The magical world of Japan’s theme parks and attractions include Universal Studios Japan (blog about this soon), DisneySea and Disneyland. When in Tokyo, we only had time for either Disneyland or DisneySea so we skipped DisneySea as the rides there seemed more suitable for older kids (8 to 12) or teenagers. Also Disneyland is a must do if you have never been to a Disneyland before. (I went to the one in Anaheim when I was a child and it's ingrained in my memory forever. I want our kids to have such a magical experience too).
If you've been to other Disneylands before or have older kids, then go for DisneySea since it's the only one in the world.
There's lots of ride reviews and stuff about Tokyo Disneyland on the internet... but here are my bare bones tips.. the vital stuff to note.
1. Must go Early.
There are no express passes that you can buy in advance. You need to download your ticket onto you Tokyo Disneyland app prior to going there. (You can download your whole family's tickets onto one app, no problem). And once the tickets are scanned in (meaning you enter the park), then you can book your express passes via the app. So everyone has to enter the park. You cannot have one person go ahead while the rest come later in the day as that one person cannot book the express passes for everyone else unless they are physically in the park too.
Queues build up way before opening time. But it's said to move quite fast and organised. We arrived about 30 min before opening and the crowd had already cleared (mostly)... perfect.. no long wait for us to get it. And once we are scanned in, we used the app to book the express pass.
Adamson drove us there so it was all easy, parking is about Sgd 25 bucks. Which.. considering the venue and its a whole day thing... is cheap. It cost us much more to park for a couple hours in Tokyo city center ughhhh.
2. Express passes are per ride.
Unlike Universal Studios Singapore where you can just buy one express pass that will cover all the rides.... at Disneyland (and DisneySea) express passes are issued per ride. And you can only book one ride (for yourself or for your whole group) at a time.. you cannot book a bunch of rides at one go. The 40th anniversary pass (this is what it's callled on the app) is free. So yeah we didn't pay for any of our express passes!
3. Premier Passes.
Apart from the free express passes, there are also Premier passes which are payable (via credit card through app). But we didn't use any of these cos it didn't cover stuff we wanted. It does cover the Beauty & the Beast ride... which is insanely popular among guests at the park... but errr... i saw the youtube video of the ride, and it's boring to me.. plus our kids not familiar with the cartoon. Myla vaguely knows it. MJ doesn't know it at all and if he did know it he would probably hate it lol.
4. Game Plan
We started off with booking a ride for some Buzz light year shooting ride thingy and then while having that ride booked (it was due in like 45 mins)...we went to Pirates of the Carribean to ride (as the wait time was only 15 mins at park opening... if you wait for later, the wait time will be insane). So basically, that was how we played it... book an express pass ride, and then while waiting for that time slot, we use the app to see which ride had a reasonable waiting time and went for it. After that, go for the express ride... and then book the next express ride time slot. And then while waiting for that slot, we go for a non express ride. You get it? I feel it's the best way to maximise the amount of rides you can take. We booked 4 express rides, and rode on like 4 non express ones and watched a whole parade. Which is not bad coverage ah.
5. Space Mountain
Space Mountain is popular. Express pass is free and when we first got into the park the space mountain time slot was already 2 plus pm. An hour later, it was 5plus pm slot. By mid day, all the express passes are gone.. (not just Space Mountain... I mean ALL rides express passes nada). So if you want Space Mountain (more thrilling rides) please book it at first availability. It's what I would have done if it's just me and Adamson, and no kids with us. With kids, I didn't want them to have to wait from early morn 9am to 2pm to have their first express no queue ride.
6. Restaurants need to be booked WAYYYYY in advance.
You can do this through the app. I'm not sure how far in advance, cos I tried to book 1 month in advance and already fully booked. We got food from the concession stands (also long ass queues) and ate it on the park benches. Which is ok, cos nice chilly winter weather. We brought food also (they allow food and snacks into the park if you have young kids).