Tokyo is a great place to travel with kids. To be honest the whole of Japan is super family friendly. One of our toddler’s favourite things was visiting both the Disney theme parks in Tokyo – Disneysea and Tokyo Disney. But if you can only visit one which, Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea is better?
In this guide we will compare each park in a number of categories which should help you prioritise which of the two parks you should visit! If I am honest we loved both, and if you have time I would recommend allocating two days to your Japan itinerary to do the parks. But if you can’t do this for whatever reason this guide will ensure you pick the right park for you!
Remember: it is best to book your tickets for both Disneyland and Disneysea in advance to be sure to avoid the queues!
Tokyo Disneyland vs Disney Sea – which park has the best theming?
Both parks have amazing theming and are completely different in their worlds and styles. Firstly – Disney Tokyo – it has all the usual suspects
- Toon Town
- Critter Country
- World Bazaar
Of all of these we really enjoyed Toon Town mainly because we found there were plenty of photo opportunities here! However in many ways the Tokyo Disneyland Experience when it comes to theming is traditional and will be very familiar to those that have experienced Disney in other parts of the world.
However if you are looking for something more unusual then you may want to look at Tokyo DisneySea. As I have mentioned, Disneysea Tokyo is completely unique – there is not another park in the world like it! The themed areas here are all based on sea states around the world and some fictional. They are
- Mediterranean Harbour
- Arabian Coast
- Port Discovery
- American Waterfront
- Mermaid Lagoon and
- Mysterious Island
If you want a traditional Disney experience then 100% Disneyland Japan is the one for you. However if you are looking for something unique and if you have had plenty of other traditional Disney experiences then Disneysea is undoubtedly the park for you!
What has the best rides Tokyo Disney Sea vs Disney Tokyo?
The rides at both parks are incredible. Again I would say the main difference is between traditional Disney experience and something unique!
At Disneyland Japan you will find some of the classic rides such as:
- Jungle Cruise
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Mark Twain River Road
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Dumbo etc.
Disneysea also has some classic rides though not as many as Disneyland and they lean towards the more adrenaline fuelled such as
- Tower of Terror
- Indiana Jones Adventure
and it has takes on
- Dumbo – instead a magic carpet ride in Arabian Coast
- It’s a Small world
So overall – what theme park has the best rides? Well it depends who you are and what experience you want
For those who want a traditional Disney experience then Disneyland is the park for you. If you are travelling with younger children, again I would recommend Disneyland because the rides there tend to have fewer height restrictions and comparatively (at least when we went) shorter queues!
What park requires most Fast Passes?
I would say on the whole you need a bigger strategy for fast passes at Disneysea due to the larger rides. However there are still fast passes required at Disney especially if you are travelling at peak time!
Which has the best character experiences Tokyo Disneyland vs Disneysea Japan?
In truth there are plenty of character experiences at both parks.
As is traditional at Disney, in Tokyo Disney, the major characters of Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy congregate. While we were there only Mickey and Minnie had queues however again in more peak times there are meant to be longer queues!
Our favourite character interaction while at Disney was that the characters from Pinocchio joined us on the teacups and I found it was these touches at Disneyland that I enjoyed most!
However that isn’t to say that Disneysea is lacking in character experiences. One we enter through the turnstile there were also plenty of traditional character experiences at Disneysea. There were also lots of set up photo opps around the park of the main characters in uncommon attire. For instance Daisy in Arabian dress. If you are into your character experiences you will love these unique opportunities at Disneysea. There were however queues for these experiences. There was also a permanent Meet and Greet Ariel in her Grotto experience but the line for this didn’t get less than 40 minutes while we were there which meant we didn’t wait.
Tokyo Disney vs Disney sea which has the best parade?
Tokyo DisneySea doesn’t have the traditional parade. Instead the show takes place on the lake on large boats. The shows we saw were conducted in Japanese which meant it was hard to follow. Also being on the lake meant you weren’t as up close to the characters which made it harder for our toddler to get involved. We did enjoy the unique setting of their parade (think more like California Adventure more than Disney) however for me it didn’t beat a traditional parade. It is worth mentioning however that we did see a seasonal show when we were there.
While at Tokyo Disney we saw two parades, the daytime and the evening which were spectacular!
The evening parade at Tokyo Disney contained over 1000 lights and had our daughter absolutely mesmerised.
For me personally, I prefer the traditional Disney Parade so this gets the win here for me!
Which is better Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea for Toddlers and Young Children?
As any parent of toddler will know, the requirements of travelling with a toddler is very different to travelling with kids of other ages. When it comes to theme parks, you want to make sure there are plenty of rides that don’t have a minimum height requirement when travelling with toddler. For this reason I think Tokyo Disneyland is better with toddlers however there are positives to both parks when travelling with littles.
Tokyo Disneyland vs Tokyo Disneysea for stroller accessible?
Both Disneysea and Tokyo Disney are really easy to get around with strollers. There are stroller parks at the entrance to every ride, which all seemed to be well used and safe.
I also saw plenty of rented strollers at Tokyo Disney for those who didn’t want to travel with their own stroller.
Useful Information about Disneyland and DisneySea Visitors
How to Get To Disneyland or Disneysea Tokyo from the City?
It is really easy to get to both Disneyland and Disneysea from central Tokyo. You will need to take the Keiyo Line / Musashino Line to Maihama Station via JR (Japan Rail). From Tokyo Station the train only takes about 15 minutes. From there you will transfer onto the Disney Monorail which will take you to either Disneyland or Disneysea! We particularly enjoyed riding the Mono Rail as it played Disney tunes for the duration of your trip and really started to get you into the Disney spirit!
Alternatively, if you don’t want to arrive at Disney via public transport you could choose to stay on site!
Where To Stay Near Tokyo Disneysea or Disneyland?
There are a couple of options for those that want to stay close to the resorts.
Firstly there is the Tokyo Disney Resort! or the Tokyo Disney Hotel! These is a great option for those that want to continue their Disney experience into their accommodation. The Tokyo Disney Resorts are actually quite good value for those that are used to paying Florida and California prices but the rooms are still 300USD + a night! Be warned however, that these hotels are known to sell out so be sure to book your stay early.
For those that would prefer to stay in Disneysea however there is the Disneysea Hotel MiraCosta! This hotel is famous for being the only hotel in the world to be entirely within the a park! The hotel has an Italian theme!
However, if you want a more budget (by comparison) experience, then there are plenty of other hotels that are based on the Disney monorail which serve Disney well.
When we were visiting Tokyo Disney we stayed at Sheraton Grande – (you can read our full review here). This was particularly convenient for Disneysea being one stop away in the morning however it has great access to all the parks.
Other hotels on the monorail loop are:
Where Should You Buy Your Tokyo DisneySea or Disneyland Tickets?
Overall – which is better Tokyo Disneysea vs Disneyland
While we absolutely loved both experiences, if we were returning with a toddler and could only experience one, I would have to visit Tokyo Disney. While we enjoyed our day at Tokyo DisneySea the combination of the parades and shorter queues at Tokyo Disney meant that our little one enjoyed Tokyo Disney more!
However if we were traveling with older kids or with ardent Disney fans who have had Disney experiences before I would definitely visit Disneysea. Basically whatever park you pick you are going to have a fabulous time!
Whichever you decide to go to be sure to book your tickets in advance to ensure you don’t have to queue on arrival!