You can’t visit Tokyo without scheduling some time aside to visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. While Tokyo Disneyland has many unique features; the star of these parks really is Tokyo DisneySea which is the only of its kind in the world. Even if you arrive before opening and stay right till the fireworks display at the end of the day, it’s possible that you may not get to experience all the attractions and see all the shows that you want… and for a traveler who has limited time to spare, maximizing every second is essential. If you’re planning on visiting the Disney parks and are unsure of how to see as much as you can in a short space of time then you’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your time at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
Know the difference between Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are two completely separate parks located within the Tokyo Disney Resort, right down to the very theme of the park itself. Tokyo Disneyland was actually the very first Disney park to have been built outside the United States of America and is similar to the other Disney parks around the world. It contains all of the classics, like a castle (although this belongs to Cinderella and not Sleeping Beauty, as the others do) as well as all of the usual classic themed lands like Adventureland, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.
Tokyo DisneySea on the other hand is the only of its kind in the world. Instead of the usual classic theme, this park is designed with a nautical feel for all the ocean tales Disney has created. With uniquely themed “ports of call” (instead of the classic themed lands) including the Mediterranean Harbour, American Waterfront, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast… it’s easy to see why this park should be on every Disney lovers bucket list.
Save time and buy your tickets online
Both parks are pretty popular so the lines to purchase tickets at the entrance can get pretty long. The ticket counters open 30 minutes before the park itself opens so if you plan to purchase tickets at the counter then be sure to arrive early.
Save on time and purchase your tickets online. This way you can skip the queues and head straight to the entrance gates (more queues but they usually move faster) to get into the parks. You can purchase your tickets directly from the Tokyo Disney Resort website. Tickets are available in three categories:
Adults: 18 and over
Junior: 12 – 17
Child: 4 – 11
Children aged three and under gain free admission to the park.
Purchase a combo ticket
Tickets to enter the parks are pretty expensive, costing somewhere close to a ZAR 1000 per park. The great thing is you can purchase combo tickets for both parks which will certainly result in you saving some money. A 1 day Disney Pass will cost around 7400 yen while a 2 day Disney pass will cost around 13 200 yen. Bear in mind that when purchasing your multi-day Disney pass, you will have to specify which park you will be visiting on which date, so be sure to know these beforehand.
Keep your tickets safely
Whether you’ve booked your tickets online and printed them out or purchased them at the park counters themselves, keep your admission tickets safe and in a place that is easy to locate. You will need to scan them every time you want to get a fast pass for an attraction. Losing your admission ticket can be somewhat of a nightmare to get a replacement.
Avoid the crowded days
Tokyo Disnelyland and Tokyo DisneySea can get pretty crowded at times which means long queues to enter, long queues for almost every ride and even long queues to eat. Avoid the busiest times and try to visit during the quieter days. Peak times include weekends, school holidays and Japanese public holidays. Mondays and Fridays are often just as crowded as weekends so try visiting the parks on a Tuesday and Wednesdays for the least congested times. The busiest times are usually during the Golden Week (29 April – 5 May), Obon Obon (mid-July to mid-August) and New Year (31 Dec to 1 Jan).
Stay at a Disney Hotel
When visiting either of the Disney parks, you’ll want to maximize your time there so commuting to and from your hotel should be an easy and quick trip. In addition to the Disney hotel which is located right next to the parks, there are six Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels for you to choose from with direct routes to the parks via Bayside Station on the Disney monorail.
Use the park map and plan your FastPASS attractions wisely
One of the great things about Disney parks is the FastPASS to attractions. This involves scanning your park admission ticket at certain attractions to gain a FastPASS ticket that will allocate you a space for that specific ride within a later time frame in the same day. You will still have to queue to enter but this time you will stand in a FastPASS queue which is often much shorter and moves faster. This way you can walk around the park and see other attractions until your allocated time frame. The Tokyo Disney Resort website and map show which rides have FastPASS options available so strategize before arriving at the park. Bear in mind that you can only hold one active FastPASS at a time and there is a waiting period before collecting your next FastPASS.
Use your mobile phone and download the Disney app
While not an essential item, this one will definitely help you be more efficient when trying to maximize your time at the parks. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea currently have an app that shows real time updates of the wait times for attractions and statuses of shows and parades. You will need to have a smart phone with data and turn on the GPS location services on your phone as the app can only be accessed while you are the park.
Carry water and snacks
Food is allowed in the Disney Resorts so be sure to pack bottled water and snacks that you can munch on the go. While I would recommend eating at the beautifully themed Disney Banquet Halls just because they are Disney themed and have some of the cutest Disney meals on offer, these are pretty overpriced. There are designated picnic areas outside the park if you’re looking for a place to relax but if you’ve packed easy-to-eat snacks then you can often just munch these while waiting in queues or when you decide to relax and take in the surrounding sights.
Take note of parade times and arrive early to get a good spot
The park map will list all the parades and there are sign boards all around the park showing updates on show times and cancellations (if any). Take note of the parade times and find a good spot about 30 – 45 minutes before the parade starts. Bear in mind that some people start locating their spots up to two hours before so if you see the good spots filling up then you may want to secure one even earlier. This way you’ll be at the front with the best views and opportunities to get some perfect photographs of the Disney spirit.
Bonus tip! Ride the attractions during shows and parades
When the more popular shows and parades are running, you can almost be guaranteed to have a shorter wait time for attractions. Try to ride those attractions with the longest queues when popular shows are running. The lines may also be shorter when the park is close to closing or when the weather is not good.