We’re going to Japan. More specifically, Melissa and I, along with our friends Darin and Mackenzie, are going to Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and Tokyo Disneyland in early April. It’s a trip that has been on the top of my list for the last four years and we finally decided to pull the trigger on it. As this will (partially) be a Disney trip, I plan to chronicle it here. Instead of saving all of this for a giant recap, I thought I’d give a few updates while in the planning stages. Eventually, I plan to mold this post into a Tokyo Disneyland Travel Guide. I’m open to any thoughts/tips/questions on how to format for this to be enjoyable for the reader.
Tokyo Disneyland is somewhat of a mecca for hardcore Disney fans. The parks are said to be pristine, with Tokyo DisneySea (the second of two parks there) often viewed as the best theme park in the world. Flying across the Pacific for a theme park is a tad silly so we’re stretching out our trip quite a bit. I’ll include some thoughts on where to stay in places other than Tokyo Disneyland because, I imagine, if you are interested in Tokyo Disneyland then you’re interested in other portions of Japan as well.
My initial format is to break the planning stages into categories and just talk about them separately. For now, here is what we’ve got planned.
Flying to Japan is the biggest turn-off in taking this trip both in terms of price and comfort. The initial research can be enough to overwhelm. I would recommend, if you decide a trip to Japan is something to pursue, that you don’t pin down dates to go without checking flights. Have wide searches, set aside months you can go, and then look for the best dates to fly.
I would also suggest being open to flying out of somewhere other than your regional airport. For instance, while we live in Seattle it was over $300/round trip cheaper for us to fly out of Vancouver B.C. While not as quite as convenient, this was a big factor in us making the price work. If you don’t live near an airport that does many international flights, look into flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Vancouver B.C. as they seem to have the cheapest prices out of those airports.
As always, I recommend using Matrix ITA Software for finding flights. The search engine includes almost all airlines and more search options than most. You also stay away from pop-ups while using this. Airfare Watchdog is also a stellar site that keeps tabs on prices for you and sends emails.
While we haven’t taken the trip, I do think I was a little rushed in looking for our airline tickets. We bought about 8 months in advance. We found a very good price I would have been willing to pay a little more for something more convenient. I would advise locking in your flights 4+ (closer to 6) months in advance. You can find cheaper prices on a whim at times but that makes the rest of the planning hard if this is your first time.
Transportation in Japan
While there are more options, truly everyone I’ve talked to and everything I’ve read has advised getting a Japan Rail Pass. I’ll add my own two cents on this once we use it but we will buy our Japan Rail Pass in the next month to use as transportation throughout the country.
We’ll go city-by-city here and I’ll report my basic findings…
Osaka – We’re starting our trip in Osaka for just a day and a half mainly for Universal Studios Japan. Because of the convenience (and finding a good deal) we decided on Hotel Keihan Universal Tower. For the city as a whole, I found Osaka to have a good number of hotels. There were plenty of western chains for those that like a little comfort from home.
Kyoto – Kyoto was in stark contrast to Osaka, in that hotels were expensive and few and far between. We decided to go with an Airbnb. Some of this had to do with the time of the year we’re going, as Kyoto gets even more crowded during cherry blossom season. Still, I think if you’re looking for accommodations in Kyoto then look at both hotels and rentals.
Tokyo – Same goes as Kyoto here but for slightly different reasons. Tokyo just has so much that it is slightly overwhelming. Still, the prices weren’t quite what we wanted on hotels and once I looked at Airbnb we found something easily and that met our budget.
Tokyo Disneyland – As with Osaka, there are plenty of hotels right by the theme park. We ended up booking the Disneyland Hotel for most of our stay at the resort as we found a decent price and are splitting the cost in two. There are many cheaper options with easy transportation to the parks as well.
We have a few other parts of the trip planned but not enough to write a substantial amount on. We have used Google Docs to be able to share the planning and easy access for going back on what we’ve researched. Speaking of research, Disney Tourist Blog and TDR Explorer are my go-to Tokyo Disneyland blogs. For the rest of Japan, Travel Caffeine and Lonely Planet’s Japan Guidebook have been my favorite resources thus far.
If you have any tips, info, or questions about our planning or trip please let me know in the comments. I’d love to discuss traveling to Japan further with you. Stay tuned to the blog for more updates on our big trip! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via email or WordPress and like our social media pages. You can find all of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you very much for reading, we appreciate it!