Who doesn’t like a good theme park, especially if it’s by the worldwide popular company, The Walt Disney Company? All of the Disney theme parks — more commonly referred to as Disneyland — all around the world are extremely electrifying, and then comes the question of, is there a Disneyland in Japan, one of the most entertainment-pro countries in the world?
The answer is: yes, there is a Disneyland in Japan. In fact, the one in The Land of The Rising Sun is actually located right smack in the middle of the island nation — pretty close to the capital city Tokyo. It is so close that Japan’s Disney theme park is known as Tokyo Disneyland. Just like the other Disneylands all around the world, you’ll walk into The Happiest Place On Earth, full of all the magical goodness created and exist only at wherever Disneylands are.
You’ll be surprised at how magical and close to Disney-home Tokyo Disneyland can be, despite being on the other side of the main headquarters of Disney itself. Discover all you need to know about Disneyland in Japan as well as the tips and tricks to getting a heck of a time out of your visit!
Where is Tokyo Disneyland?
You might think that the location of Tokyo Disneyland is obvious — duh, as the name suggests, it’s in Tokyo. You’re actually wrong. Even though the city of Tokyo is in the name of this specific Disney theme park, Tokyo Disneyland is, in fact, not in Tokyo at all. The Tokyo Disney Resort is located to the east of Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture in Urayasu.
Fair enough, it’s only a short ride from central Tokyo itself; it’s just like traveling anywhere else in Tokyo. It takes about 20 minutes from Tokyo Station and less than 30 minutes from Shinjuku Station. The main gate to Tokyo Disneyland is just outside of Maihama Station as well as Tokyo Disneyland Station — yes, there’s a station named after the theme park.
All You Need To Know About Tokyo Disneyland
Let’s lay down the facts and nitty-gritty details about Tokyo Disneyland and get them out of the way. This Disney theme park is actually the first-ever Disney park to be built outside of the United States! Everything from the design and structure is built in the same style as the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California, so you’ll get the full authentic magical experience even on the other side of the world. It opened its magical gates on 15th of April 1983, and holds the title of the third most-visited theme park in the world (the first two being also Disney parks in the U.S.).
Tokyo Disneyland has seven themed areas: the four traditional Disney lands that are Adventureland, Westernland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, the World Bazaar, and the two mini lands that are Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown. These areas mirror those in the original Disneyland park.
At the end of the day, the Disney park is still in Japan, so expect a few hints at Japanese culture here and there. One prominent example is the food; it’s noticeably different from the U.S. as there’s an infusion of American and Chinese flavours with Japanese cuisine — sounds intriguing, right? You’ll get steamed buns filled with teriyaki chicken in Adventureland shaped in Mickey Mouse’s head and a traditional Japanese dish called donburi fused with the American flavours of taco meat. Don’t worry, the food at Tokyo Disneyland is not all traditionally infused; you’ll be able to get your fix of classic popcorn — spice it up with soy sauce flavoured ones if you fancy.
Comparing Tokyo Disneyland To Others Around The World
As mentioned, there are unique factors of Tokyo Disneyland — like the food offered. That’s not the only aspect that separates them from the other Disney parks in the world. Let’s have a brief comparison of Tokyo Disneyland to the others around the world!
Local traditions & celebrations
The best thing about Disney parks is that every single one of them celebrates the local culture — whether it is the different states in the U.S. or in another country, there are definitely different celebrations in each of them. These celebrations of traditions can be seen in the merchandise, holiday celebrations, and even guest traditions.
Undoubtedly, as soon as you walk into any of the Disney parks, you’re in Mickey’s territory. But the subtle details and nod towards the local culture are signs of the embracement of the local culture. Tokyo Disneyland has a tradition that’s informally known as the “running of the bulls” where guests — regardless of age and gender — eagerly wait outside the gates in advance, and as soon as the gates open, all of them run inside in a split second. It does sound aggressive at first, but the Japanese are abiding by the local customs of politeness and respect, so it’s not as rowdy as you may think.
Celebrations are also different in each park. In the U.S., Halloween is one of the biggest celebrations for the Disney parks. While Tokyo Disneyland does celebrate Halloween, it’s not as huge as those in the States where there are dramatic bashes and parties.
The iconic castle
If you haven’t noticed already, each Disney park in the world features a castle park that celebrates the iconic Disney princesses and other characters. Some Disney parks like Disneyland Paris, California, Anaheim and Hong Kong feature similar versions of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Others like Magic Kingdom in Orlando and Disney parks in Florida as well as Tokyo has Cinderella’s Castle instead.
Some believe that the reason why Tokyo Disneyland features Cinderella’s Castle instead of Sleeping Beauty Castle is because of the princess’s qualities. Cinderella is known for her work ethics, patience and a strong sense of duty — these qualities resonate much more with the Japanese culture.
Classic and exclusive rides
If all rides at every Disney park in the world were the same, then there wouldn’t be a reason for Disney enthusiasts like myself to have “go-to every Disney park in the world” on our bucket list. The rides are the number one reason why people visit theme parks — and there’s no doubt that Disney parks have world-class rides and attractions, utilizing impressive technology out there.
Even though the classic rides exist at almost all of them, Tokyo Disneyland has a couple that is exclusive to Japan only. I mean, what more can you expect from the most technologically developed country in the world? These subtle and drastic differences make it fun for Disney fans to compare and contrast the differences between the Disney parks themselves — that’s just half the fun of visiting the Disney parks.
Tips & Tricks To Tokyo Disneyland
Because Disney parks have such highly reputable names, expect a huge crowd at every single one of them every day. Everyone loves a good ol’ theme park that promises nothing but magical moments and unforgettable experience — who would miss out on that?
To make your trip even more memorable, make full use of the time you’re there. How, you ask? Well, I have some tips and tricks for you based on my very own personal experience — tried and tested, and succeeded! These are my top five tips to Tokyo Disneyland; thank me later.
Buy your tickets in advance
Of course, this may go without saying, but I have seen the line at the gate where people actually buy the tickets on the day itself. Try your very best not to do that; buy your tickets well in advance. This cuts a bit of time in the morning for yourself — you don’t have to queue again and you can just wait till the gates open instead.
Tokyo Disneyland is still very traditional in some aspects like having the physical ticket, so when you purchase your tickets online, be sure to print them out before. Don’t worry if you forgot, there are stations at the entrance where you can print them out for free. There might be a queue for that in the morning as well, so best to avoid that if you can.
Plan your rides in advance
If there’s any tip that I would put as the main priority, it has to be this one. I personally abide by this tip whenever I go to any theme park, just because you’re paying close attention to the limited time you have in the park itself. Take note of which rides you want to prioritize, which ones aren’t as important, and which ones are the park’s most popular ones.
Plan your route based on the location, likeliness of the queue, and your priority. I would usually get a map of the park the night before and plan accordingly. It may sound tedious but trust me, you’ll be so glad you did afterward.
It’s not even going to be running around as much — it’s more of making the waiting time in the line count and not miss out on the rides that you want the most. Strategy, people.
Make full use of the Fast Pass
Make full use of your FastPass — it’s one of the best ways to maximize your time at the park. Include this during your planning as well, and I highly recommend to use the FastPass on rides that are incredibly popular with hours and hours of queuing.
If you don’t know how it works, it’s actually pretty simple. Some rides are eligible for FastPass — some aren’t. Choose the ones that are and insert or scan your park ticket at the FastPass kiosk. You’ll get a specified time ticket of an hour or so range for you to come back and get on the ride on the FastPass lane instead. You can only hold one FastPass at a time, so make sure it counts! As soon as you’ve used your FastPass, get on to the next one!
Bring your own bento (if you want)
This is not a hard rule but if you’re looking to save a few cents, pack a lunchbox with you. If you’re going all out and want to try the delicious Disney treats available at the park, go ahead. But do take note that they — like at any other theme parks — can cost quite a bit.
The Japanese have quite a tradition of bento boxes, so why not participate in the local culture and immerse yourself in it by bringing your very own bento?
Shop after the attractions close
Don’t worry about that cute souvenir you want to get for yourself as a memory keepsake — you’ll be able to buy them afterward. It’s not common knowledge but shops are still open for an hour after the attractions close, so why waste time when the attractions are open to shop?
Maximize the time you have for the rides while the attractions are open, and when they’re closed for the day, that’s when you can get your shopping gear on!
Tokyo Disneyland’s Counterpart: Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo Disney Resort is special because of one thing — they not only have Tokyo Disneyland but there is also Tokyo DisneySea. There is only one DisneySea in the entire world and that is in Japan. Located right next to Tokyo Disneyland, this theme park opened on the 4th of September 2001 and is the fourth most-visited theme park in the world! It’ll be a waste to make your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort if you miss out on this exquisite and exclusive Disney park.
Tokyo DisneySea is unique because of its theme. The whole park has a nautical exploration theme. Some say it is the adult version of Tokyo Disneyland — unlike the other park, Tokyo DisneySea serves alcohol at the different areas’ restaurants!
To talk about Tokyo DisneySea would require a whole other article on its own, but rest assured that its reputation can challenge that of Tokyo Disneyland’s. Does that make you curious about this one-of-a-kind Disney park?
Tokyo Disneyland definitely needs no introduction — being the third most-visited park in the whole world. Carrying the original authenticity and magic of the original Disneyland as well as introducing their own unique traditional features, there’s nothing quite like Tokyo Disneyland — or is there? Its counterpart, Tokyo DisneySea, gives Tokyo Disneyland a run for its money. Regardless, the original Tokyo Disney park will always be deep in the hearts of Disney fans.