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Top 10 Tips for Visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea

Disneyland is a childhood destination like no other and Tokyo’s version of Disney magic is pretty unique. It's a bucket list experience that really does live up to the hype!

Tokyo Disney Resort can be an intense experience so here are my Top 10 tips for visiting Tokyo Disneyland and the adjoining park Tokyo DisneySea with children, especially kids under 5 years.

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1. Book your tickets ahead for off-peak days

The key to making the most out of the Disneyland is to plan, plan, plan.

If your travel schedule allows, try to avoid weekends and public holidays as crowds can swell to 100,000 people. Mondays and Fridays are next busiest so try to visit on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Check out a forecast crowd density map here.

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To save queueing up at the ticket office book your tickets online. You can buy a 1 Day Disneyland ticket here and a 2 Day Disneyland/DisneySea ticket here.

We find a day at Tokyo Disneyland, a day at Tokyo DisneySea and one more day at Tokyo Disneyland doing a few things we missed on the first visit is the perfect length of time for us.

You can enter the parks directly with these prepaid vouchers but note that pre-purchasing a ticket still means you have to line up to enter!

2. Stay at a Disney hotel or one of the partner hotels

Visiting Tokyo Disney Resort can be tiring so you really want to minimise travel time between the park and your accommodation, particularly if you need afternoon naps or want to rest before heading out for night-time adventures.

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If you stay at a Disney hotel or one of the six Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels you don’t even need to schlep there with your luggage. When you alight from JR station Maihama just go to the Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Center on the station level and check in there. Your belongings will be transported to your hotel with no extra fee.

If you stay at one of the Official Hotels you can access the parks via Bayside Station on the Disney Monorail. The further ones have a free shuttle bus service connecting to Bayside Station.

I recommend buying a multi-day trip pass if you’re going to be moving back and forth between the hotel and parks several times a day or use your Suica card to tap and go.

Of the six Official Hotels, the two best ones for English-speaking guests are the American hotel chains –  Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel and Hilton Tokyo Bay.

3. Why the Hilton Tokyo Bay should be your first choice

We choose to stay at the Hilton Tokyo Bay because they have fairy-tale themed rooms and suites! The Happy Magic Rooms and Happy Magic Suites are particularly geared towards families and our stay is delightful and easy from start to finish.

There is a soft play area in the lobby where kids can run free while you deal with the administration of checking in, checking out etc.

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The enchanted forest lift lobby introduces us to the spacious 2 bedroom suite carpeted with stars and storybooks.

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The main room includes two single beds, a long couch, table and chairs suitable for playing or for dining in. The adults’ bathroom includes a double sink and large Western-style shower. Oh, and a large-sized key which lights up when you put it inside the fairy door lock!


Find Hotels and Airbnbs near Disneyland, Tokyo


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The second room is even more magical! It's painted with hot air balloons and a sunny sky on the ceiling with a dimmer light to make the sun rise, a magic mirror where a friendly witch appears when you press the button, a tree and little fake wood trunk stools surrounding the TV and four single beds pushed together. A little nook stores some Japanese children’s books and DVDs, child-sized robes and a large tub of Lego which keep the kids really happy.

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The kids have their own bathroom, complete with two small sinks, coloured tooth mugs, kiddie dental sets and some fun witch-shaped sponges which expand in water. The Japanese style bath and spa bath are part of this area.

Other amenities include a mini bar, toiletries, free wifi, an ironing board and robes.

On site there are several restaurants, all of which are reasonably expensive as you’d expect. We have an excellent Chinese dinner at Dynasty though it is a bit hurried as the kids are not well-behaved…but the food is delicious. Try the giant-sized gyoza! The breakfast buffet is substantial, with Japanese and Western options.

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They also have a reasonably priced sandwich bar/bakery/fast food outlet called Fresh Connection in the lobby that will deliver to your room.

Other facilities include a gym with an indoor heated pool, and in summer the outdoor pool with children's pool is open.

The hotel provides a free shuttle bus to the JR Maihama station and it’s a short walk across the road to the Bayside monorail station that travels to the two Disney park stations.

If you book far in advance online you can get great rates that include breakfast.

4. Plan your FastPASS attractions and arrive at least 30 minutes gates open

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Certain rides and shows have FastPASS tickets where you can get a ticket with a time window for entry later. It may still mean a bit of a queue at your allotted time, but a significantly shorter wait than if you didn’t have a FastPASS.

If you plan it right you can probably obtain 2-3 FastPASSes in one day. Note you are only allowed one active FastPASS at a time ie you can’t get your next FastPASS unless the time window of the first FastPASS has expired.

Here is our strategy:

  1. Get in line to enter the park at least 30 minutes before gates open.
  2. The fastest person (T) has everyone’s tickets. As soon we all got through the gate he runs to the first FastPASS ride and gets tickets for the earliest time possible.
  3. I take the kids and walk more slowly, absorbing the atmosphere, the music, the scenery. We head to the rides that we want to go on before queues started forming.
  4. We return to the FastPASS ride at our allotted time. After that ride, repeat steps 1-4 for the next FastPASS.

The Tokyo Disney Resort website and the map shows you which rides have FastPASS available.

5. Bring a hat, sunscreen, snacks and a water bottle

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Despite the FastPASS system, there’s still a lot of queueing up. Our tactic is to split up with the kids and use the time to go to the toilet, apply sunscreen and eat snacks.

Every morning I’d raid the hotel breakfast buffet and fill our Nude Food Mover Rubbish Free lunchbox. At the first hint of whining I’d whip it out and the kids happily settle down for a snack.

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You’ll see lots of people wearing themed popcorn tubs that you hang over your neck and you can buy different flavoured popcorn at various locations. We decide against the tubs because I know at some stage the kids would get sick of wearing them (and I’d have to carry them!) plus I didn’t want them to eat so much popcorn.

There's not a lot of shelter while you're lining up so bring a hat for hot days.

6. It’s ok to bring a pram

Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are both very pram-friendly, with wide boulevards and accessibility ramps/lifts where necessary. Some rides will even let you line up with a pram at the last moment, though most will require you to park your pram in a designated area before you line up. No one seems to worry about leaving prams or valuables in prams.

You can also hire a pram if you don’t want to bring your own. We actually find our pram very useful for ferrying gear around and the kids alternate sitting in it as they get tired.

7. Disneyland – head first to Fantasyland and Toon Town

For young children, Fantasyland and Toon Town are the most suitable areas in Tokyo Disneyland.

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In Fantasyland, our kids love the carousel, Alice’s Tea Cups and the Dumbo ride. It’s also the home of the iconic It’s a Small World. Note Pooh’s Hunny Hunt is Disneyland’s most popular FastPASS ride (though not that amazing I thought).

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Toon Town has a small no-queueing play area with a little shade which is a good spot for a snack and a rest.

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Baby 2.0’s all-time favourite ride is in Tomorrowland. Grand Circuit Raceway is a racetrack where the cars are on tracks so little kids can drive (if an adult pushes the pedal for them).

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8. DisneySea – head to Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast

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Tokyo DisneySea has some similar rides to Disneyland but the park is themed differently.

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Our kids love the double-decker carousel, a version of Tea Cups called the Whirlpool and Jasmine’s flying carpets.

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Many attractions within Mermaid Lagoon are undercover and dimly lit so the kids don't enjoy it as much as I expected.

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The Little Mermaid Show is worth seeing as it’s fun and avoids the scary bits of the story. The Magic Lamp Theatre has 3D effects and freaks out two year old Baby 2.0.

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I thought we’d made a mistake choosing Toy Story Mania (dark, 3D effects, quite loud) but it is actually really fun because you shoot at targets and score points on large screens.

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The water play area is a surprise and a hit with the kids so remember to bring a towel/change of clothes.

9. Don’t expect your kids to love every ride

The Tokyo Disney Resort website allows you to sort rides in each park for those that are suitable for babies and kids under 3 years.

However, to our dismay, we learn that some of those rides deemed suitable for young kids are still terrifying. It is actually quite awful to have them crying and wailing ‘I want to go out’ when it is supposed to be fun.

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If you have kids who don’t like the dark or loud noises avoid:

  • Buzz Lightyear – Zerg the baddie makes an appearance;
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – pitch black moments, creepy creatures, cannons;
  • Jungle Cruise – our kids are terrified by the jungle animal animatronics, a tunnel with fire demons projected on it and the insane Japanese game show host/boat driver;
  • 20,000 Leagues under the sea – the submarine is claustrophobic, the Japanese commentary gets a bit hysterical and creatures include things with glowing eyes and a giant octopus. The stuff of nightmares;
  • Splash Mountain – darkness, animatronics and a big splashy slide at the end. Lady AB is smart enough to pull out at the last minute whereas Baby 2.0 doesn't get a choice. Look at his petrified little face!

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Honestly, I think we managed to traumatise our kids at least twice a day during our holiday.

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10. Eat at the Queen’s Banqueting Hall, Shop at the Grand Emporium or your hotel

Our favourite themed restaurant is the Alice in Wonderland themed banqueting hall in Tokyo Disneyland. The food is surprisingly reasonably priced and you can buy a souvenir plate and cup with your meal.

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Some restaurants have long waits so you have to book ahead, sort of like the FastPASS system. And they all have children’s menus.

There are shops and merch stalls dotted everywhere in the park but the Grand Emporium in Disneyland has the largest selection of merchandise. If you don’t like the crowds and don’t mind a limited option then the Disney hotels and Official hotels have small Disney stores too.

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We are so tired by the end of the day that we don't make it to any of the night time events eg the apparently spectacular evening light show. We also don't bother with any of the big parades and shows as the kids are too freaked out by the noise.  When the parades are on it’s the prime time to line up for popular rides.

If you're thinking about exploring Japan with kids, check out Webjet Exclusives who run a ‘Discover Japan tour' which includes Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kanazawa and more.

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This post contains affiliate links which means that I receive a small commission for every booking at no additional cost to you. 

Kristyna Hess Lockdown Portraits 1000 X 667

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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