Tips upon arrival
1. Arrive early. That’s really a must! This Disneyland is different from the ones in the US or France: you won’t profit from an hour or two of quiet time in the park and not-yet-busy attractions at the opening. On the contrary, you’ll see big crowds waiting for the turnstiles to open already an hour before the opening time! Get in line and follow the running crowd when the gates open: your goal will be to grab Fastpasses for Monster’s Inc if you’re in Disneyland, or Toy Story Midway Mania if you’re in DisneySea. The line for the Fastpasses will be significant and you’ll be surprised to find that the time slot you got is somewhere in the afternoon, but it’s the only way to skip the giant standby queue for these attractions. On average, Fastpasses for these two rides run out an hour after the opening time! Once you got you skip-the-line ticket, get in the standby line for Winnie the Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (if in Disneyland) or Journey to the Center of the Earth (if in DisneySea). Right after the opening the queues are not yet big, and you’ll probably have to wait for 20-30 minutes max (compared to average 2 hours in the afternoon). This active start will already save you about 2 hours of time you would spend waiting in line!
2. Take lunch before 11 am or after 1 pm. With the crowds it may be quite difficult to find a place in a restaurant. As a bonus, the waiting times for most attractions get lower at this time, as most visitors are busy eating. Make the most of it! By the way, eating a sandwich in the waiting line for an attraction is considered totally ok.
3. Use rides during Parade and shows: attractions along the parade route will have shorter waiting times, especially The Haunted Mansion. If it’s not your first time in Tokyo Disneyland or you’re staying for a couple of days - rush to rides! If you want to see the Parade - think of leaving it about 5 minutes before the end - you’ll still join the queue with shorter waiting times. Consider that it’ll become very messy right after the end of the Parade, with most visitors rushing back to the rides and waiting times increasing dramatically!
4. Don’t leave shopping for the end of the day. Everybody rushes to buy presents and souvenirs in the late afternoon, we recommend doing it at another time.
5. Use Fastpass everywhere you can. It’s free and it cuts your wait for the main attractions. You’ll need your park ticket for every fastpass you get. Remember you can grab a new one either when the designated period of the previous one starts or two hours after the previous one has been released (whatever is the earliest). It’s always a good time saver to grab a new Fastpass the moment your previous time slot started and only then go to the ride. If you don’t know for which attraction you should grab the next Fastpass - take the one with the latest return time: it means the fastpasses will run out earlier compared to other attractions, and there’s a high risk there won’t be any remaining if you come later in the day. Special limitation applies if you want to get the second Fastpass for the same attraction: 2-hours-before-the-next-fastpass rule can’t be applied then, you’ll have to wait for your return window to end.
6. Tokyo Disneyland is all about strategy. You should consider at once your priority list of attractions and the waiting times for the rides at the moment, trying to make the use of Fastpass the most valuable possible. Use it for the rides with the longest lines to save more time and prefer the standby queue when the waiting time is ok (one hour for popular rides is better than OK).
7. Use single rider lines wherever possible: Splash Mountain in Disneyland; Raging Spirits, Indiana Jones and Tower of Terror in DisneySea.
8. If it’s important to you to have a good view of the show - remember that the Japanese start bringing their mats to reserve their place an hour before the show and even earlier!
9. Stay until the end of the day: the queues for the rides are usually shorter after 7 pm.
10. Don’t get upset with crowds. The attendance of Tokyo Disneyland is extremely high, with sometimes about 70.000 visitors at once! You won’t be able to avoid crowds completely, but the Japanese are very well organized and behave extremely well in queues, while the waiting area of some rides is extremely interesting to explore. Stay positive and have a great day at Tokyo Disneyland!
11. Buy your tickets online! Don’t waste your time queueing at the entrance and buy your tickets in advance online, you’ll have enough queueing inside unfortunately.
Photo credits to Richard, enjoy my life! via Flickr
Average waiting time per crowd level
On a quiet day
Monsters, Inc., Splash Mountain, Meet Mickey - 60 min
Big Thunder, Hunny Hunt, Space Mountain - 50 min
Buzz Lightyear - 40 min
Star Tours, Haunted Mansion - 30 min
Monsters, Inc., Splash Mountain - 70 min
Big Thunder, Meet Mickey - 60 min
Space Mountain, Hunny Hunt - 50 min
Star Tours, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear - 40 min
Monsters, Inc., Splash Mountain - 110 min
Big Thunder, Meet Mickey, Space Mountain - 90 min
Hunny Hunt, Buzz Lightyear - 80 min
Haunted Mansion, Star Tours - 60 min
Very busy day
Monsters, Inc., Splash Mountain - 140 min
Big Thunder, Space Mountain - 120 min
Hunny Hunt, Meet Mickey - 110 min
Buzz Lightyear - 100 min
Haunted Mansion, Star Tours - 80 min
Photo credits to Ari Helminen via Flickr
When to visit Tokyo Disneyland
Major public holidays are the busiest time of the year. Avoid visiting the park during the Golden Week (end of April - beginning of May) and New Years holidays.
Saturday is the busiest day of the week, and the least visitors is during the week especially on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.
During the year the smallest crowds are in January (after the 6th) and February on weekdays: weekends are still very busy.
In summer it’s very hot and humid, yet very crowded. The second half of July and all of August are peak season.
The best time to visit Tokyo Disneyland is at the end of May: it’s quite calm in terms of crowds and the weather is good. Similar compromise between crowds and weather conditions is achievable in autumn months.
Holiday periods (Halloween, Christmas, etc.) are very busy. If there’s a Japanese holiday falling during this period, avoid visiting the park on this day as it will be overcrowded (for example, the Emperors Birthday on December 23). However, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day the crowds won’t be higher than on other days of the holiday season since it’s not celebrated in Japan.
Disneyland’s attendance depends a lot on the weather: during rain there are half as many visitors. Consider that most outdoor rides are closed if it rains and parades and shows cancelled. At the same time there will be no crowds and once the rain stops - everything will start working properly again. As a bonus, on a rainy day many visitors leave the park much earlier (starting from noon) and if the sun comes out later - you could be lucky with almost no waiting for the most popular rides even in peak season!
Photo credits to Richard, enjoy my life! via Flickr
Disney Sea and Disneyland
There are two Parks in Tokyo Disney Resort: Disneyland and Disney Sea. Staying in the resort for at least two days is the best way, of course, to visit both of them. If you can’t afford it or you lack on time - here’s the major difference: Disney Sea is more adult-oriented and more unique (it’s the only Disney Sea in the world) while Disneyland is more kids-oriented and traditional park (with all the Disney characters, famous castle, etc.). If you’re not sure about which one to choose - visit the Disneyland Resort’s Website to read about attractions they host and find those you prefer.