Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort: The Adventure Before the Theme Parks

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort Tokyo-Disney-Resort-Duffy-Monorail-1x2-by-Joshua-Meyer
This post may contain affiliate links; please read the disclosure for more information.

Before you begin your theme park adventure at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, you’ll first need to embark on a different sort of adventure. It’s the adventure of accessing Tokyo Disney Resort. Unlike Florida, this process doesn’t involve boarding a tram in the parking lot.

Keep in mind: Tokyo Disney Resort is located on the outskirts of the world’s most populous metropolis. People do hop in the car to get there, but they’re just as likely to arrive by train—if not more so. Depending on where you’re staying and which park you’re visiting, you might also avail yourself of the bus or monorail …

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort Tokyo-Disney-Resort-Monorail-Ambassador-Hotel-Bus-by-Joshua-Meyer
Ambassador Hotel bus and the “Year of Wishes” Monorail that ran during DisneySea’s 15th anniversary.

It stands to reason that most overseas tourists are going to be combining their trip to the resort with other travel outside Disney. Sightseeing elsewhere in Tokyo means you might not always be staying on-site at one of the resort hotels. Even if you are, you’ll still want to consider the best way to access the resort when you go to check into your hotel.

Let’s take a quick look at the benefits each transportation option holds.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort DisneySea_Access_012_13x18
The platform in Maihama Station on a busy morning.

Train Access

If you’re a regular visitor to Tokyo Disney Resort, you’ll quickly come to know the name Maihama. This is the train station that serves as the Disney access point for passengers from all over Tokyo and elsewhere. In the morning and at night, when it’s busiest, it might feel like visitors fill every square inch of the platform. Even during the day, you’ll see a steady flow of them passing through the ticket gate.

Technically, Tokyo Disney Resort is located just outside Tokyo, in the neighboring prefecture of Chiba. If you’re coming from Tokyo proper, you’ll probably be passing through Tokyo Station. Maihama Station is one of the stops on the Keiyo/Musashino Line.

DisneySea_Access_010_3x4
Stained glass on the way to the Keiyo/Musashino Line in Tokyo Station.

The platform for the Keiyo/Musashino Line is located somewhat far afield from the other platforms in Tokyo Station. There is a series of moving walkways and escalators that can help you reach it. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you start seeing lots of people wearing Disney T-shirts and carrying Disney souvenir bags.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort Tokyo-Station-Keiyo-Line-Moving-Walkway-9x13-by-Joshua-Meyer
Note the girls in Toy Story shirts on the left.

In my experience, the train is cheaper but less comfortable than the highway bus (see below). With it, you won’t have to worry about traffic conditions slowing you down on the way to Disney.

However, there are times when the train is down because of weather or accidents. And if you’re already exhausted, it can be even more exhausting to make your way across Tokyo Station to or from the Disney-bound train platform. Not to mention how crowded the train gets, and the very real possibility that you will have to stand, rather than sit, aboard it.

More info on train access can be found here.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort DisneySea_Access_002_Square
No drivers on the monorails in Japan.
Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort DisneySea_Access_014_3x4
Ticket machines in Resort Gateway Station.

Monorail Access

With Japan being so well-connected by trains, subways, and monorails, there are certain railway laws, and one of those laws seems to dictate that you must pay to ride any and all railways. Because of this, the monorail at Tokyo Disney Resort does charge a small fare. Ticket machines are located inside each station.

Since I usually take the highway bus to DisneySea, I haven’t found myself riding the monorail as much. The only other reason to ride it would be, well, joy-riding (which I’ve done, of course), or if you’re staying at one of the hotels on the monorail loop. The official themed Disney hotels do provide guests with complimentary monorail passes.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort DisneySea_Access_033_3x4
Aboard the Duffy and Friends Monorail in 2016.
DisneySea_Access_021_3x4
The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, seen from the station platform.

The Disney Resort Line is the official name for the monorail line. It has one stop right in front of Tokyo Disneyland and the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. The next stop is Bayside Station. From there, you can access the official but non-themed Disney hotels like the Hilton Tokyo Bay.

After that, you’ll start seeing DisneySea landmarks. The monorail will take you right up along the back side of Harrison Hightower’s Tower of Terror, among others.

DisneySea_Access_027_3x4
The Tower of Terror, glimpsed through a Mickey-shaped monorail window.
Tokyo-DisneySea-Plaza-Station-View-by-Joshua-Meyer
View from one of the lookouts in Tokyo DisneySea Station.

At Tokyo DisneySea Station, there are some open-air lookouts where you can see inside the park. These are nice for snapping elevated photos of the Aquasphere, DisneySea Plaza, and the Hotel Miracosta.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort Ikspiari_Ambassador_002_3x4
The Stitch Encounter Monorail leaving Resort Gateway Station in 2015.
Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort DisneySea_Access_015_9x13
Map of the monorail loop in Resort Gateway Station.

Resort Gateway Station provides access to the Disney Ambassador Hotel and the Ikspiari shopping complex (the Tokyo equivalent of Disney Springs in Florida). From here, you can transfer back to Maihama Station.

Even if you don’t ride the monorail, it’s always fun to see them gliding by overhead. There’s usually (though not always) at least one monorail running with seasonal decorations on it.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort - TDR-Bus-Ride-NTT-Docomo-Tower-by-Joshua-Meyer
On the expressway in Tokyo, with the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building ahead.

Bus Access

Since I live in Western Tokyo, I personally enjoy taking the highway bus to Tokyo Disney Resort. This might be a good option if you want to do a day trip but you’re staying somewhere on the opposite side of town like Shinjuku.

For bus arrival schedules, I’d recommend using Google Translate on this page (it’s only available in Japanese on the resort website). English departure schedules can be found here.

Nihonbashi-Mitsukoshi-by-Joshua-Meyer
Mitsukoshi, Japan’s oldest department store, seen from the expressway in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.

Faster than the train in some cases — and altogether more comfortable — the highway bus is often more scenic, too. It can be fun winding your way through the city streets and spotting landmarks like Tokyo Tower and the 2,080-foot Tokyo Skytree from your bus seat.

Tokyo-Skytree-Sumida-River-13x18-by-Joshua-Meyer
Crossing the Sumida River with Tokyo Skytree in the background.

This way, you don’t have to worry about keeping your eyes on the road like you would if you were driving. If you want to sleep, read, use a smartphone or tablet, and/or draw up a battle plan for your day at Disney, you can do that, as well.

Taking the highway bus might also enable you to get a better sense of Tokyo’s geography. When you’re just jaunting around to different train stations, it’s easy to lose sight of how the various districts and wards in this sprawling city are all interconnected.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort DisneySea_Access_057_13x18
Crossing the Rainbow Bridge over Tokyo Bay.

What the bus offers is an unofficial tour of the metropolis––ending in the Kingdom of Dreams and Magic. Another perk of this mode of transportation is the fact that it lets you out right on Disney’s doorstep. With train or car access, you’ll still have to do some walking or monorail-riding to get to the parks. The bus stops, however, are right outside the ticket gates.

Even if you’re not staying on the monorail loop, guests at nearby hotels might have the option of taking a free shuttle bus to the parks. This is what I did over the summer when I stayed at the robot-run Henn na (“Weird”) Hotel in Maihama. It’s a good thing to keep in mind before you book your reservation somewhere.

Tokyo-Disney-Resort-Bon-Voyage-by-Joshua-Meyer
The Bon Voyage souvenir shop, located outside the parks near Maihama Station.

Access on Foot

The Tokyo Disneyland ticket gate is about a five-minute walk from Maihama Station. Coming in this way, as opposed to the parking lot or bus stop, will take you right past the Bon Voyage souvenir shop. Travel stickers, a luggage tag sign, and a carry handle over the door make this huge shop look like a giant’s suitcase. Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the money of souvenir hounds …

Bon-Voyage-Maihama-Station-View-by-Joshua-Meyer
The full view of Bon Voyage, seen from the platform in Maihama Station.

DisneySea is more of a hike, but it also has a pedestrian route that makes it accessible on foot from Maihama Station. This option will save you money on the monorail and give you about 15 minutes of walking exercise. It’s especially nice on a sunny day.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort DisneySea_Access_045_3x4
The palm tree boulevard on the way to DisneySea.

You can follow the boulevard lined with palm trees down from Ikspiari. Along the way, you’ll pass the Disney Ambassador Hotel. You might see some of its Art Deco Mickey shuttle buses coming and going.

Disney-Ambassador-Hotel-Palm-Trees-Bus-13x18-by-Joshua-Meyer
The Disney Ambassador Hotel and one of its buses on the boulevard.

You’ll also pass the Urayasu City Sports Park. The gate to the park, dubbed “Lively Gate,” is a sculpture by Japanese artist Taro Okamoto.

Urayasu-City-Sports-Park-Taro-Okamoto-Sculpture-by-Joshua-Meyer
Taro Okamoto’s “Lively Gate” sculpture outside Urayasu City Sports Park.

Okamoto also created the massive “Myth of Tomorrow” mural in Shibuya Station. He created the Tower of the Sun, the symbol of the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, too. Knowing this might serve as a faint reminder of Disney history, since stateside Disney attractions like It’s a Small World, Carousel of Progress, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln started out at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.

Accessing Tokyo Disney Resort Tokyo-Disney-Resort-Parking-Lot-13x18-by-Joshua-Meyer
Monorail view of cars in the parking lot at Tokyo Disney Resort.

Access by Car

If you have a valid Japanese driver’s license or an International Driving Permit, you can certainly access Tokyo Disney Resort with a good old-fashioned car. (Just, um, remember to drive on the left side of the road, not the right, like in the U.S.) That said, driving to Disney arguably isn’t as much of a staple in Japan as it is in Florida.

Disney World is famous for having one of the largest parking lots on Earth. Tokyo Disney Resort, on the other hand, is much more compact. Its parking lot only has three character sections: Tinker Bell, Goofy, and Pinocchio. These are complemented by additional parking structures, such as the new multi-level garage under construction near Tokyo Disneyland.

Disney-Store-Tokyo-Park-Ticket-Counter-by-Joshua-Meyer
The park ticket counter at the Disney Store in Hachioji, Tokyo.

A good way to save time outside the parks, once you do reach them, is to buy your tickets beforehand. Some Disney Store locations around Tokyo, like the one in Shibuya, have special counters where you can buy park tickets. It’s another part of the pre-park adventure.

Whichever way you choose to access Tokyo Disney Resort, it is certain to be an adventure in and of itself. If you’re jet-lagged or suffering from travel fatigue, reaching the resort might even feel like something of an ordeal.

Just remember: your destination is the Kingdom of Dreams and Magic. Hopefully, this guide will help you mount a smoother, more interesting journey to the parks. Good luck, and have fun at Tokyo Disney Resort!

About the author

Joshua Meyer

Josh is a Floridian turned Tokyoite who also contributes to /Film and GaijinPot. Growing up, all his family vacations were to Walt Disney World. His parents and sister are still WDW Annual Passholders, but now he finds himself reporting from the far-flung outpost of Tokyo Disney Resort. Previously, he wrote for TDR Explorer as "The Gaijin Ghost" (the name of his TDR-heavy photoblog). Give him incentive to tweet by following him on Twitter @TheGaijinGhost.