TouringPlans Everywhere: Budgeting for A Tokyo Disneyland Trip

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cinderella-castle-rear-tokyo-disneyland-guests-posing-640x514A couple of weeks ago I posted an introduction to my upcoming trip to Tokyo Disneyland as part of TouringPlans Everywhere. In this post I will talk about how much each component of the trip costs and share a time line of my different planning stages.

The earliest stage of planning for my trip to Tokyo began back January of this year. The idea of every TouringPlans employee taking a trip to a different Disney destination was thrown around, and we were asked to get a rough estimate on how much a trip would cost. When I was assigned Tokyo, I knew I would want to stay beyond the 4 days the company was paying for. My wife and I discussed how many days we could actually afford to go, and we ended up settling on 8 nights. Anyway, like I said , my first step was to get an estimate, so I started searching for hotel rooms and airfare to get a basic idea. After quickly going through a few travel websites (I was just getting an estimate so I didn’t shop around too much), I figured the total cost would be around $5825. Breaking it down, my estimates were $2500 for airfare, $2000 for hotel rooms, $1000 for food, $325 for park tickets, and $600 for transportation in Japan. That total price is too high for my wife and I to afford, so I knew we would have to adjust the plans or get lucky and find some deals to save us some cash.

Time line

1/14/14 – Very early on in my trip planning I was shopping around for hotels in the Tokyo Disney Resort area. Like any major city or theme park, Tokyo Disney Resort has many hotels with a wide variety of price ranges to choose from. I started to see some good deals for just a little over $100 a night. This would save us some money, but if we stayed at them we would have to take some form of transportation in to the resort. As I mentioned in my last post, there are several hotels on Tokyo Disney Resort property that are also located near a Disney monorail station. After comparing prices at the six non-Disney-branded hotels, the lowest price ended up being the Hilton Tokyo Bay. Hilton.com listed rooms at $171 a night, so we whipped out the credit card and locked in our dates. However, we knew we wanted to splurge a bit and stay in a Disney-branded hotel for at least one night, so we only booked three nights at the Hilton.

1/20/14 – On this day I looked up my travel dates on Bing Farecast. The price for airfare was still high ($864 for nonstop Los Angeles to Tokyo), but thanks to Bing’s tools I could see that the price was within 30% of the lowest price in the last 6 months. So the cost could go lower, but it also could go higher. The good thing is that this price was lower than my original estimate of $1250. In the end I played it safe and booked the flight.

2/11/14 – Around this time I had been talking to my friends Tom and Sarah Bricker, and we realized that we were both planning Tokyo Disneyland trips for around the same time of year. One of the things both of our groups had in common was that we wanted to stay in the Disney-branded hotels, but couldn’t make it work because of the high prices. We all agreed that we could stretch our dollars a bit more if we split the cost of the Tokyo Disney Resort hotel rooms and decided we would stay three nights in Disney-branded hotel rooms.

I had a Skype call with my travel mates to discuss our newly formed hotel plans. Disney hotels in Tokyo are extremely popular, and at most times of the year they can sell out in the first 24 hours of availability. Because of this we had to set our game plan for when our window to book opened up. Neither the Brickers or I have stayed in the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel or MiraCosta, so we decided to split our stay in to those two hotels. I should also mention that MiraCosta hotel has three sections (“Venice Side,” “Porto Paradiso Side,” and “Tuscany Side”) with varying levels of cost. Venice and Porto Paradiso sides have theme park views, while Tuscany looks out on to the plaza in front of the hotel. Venice Side has views of the park’s stunning Palazzo Canals. Porto Paradiso faces inside DisneySea, including views of Mount Prometheus. It was a tough choice, but we splurged a bit and went with Porto Paradiso side, even though we could have saved a bit of money by staying on Tuscany side.

4/11/14 – As I said before, Tokyo Disney Resort hotels are extremely popular and quickly sell out. The day to book our 2 nights at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel arrived on this date, and we were able to successfully book our room. We did this by waiting on TDR’s hotel reservation page until the minute our time to book arrived and then immediately attempted to book our dates. The total cost for 2 nights in Tokyo Disneyland Hotel came to a whopping $1131.

4/14/14 – Our booking window for MiraCosta opened up. The rooms appeared to instantly sell out, but friends had warned us that people often cancel and said to frequently check back for openings. Our persistence paid off in the following days, and we were able to find a room for the one night we needed. The total cost for one night in MiraCosta ended up being $546. It’s also worth noting that Japanese hotels do not charge your credit card when you make a reservation. They will only charge your card when you arrive and check in at the hotel.

5/16/14 – With the Disney hotels and airfare out of the way, most of the major components of our trip had been taken care of. But we still had 2 nights to book hotels for. After again chatting with Tom and Sarah, we all agreed that we wanted to take a trip to Universal Studios Japan, which is located in Osaka, Japan. Osaka is about a 3 hour train ride from Tokyo, so at first it didn’t seem like it would be worth it. But Tom pointed out that the spectacular Osaka castle is also in the area, as well as many other sights to see. Another reason is Universal Studios Japan’s surprisingly strong lineup of attractions. The park’s attraction lineup is basically a best of showcase of all the rides and shows in the American parks combined in to one park (including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Back to the Future: The Ride, and many more). We found a nice little hotel called Hotel Monterey and locked in our room for $164 a night.

5/25/14 – I promise this is the last paragraph on hotel rooms! With Osaka hotel rooms booked, we still needed a room for when we return to Tokyo after traveling back. We again went for a hotel on Tokyo DisneyResort property. The cheapest this time ended up being Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel at $282. This included an extra $55 because there are four of us. Most Japanese hotel rooms we found were limited to two people: any more, and they will charge a fee. Finally, we had a hotel room for each night of our trip. The total price for all hotels during our stay was $2636. This is over my original estimate, but remember that I’m splitting 4 nights with the Brickers. After taking out Tom and Sarah’s share, the price my wife and I owe is $1657. That’s not bad for 8 days.

With hotels and airfare out of the way, I’m just left with a few additional essentials, but not any time-sensitive items to pay for. The first item is park tickets, which can be purchased online on TDR’s website. Now is a good time to mention that Tokyo Disney Resort has a different set of rules for park hopping. There are no single or two day park hopper tickets available. Park hopping is only allowed for three and four day tickets. But even when you purchase a three or four day ticket, you’re only able to visit one park on the first and second day (for example, you can visit Tokyo Disneyland on day one, and DisneySea on day two), and then you will have the park hopping privilege on the third day, or fourth if you bought a four day ticket. I will be visiting the parks 4 days during my trip, so I will purchase four day ticket, officially called “4-Day Magic Passport.” The four day ticket costs $160 for adults. Tokyo Disney Resort does not offer any tickets for longer than four days (besides Annual Passports).

Photo courtesy of Tom Bricker
Photo courtesy of Tom Bricker

Another expense I need to take care of before I leave is the “Japan Rail Pass.” This ticket offers unlimited use of Japan Rail trains and is a cost-effective way to travel around Japan. The ticket is only sold to tourists, and it must be purchased before arriving in Japan. The total cost is currently $282.90 USD. There is also an option for first class cars available for $377.85, but I’ll be sticking with the cheaper option. The Japan Rail Pass is sold in a handful of major airports, as well as a number of travel agents (check the Japan Rail website for a list). There is a Japanese super market about 10 minutes from my house that sells them, so I will be purchasing them at that location.

After adding up all these expenses, my total comes to $4270. That does not include $1000 I estimated for food (and who knows how much my wife and I will spend on souvenirs). As you can see, I’m slightly under my original estimate, but it’s still a lot of money. That price is roughly double what I usually spend to visit Walt Disney World for the same length of time. My wife and I have been saving for this trip for about a year now, and we both have no question that it’ll be worth it, even if we have to eat a lot of ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for dinner for the next few months.

My question to you is do you think it’s worth it? Have you ever been through the process of budgeting for a Tokyo Disneyland trip? If you’re a yearly visitor Walt Disney World or Disneyland, would you give up a couple of those trips to visit one of the foreign parks? Is visiting Tokyo Disneyland more or less expensive than you thought? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Guy Selga Jr.

Hi, I'm Guy Selga. Researcher and blogger for TouringPlans.com. Disneyland local and appreciator of Disney theme park history. I proudly represent TouringPlans on the west coast. Twitter: @guyselga

28 thoughts on “TouringPlans Everywhere: Budgeting for A Tokyo Disneyland Trip

  • August 12, 2014 at 11:09 am
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    We’d love to do a Tokyo Disneyland trip. Maybe for my daughter’s graduation. For our family, we’d also have to include the cost of our passports in our budget. All of ours expired quite some time ago (we only ever used them for our Honeymoon, really).

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    • August 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm
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      The passports were one thing I forgot to add in to the post. My wife and I got ours about three months ago for $140 each.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 11:10 am
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    It’s definitely worth it and you guys will have an amazing time. I’d love to go back to Tokyo and TDR soon, but I’m not sure it’s in the cards at the moment. It will also be nice to have the Brickers with you since they’ve been before to help settle any uncomfortable feeling of being in a foreign country. Looking forward to reading about your Japan adventures!

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    • August 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm
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      I can tell you it was a huge hurdle even making it happen. It’s so much money and there’s still not a lot of information online so for some people it’s hard to know where to even start planning.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 11:51 am
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    Less than $900 for a non-stop flight sounds like a great deal.

    Did you factor in the price of getting a passport if you don’t have one already? If you haven’t applied yet — do that now so you can save the rush fees.

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    • August 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm
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      I forgot to add that in my post! I got my passport about 3 months ago. I was surprised at how quickly it was processed even without paying the rush processing fee.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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    So are you sharing one hotel room, or a suite? I love to save money when I travel, but I cannot imagine sharing a sleeping space with another couple.

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    • August 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm
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      Yes, we are sharing a room for 4 nights of the trip. We’ve shared rooms with friends in the past and it hasn’t been a problem for us, we won’t be spending a lot of time in the rooms anyway.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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    You said the company will pay four days of your trip. Are the cost totals you mention before or after you subtract out the things the company will pay for – for example, your airfare (but maybe not your wife’s), some of the hotel costs, and your food (but again, maybe not your wife’s) for four days of the trip?

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    • August 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm
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      The costs I mentioned are the grand total for everything, including what the company and I will be paying.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm
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    I’d love it if you could talk about how you picked your days to visit. I’d love to go to Tokyo Disney, but fear I would spend all that money and then it be the Japanese equivalent to Spring Break and the parks be too crazy for me to manage.

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    • August 13, 2014 at 12:49 pm
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      Due to work schedules and other things we were unable to pick the dates when the parks would have had low crowds. We’ll be going around a holiday in Japan so the parks are expected to be busy.

      Reply
  • Pingback: TouringPlans Everywhere: Budgeting for A Tokyo Disneyland Trip - DingoJunction

  • August 12, 2014 at 3:06 pm
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    I’ve been to Japan several times, but only made the time to get to Tokyo DisneySea once. I usually stay in Tokyo at a modern traditional-style inn (tatami mats and futons). The two that I like the best are in relatively quiet locations, though very close to sights and transportation, and run about $72-$86 for a single. The train to Disneyland from central Tokyo is fast and easy. I would say it took me about 45 minutes to get to the park from my hotel.

    My visit to DisneySea was right after Golden Week in mid-May. This turned out to be the perfect time since the park was practically empty and the longest I waited for ANYTHING was maybe 10 minutes. Most attractions I simply walked on and rode multiple times. The weather was very warm, but not yet unbearably hot as Tokyo summers can be. Golden week is usually the first week in May and combines multiple national holidays when vast numbers of people vacation and travel. Kind of like Thanksgiving and Christmas here in the states. The dates change a bit year-to-year so do a Google search. The weeks before and after tend to be much slower and quieter.

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    • August 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm
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      Ah very nice! We will be visiting around a holiday so the parks are expected to be busy. Hopefully when I return to Japan it’ll be a less busy time.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 3:12 pm
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    For all that time, theme parks, and visiting different areas of Japan, it sounds like it’s well worth the price. You’re getting a lot out of the trip. I wish I could justify Tokyo Disneyland, but Japan isn’t a place on my travel wishlist, so between the flight and the cost, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Making it a big adventure around a new country definitely justifies the expense, in my opinion!

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    • August 13, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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      I agree! It’s expensive but in the end I think it will be worth it. Also I’ve come to realize that I’d rather have experiences than little trinkets and things. So to pay for the trip I’ve been throwing a ton of stuff on Ebay to sell.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm
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    It’s a lot of money, but you’re planning for and saving for it, plus you’ve got to be there for work, anyway. It’ll be worth it for you.

    When I went to Tokyo Disneyland, it was worth it for me, too. Like you, I decided to pay the very high prices (although I only paid $400/night) for a Disney-branded hotel, far more than I have EVER paid for any hotel room in my life. In retrospect, it was worth it; I don’t miss the money I would have saved by staying elsewhere, and I have fond memories of the Disneyland Hotel as nicest place I have visited (not just stayed at) in my life. Japan, in general, is also a very interesting place to visit.

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    • August 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm
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      Very good point.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 5:44 pm
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    I’m actually surprised by how reasonable the cost is, given that for us two Canadians to go for a bit over a week to WDW and stay in a value or moderate, it’s $3500 US not including airfare (which in our money easily becomes $4000). Add in food the dining plan doesn’t cover and souvenirs and it’s pretty close to what you’ve budgeted out for a trip much farther! It really makes me appreciate how much people overseas must save up for a visit to North America with their families.

    Looking forward to your trip report!

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    • August 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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      Wow $3500 not including airfare! I was thinking the same thing about overseas travelers coming to the American Disney parks. Some of stay for multiple weeks, it must cost a small fortune.

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  • August 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm
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    Active duty and retired military personnel, in addition to many DOD civilians, can stay at the New Sanno Hotel or Hardy Barracks, both in downtown Tokyo. Less than 30 minutes train ride to the front gate of TDL. Rates vary baseyd on rank but are considerably less than $100 per night. The New Sanno is a luxury hotel in every sense. Hardy Barracks is more spartan but the rooms are nice and the location is great.

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    • August 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm
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      That’s a great tip for military people. Thanks for sharing!

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  • August 12, 2014 at 9:28 pm
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    Thanks for the great information . I am going in the new year . First trip to TDL but I have been on a school trip and been to USJ. Pick your timing for USJ has the crowds were unbelievable . I have been to DL, WDW and DLP and have never seen crowds like it. When are you travelling ?
    The trains are great-fast and efficient. We only travelled economy and it was more than adequate. We are also staying at Hotel Monterey which is very close to the train station that will get you to USJ. Osaka Castle is well worth the visit. Happy Planning !! Looking forward to hearing more:-)

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    • August 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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      That’s good to hear about Osaka Castle, our group is really looking forward to that. We’ll be visiting Tokyo and Osaka the second week of October. There is a holiday during the weekend we are there so that is expected to bring huge crowds to the parks.

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  • August 14, 2014 at 11:44 am
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    When we went, we calculated the price of booking individual train tickets against the Japan Rail Pass, and found that we would save money by not using the rail pass. Calculating the cost of the difference was difficult, because the Japan train fare schedules have multiple classes of trains, and the rail pass may prevent you from using certain trains.

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  • August 16, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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    FYI, you *can* get 4-day park hopper passes…if you’re a hotel guest. I can’t remember if they also sold them for 3-day and shorter too, though I think they did.

    That said, I found so much to do that I never used the park-hopping feature!

    Reply

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