Japan, Tokyo

Tokyo Disneyland Guide: How to optimize your visit and minimize wait time!

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I have been going to Tokyo every year for the past decade, 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 are available exclusively in Tokyo.

Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland
Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland

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 works.

I’ve visited Tokyo Disneyland twice now – once in 2019 before COVID, and once in December 2021 in the middle of COVID right before the Omicron wave hit Japan (which didn’t stop people from going to Disneyland!). I’ll try to impart as much of my knowledge as possible.

First, let’s understand the basics of visiting Tokyo Disneyland:

1. Buy Tokyo Disneyland Ticket Online

If there is ONE thing you take away from this blog, do this. Buy your tickets ahead of time! You don’t want to buy tickets on the day. You may not even get a ticket if you are visiting during the peak period.

You can buy Disneyland tickets 2 months before your intended visit date. Here are a few ways to obtain tickets:

  • Buy through Klook, an authorized booking partner – When you buy Disney tickets from Klook, you don’t need to do anything else. You just scan the QR code at the entrance and off you go.
  • Alternatively, the Tokyo Disneyland ticket can be purchased as an add-on to Tokyo Pass! If you plan to visit other attractions while in Tokyo, you might be able to save some money if you get this pass.
  • Buy through the Official website

What is Klook? Klook is the leading travel and experiences booking website in Asia. And yes, they are legit! I personally always book my activities through them whenever I am traveling. See my review of Klook here.

2. Download the Tokyo Disneyland Resort App

The Tokyo Disney Resort App is your lifeline during the visit. It is where you can obtain Standby passes (if available for the day you’re visiting), buy the Disney Premier access, book restaurants, and get entry requests for certain events. So make sure you have it downloaded!

Find links to download the Tokyo Disney Resort App here

3. Understand the queueing systems in Tokyo Disney

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.

However, when I came back in December 2021, they’d done away with the entire FP system. It has been replaced by a few different types of passes, all of which can only be obtained by using the Tokyo Disney Resort App after entering the park.

There are 4 passes available at Tokyo Disneyland:

  1. Entry Request
  2. Standby Pass
  3. Disney Premier Access
  4. Tokyo Disney Resort 40th Anniversary Priority Pass (NEW)

What is an Entry Request?

Certain experiences might require an entry request. Currently, it is mostly used for characters’ meet and greet (and not rides). These do sell out, so you’ll want to book as soon as you get to the park.

If this interests you, feel free to check out what experience is available through Entry Request here.

What is a Standby Pass?

A Standby Pass essentially means you are booking a time to join the queue at certain attractions and shops. When you grab a standby pass for an attraction, it will tell you the time you can return to join the queue for that attraction. This makes the queue much shorter and moves faster for those who were able to secure a standby pass.

Standby Pass is not a requirement. Not all of the rides will require a Standby Pass and there might be days when Standby Pass won’t even be released at all. However, for the days that it is released, there might also be a time when only those who have obtained a Standby ticket can join the queue.

You can hold only one Standby pass at a time during your visit. You can only book another standby pass for another attraction once you’ve utilized the standby pass, so make sure to use it wisely.

Check the steps on how to get a Standby Pass here and which attractions, if any, require a Standby Pass on that day. This list is updated daily so you can check it on the day you’re planning to visit the park.

As Standby Passes are limited, it does mean that some of the more popular rides could be booked out for the day and no more standby passes will be issued. In our case, we went during the peak period and despite entering the park shortly after it opened in the morning, we STILL couldn’t get a pass for Beauty and the Beast.

What is Disney Premier Access?

Disney Premier Access is effectively a paid FASTPASS that was launched in May 2022 at Tokyo Disneyland. It has an additional fee of 1,500-2,500 yen that you must pay on top of your entrance ticket to be able to join the express queue to some of the most popular rides, and even the parades.

You can only buy one Disney Premier Access per entrance ticket every hour. Of course, the highly coveted Beauty and the Beast is one of the rides on Disney Premier Access.

How is it different than the other passes? Aside from Premier Access being a paid pass, you’ll also be able to specify which time you want to access the attraction.

Click here for more information on Disney Premier Access

What is a Priority Pass?

Available from 26 July 2023 until further notice, this is the newest type of pass available at Tokyo Disney Resort. It is also branded as the Tokyo Disney Resort 40th Anniversary Priority Pass, which may insinuate that it is temporary.

From my experience, it works almost the same as the Fast Pass system they used to have. You’ll be able to reserve a time to come back for certain attractions to skip the queue, but you cannot choose the time. You can also only reserve one Priority Pass every 2 hours.

Take note that Priority Pass might sell out. On my last visit on Dec 2023, all the Priority Pass was sold out by 4pm.

Learn more about the Priority Pass here

4. How to check ride wait time, operating status, and current wait time

Again when I visited in 2019, the official Tokyo Disneyland website claimed to have all the ride wait times… but in my experience, the website did not work for me when I visited the park! The Tokyo Disneyland iOS App also was only available to Japanese iPhone users at that time. It was frustrating.

I’m happy to report that when I came back in 2021 and 2023, they fixed this issue. The Tokyo Disney Resort App will not only give you wait time for all of the rides in Tokyo Disneyland, but it lets you do pretty much everything you want to do in the park – getting priority passes, booking restaurant, etc. Definitely download this app before coming to the park!

If the app does not work for you, you can check this third-party website for the wait times.

Toontown at Tokyo Disneyland
Toontown at Tokyo Disneyland

How to get to Tokyo Disney Resort

1. By Local Train

Tokyo Disney Resort can be reached via Maihama station on the JR line. So, staying somewhere around the area could help you get to the resort faster. I will elaborate more on this topic in the next section.

2. By Shuttle Bus from Shinjuku

If you don’t want to change hotel, there is a shuttle bus from Shinjuku that will get you to the resort around 9AM. Book the shuttle bus here. However it’s only a one-way transfer, so on the way back you can take the local train.

Where to stay when visiting Tokyo Disney Resort

If you are visiting both Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea, you might want to opt to stay closer to the resort. Or if you just don’t want to waste time on the train getting here. There is of course the option of staying at the resort itself, but it is quite pricey.

As I was saying before, Tokyo Disney Resort can be reached via Maihama station on the JR line. So, staying somewhere around the Maihama station or 1-5 stations away in Urayasu would help you cut down the travel time to the resorts.

Here are some recommendations:

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 tips on how to optimize your time in Tokyo Disneyland!

Here are the things you need to do as soon as you enter the park:

1. Download the Tokyo Disneyland Resort App and add your tickets to the app – This should be the VERY FIRST thing you do when you get to the park. This will allow you to manage the entire group’s premier access and priority pass allowance. It will also assist you with other admins during your visit such, as booking restaurants, looking up wait times for the rides, etc.

Find links to download the Tokyo Disney Resort App here

2. Buy the Disney Premier Access for Beauty and The Beast – This ride is extremely popular and you should purchase the access as soon as you get to the park. Unless, you are okay to queue for the ride, which might take 2-4 hours depending on the crowd on the day. This past December, I arrived pretty late to the park at 10:30 AM, and the premier access for this ride was already sold out for the day.

3. If Priority Pass is available, grab it for the most popular ride at the earliest time – For example, Space Mountain is one of the most popular rides at Tokyo Disneyland. If there is a Priority Pass available then immediately grab it. Then, get another Priority Pass 2 hours later for other attractions.

4. Check other rides’ wait times – Another thing you should do when you get to the park is to look at the map in the Disneyland app and check all the ride wait times – I’ve elaborated on how to do this above. Also, you should check the operating status as some rides might be closed for maintenance. Then, begin strategizing!

5. Know which ride is the most popular in Tokyo Disneyland – The following rides are more popular than the rest, so you should prioritize getting passes for them:

  • Enchanted Tales of Beauty and the Beast
  • Splash Mountain
  • Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
  • Space Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pooh’s Hunny Hunt

6. Check for the park’s 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. 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!

Tip: You can check the parade schedule in Tokyo Disneyland here

Also if you’re going during a special time like Christmas (which means there will be a 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.

7. Don’t forget about the daily fireworks! This usually happens around 8 to 8:30 PM so try to stay at the park as long as you can to witness this fireworks show.

8. Don’t forget to have fun – Last but not least, I know this is a lot and optimizing your Disneyland visit is quite overwhelming. If you didn’t manage to get on the ride you wanted, that’s alright! I have gone to Tokyo Disneyland three times and still didn’t manage to get on Beauty and the Beast, but I still had a lot of fun. And honestly, that’s all that matters right?

What to eat in Tokyo Disneyland

Initially, I was worried about the food situation inside the park. What if all the food is expensive and not good? I was even thinking of packing some onigiri and snacks because I didn’t want to go hungry. But once inside the park, I realized my fears were unfounded.

The food in Tokyo Disneyland kicks butt 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 downtime would be the queue time if you came to Tokyo Disneyland during peak periods, such as summer or school holidays. It could get pretty long. During COVID, it was impossible to eat at a normal restaurant as they had been booked weeks in advance, so we had to resort to eating outside or at the food courts where seats are first-come-first-served. If any restaurants catch your eye, please book ahead!

Here are my favorite eats in Tokyo Disneyland:

1. Three Green Alien Mochi (300 Yen)

This is seriously THE CUTEST food ever! I squealed when I saw this in person. They are 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! You can find this at the Plazma Ray’s Diner in Tomorrowland.

Green Alien Mochi at Tokyo Disneyland
Green Alien Mochi at Tokyo Disneyland

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.

Mickey Burger at Tokyo Disneyland
Mickey Burger at Tokyo Disneyland

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. I might have missed it myself if I didn’t know about it! You can find this all over Tokyo Disneyland Park. Just keep an eye out for the sweets stand – I got mine at Westernland.

Mickey Churros at Tokyo Disneyland
Mickey Churros at Tokyo Disneyland

4. Smoked Turkey Leg, a Disneyland Classic! (900 Yen)

This is a Disneyland classic and a must-have. I have been told the portion is not as massive as the ones in the original Disneyland, but it was just right for me! You can find this at the Cowboy Cookhouse in Westernland.

Turkey Leg at Tokyo Disneyland
Turkey Leg at Tokyo Disneyland

5. Mickey-shaped eggs!

I have no idea how they did this, but a few restaurants at Tokyo Disneyworld feature yolk shaped like that iconic mickey-shaped silhouette. Super cute! I call them the mickey-egg 😛

You can find Mickey-egg served with the Hungry Bear Curry at Hungry Bear Restaurant for 1200 yen.

Hungry Bear Curry at Tokyo Disneyland
Hungry Bear Curry at Tokyo Disneyland

There are also a few mains served with Mickey-egg at Plazma Ray’s Diner in Tomorrowland.

Mickey-shaped egg at Plasma Rays Diner
Mickey-shaped egg at Plasma Rays Diner

Getting a photo at 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 say the best time to take photos at the castle is right before sunset! So, 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 pink light which makes it all the more magical.

Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland
Back of Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland

By the way, if the front of the 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 I have above was taken from the back of the castle, near the Dumbo ride.

Okay, that’s all I have on Tokyo Disneyland! If this guide helped you, please leave a comment below. I love reading your comments.

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Tokyo Disneyland
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Filed under: Japan, Tokyo

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

18 Comments

  1. Laura Dicken says

    Hello, Thanks so much for your very helpful guide. When you arrived at 10:30am, did you find it was easy to get straight into the park or did you have a long wait?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Laura, at 10:30AM i was able to just walk in. I think the queue only forms at opening hours.

  2. Nicole says

    Great blog! Thanks for the awesome tips. I am looking forward to going in June!

  3. Patti says

    Lots of great information. I would have liked it if you had compared the names of priority access passes and others with the US Disney Parks names to make it a little easier to understand.

  4. Lisa Stojanovski says

    Thank you so much for this helpful and detailed guide! Visiting in March 2024 for my honeymoon. So excited!

  5. Such a helpful post, thank you! This will be our second time in Tokyo but our first going to Disneyland and I can’t wait. Are all the foods that you included here available as takeaway at stands or were some pre-booking only?

  6. Guan Sey says

    Hi, Melissa, need some advice here.
    Upon entering the park, should I try getting a Priority Pass (for Attraction A) before getting a paid Premium Pass (for Attraction B), since the time for the Priority Pass is assigned. I can then select a time for the Premium Pass to make sure it doesn’t clash with the assigned timing of the Priority Pass. Is that how it works?
    Any insights is appreciated!

  7. seyoo says

    hiya, i just wanted to say i like your blog a lot, no one makes guides this specific. i hope to use these for my trip next year!!

  8. Leslie says

    Very very helpful! We will be visiting from Mexico and all this detailed information is super useful! Thank you!

  9. Cassidy says

    Love your blog/instagram! Also absolutely LOVE that you visited one of my favorite places on earth, Tokyo Disney Resort!!

  10. Carolina says

    Hi! I’m from Chile, and i’m planning a trip to Tokyo next year.
    I’m planning visiting Tokyo Disneyland too.
    ☺. Thank you for sharing this! It will be very useful ☺

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