Should you bring it? Is it allowed at the parks? Will they have it? Here is a list of things worth bringing and things better left at home.
Figuring out what to bring to a Disney park can sometimes be confusing, especially if you plan to go to one that is culturally and geographically on the other side of the world. There are a handful of rules and expectations at Tokyo Disney Resort that are not common at the American and Europe parks. They can be major factors in influencing what you should carry in your bag.
First, let’s take a look at the things I highly recommend bringing to the parks.
Much of Asia lies along the equator and so the sun is a lot hotter, stronger, and brighter. Even if you are not fair-skinned, you are at risk of getting burned because Japan is very close to the equator. It is possible to purchase sunscreen in Japan and many of them are cheap. Most come with high UV protection such as SPF30/50.
♦ Kagayakey’s Note: Ladies, if you are looking to buy sunscreen in Japan, note that a handful of sunscreens aimed at women come with whitening agents. They don’t bleach your skin, but rather reduce melanin production to keep the skin from “darkening”. If you want to avoid this, it is best to bring your own sunscreen.
- PICNIC MAT / TARP / LEISURE SHEET
If you plan on watching shows or parades, this is a must. Japanese people line up hours in advance to secure a good spot and so you should too. This is especially a visible way to define your territory, particularly useful if you are in a group. Keep in mind that they only allow laying out the tarp an hour prior to the show/parade.
♦ Kagayakey’s Note: I highly suggest buying a picnic sheet in Japan as these can be found at almost any dollar store (ie. 100-yen shop like Daiso, Seira, Can-Do, etc.)
FOLDABLE SEAT CUSHION
If you are looking to get a good viewing spot for the show, you should be scouting one 90 minutes before the show starts. This means you’ll be waiting for at least an hour and if you have nothing but a sweater or a park map separating your bottom from the concrete, it’s not much of a pleasant experience. For this reason, bring a foldable or portable seat cushion. Your bottom and tailbone will thank you.
REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLES
Drinks at TDR are expensive. Bottled drinks in vending machines and kiosks have a 120% markup compared to those outside of the park and at convenience stores. At restaurants, it can sometimes go as high as 200% markups. Bringing a refillable bottle is perhaps the easiest way to save you a lot of money. Many restaurants have designated water fountains, and random spots along the paths have alcoves containing water fountains so you have many opportunities to refill that bottle.
If you don’t have a popcorn bucket or are a slow eater, these bags will save you and the environment. When I find that I can’t finish a box of popcorn and I am about to get on a ride, I just slip the rest into a ziplock bag for later consumption. The additional benefit to this is that it keeps your popcorn fresh and protected against the elements. On top of that, you can put it in your baggage so you’ll be bringing a treat from TDR with you back home. It’s light, takes up very little space, convenient, has various uses – it’s a win-win all around and truly worth bringing.
Wearing a Mickey-shirt, keychains on your bag, a Minnie headband – having a Disney-themed item on display on your person is a popular trend at Tokyo Disney. Compared to the other parks, the locals at TDR love to show off their love for the characters. You can easily find young adult women carrying Duffy and Shellie May out in the open and posing in pictures with them, regulars pinning plush toys of their favourite character on their bag, and couples wearing matching shirts. If you have a wearable item exclusive to a certain park, TDR is the place to show it as it will get a lot of attention.
Flip-flops and sandals may be fine at the North American and Europe parks, but again Japan is closer to the equator so the sun is much stronger. This means that baring the skin of your feet might not be a good idea considering it’s one of the parts of the body that is quick to burn since sunlight aims there quite easily. During the summer, I recommend Crocs as they are light, airy, and waterproof which makes for perfect footwear in hot and humid Japan. Sneakers and flats work just fine as well. Anything that is breathable, light, and you don’t mind getting dirty or wet is a good choice.
PIN TRADING IS NOT ALLOWED AT TOKYO DISNEY RESORT.
Period. It doesn’t happen at all. There aren’t even any designated shops like the Pin Trading Post. Pin-trading once existed but it quickly got out of hand (if you know anything about the seriousness of pop-culture in Japan [see otakus and idols], you can see why they had to pull the plug). While pin trading is out of the question, pins are still sold at the parks so feel free to get a hold of some good traders to bring back home.
- TRAVELLER’S CHECKS
Japan is wholly a cash society. It is not uncommon for people to walk around with hundreds of dollars in their wallets. This is the way of things. If you feel uncomfortable carrying around large wads of cash, credit cards are widely accepted at the parks.
There is no tipping system in Japan. In spite of that, customer service is top-notch because it has been long ingrained as part of society and culture. If you tip, you will be given bewildered looks and head shaking while your money is returned to you. Keep your tip money for when you return to North America.
Like in the US parks, selfie-sticks are strictly prohibited, and considering the crowd density in Japan this is a necessary rule. Tripods are also not a great idea because they do not allow usage during shows or parades. Outside of shows and parades it is permitted, but it is not worth carrying around a heavy stand all-day. If you need to bring a pod, Gorilla Pods are a safe and great solution.
- JAPANESE DICTIONARY/PHRASEBOOK
There are cast members who can speak English at the parks. If there is no-one available at the moment, they will contact guest services. It is not worth lugging around a thick book because you can even easily get by with gesturing and body language. Almost all signs and restaurant menus have written English. If you must have something just in case, Google Translate will suffice.
- FRAGRANT PERFUME/COLOGNE
If you have particularly fragrant or strong perfumes or colognes, leave those at home. Japan is a small land mass with a high population density so there will be crowds almost anywhere you go. This means your fragrance will easily carry over and affect a great number of people. Japan is not an open or wide country so strong smells cannot be dispersed easily. For this reason, perfumes and colognes are especially frowned upon.