10 Tokyo Disney Resort Tips For First Timers

Major Disney Parks fans will tell you that all the parks worldwide may share a vibe, but they are vastly different from one another. Whether you're talking about cultural or logistical park differences, knowing a few insider tricks will undoubtedly help make your visit to any park magical.

You can't go wrong with Tokyo Disney Resort (TDR), which is known for having the cutest merchandise, the best-themed food, and just the general kawaii vibe you can't get anywhere else. Opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland was Disney's first international park. TDR changed the game for Disney fans worldwide, who no longer had to come to the United States to enjoy the parks.

TDR comprises Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, as well as the on-site resorts. This Tokyo-based Disney resort is another incredible foray into what it means to be immersed in Disney magic. It's also the home to Duffy and Friends, Mickey Mouse's teddy bear, and his adorable animal companions. What's better than that? Nothing.

Download the app beforehand

Disney may know theme parks, but they've also gotten apps down to a science. The Tokyo Disney Resort app will be your best friend while navigating both parks during your vacation. Beyond providing wait and showtimes in Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, the app lets you make reservations, access photos, and much more. The TDR app also has maps to help you make the most of your visit to the parks by not spending countless minutes getting lost.

The app also allows you to purchase and utilize Premier Access. Like the Disney Plus system at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Premier Access is an add-on allowing guests to access skip-the-line privileges for rides and attractions. The app also has Entry Request, which is a free service offered by TDR. Entry Request can be used to reserve seating at certain shows and access to character greetings around the park. Keep in mind that Entry Request for show seats is more of a lottery than a reservation system, so you may not get a seat.

Hit popular rides early

This suggestion isn't unique to the Tokyo Disney Resort, but it's still vital to thoroughly enjoy a Disney Park day. It may seem like a lot of people enter the parks as soon as the doors open, yet everyone has their own agenda. So, by planning on hitting a popular or your most-anticipated ride right away in the morning, you won't have to wait an excruciatingly long time, or purchase passes to skip the line later.

Getting to the most popular rides first will also ensure you can experience certain attractions that aren't available at other parks around the world. One ride you won't find elsewhere is Journey to the Center of the Earth, one of the only proper roller coasters you'll find at TDR.

In conjunction with enjoying rides early, you'll also want to keep track of the availability of the shows in the TDR app's free Entry Request service. Since Entry Request operates more like a lottery system, you may want to just queue up for the first show performance of whatever you want to see that day. Chances are you'll be able to get a seat even if you have to wait a while for it.

Get tickets in advance

When you're excited for a Disney day, the last thing you want to do is waste time lining up to buy tickets. Your best bet is to get your tickets in advance online or as part of a package. That way, you head straight to the entrance queue and skip yet another line to start your day off strong. Tickets can be purchased for up to five visits at a time.

TDR is only selling fixed-date tickets right now, with no indication that they will change that in the future. As their name implies, fixed-date tickets require the ticketholder to know when they want to visit the resort. That said, you can contact the resort if your plans change and you need to adjust the dates (so long as your tickets are still valid). Fixed-date tickets are available for purchase up to 60 days in advance of your visit.

Plan for at least four park days

Truth be told, you could probably see all of Tokyo Disney Resort in one day if you spend half at Tokyo Disneyland and the other half at Tokyo DisneySea. There's just no way you're going to get the whole experience by doing things that way, though. The prime number of days to spend at TDR, regardless of how you break it up, is four.

That gives you plenty of time to see what you have to see, experience things you may not have known about, and re-ride the attractions you will inevitably fall in love with along the way. Plus, if you don't manage to get seats for shows through the Entry Request service, four days gives you plenty of time to try and see things with or without winning the app lottery. And it gives you ample time to eat your weight in little green alien mochi — it's a win-win all around.

Stay on the property

Choosing a Disney hotel for your accommodation will almost always be a more expensive option. However, staying nearby has many perks that often outweigh the cost-benefit, and TDR is no exception. Not commuting back to a different hotel, getting access to the parks outside of regular hours, and being able to enjoy Disney magic from sunup to sundown are just a few reasons why staying on property at a Disney park is almost always a good idea.

While Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are smaller parks, you may still want to return to your resort for a mid-day nap or rest. Even though they're both smaller than Florida's EPCOT and Animal Kingdom, you don't want to run yourself ragged during your visit, either. After all, it's a vacation! There are five official Disney hotels on the TDR property (which will become six in spring 2024 when Tokyo DisneySea Fantasy Springs Hotel opens), with six additional partner hotels nearby.

Don't forget the restaurant reservations

One of the reasons why Disney fans visit parks all over the world is because they are all so different. All the parks have their own range of unique restaurants you can't enjoy elsewhere, making reservations crucial if you want to eat in one of these coveted locations. With wait times between one to two hours (if waiting is even available), you don't want to expel all of your precious park time just waiting to sit down at a table.

Plus, for a little more money, you may even get a souvenir plate or cup with your food. TDR is known for its absurdly cute merchandise, and who couldn't use more Disney kitchenware for just a few dollars more?

Keep in mind that, unlike Disney parks in the U.S., Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea do not allow visitors to bring in outside food. There are picnic areas outside TDR if you wish to bring food along; you just can't have it in the parks. This means restaurant reservations are even more critical than usual here.

Watch out for characters

Frequent Walt Disney World visitors are often thrilled at interacting with characters meandering around the park throughout the day. So, if that is one of your highlights, this tip is for you. Just like at Disneyland in California, some characters wander around TDR, greeting visitors as they do. Although some have permanent locations where they can be found, others you may just run into. If that happens and you want a photo, be sure to get it right then and there in case you don't see them again.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the functions of the Entry Request system is to request a spot for character greetings. Not all characters require these reservations, though the most popular icons, such as Mickey Mouse, may require a booking to meet. The majority of characters do not require reservations ahead of time. These requirements can change, so keep an eye on your app before heading to the character greeting spots.

The monorail isn't free

Hold onto your ears, Disney lovers. You read that right; the monorail to the parks is not a free service like transportation to other Disney park locations worldwide. At TDR, the monorail is considered public transportation and, therefore, requires a small payment to ride. The kicker is that the fee must be paid in cash, so be sure to have some money with you when you visit. Make sure you are carrying some small bill denominations since the fee is only about JP¥260 (around $1.75) as of 2023

The monorail is also known as the Disney Resort Line and runs from the Resort Gateway Station at Ikspiari to Tokyo Disneyland Station, Bayside Station, and then Tokyo DisneySea Station. Should you require them, there are also secure locker facilities at each train station along the monorail's route, perfect if you need to offload some merch.

Bring the phone essentials

One thing that folks might need to remember when planning a trip to TDR is how quickly your phone battery will drain, particularly if you're making good use of the park mobile app. That's doubly true if you're visiting TDR from another country like the United States. Your phone is working even harder to stay awake when it isn't always near a recognizable cell tower.

Like at the U.S. parks, you can rent a portable battery at TDR. These rental locations are found both inside and outside the parks. However, the rental fees are based on how long you use the battery, unlike the portable batteries at the U.S. parks. Starting at under an hour and going up to 48 hours, these batteries help in a pinch. Plus, the prices are super reasonable. They start at JP¥180 (just over $1.20) for less than an hour to JP¥900 (approximately $6) for up to 48 hours. Longer rentals are also available. That's a lot more reasonable than the expensive portable batteries at Disneyland and Disney World.

Be aware of holidays

In a place like TDR, crowds can feel a lot bigger. It's about the same park size as Disneyland in California, so the place fills up quickly. That's why you need to be aware of Japanese public holidays and school calendars when planning your visit. Going to a Disney park in the off-season is generally a good idea anyway, especially if you want to avoid significant crowds.

As with other Disney parks worldwide, TDR is packed during the Christmas and New Year holidays. These crowds continue into the start of January. Golden Week, when several national holidays take place over the course of a week, is also a very crowded time to visit TDR. Golden Week spans the end of April into the first week of May, varying slightly each year.

Outside of bigger holidays, the parks remain busy during spring break, which occurs for Japanese students from the end of February into March. Summer is also busy because of holidays like Marine Day and Mountain Day. A place like Tokyo Disney Resort is always relatively busy, but planning your visit wisely can be the difference between a good time and a great one.