Here’s the Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea guide we wished we had before going to Japan.

First published: 27 Sep 2017

Man looking at the the Journey to the Centre of the Earth attraction at Tokyo Disneysea - Japan theme aprks

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are without a doubt one of the best in the world. The problem is, it’s also an incredibly crowded park all year round. And if you’re a huge theme park fan, you’d know if you want to hit all the best rides in one day, you’re gonna need a game plan.

Planning a trip to Japan? Check out our guides and itineraries across various parts of Japan — from the familiar favourites of Tokyo, Osaka, and Hokkaido, to the lesser-known Okinawa, Kyushu, and Matsumoto.

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 exploring both parks is a no-brainer. But if you only have a day to spare, here’s a brief crackdown on the two.

Tokyo Disneyland Guide - Cinderella Castle

Photo credit: Tom Bricker

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), Tokyo Disneyland is without a doubt the one. The shows and parades are also known to be more extravagant and spectacular here compared to DisneySea.

Photo credit: Alpha Coders

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 is 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 might have enjoyed Disneyland a lot more.

With star rides like Toy Story Mania! and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, even the most skeptical kid will be blown away. If you prioritise thrilling rides for your Disney experience, you’d probably enjoy DisneySea more.

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.

New attractions in Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea (2024)

Disney Harmony in Color Parade - Tokyo Disneyland

Photo credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

From now till 31 March 2024, Tokyo Disney Resort is celebrating its 40th anniversary, which means you can buy themed merch and snacks, plus enjoy special attractions as well!

These include the Disney Harmony in Colour Day Parade (Disneyland), and the Sky Full of Colours firework display (Disneyland and DisneySea).

Photo credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

DisneySea also recently announced that the much-anticipated new land, Fantasy Springs, will open on 6 June 2024! It will be a mish-mash of Disney favourites: Frozen, Peter Pan & Tangled. Fantasy Spring will feature Frozen Kingdom (Arendelle), Rapunzel’s Forest, and Never Land… so if you think about it, it’s basically three new lands opening up 😂

Here are four new attractions you can expect:

1) Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Journey — a musical water boat ride depicting events from the original Frozen film
2) Rapunzel’s Lantern Festival a water boat ride through the different locations seen in Tangled
3) Peter Pan’s Never Land Adventure a 3D attraction where guests attempt to rescue John from Captain Hook
4) Fairy Tinker Bell’s Busy Buggies a family-friendly attraction where guests help Tinker Bell deliver parcels

Plus, the upcoming Tokyo DisneySea Fantasy Springs Hotel is available for reservations starting 8 Feb 2024!

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Before your trip

1) Buy your Tokyo Disneyland/Sea tickets online

Disneysea Queue for tickets - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

The counters at the Tokyo Disney Park only open 30 minutes before the park opens.

When you arrive, there will be two separate queues: one for parkgoers who already have their tickets and are waiting to enter the park. The other, to get the tickets. You don’t want to be stuck in the latter queue! Buy your tickets online — this will give you a head start for queueing for the best rides.

Our Tokyo Disney tickets via Klook didn’t even need printing. All we had to do was have our QR code scanned from our phones and we’re in!

Ticket prices vary depending on day of visit and can be purchased up to two months ahead.

*Note: Certain credit cards issued outside of Japan are not accepted when purchasing through the official Disney Resort website.

2) Ultra-crowded days to avoid

Queue to Tokyo Disneysea on a school holiday - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

Weekends
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.

School Holidays
However, come school holidays, 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 popular rides had queue times of up to 180 minutes 😱

Summer: Usually July to August

Winter: December to January

Spring: March to April

Japanese Public Holidays 

There are 16 different Japanese Holidays but because some of them happen in the same week, a lot of locals take the entire week off for an extended week-long break. Three of the busiest periods to avoid are:

Golden Week: 29 April to 6 May
Obon:
Mid-July or Mid-August (depending on the solar calendar)
New Year: 
31 December to 1 January

3) Download the Tokyo Disney Resort App

DisneySea Park Map on Tokyo Resort App - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

In 2024, most things can now be done from the Tokyo Disney Resort app:

– Check queue times
– Book Premier Access for rides
– Dining reservations
– Entry requests for shows and character greetings

It has all the essential information you’ll need about the parks, and the map with your live location is pretty handy when navigating!

Just register your ticket in the app once you’re in the park and create a group for your party.

4) Updates to the FASTPASS System (Disney Premier Access, Standby Pass, 40th Anniversary Pass)

Disney Premier Pass - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort veterans will probably remember the FASTPASS system where every ticket holder had a fair chance at one of the popular rides without much waiting time. Unfortunately, that service has been suspended. In its place now is the new Disney Premier Access (from ¥1,500/access) where you can buy express tickets for specific rides.

Purchasing Disney Premier Access: Premier Access is located under ‘My Plan’ in the Disney Resort app. From there you can select the experience and timeslot you want. The QR ticket code will appear 5 minutes before your designated time and you’ll need to scan it to enter via the Priority Access Entrance.

Tokyo DisneySea Disney Premier Access Rides

Disneysea Tokyo Story Mania in the day - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

There’re currently four Disney Premier Access rides available, but since there are limited time slots, you should purchase the tickets on the app immediately after entering the park. These rides include Toy Story Mania!, Soaring: Fantastic Flight, Tower of Terror, and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Better seats for the Believe! Sea of Dreams parade are also available through Premier Access.

*Pro-tip: Try securing Premier Access slots for the afternoon as you’ll have more time to queue for other rides in the morning.

From experience, Toy Story Mania! and the Soaring: Fantastic Flight have the longest queues, and Premier Access timeslots also run out quickly.

(1) Toy Story Mania! (American Waterfront)

Toy story Mania at night - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

Everyone raves about this unassuming carnival-themed ride and you’ll probably question yourself too while queuing.

The queuing area replicates the experience of being shrunken down to one of the characters of Toy Story, and the ride brings you through an interactive 3D course where you get to shoot digital balls at aliens to rack up points. Okay, perhaps this description doesn’t do it justice but trust us on this one, getting Premier Access for this will be well worth it.

(2) Soaring: Fantastic Flight (Mediterranean Harbor)

Soaring: Fantastic Flight Entrance - Disneyland Guide

Opened during the pandemic, Soaring: Fantastic Flight is the newest addition to DisneySea and is exclusive to Tokyo. The ride has a consistently long wait time (~180 minutes) which made us skeptical given that it’s not a roller coaster but we quickly understood why. The experience was so realistic that we forgot for a moment we were on a ride. Also trust us on this one #worth.

Tokyo Disneyland Disney Premier Access Rides

Photo credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

The Disney Premier Access for Tokyo Disneyland works similarly to Tokyo DisneySea. Here are the attractions and parades you can use it on:

Attractions: Splash Mountain, The Happy Ride with Baymax, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast
Shows: Minnie @Funderland (till 19 March), Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights, Disney Harmony in Color

Standby Pass Rides

Certain character greetings and shops might require a Standby Pass to enter but the period and availability for passes are constantly being updated so we suggest checking online in advance. FYI, standby passes give you the right to wait in the regular queue for the attraction at the specified time. So if you don’t have it, you may not be able to go on the ride at all!

*Note: Standby Passes will be available for the new Fantasy Springs attractions on 6 June 2024.

40th Anniversary Priority Pass Rides

Sky Full of Colours - Tokyo Disney Parks Atractions

Photo credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

The special 40th Anniversary Priority Pass is similar to the Premier Access, such that it will give you line-skipping powers! But the rides you can use them on are different. Check online for availability on your visit date.

Tokyo DisneylandTokyo DisneySea
Star Tours: The Adventures ContinueIndiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
Space Mountain20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Buzz Lightyear’s Astro BlastersTurtle Talk
Big Thunder MountainNemo & Friends SeaRider
Pooh’s Hunny HuntThe Magic Lamp Theater
Haunted MansionRaging Spirits
Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!

Tokyo Disneyland/Sea Day Guide

5) Bring a bento box for lunch

Disneysea picnic area - Tokyo Disneyland guide

Photo credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

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. To save money, purchase a bento box or a couple of onigiris before heading in. There’s 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.

6) Arrive at least 1 hour before the park opens

Disneysea View - Tokyo Disneyland guide

Park opening hours vary by season, so check the Tokyo Disney Park Operations Calendar before visiting.

Queues get quite crazy 30 minutes ahead of opening, so it’s best to arrive an hour before the park opens. Hopefully, you’d already have your pre-booked Tokyo Disney Tickets so you can skip the ticket queue and join the entrance queue instead.

7) Start by queueing for popular rides

When the park first opens, head straight for one of the following rides as queues can go up to as long as 3 hours by mid-afternoon.

(1) Journey to the Center of the Earth (Mysterious Island)

Disneysea Mysterious island - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

The Mysterious Island is another very well-themed area. One of my favourite areas 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.

We enjoyed the whole experience even starting from the queuing area, to the many surprise elements paced cleverly throughout the ride.

(2) Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (Lost River Delta)

Disneysea Lost River Delta - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

Another roller coaster in the dark, this ride was laced with many unexpected surprises. The narration for this ride (as with all the rides in Tokyo) was in Japanese but despite this, we could follow the story because of the well-designed track. The detail in the design here is truly unbelievable!

(3) Tower of Terror (American Waterfront)

Tower of Terror - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

Twilight Zone fan (or not), you’ll love the Tower of Terror. The exterior is one of the most iconic sights in Tokyo DisneySea, but the interior is just as beautiful, with a hint of creepiness. It’s possibly also one of the most adrenaline-inducing and hair-raising rides — both literally and metaphorically.

8) Entry Requests for shows

Big Band Beat Broadway Theatre - Tokyo Disneysea Guide

Previously, you’d have to catch the first show or win lottery tickets in person at the Biglietteria to get a seat. Now, Disney Resort has shifted everything online to their app so you’ll need to submit an Entry Request to secure a reservation. You only get to try once for each show, so it all comes down to luck!

Popular shows at DisneySea:
Get your tickets from the Disney Resort app!

Jamboree Mickey! Let’s Dance— A dance-along program for kids with Mickey Mouse and friends.

Big Band Beat: A Special Treat — Broadway performance with a live jazz band and Mickey on the drums.

Duffy and Friends’ Wonderful Friendship — A show at Cape Cod Cook-Off you can enjoy as you dine

Seasonal Shows — DisneySea hosts holiday-themed shows throughout the year. Right now, the Sky Full of Colors firework show is ongoing (also available at Disneyland).

Fortunately, seasonal greetings and night shows are still happening on the Mediterranean Harbor and do not require any Entry Requests.

Check the official Tokyo Disney Website for the latest parades and shows.

Once upon a time show at Disneyland - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Duy Phan

Popular shows at Tokyo Disneyland:
Get Entry Requests for shows on the Tokyo Disney Resort app.

Disney Harmony in Color — A colourful flower petal-themed day parade featuring Mickey Mouse and Disney friends

Mickey’s Magical Music World — Catch Mickey Mouse and your favourite characters in a live stage performance in the majestic Fantasyland Forest Theatre.

Club Mouse Beat — A dynamic live song and dance show by Mickey Mouse and his Friends

Minnie @Funderland — See Minnie Mouse and her friends on a glittery float, complete with pop music!

9) Catch the mid-day greeting if you don’t win lottery tickets

Halloween Greeting ship in Disneysea

Entry Request tickets for shows don’t come easy and if you miss the opportunity for shows, save a seat on the Mediterranean Harbor near the railings at least half an hour before the show to secure a good spot for the seasonal greeting.

We caught the Halloween Greeting where Mickey Mouse and Friends sailed around and waved from a giant ship.

10) Escape the afternoon heat and head to Triton’s Kingdom at the Mermaid Lagoon (DisneySea)

Disneysea Memaid Lagoon - Wing1990hk

Photo credit: Wing1990hk

In the summer, afternoons can get a little overwhelming. Being stuck in outdoor queues surrounded by lots of people might hinder your experience. The best-kept secret really is at the underground area of Mermaid Lagoon — Triton’s Kingdom.

This area is specially catered for little kids so it’s usually not too crowded. Enjoy the aircon as well as a walk through this spectacular underwater-themed area. It’s the perfect refuge from the prickly afternoon sun.

11) Visit Magellan’s for a midday drink (DisneySea)

If dining in a themed restaurant sounds like your cup of tea, we’d highly recommend DisneySea’s Magellan’s — especially if you’re craving a midday alcoholic beverage (Disneyland doesn’t serve alcohol at all).

Photo credit: Tom Bricker

The decor is an attraction itself with its giant globe at the entrance and hidden dining 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 9AM onwards, you can book Priority Seating with your preferred time later in the day on the app — 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, Restaurant Sakura, S.S Columbia Dining Room.

12) Catch the night-time entertainment before the park closes

Fireworks at DisneySea - Tokyo DIsneyland Guide

Photo credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

If you’re still in the park after sunset, catch the stunning firework display at Tokyo DisneySea which happens daily at 8:30PM. We suggest saving a spot at the Mediterranean Waterfront in advance so you get an unobstructed view of the light show.

At Tokyo Disneyland, the Electrical Parade Dreamlights is a night parade you wouldn’t want to miss. With lit-up floats and classic Disney music, the atmosphere is pretty magical.

*Pro-tip: Save a spot for the night parade 45 minutes before it starts!

Bonus: Tokyo DisneySea Itinerary

This is best for fellow kiasu people who want to prioritise the three most exciting rides and the two most popular shows! *assuming the park opens at 9AM.

Tokyo Disneysea Recommended Itinerary

8AM: 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 an hour early.

#1: 9AM — Gates open

9:05AM: Book Disney Premier Access Rides for Toy Story Mania! and Soaring Fantastic Flight
Right after uploading your ticket in the app, select your desired time slots for Premier Access so you can plan the rest of the rides around it.

#2: Run to Journey to the Center of the Earth
Queues can get a little long in the afternoon as this is one of the few roller coasters in the park, located inside the iconic volcano.

#3: 10:55AM* — Catch Big Band Beat at Broadway Music Theatre
Use the Tokyo Disney Resort app and submit an Entry Request for Big Band Beat.

#4: Queue for Tower of Terror

#5: 1PM* — Catch one of the Seasonal Shows
If you didn’t manage to secure an Entry Request for this, we recommend exploring the Arabian section of the park and doing some souvenir shopping.

#6: 2PM — Take a breather and enjoy a picnic lunch
Explore the different sections of DisneySea, have your packed lunch at the designated picnic area and book Entry Requests for the Meet & Greet Disney Character sessions.

#7: Make way for Indiana Jones Adventure

#8: 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.

#9: If you don’t get a seat at Magellan’s, head to Mermaid Lagoon
Character Greetings that don’t require an Entry Request are constantly happening within the theatre so you can snap a quick photo with one of the Disney Characters.

4:30PM – 7:15PM: Enjoy skipping the queues with your Premier Access
Once you’ve caught the first two shows, take note of the timing on your Premier Access tickets and make your way to the rides within the time period. Fill up the time in between by looking for rides with the shortest wait times on the app.

#10: 8PM — Get ready for the Fireworks show by the Mediterranean Harbor at 8:30PM
Double-check the entertainment schedule but it’s good to get seated 30 minutes before the show begins.

*Showtimes may vary across different months.

Getting to Tokyo Disney Resort Parks

Tokyo Disney Line to Dinseysea - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

By Train

If you’re holding on to a JR Pass, the best way to get to Tokyo Disney Resort is via the JR Keiyo Line to Maihama Station — 15 minutes from Tokyo Station. From there, you can board the Disney Resort Line to get to the park (¥260/one-way).

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 which arrives directly at both Disneyland and DisneySea in 40-50 minutes. You can pre-book your tickets online via Klook.

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!

Been to Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea and discovered new tips? Share with us in the comments!


This post was brought to you by Klook.

Most accurately described as a restless adventurer, always seeking new highs be it on a rock wall, falling out of a propeller plane or bombing down a snow slope. Occasionally writes for thetravelintern.com. Also co-founder of The Travel Intern.

28 COMMENTS

  1. hi there, may I know is 1 fast pass can be use by 2 person? meaning I draw 1 fast pass so me and my friend can get into the fast pass lane together. Thank you!

  2. Hi there, the information is really helpful. But I’d like to ask few questions
    1. When we are in the queue in fastpass, Is it possible the fasspast running out before our turn?
    2. We have 4 persons in a group, can we separate into two groups? For instance, 2 persons queue for ride A regular lane, and 2 persons queue to get the fastpass for ride B. Are they allowed to join the queue in ride A after they got the fastpass for ride B?

    • Hey Sean, yes! It’s entirely possible for the Fast passes to run out, especially on the really popular rides (mentioned above!).
      (2) is a great strategy but you’ll have to be a little thick skin and walk through the queue to look for your friends. We only did this for rides with mainly outdoor queues.

  3. Hello. We’ll be visiting in two weeks. Do you know if they give military discount? Is it better to purchase the tickets online from the states or does it not make any difference? Thank you so much!

  4. Hi, I’m going on a school trip and we only have a half day to go there. Do you know if we can go to both parks with the ticket (like a park hopper) or would we have to pick one only?

    • Hi Katy, if i’m not wrong, park hopper tickets are only available for 3/4 day passes. So you might have to get two separate entrance tickets. To be very honest though, you definitely would not have time to visit both parks in one day. My suggestion would be to just stick to one!

  5. Wow! This is such a comprehensive and super helpful guide. It is very good and very informative. There is a useful information in it.Thanks for posting.

  6. Hello! I was wondering what are the most popular rides in Tokyo Disneyland and what are their wait time? Also, what rides in Tokyo Disneyland would you recommend? Thanks!

    • Hey Hailey. Wait times vary wildly from 30mins to 3+hrs depending on the day that you go. Avoid weekends and public holidays for sure. You can get the wait times off the app and website!
      My suggestion is to perhaps use a proxy to get a sense of the time. For example if you plan to visit on a weekday next month, find a similar weekday before your trip and compare the times.

      Personally, I loved Star Wars & Space Mountain.

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