A 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.
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).
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.