Planning a Tokyo Disneyland vacation is easier than you think – just follow these steps!
You’re probably excited to see what Tokyo Disneyland has to offer.
From the the exclusive Tokyo Disneyland popcorn flavors to unique twists on rides.
Tokyo Disneyland is an essential visit for any Disney nerd.
NOTE: These steps work in any order.
If Step 3 is the most important for you, then move Step 4 to the top.
If Step 3 is more important than Step 2, swap them.
This is a plug and play step-by-step guide. So…here we go!
Step 1: Choose Your Travel Buddies
Bring Abu, bring your Nerdy mom…or bring both!
Disney Park Nerds love going on a Tokyo Disneyland vacation and traveling to Disney parks with (and sometimes without) the Nerdlings. On occasion, grand-parents and other family/friends may be invited. Generally, though, we choose the “core” group first and invite people once the other steps have been completed.
Once you’ve figured out which folks are worth planning around, it’s time to…
Step 2: Select Dates
Date selection, perhaps more than anything else, will have the biggest impact on your Tokyo Disneyland vacation. The Disney Park Nerds will go to great lengths to avoid crowds; this is the top priority for us when planning a trip to a Disney park. An added bonus is that this typically comes with lower prices.
Of course, gather the availability of those with whom you plan to travel. From there, we always start off by considering local holidays. That’s right – we are more focused on the holidays for locals who will visit the park than our own holidays!
A quick google search yields a handful of holidays here. We will often verify the holidays on a couple of sites to ensure nothing was missed. If you MUST travel during one of these holidays, we recommend doing everything you can to not visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea on the actual holiday.
Hotel prices are often a great indicator of crowd levels when planning a Tokyo Disneyland vacation. A quick view of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel hotel reservation site has some very useful information.
This screen shot for November 2020 from the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel web site provides some excellent detail.
For some, a Tokyo Disneyland vacation is incomplete if the park is not decorated for Halloween or Christmas. Perhaps there is a festival or other special event. It’s also a good idea to reference rides that are scheduled to be close for refurbishment (official refurbishment schedule is here) to ensure you and your travel party do not miss a “must see”. Some resorts, like the Tokyo Disney Resort often post their refurbishment schedule as much as 6 months in advance.
Other Disney parks, like the Walt Disney World Resort, provide this list in conjunction with their calendar – generally 2 or 3 months in advance. In either case, be sure to keep monitoring this list up until your vacation so your expectations are properly set upon arrival.
Crowds are one element of date selection as they impact your enjoyment of the parks and the price you will pay for flights, lodging, tickets, etc. Another crucial element of when to travel is weather.
The Tokyo Disney Resort is located next to Tokyo Bay. The winters can be brutally cold, even bringing snow to the parks, and the summers can be blisteringly hot with stifling humidity. Like many aspects of planning a Tokyo Disneyland vacation, weather can have a huge impact on any trip.
We Nerds prefer it cool (maybe not quite “cold”) for theme park touring and we have experienced very mild, very cold (highs in the 30s and 40s) and very hot (highs in the mid-upper 90s) trips to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Mild is where it’s at!
Like any vacation, grab your favorite weather app or web page and take a look at expected weather for the dates you are considering.
This screen shot from weather.com shows some very mild, if cool, weather in late March.
Using this information, we generally piece together a date range of options. Sometimes, the dates fit snuggly and the dates are the dates. Other times, there is a range and we let the price or availability of transportation and/or the hotels break the tie. So, now we are on to…
Step 3: Lock Down Flights
Flying to Tokyo can feel intimidating and a site aggregator like Kayak are often great ways to gain quick insight into your options. Furthermore, Kayak can provide prices for a number of dates AND allows you to select multiple airports; so you can pick schedule or price, based on importance. If the ticket prices are out of your range, check out travel sites like The Points Guy and learn how using the right credit cards for every day expenses (and some great sign-on bonuses!) could lead to free flights…possibly even in a premium cabin.
There are two primary Tokyo airports:
Narita International Airport (NRT)
Haneda Airport (HND)
Both have regular service from the USA including non-stops from some major airports (especially on the west coast).
Next up is securing transportation. Although you could arrange public transportation, our very strong recommendation is that you schedule car service from the airport to your hotel. We discuss this experience in depth here following a Hong Kong Disneyland trip. Although it will feel like a bit of a splurge, walking out of a major Tokyo airport, bleary-eyed after hours of travel and trying to find your way around (or worse – arriving on a delayed flight and the public transportation options are no longer available…been there) is no fun.
Okay, stepping off of our Nerdy soapbox about transportation. Tokyo Disneyland has an official page dedicated to getting to the Resort – and it’s a “must study”.
Step 4: Select Your Hotel
Choosing the right hotel will have an impact on your Tokyo Disneyland vacation. Things to consider will include cost including parking and resort fees, distance from the parks and travel time, size, bed configuration. Then, there is the whole “on property” vs “off property” discussion – generally surrounding each item mentioned above.
As a general rule, we are fans of staying on Disney property whenever feasible because we think it is a more seamless Tokyo Disneyland vacation – and the hotels and service are jaw-dropping. The official hotels of the Tokyo Disney Resort are extremely expensive. Even a standard room at Disney’s “value” property runs into the mid-$200s per night on the least expensive dates and can reach $400+ on weekends.
Hotels of the Tokyo Disney Resort fall into a number of categories and it’s a lot to consider where planning a Tokyo Disneyland vacation!
There are four Disney-branded hotels with standard rooms ranging from the mid $200s to over $800/night; most of them will be int he $400-600 range:
- Tokyo Disneyland Hotel – Deluxe
- Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta – Deluxe
- Disney Ambassador Hotel – Deluxe
- Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel – Value
The Tokyo Disneyland hotel is phenomenal (you can read our review here) as is the Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta. These are world-class hotels with amazing service and the best locations in the resort with easy access to their respective parks. In Disney Park Nerds’ BREAKING NEWS, Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is just outside the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland and a short monorail ride away, the Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta is just outside the entrance to Tokyo DisneySea.
The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is a great place to stay for an amazing Tokyo Disneyland vacation.
The Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta hotel has rooms that overlook “Venice” in the theme park – and they are stunning.
There are more affordable options that still offer great access to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The Tokyo Disney Resort boasts 21 affiliated hotels, including six hotels “on property” and another 15 “affiliated” with the resort.
The Disney Park Nerds have visited each of these hotels and have stayed at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel and the Hilton Tokyo Bay and we highly recommend both. Although we found the properties to be a bit older, they were immaculate, featured delicious restaurants, proved unparalleled service and we will be staying at these properties again in the future. Both offer specialty rooms with a bit of “magic” that make it a lot of fun when traveling with Nerdlings.
The other 15 hotels are still great options, though the travel time to the parks is longer. The good news is the pricing continues to drop – in most instances – as you get further from the Tokyo Disney Resort. No matter which you choose, your Tokyo Disneyland vacation is all but certain to be memorable.
Tokyo is loaded with hotels at all price points. Although they have a reputation of being small – and famously capsule-like – the Nerds find the rooms at the Tokyo Disney Resort to be on par with hotels in the USA.
Once you have honed in on your hotel selection, don’t book it just yet. Next, let’s…
Step 5: Select Your Tickets
Before actually purchasing tickets, we need to figure out our travel plan. Here are a few critical questions:
- How many days do you have dedicated to visit parks?
- Is park hopping important to you?
The Disney Park Nerds think 3-4 days is well warranted at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort, though their ticket rules are different than any other Disney property.
- 1-day and 2-day tickets are only good for one park which must be selected at time of purchase
- 3-day and 4-day tickets are only good for one park which must be selected at time of purchase for Day 1 and Day 2, while Day 3 and Day 4 allow park hopping.
- If your plans call for more than 4 days – we’re jealous!! And you’ll need to buy additional 1, 2, 3 or 4-day tickets to accommodate your travels. Nerdy Insight: The break-even for an annual pass is typically around 8 days in a year.
UPDATE: As of October 2020, Tokyo Disneyland has suspended its annual passholder program. You probably weren’t going to get one anyway, but we thought we should let you know.
Although there have traditionally been some approved retailers where you can purchase tickets, sometimes at a small discount, the Nerds feel the extra few dollars is warranted for peace of mind when traveling internationally.
Step 6 (optional): Quick Price Comparisons
Armed with your travel companions, dates, transportation plans, hotel, tickets/days in each park schedule, we’d recommend a quick price check (Blue Light Special on Aisle 5?). Sketch out the costs of booking a la carte vs. a package. We discuss how Disney vacation packages can sometimes be quite a bit more expensive without much benefit in our Easy Disney World Vacation Tip #1 – Packages vs a la Carte article. With a Tokyo Disneyland vacation, all bets are off. Sometimes a package looks good and sometimes the package is a significant premium, but it’s worth a few minutes checking out the Tokyo Disney Resort vacation packages.
Step 7: Make Your Tokyo Disneyland Vacation Purchases and Prepare for Once-in-a-Lifetime Fun!
Hopefully, you have enough information to get the details mapped out for your Tokyo Disneyland vacation. It’s time to click “check-out” on your cart and let the moment sink in….you’re going on a TOKYO DISNEYLAND VACATION!!