Who loves Disney

DisneyLand Japan Family fun
It is very easy to be a big kid at both of the Disney Parks in Tokyo.  Whilst there are some rides that are aimed at the littlest of kids, most are just as much fun when you are a big kid.

We tend to visit at least one of the parks every time we go snowboarding in Japan.  So far we have had 3 visits to DisneyLand and 2 visits to DisneySea.

We have, over time, developed a bit of a plan for the parks which i thought would be good to share.   The biggest piece of advice is plan, plan, plan which is usually something we don’t do for most of our trip but here it is a must.  There are some great resources on the web and I have enclosed a few of the ones we use.

The first thing to think about is “How crazy busy is the park going to be today?”.  Tokyo is busy all year round and especially busy when they have special events.  Have a look at TDR Explorer for some hints on how to use the calendar.


The calendar, which is in Japanese, is located here:



Lilo and Stitch display at Christmas
Photograph by Lea
Accommodation The best accomodation is, of course, to stay at one of the Disney Hotels.  There are some great benefits to staying there, like early entry and multiple FastPasses.  Unfortunately, we have never been organised enough to even get a chance to stay in one of these.  The Disney hotels allow you to book only 6 months in advance and most well-priced rooms are sold out within weeks.  This means that for a late January booking we need to book in the previous July and probably on the day availability opens.  We haven’t tried through a travel agent and so that might be an option to investigate. After Disney hotels, you have two options.  Pay slightly more and stay near the park or stay elsewhere and just get up really early in the morning.  Since I am not a morning person, for the last few years, we have stayed at the Sheraton which is one of the affiliate hotels.  The affiliate hotels are located on the Monorail loop at Bayside Station.  You can check in at Resort Gateway Station check in office which will check you into your affiliate or Disney Hotel and have your bags sent to your room.  One of the coolest reasons to stay at an affiliate hotel is the big silver bus that picks you up from Bayside station and drives you to your hotel.  The Sheraton is nice and has a great coffee bar with pastries for that quick snack when queuing to enter the park.
“I think they put something in the food to make you buy Disney products”
Tickets and Entry We buy our tickets at the Disney desk within the hotel and so are guaranteed admission.  The alternative we would recommend is to pick them up the day before.  Again simply so it means you have less time to wait in the morning. We have a multi-person plan for getting into the Park.  Within 30 minutes of park opening there will be thousands of people waiting in queues to enter.  Usually I head down there about 45 mins to one hour before the opening time.  Then about 30 minutes before opening the wife comes down with breakfast.  In other words we both leave the room at the same time, she goes and gets coffee, croissants and anyone else with us and makes her way to the lines. Once the gates open go through and head straight for the FastPass of what you really want to go and do.  Then once you have the FastPass times, go to the second favourite and join the ride.  At DisneySea this is 50,000 Leagues Under the Sea and then we join the queue for same ride.  At Disneyland we tend to ride Star Tours and FastPass Monsters Inc.
Frozen themed pow buns, including dessert
Photograph by Lea
Around the Park The queues in the parks in Tokyo are long and real.  If the sign (or APP) says 120 minutes, it really does mean 120 minutes wait.  So here are a couple of time saving tricks we have used. Number one – Single Rider. There are rides in both parks that have single rider queues.  These rides all have a photo moment which is why most park riders prefer to queue with friends and family as a group.  If you have no intention of getting a photo then this is a much quicker way to ride.  I think at Indiana Jones we waited on average less than 5 minutes. Number two – FastPass. The second is to understand how the FastPass tickets work.  Scanning your entry card at the relevant machine, you are given a timed entry to ride.  For example – scan at 9am, get entry at 11am.  At the bottom of the FastPass is also a time you can get your next FastPass.  This is important as it lets you stack your FastPasses.  In other words you can have more than one.  It will involve you criss-crossing the park a few times but you will usually get on all the rides you want by early afternoon. Food! The Mickey burgers or Jaws fish and chips might be nice, but the real treats here are all the snacks around the two parks. Flavoured popcorn (and there are some crazy flavours) are a must try and you can buy it either in a ordinary paper box or in a speciality container. Japan Disney parks have a lot of foods you won’t find at other Disney parks, so it is well worth grazing as you go.