Disney Bucket List – Tokyo Disneyland

This was an absolute dream come true. I made it to Tokyo Disneyland! As if seeing the peak cherry blossom bloom wasn’t enough, now I’m continuing to check off a MAJOR lifelong bucket list item which is to visit all the Disney parks around the world. It is a phenomenal place but it is the most crowded Disney park in the world. Luckily, I researched the heck out of it and went with a plan. There are tons of great, really in-depth blog posts about Tokyo Disney. I recommend reading a lot of them so you can prepare yourself. From my visit, here are some insights and recommendations on what to see, what to do, what to eat and how to go about it all.

Photo bomber!

WHEN TO GO

Avoid holidays, major festivals and weekends, and make a point to investigate all the holidays and school breaks they have. That sounds like a given, but it is really important there. Unfortunately, I had to go while I had the chance which was in March during the Cherry Blossom Festival AND Easter. The crowd calendar classified it as one notch below “violently crowded”. Not ideal. That is why having a strategy was so important!

Arrive early. I arrived 1.5 hours before gates opened and still had about 300 people in front of me. If you stay at one of the Disney Resort hotels you get 15 minutes early admission. Worth considering!

Finally, check the closed attraction calendar. I had to decide on what part of my Japan trip to fit in a Disney stop, and I made that choice partly based on the attractions I wanted to see, as some of them were closed at the beginning of my trip but open at the end. Which brings me to my next point…

HOW TO PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME

I am the queen of fitting in a lot of sights in a little time, but I was still no match for Tokyo Disney’s crowds. I recommend 2 days PER park, maybe 3 for Tokyo DisneySea. However, circumstances prevail. If you’re doing this visit in one day like I did, you MUST know ahead of time what attractions are different from the ones you’ve already seen or are available to you in your home country.

Take advantage of fastpasses! The reality is, you’ll probably only get about 2 of them if you go on a busy day. They usually run out by 12pm. So choose wisely. You should also take advantage of single rider when it’s available.

Tokyo Disney has 2 parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. This post will be on Tokyo Disneyland.

WHAT TO SEE, EAT DO

Top Choice Attractions:

  1. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt – Best ride in the park! Unique to Japan. This is the #1 priority.
  2. Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek – Unique to Japan. I’d give this the #2 priority.
  3. Jungle Cruise: Wildlife Expeditions – Has an extra cool part at the end, is worth comparing to the one at California Disneyland & I hear it has recently added some cool projection mapping effects.
  4. Country Bear Jamboree – Seeing as how they took this out of Disneyland in California many years ago, it is worth a stop for the nostalgia! It’s in Japanese except for the songs. It’s also air conditioned and feels great to sit down for a while.
  5. Haunted Mansion – There are enough differences between this one and the one in California Disneyland to warrant adding this to your list.
  6. The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha E Komo Mai!” – Similar to the Tiki Room but has an animatronic Stitch with additional storyline. The queues were not crazy for this attraction, and at this point in the day I really needed to give my feet a break! Put this on your list for when you need a breather.
  7. Cinderella’s Fairytale Hall – A castle walkthrough attraction with photo opps. Anytime you have a chance to go inside a castle and explore, you do it. It was gorgeous.

Tokyo Disney Fantasyland

Tokyo Disney Balloons

Castle Collage

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Attractions with a Fastpass:

  1. Big Thunder Mountain
  2. Splash Mountain
  3. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
  4. Haunted Mansion
  5. Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
  6. Space Mountain
  7. Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
  8. Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!

Attractions with Single Rider:

Don’t get a fastpass for rides that have single rider. For whatever reason, it is not that popular in the Asian parks so you’ll nearly walk on to those rides. In fact, I saw most of us Westerners in the single rider lines! However, Tokyo Disneyland only has one attraction with a single rider option at the moment:

  1. Splash Mountain

Highest Wait Times:

  1. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
  2. Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!
  3. Big Thunder Mountain
  4. Space Mountain
  5. Splash Mountain
  6. Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blaster

Must-See Shows:

Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights – This is the best show at Tokyo Disney. Yes it is similar to the U.S. parks’ electrical parade, but it is also different. And it is amazing even if you’ve seen it before. If you only have time for one show/parade, make it this one.

Must-Eat Foods:

Here is where you can have your entire itinerary “eaten up” with the amount of time you’ll spend gorging on delicious food. Everything was amazing! Even as I write this post, there are new foods and snacks being featured that I wish were there during my visit.I recommend reading through the options on the Tokyo Disney website. They do a good job of organizing what you can find, and where. I focused on fan-favorites, character-themed foods and restaurants with a great ambiance.

This is what I came up with for my wish list and where to find them:

  1. Storm Trooper Mochi – Pan Galactic Pizza Port, Soft Landing (Tomorrowland)
  2. Mickey Waffles & Petite Mickey Waffle Bites – The Great Waffle Co. (World Bazaar / Main Street) The Mickey Waffle with Lemon Curd, bean paste and green tea ice cream was phenomenal!
  3. Pizza Spring Roll – There are snack carts in Toontown
  4. Mickey-shaped Churro – Rackey Racoon Saloon, Camp Woodchuck Kitchen, Pecos Bill Cafe (Westernland) or Parkside Wagon (Adventureland).
  5. Mickey & Minnie Steam Buns – Boiler Room Bites (Adventureland)
  6. Pork-Rice Ball with Fried Egg – The Gazebo (Adventureland)
  7. Mickey-shaped Pastries & Olaf Bun – Sweetheart Cafe (World Bazaar)
  8. Mickey Glove Bun Sandwich – Boiler Room Bites, Huey, Dewey and Louie’s Good Time Cafe (Toontown), Plazma Ray’s Diner (Tomorrowland)
  9. Darkside Calzone – Pan Galactic Pizza Port (Tomorrowland)
  10. Lightsaber Churro – Tomorrowland Terrace

Tokyo Disneyland Food Collage

Waffle Co.

And I can’t forget to share about the popcorn! There is a popcorn craze going on at Tokyo Disney, and the popcorn buckets are ridiculously cute. I didn’t have time to try all the popcorn (it is not uncommon to wait in line for 45 min to get popcorn), but I did try blueberry and honey and they were both amazing. As of 2019, bold is unique to Tokyo Disneyland, and non-bold is found at both parks:

  • Caramel
  • Soy Sauce & Butter
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Curry
  • Salt
  • Honey 
  • Barbecue
  • Corn Potage

IMG-8058.JPG

Recommended Quick-Serve Restaurants Due to Food + Theme:

  1. Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall – The BEST themed restaurant in the park!
  2. Grandma Sara’s Kitchen
  3. Hungry Bear Restaurant
  4. Camp Woodchuck Kitchen

Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall OutsideQueen of Hearts Banq Collage

My Strategy:

  1. If you can’t stay at the Disney Resort, make it easy on yourself and choose a hotel that requires you to take only 1 train (no transfers) to the Disneyland metro stop.
  2. Arrive a minimum of 1.5 hours before the gates open.
  3. As soon as the gates open, walk/run to grab a fast pass for Monsters Inc.
  4. Then walk over and get in the standby line for Winnie the Pooh. It should be no more than 15 min wait at this point.
  5. After Pooh, Disneyland is starting to fill up. I chose to do Cinderella’s Fairytale Hall (the castle walkthrough) first, so I could get great photos of the castle without too many people in the way. I also could not stray too far from Tomorrowland because my fast pass would be up soon.
  6. After the castle, I did Monsters Inc. with my fast pass.
  7. After that ride, I grabbed a fast pass for Space Mountain and then that was it for available fast passes for the day.
  8. I began my trek around the park, starting from Tomorrowland, and weaved in all the food plans as I went. I found it easy to find the food because I had a list of what to get and where to get it.
  9. I left Toontown for the last stop, as it was the least interesting to me

SHOPPING

Don’t forget to shop! Tokyo Disney has got merchandise handled like a boss!! I would have gone in every single store if I had time. Everything was so cute and so on-theme. I didn’t think it could get better than U.S. Disney stuff, but it nearly did.

HOW TO GET THERE

If you’re not staying at one of the Disney hotels, the metro is the best bet. Seeing as how you’ll be getting up super early to get to the gate before thousands of people show up, I recommend choosing a hotel that is no more than 1 train away from the Disney stop. Take the Keiyo Line and get off at Maihama Station on JR (Japan Railway). From there you can walk or take the nifty Disney monorail. You’ll know you’re on the right metro when you see tons of teenage kids with a Disney popcorn bucket on a lanyard around their neck.

IMG-9188.JPG

And that’s it! Enjoy your time. Try to get 2 days, but if you only have one just make your priority list and go early. Keep your cool with the crowds, and count your blessings… you’re at TOKYO DISNEYLAND!

Next up, check out my post about Tokyo DisneySea!

– The Time Traveler

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