To conquer Tokyo Disneyland in fewer than two days required Strategic Planning . At 115 acres, Tokyo Disneyland would most certainly be a huge park to cover. Prior to making the trip to Japan, I was already mentally prepared. Even though it was supposed to be low peak season (the Japanese school holidays usually start in late June), the park was known for its massive crowds notwithstanding.
(Spring Parade in Tokyo Disneyland)
My friend warned me of long waiting lines. A check on Wikipedia revealed that Tokyo Disneyland hosted approximately 13.65 million guests in 2009; ranking it as the third-most visited theme park in the world, behind its American sister parks.
(Cinderella Castle Tokyo Disneyland)
To prepare my plan of “attack”, I did some research online. I had to work with wanting to pack tourist destinations other than Tokyo Disneyland into my travel itinerary. I found that I had not much time to play with. In the midst of planning, I realized that travel information was valuable to tourists with a limited number of vacation days.
With this in mind, I decided to compile a list of my own top tips when I returned from my holidays. Hopefully, my personal experiences can help someone else (perhaps yourself) plan a better vacation. So here is my list of 7 tips on how to conquer Tokyo Disneyland or even Tokyo DisneySea (Disneyland’s companion theme park) in quick but rewarding time:
1. Visit During Low Peak Season. I had read online reports of three hour waiting lines for a single ride during summertime in Japan. Well, to avoid long queues, plan to visit Tokyo Disneyland during the low peak season (check the official website on when this is for the year).
Hotel room rates are cheaper at this time of the year too. Most certainly, you would not want to visit Tokyo during peak periods because Japan is not exactly a cheap destination and having to jostle with the crowds may mean that you need to spend more vacation days for the same experience.
We stayed at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay, one of Disneyland’s partner hotels, mainly because we wanted to be in the vicinity of the theme parks. We preferred not to allocate too much time on the road traveling to/from the parks. (Commuting time via subway can be as long as one hour from the central Tokyo station.)
In any case, we did not have the luxury of that many choices. Most other Disneyland hotels were full by the time I made the booking. We decided on the trip rather late – just two weeks prior to departure. Hence, I recommend making an early booking for better room rates or even a larger selection of hotels if you can help it!
2. Start The Day off Early. There were already long queues forming from more than one hour before opening time. On our first day at Tokyo Disneyland, we were an hour early ourselves. We were not aware that there were different opening times for each day of the week and month. When the gates finally opened, the crowds just thronged ahead. Lots of people were seen running to get to the rides. Including *blush blush* the author to this blog!
(Outside the attraction of King Trition’s playground, Tokyo DisneySea)
3. Decide on Which Rides To Take. Since we already knew that we were not able to take all the rides, we decided to pick and choose. We were quite pleased with our selection. At the end of our vacation, my family took a poll. Our favorite rides were Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
(Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland)
I did not have the stomach for the ” Raging Spirits” ride, a 360-degree-loop roller coaster attraction at Tokyo DisneySea. But my gutsy younger daughter, who went on it, declared that it was her absolute favorite. (*Hush hush* I thought she looked kindof green, though, after the ride.)
(Raging Spirits at Tokyo DisneySea)
4. Get the FASTPASS. We wondered why not that many Japanese do this – get the FASTPASS. Perhaps, they enjoyed waiting in queues? Incidentally, about 95% (or even higher) of the parkgoers were Japanese.
Well, the FASTPASS is a ticket that you can get for specific popular rides. These rides are marked out in the map with the symbol “FP”. The FASTPASS allows you to enjoy other areas of the park instead of standing in line for the specific attraction. You return to the FASTPASS attraction at the time indicated on the ticket. Well, instead of waiting for an hour, we found ourselves waiting for an average of 10 minutes at each FASTPASS attraction.
(Fastpass station at Tokyo Disneyland)
5. Take Meals At Restaurants During Off Peak Hours. At the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, I queued for half an hour to buy lunch. It was approximately 1:15pm. However, I noticed that by the time we finished our meal, the waiting line was much smaller.
It was the same during dinner time. At popular restaurants, queues started to form at 6pm. So if you plan on having a sit down dinner, best is to go early to avoid waiting in line.
6. Go for the Parades. If you have very little time to work with and do not understand a word of Japanese, I suggest skipping all the live theatre shows. Go for the parades instead. You get them all in one performance: the catchy music, lively atmosphere, colorful displays and many of your favorite Disney characters singing and dancing.
(Disney Electrical Parade Tokyo Disneyland)
7. Take Rides in the Evenings. If there is any popular ride for which no FASTPASS is available and if you do not wish to wait for more than 30 minutes, you can consider returning to the attraction and taking the ride in the evening. So much the better if the ride is one found in Fantasyland! Fantasyland is famously popular with the children. However, during evening time, most of them would be eating dinner; thus leaving you free to simply walk in to take the ride.
Tokyo Disneyland is The Kingdom of Dreams and Magic. It is a 115 acre (465,000 m²) theme park at the Tokyo Disney Resort located in Urayasu, Chiba. Tokyo Disneyland is the most successful theme park built outside of the United States to-date. There are seven themed areas in the park; comprising of the four classic Disney lands: Adventureland, Westernland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, and two mini lands, Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown.
Tokyo DisneySea is located next to Disneyland. It is a 176 acre (712,246 m²) park with a nautical theme. Its tagline: “Where Adventure and Imagination Set Sail”. It attracted an estimated 12 million visitors in 2009, making it the fifth-most visited theme park in the world. It also has seven attraction areas within the park.
(Mediterranean Harbor, Tokyo DisneySea)
While I personally preferred Tokyo Disneyland, I found DisneySea more picturesque. My photo album says it all!
(Arabian Coast, Tokyo DisneySea)
Even though we ended up with aching feet on every single day of our trip, we rated our holiday in Japan with an excellent 4.5/5 score!
So what is next in terms of travel dreams for my family? Most certainly more! I intend to update my wish list with Kyoto in Japan, Greece and other parts of Europe. My children have not been to the States either. So it would be nice to bring them to the Disneyland in LA or Florida one day!
Tip for the Week: Consider making your travel dreams come true with vision boards and intention setting !
Your Travel Dreams
Have your travel dreams been manifesting for you? What is next on your wish list?