Disney fans often think that going to the Disney Parks overseas is an unobtainable goal. At the top of those unobtainable places for me was Tokyo Disney Resort. It is common to hear over and over again that Tokyo is insanely expensive. That is false. With a bit of planning and budgeting, you can go to Tokyo Disney for the same, if not cheaper, price than Walt Disney World. Here’s how:
All of the prices are approximate and may change based on how the Yen is doing against the United States dollar. For the purpose of this article, I am estimating how much I would save as a solo adult traveling with one friend. There are a LOT of configurations of party sizes, but you will find that no matter what your party configuration is, you will save money. That being said, everybody vacations differently and expects different levels of service. This article will focus on Tokyo Disney Resort versus Walt Disney World on a next to shoestring budget. Due to the ticket nature of Tokyo Disney Resort, I have priced a 4-day (the maximum ticket stay), 5-night vacation.
Disclaimer: This may change by the time you read this article. Do your own research before booking flights to Japan.
Instead of buying your air tickets to Japan, use frequent flyer miles to get you to the nearest airline hub. Purchase a round trip ticket from that hub. For example, I live in the boonies of Alaska, so my major airport is in Vancouver BC. A round trip mileage ticket to Vancouver costs me 15k miles. From there, the round trip trip to Japan costs under $600. Cost difference in my airfare: $200 more per person Total cost difference between Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney Resort: $200 more
A word of warning: If you are buying a flight using miles and using it to connect to a different flight, you will be on two separate tickets. This means that you will have to leave security, go pick up your bags, then check in again. If the layover isn’t long enough, or if your first flight gets delayed, you may miss your connection and airlines are not obligated to give you any compensation. I personally would not do this without purchasing travel insurance.
This might cost you more in Tokyo than in Orlando, depending on how you usually do Disney. If you are used to renting a car, you will find getting around much less expensive. If you usually take Disney’s Magical Express, you will spend more than usual. Shuttles cost $16 per direction from Narita Airport to Tokyo Disney and about $7.50 per direction from Haneda Airport. Once inside the resort area, a 4-day monorail pass costs $13. There is also a free bus that will take you around the entire property. If you have a lot of energy, it is only a mile to walk between the two parks. 5-Days Rental Car Cost difference: (low season, economy car, sharing cost) $61.50 less per person. Disney’s Magical Express Cost Difference: Up to $45 more per person. Total Cost Difference: +$245 more than Walt Disney World
This is a simple one; stay off property. Disneyland Tokyo has a slew of non-Disney hotels starting at $150 a night that are on the monorail loop, and a cheaper one off the loop. Maihama MyStays offers a good “dorm” for those looking to use their hotels only to sleep. It costs as low as $63/ night and is a ten-minute walk from Tokyo DisneySeas. Cost difference per person: $22/night less (All Stars vs. MyStays, low season, Standard room) or $23/night less (Moderate vs. Sheraton, low season, standard room). Total Cost Difference: +$135 more than WDW
The 2018 Disney Dining Plan costs $75.82 per night. This includes 2 snacks, 1 quick service, 1 table service, a beer or wine with one of your meals, and a refillable mug. Let’s assume you take your two snack credits and use your refillable mug for breakfast, drink your booze with your quick service meal so you would not have to pay tip on it, and that you use your table service at lunch at one of the less expensive but simply amazing restaurants, like Sanaa. You are looking at spending at least $24 on that meal, which means your 18% tip would land at $4.32. Overall, one can expect to spend $80 minimum per night on food. Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s how you can get a better value at Tokyo Disney.
Start your morning by buying your breakfast from one of the convenience stores within walking distance such as Lawsons, or even from one of the stores inside Disney hotels. This will cost around $5. This is more in tune culturally with Japan, and it will give you something to do while you wait in line for the park to open. The cost of a specialty wine or beer cocktail is roughly $6.50. There is a huge variance in pricing at quick service restaurants. Most quick service restaurants have “sets” which cost between $9 and $20. For the purpose of this article let’s estimate the cost to be $14. These include a main entree, side dish, dessert, and drink. By this point we can go out to almost any non-signature restaurant at Tokyo Disney, spend $35 and still come out $20 ahead/night. While Tokyo is famous for its snacks, I did not include snacks in the running cost since they are roughly the same price as at Walt Disney World. Cost difference per person: $100 less Total cost difference: $35 more than Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney is a steal when it comes to the cost of their tickets. While our ticket prices continue to rise, theirs remain very affordable. A 4-day Magic Passport ticket for adults cost $198, whereas our 4-Day Park Hopper costs $425. In addition, Tokyo Disney allows those under 4 free entry, discount tickets for children ages 4-11, and teenagers ages 12-17. They also offer Starlight Passports, which allow entrance into the parks for $48 after 3 pm on weekends and holidays. Cost difference: $227 less per adult. Total cost difference: $192 less than Walt Disney World
Merchandise at Tokyo Disney is amazing. It can also be either insanely expensive or insanely cheap. A shirt often costs $10 less than at Walt Disney World, but other items which you would expect to be much cheaper are way more expensive. For the purposes of this article, I am going to call it a wash. That being said, if you go to the Disney Store in Ikspiri (Tokyo’s version of Downtown Disney), you will find some very unique Disney merchandise for less. Adult-sized fashion at the Disney Store? Why not!
Wanting to go to Disney during a major holiday? Consider heading to Japan since their peak seasons may be their low seasons. For example, I went during Thanksgiving weekend. Other than the major attractions, we were able to walk on every ride. This can go the other way; what may be an average Sunday to me, may be a major holiday in Japan.
So there you have it! Stop dreaming about going to Tokyo Disneyland and start doing! I was beyond thrilled at how much cheaper it is to go to Tokyo and how high quality my experience was! You will find that by making slight adjustments, your trip to Tokyo will become more and more affordable.