TRIP REPORT: Tokyo Disney Resort (Booking the Trip, Arriving in Japan) – Part 1
Booking the Trip:
A few months ago, my boyfriend and I decided to spend nearly three weeks vacationing in Japan over Christmas and New Year’s. Naturally, once the decision was made, I turned to him with my best puppy dog eyes and asked, “Can we go to Tokyo Disney?” Knowing that visiting all of the parks is basically my life goal, (and probably not wanting to deal with lots of tears if he said no) he agreed. (If you’re reading this, Adam, you’re the best ever!)
Once I got the green light, I practically sprinted to my computer, ready to begin planning. Coming from a background of being a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, I’m all too familiar with losing hotels, dining reservations, and FastPasses because I waited just a day too long to book.
Tokyo Disney does not work that way.
Tokyo Disney has four Disney-branded hotels on their property, along with other Official hotels and Good Neighbor hotels. For the sake of this trip report, we’re just going to talk about booking a Disney-branded hotel.
The four hotels are the: Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta; the Disney Ambassador Hotel; the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel and the Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel. The Celebration hotel is the “value” hotel out of the four, with the other three being listed in the “deluxe” category. The Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta is actually located within the DisneySea park, while the Tokyo Disneyland hotel is located just feet from the entrance of Tokyo Disneyland. The Ambassador hotel isn’t located too far from the property, but the Celebration hotel has about a twenty-minute drive. Don’t worry though, complimentary shuttle-bus service is available (just like in Florida!)
While I really, really wanted to stay at the Tokyo Disneyland hotel, I just couldn’t see paying close to 88,000 yen (about $810.84 USD) per night for a hotel. We ended up staying at the Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel. This resort actually is split into two different hotels, each themed differently—the Wish hotel and the Discover hotel. The buildings face each other with basically a parking lot in between the two, so they are close together in distance. The Discover hotel is more themed to Frontierland and Adventureland, where the Wish hotel is almost straight out of Fantasyland. We stayed in the Wish hotel, in a Standard room with an Oceanside view. This hotel room has two double beds and two fold-out couches, so it could sleep up to four. We stayed there for two nights, and we ended up paying around 66,300 yen (or $610.89 USD.) I was able to book the hotel room online, and I paid the deposit with my Disney Visa credit card. (Sadly, no discount.) The rest of the room balance was to be paid once we checked in at the resort.
Naturally, after booking the hotel, I wanted to purchase my park tickets. I went through the entire process on the Tokyo Disney website, adding the tickets (or passports, as they are called there) to my cart. Everything was normal until I tried to pay for the tickets. Every time I clicked “Purchase”, the page refused to accept my card, due to not having a 3D authorization. I tried switching to a different credit card from Visa, and again, the site refused to take it. I called both card companies and they both said they added the authorizations to my cards, and again, nothing worked. At this point I was almost in full-scale panic mode, knowing that I would be visiting just days before Christmas and was worried about buying tickets at the gate.
I was in luck, however, that I was planning my trip just a few weeks before our very own Tom Corless would be visiting Tokyo Disney. I messaged him in a panic, asking how he was able to purchase his tickets. After asking where I was staying, he reminded me of a very important feature of the hotel I was staying in. All Disney branded hotels, and the Disney Official hotels, have guaranteed park admission. This means that even on a day that a park reaches capacity, hotel guests will still be able to enter and enjoy the parks. Acting like a Jedi Master teaching his padawan, Tom advised I buy my passports at the hotel, which ended up working just great.
At this point, I had my hotel and tickets figured out. After a bit of research, I found out these parks still use ancient technology paper FastPasses, so I didn’t have to worry about those. I then attempted to make reservations for us to have dinner at the Blue Bayou, but unfortunately, the entire webpage for reservations was in Japanese. I took this as a sign to just give up and stop trying to over plan, and to just enjoy.
Arriving in Japan:
After over 24 hours of layovers and flying, we had landed in Narita Airport. I recommend finding an international ATM located in the airport upon landing and withdrawing a few thousand yen. Most places in Disney accept American credit cards, but if you plan to visit anywhere outside of Disney, it isn’t guaranteed that they’ll accept your card.
We then made our way downstairs, to the train station located within the airport. I recommend before getting onto any train to get yourself and all members of your traveling party a Suica or a Pasmo metro card. Anytime you get on a train, you are required to either buy a ticket and scan it to get pass through the turnstiles, or swipe your metro card. Loading a card with 1,000 yen ($9.21 USD) is fare for several train rides and much easier than buying a ticket every time you need to ride a train (the most popular form of transportation in Japan.)
Thankfully, Tokyo Disneyland has exact directions on how to get to their resort from multiple places all around Tokyo, so we knew all of the train stations we had to get off at and which lines to get onto. It probably took us about an hour and a half to get to Disney property once we got onto the train from the airport.
However, once we got there, we were lost as to how to get to our hotel. If we had walked further, we would have found the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland and subsequently the bus loop, where would have loaded onto the Wish bus and arrived at our hotel. This is what I recommend you do.
If you find yourself in a shopping area that resembles Disney Springs, with its own bus loop, fair warning: the bus to your hotel will not come. After standing outside for nearly an hour and watching city buses come and go, and buses for other Disney Official hotels, we gave up and took a cab that was circling the bus loop. Little did we know that if we have walked five minutes in the opposite direction, we would’ve found the correct bus loop. I am glad that it happened, though, so I could include it in this trip report and hope that someone out there learns from my mistake.
This brings us to the end of part one of this installment of my trip report visiting Tokyo Disney for the first time, ever! In the next segment, we’ll take a closer look at the Tokyo Disney Celebration Wish Hotel. If you find yourself having any questions, or need advice for your upcoming trip, feel free to leave me a comment below!