Japan is definitely Daddy E’s and my favorite country to visit. Which probably explains why we have visited the country 3 times in a span of 4 years. We tend to visit in the fall, the beautiful foliage, the cooling weather makes the whole journey just that much better.
And for our third trip to Japan, it is for the primary purpose of visiting Tokyo Disneyland! The last time we were in Tokyo, Baby E were only one year old and we didn’t think she can appreciate it yet.
Faster forward 3 years later, Baby E is crazily in love with Disney movies and all the Disney princesses. She also loves taking rides now. 5 years old is a good age to visit the happiest place in the world don’t you think?
To make it the happiest trip ever, here are some top tips to know before you visit the highly popular and crowded theme park in Tokyo:
1. Buy your tickets in advance
No matter which day you go, Tokyo Disneyland will be crowded. It is just a matter of being crowded, very crowded, super crowded or crazily crowded. To get ahead of the crowd, one way is to enter the park ASAP. Hence buying the tickets in advance is definitely what you should do instead of queuing up to buy tickets there. And also, you won’t want to go there only to find out that the park is FULL. Yes, there is a possibility that it gets so crowded that they will stop selling tickets to enter the theme park!
You can either buy from their official website or Klook, which is cheaper when there is promotion going on. And also the credits you earn can be use to offset your future trips! Use it together with ShopBack and a rebates/cashback card for even more discounts!
2. Go to the park early
On most days, Disneyland opens at 8am. And it is said that the queue starts as early as an hour earlier.
If you are staying in one of the Disney hotels, one of the perks is that you are entitled to enter the park 15 minutes before opening time. While 15 minutes might not sound like a lot, but it’s enough to score a FASTPASS, try your luck at the lottery machine, and get in queue for another popular ride!
However, if you are like me, lugging 2 young kids(5yo and 1yo) along. Being able to make it at 8am is already an achievement! I’m kinda glad I didn’t splurge on the Disney hotel just for that 15 minutes early entry because that is no way we could have make it. ?
3. Check the crowd calendar
A crowd calendar, is a calendar that predicts the crowds in Tokyo Disneyland. This website is in Japanese but it is pretty straightforward, the colors intensified with the amount of crowd predicted. It also displays the weather forecast so definitely check it out!
In general, it is wise to avoid the weekends and opt for weekdays. If you can choose, go between Tuesday to Thursday for a more pleasant time in the park. And of course, avoid their major holidays at all costs as the vast majority of the visitors are locals.
4. Try your luck at their lottery machine
Unknown to many visitors, you can take part in a lottery system that gives free tickets for some of the most popular shows in Tokyo Disneyland. The lottery machine is situated at Tomorrowland hall. To try the lottery, you need to go to one of the machines, select the show and timing you are interested in, scan the park tickets of everyone in the group,and wait for the results.
There will be days where there is no lottery, do check their official website for more details.
To check which shows are available via the lottery system, check out this page and you can see “Lottery available” for those shows you can win tickets for.
5. Bring your own snacks and water bottle
For times when you need to queue in line for 1 hour, you will wish you have something to munch on or something to drink. While there is also no lack of cute Disney snacks and eateries in the park, the queue during lunch/dinner time can be really long. As like most theme parks, food is not spectacular and not cheap. Our advice is, have a heavy breakfast, pack some yummy onigiri as snacks. Not only it can save your stomach, it saves you time from queueing and be a little less broke.
Bring your own water bottle as water fountains are available throughout the park. There are also hot water available at the Baby Centers.
6. Dress up as your favourite Disney character
Baby E went in her favourite Elsa dress and I’m glad I took the trouble to pack her dress as almost every little girl there was dressed up in some Disney character costume. And it was so fun for us, spotting familiar characters everywhere and marveling over their awesome costumes and makeup.
We went on Halloween day and the power of cosplay were in full force. It’s easy to mistake one of the park goers as one of the staff in costume!
For parents looking to pamper their little girl, there is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique that transform little girls into princesses of their choice. It comes with quite a price tag, but it’s once in a lifetime I guess since it is only for girls between 3-12. You can make a reservation online (in Japanese only) or simply walk in on that day.
7. Taking photos with the official Disney characters
Besides visiting Mickey and Minnie at their house, there are many other characters that appear at random timing, usually near the area there is related to the characters. For example, we bumped into the 7 dwarfs right outside Snow White Adventures ride. Some other characters we met includes Snow White, Aurora, Evil Queen, Pinocchio, Woody and Jessie, Three Little Pigs, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and Daisy. But my favorite has got to be Bashful!
It’s all pretty random and everyone will be rushing in trying to snap a photo with the character. At first we just stood quietly waiting for our turn, thinking it’s like a queue system. But reality is harsh and how can we stand a chance against all the adorable little kids waiting to have a photo? So after a while of waiting silently, the staff advised us to shout loudly the character’s name to get their attention. I mean, I feel too old to be shouting like a young kid, but this proves to be not an issue for Baby E as she shouted and eagerly went as near to the character as she could. We were kinda embarrassed at first but when it worked almost everytime, we simply let her do all the work!
So yah, keep your eyes open when walking around the park and don’t be shy! It’s not everyday that you go to Disneyland you know.
One of the best way to fully utilize your time in the park is to use their FASTPASS system. While it may sounds obvious but it is not as straightforward as simply purchasing an express pass in USS.
Basically anyone can obtain FASTPASS, for the rides that has it. Here are a list of rides that has FASTPASS in Tokyo Disneyland:
- Pooh Hunny Hunt
- Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek
- Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
- It’s a small world
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- Haunted Mansion
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Space Mountain
These are also the most popular rides in Tokyo Disneyland that you will want to check off in your list.
So for example you went to Pooh Hunny Hunt ride and the queue is a staggering 60mins long (which is the norm by the way). You can go to the FASTPASS machine located nearby, scan your tickets and a FASTPASS indicating the time slot for your ride will come out. Ta-da, now you are free to go for other attractions and come back again during the time slot for the ride!
Only problem is, they can run out of FASTPASS. Like when we took our FASTPASS for Pooh Hunny Hunt ride at 10+ am, our time slot was for 5-6pm. By noon, the FASTPASS has run out!
Also, after you got your first FASTPASS, you can only get another FASTPASS 2 hours later. So you can’t take FASTPASS for all the rides at one go.
So it is advisable if you can grab a FASTPASS to one of the most popular ride first thing you enter the park, before queuing for another popular ride.
Before we went, I felt that Disneyland is more for our kids. But as it turns out, both Daddy E and I enjoyed ourselves a lot, perhaps even more than our little one! The rides were family-friendly and staff are helpful. The parades/rides props are amazingly detailed and imaginative (the kind of things our kids probably don’t notice).
It is indeed, the happiest place on earth.