Tips & Tricks · Tokyo Disney Resort

The Worst (and Best) Times to Go to Tokyo Disney

Did you know that on particular dates it is not uncommon for Tokyo Disney to have an average waiting time of 2 hours? Rather than telling you the best times to go to Tokyo Disney Resort, it would be far easier to tell you of the peak seasons.

Let’s start with the fact that the fiscal year and school year in Japan begins in April and ends the following March. Students still have summer vacation which lasts from July to August. So while it’s reasonable to think that going to TDR in the spring or fall would be a good way to avoid the “school’s out” mayhem, it is worth noting that Japan runs on a very different holiday system. Keeping all this in mind will allow for better understanding of the following dates.

  1. The Month of March
  2. First Week of April
  3. Golden Week
  4. August
  5. Silver Week
  6. Winter Break
  7. Long Weekend
  1. MARCH, The Graduation Month

    Arguably the most crowded times for TDR that even weekdays fall to the mayhem. Many schools in the surrounding area schedule graduation trips during this time, meaning the parks will be sprawling with students ranging from junior high school to university level for nearly the entire month. If you think you can handle girlish squeals every two minutes and multiple pockets of student bodies, have at it.

    TDR will have unceasingly high crowd levels throughout the entire month. I must emphasize that this includes weekdays since graduation trips are often scheduled on school days. Expect the most popular attractions to consistently have an average waiting time of 150 min.

  2. APRIL BEGINNINGS

    As previously mentioned with the Japanese school beginning in April, students usually have a short break before the new school year begins. With students free to roam, families and friends will take this time to squeeze in one last hurrah.

  3. GOLDEN WEEK (May 3 – 5)

    Aptly named because of the way 3 national public holidays (Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day) are consecutively arranged in a week, thus making it the king of holidays in Japan. It’s on a national level, so the whole country is on a break. You can bet your buttons that people will jump at the chance to go to TDR. Crowd levels are expected to be similar to that of March.

    Kagayakey’s TIP: In the odd chance that the holidays do not join up with a weekend, it is entirely possible to enjoy TDR during this gap. For example, should May 3-5 happen on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, there will be fewer crowds on the preceding days so May 1 Sunday or May 2 Monday is a decently viable choice.

  4. AUGUST

    Many Japanese families will come together to pay respects to their ancestors in the spirit of “Obon”. This renewal of kinship makes them want to do a family activity. Like, oh, go to Disney. If you’ve ever been to Orlando in the summer before, it’ll be no surprise that the hottest and most humid months will have very little impact in reducing crowds at the happiest place in East Asia.

  5. SILVER WEEK

    The other long-ish vacation of the year. Unlike Golden Week which occurs annually, Silver Week takes place every 5-7 years because the public holidays are not consecutive. The last one took place in 2009. It becomes a long holiday when the public holidays happen to fall near the weekend, making it largely dependent on chance. Though not as long as Golden Week and hence denoted “silver”, the two national public holidays (Respect-for-the-Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day) can  lead into a 4-day weekend. Some people even take a few days off to bridge the two holidays and turn it into an extended vacation.

  6. WINTER BREAK

    Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan so school and work continue up until the 26th. The real “holidays” start from Dec 26th and onwards. It is during this time that crowd levels increase because New Year’s in Japan is like Christmas in the West. The parks will have a high number of families during this time.

  7. LONG WEEKEND

    Anytime a public holiday falls on a Friday or a Monday makes for a 3-day weekend. This will be the chance many locals will take to go to TDR. Unless you are well acquainted with dealing with Japanese crowds, you will feel like there is too much to do and hardly ever any time.


 

For the purpose of gauging waiting times, let’s look at attractions bearing a Fast Pass system as those are a visible and simple way to track crowd levels. While this does not include character greeting times, show times, or restaurant times, more people means longer lines overall.

Starting from most popular:

LAND

SEA

Monster’s Inc Ride n’ Go Seek

Splash Mountain

Pooh’s Hunny Hunt

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters

Big Thunder Mountain

Space Mountain

Haunted Mansion

Toy Story Mania

Tower of Terror

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull

Raging Spirits

Here’s a summary of crowd levels based on the dates listed above.
* TDRNavi has an English webpage depicting its crowd calendar here * but I will be referring to a crowd calendar from a different source as I find it more accurate.

Crowd Level Ranking according to 2015 statistics [via AOKSoft’s Tokyo Disney Crowd Calendar (Japanese)]:

2015

Average Waiting Times

Colour Legend

100 min

120 min

150 min

MARCH

Graduation Month

APRIL

First Week of April

MAY

Golden Week

AUGUST

Summer Break

SEPTEMBER

Silver Week

DEC 28 ~ JAN 3

Winter Vacation

Long Weekends

3 Day Weekends

While it is not impossible to enjoy TDR on such hectic days, it would certainly be best to put in some effort to make the most of the day. Come prepared with backup plans and counter backup plans. To the brave souls who decide that they still want to take a risk, look out for the post “Better Be An Early Bird”.

For a list of public holidays in Japan: http://publicholidays.jp/

P.S. I’m not making up those stand-by times. Those are based on tracked crowd levels along with personal experience. Such is the will of the Japanese spirit, gaman. Best of luck!

 


English Crowd Calendar webpage via TDRnavi: http://tdrnavi.jp/forecast/disneyland?lang=en

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