In 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to visit all 6 Disney parks within a year thanks to a close friend who encouraged me to do it with her. And even though it’s been a quick (read “LONG”) minute, I’ve heard your cries on Instagram and am finally writing up reviews of each international park and hopefully answering your questions on accommodations, transportation, food, and more! To kick it off, I’m starting with Tokyo Disney Resort!
Transportation to the parks from on property and nearby hotels is easy and convenient. Many hotels provide a shuttle that will either take you to the park or take to your closest monorail station. Disney-sanctioned hotels will even have the cute Mickey shuttle buses!
The monorail, unlike Disney World’s monorail, charges a fee. But tickets are fairly cheap and if you know how many days you will be using the monorail, then you can buy multi-day passes which are a better value. The monorail tickets can be bought at kiosks at the monorail station and they usually have cute seasonal Disney designs!
If traveling to the parks from Tokyo, you can take the metro (called the JR or Japan Railway). It usually takes an hour to travel to the resort depending on where you are staying in the city and how many transfers you need to make. But find the Keiyo Line or the Musashino Line, which both lead to Maihama Station. Maihama Station lets you off at Ikspiari, which is like Downtown Disney or Disney Springs. You can then board the resort monorail that takes you to the parks!
More info here: https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tdr/access.html
Where to Stay
I’ve stayed both on and off resort and depending on how you want to spend your time in Tokyo, that is how you should plan where to stay. If you are planning on visiting the parks for three days, I would suggest finding a hotel “on property.” And I say that with quotes because similar to other Disney resorts, there are hotels within the vicinity of the parks, but aren’t necessarily associated with Disney. And these are great for those looking for cheaper rooms! But if you only have one chance to visit, I would recommend the Celebration Hotel! It’s one of the more affordable Disney hotels if you’re able to split the costs with a few people. I LOVED it! There are so many cute decor details (like bread and butterfly decals outside the room doors) and our room had the Joey Chou Alice in Wonderland mural along the wall. SO MANY PHOTO SPOTS!
If you plan on visiting the parks for only one or two days and seeing Tokyo the remainder of your stay, then I would suggest finding a place in the city. Even better, if you can find a hotel or airbnb near the Keiyo or Musashino JR Lines, it will cut down the number of transfers you have to make and get you to the magic that much faster.😉
TDR food is on another level. Most, if not all, things are adorably cute. However, I will say some of the food tastes a little processed. Whether that’s good or bad is a different question, but do not expect to find fresh sashimi. It still is after all, a theme park.
One of the more famed restaurants that is unique to TDR is the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. It is a cafeteria style restaurant that surrounds diners with the intricacies of Wonderland. The signature dish is the Queen of Hearts hamburger patty, which is a fun heart shaped patty topped with a cheese crown. However, since beef isn’t a super common meat in Japan, unlike the US, don’t be surprised if it tastes more like meatloaf.
Some of my favorite TDR foods include the Mickey hand bun (Disneyland, Toontown), chandu tailchandu tail (Disney Sea, Arabian Coast), and Mickey chicken nuggets (DL, Tomorrowland Terrace but I like getting them in DS at Cape Cod Cookoff in American Water). Other TDR foods that guests love are the different flavored popcorn and the Mickey shaped churro! PS: Disney Sea has wine at Cafe Portofino in the Mediterranean Harbor area.🍷 Gotta thank the Nakajima sisters (Ayano & Natsuki) for helping us tourists with that one!😉
I feel like there really isn’t much to say here because I think most Disney fans know that TDR merch is THE BEST. Everything they sell is so much better than any other Disney park. But aside from the ears, sunglasses, and apparel, I also really love TDR’s snack souvenirs!
Japan loves little packaged snacks. And at both TDR parks, you’ll find whole sections of stores devoted to snacks and candies. Even better, many of the snacks are cased in souvenir tins or containers. So after you’ve eaten everything, you still get a fun case or tin as a souvenir! I personally like bringing back the snack souvenirs as gifts for friends and coworkers. But I always buy some for myself because it reminds me of my childhood. My family was frequently in SF’s Japantown. Preschool, summer camp, basketball leagues, piano lessons…it was all in Japantown for us. So growing up, we loved going to the Japanese markets to pick out whatever snack we wanted as our afternoon treat. And now seeing some of my favorite childhood snacks wrapped up in fun Disney packaging just makes the child in me scream with joy!
Part of the reason why this one of my top Disney resorts is because of the people. Guests and visitors are not only polite and nice, but they’re trustworthy. Japan in general has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and it’s because everyone respects one another. Not saying you should leave your stuff around willy nilly, but if for some reason you left something behind, you have a good chance of getting it back. Granted, there’s probably not much crime or theft that happens in Disney parks, you just get that extra reassurance that your belongings won’t be lost forever.
Not many people there speak English. So if you’re not knowledgeable in Japanese, be ready to charade your way through a conversation. There are English maps and most signs have English translations. Worst case scenario, have your map handy and point to what you’re looking for. And better yet, also have a Japanese map with you so the cast member can read it in their own language instead of having to try to guess what the English map says. But at least know “hello” (kon’nichiwa) and “thank you” (arigato).
Tokyo Disneyland is pretty similar to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. But they do have some rides and attractions that are unique to Tokyo! And of course, DisneySea is a completely different park, so everything they have can’t be found at any other Disney park. But if you only have a limited time, here’s what I would strongly suggest you try to ride in each park!
Disneyland park: Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek
DisneySea: Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, Magic Lamp Theater, Aquatopia, Nemo & Friends SeaRider
Overall Thoughts & Suggestions
TDR is by far one of my favorite Disney parks. I love the mix of Japanese culture and Disney magic, but overall it’s just a well-rounded resort. Fun rides, easy transportation, various hotels, instagrammable food, and of course amazing merch. But what really captures my heart are all the small details in the park. The soap in the bathrooms are dispensed as mickey shaped foam, ramen egg yolks are also mickey shaped, and one time we swore the camel statue in Arabian Coast smelled like actual camel poop smell. They’re THAT dedicated to details.
To fully experience the parks, I would suggest a three day stay. However, two days will still allow you to enjoy most of what the parks offer. And I would probably spend a little more time in DisneySea versus Disneyland. Only because DisneySea is completely different from any other Disney park.
If you’ve been to TDR, let me know what you love most about it! Or if you have extra tips, leave them here to so others can learn more too! And stay tuned for the next international international Disney park travel guide!🐭✈️