A 176-acre area filled with magic, dreams and lots of sugar. Sounds good? Yup, and that is exactly what thousands and thousands of other guests will be looking for too.
I visited Tokyo DisneySea in June, their low peak season, and it was still insanely packed. This primarily meant that the waiting lines were going to be HUGE. We wish we knew more tips and tricks about how to utilise our time better before arriving. To be honest we were completely dumbfounded by the number of guests that swarmed before us the minute the gates opened. Alas! After a full 13 hour day at Tokyo DisneySea, here are the TOP TIPS I highly recommend you follow for a (less) stressful and extra magical day!
BEFORE YOU GO
BOOK TICKETS ONLINE
Book your entry ticket online to avoid the ticket line on the day. It was surprising to see how many people lined up to purchase before entering. Be the smart one and jump ahead of those people! We walked right in!
BOOK RESTAURANTS IN ADVANCE
Book any dining that requires reservations 8-12 weeks in advance or you will be eating a hot dog from the cart and Mickey will not be there to hand them out. We tried to book 4 weeks in advance and everything was already full. So insane. We did however have meals in fast food restaurants and it was perfectly fine. But if you are very keen to have Character Dining then book in advance so you or your kids don't miss out.
TAKE A PONCHO
We carried umbrellas with us and it bugged us so much we threw them in the bin haha. But then of course the minute we threw them out it started to rain resulting us buying overpriced ponchos from the gift shop. With so many people around umbrellas were impractical anyway. And walking around soaked all day/night is not fun. Fold one up and put it in your pocket.
PACK A PORTABLE CHARGER
Take a portable charger for your phone. No doubt you will be taking photos and videos all day so keep that battery pack full! Plus you will most likely be on this APP I will introduce to you later which will change your whole experience for the better.
STUDY THE PARK MAP
Briefly study the park map the night before. Sounds intense but you will thank yourself later when the APP (again wait for it) tells you to make a mad dash for a ride that only has a 15 minute wait but it takes you 20 minutes to find where the location. This is exactly what happened to us. Before we made a run for Finding Nemo it said 25 mins. By the time we found it the line wait went up to 60mins.
VISIT ON A WEEKDAY
Weekends - all local school kids, students and families come out to play. Combine that with tourists and you'll have extra long waiting lines. Also avoid public holidays and school holidays!
THE MORNING OF
To get to the park entrance you will need to take a Disney railway train. Be sure to bring some cash as you can only get tickets at the machines. Also no doubt you will get sucked into buying cute Mickey shaped treats at the snack carts so cash will do you no wrong.
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES
This may sound obvious, but seriously consider comfort over fashion for this day. I was in sneakers and my feet still felt like they were going to fall off by the end of the day.
GET TO THE PARK EARLY
Get to the park 15 minutes before it opens so you're the first ones in. Arrive 1 minute before it opens and you'll be waiting in line just to get in. I have been to Disneyland in LA and Disney World in Orlando but the number of people in Tokyo was on a whole new level.
AVOID BRINGING A BAG (IF POSSIBLE)
Before entering the park you will go through a bag security check. Again, there will be a line for this so if you don't need anything, best to carry everything in your pockets and strap your camera around your neck.
ONCE YOU ARE INSIDE THE PARK
TOP TIP! ATTRACTIONS WAIT TIME APP
Find out exactly how long the wait time for each attraction is without having to physically go there. The TDR Alert (Tokyo Disney Resort Alert) APP will save you soooo much time and is a great way for you to plan your day strategically. It is a third party APP (not Disney's official APP) but it works better for tourists as it is in English. The offical APP currently only comes in Japanese.
We relied on this APP the entire day and it really helped in terms of when to take our lunch break and the order of when to visit each attraction. We initially stood in a 210min line because we thought we had no other choice. But once I found this APP it quickly allowed us to make a decision to visit other attractions first, tick a few boxes then come back.
Another really helpful function on the APP is that it tells you when the FastPasses for each attraction have run out. If you're not sure what a FastPass is, read on to the next tip! Additionally you can create push notifications and alarms on the APP to remind you when your Fastpass slots are coming up.
Here's the link to the APP: https://apps.apple.com/nz/app/tdr-alert/id1139713611
(I'm sorry I can't seem to find the Android one but give it a go in the App Store)
Fastpasses allow you to avoid waiting in long lines. You get given a ticket which allocates you to a designated time. See it as holding your spot for the ride while you go and do something else. You can get a new FP every two hours and I highly suggest getting them for all the popular rides as they will have the longest waiting lines. Just keep in mind that FPs will also run out so don't leave the popular ones to the end of the day.
This is the order from most popular rides to least popular under Fastpasses. If the rides don't have FPs their lines will most likely be bearable.
1. Toy Story Mania - FPs for this ride were gone 5 mins after the park opened!
2. Soaring: Fantastic Flight
3. Journey to the Centre of the Earth
4. Indiana Jones Adventure
5. Raging Spirits
6. Tower of Terror
7. The Magic Lamp Theatre
8. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
9. Mermaid Lagoon Theatre
10. Nemo & Friends SeaRider
Of course these are just predictions but I am pretty confident with the Top 5! Check the APP before you go and you will know exactly what I mean!
Extra Tip: Because you can only get a FP every two hours, the best way is to alternate grabbing a FP and lining up. For example, I would grab the Toy Story Mania FP first then go line up at Soaring while the waiting line is still bearable, then grab another FP and so forth. That way you are only lining up for every second popular ride and not all of them.
ALL SHOWS ARE IN JAPANESE
Be prepared that all shows, parades and performances will be spoken/sung in Japanese (apart from Fantasmic) so before you line up 2 hours for Mermaid Lagoon Theatre or The Magic Lamp Theatre decide if it will be worth your time. The Magic Lamp Theatre especially had a lot of jokes in Japanese which we could not understand a word of. Sat there watching other people laugh wasn't the best of situation.
TAKE PHOTOS AT THIS GLOBE LATER
This will be the first spectacle you see when you enter. Don't waste too much time getting that perfect shot and go get those Fastpasses first! I only spent 30 seconds here and we missed the Fastpasses to Toy Story Mania by a second. Ops. Come back to it later when you have a gap throughout your day.
TAKE IT ALL IN!
Yes there is a lot of strategic planning required - or not if you just prefer to go with the flow. Having personally worked for Disney for one year I know exactly how stressful it can be for guests. BUT you are in one of the most magical places on earth so take it in! Stare at the props and sets for a second longer and see those favourite characters of yours come to life! After all, you are there to experience it and walk away with happy memories.
I'm really hoping that at least one of these tips will well help make your trip to Tokyo DisneySea (or any other theme parks) easier! Let me know if there are tips of yours that I haven't covered so I know for my next trip to Disney. Shanghai seems pretty good so may start planning that one soon!