I first went to Disneyland Paris when I was 10 years old and little did I know that it would take another 16 years before I set foot in Disneyland again. Back in June I was finally reunited with Donald Duck during a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Tokyo. Tokyo has two parks; Disneyland and Disney Sea, which is unique to Tokyo. It was my sister’s birthday trip so she got to pick and we ended up in Tokyo Disneyland. Now, this park is notorious for its long lines and we were nervous we would spend most of the day queuing. In a stroke of luck, it was rainy the whole time and we could go on loads of rides multiple times. To beat the crowds, I would even recommend that you spend a rainy day at Tokyo Disneyland as opposed to a sunny.
Before your visit
Book Tokyo Disneyland tickets
There are a couple of different ways to book tickets. We used the online booking site before we travelled, as we wanted to make sure we could definitely get in. Tickets are available 2 months in advance and note that the website seems a bit iffy when it comes to card payments. We couldn’t pay with a Visa Debit card but were fine with a Mastercard.
Another option is to buy your tickets at a Disney store before you head to the park. Only selected Disney stores sell park tickets, some examples are Ikebukuro Sunshine City, Odaiba Aqua City and Shibuya Koen Dori. For more stores, check out Disney store’s official website. The last option is to buy your tickets at the park entrance. On a quiet day that’ll be fine, on a busy day you could end up queuing unnecessarily.
mAKE A GAME PLAN
Whilst Tokyo Disneyland isn’t a huge park, the potential crowds and queues warrant at least a basic game plan before you arrive. Whilst the queues should be shorter on a rainy weekday than a weekend, you want to make sure you have at least an idea of the rides you want to try.
For example, we had 3 rides we knew that we definitely wanted to try; Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Big Thunder Mountain and Monsters Inc Ride & Go Seek. When the park opened we therefore went straight to these three and managed to ride them all in the first 2 hours. After that we just tried whatever we fancied. By doing your must-do rides early in the day you can also grab fast passes for your favourites and return later in the day.
I found the fast pass system really fair even though we didn’t end up needing them much (thanks rain!). Basically, each ride has a number of available fast pass tickets and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Before you envision a stampede of people trying to get fast passes all at once, each guest can only request one fast pass per hour. This makes it a very fair system, as no one can hoard passes. To get a fast pass, you simply head to the ride and insert your entry ticket in the fast pass machine. It’ll then generate a ticket for you to return at an allocated time slot. Very handy (just remember to keep hold of your entry ticket!).
Also keep in mind that the rain will most likely reduce the queues for food places too. We got into one of the most popular ones, Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, fairly quickly at lunchtime. So basically, if you want to try a really popular place, this is the time to do it. I’ve heard good things about Grandma Sara’s Kitchen and Blue Bayou Restaurant too, if you fancy other sit down options.
Tokyo Disneyland is known for character food and unique popcorn flavours. Out of the popcorn I strongly recommend the butter and soy sauce flavour. I also saw milk chocolate (pretty good!), curry, honey, caramel and normal salted ones. Believe it or not but the queues can get really long for the popcorn so if you see a short queue, go for it. In addition, you should try the sweet potato churros type snacks and mousse filled alien mochi. The queues for snacks are mostly exposed to the rain, so make sure you have appropriate clothing if you want to try any snacks.
dURING yOUR vISIT AT tOKYO dISNEYLAND
TRAVEL FROM TOKYO TO TOKYO DISNEYLAND
Disneyland’s train station is called JR Maihama and is easily reached from the likes of Shinjuku and Tokyo Station. From Shinjuku, take JR Chuo line to Tokyo Station. From Tokyo Station you can take either JR Musashino or JR Keiyo straight to the park. Should you depart from other stations, Disneyland’s website is really handy for planning your journey.
Note that opening times vary slightly from day to day (check when you buy your ticket). We bought ours for a weekday in June and the opening hours stated 8am. As we wanted to maximise our visit, we were there on the dot. The gates didn’t actually open until 9am, so we were stood outside for an hour after ‘opening time’. As I’ve only been once I can’t say whether that’s the norm every day, but it can be worth keeping in mind. Plenty of people had brought blankets to sit on in the queue. It’s also worth noting that a large part of the entrance queue isn’t under a roof so bring waterproof clothing on rainy days.
hOW tO sPEND A rAINY dAY AT tOKYO dISNEYLAND
So you’ve got your tickets, figured out the train journey and survived the queue to get in. Yay! If you now find that it’s raining at Disneyland (still the happiest place on earth!), you might want to take the below into consideration when you decide what rides to try.
Tokyo Disneyland rIDES
Tokyo Disneyland caters to a quite young audience and the majority of rides aren’t really great for thrill seekers. Most of the rides instead focus on story-telling, e.g. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Monsters Inc. The best bit though, is that the majority of rides are under roof so you can still enjoy them on rainy days! We tried quite a few rides and if you have to prioritise, definitely make time for the below must-ride attractions.
Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
Probably one of the most famous Tokyo Disneyland rides and one of the flagship attractions. The ride takes you through the story of Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and is a very well-made visual attraction. It doesn’t run on a track and is therefore an unique ride each time. The ride is completely under roof, although parts of the queue run outside. With some luck the queues should be short enough for you to only have to stand under the covered area in bad weather.
Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek
Another flagship attraction which is a very visual ride with built up scenes that you travel through in the dark. The added element to this ride is that you get a flashlight to shine on parts of the set up to trigger different reactions e.g. a monster moves. On a rainy day, I would personally head straight to Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek (it’s very close to the entrance) and then go to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt after. Again, unless the queue is massive (which it won’t be first thing) you’ll queue under a roof.
Pirates of the Caribbean
We almost missed this attraction as you can’t see the ride and all that gives it away is a doorway. The queue is inside and the attraction is absolutely incredible. Slow boats travel through built up pirate cities and battles that are highly animated with robots and sound effects. This seemed like a fairly unpopular ride as we could more or less walk onto it 4 times so no need to plan this one in early. This was one of my top 3 rides and you should definitely make sure that you don’t miss it. It’s located just to the left of World Bazaar.
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
Apart from this ride there isn’t very much to do in Toontown for adults. That said, make sure you don’t miss this one. Another one of my top 3 rides, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin lets you spin your car as you travel through a sensory overload of scenes from Roger Rabbit. This is a high energy ride that feels exciting every time you ride it (I should know as we went on it about 5 times in a day!). Again, this is a good ride in wet weather as the queue is inside.
The last of my top 3 is Star Tours, which is a Star Wars themed attraction. You sit in a cinema like simulator as you ride through the galaxy guided by C-3PO. I remember this ride from Paris Disneyland back in the day because it was my favourite and I still love it. Seriously. Do not miss. The queue is once again inside and the ride has a high capacity so queue time seemed to generally be quite short.
On the day, ‘it’s a small world’ and Space Mountain were both closed so can’t comment on these rides, although I would have loved to try them. You also have Haunted Mansion that I’m nowhere near brave enough to try. There are more rides than the above obviously, but I would spend my time focusing on them. Some other rides that are good in the rain:
- Snow White’s Adventures – the queue is quite exposed but the ride is entirely inside. I don’t feel like a grown up when admitting that I found this quite scary.
- Pinocchio’s Daring Journey – an ok ride, a large part of the queue is covered and the attraction is inside.
- Peter Pan’s Flight – beautiful but dated ride. The longest queue we encountered at 45 minutes and didn’t think the ride was worth it. A fairly large part of the queue is covered and the ride is inside.
- Stitch Encounter – completely covered but unless you speak Japanese and have kids with you I wouldn’t bother.
- Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters – a pretty good ride with a similar concept to Monsters Inc Ride & Go Seek. Should be your next stop after you’ve tried the must-rides.
There are some rides that are pretty rubbish on rainy days, so plan accordingly or keep it in mind if you want to ride the below:
- Dumbo The Flying Elephant – no cover from the elements whatsoever, you will get very wet.
- Big Thunder Mountain – a large part of the queue is under cover but a lot of the ride is out in the open.
- Alice’s Tea Party – the ride is great once you get onto it, but the roof only covers a tiny part of the queue so expect to get wet as you wait.
- Splash Mountain – if you don’t mind getting wet, I suppose this one is great on rainy days. If you want to stay dry, this ride is probably not for you.
dISADVANTAGES OF SPENDING A RAINY DAY AT tOKYO dISNEYLAND
I’ve got one word for you. Parades. Ok, maybe two. Characters.
All the parades got cancelled on our day of visit due to the rain. If you want to see them, you really need to check the weather forecast. If you’re not bothered (to quote my sister – I can see the parades on Youtube) then rainy days are for you.
Another disadvantage is that the Meet & Greets are fewer. We only saw 2 characters during our day (bar the massive group greeting before opening the gates) and think this was due to the bad weather. Because we’d been to Disneyland before it didn’t bother us too much, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Finally, the biggest disadvantage of them all is obviously that your popcorn might get soggy so take cover!
We really enjoyed our rainy day at Tokyo Disneyland! Despite getting wet we had a great time and enjoyed the short queue times. Let me know if you’ve ever been or want to visit!