A Tokyo Disney Resort 2 park 4 day itinerary

Tiramisu donut from Mama Biscotti's at DisneySea
Tiramisu donut from Mama Biscotti's at DisneySea - it sounds awful on paper but is amazing!

I’ve been back from Japan for nearly 3 weeks and am still processing all I wanted to share about our park days, given how grateful I am to this group and Let’s Go Mum for all of the valued information, support and reassurance it gave me before we left!

Michelle Murphy and family at Tokyo Disney Resort at Christmas 2023
Michelle Murphy and family at Tokyo Disney Resort at Christmas 2023

The first thing I will say to all the newbies, to quote the incredible Douglas Adams, is DON’T PANIC! I kept saying in the leadup to our trip that I felt like I was about to sit an exam I hadn’t studied for, but I promise that with just a little prep you will be fine – when you get there it will all quickly fall into place.

Yes, there will be crowds (good luck to those going in June!), but even with the masses I never felt claustrophobic despite my hatred of crowds, because the lines really do move fast and Disney as a whole just knows what they’re doing. With a lot of food outlets for example, they only sell one or two choices, and they do it fast, and they do it well. They just churn them on out. I have never witnessed a more organised country as a whole (and I lived in Germany!).

Selection of food from the Crystal Palace buffet
A teensy tiny selection of food from the Crystal Palace buffet

So, here’s my (very, very long) input, including our schedules we ended up following, if it’s of any help or value to anyone.
For clarity, in case this post is accessed some time after the fact (it will hopefully help people thinking about going next Christmas):

The beautiful Tokyo Disney Sea Venice area
The beautiful Tokyo Disney Sea Venice area

· We went to DisneySea on December 20 and 22, and Disneyland December 21 and 25 (yes, Christmas Day was the whole focus of our trip!), 2023. All prices mentioned are in Australian dollars so please convert this to your own currency.

· I absolutely appreciate that not everyone has the budget for the Premier Access Passes, but if you’re flying from a long way like we were, just build it into your budget for the trip and pay for them. Do it. Treat your own feet-hurt and standing time with the value they deserve. Get as many as you can for the rides that you want 😉
By the second day at DisneySea I was buying those things like hot cakes and the deep satisfaction of skipping those queues that can be over 3 hours long in some cases (constantly for Beauty and the Beast and Soaring, both of which hovered around 170-180 mins the entire time we were there) cannot be overstated. But they are two of the most exceptional rides I have ever been on. Do not miss them!

· Priorities for our family will always be different for every other individual and family so please do make your own schedule – mine worked well for Aussies with two teens 😊
I did do a tonne of research before we went but it was more because I am simply a planner by nature, and my daughters are both on the spectrum and need to know as much about what we’re doing ahead of time as possible. One is also a bit of a fussy eater so it was also handy to have meal options in place for every area of both parks, and we all enjoyed the process of putting together wish-lists for snacks and seeking them out! I’m sure though you could still have an incredible time if you just rocked up on the day and winged it.

Watch some YouTube videos if you can – channels really helped me visualise my trip. These are also great for working out which rides you want to focus on and/or any with drops etc you need to be aware of for smaller children.

Tokyo Disney hotels

Hotels – We stayed at the Hilton Tokyo Bay for the first 3 park days which we were really happy with (stunning views of Mount Fuji if you book an ocean-front room, which we did), and then moved to the Tobu Hotel Levant in Kinshicho which is a Disney Good Neighbor hotel (great hotel overlooking Skytree in a safe, quiet neighbourhood) and offered a super-convenient (pre-book this!) free shuttle for that final day. We really enjoyed our stay there and the nearby station made a fantastic base.

Tokyo Disney airport transfers

Transfers – We flew from Sydney and landed at Haneda after 8pm when the airport limo bus has ceased services, so organised a private transfer to the Hilton for about $AUD145 – money so well spent when you’re tired with kids and they were lovely.

Internet access in Tokyo

Internet access – our phone supplier charges a bomb for international roaming so instead we used a portable Wifi from Japan Wireless for the fortnight we were there and it cost us $AUD136.76 – we pre-ordered online and while you can choose to collect at the airport, our late flight meant this wasn’t an option for us so we just had it waiting at the Hilton for us the night we arrived (we actually tracked it arriving the day before which was a comfort to know). All 4 of us could then connect our phones and it was fast, reliable, and with a really large range so my husband could be in one store with it in his backpack and we could still get Wifi in the store next door. This only falls down if you wanted to split your group up and go on separate rides that needed passes (you’d have to be lucky enough to have these line up separately anyway) as you do need Wifi to see the passes appear in the app, which will happen a couple of minutes before your allocated timeslot. We always stuck together so it wasn’t an issue for us. At any rate – highly recommended for groups. For solo travellers, an eSim is probably better (same company offers those too!).

The App – remember that the app is your friend and it will tell you when you’re eligible to book the next pass, be it a Premier Access or 40th Anniversary Priority Pass (or whatever they replace that with when it finishes). I also set one-hour/two-hour alarms (1 for PA, 2 for 40th Anniversary) on my phone to remind me to check and book the next one if we were a little over the time getting to the next pass booked, because you can book them one/two hours after you booked the last one OR after the time you’ve used the first, whatever comes first. Allocation will be exhausted quickly so get in while you can.

I bought all our tickets through Klook (thank you, discount codes from Lets Go Mum!) which then also gave us loyalty points to use towards other bookings we made throughout our trip. Lets Go Mum also has her brilliant video showing how to upload these to your app before you go and this worked a dream for us. We then had the app on everyone’s phones so they could all scan their own passes walking through the entry gates, but most families just had one parent doing this from one phone. For passes we also just used one phone which was the quickest way to scan everyone in (see my video for what it looks like when you redeem a pass – I keep saying, that little ‘cashing it in’ sound is addictive lol).

This is what the map starts to display as once you have bookings - that's showing the lunch reservation I'd made
This is what the map starts to display as once you have bookings – that’s showing the lunch reservation I’d made

I’ve included photos of what the app will look like once you’re in the park for anyone who is curious – you will that see that the map will show you when you have bookings for anything (I’m the Alice icon in the one showing our restaurant booking for example, but there’s no icon on our Journey to the Centre of the Earth booking because my husband booked that one on his phone) such as passes/shows/restaurants. The bookings you then use – rides, restaurants, etc, will all fall to the bottom of the page once they’re done.

4 days at Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Sea Mysterious Island
Tokyo Disney Sea Mysterious Island

We’d decided to do 4 days of parks – DisneySea, then Land, then Sea, then Land, in that order, to give us time in between to think about what we missed Day One and then go back.

Day One at DisneySea we were, as Aussies, obviously really confronted by the queues, but we were still mentally prepped having seen pics of what they could be like! We took the monorail (station is just across the road for the Hilton and the Toy Story Hotels, so we rarely used the free shuttle, and it’s just down the road for the Grand Nikko) and bought a multi-day monorail pass which was cheaper – bring cash for this.

We followed the plan of enter and as we walked (this works best for subsequent days than the first when you will be chucking credit card details in!), book Premier Access passes for Soaring (me) whilst also snagging our first 40th Anniversary pass (husband!), and then head for Port Discovery. At 9:02am I booked for Soaring for the 15:00 – 16:00 timeslot, at the cost of 8,000 yen for the 4 of us ($AUD83.82). The reason we didn’t care about times this day was because at that stage we thought the only other PA we’d book for would be Journey to the Center of the Earth, which at that stage was closed for maintenance until our SECOND visit two days later (again, research this beforehand!) and so we really only cared about Soaring here, and didn’t care what time we went.

A Tokyo Disney Resort ride schedule

I’ll give our schedule just for rides, and then you can imagine us slotting in eating/photographing/shopping/bathroom breaks in between lol. For both parks we went hard on the first day to get as many rides done as possible, and then have a much more relaxed second day including leaving a little earlier. Any rides/parades skipped was intentional as we’d either done them before or they just weren’t our bag (except Nemo and Friends and I am kicking myself we missed it lol).

Tokyo Disney Sea Day 1 Itinerary

7:36am – on the monorail
7:45am – in the queue with a decent amount of people ahead of us, but absolutely the best of the 4 days.
8:51am – gates to the general public opened. Note that at DisneySea the process is ticket-scanning first, then security (bag check, scanner like the airport). At Disneyland it was reversed which sped things up for the bigger queues there. People then either streamed right toward Soaring, or left toward Tower of Terror/Toy Story. By 9:06am the queue for Soaring was already down to the Mysterious Island entrance (when you get there you will appreciate how far this is). It rarely moved closer than that all day and then often looped in on itself. We’re talking hours (but this is the best ride in the park). This left the way gloriously empty for us to forge straight ahead to Port Discovery and onto the Lost River Delta, and then kind of work our way clockwise.
9:10 – Aquatopia walk-on (do not ask me how we missed the Nemo & Friends SeaRider – for some reason we put it into the same basket as Turtle Talk ie not worth it as in Japanese and I still feel sick about it!). We were literally the only people on the ride 😊
9:20 – Indiana Jones walk-on
9:58 – Jasmine’s Flying Carpets walk-on
10:16am – Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage walk-on
10:41am – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (used 40th Anniversary pass). Just saying…we were quite underwhelmed by the ride itself, but loooved the area which is magnificently done. We’d watched the old movies with the kids for this and Journey to the Center of the Earth before we went which added an extra layer of fun to it all. But the ride – meh. Had I waited in line as long as the people we passed by, I’d have cried.
10:54am – Gyozas at Nautilus Galley. SO YUMMY – pop down to see this area even if you’re not eating here as it’s just really fun and with great spots for pics, all sunken with a little waterfall etc.
11:58am – DisneySea Transit Steamer Line from Cape Cod for the round tour
12:47pm – Venetian Gondolas
2:15pm – Let’s Celebrate with Colours Parade – we just happened to have grabbed a coffee near Gondolier Snacks when it started so could watch from near there with perfect views.
2:25pm – Mermaid Lagoon, starting with Jumpin’ Jellyfish
2:41pm – Blowfish Balloon Race
3:15pm – Soaring: Fantastic Flight (Premier Access Pass)
4:14pm – Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster
4:41pm – Caravan Carousel (Arabian Coast at night is utterly magical)
6:10pm – Dinner at Horizon Bay (pre-reserved)
7:15pm – Believe! Sea of Dreams parade – we watched this sitting on the steps between the Mediterranean Harbour Ponte Vecchio-style bridge and the pirate ship and it was GREAT! We probably could have seen more further around either direction but was nice to see the projections against the Miracosta and we were perfectly happy (and thrilled to be sitting down 😉)

Tokyo Disney Sea Day 2 Itinerary

DISNEY SEA DAY TWO – I noted that by 9:45am all the day’s 40th Anniversary passes for Raging Spirits were gone (we hadn’t intended to go as I’d read it can literally be a painful ride for tall people, which we all are, but this was the first day I thought to keep note of when things were selling out).
7:53am – In line for opening
8:56am – In the park
9:50am – Toy Story Mania (first ride we’d had to really queue for – it snaked on forever)
10:25am – Tower of Terror (Premier Access Pass – 6000 yen or $AUD62.32 for 4 of us)
11:05am – Electric Railway
11:35am – Journey to the Center of the Earth (Premier Access Pass – 6000 yen or $AUD62.32 for 4 of us)
12:30pm – Mickey’s Big Band Beat – Granted Entry Request
1:33pm – Fortress Explorations
2:15pm – Lunch at Ristorante di Canaletto (pre-reserved)

Tokyo Disneyland Day 1 Itinerary

DISNEYLAND DAY ONE – By 10:45am all Premier Access Passes for both Beauty and the Beast and Baymax were gone, and by midday all 40thAnniversary passes for Big Thunder Mountain, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Space Mountain were gone. All other eligible 40th Anniversary passes were for timeslots from 6pm onward except Star Tours (and you would never bother with that as there is never a queue lol).
7:45am – in line – crowds were massive, far greater than DisneySea the day before
9:00am – in the park – again, this day almost everyone ran towards the right for Beauty and the Beast, but we booked our Premier Access passes for the afternoon, and headed straight ahead to approach Fantasyland from the left and Haunted Mansion. This was we knocked all the rides we wanted to do in Fantasyland over in a couple of hours, including a character encounter as well as Pooh’s Hunny Hunt which was our first 40thAnniversary pass choice
9:02am – Haunted Mansion Walk-On
9:21am – It’s A Small World Walk-On
9:37am – Pinocchio’s Daring Journey Walk-On
9:52am – Alice’s Tea Party Walk-On
10:00am – Meet and Greet with Mad Hatter near the Carrousel – a good time for this as White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, Captain Hook all there also
10:35am – Peter Pan’s Flight (25 min wait)
11:00am – Snow White’s Adventures (the shortest and oddest ride, the story is unfinished lol), maybe a 10-15 min wait
11:10am – Pooh’s Honey Hut (40thAnniversary Pass Used)
11:40am – Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall (The Castle)
12:35pm – Western River Railroad
12:50pm – Jungle Cruise
1:15pm – Enchanted Tiki Room Stitch (Show)
1:35pm – Pirates of the Caribbean (10 min wait)
2:10pm – Lunch at The Crystal Palace (pre-reserved)
4:00pm – Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (about a 15 min wait)
4:20pm – Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast – (Premier Access Pass – 8000 yen or $AUD82.56 for 4 of us)
5:00pm – Gadget’s Go Coaster
5:55pm – Star Tours
7:15pm – Disney Electrical Parade Christmas – again we just happened to find a decent spot about 10 mins out from the start, at the raised stairs just over from Walt’s statue, and seeing the parade set against the lights of the castle was gorgeous
8:25pm – Space Mountain (40thAnniversary Pass Used)

Tokyo Disneyland Day 2 Itinerary

7:55am – In Line
8:45am – In the Park and today headed straight for Tomorrowland along with a tonne of others
9:25am – Monster’s Inc Ride and Go Seek (30 min wait despite being in line at 8:55am)
10:10am – Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (40th Anniversary Pass Used)
10:45am – It’s A Small World Walk-On
11:25am – Castle Carrousel
11:30am – Meet and Greet Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, Captain Hook
12:00pm –Mickey’s Magical Music World – Granted Entry Request
1:15pm – Mark Twain’s Riverboat
2:35pm – Big Thunder Mountain (40thAnniversary Pass Used)
2:50pm – Lunch at Eastside Café (pre-reserved)

As you can see, mid-morning at the Carrousel is a great time for Disneyland Meet and Greets if you’re into Alice or Peter Pan characters. We saw some of the Cinderella mice too.

The system is kind of that you stand in a circle and hope the character notices you and calls you over lol – you can also stand and call their name but I wasn’t doing that 😉 I got lucky as the cast member with them noticed alternately my Alice in Wonderland bag, and then later my Tinkerbell brooch I was wearing (Captain Hook found this hilarious) and so they called them over to me.

Hook is hilarious and kept making fluttering-wing gestures after pointing out my Tinkerbell brooch I was wearing 🙂
Hook is hilarious and kept making fluttering-wing gestures after pointing out my Tinkerbell brooch I was wearing 🙂

We also passed by ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’ in Mediterranean Harbour and amusingly HE stopped ME (who was completely distracted at the time) to chat with me as he liked my coat (!) whilst a whole line of frustrated other guests were chasing after him. Whoops.

Tokyo Disney Captain Jack Sparrow character
Captain Jack was hilarious too – they all have such a good sense of humour

Tokyo Disneyland food & snacks

Tokyo Disney Crystal Palace dessert selection
Our family’s Crystal Palace dessert selection

Food! We were really happy with all our food choices, especially the restaurant bookings listed above. I was in the queue to make all of those Priority Seating bookings (NOTE – this is not a precise reservation as such, but again more like an express pass so that you jump the queue at your allotted time and then you’re able to get the next table.

But if you’re unlucky on the day and everyone dining is taking their time, and they’re full – Ristorante di Canaletto was like this – you might have a short wait. Still worth it) right on time before 10am JST a month before, and it was still impossible to get anything for Magellan’s or Blue Bayou as we’d hoped – I’m assuming those are all nabbed by those with vacation packages 😉 But we had fantastic experiences at the places we did eat and recommend them all, particularly as Eastside Café for our Christmas Day lunch.

The joy of not being the one to cook that meal for the first time in over 30 years was priceless to me! Crystal Palace is also brilliant as you can then try a heap of the fun, themed snacks you’d normally have to buy in the parks and it’s all included. Everything from sushi to curries, from salads to a billion desserts. Amazing.

Crystal Palace food - Mickey eggs!
More Crystal Palace food – love those Mickey eggs!

Other great places for snacks are Mama Biscotti’s Bakery at DisneySea (try the Mike Melon bread or especially the Tiramisu filled donut if it’s still there – ¥850 and delicious!) where we’d sit and have sweet treats at the tables outside with our coffees from Gondolier Snacks.

Tokyo Disney Sea Mike Melon bread
Mike Melon bread – super yummy!

At Disneyland we also liked the Camp Woodchuck Kitchen in Westernland for some more unusual snacks and again, for the fact that there are masses of seating with fantastic views (although bizarrely so few people were using it the day we went, and were all eating on kerbs and the ground outside! So many empty tables..!). The Mickey onigiri beef short rib sandwich as well as the mince cutlet dog with cheese were both fun.

The website is brilliant to help you map out beforehand exactly what is sold, where, and for how much, including all restaurants – this was invaluable to us both to just have an idea of the budget we’d need for restaurants, to make sure we knew where to find all the novelty snacks we wanted including popcorn and buckets, and as mentioned I have a fussy eater in my family so we needed to accommodate her and have some options throughout the parks. I used to trawl the website’s restaurant tabs and Chrome would automatically translate for me. There’s also a tab which shows which places offer Priority Seating as mobile ordering (we didn’t try that).

The Tokyo Disney Show Lottery

Shows – I remembered to jump into the Entry Request lottery for both parks one day each, and was lucky enough to win entry to both Mickey’s Big Band Beat at DisneySea, and Mickey’s Magical Music World at Disneyland (this is especially good). The shows are not only great, it can be a nice interlude just to rest those weary feet in a comfy chair, and get out of the weather if it’s a really cold or hot day. Costs you nothing to submit the entry request for these (same with character greetings) so give it a whirl. And if you don’t get a slot, you can still often join the standby line for shows.

Tokyo Disney App credit card tips

Banking – we are with BankWest but I’m sure it would be the same for most banks – just give them a call before you go and let them know you’re overseas for xyz dates, and – if you are comfortable to do so – then ask them to switch off the need for the sms confirmations for the time you’re away (and/or change them to email confirmations assuming you will still have Wifi or an eSim). This means you should have no issues, not only with buying things/withdrawing cash while you’re away but then will also hopefully have no hassles linking your credit/debit card (we used both) to the app to buy any passes.

The Enchanted Tiki Room
Best place on a cold day outside the Enchanted Tiki Room. HEATED SEATS!

For the Enchanted Tiki Room Stitch show – we nearly didn’t do this as it was in Japanese but to be honest we just wanted to sit down for 10 minutes (and for those going in winter – those ‘volcanic rock’ seats and edgings in the outside waiting area are HEATED!! We could have sat there all day 😉). Imagine our joy when a cast member approached us to basically say “hey, I sense you might not speak Japanese, so here’s a free interpretation device (pic included) – just hand it back after the show!”. So thoughtful!

Tokyo Disney translator at the Tiki Room show
The translator given to us before the Tiki Room show

Tokyo Disney ride sizes can be smaller than average

Tokyo Disney ride carriages can be smaller than average size at other Disney parks
This carriage does not fit 3 ‘us sized’ humans

Size! We are not a small family either in height or general stature, and whilst we fit on every ride (and they were less snug than USJ), we quickly learned we’re clearly bigger than your average target-audience native Japanese park attendee 😉 We laughed when we saw all the ride cabins that stated they were for 3 when we could barely fit 2 – pic attached shows Monsters Inc with mine and my daughters’ cramped knees. This is why we avoided Raging Spirits as we’d read it could be an uncomfortable experience for those over a certain height.

A family photo with the Tokyo Disneyland Castle
A family photo with the Tokyo Disneyland Castle

Photos – Cast Members and young Japanese Instagrammers take the best pics 😉 Don’t be afraid to ask any of them and they will take many, many, many with joy for you.

There’s probably a million other things I’ve missed but I hope this very long read helps at least one person. Visiting over the holiday period was everything I’d dreamed and hoped it could be and more, so for all those vaguely considering it then it’s a hearty YES from me! Get in there and just lap up those Christmas carols and atmosphere!

Article and Photos By Tokyo Disneyland holiday planning group member Michelle Murphy

All prices and facts mentioned were correct as at December 2023. Please always re-check the source for current prices.

This page may contain affiliate links. If you book a stay or an attraction through one of them, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Pin these beautiful photos on Pinterest!

Tokyo Disneyland Castle at nighttime
Tokyo Disneyland Castle at nighttime
Disney Sea Arabian Coast
Disney Sea Arabian Coast


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