been to Disney Resort twice. First time in in late November, and the queues weren’t that bad. The second time was in early April, in the week of cherry blossoms’ full bloom, and maaaaan was it cray cray. I ended up riding just a handful of attractions, and even the queues for popcorn were unforgiving. And that was on a Thursday!
If you already have a set schedule, just try to avoid visiting on a weekend because that handsome money you spent on the ticket won’t be worth it.
There is a website that predicts how crowded Disneyland and DisneySea are going to be on specific dates. The problem is that it’s in Japanese, but you can always use Google Translate. Check it out here.
But as early as now, for the sake of your sanity, accept in your heart that you will NOT get to experience everything!
How much is the admission ticket?
Here are the ticket prices (as of 2017):
You can double check the updated rates here.
Where to buy tickets?
You can buy tickets from the booths at the entrance. But if you want to save more time, you can buy online. Klook sells many types depending on where you want to pick up your Disney pass. There are 3 areas where you can redeem the ticket: Maihama Station, Narita Airport, and Shinjuku area.
Maihama Station is the most convenient because it’s the station closest to Disney Resort.
You can use any of these passes for either Disneyland or DisneySea.
You can check the rates or purchase one below:
Booking is easy and hassle-free. Here’s how.
1. Visit any of the pages above. Choose the pick-up area most convenient to you.
2. Select date and quantity. Click on BOOK.
3. On the next page, enter your details.
4. On the same page, pay using credit card or PayPal.
That’s it! You’ll get a confirmation via email!
Once booked, you just need to show your printed or mobile/digital copy of the voucher to redeem your Disneyland pass. There are 3 areas where you can redeem the ticket (depending on what you booked): Maihama Station (which is the train station closest to Disney Resort; Narita Airport; and Shinjuku area.
How to Get to Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea?
We have a separate, more detailed post just for that.
Read it here: How to Get to Tokyo Disney Resort
What are the best attractions?
Below are the most popular attractions. They have the longest queues!
Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek!
Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
Big Thunder Mountain
Journey to the Center of the Earth
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
Tower of Terror
Toy Story Mania
Mermaid Lagoon Theatre
Magical Lamp Theatre
Is there a way to bypass the long lines?
Yes, and it’s perfectly legitimate. It’s called FAST PASS.
Disneylands in the US have it too. Fast Pass is a ticket that would allow you to skip the regular lines and go straight to the ride. At every key attraction in both Disneyland and DisneySea, there is a separate entrance for those with Fast Pass tix.
It’s similar to Universal Studios’ Express Pass. The difference is, it is NOT for sale. It’s fair game.
Only one Fast Pass per park ticket is allowed at any given time.
How can I take advantage of this Fast Pass thingy?
Here’s how it works.
Every key attraction has Fast Pass ticket machines installed near the entrance. All you need to do is scan the QR Code of your ticket and it will give you a fast pass for that particular ride. It recognizes QR Code printed on Klook tickets so make sure you don’t lose your printout after entering the park.
The machines will release a small ticket. That’s your fast pass. The ticket indicates the specific attraction you can use it for and two times: the time you can use the pass and the time you can get another Fast Pass.
You cannot use the Fast Pass anytime you want. You can only use it within the period assigned to you. So if your Fast Pass reads you can use it between 1-2pm, you should enter the attraction at any time within 1-2pm. You can show up at 1:55pm and they will still accept it.
Can I get a Fast Pass for all the rides in my first hour inside?
Nope. You’re allowed ONLY ONE Fast Pass every 1.5 hours or so. You’re blocked from getting another pass until the time indicated. Sometimes, even if you get a fast pass in the morning, you’re scheduled for a 3pm ride. That’s how tightly they regulate ticketing. Also, Fast Pass ticketing closes at around 4pm.
So make sure you get a fast pass for only the rides you really, really want to experience. If you’re on the fence about something, don’t get a fast pass for it.
Do all attractions use Fast Pass?
No. Only the most popular ones. See the list of key attractions above? Only those accept Fast Pass. For everything else, you have to fall in line.
How can I maximize my time?
Here’s a good strategy: Get a Fast Pass for your Top 4 attractions. This is, in my opinion, the best way to approach this:
- Before the trip, research and identify your Top 6 attractions. Now, get a map of the park and rearrange your Top 6 according to their location. Your #1 attraction should be near #2 and so on.
- Come to the park early. The earlier you arrive, the more rides you’ll enjoy.
- Once inside, go straight to your #1 attraction and get a Fast Pass for it. Check the assigned time you should enter that attraction and the time you can get another fast pass.
- While waiting, queue up for your #2 attraction. When you’re done, enjoy the other attractions nearby.
- When it’s your time to get another Fast Pass (you’ll see the time on your first Fast Pass), go to your #3 Attraction and get another Fast Pass.
- Once you have your second Fast Pass, go to your #4 Attraction and queue up.
Just repeat the process.
Of course, don’t forget to return to the attractions you got Fast Passes for when it’s time!
Also, be mindful of certain schedules especially of the parade and the fireworks display.
Without Fast Pass, how long do I have to wait in line?
Depends on the attraction. If you’re lucky, 30-40 minutes. But for the extremely popular ones, prepare to wait for 60-90 minutes, sometimes 120 minutes.
Bring something to entertain yourself while waiting. In my case, my phone usually does the trick. I just upload pics and check my social accounts. And oh, bring a power bank (mobile charger).
Where to eat inside Disneyland/DisneySea
There are a number of restaurants inside the parks, but the queues and prices can be scary. A set meal costs ¥900 (sandwich + drink) to ¥1500 (rice meal), and truth be told, they don’t really taste special. Prepare to wait at least 30 minutes to order.
If you want to avoid the lunch rush, have breakfast before coming and have late lunch inside the park instead.
If you really have to dine at a restaurant inside, I recommend the following at Disneyland:
- Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall in Fantasyland. If you’re on a budget, order the chicken meal. It’s pricey at ¥1500 per meal, but at least you get a half-chicken for it, better than ¥1000 sandwich meals at other places. You can just order extra rice and split the chicken into quarters.
At DisneySea, try the following:
- Casbah Food Court in Arabian Coast . If you’re quality taste instead of price, dine here instead. Their special set meal is at around ¥1500. Serving isn’t that big but food is really tasty, something you won’t expect being served at a theme park food court.
- Vulcania Buffeteria in Mysterious Island. Chinese cuisine. Impressive, immersive location. If you’re having dinner here, choose a table outside so you have a great view of the volcano, which “erupts” every few minutes.
Drinks inside the park cost: ¥300-500. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
Can I bring outside food into Disneyland/DisneySea?
YES, but you must consume them at designated picnic areas located outside the park but near the entrance. They have tables and chairs for those who want to bring their own lunch. (As of September 2018.)
However, drinks in cans/glass bottles and alcoholic drinks (regardless of container) are prohibited.
We recommend that you just buy onigiri (rice balls) from convenience stores because they’re easier to eat and don’t require utensils. They also aren’t that hard to carry.
Are selfie sticks or tripods allowed inside Disneyland/DisneySea?
NO. The use of monopods, unipods, tripods or selfie sticks are strictly prohibited inside the Disneyland or DisneySea.
What are the hotels near Tokyo Disney Resort?
Tokyo Disney Resort has four hotels, but they are all insanely expensive. To give you an idea, here are the rates of a night’s stay in a Standard Room.
- Disney Ambassador Hotel: ¥43,200 (P19,300)
- Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta: ¥51,400 (P23,000)
- Tokyo Disneyland Hotel: ¥45,200 (P20,200)
- Tokyo Disney CELEBRATION Hotel: ¥20,800 (P9,300)
There are also several high-end hotels close to Disney Resort. They are also expensive but a lot less costlier than the Disney-owned ones. Here are some of them:
Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel
Hilton Tokyo Bay
Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay
Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel Club Resort
But you know what, you don’t even need to stay near Disneyland because it’s pretty accessible. If you have other places to visit in Tokyo, consider a hotel downtown. Here are the Top BUDGET Hotels and hostels in Tokyo as ranked by online users as of May 2017.
Top Budget Hotels in Tokyo
Tokyo Hotel Horidome Villa
Tokyo Kiba Hotel
Agora Place Asakusa
Top Hostels in Tokyo
Emblem Hostel Nishiarai
Space Hostel Tokyo
Oak Hostel Zen
Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki
Search for more: Tokyo Hotels
If you have other questions, post them in the comments section below, and we’ll try to answer them and add them to this post. :)