Whether Disney fan or otherwise, visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea (its sister theme park) is just one of those things that constantly tops Singaporeans’ travel bucket lists.
But before you get too seduced by the idea of a magic kingdom filled with love, peace and all your favourite Disney characters, here’s a sobering thought: Disneyland Japan can and will make you broke. Maybe that’s why it’s “the happiest place on earth”. Mo’ money, mo’ problems, right?
Unlike many other things you can do in Tokyo on a whim, going to Tokyo Disneyland is one of those things where you definitely want to plan and budget ahead of time. This guide will help with the latter.
Tokyo Disneyland vs Tokyo Disney Sea – what’s the difference?
For the complete n00bs, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea are 2 distinct theme parks that are both located in the sprawling Tokyo Disney Resort.
Tokyo Disneyland is the more popularly-known theme park. You’d recognise it right away in pictures thanks to the fabulous Disney castle (it’s from Cinderella) which is smack in the middle of the theme park.
Experience-wise, it’s the more kiddie-friendly of the 2, with tamer rides and more concerts and character-centric performances. It’s also more “vintage Disney” – the original characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck are all here, as well as classics like Aladdin and Cinderella.
Tokyo Disney Sea has a very different vibe from Disneyland. It’s nautical-themed and has a much more grown-up feel, complete with rides that are… actually thrilling.
Darker tales like Indiana Jones, Sinbad the Sailor and Journey to the Centre of the Earth take centre stage here, but there are also a few kid-pleasers like the Little Mermaid, Nemo and Duffy the Disney Bear.
Should you visit both? If you have time, money and inclination, totally. They’re very different, and, for hardcore Disney fans, each one has exclusive attractions that you won’t find in the other.
However, since tickets are only valid for one park (either Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea), you might find yourself having to make a pretty tough decision.
Go for Tokyo Disneyland if you’re with small children and/or you want the classic “Mickey Mouse & friends” experience. But if you’re more keen on adventure and thrill rides, Tokyo Disney Sea will be a lot more interesting and enjoyable.
Official Tokyo Disneyland ticket prices 2018
Whichever theme park you end up choosing, you will need to sort out your Tokyo Disneyland or Disney Sea tickets. Day passes to either cost the same, but, as mentioned above, your day pass only allows you to access one. Here’s how much a 1 Day Passport costs:
|Category||Age||Tokyo Disneyland / DisneySea ticket|
|Adult||18 & up||¥7,400 (S$89.24)|
|Junior||12 to 17||¥6,400 (S$77.18)|
|Child||4 to 11||¥4,800 (S$57.88)|
|Babies||0 to 3||Free entry|
|Senior||65 & up||¥6,400 (S$77.39)|
Technically, you can buy tickets at the gate, but that would be silly – why would you want to queue for hours or risk them being sold out? (Which can happen a lot earlier in the day than you think.)
Instead, you can just pre-purchase an e-ticket on the official Tokyo Disney Resort website for the same price, up to 3 months in advance.
Print out the e-ticket and you can use it to enter the theme park – no need to queue and exchange it for a separate physical ticket. All you need to do is scan the QR code on the printout at the entrance gate and the ticket machines at rides. Refer to this pictorial guide for more on how the e-ticket works.
There are 2 types of e-tickets: fixed date and open date ones. They cost the same price, but always, always go for the fixed date Tokyo Disneyland/sea tickets because:
- Fixed date tickets guarantee admission, while open date tickets don’t
- You can actually change the date on your ticket online
- There’s no fee for date changes, even if you do it last minute
With an open date ticket, you can visit the theme park on any day within a year, but there’s a chance you won’t be admitted if the theme park is full. That’s a big risk.
1 Day Passes may be the most popular, but Disney also sells several other ticket types:
|Tokyo Disneyland / Disney Sea ticket type||Adult (18 & up)||Junior (12 to 17)||Child (4 to 11)|
|After 6 Passport (weekdays after 6pm)||¥4,200 (S$50.65)||¥4,200 (S$50.65)||¥4,200 (S$50.65)|
|Starlight Passport (weekends 3pm onwards)||¥5,400 (S$65.12)||¥4,700 (S$56.68)||¥3,500 (S$42.21)|
|2 Day Passport||¥13,200 (S$159.18)||¥11,600 (S$139.88)||¥8,600 (S$103.71)|
|3 Day Passport||¥17,800 (S$214.65)||¥15,500 (S$186.91)||¥11,500 (S$138.68)|
|4 Day Passport||¥22,400 (S$270.12)||¥19,400 (S$233.94)||¥14,400 (S$173.65)|
If you’re planning to visit both theme parks, you can save close to S$20 with a 2 Day Passport which allows you to enter either park for 2 consecutive days.
There’s the After 6 and Starlight Passports which let you enter later on selected days. Buy these at your own risk – queues for rides are said to be shorter after 7pm, but it doesn’t give you a whole lot of time as the park closes at 10pm.
Should you buy Tokyo Disneyland tickets on other sites?
Apart from the official website, you can also purchase Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea day passes on several other travel agents and retailers, such as:
I did a quick price survey and found that most of them actually aren’t any cheaper than buying an e-ticket from Disney Tokyo Resorts. In fact, most of them are a bit more expensive:
|1 Day Passport||Adult (18 & up)||Junior (12 to 17)||Child (4 to 11)|
|Official website||¥7,400 (S$89.24)||¥6,400 (S$77.18)||¥4,800 (S$57.88)|
With most of these, there’s the added hassle of ticket collection, which you usually need to do at Maihama JR station (just next to Disneyland). More importantly, most of these do not allow you to change your ticket date, which is one of the big advantages of buying direct from Disney.
However, if you’re very certain about your visit date, you can save quite a bit of cash with a well-applied promo code (since it’s online sale season) and a credit card with high rebates for online spending.
Here are some promo codes you can use:
|Tokyo Disneyland ticket retailer||Promo code||Discount||Min. spend|
|Changi Recommends||GREAT10||S$10 off||S$120|
|Changi Recommends||GREAT30||S$30 off||S$280|
|Changi Recommends||GREAT50||S$50 off||S$450|
Tokyo Disneyland hotels – what are your accommodation options?
I don’t mean to scare you, but if you’re going to visit Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo Disney Sea, your choice of hotel for the night before can make or break your experience.
On paper, it sounds like any hotel will do, since it’s so easy to get to Tokyo Disneyland from downtown Tokyo – just 15 minutes by JR train from Tokyo station to Maihama station.
However, in reality, people start queueing at the gates as early as an hour before the gates open (8am). That means you either need to wake up crazy early, or be prepared to stand in line for hours. Yikes.
To mitigate this, I would recommend staying at one of the 4 official Tokyo Disney hotels. All give you priority entry to the park at 7.45am, giving you a 15-minute head start before everyone pours in at 8am. Now, I recognise that this sounds like extreme kiasuism, but if you have to wake up early anyway, why not, right?
Here’s how much they cost. Notice the huge difference between weekday and weekend prices. If you can arrange to visit early in the week, you’ll save quite a bit of money on rooms.
|Hotel near Tokyo Disneyland||Location||Weekday room rate*||Weekend room rate*|
|Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel||20 minutes shuttle ride away||S$275||S$622|
|Disney Ambassador Hotel||In between Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea entrances||S$491||S$1,652|
|Tokyo Disneyland Hotel||Right outside Tokyo Disneyland main entrance||S$883||S$1,717|
|Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta||Located within(!) Tokyo Disney Sea||S$1,135||S$1,762|
* Sample room rates are taken for 15 to 16 Dec (weekend) and 17 to 18 Dec (weekday) on Google Hotels.
If these prices are making you balk, try to book a room at Hotel Dream Gate Maihama, which is located right inside Maihama JR station(!). Rooms cost about $250 (weekdays) to $350 (weekends).
You won’t get priority entry, but hey, at least getting to Tokyo Disneyland will be a breeze. You can even pop upstairs for a quick mid-day nap since you’re allowed to exit and re-enter the theme park.
The other hotels near Tokyo Disneyland, which are not quite as nearby but offer free shuttle buses to the park entrance, are quite a bit more expensive. Weekend room rates typically fall around the $500 to $650 region. The cheapest option is Hotel Mystays Maihama, but it’s still about $100 more expensive per night than Hotel Dream Gate.
Other tips for saving time & money at Tokyo Disneyland
Strategies for maximising your time and getting the most value for your money at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea have been extremely well-documented. Literally, there have been entire guide books written on the subject.
I’m not even going to try to replicate them because they are written for, and by, serious Disney otakus. (For an idea of what they’re like, check out Disney Tourist Blog.)
Instead, I’ll talk about some general guidelines that you may wish to follow when in Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo Disney Sea.
Make full use of the Fastpass system
As soon as the magical gates open, everyone will running to the most popular rides to either start queueing or chope Fastpasses.
Queueing is, well, self-explanatory, but Fastpass is Disney’s ride ticketing system that lets you get a ticket to come back later at a specified timeslot (“return time”), so you can go do other stuff in the meantime. And more importantly, it minimises time spent queueing.
You can get a Fastpass at selected popular rides by scanning the QR code on your admission ticket. To do it efficiently, you can send one person to go get Fastpasses for Ride A (that person needs all the physical admission tickets) while the rest queue for Ride B.
Pack drinks & a few snacks (or a lot)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that food options in tourist attractions are limited, taste mediocre and are extremely overpriced. Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea is no different. The on-site eateries may be very nicely done-up but they’re hardly going to make the Michelin guide.
To avoid getting chopped like carrot, it’s good to prep some (or a lot of) snacks in your bag. I mean, you’re in the land of amazing convenience store bentos and onigiris after all. While you’re at it, pack a water bottle or a bottled drink, which you can refill at the water fountains everywhere.
That’s right – you can BYOB/F into Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea! How awesome. According to TokyoCheapo, the only prohibitions are alcohol and drinks in cans/glass bottles.
Don’t go crazy at the souvenir shop
You don’t want to be burdened with excessive shopping bags while you’re in line for Monsters Inc. Ride & Seek. Minimise the souvenir shopping while at Tokyo Disneyland and you’ll enjoy the experience more. (Also, no one but you cares that you conquered Disneyland, so really, don’t bother buying souvenirs for all 300 of your colleagues…)
If you want to take away a memento of the day, consider checking out the souvenir merchandise options available before you head down. This will help you prioritise what you’d like rather than you grabbing wildly at every single plushie you see.
Go straight from or to the airport
Tokyo Disney Resort is located in the outskirts of Tokyo, so it’s actually surprisingly convenient to get to either Narita Airport or Haneda Airport. If you’re planning to stay in one of the hotels here, it makes complete sense to have Disneyland as either the first or last stop of your Tokyo trip.
However, this advice is only valid if your schedule permits you to take the comfortable airport limousine bus, which serves the major hotels in the area. The bus timings are a bit limited. If you can’t make it, you’ll have to bear with a gruelling and more expensive train journey, which defeats the point.
The Narita Airport to Tokyo Disneyland bus route takes 80 minutes and costs ¥1,800 (S$21.79) for adults, while the Haneda Airport to Tokyo Disneyland ride is only 50 minutes and costs ¥830 (S$10.05). Children travel half-price.
Have you been to Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo Disney Sea? Share your tips and experiences with us in the comments!