Disneyland is where all your dreams come true. And in Japan, there’s double the fun with Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea! Since it’s such a magical place, it’s an extremely popular attraction for both locals and foreigners alike. You won’t be able to avoid the crowd, but you sure can pick up some tips and tricks that will help you maximize your time here. But before we get into it, let’s talk a bit about the difference between the two theme parks.
Tokyo Disneyland is, well, Disneyland! If you’ve already been to Disneyland in other parts of the world, then you most likely wouldn’t be too wow-ed by the usual characters like Mickey and friends. But just because it is classic, doesn’t mean that it isn’t magical or immersive! And if you have kids, Disneyland is more kid-friendly in terms of rides, as well as the extravagant parades and shows.
On the other hand, Tokyo Disneysea is geared more towards older kids and adults. It is also the only Disneysea in the world, which means a one-of-a-kind experience! If you love characters like Duffy, ShellieMay and Gelatoni, this is the only place where you can meet them.
Ideally you’d have two days to spare to visit both theme parks. But even if you’re short on time and can only make it to one, these are tips you can apply to both parks!
1. Purchase your tickets online
Don’t buy your tickets at the park itself, because you’ll just be wasting time queueing up! You can purchase your tickets online either through Disneyland’s official website, or through an authorized booking partner like Klook.
2. Get there an hour early
Queues can get rather crazy 30 minutes before opening, so getting there an hour before the park officially opens is pretty sound advice. You definitely want to be one of the first ones to enter the park in order to fully utilize the FASTPASS tickets!
3. Know what the FASTPASS is and how to use it
FASTPASS is a line-skipping system that comes free with your ticket. It basically allows you to ‘reserve’ a spot for your chosen ride for a specified time slot (otherwise known as ‘return time’). This means that you spend less time queueing, and you can plan your day at the park with more certainty. You can either get your FASTPASS digitally via the Tokyo Disney Resort app with a Disney account, or physically at a FASTPASS kiosk. These are usually near the attraction entrance.
Do note that you can only get one FASTPASS ticket every two hours. However, if you get your timing right, you can get your next FASTPASS at the start of your first FASTPASS return time. You’ll be able to do this if your return time is less than two hours away. In short, you can get your next FASTPASS either two hours after your current one was issued, or at the start of your return time, whichever is sooner. If you have the Disney app, this is made simple with a notification telling you when your next FASTPASS will be available. This means you can get your next FASTPASS even while waiting for your current attraction!
The more popular an attraction is, the faster they run out of FASTPASS tickets. This is why you want to be at the park early! Here are some of the most popular rides in Tokyo Disneyland:
- Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!
- Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
- Splash Mountain
- Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Space Mountain
And in Disneysea:
- Tower of Terror
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Toy Story Mania
- Nemo & Friends SeaRider
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Raging Spirits
Try to arrive early and prioritise these rides, as FASTPASS tickets can run out as soon as one hour after the park’s opening!
4. Bring a bento lunch or eat small bites along the way
You can bring your own food into Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea, but by right you cannot consume them within the park. There are picnic areas with tables and chairs available outside the parks. So whether you want to save money or save time looking for seats and queueing for food, purchase a bento box or a couple of onigiris before heading in. If you head for the picnic areas, don’t forget to have your hand stamped by the staff. You will need the hand stamp and your park ticket for re-entry!
Alternatively, munch on small bites so you don’t go hungry! Both Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea have super adorable snacks for reasonable prices. This includes the Toy Story Mochi (¥300), Churros (¥300) and Smoked Turkey Leg (¥800)
5. Know (and avoid) the peak seasons
Here are some of the busiest periods in the parks:
- Weekends. This is pretty obvious but other than the weekends, sometimes Mondays and Fridays can be just as crowded. Try to pick Tuesdays and Wednesdays to visit the parks!
- School holidays. The above tip goes out the window once it’s the Japanese school holidays. Even on weekdays, some FASTPASS tickets can run out in just 15 minutes of the park’s opening and queue times can go up to 180 minutes for popular rides! Try to avoid these periods:
- Summer vacation: July 20 to August 31
- Winter vacation: December 26 to January 6
- Spring vacation: March 25 to April 5
- Public Holidays. There are 16 different national holidays in Japan, but because some of them fall on the same week, many locals take the entire week off for an extended break. Three of the busiest period to avoid are:
- Golden Week: April 29 to May 5
- Obon Obon: Mid July or Mid August
- New Year: December 31 to January 1