Hey there! Planning a trip to Japan? Is Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea on your family's wish list?
Tokyo Disney Resort – which includes Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea – was on my family's list when we planned a trip to Japan in June 2023.
My family loves Disneyland Resort in California and we decided to spend one full day each in Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. It was a difficult decision because we only had six days in Tokyo and there is a lot to do there. But by the end, our Disney days were among the highlights of the trip. We are glad we experienced both parks.
We are a family of four, with two teens. My kids were ages 18 and 16 at the time of our trip. Our priorities were rides and snacks. Tokyo Disney Resort has lots of unique options for both, plus a lot more entertainment. It's a fun destination for all ages.
In fact, Tokyo Disney Resort is different from Disneyland and Walt Disney World in lots of ways. We learned a lot before and during our trip that can help make planning your first trip to Tokyo Disney Resort easier.
Here are my top tips to help you make the most of your first trip to Tokyo Disney Resort.
Tokyo Disneyland is the park with the castle and many of the lands that you may know from Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. If you love classic Disney, this park feels familiar and fresh at the same time.
Our strategy was to ride Pooh's Hunny Hunt first, followed by Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan's Flight, which were close by. We booked Premier Access for The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast while we were briefly in line for Pooh's Hunny Hunt and walked on at about 9:45 AM. From there, we headed to Tomorrowland for Monsters, Inc and Star Tours (Space Mountain was closed) before an early lunch.
After lunch, lines for popular rides like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reached about 45-60 minutes. But on a less-crowded weekday, we still didn't wait long for Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and It's a Small World. We skipped the popular Happy Ride with Ba-Max because it's a lot like the Mater ride at Disneyland.
We enjoyed the Hawaiian version of the Tiki Room with Stitch. I watched the afternoon parade while my family rode Splash Mountain. Parades and shows are popular at Tokyo Disney Resort. And everyone in front sits down so it was easy to enjoy even though I stayed WAY back in the shade.
We saw no Marvel or Star Wars (except Star Tours) anywhere at Tokyo Disney Resort.
DisneySea is the other park at Tokyo Disney Resort, but it is arguably one of the best Disney parks in the world.
Every land is imaginative and beautiful and bigger than life. You'll enter through Italy and then turn left or right at a giant lagoon, with a volcano straight ahead. If you turn left, you'll find re-creations of old New York and New England. The futuristic Port Discovery is tucked behind that.
If you turn right, you'll find Jules Verne-inspired Mysterious Island. Beyond that are Mermaid Lagoon (straight from The Little Mermaid), the Arabian Coast, and the Lost Delta, where the classic Indiana Jones ride can be found inside a Mayan temple.
Our strategy was to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth first and then hurry across the park to Tower of Terror. After that, it was time to cross the park again for our Soarin' Premier Access.
From there, we stopped crisscrossing the park and worked through each land, stopping for lunch in the Arabian Coast. We enjoyed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Sinbad's Storybook Voyage, Indiana Jones Adventure, Aquatopia, Electric Railway, and the Transit Steamer Line. We skipped Toy Story Mania because it always has a long line and it's the same as in California.
We used Entry Request to get tickets to the Big Band Beat show. We reserved the tickets in the morning and saw the show in the afternoon.
Which park is better?
Choose DisneySea if you have one day and can choose only one park.
We loved both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, but Tokyo Disneyland is a lot like Disneyland in California or the Magic Kingdom in Florida. It has some unique rides and a whole Beauty and the Beast section of Fantasyland, but most people agree that DisneySea is the park you should choose.
DisneySea is visually stunning and it is different from every other Disney park you have visited. I thought we had walked through most of DisneySea by lunchtime and then I realized that I'd only seen half the park. The other half was just as enchanting.
Related: Tips for Your First Trip to Japan
Can you do both parks in one day?
I wouldn't want to do it. However, it is theoretically possible to visit both parks in one day if the system allows you to buy two tickets for the same day.
There is no one-day ticket that includes both parks. There is no Park Hopper option at all. BUT… you could buy a 1-Day Passport for one park for full price and then buy an Early Evening or Weeknight Passport for the other park and visit the highlights of both parks on the same day.
There is enough in Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea to fill at least one full day each. And the park entrances are not within easy walking distance. But it doesn't take long to get from one park to the other on the Disney Resort Line train.
We spent two full days at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea – one day per park – and they were both highlights of our family vacation to Japan.
When to book
You need a reservation to enter Disney Tokyo Resort. Park reservations and tickets open two months in advance. It is usually not hard to get reservations. Currently, every date of the summer is still available. If you plan to visit during Golden Week in May or another holiday, I'd book as soon as you can.
Disney hotel reservations open three months in advance. These may fill faster. When we considered the Toy Story hotel, it was all booked by the time we got serious about it. But I'm happy with the off-property hotel we chose. Keep reading to learn where we stayed and why we stayed there.
How to buy tickets
Generally, I would recommend buying from the official Tokyo Disney Resort website. This website has a lot of good information, but it did not accept American credit cards when I tried to buy tickets in Spring 2023. I would get to the end and then get an error every time.
Klook.com is a good way to buy Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea tickets for those of us who live outside of Japan. My family bought our tickets through Klook and it worked well. I was able to print the tickets before our trip and scan them into the official Tokyo Disney Resort app. We were able to enter the park easily and use the app to buy Premier Access.
While the official website didn't accept a Visa credit card, we had no problem using our Visa card everywhere in the parks and on the app for Premier Access.
How much do tickets cost?
Ticket prices vary depending on what day you visit, where you buy your ticket, and currency exchange rates. At the time of our visit, the U.S. dollar was strong against the yen. If you are used to Disneyland and Walt Disney World prices, you will probably be pleasantly surprised.
Currently, a weekday Adult 1-Day ticket on Klook costs less than $60 USD. Even better, children up to age 17 pay less. I paid about $50 for my 16-year-old's ticket. My family of four paid about $500 on Klook for two days at Tokyo Disney Resort. Currently, tickets for two days at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure without Park Hoppers would cost us over $1,100.
Related: What Does a Trip to Japan Cost?
Tokyo Disney Resort has an official app. I recommend that you download it, set it up, and get familiar with it before you enter the park for the first time.
We used the app for maps, wait times, and show times. We also used it to scan in our Klook tickets, reserve seats at a show, and buy Premier Passes. It's a handy tool that will help you have a successful day in the parks.
Premier Access and Entry Request
Premier Access is Tokyo Disney Resort's version of Lightning Lane, Genie+, or FastPASS. However, it's just for single rides, and not the whole park or for the whole day. When we visited, Premier Access cost 2,000 yen ($14-15) per person, per ride. Buy through the official Disney Tokyo Resort app after you enter the park.
We decided in advance to buy Premier Access for The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast in Tokyo Disneyland and Soarin' in DisneySea. These rides have 60+ minute waits pretty much as soon as the parks open because Disney hotel guests can enter the parks 15 minutes early.
We decided to spend our mornings on other popular rides, and then use Premier Access to skip the lines on these two rides. It worked well and we would probably do it again next time.
Entry Request is a free feature in the official Tokyo Disney Resort app that gets you seats at popular shows and access to character greetings. At the time of our visit, Entry Request was available for two shows at DisneySea. We got reserved seats for Big Band Beat in the afternoon and really enjoyed it.
Use Entry Request early in the day for your top priority shows and character greetings.
Where to stay
Tokyo Disney Resort is located 15-60 minutes by train from the popular Tokyo tourist zones like Tokyo Station, Shibuya, or Shinjuku. Here are three good hotel strategies for Tokyo Disneyland.
- On-property – There are five “on-property” hotels. Guests of these hotels get a few special park perks like Happy Entry*.
- In Tokyo – Stay wherever you want in Tokyo and take public transportation.
- In Between – This is what we did. Keep reading to learn more.
We are serious about arriving before a Disney park opens. We considered on-property hotels but didn't want to stay so far away from other Tokyo attractions. And Disney hotels were either expensive or not that close to the parks. So, I used Google Maps to find a train station – and an affordable hotel near that train station – that was close to Tokyo Disney Resort, but accessible to Tokyo too.
That's how I found JR East Mets Hotel Tokyo Bay Shinkiba. I knew I had the right place when Google Maps told me it was two stops (10 minutes) from the parks and most of the reviews mentioned that it was a good hotel for Tokyo Disneyland. The hotel is right next to the train station and it's in a nice neighborhood, though we didn't explore it. It's not centrally located in Tokyo, but it's clean, affordable, and fairly easy to get anywhere you want.
We moved to another hotel in Asakusa after we finished at Disneyland, but I really enjoyed our stay at the JR East Mets in Shinkiba.
*Happy Entry allows on-property hotel guests to enter the park 15 minutes earlier than everyone else. Officially, rides do not open until the park is open to everyone, but that 15 minutes is the difference between a short wait and a long wait on the most popular rides in the park. Click HERE to learn more about Happy Entry.
How to get there
For most visitors, it's smart to take public transportation to Tokyo Disney Resort. Disembark at the Maihama station. It's right next to the parks. Use Google Maps to find the best route from your hotel.
If you have an active JR (Japan Rail) Pass, the Maihama Station is on a JR line.
Once you arrive at the Maihama station, it's a short walk to the Tokyo Disneyland entrance. For DisneySea, transfer to the Disney Resort Line train for a small fare. It's the fastest and best way to get to DisneySea.
The Disney Resort Line train is your first Disney ride of the day! This train is Disney-themed with Mickey windows and handholds. It's SO charming.
Some Disney partner hotels offer shuttle buses that will drop you off at Maihama station. From there, you can walk to Disneyland or take the Disney Resort Line to DisneySea.
We were traveling with a vegetarian, so our focus was on snacks and the few restaurants that offer vegetarian entrees.
Tokyo Disney Resort has lots of fun snacks including popcorn, churros, and others. Popcorn is a specialty. You can get different flavors at nearly every popcorn cart in the parks. They also sell sturdy collectible popcorn containers. We saw many Japanese visitors carrying popcorn containers from previous visits into the park because popcorn refills are less expensive. My husband bought a Monsters, Inc. popcorn container with doors all over it.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options for people with special diets at Tokyo Disney Resort. You can get more information at https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tdr/bfree/food.html In Tokyo Disneyland, there is ONE restaurant in the whole park that serves a vegetarian entree. So we ate lunch there.
You can bring your own food into the parks – especially if you have a special diet. There are restaurants that will heat up or puree special diet food for you.
Officially, you are not supposed to bring in outside food if you are not on a special diet, but we had snacks and drinks from a convenience store and Security didn't care. You could bring sandwiches in a day pack.
Ikspiari is a modern mall just outside DisneySea. It's kind of like Downtown Disney, but not Disney-themed. It has a lot of shops and restaurants. Some of them are familiar American brands. We ate here at the end of our day at DisneySea.
What to wear
Wear whatever is comfortable for you and is appropriate for the weather forecast. It was warm, humid, and overcast during our June visit. Don't forget comfortable walking shoes!
I was surprised that Tokyo Disney Resort was one of the least touristy places we visited in Japan. There were not a lot of foreign-looking families like us. We saw families with young children, student groups in uniform, and young adults in couples or small groups. There were no large groups in matching custom t-shirts like we often see in the U.S.
My daughter and I were also surprised by how frumpy we felt compared with Japanese women at Tokyo Disney Resort. Most women looked carefully styled in modest fashions, such as long skirts and dresses, flowing wide-leg pants, or stylish jeans and Disney tees. Bathroom mirrors were packed in the afternoon with young women touching up their hair and make-up – which is why they looked fresh and I looked like I'd been walking in the heat all day.
Tokyo Disney Resort does not have free Wi-Fi. We rented pocket Wi-Fi from Japan Wireless and used it for the entire trip. It was the least expensive option to cover all our phones and other devices.
We used Wi-Fi to map our transportation and use the official Disney app. If we separated, only one of us could keep the pocket Wi-Fi, so we did things the old-fashioned way. We agreed on a meeting place and time.
When I went back early to the hotel by myself, I left the pocket Wi-Fi with my family, rode two stops on the train, and texted my family when I got back to the hotel and had free Wi-Fi again.
Will my usual Disney strategies work in Tokyo?
Yes! We visit Disneyland in California semi-regularly and we have strategies for avoiding long lines and making the most of our day. These strategies worked well for us at Tokyo Disney Resort.
You may want to arrive earlier at Tokyo Disney Resort than you would in Florida or California. We aimed for 90+ minutes early and we were close to the front of the entry line, but not the closest. Japanese visitors bring thin plastic mats (which also work for parades) and sit on the ground while they wait for the park to open. Many bring umbrellas for rain or sun. Many people (including us) ate breakfast in line. We bought our breakfast at FamilyMart at the Shinkiba train station.
We visited on weekdays in early June. A crowd calendar predicted that crowds would not be heavy on these days, and the actual crowds were about what we expected.
My husband researched the rides and learned which rides were most popular and which rides were different from their American counterparts. Then we made a plan to make the most of the less-crowded mornings.
Disney Tokyo Resort has some Single Rider lines, but we didn't use them. There aren't very many Single Rider lines, and when we tried to use it at Splash Mountain, that line was closed. However, if the Single Rider line is available, we've heard that it's a good way to ride fast at Tokyo Disney Resort.
My family loved Tokyo Disney Resort and are glad we decided to spend two full days there.
We were still fighting jet lag on our Disney days, so getting up early was no problem. We were already awake. But we didn't have the energy to stay for the nighttime shows. I left Tokyo Disneyland an hour earlier than the rest of my family on the first day. We all left DisneySea at dinnertime on the second day. It was nice to have a hotel that was only a few minutes away.
I hope that our experience helps your family plan a great trip! If you have any questions about Tokyo Disney Resort or any tips to share, please use the Comments below.