For those heading to Tokyo Disneyland, this is the only Tokyo Disney guide you will EVER need. Get tips to skipping queues and experiencing all your favourite rides and shows. Look out for the ideal Tokyo Disneysea Itinerary at the end.
Tokyo Disneyland/sea is without a doubt one of the best in the world. That also makes it an incredibly crowded park and a huge challenge if you want to cover everything.
Fail to strategise your Fast Pass Plan (see point 3) and you’ll find the park closing before you get to experience all your favourite rides.
Armed with this ultimate Tokyo Disney guide in hand, we’ll make sure to drill you down on all the essentials needed for a fulfilling day at the Tokyo Disney Park of your choice.
Planning a trip to Japan? Check out our 7D Itinerary from Tokyo to Osaka for under S$1.1k.
Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea?
Obviously both parks are incredibly magical and many swear by them being the best in the world. If you have the luxury of time, spending two days to explore both parks is a no brainer. But if you only have one day to spare, here’s a brief crackdown on the two.
Tokyo Disneyland is the classic of all classics. If you’re a fan of the immersive, magical experience unique to Disney Parks, this is the one. If you have young kids or are young at heart (aren’t we all? :P), Disneyland is without a doubt the one. The shows and parades are also known to be more extravagant and spectacular here compared to Disneysea.
Tokyo Disneysea is totally different from any other Disney Park in the world. Many rides have a spooky theme and the intensity of the rides are generally designed for the older kids. We saw an 8 year old bawling his eyes out at the end of a ride on Indiana Jones Adventure — he’d probably enjoy Disneyland a lot more.
With star rides like Toy Story Mania! and Journey to the centre of the earth, even the most skeptic kid will be blown away. If rides are an important part of your Disney experience, you’d probably enjoy Disneysea.
Although we ended up picking Disneysea, these are tips you can apply to both parks and will set you up for a game changing day at the Tokyo Disney Parks.
Look out for our ideal Tokyo Disneysea itinerary at the end!
1) Buy your Tokyo Disneyland/sea tickets online
You can buy tickets at the counter on the day itself but the counters only opens 30 minutes before the park opens.
Get a head start by buying your tickets online and try to get to the front of the gate queue instead! This will increase your chances at getting a Fast Pass for your favourite ride.
We got our Tokyo Disney tickets through Klook which didn’t even need printing. Just have your QR code scanned from your phone and you’re in!
2) Ultra crowded days to avoid
This is obvious but other than the weekends, Mondays and Fridays are sometimes equally as crowded. If you have the luxury to choose, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are your best bet. Check the Crowd Congestion Forecast Calendar and try to avoid the dates highlighted in Red.
However, come school holidays and it probably doesn’t matter which day of the week you’re going. We visited Disneysea in the last week of the Summer Holidays and despite being there on a Thursday, the Toy Story Fast Passes ran out within 15 minutes of the park opening and the popular rides had queue times of up to 180 minutes.
Summer: Usually July 20th to August 31st
Winter: December 26th to January 6th
Spring: Around 25th March to 5th April
Japanese Public Holidays
There are 16 different Japanese Holidays but because some of them happen on the same week, a lot of locals take the entire week off for an extended week-long break. 3 of the busiest period to avoid are:
Golden Week: 29th April to 5th May
Obon Obon: Mid July or Mid August (depending on the solar calendar)
New Year: 31st December to 1st January
3) Have a Fast Pass Game Plan on hand
In the Disney Resort Parks, the system is a little different. Instead of paying extra for shorter queues, the Fast Pass system gives every ticket holder a fair chance at taking one of the popular rides without much waiting time. Problem is, some of the queues to the Fast Pass machine can take up to an hour, and the more popular rides run out of tickets shortly after the park opens.
Getting a Tokyo Disney Fast Pass: The FASTPASS ticketing machines are located beside the ride entrances and you simply have to scan the QR code on your printed e-ticket to receive a Fast Pass with a designated time period printed on it. Come back to the ride within the time period for express entry!
Note: Do note that each Disney Park ticket is only allowed 1 Fast Pass Ticket every 2 hours. You will get an error ticket if you try getting a 2nd Fast Pass Ticket before the 2 hour buffer.
Tokyo Disneysea Fast Pass Rides to prioritise
There are currently 8 Fast Pass stations in Tokyo Disneysea, but since you can only get 1 Fast Pass every 2 hours, you’re likely to only get about 3 before the popular rides run out.
From experience, the Toy Story Mania! and Journey to the centre of the Earth are the fastest to run out — usually within an hour after the park opens.
Your Tokyo Disneysea experience would not be complete without experiencing these 3 (listed below) so definitely try queueing for these Fast Passes first in the following order.
(1) Toy Story Mania! (American Waterfront)
Everyone raves about this unassuming carnival themed ride and you’ll probably question yourself too while queuing — whether it’s for the fast pass or regular queue — because each one will be at least 1-2hrs long.
Apart from the well themed queuing area replicating the experience of being shrunken down to one of the characters of Toy Story, the ride brings you through an interactive 3D course where you get to shoot digital balls at aliens to rake up points. Okay, my description won’t do it justice but trust us on this one, getting a Fast Pass for this will be well worth it.
(2) Journey to the centre of the Earth (Mysterious Island)
The Mysterious Island is another very well themed area. One of my favourite parts of the park in fact! Since the tracks for this ride are hidden inside the mountain, there was no way we could prepare ourselves for what to expect but it turned out to be a close second favourite ride for all of us that day.
We loved everything from the interesting designs in the queueing area to the many surprise elements paced cleverly throughout the ride. Even if you don’t manage to get a Fast Pass for this, I’d say this ride is worth spending 2 hours to queue for.
(3) Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (Lost River Delta)
Another roller coaster in the dark, this ride was laced with many unexpected surprises. The talking parts in this ride (as with all the rides in Tokyo) are in Japanese but despite this, we thoroughly enjoyed the story while being brought through an exciting track. The level of design here is truly unbelievable.
The ride tends to close for a couple of hours in the middle of the day for maintenance (we hear it’s quite common), so it’s important to get a Fast Pass. If the ride is closed during your Fast Pass time slot, you can come back to the ride anytime once it opens. The queue might be really long but if you’re in a regular queue, you’ll be waiting longer than all the fast pass ticket holders so be sure to get a fast pass for this one.
Tokyo Disneyland Fast Pass Rides
We didn’t get to try these personally but the popular ones adults love are Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. All of them have Fast Passes available.
However, Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek! and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt are in fact the first 2 fast passes that run out first and have queues that last 2-3 hours right till the park closes. So do try to get a Fast Pass for one of the rides and take the standby queue for the next one right away.
Disneyland/sea day guide
4) Bring a bento box for lunch
Food is allowed in the Disney Resort Parks and you can eat them at the designated picnic area — outside the main entrance on the left. So save money and purchase a bento box or a couple of onigiris before heading in. There is a New Days convenience store just outside Maihama station.
Re-entry is also allowed here (just remember to get your hand stamped) so you can head out to the convenience store at New Days for a quick bite.
5) Arrive at least 1 hour before the park opens
Park opening hours vary by seasons, so check the Tokyo Disney Park Operations Calendar before visiting.
Queues gets quite crazy 30mins before opening, so arriving an hour before the park opens is pretty sound advice. Hopefully you already have your Tokyo Disney Tickets the day before so you can skip the ticket queue and join the entrance queue instead.
6) Start by queueing for a Fast Pass
When the park first opens, it might be tempting to head straight for a ride but if it’s a really crowded day, we strongly suggest you don’t. Start by queueing for your first Fast Pass.
Since fast passes are only available every 2 hours from your first ticket issued, you’ll want to maximise your chances by getting the first as early as possible. Don’t be surprised if the first pass takes up to 45 minutes. Toy Story Mania! and Journey to the Centre of the Earth are well worth it since regular standby queues are about 3 hours long.
*Pro-tip: If you’re in the middle of a queue and the window for your next fast pass opens up, hand over your ticket (with the QR Code) to a friend to get the next fast pass while you save their spot in a ride’s queue.
7) Win lottery tickets for popular shows
On extra crowded days, the only way to catch one of the more popular shows is either to catch the first show of the day or win a ticket for the subsequent shows through the lottery system. You only get to try once, but if you don’t win it, look out for the first show and save yourself a good spot for it.
Popular shows at Disneysea:
Get your tickets from Biglitteria (Left side of Disneysea’s entrance)
Big Band Beat — Broadway performance with a live Jazz band and Mickey on the drums.
*The timing changes every month but the Pirate Summer Battle starts around 9:35am and the Big Band Beat starts around 12:30pm. Check the official Tokyo Disney Website for the latest parades and shows.
Popular shows at Disneyland:
Get your tickets from the Tomorrowland Hall (Right side of Disneyland’s main entrance)
One Man’s Dream II – The Magic Lives On — The classic story of Walt Disney’s imagination through the years.
Once Upon A Time — catch the last show before the 6th November 2017!
8) Catch the first show of the day if you don’t win lottery tickets
These tickets don’t come by easy but if there’s a show you still really want to watch, go for the first show! These will always be on a first come first serve basis so queue early.
The outdoor show at Disneysea starts at 9:35am (this may change by month so get an entertainment schedule from the staff to be sure).
For Disneysea’s Pirates Summer Battle, most people in the viewing areas are expected to get splashed on during the show so keep be sure to keep your non water-proof gear safely.
9) Escape the afternoon heat and head to Triton’s Kingdom at the Mermaid Lagoon (Disneysea)
In the summer, afternoons can get a little overwhelming. Being stuck in outdoor queues surrounded by lots of people might hinder your experience quite a bit but the best kept secret really is at the underground area of Mermaid Lagoon — Triton’s Kingdom. This area is specially catered for the little kids so it’s usually not too crowded. Enjoy the aircon as well as a walk through this spectacularly underwater themed area. It’s seriously the perfect refuge from the prickly afternoon sun.
10) Visit Magellan’s for a midday drink (Disneysea)
If immersing yourself in a themed restaurant is something you look forward to, we’d highly recommend Disneysea’s Magellan’s — especially if you’re craving for a midday alcoholic beverage (Disneyland doesn’t serve alcohol at all). The decor is an attraction itself with its giant globe at the entrance and hidden dinning rooms behind doors disguised as bookshelves. This place gets filled up during the day so definitely get Priority Seating for this restaurant.
*Pro-tip: From 10am onwards, ask a staff at the restaurant for Priority Seating with your preferred time later in the day — the other way is to book online the day before but the site is only in Japanese.
Recommended Disneysea Restaurants with Priority seating: Magellan’s, Horizon Bay Restaurant (Dine with Disney Characters), Restaurant Sakura (Jap food), Sailing Day Buffet.
11) Save a spot for the night parade 45 minutes before it starts
Disneysea’s Fantasmic night parade held in the water area in front of Mount Prometheus was one of our favourite highlights that night. You will see people seated in the Lido Isle up to 1 hour before the show so if you want to get an unobstructed view, definitely save your seats early. Grab a couple of snacks and set up a mat while waiting for the show to begin.
At Disneyland, the Once upon a time night show held at Cinderella’s castle is the classic you don’t want to miss. Catch it before it ends permanently on the 6th November 2017!
Tokyo Disneysea Itinerary (Summer Edition)
This is best for people who want to prioritise the 3 most exciting rides and 2 most popular shows! *assuming the park opens at 8am
0700: Arrive at Maihama Station
Stock up on lunch at New Days (convenience store) before taking the Tokyo Disney Line to Disneysea. The queue to enter starts piling up by 7:30am so it really doesn’t hurt to arrive up to an hour early.
#1: 0800 — Gates open
#2: Grab a Fast Pass for Toy Story Mania!
Right after you pass the Emporio (first gift store after the entrance), take a left and walk straight to Toyville Trolley Park to get . We promise this will be worth it.
#3: Walk to the Biglietteria to get a Lottery Ticket for shows
Just select the show and scan your Disney Park tickets. You can only attempt each show once but if you don’t win any..
#4: 0935* — Catch the first outdoor show “Pirates Summer Battle” at the Mediterranean Harbour
The first shows will always be on a first come first serve basis so get there at at least 30 minutes before the show begins. *Show times change every month
#5: Queue for your second Fast Pass at Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Your next window for a Fast Pass depends on when you received the first. e.g. If you got your Fast Pass at 0845, your next Fast Pass will be available from 1045.
If Journey to the centre of the Earth has run out (highly possible), try getting a Fast Pass at Indiana Jone’s adventure instead.
Get in line for a standby queue
We recommend the Tower of Terror or one of the other rides you didn’t get a Fast Pass for.
#6: 1230 — Catch the Big Band Beat at the Broadway Music Theatre
*If you didn’t win lottery tickets for this
#7: Cool off at Magellan’s
If it’s too crowded that day, ask the Disney staff for a Priority seat and you will get a timed ticket to come back later
#8: If you don’t get a seat at Magellan’s, head to Triton’s Kingdom
#9: Collect your 3rd Fast Pass at Indiana Jones Adventure
1300 – 1915: Enjoy skipping the queues with your Fast Passes
Once you’ve caught the first 2 shows, take note of the timing on your Fast Pass tickets and make your way to the rides within the time period. Remember to plan and collect your next fast pass every 2 hours and fill up the time in between by taking the standby queue on other rides. Explore the different sections of Disneysea, have your packed lunch at the designated picnic area and look out for the Meet & Greet Disney Character sessions.
#10: 1930 — Get ready for the Fantasmic Night show by the Mediterranean Harbor at 8pm*
Double check the entertainment schedule but it’s good to get seated 30 – 60 minutes before the show begins.
Getting to Tokyo Disney Resort Parks
If you’re holding on to a JR Pass, the best way to get there is via the JR Keiyo Line to Maihama Station. 15 minutes from Tokyo Station.
By Bus from Shinjuku Station
If you’re staying in the Shinjuku area, the most direct way is to take the bus from Shinjuku Express Bus Terminal and arrives directly at both Disneyland and Disneysea in 40-50 minutes. The bus leaves every 20 minutes so check the bus schedule to find out the best time to reach the station.
Budget Places to stay near Tokyo Disneyland
If you’re not staying at the Disney Resort itself, the next best place is somewhere near Tokyo station — it only takes 15 minutes by train to reach Maihama Station.
Read Also: Our personal Wise Owl Hostel Review.
Hope you found the tips and tricks in this Tokyo Disney Guide helpful! Don’t forget to order your Tokyo Disneyland/sea Pass before getting there!
This post was brought to you by Klook.