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In some spots, a trip to Tokyo Disneyland can feel very much like a visit to the original in Anaheim. Capering costumed characters pose for pictures with kids of all ages. Guests can stroll through Fantasyland and Tomorrow land. You’re never much more than a couple minutes’ walk away from a churro vendor.

But in some ways, Tokyo Disney Resort is incredibly Japanese. Well-behaved children uniformly refrain from kicking Mickey and his pals in the shins. Tokyo DisneySea will just as happily serve you an imported beer as an ice cream sundae. And of course, like any popular destination in Japan, the parks gets incredibly crowded.

Disney fans in the know, however, have a strategy for beating the crowds, and have compiled a list of the eight least crowded weekends and holidays of the year at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. And because we’re nice like that, we’re sharing that list with you today!

First off, we should define the criteria for “crowded” by Tokyo Disney Resort standards. 2013 saw particularly high attendance, as it was marked by a string of special events celebrating the 30th anniversary of the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, and on the parks’ busiest days there were waits of more than two hours for the most popular attractions.

▼ Sometimes, there are so many visitors you can’t even properly flee in terror when Woody gives in to his bloodlust and starts eating people.

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By comparison, on weekdays, which are obviously the least busy, visitors can usually expect a roughly 60-minute wait for the same rides and shows.

Of course, work and school responsibilities keep most of us from being able to take a trip to the Magic Kingdom on a Wednesday, so for 2014, which days that you can expect to have off (Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays) can you figure on spending the least amount of time standing in line?

A little common sense immediately eliminates every Saturday on the calendar. Despite the name, Tokyo Disney Resort isn’t actually in Tokyo, it’s in Chiba Prefecture, and about an hour outside of the capital. This means day trippers from Japan’s largest city who spent the whole day at the park have a late-night train ride home, which is always easier to cope with if you’ve still got the next day to sleep in. Likewise, domestic travelers staying at one of the many hotels near Disneyland have a bullet train or plane to catch home, and especially if you’ve got a family in tow, hitting the park on Saturday, then setting aside Sunday as a travel day, makes things easier to manage.

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With that in mind, there are three Sundays right around the corner that look to be comparatively uncrowded, April 6, 13, and 20. All three days fall in the gap between the end of spring break for Japanese schools and the beginning of Golden Week, the string of national holidays that straddles the end of April and beginning of May. In an average year, attendance levels at this time are said to be as low as in January or February, with the bonus of being one of the few periods when Japan isn’t cold, snowy, hot, rainy, muggy, or infested with mosquitos.

Even better, all three of these dates mean you’ll be at the parks after the beginning of their new springtime events, Disney Easter at Disneyland and Mickey and Duffy’s Spring Voyage at DisneySea.

▼ Duffy the Disney Bear may be the most clinically calculated act of merchandising ever. He is also pretty cute.

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Speaking of Golden Week, the next candidate comes on the last day of the vacation period for 2014: Tuesday, May 6. The way the days fall this year means a shorter than usual Golden Week, but most of Japan can still expect time off starting on May 3. There’s the definite possibility that by the end of the four-day weekend rolls around, most people will have already gotten their Disney fix, giving you a chance to slip in and enjoy the park with smaller than usual crowds for a holiday.

June doesn’t yield any attractive options, but seeing as how it’s also the peak of Japan’s rainy season, where you can count on steamy, sticky weather just about every day, most would say the happiest place on earth is their living room with the air conditioner set to “dry” mode and going full blast.

▼ You mean the song Sebastian sings in The Little Mermaid isn’t “Under AC?”


Things start looking up again in July on the 6th and 13th, both Sundays that come before schools let out for summer vacation. This is also a great time to catch some uniquely Japanese shows, such as one celebrating the romantic Tanabata Star Festival on July 6. A week later, the Disney Natsumatsuri (natsumatsuri being the Japanese word for summer festival) at Tokyo Disneyland begins July 13, the same day the ostensibly more occidental-themed Disney Summer Festival (all in English this time) starts at DisneySea.

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The Natsumatsuri and Summer Festival will still be going on when July 21 rolls around. Although it’s a Monday, it’s also the holiday Umi no Hi (Marine Day, also sometimes called Ocean Day or Beach Day). Once again, visitors on this day are likely to be greeted with a bit of an attendance vacuum as people who spent the last two days frolicking at the parks head home.

If your social calendar is booked on all of these days, you’ve still got one last shot at an uncrowded Tokyo Disney Resort visit on Sunday, September 7. This is the very first Sunday after schools start up again, and it’s a good bet that anyone who didn’t take advantage of all those days off during summer vacation to go to Disneyland isn’t going to suddenly get bitten by the Disney bug.

“That’s right folks, I’ll bite ‘ya!”

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September 7 does fall in a bit of a dead zone as far as special events go, though. The very next day sees the start of Disney Halloween (yes, commercial Halloween festivities start in September in Japan now), and once that wraps up, the parks go right into Christmas mode.

Still, if you’d rather spend your time at Disneyland zipping around Space Mountain than waving to Mickey as he passes by on a float, this just might be the best day to go. For many Japanese Disney fans, the parks’ numerous seasonal parades and fireworks extravaganzas are the main draws, with the rides a distant third on their list of things they want to experience.

This love of live performances does mean that all of the dates recommended above come with one important caveat. Since many of these shows are held outdoors, they stand a chance of being cancelled if the weather is too wet. This makes good weather essential for an archetypical Japanese Disney visit, which can easily tweak the timing of attendance spikes. So check the weather report before you go, because even if you’re aiming to head to the park on the last day of a vacation period, a thunderstorm the day before could easily mean far more people than normal showing up at the gates.

What we’re saying is, regardless of when you go to Disneyland or DisneySea, make sure you’re with someone you can carry on a conversation with while waiting in line.

▼ Or, alternatively, enjoy quietly holding hands with for a long, long time.

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Source: Niconico News
Top image: Tokyo Disney Resort
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