Incase you’ve been living under a rock, there are seven different Disney Resorts in the world. Anaheim Disneyland Resort, Orlando Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disney Resort, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Whether you’ve only been to one or all seven of them, chances are you would have had one of the best days of your life. Why? Well, because Disneyland is the Happiest Place in the World!
Before my visit to Japan, I had only visited the Anaheim Disney Parks (Disneyland and California Adventure Park). Sure, I’ve been there at least a dozen times, but I hadn’t broadened my Disney horizons beyond California.
The Tokyo Disneyland Parks are something that I am going to find difficult to explain. Especially if you’ve never visited any other Disney Parks before. If you have, however, visited other Disney Parks around the world, you’re in for a treat!
Warning: there are LOTS of photos in this post! 😉
HERE IS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DISNEYLAND AND DISNEYSEA, TO HELP YOU MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR EXPERIENCE!
HOW TO GET TO TOKYO DISNEYLAND AND DISNEYSEA
There are a few ways to get to the Disney parks, it just depends on where you are staying and which is your preferred method of transport! If you are travelling from Shinjuku, Tokyo, Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Shinagawa, Yokohama or Akihabara, you can catch any of the JR train lines heading to Maihama Station.
Google Maps is the best way to help get you there from your hotel or current location. The app will give you step by step instructions, including the train(s) you’ll need to catch and the exits to leave by. It will also tell you which direction and how far you have to walk in between! Pretty handy, huh?
Top Tip: If you have a Japan Rail Pass (click here for more on the Rail Pass), you can use it to get to the Disney parks! Just show your pass to someone standing at the window next to any of the platform entrance gates, and you won’t have to pay any extra!
Once you arrive at the Maihama Station, you’ll then need to catch the Disney Resort Monorail. This is where you put away your JR Pass, and take out your Suica Card! The monorail is a super adorable train, decked out in everything Disney. Even the windows are shaped as Mickey’s head. The monorail will take you directly to the entrances of Disneyland and DisneySea, so just hop off at your desired park!
WHERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS
This is the most important piece of advice I can give, throughout this whole blog post: Do NOT purchase Disneyland or DisneySea tickets at the gate. You will regret it. The lines are excruciatingly long, and you will spend a great deal of your time waiting in lines before you even enter the park.
Instead, there are a few ways you can buy tickets before you arrive:
- At selected Disney Stores around Tokyo: Shibuya Koen Dori, Odaiba Aqua City, Ikebukuro Sunshine City Alpa, Hachioji Tokyu Square, Machida 109, Akishima Mori Town.
- Online via the Tokyo Disneyland website
- At Family Mart or Lawson convenience stores throughout Tokyo
We purchased our 2-day passports from the Shibuya Disney Store a few days beforehand. We waited in line for 10 minutes, then had our tickets! A lot better than the hour or more you’ll have to wait if you choose to purchase your tickets at the gate!
DISNEYLAND OR DISNEYSEA – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
If you’ve been to any other Disneyland parks before, Japan’s Disneyland is very similar. It’s laid out roughly the same, you’ll still see Cinderella’s Castle (mind you, it looks pretty different!), the characters are the same and you can still indulge in those delicious churros. However, if you’re after something different, but still want to experience the magical Disney vibe, DisneySea would be my recommendation.
The props, buildings, decorations, ride and attraction sets and the huge river stretching across almost half of the DisneySea park from Port Discovery to Mediterranean Harbour, is amazing. The sheer detail and thought that has been put into DisneySea is something that is hard to describe, so you will just have to check it out for yourself!
In my experience (having been to Anaheim’s Disneyland and California Adventure Park multiple times), DisneySea is completely different. The sheer size of everything around you, like the Journey to the Centre of the Earth volcano, is super impressive and like nothing I have ever seen before.
FOOD – WHERE TO EAT, HOW MUCH IT COSTS AND MONEY SAVING TIPS
QUICK EATS – FOOD CARTS
Like every other theme park in the world (Disney or otherwise), there are food carts absolutely everywhere, catering to almost all of your sweet and savoury food cravings.
These are the main snacks you’ll find spread out around both Disneyland and DisneySea:
- Churros (fried dough pastry – aka the best theme park food on Earth)
- Popcorn in tons of flavours: Cappuccino, caramel, milk chocolate, honey, soy sauce and butter and regular salted. (the flavours will vary depending on which park you are visiting, and which area/land too!)
310 yen for a regular box
1,000 – 2,300 yen for a character souvenir bucket
- Ice creams
200 yen – 300 yen
- Soft drinks and water bottles
200 yen – 300 yen
There are tons of Japanese and Western food options that you’ll find at many of the food carts around both Disneyland and DisneySea. In regards to Japanese snacks, you’ll mostly find choices such as: steamed buns filled with different meats, dessert steamed buns with strawberries, mochi dumplings filled with custard and various fried delicacies!
Due to the fact that we visited the Disney Parks at the end of our trip, we were doing our best to save money, so therefore we didn’t experiment too much with the different varieties of snacks!
The restaurants you’ll find at both Tokyo Disney parks are very similar to every other Disney park you would have been to. They’re all themed, based on which land they are in. Although most sell the same sort of foods, you may find a bit of variety if you “shop around” first. We didn’t spend too much time exploring the restaurants, as we were on the hunt for cheap and quick food. But if you like pizza, french fries, sandwiches, bakery foods, rice, pasta, Japanese style foods and a lot more, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
As far as theme park food prices go, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are very reasonably priced. You can get a pretty huge cup of french fries for 500 yen, a decent sized slice of pizza for around 450 yen and from what I saw, the fancier “meals” were better than expected at less than 2,000 yen (they usually include the main meal, a drink and a side of some sort).
- Bring your own snacks – Hit up any of the millions of convenience stores around Japan before you head to the Disney parks. You’re allowed to bring in your own snacks, so stock up! This will not only save you money, but also save you a ton of time throughout the day, as the lines for restaurants and food carts can be painfully long. (Expect to wait at least half an hour for the most popular popcorn carts!)
- Bring a water bottle – There are TONS of water fountains spread out around both parks. Usually you’ll find at least one in each of the different lands, so there’s no shortage of cold water available for free. Russell and I were super glad we brought our own water bottles, as it saved so much time and money throughout the day!
- Eat lunch earlier in the day – Waiting in long lines is inevitable. But we were surprised at just how long the lines were at food carts and restaurants around the park! So we suggest eating lunch earlier as opposed to, well, lunch time! The restaurants in particular remain fairly quiet up until 11am, so head there earlier in the day to save some time! Every minute counts, especially if you’ve only got one day to explore the park!
RIDES, PARADES + FAST PASSES – HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DAY
Now we get to the most important part, and the topic that everyone wants to know about: the rides and fast passes! It’s no secret that Disneyland in general is a very busy place. No matter what day you go, and no matter what Disney park around the world you visit, you’re gonna have to share the park with other people. I know, it sucks.
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are are the busiest Disney parks I have ever been to. Sure, I’ve only visited the Anaheim Disneyland. But I can say with certainty, it wasn’t anywhere near as busy as the Tokyo Disney parks were when we visited.
The minimum wait time for almost every ride is 140 minutes. This is the wait time you will see everywhere, from shortly after the park opens in the morning.
For example, when we visited Disneyland (on a Thursday in Winter), we arrived at the park around 15 minutes before it opened. We would have arrived earlier, but due to the fact that it took an hour to get to the park from our hotel in Shinjuku, it just didn’t seem worth getting up at 4am to make it there by 6am with everyone else!
The lines for the ticket booths were already insanely long at this time. The lines for the people who already had their tickets, were insanely long. When the clock struck 8am, the gates opened and thousands of people ran to their favourite ride. Our plan of attack was to get a Fast Pass for Space Mountain (the greatest ride on Earth). By the time we got inside the park, it was already 8:10am and the line to get Fast Passes for Space Mountain was huge. The standby wait time at 8:30am, was well over 100 minutes.
So, that being said, here are the things you should know, to make your ride and attraction experience more enjoyable at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea:
1. PLAN YOUR DAY AROUND FAST PASSES
WHAT IS A FAST PASS AND HOW DO I GET ONE?
A Fast Pass is your best bet in getting on most (if not all) of the major rides and attractions. Insert your park ticket into a machine located outside each of the rides that have Fast Passes available for them. The machine will then print you out a ticket with the name of the ride at the top, and an hour time frame for you to come back later in the day. When you go back during your allotted time, you will be able to fly by all of the people who have been standing in line for over an hour, and get on the ride in under 10 minutes! Well, most of the time. Sometimes you may have to wait a little longer than expected, but either way, it’s better than 140 minutes!
Note: You can only get one Fast Pass ticket at a time. So, for example, if you get a Fast Pass for Space Mountain first thing in the morning (8am), you’ll generally have to wait a couple hours until you can get another (either for a different ride or the same ride).
WHICH RIDES HAVE FAST PASSES AVAILABLE?
I’m glad you asked!
Here are all of the rides at both Disneyland and DisneySea which have Fast Passes available! There are only a selected number of Fast Passes available for each ride, per day. So to make things easier for you, I’ve included my suggestions for which rides I recommend that you grab your Fast Passes for, to avoid missing out!
I’m pretty helpful like that, I know.
- Big Thunder Mountain – Westernland
Top Tip: Super fun fast paced roller coaster. Grab a Fast Pass early, to ensure you don’t have to wait in long lines – unmissable ride!
- Splash Mountain – Critter Country
- Pooh’s Hunny Hunt – Fantasyland
Top Tip: Fast Passes run out super quick! If you or your children are Winnie The Pooh fans, grab a Fast Pass early!
- Haunted Mansion – Fantasyland
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – Tomorrowland
- Space Mountain – Tomorrowland
Top Tip: My all time favourite ride. Super fast paced roller coaster in almost complete darkness! Grab a Fast Pass as soon as you enter the park.
- Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters – Tomorrowland
- Monster’s, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! – Tomorrowland
Top Tip: Interactive ride, great for kids! Fast Passes run out quickly, grab one early to avoid missing out!
- Tower of Terror – American Waterfront
- Toy Story Mania! – American Waterfront
Top Tip: Grab a Fast Pass as soon as you enter the park. They run out super, super quick! We missed out and didn’t get to go on this ride, unfortunately!
- Indiana Jones – Lost River Delta
Top Tip: Another super fast and awesome roller coaster! Grab a Fast Pass early to make sure you don’t miss out!
- Raging Spirits – Lost River Delta
- The Magic Lamp Theatre – Arabian Coast
- Mermaid Lagoon Theatre – Mermaid Lagoon
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Mysterious Island
- Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Mysterious Island
AGE AND HEIGHT LIMITS
As you might expect for a theme park, all of the attractions at Disneyland and DisneySea require riders to be of a certain height and sometimes a certain age. To make things easier for you, I’ve included links to both the Disneyland and DisneySea website pages, which list each ride individually, as well as the age and height restrictions for that particular ride.
I can’t really give any advice or suggestions in regards to the Disneyland or DisneySea parades and shows, as we prioritised rides over parades. But from what we could tell by queues and such, the Big Band Beat show at DisneySea and the “Happiness is Here” daytime parade at Disneyland are unmissable!
- If you decide you want to wait it out in a long line for your favourite ride, save time by buying food before you line up! We saw people snacking and even eating their lunch while waiting in lines. It’s a super convenient way to kill some time and eat some delicious food!
- Get to the park early. I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but if you only have one day at each park, we definitely recommend arriving earlier than the time the park opens. The earlier the better, that way you’ll be able to fit more into your day, and won’t risk missing out on Fast Pass tickets.
- Plan your day around Fast Passes. Before you arrive at Disneyland or DisneySea, write a list of your ‘must see’ rides and attractions. Then write down whether that particular ride is a Fast Pass attraction. When you arrive at the park, head for the ride at the top of your list and grab a Fast Pass. Then, head to #2 on your list and stand in the standby line. By the time you’ve been on that ride, eaten some food and had a look around, it will be time for you to grab your second Fast Pass ticket! Planning your day around Fast Passes is the best way to ensure you hit up most (if not all) of the rides and attractions on your list!
I hope I’ve given you plenty of helpful tips so you can make the most of your time at the Tokyo Disney Parks! The service from every single staff member at Disneyland and DisneySea is absolutely amazing. So if I have left something out, I guarantee that any of the friendly Disneyland peeps will be happy to help you out!
Essentially, these are the most important things you need to know:
- Get to the park early
- Plan your day around Fast Pass tickets
- Bring your own snacks and water bottle
- Don’t buy your tickets at the gate – purchase them beforehand either at a Disney Store or a convenience store!
If you have any other questions that you would like me to answer, please feel free to ask them down below! I’m more than happy to help out!
Have you been to Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea? What did you think? I’d love to know!
In the meantime, here are some of my favourite photos from Disneyland and DisneySea!