I have been going to Tokyo pretty much every year since 2014, yet I never made it to Tokyo Disneyland… until this year! I am kicking myself for not going earlier. Disneyland in California was fun, but Disneyland in Tokyo? 1000x better! They have super cute food and merchandise that you can only find exclusively in Tokyo Disneyland.
Obviously, since it’s such a magical place, it’s a popular choice for locals and tourists alike. You can’t avoid the crowd, but you can definitely optimize your trip by understanding how the park work.
I’ve been to Tokyo Disneyland twice now – once in 2019 before COVID, and once in December 2021 in the middle of COVID right before the Omicron wave hits Japan. I’ll try to impart as much of my knowledge as possible.
First, let’s understand the basics of Tokyo Disneyland:
1. Pre-buy your Tokyo Disneyland Ticket online
You definitely don’t want to buy tickets on the spot. You’ll just waste time lining up! Not only that, you may not get a ticket if you’re visiting during peak period. Pre-buy your tickets online using one of the following options:
- Buy through an authorized booking partner (currently suspended during COVID) – If you are a tourist visiting Japan and flying into Narita or Haneda, you might find this option convenient. You can pick up the tickets at either airport before you head into the city. Keep in mind the ticket counter might not be open if you land at odd hours, but they were already open when I landed at 6 AM (despite stating they will be open at 7 AM)
- Buy through Official Disneyland Website – Works the same as option 1, but you’ll still have to print out the tickets yourself. Currently, Disneyland entrance are limited due to COVID and only available to book on the official website.
2. Download the Tokyo Disneyland Resort App and Understand how the ride booking system works.
When I visited in 2019, Disneyland was still using the FASTPASS (FP) system, a line-skipping system that comes with your Tokyo Disneyland ticket. FP allows you to book a 1-hour window to come back and go on an express lane at a later time, and in my opinion makes the park experience convoluted.
However, when I came back 2021, I saw that they’ve done away with the entire FASTPASS system and I was so delighted! It has been replaced by Standby pass instead which can be obtained by using the Tokyo Disney Resort App after entering the Park (check the steps on how to get a Standby Pass here). Standby pass means you will be able to enter the queue for the venue at the return time of your Standby Pass. This makes the queue much shorter and moves faster.
Not all of the rides will require Standby pass, only popular ones. As stand by passes are limited, it does mean that some of the more popular rides could be “sold out” for the day. In our case, we went during peak period and despite entering the park shortly after opening time, we couldn’t even book for Beauty and the Beast.
3. How to check ride wait time, operating status and current wait time
Again when I visited in 2019, the official Tokyo Disneyland website claims to have all the ride wait time… but in my experience, it did not work when I was there! The Tokyo Disneyland iOS App also were only available to Japanese iPhone users. It was frustrating.
I’m happy to report that when I came back in 2021, they’ve fixed this issue. The Tokyo Disney Resort App will give you wait time for all fo the rides in Tokyo Disneyland. Definitely download this before hand!
Or if the app does not work for you, you can check the Tokyo Disneyland website for wait time. It does work this time.
How to optimize your Tokyo Disneyland Trip
Okay! Now that you’ve been updated to the current ride reservation system at Disneyland, let’s get on the tips on how to actually optimize your time in Tokyo Disneyland:
Grab the Standby passes for the most popular ride – You can only hold one Standby Pass at a time, so make sure you get the one ride you really want to go on. In my experience, Enchanted Tales of Beauty and the Beast sold out the fastest so if you really want, you could try to spend your standby pass on this ride. However it does mean that unless you get an early return time, you pretty much render your standby pass useless for the day. Another strategy would be to get the earliest possible return time for another popular ride, then book another standby pass again as soon as you get utilize the current standby pass.
Check other rides wait time – The first thing you should do when you get to the park is to look at the map at the Disneyland app and check all the ride wait time – I’ve elaborated on how to do this above. Also, you should check operating status as some rides might be closed for maintenance. Then, begin strategizing!
Popular rides in Tokyo Disneyland – The following rides are more popular than the rest, so you definitely should check them first!
- Enchanted Tales of Beauty and the Beast
- Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek
- Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Haunted Mansion
- Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
Check for special parades – I’m not sure if it’s because I went during Easter, but there were at least 3 parades on the day I went. And during these parades, the major streets in the park are closed, which makes it a bit hard to move around. So make sure to keep this in mind! Also if you’re going during special time like Christmas (which means there will be Christmas parade), the park will be inaccessible while the parade is going on, as it’s extremely popular and people would “reserve” their spot since the morning.
Don’t forget about the daily fireworks! This usually happens around 8PM.
What to eat in Tokyo Disneyland
Initially, I was worried about the food situation inside the park. What if all the food are expensive and not good? I was even thinking of packing some onigiri and snack because I didn’t want to go hungry. But once inside the park, I realized my fears were totally unfounded.
The food in Tokyo Disneyland kicks major ass in SO many ways – The reasonable price, the delicious taste, and the super creative concept! I really appreciate the folks at Tokyo Disneyland for making food such a delightful experience.
The only down time would be the queue time if you came to Tokyo Disneyland during peak period, such as summer or school holiday. The queue could get pretty long. During COVID, it was impossible to eat at a normal restaurants as they have been booked weeks in advance.
Here are my favorite eats in Tokyo Disneyland:
1. Three Green Alien Mochi (300 Yen)
This is seriously THE CUTEST! I squealed when I saw this in person. They are basically three mochis (rice cake) balls shaped like the little green men in Toy Story. The mochi each has different fillings – strawberry, chocolate, and custard. Such a genius concept! Fittingly, you can find this at the Pan Galactic Pizza food court in Tomorrowland.
2. Mickey Gloves Chicken Sandwich (600 yen a la carte / 900 yen with a set meal)
Yet another item I squealed when I saw it in person. On the menu, it’s a pretty average-sounding grilled chicken and scrambled eggs sandwich. The kicker? It’s served inside a Chinese bun that is perfectly shaped like Mickey Mouse’s gloves! You can buy this sandwich at Huey, Dewey and Louie’s Good Time Cafe in Toontown.
3. Mickey-shaped Churros (300 Yen)
The OG Disneyland in Los Angeles might have the most famous churros, but you can only find these Mickey-shaped ones in Tokyo Disneyland! I love the subtlety here. You can only see the mickey shape if you look at the churros from the top down. If I didn’t know about it, I might have missed it myself! You can find this all over the Tokyo Disneyland park. Just keep an eye out for the sweets stand – I got mine at Westernland.
4. Smoked Turkey Leg, a Disneyland Classic! (800 Yen)
This is a Disneyland classic, and definitely a must-have. I have been told the portion is not as massive as the ones in original Disneyland, but it was just right for me! You can find this at the Cowboy Cookhouse in Westernland.
The Cinderella Castle
Everyone must get a photo at the famous Cinderella Castle whenever they visit Disneyland, right? Having taken a million photos of it during my visit, I can definitely say the best time to take photos at the castle is right before sunset! Google the sunset time at the time of your visit, and make sure you are at the castle 30 minutes before the sunset time. This ensures a nice soft light which makes it all the more magical.
By the way, if the front of castle is under construction for whatever reason (like the day I visited), don’t worry! Try going around to the back – it’s just as beautiful too! The photo above was actually taken from the back of the castle.
Okay, that’s all I have on Tokyo Disneyland! If this guide helped you, please leave a comment below. I love reading your comments!