Going to Tokyo Disneyland is and should be a happy occasion, it is after all the happiest place on earth. Tokyo Disneyland is very easy to access and going there only takes a short train ride from central Tokyo. Tokyo Disneyland is one of the most visited theme parks in the world. It is also one of the most crowded ones. In 2017, a whopping 16.6 million park-goers visited Tokyo Disneyland, making it the 3rd most visited park in entire world. In fact, many Japanese people love Disney so much, that it isn’t uncommon to see people holding an annual pass and visiting the park every week. The amusement park often gets so crowded that it takes the fun out of what should’ve been your happiest day. Especially first time visitors might not know what to expect and end up wasting a lot of valuable time. However, it can save you a lot of trouble if you do a little bit of planning in advance and avoid making certain mistakes. Here are 10 rookie mistakes you want to avoid making at Tokyo Disneyland so you can navigate your way through the park like a pro in no time, even if you’re a first time visitor!
Although tickets are also sold directly at the park and you can buy a ticket at the counter on the day itself, you most likely end up making two rookie mistakes at once. The first one is obtaining the actual ticket. Tokyo Disneyland often gets so crowded that it reaches full capacity. If you buy your ticket at the park on a busy day, chances are that you’ll end up in disappointment as tickets might be sold out for the day. Tickets are sold everywhere including online, and at ticket machines at various convenience stores. Secure your ticket(s) by buying them well in advance. Also keep in mind that open-date tickets doesn’t guarantee entrance on a busy day but a fixed-date ticket will.
The second mistake is, even if you’re able to buy your tickets at the gate, you usually have to wait in line a long time before you’re able to enter the park. And trust us, nothing will annoy you more than seeing everybody entering before you while you still have to wait half an hour to get a ticket.
Taking your time and sleeping in before heading to the park might be a relaxed way to start your day of fun. But that also means you’re missing the chance to get the most out of your visit at the park. Being one of the first ones to enter the park means there are practically no waiting lines and you’re able to get on many of the popular rides before the park gets really crowded. Even if you do get to the entrance gates just when the park is about to open, long lines will already have formed by then and by the time you enter the park you’ll still end up having to wait a long time to ride the more popular attractions. Although there might still be a line even if you arrive earlier, we advise you to arrive about 1 hour before opening on a regular weekday, and about 2 hours on a busy day like in the weekend or any public holiday to beat the crowds and ride some of the more popular rides before the rest of the crowd pours in and lines get unbearably long.
Most attraction use the Fast Pass system to control the crowds, they’re free to use so using them would be the smart thing to do. A Fast Pass allows you to use the special Fast Pass lane and bypassing the regular waiting lines, meaning you can enjoy a popular ride without having to wait a long time. However getting them requires some planning. Anybody can get a Fast Pass for free, which are issued at the Fast Pass ticket machines, usually found close to the attraction entrance. When you scan your park ticket, your Fast Pass will be printed out. Pay close attention to the smaller time stamp (cool down time) which is the allocated time that you’re allowed to get your next Fast Pass. If you schedule your time wisely, you’ll be able to get many Fast Passes. Also remember that Fast Passes are issued in limited numbers, make sure you hit all the popular Fast Pass ticket machines as soon as possible or you might too late to get one. Fast Passes for the most popular rides usually end around 3 pm, the earlier you get your Fast Passes, the more you can collect.
It’s not uncommon to see the waiting time for a popular attraction topping the 180-minute mark – that’s over three hours of waiting! While not many people know this, some of the attractions (at both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea) have single rider lines. A single rider line is just like its name implies, for single riders. Meaning you will sit alone or next to a stranger when riding the attraction. While it maybe fun riding an attraction together with your friends or family, without a fast pass, you might be looking at a waiting time of over 3 hours for popular rides. Single rider lines are almost aways shorter and have shorter waiting times, sometimes as short as under 30 minutes. So what if you can’t sit with your friends, it still beats waiting for hours and wasting your valuable time. Even though single rider lines are for single people, who says you can’t use them with a group of friends? You might end up still sitting next to them!
Since much of your experience at Tokyo Disneyland depends on how crowded the park is, the worst mistake you can do, unless you have absolutely no choice, is to go during the weekend or public holiday when the park is at its fullest and reaches maximum capacity. You’ll be facing long lines for virtually anything, even when buying popcorn. Stay away during any ‘san-ren-kyuu’ (three-day weekend) either. Instead, if possible, visit the park during a regular weekday to enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere and shorter waiting lines. To know how crowded the park will be, use a crowd calendar to plan your trip on a less crowded day. Days marked blue or green are less crowded than orange and red colored ones, but the most crowded days are the ones marked in black, avoid these at all times.
While you don’t need a strategy when it comes to finding a place to eat, you also don’t want to spend an hour waiting in line just to get served on an empty stomach. Most people eat during during the typical eating times, 12 o’clock noon and 6 pm, which also means waiting lines usually get ridiculously long everywhere during these peak hours. Try to go for a meal outside of these hours, for example either 1 – 1.5 hours before dinner time or after. Also keep in mind that you need to make a reservation in advance for some restaurants, either at the restaurant or online.
A day at Tokyo Disneyland requires you to walk quite a bit as you travel from land to land and back again, not to mention waiting in line a lot just standing on your feet. By the end of the day, most people will suffer from tired and sore feet. A lot of visitors visiting Disneyland use the opportunity to dress up in their favorite Disney outfit or even a full cosplay costume. Since you’ll be doing quite some walking most of the day, make sure you wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes or you’ll be needing a serious foot massage the next day.
Unless you have unlimited expenses to splurge, eating out the whole day at Tokyo Disneyland can be very expensive. People tend to forget how much more higher prices are for things like a bottle of water inside the park, and if you have a couple of kids gulping down bottle after bottle on a hot day, you’ll be looking at a serious drinking bill. Packing some lunch like a bento box or some sandwiches is also a good way to save some yen and around the park there are plenty of benches and eating areas where people can sit and eat their own lunch.
A visit to any Disney park should come with a little bit of planning how to spend the day, don’t overplan it though. Spending a day at Tokyo Disneyland should be relaxing and fun first and foremost. Don’t spend your time frantically planning and worrying about your every action while at the park as you’ll be missing what you actually came for and that is having fun. If you keep to a tight schedule, you might end up in disappointment chasing unrealistic expectations. Have a rough plan of attack, but keep things casual and be spontaneous.
While you may be thinking to buy a nice gift or souvenir on your way out during closing time, so are the rest of the park visitors. This causes shops to become very crowded and many things selling out quickly. During this last minute shopping frenzy, people will buy just about anything they can get there hands on and you’ll see many people walking around with multiple bags filled with Disney merchandise. If you are thinking to buy that special mug you saw earlier, chances are you’ll be looking at empty shelves by the time the park closes. Buy your souvenirs and gifts on time even if it means you have to carry them around the park, there’s nothing more disappointing than to discover that the item you set your eyes on earlier is sold out by the time you leave.
While no amount of planning can prepare you for a flawless day, by keeping in mind our 10 mistakes to avoid at Tokyo Disneyland, you should be able to enjoy a day of fun at the park with minimal effort. As long as you have a general idea what to look out for, you’ll be able to navigate your way through the park like a pro!
If you like theme parks, read our article Tips for visiting Universal Studios Japan too!
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See you again next time!
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