A visit to Tokyo is incomplete without a visit to Tokyo Disney Resort. If you’re into that kind of thing, and if you’re not then a) Really? and b) You’ll probably still dig it…looking at you, Disney Sea.
Tokyo Disney Resort is comprised of two parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea – as well as a shopping district called Ikspiari, and many hotels. Seeing as the purpose of this guide is to help you be organised to make the most of your time at the resort, we’re going to cover everything but the shopping district. Welcome, to the Super Ultimate Tokyo Disney Resort Guide!
Tokyo Disney Sea: The only Disney property of its kind in the world, a nautical and adventure themed park inspired by legends and ocean tales. With the immense volcano Mount Prometheus looming – and periodically erupting – at its heart, and it’s seven unique “Ports of Call”, there’s only one word to describe it; colossal. The sheer scale and level of detail easily make it the best theme park in the world. You can read more about this incredible world in my Tokyo Disney Sea blog post.
Tokyo Disneyland: If you’ve been to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World or Disneyland in Anaheim, then Tokyo Disneyland will feel awfully familiar. A magical place with seven themed “lands”, Disneyland is the place to go to for an authentic Disney experience and the iconic tea cup ride. Though the rides and fur characters are in Japanese, a few advantages of Tokyo Disneyland over its American counterparts is that it’s even cleaner, friendly cast members also have the traditional Japanese politeness, and most of all, the organisation levels are epic even by Disney standards (this is true of both parks). Check out my blog post about Tokyo Disneyland to read more on the experience.
How Early to Arrive
When to Go
Maps & Events
Ideal Length: Two days is ideal, this gives you either a day for each park, or two days at Disney Sea, and strikes the perfect balance between unrushed fun and serious travel.
Best for: The average traveller who wants to explore key areas of Japan in more depth; this is what I did; you can read my Japan itinerary here. And people with a lot of spare time – though if you have that much spare time you need to take a look at my list of Alternate Things to Do In Tokyo, like…asap.
Rushed Length: If you’re super strapped for time, then I’d suggest one day and one park. In this case, the epic and one-of-a-kind Disney Sea would be my choice.
Best for: Mild Disney fans, non-Disney theme park enthusiasts, curious travellers.
In a Perfect World Length: 3-4 days. Based on the level of exhaution fun I had over my two-day visit; this would be amazing. Spend the first two days at each park then decide where to spend the remaining time. They’re enormous, so this means you can break up attractions, character greetings, shows, and general exploring into manageable chunks.
Best for: Disney fanatics, people with a lot of time, families, and travellers spending most of their trip in/around Tokyo.
If you live outside Japan, then always buy your tickets in advance from the Tokyo Disney Resort website; because – unless you speak Japanese – once you’re in the country the only way to buy them is at the ticket gates at the parks. This means time wasted, so save yourself the extra hassle of lining up, and buy and print out your ticket in advance. Note: Tokyo tickets are nearly half the price of Florida; one Adult 2-Day Passport cost me 13,200 JPY or around $148 AUD, which is almost exactly what I paid for just a one day ticket to Magic Kingdom.
Pricing Table: Click Here
Buy Tickets: Click Here
From Narita or Haneda Airports: Utilise the Airport Limousine Bus; this is basically a shuttle bus that will drop you at any of the Disney Hotels or Disney Official Hotels and is by far the easiest way. The service also runs in the opposite direction.
From Haneda Airport: 830 JPY
From Narita Airport: 2450 JPY
Website: Limousine Bus
Unfortunately my flight arrival was too early, before the buses were running, so I had to take the train instead.
From anywhere in Tokyo: Get to Maihama Station; the exact route will vary depending where in Tokyo you start, but your destination is Maihama Station on the JR Keiyo Line. I suggest you look up the best route, from your closest station, but a basic rule of thumb whether you are on the Tokyo Metro line or any JR Line is to change at Tokyo Station to JR Keiyo Line. Keiyo is actually a bit of a walk away, but still within the station, just follow the signs for the Keiyo line – and sometimes “Tokyo Disneyland” – carefully and you’ll be fine.
From most major stations: Between 390-1000 JPY.
Check my list Essentials for any Japan Trip for advice on the best transport apps for Tokyo.
The Tokyo Disney Resort Monorail is the iconic way to get around the resort, with fun themed details, particularly for events or new attractions at the parks. When I was there during Halloween they had a Halloween theme on one, including witches hats for the Mickey handles; and on the other they had a Finding Nemo theme with clear “water” look Mickey handles, to celebrate the opening of the new Finding Nemo Searider attraction.
The Disney Resort Line stops at Tokyo Disneyland Station, Tokyo DisneySea, Bayside Station, and Resort Gateway Station (closest to Maihama Station):
Single Ticket: ¥260
1-Day Pass: ¥650
2-Day Pass: ¥800
3-Day Pass: ¥1,100
4-Day Pass: ¥1,400
*All prices are for an Adult ticket.
Note: The monorail is FREE if you’re staying at one of the four Disney Hotels.
Contrary to the “Tokyo” in “Tokyo Disney”, the resort is actually just out of Tokyo proper, in a city called Urayasu. You can commute here easily but it can be a long trip; so if you are going for more than one day, I highly suggest staying onsite, this can’t be stressed enough. The thing to remember about Tokyo Disney Resort accommodation is that there are four groups;
DisneyResort Official Hotels
Disney Partner Hotels
Disney Good Neighbour Hotels
Within these groups are an overwhelming amount of properties, this guide covers only the most noteworthy ones.
Disney Celebration: The one “budget” hotel, however this is nearly the same price as the Official Hotels below and not on the monorail line.
The Miracosta, The Ambassador, and Disneyland Hotels:
These luxury hotels all look magical, but they are pricey. When I looked for my dates, around $600 AUD a night at the cheapest. The advantage of these luxury hotels is that they’re in the resort, have free monorail access, beautiful themed rooms, special guest entrance to the parks, and – the most important thing – Happy 15! Happy 15 is where guests of the official hotels can enter the parks 15 minutes early; this may not sound like much but it will be the difference between getting on newer, ridiculously popular rides like Toy Story Mania and not.
Suggestion: If you have the cash to splurge, Hotel Miracosta is the only hotel in the world that is INSIDE a Disney Park. Yeah, you heard right, this Mediterranean style hotel is inside Disney Sea, with many rooms facing either the park’s Mediterranean Harbour or Palazzo Canals.
Disney Resort Official Hotels
For those of us who can’t afford to splurge on the above, the next best thing is Disney Resort Official Hotels that are on site and on the monorail line. They can still be pricey if you’re used to staying in budget accommodation, but they have a lot going for them. My top three suggestions are;
Hilton Tokyo Bay:
The Hilton is close to both parks; with free shuttle bus to Maihama station, which is walking distance to Disneyland or short monorail ride to Disney Sea. I stayed here because it was the cheapest for my dates; the staff were extraordinarily friendly and kindly gave me upgrade for my birthday! Read my full review of the Hilton here.
Room Suggestion: “Celebrio” rooms are one of the refurbished options, with a futuristic yet retro styling that wouldn’t look out of place in Disney’s Tomorrowland; featuring accent shades of blue, a headboard smattered with lights resembling stars, and circle pattering that adds to the vibe.
Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel:
Just a short walk – or free shuttle bus – from the hotel to Bayside Station on the Monorail line to access either park; this hotel seems the most polished, spacious, and comfortable of the three, as expected from a Sheraton property. My friends stayed here for a night and loved it.
Room Suggestion: The “Park” rooms have a leafy theme that puts you in mind of The Lion King or Jungle Book. Featuring a palette of green and oak colours, it hints at the films whilst remaining sophisticated and subtle.
Sunroute Plaza Tokyo:
I was in love with the awesome room themes, but unfortunately prices shot up for my dates; though it can be the cheapest of the three, at certain times of the year. For the best price I suggest using booking sites rather than direct through the hotel’s website. Rooms seem smaller than the western-style Hilton and Sheraton brands; but most people spend all day at the parks anyway. The Sunroute is a 10 minute walk or free shuttle ride to Maihama Station; for Disneyland and the monorail line to Disney Sea.
Room Suggestion: “Cruisin’ Cabin” rooms look FREAKING COOL! The Sunroute has a variety of themed rooms, but based on pictures, the nautical look cabin style is so beautifully detailed you’ll feel like Donald Duck himself is bunking with you. Think portholes, oars, life preservers, the whole shebang.
Welcome Centre: All of the hotels listed feature pre check-in and luggage transfer at the Disney Welcome Centre, located by Maihama station and Disneyland. I used this service and it was invaluable. After navigating the Tokyo train system to Maihama – having lugged my baggage all the way from the airport – and arriving at the welcome centre around 7:30am; I was able to collect my key, leave my bags to be sent to my room when ready, and jump straight in the line for Disneyland.
English Speakers: The Sheraton and Hilton – and I assume Miracosta, Ambassador, and Disneyland Hotels – generally have staff with better English skills; this isn’t a deal breaker unless if you’re the type to need verbal assistance beyond check in and check out.
More Choice: There are three more Disney Official Hotels that didn’t make the list; they appear to be outdated properties, lacking themed rooms, and the comfort that you expect for a similar price tag as the others (at the time of my stay).
Disney Partner and Disney Good Neighbour Hotels V AirBnB
To be quite honest, all of these hotels are offsite and away from the action; so if you’re looking for a budget option then I suggest looking at AirBnB and other vacation rental options to find something closer. However, if you can’t get anything closer and find a deal on one of the hotels, there is a shuttle bus service.
WHAT TIME TO ARRIVE
What time should you arrive? Early. Check the opening time for that day – this varies – and start lining up around an hour before, or 30 mins at the very least; this will mean a decent spot in line to help make the most of your day. If you’ve splurged on a Disney Hotel then utilise your Happy 15 as mentioned above; and remember that the earlier you arrive, the closer to the front you’ll be.
Tip: When the gates open, walk – not run – briskly to the most popular ride – like Toy Story Mania at Disney Sea or Poohs Honey Hunt at Disneyland – and get a fastpass, then head straight to the back of the park and work your way to the front. Going backwards will mean you’re going against the crowds…unless, like me, all the characters and sights distract you.
If you’re not familiar with the Disney Fastpass, it’s a system designed to limit time spent in line. The process is simple;
1) Scan your park ticket in the ticketing machine by any fastpass attraction.
2) Collect your Fastpass ticket; this will specify a time slot, usually 45 mins long, during which you can return. Also printed on the ticket is the name of the ride, the date, and most importantly, the time from which you can obtain another fastpass for a different attraction.
3) Enjoy the park until your return time.
4) Enter the designated fastpass entrance for that attraction.
At Tokyo Disney Resort there is no fastpass quantity limit – like with Magic Bands at Walt Disney World in Florida – but there is a time limit between obtaining one fastpass and the next.
For a different attraction: you can obtain a new fastpass one hour after the first.
For the same attraction: a second fastpass for that attraction can only be issued after the time slot for the first ticket.
WHEN TO GO
Tokyo Disney Resort is crazy popular, even – and especially – among the locals, this means definitely-absolutely-positively avoid weekends where possible. Fridays are generally the next busiest day of the week and of course you’ll want to avoid public holidays.
Worst Time: Golden Week (29th April – 5th May, approx) – a series of public holidays where almost everyone in the country is on holidays. Avoid at all costs!
Best Time: The Week after Golden Week – According to the crowd calendar from last year, and friends who live in Tokyo agree, this is the BEST time to visit. The last day of Golden Week falls around the 5th May, so you’d want to go on a weekday the following week. Or BEFORE; friends of mine went to Tokyo Disney Resort just before Golden Week, and said it was incredibly quiet also. If history is anything to go by, either of these times, you’ll find the resort calmer, quieter, and with shorter lines on even the popular attractions. And on the subject of lines…
SNEAKY SINGLE RIDER
I’ll preface this by saying, there are very few rides at Tokyo Disney Resort with single rider; but because so many Japanese people shirk this option in favour of riding together, it’s invaluable. Every tine I used a single rider line, it was a fraction of size of the regular and even fastpass line. In addition, it isn’t obviously sign posted, meaning people who don’t speak Japanese generally miss it. I simply pointed to myself and said “single rider” and they waved me through to the correct place.
From what I found, there are only three attractions that have single rider;
Disneyland: Splash Mountain
Disney Sea: Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
Disney Sea: Raging Spirits
MAPS AND EVENTS
Be sure to get the essential guide map and entertainment schedule, both of which change monthly, upon entry to each park. I received them for both parks while waiting in line for the Welcome Centre, noting that the staff had them in many languages. Not only are these an invaluable source of information but they also make great free Tokyo Disney Resort souvenirs. The entertainment schedule details park shows and parades – including special seasonal events like the Halloween parade – by location. It also has descriptions, times, parade routes, and important info like how to obtain tickets, where applicable.
The maps are easy to read with clear symbols and all the detail you could possibly need, down to which popcorn stand has which flavour popcorn! On the map you’ll also find Disney character greeting spots, in addition to attractions, shops, and food and refreshments.
So there you have it! If you’ve stayed with me this long, congratulations. I didn’t call it the “Super Ultimate” Guide for nothing! Tokyo Disney Resort is one of the best Disney Resorts in the world. And Tokyo Disney Sea is definitely the best theme park in the world, in my opinion; it’s certainly the most unique. This guide answers questions I had when planning my own visit to this incredible Disney property, and as someone who loves to plan, I’d say it’s fairly comprehensive. As always, stay hydrated and take breaks when visiting the parks – walking around the huge locations can be exhausting – the most important thing though, is the old cliché, have fun. I hope my Super Ultimate Tokyo Disney Resort Guide helps you plan your first or next visit.