Tokyo Disney is one of the busiest theme parks in the world. Our top tips and tricks will help you better enjoy your time at Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland.
We had one of our most incredible family vacations to Tokyo Disney this past weekend. We spent four days there (1 day at Disneyland and 3 days at DisneySea), learned a lot, and have a whole bunch of ways to make sure your vacation is just as much fun!
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This was our second trip to the parks, and we decided Tokyo DisneySea is our favorite Disney park of all time. We also learned that for our family, it wasn’t about the rides; though those were great, it was more about the complete experience. With the hope that you and your family will have just as magical an adventure, here are our top tips and tricks for your trip to Tokyo Disney.
#7 Enjoy the details of Tokyo Disney
I don’t think I would have really noticed all the details that the Imagineers put into designing Tokyo Disney had we not spent multiple days there. We had plenty of time to just enjoy everything and it was fun to see what intricacies began to stand out. From Mickey-shaped soaps to playgrounds for the kids, the details make all the difference.
Some of the most fun we had was exploring the fortress in the Mediterranean Harbor. There is a ship to explore with a play area for kids right outside of it.
High on the castle wall, there are cannons that belch smoke and telescopes to look into the distance. The kids and I chased each other yelling, “Storm the castle,” then we stopped to fire at the pirates on the boat with the cannons. It was imaginative play and absolutely priceless fun.
The planet chamber is a great example of the effort Disney puts into the parks. It was a fun, interactive room and one of Royce’s favorite areas as he is really interested in planets right now. He had a lot of fun making all the planets rotate around the sun. Then we got to see a real Fourcault pendulum (it’s a weight on a long cord, and the rotation of the earth makes it oscillate)! The amount of science on display took real passion and dedication – this area doesn’t make them any more money, but it did make our time here even better!
While exploring we found a hidden Mickey that was smaller than a dime. They really do care about the tiniest features!
Whether you are there by yourself or with your family and young kids, take time to appreciate the details put into Tokyo Disney. The Disney Imagineers did an incredible job making this the most magical park we have visited.
#6 Buy a popcorn bucket
Popcorn stands are a popular trademark of Tokyo Disney. There are different stands all throughout each park with different flavors. From soy sauce and butter to curry or strawberry, garlic shrimp, Chinese chili or chocolate, there are many flavors to entertain your palate.
The popcorn buckets are a cute and functional way to hold your snack. If you like popcorn or have kids it’s definitely worth buying the bucket so you can get the ¥500 refills. It’s also a great way to keep kids from getting “hangry,” too. Without a bucket you pay ¥350 for a small paper bag.
There are different style buckets and some you can only get from certain stands. We have a friend whose son really wanted a Lightning McQueen bucket, but it was only sold at the garlic shrimp-flavored popcorn stand so that’s what he got! There is a Duffy the Bear bucket that is sold between Port Discovery and American Waterfront. Duffy is unique to DisneySea and definitely worth checking out.
Make sure to fill up your buckets right before you leave the park and bring some popcorn home on the plane with you! Our favorite flavors are strawberry/blueberry, honey and chocolate. The savory ones are good, but we just have more of a sweet tooth.
#5 Review the map in advance
There was a big difference going to Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland the second time compared to the first. The second time we had a general idea of where everything was, and we also knew which rides we wanted to go on, so we didn’t waste time figuring that out.
Be aware of which rides have FastPasses. These are the more popular rides that you should probably try and get a FastPass for. By being aware of the layout you will know which rides are near each other. This will save you time rather than walking from one end of the park to the other just to go back to the first side again.
You can also take note of where restaurants and popcorn stands are. The maps don’t indicate which flavors are sold at each spot, but you’ll know where to look. The popcorn stands get long lines too – know which flavors you want to try and hop in line when you see it. It may not be sold elsewhere.
#4 Bring your own snacks and drinks
The day we purchased our own snacks and drinks from the convenience store in our hotel was probably the best day. I felt good because I was well-hydrated. The kids seemed happier because they had more snack options and they drank all the Aquarius (it’s like a Japanese Gatorade) they wanted!
I have a hard time spending ¥200 on a drink knowing it’s ¥100 at the store in our hotel. Our personal preparations included a Camelbak full of water, several Aquarius drinks, onigiri (rice balls), granola bars, jerky, and gum to clean our teeth.
#3 Use Happy 15 to get in line for Toy Story Mania – and to get a FastPass
Our trick worked well for us each day except one. After entering Tokyo DisneySea 15 minutes early we walked straight to Toy Story Mania to get in line. It was probably a 20 – 30 minute wait when we did this, and the shortest it will ever be. This is one of the most popular rides (for good reason), and as soon as the park opens people storm the park, ignoring all walking signs, and head for this ride.
Most of the rushing crowd gets in the FastPass line, not the standby line. By the time we got out of Toy Story Mania, there would be a wait time of nearly 3 hours and the FastPass line was ridiculously long. A couple of times it worked out for one of us to get in line while the other got in the FastPass line, just so we could ride it twice.
If you are interested in the Tower of Terror ride, you can get the Tower FastPass and then rush over to the Toy Story line. Don’t try and get a FastPass for Finding Nemo or any of the other rides during the Happy 15! You can’t get to that area until the park opens. The best use of your time is going to the American Riverfront area. Here you are able to start getting FastPasses and jump in lines. There was one day I rushed over to get Finding Nemo FastPasses but had to wait in line until the park opened just to get to the Finding Nemo area. Because of how uncrowded it was, I might as well have waited until after riding Toy Story Mania and been just fine time-wise.
#2 Saving Money at Tokyo Disney
We found the best way to save money while visiting Tokyo DisneySea and probably any other Disneyland was to leave the credit cards at home and bring a specific amount of crash. It can be a little scary, not having access to all the money you want, I know it was for us. It really gets you to think about what is worth spending money on. Instead of trying every flavor of popcorn, maybe you will only try the ones that actually sound good. Or instead of eating just to try things, maybe you’ll eat when you are hungry.
How much should you plan to spend and Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland?
Sometimes we can be tightwads with our money, and other times we spend like it doesn’t matter. When it came to spending $80 on a princess dress, we just couldn’t do it! Jeannie loved seeing all the girls dressed as princesses. She would run up and hold hands with them or run her hand down their dress, and list every dress she wanted: “I want a Belle dress, an Ariel dress, an Aurora dress, and all the dresses!” Instead of spending the money on a dress while at Disney, we bought her a Belle dress on Amazon for about $20…but we did buy her a crown at DisneySea, and she loved it.
Pro Tip: Buy the dress beforehand!
Besides the price of the hotel (which depends on the hotel and the season) and the park ticket prices (which depend depending on how many days you go), you can spend as little or as much as you want while at Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland. Here is a breakdown:
- Stroller Rental – ¥1,000
- Popcorn Bucket with popcorn – ¥ 2,300
- Popcorn refill – ¥500
- Regular popcorn – ¥350
- Snack food from snack vendors – ¥300 – 500 (churros, hotdogs, meat on a stick, etc)
- Full Meals from a restaurant – ¥1,500 – 2,500 per person (single entrees can be ¥500-700
- Waters or beverages from vendor cart – ¥200
- Princess dress- ¥7,900
- Gifts- ¥1,000 – and up!
#1 Stay at a Tokyo Disney Hotel
Staying at a Disney Hotel is so magical. The moment you walk in, the hotel staff greets you with as much enthusiasm as any of the characters at the park would. The hotel’s decorations are charming and fun and extend that happiest-place-on-earth feel as you return to your room to rest for the night. Rooms immerse you in the magic of Disney while you sleep. From starry-night ceilings, fun pajamas, hidden Disney surprises and fun collages or murals.
There are several benefits of staying at a Disney hotel. One is the convenience of getting to the park. All day, shuttles go back and forth between the hotels and the park, giving you the freedom of coming and going as you wish. Parking can be miles away depending on when you get there and how busy it is that day. Riding the train to the Maihama station can be crowded and still a good distance from the park entrance. From the Celebration hotels it’s a quick 20 minute shuttle ride. They even drop you off right outside the park entrance. The other hotels are connected via monorail, running you to either park super fast!
Another benefit is the Happy 15 pass. With a Happy 15 pass, you can enter the park 15 minutes before normal park goers. With that extra 15 minutes, you are able to get in line in the most popular rides and queue up for FastPasses. It is a huge time saver!
The magic of the day doesn’t end. When you stay at a Tokyo Disney hotel you experience the magic of Disney from the park to the shuttle to the hotel. It is truly an exceptional way to spend your time in the parks.
Plan your trip:
Visit their website to book your Tokyo Disney vacation.
Tokyo Disney, and specifically Tokyo DisneySea, is a must do when you visit Japan. It makes a nice break, especially for kids, from seeing all the shrines, temples, gardens and older architecture. It is also unique, giving all the magic of a regular Disney park but with the additional amazingness that only Japan can bring.