There’s without a doubt an endless number of activities to partake in Japan, and you’ll never have enough time to complete it all. Little known fact: Japan is home to numerous world class amusement parks in the whole world! These places offer exclusive attractions and limited merchandise that you can only get here! Because of that, theme parks in Japan have become one of the most recommended activities to do during your time here.
Whether you’re into thrills and adrenaline-pumping screamer rides or historical experiences, there are all sorts of theme parks and amusement parks that will best fit your needs. Browse through our curated, best 10 amusement parks Add some unique excitement to your trip to Japan!
1. Tokyo Disneyland
At number three of the world’s most visited テーマパーク (theme park or amusement park) is none other than Tokyo DisneyLand. Having hosted more than 170 million people since its opening in 1983, this amusement park is also the first Disney Resort built outside of the United States.
With seven areas in different themes, each with their own attractions, cafes, shops and shows, you’re bound to stay here the whole day! Some attractions are similar to the American Disney parks, like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion, but there are also Japan exclusives like Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, seasonal parades and special themed food.
Be sure to come early, as the park tends to get really crowded all year round.
2. Tokyo DisneySea
Arguably the best Disney Park in the world, Tokyo DisneySea is an amusement park unique and exclusive to Japan. Opened in 2001 right next to the legendary Tokyo DisneyLand, this park also has seven water themed areas, inspired by ocean tales and legends.
Similar to Tokyo Disneyland, DisneySea offers exclusive merchandise, limited official goods and seasonal water performances. The concept of this amusement park is to appeal to more adults and couples, compared to their counterpart DisneyLand which is more for the youngsters.
Prepared with several fancy dinings, serving sake (酒, alcoholic drinks) in every themed area and the romantic lit-up in the evenings, Tokyo DisneySea is perfect for a couples thrilling day trip, a family event or even just to check off your Disney Resort checklist!
3. Universal Studios Japan
A rival to Disney Resorts is Universal Studios Japan (USJ), which is one out of the four Universal Studios theme parks in the world! Located in Japan’s second largest city Osaka, USJ opened their doors in 2001, introducing various attractions themed after extremely famous movies. If you don’t already know, one of them is Harry Potter! Grab a mug of butterbeer, ride on brooms and flaunt your house robes as you stroll down the streets of Diagon Alley.
Another famous, not-to-miss area is the Minions, which generates a huge crowd each year! Special themed attractions and areas exclusive to Japan include One Piece and Dragon Ball. So if you’re a fan to any of the above mentioned, as well as Spiderman, Jurassic Park, Jaws and Godzilla, what’s stopping you from visiting this amazing amusement park?
4. Fuji Q Highland
A definite must-see for any thrill-seekers and adrenaline-pumping enthusiasts, Fuji Q Highland is an amusement park famously known for homing world record-breaking roller coasters. Located at the foot of Mt Fuji and near the Fuji Five Lakes, there’s no reason to not drop by. Plus, the entrance to the park is free (though tickets must be purchased to ride the rides).
Although not as highly-themed as the Disney Resorts and USJ, Fuji Q Highland’s roller coasters, other thriller rides and お化け屋敷 (obakeyashi, haunted house) are the best! The four screamer rides — Dondonpa, Eejanaika, Fujiyama and Takabisha — as well as the world’s longest and scariest haunted house, The Scary Labyrinth of Fear, are definitely attractions not to be missed. Enjoy the view while you toss and turn in the seat of the roller coasters!
5. Huis Ten Bosch
Recreating the streets of medieval Europe and creating a wonderful space for an amusement park, Huis Ten Bosch is located in Nagasaki and is loaded with seasonal flower bloomings, events, attractions and light illuminations (イルミネーション).
Also home to the world’s biggest horror attraction, and presenting an illumination show with the largest number of bulbs used ever in an event, the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park also has museums and theatres scattered around the park. It is said that as the years go by, the events and shows get bigger and bigger by the year, so you’ll never be disappointed!
6. Hakkejima Sea Paradise
The Hakkejima Sea Paradise is found at Yokohama, a port city facing the ocean and also one of the most popular cities visited by foreign tourists. Fully equipped as an aquarium-amusement park hybrid, as well as reserving an area for visitors to play with the sea animals, what’s not to like about this uniquely conceptualised park?
From bijutsukan (美術館, museums), water shows and fishing, to thrilling jetto kosuta (ジェットコスタ, roller coasters) and adventurous water rides, this park has it all! For the adrenaline junkies, don’t miss out on the Blue Fall, which is a free-fall thriller ride that falls from 107 meters above, the tallest drop in Japan!
7. Tokyo Joypolis
Here’s one for the tech geeks and game lovers. Located conveniently in Tokyo, in the Odaiba area, the SEGA Tokyo Joypolis is an indoor amusement park not to be missed by anyone! Featuring some of the most latest and cutting-edge technology service and entertainment facilities such as Zero Latency VR.
There are even themed attractions based on famous animes and movies like Resident Evil, SONIC and Transformers. Located on the third to the fifth floor of the Decks Tokyo Beach shopping mall, the three-storey indoor amusement park is definitely the park to go if you’re into amazing graphics, or when it’s raining outside and you’re not in the mood to waste a day of fun.
8. Nagashima Spa Land
Located just outside of Nagoya City in Kuwana City lies the Nagashima Spa Land. Come here for the roller coasters and stay overnight at the Nagashima Resort for the spa! Combining the thrill of roller coasters with the relaxation of spa in one spot, this whole area is a gem find, and it’s still mostly unknown by the majority of foreign tourists.
With four main areas on top of the spa land and amusement park, a water park, their own outlet mall, museum, another amusement park dedicated to a childhood anime Anpanman and a flower park (hana kōen, 花公園), there’s too many things to do here to just go for a day trip.
What’s more, this whole place transforms into a Nagashima Zombie Island in the month of October, where you can dance with zombies at the dance party all day and night long!
9. Shima Spain Village
A resort complex complete with an amusement theme park, hotel and hot spring facility, Shima Spain Village can be found in Shima City. A recreation of Spanish townscapes filled with attractions, entertainment and parades, this one is definitely not to be missed if you’re in the area as one of the biggest attractions of the city.
Get on rides such as the roller coasters, cruises and train rides, take a stroll through their museum and exhibition facilities, and watch the parades and shows on the streets of the park that features traditional Spanish dances like the flamenco. You may even want to consider a stay at the elegant Hotel Shima Spain Mura, which perfectly encompasses the ambience and mood of Southern Spain.
10. Legoland Japan
Quite recently opened in 2017 and located in Nagoya City, Legoland Japan is Japan’s first Lego-themed amusement park. Consisting of seven different areas themed for the different Lego worlds, you’ll be amazed at the fine work and consistency of Legos throughout the entire park!
There is also Miniland, which is a miniature town made with over ten million Lego blocks to display some of the most iconic landmarks in Japan, which includes Tokyo Station, Kiyomizu Temple and Osaka Castle. Packed with rides and attractions, exclusive merchandise and limited edition goods that you can only get here, as well as a factory tour that brings you through the process of manufacturing these Lego blocks, you’re in for a whole treat at Legoland Japan!
Japan might as well be known as the hot spot for amusement parks, each having its own unique take and feature that cannot be compared to the next. The country itself has so many things to offer, see and do, one might think that they cannot possibly spend their days at amusement parks.
One of the first few things that pop to mind when one mentions Tokyo is…Disney! Japan’s capital city is home to not one, but two Disney Resorts right next to each other — and one of them is the only one in the whole world!
Don’t get too excited just yet; because the Tokyo Disney Resort is so unique, it’s the priority of Disney enthusiasts and travellers worldwide. It is, after all, one of the most famous attractions in the country! Because of this overwhelming popularity, these theme parks are packed to the brim with people, every single one of them hoping to have their Disney dreams fulfilled.
It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy. Unfortunately, we live in the real world and not some fairytale — happily ever afters doesn’t just fall out of the sky. We’ve got to put in some effort to make our dreams come true. But… I’m your very own fairy godmother, and this is your manual to having the best time of your life at the Tokyo Disney Resort!
Tokyo’s Disney Resorts
As mentioned earlier, Tokyo Disney Resort consists of two Disney theme parks: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The two aren’t the same and have a completely different ambiance — and of course, rides. In a nutshell, Tokyo Disneyland is your classic fairytale; Tokyo DisneySea is the coming-of-age version of that.
You might think that the location of these Tokyo Disney Resorts is obvious — duh, it’s in Tokyo. Why name it that when it’s not?
You’re, in fact, wrong. It’s not even in Tokyo at all! The Tokyo Disney Resort is located to the east of Tokyo, in Urayasu of Chiba Prefecture. It is a short train ride from Tokyo, though — about 20 minutes from Tokyo Station and 30 minutes from Shinjuku Station.
That’s one takeaway of Tokyo you have already: the train system is efficient as hell.
Now, let’s take a look at Tokyo Disneyland. Here’s a fun fact: this Disney theme park is actually the first-ever Disney park to be built outside of the United States! Everything from the design and structure is built in the same style as the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California, so you’ll get the full authentic magical experience even on the other side of the world.
On the 15th of April 1983, its magical gates opened, and to this day, this Disney Resort holds the title of the third most-visited theme park in the world (the first two being also Disney parks in the U.S.).
While it mimics the American Disney parks, there are some special features in this one. It is in Japan, after all, so take note of a few hints at Japanese culture here and there. One great example is the food; it’s noticeably different from the U.S. You’ll be in for a treat for an infusion of American and Chinese flavours with Japanese cuisine — sounds intriguing, right?
You’ll get steamed buns filled with teriyaki chicken, shaped like the iconic Mickey Mouse’s head, in Adventureland. There’s also a traditional Japanese dish called donburi fused with the American flavours of taco meat.
Don’t worry, the food at Tokyo Disneyland is not all traditionally infused; you’ll be able to get your fix of classic popcorn, or even spice it up with soy sauce flavoured ones if you fancy.
Remember when I said there’s one Tokyo Resort that’s only one in the world? Well, that’s Tokyo DisneySea. This theme park opened on the 4th of September 2001 right next to Tokyo Disneyland, and is the fourth most-visited theme park in the world!
Tokyo DisneySea has a unique theme — can you guess from the name of the park? This theme park has a nautical exploration theme. There’s nowhere like DisneySea anywhere in the world; a combination of Disney, maritime rides and attractions, and Japanese-infused American nibbles.
I call this theme park the adult version of Tokyo Disneyland, because unlike the other, Tokyo DisneySea serves alcohol!
There are plans for expansion to this park to include the famous Frozen and Tangled areas for 2023! Oh, and let’s not forget Peter Pan, my personal favourite Disney character.
When To Visit
Want to avoid the crowds? It does get very crowded — these parks are popular amongst locals and tourists alike. March and August are the months of the Japanese school holidays, so if you want to avoid the young crowd, it might be best to avoid these months.
Other months like February, October and December are also best to avoid. In these months, the weather can get unpredictable like rain and warnings of natural disasters. In these cases, rides can get interrupted and, to the extreme, park closure.
Where To Stay
It’s every princess’s dream to stay in a huge, magical castle — I know it’s mine. The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is pretty similar to that, with themed rooms, extravagant decor, and impeccable service. You pay what you get, and this is the top-class, five-star everything.
If you’re not all that bothered about the royal treatment, there are multiple hotels around the vicinity that aren’t as costly as the main Disney Resort hotels. Boutique hotels like Ibis Hotel provide free shuttle buses from the hotel to the Disney parks — an extremely convenient service for when you’re exhausted from a day’s adventure and just want to hit the sacks ASAP.
Tips & Tricks To The Disney Resorts
Here’s where I sprinkle my magic. Just being at the resorts is good enough, but why miss out on making your experience more magical and unforgettable than what Disney promised?
Make full use of your time at the park. Every minute counts, especially when there are hundreds of others aiming to do the same thing as you. How you ask? Well, I have some tips and tricks for you based on my very own personal experience — tried and tested, and succeeded!
Buy your tickets in advance
I know some of you out there are the spontaneous, adventurous kind. No planning and just going for it. Well, I’m a planner. And for Disney Resorts, you have to plan. Get your tickets in advance — trust me, you do not want to be in the queue of people who buy tickets at the gate. All you have to do is just wait till the gates open.
You might need to have your booking tickets printed out as well; Japan is pretty traditional when it comes to things like that. If you forgot to do it on the day, don’t worry. There are stations at the entrance where you can print them out for free! Or alternatively, go to a konbini (コンビニ, convenience store) near you (but not at the Disney Resort — the konbinis have no printer whatsoever).
Plan your rides in advance
I’d prioritise this tip over anything else: plan your route in the theme park. What rides do you want to go on first? Which are must-go’s and which ones you aren’t so bothered about, and which ones are extremely popular?
Factor in waiting time for each attraction — which may vary depending on the popularity of the ride — and where the rides you want to go are. Take that Disney map and a pen, and start planning. Don’t think it’s silly; you’ll be so glad you did afterward. It’s all about strategy, and not missing out on the rides you are dying for just because you got held up in a queue for a ride you don’t even particularly want to go on.
Make full use of the Fast Pass
If you don’t already know, there’s a FastPass system where you can get a ticket with a timestamp on it to return to the attraction and use the priority Fast Pass lane. It’s one of the best ways to maximise your time at the park, so include that in your planning!
Not all rides are eligible for FastPass, but most of the top-rated ones are. You’re only allowed to hold one FastPass at a time, so as soon as you’ve used your previous FastPass, go on to the next one!
Bring your own bento (if you want)
This one is not really a do-or-die rule, but it will save you some time and a few pennies. There’s nothing wrong with going all out and trying the tasty Disney treats, but they are going to cost quite a bit. On occasion, restaurants will have a long queue.
Do it the Japanese way: bring a bento (弁当, lunch box). Not only are you going to have a few extra bucks in your pocket, but you’re also participating in the local culture!
Shop after the attractions close
I know, I know — you want that cute souvenir for yourself and your family. Save that shopping for the end of the day. Don’t waste your precious time at the park just to be in the shops all day.
It’s not well-known, but Disney shops open an hour after all the other attractions close. That means you’ll have plenty of time to browse through all those cute items with peace of mind and without sacrificing your time for rides!
I’ve not only saved your time at the park but also your time researching about the Tokyo Disney Resort — see, I told you, I am the fairy godmother! Fair enough, being at Disneyland and DisneySea alone is magical enough, but if you take my advice, your time at the parks will be one of the most memorable, enjoyable and unforgettable experiences ever!
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