In 2023 I only visited two Disney Parks: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. So as I started theme park trip planning for 2024, I figured it’s probably time I get back to Disney World, especially with how good Guardians is supposed to be — see Mike’s review here if you haven’t yet.
But, thinking about my Japan trip last year and looking at costs for a trip to Disney World from California, I started to wonder if it might be cheaper for me to go back to Tokyo Disney than make a Disney World trip. Generally cost of things like food and transportation is lower than in Japan, the US dollar is the strongest against the Japanese Yen as it’s been in decades, and Tokyo Disney hasn’t really raised prices while costs at the US parks seem to go up constantly. It turns out a trip to the Japanese parks is at least in the same ballpark as one to Florida.
So, the biggest chunk of cost that makes a trip to Japan more expensive than DisneyWorld is, of course, the flight. I live in San Francisco, and looking at a few random week long trips to Japan on Google Flights, typical prices in Winter and Spring seem to be about $1300 to Tokyo. Although a Japanese low-cost carrier called “Zipair” recently started flying to SF, and they have flights as low as $700 if you’re date flexible. Meanwhile, flights to Orlando are about $500 for us. So, assuming I’m flying a regular major airline like United, about $700 more to fly to Japan than Orlando. If you’re in a city like Chicago or Atlanta, the Tokyo flights seem to be about $200 more expensive, and Orlando flights cheaper, so maybe $1000 difference. And that difference gets a lot bigger if you’ve got a family of four.
Obviously there is also the “convenience” aspect of a Japan trip vs Florida. A flight to Japan is a lot longer, about 10 hours to Tokyo from California vs 6 hours to Florida — and obviously much longer from the East Coast or Midwest. Although interestingly, there are a lot more flights from the West Coast to Japan than to Orlando. San Francisco has 7 flights a day to Tokyo, only 3 to Orlando. Los Angeles has 12 to Tokyo, and only 8 to Orlando. So there are more options to Japan from here, at least.
This is also where I throw in that I used airline and credit card miles for my flights, and you can get some really good deals with airline miles to Tokyo. If we were a travel blog we’d tell you to sign up for a travel credit card with our referral link, but we don’t have any of those.
After the flight, though, every cost starts lean in Tokyo Disney’s favor, starting with the hotels. During my trip last Spring, I stayed at the Sheraton Grand Tokyo Bay, which is right by a Tokyo Disney Monorail stop. I’d call it the “mid-range” option for Tokyo. For a 6-night stay — you’ll want two days at each park if you’ve never been — it’s about $200/night. If you wanted to splurge, the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel — maybe the best park hotel in Tokyo — is about $450/night for six nights. Going the other way, well rated nearby hotels like the MyStays Maihama are about $100-150 per night, but less convenient.
Meanwhile, looking at some dates in Spring for a 6 night stay at Disney World — assuming a full day for each park and no red eyes for me — a midrange resort like Port Orleans is about $2200, over $350/night. Even a budget stay, like Pop Century, is ~$233 for six nights (although with the Skyliner, this might be the best place to stay now). And splurging on something like the Grand Floridian gets up over $800 per night (and that isn’t even the most expensive WDW resort)!
Resort prices for DisneyWorld have really gotten crazy over the last few years, so you’re talk at least a few hundred, maybe even a couple thousand dollar savings in Japan.
It feels like ticket prices for Disney parks go up constantly. Back in October both Disneyland and WDW raised their prices, and prices for Disneyland are four times more than they were back in the year 2000. Tokyo Disney prices, on the other hand, haven’t gone up nearly as much. And with a weak Japanese Yen compared to the dollar, prices are downright cheap. Like, cheaper than many US regional parks. Tokyo Disney hasn’t brought back multi-day tickets or park hoppers, but a one day Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea ticket is about 9400 Yen, or $67! So to spend four days at Tokyo Disney, you’re out $267. A single day park hopper at Disneyland can be almost that much. And a 4-day, one park per day ticket for a normal March week (mostly weekdays) in Florida will cost you around $590!
Then there are add-ons. Tokyo Disney has Premier Access, while WDW has Genie Plus and Lightning Lane. Because prices on these seem to jump around a lot, and what’s available seems to change a bunch, I’m not looking into them much, but I only used the Premier Access once in Tokyo (for Beauty and the Beast), so I didn’t find it too necessary. At best it’s about the same, at worst, the Lightning Lane and Genie+ prices will also be more than at Tokyo Disney.
A great thing about non-US Disney Parks is they’re usually close to major cities, and you don’t need a car to get there. Taking a train Tokyo’s Narita airport to Tokyo Disney is about $50 roundtrip. And if you stay on the monorail line it’s not free, but it’s only about $3.50 round trip to and from the parks (and a little more if you stay further away).
For DisneyWorld, let’s assume you aren’t renting a car because that would cost a ton and parking keeps getting more expensive. MEARS from/to the airport is $33.60 RT per adult. An Uber/Lyft would be about $80 (so cheaper if you have a group). Then getting to and from the parks is free on a shuttle bus or Skyliner. But, if you don’t wanna wait, or want to go off property, you’ll probably be out another $80 RT to the parks in the Lyft. So, maybe a little cheaper in Orlando, but potentially more expensive or less convenient.
Food in Japan is, for the most part, a lot more affordable than in the US (and really really good). And that’s the case at the parks too. I went back through some of the meals I had when I visited Tokyo Disney, and having one fancy meal — like Magellan’s in Tokyo DisneySea — plus a couple of quick service meals, like La Taverne de Gaston at Tokyo Disneyland, and grabbing a couple of snacks throughout the day runs roughly $80. Without the fancy meal you can easily be under $30 a day.
At DisneyWorld, a similar day of one fancy meal — say La Hacienda de San Angel — a couple of quick service meals for breakfast/lunch, and a couple of snacks throughout the day and you’re probably looking at more like $125. Without the fancy meal you could probably get under $60 or $50, but I think getting much lower than that would be tough without bringing your own food or being hungry. If I’m taking a long trip to these resorts I’m going to splurge a little, so I’m going with $80 per day for TDR and $125 per day for WDW.
How Does it Add Up?
Ok, so that was a bunch of numbers comparing costs at the two resorts, but how does it add up?
So this is approximate, but it seems like for a 6 night trip, with four days at the parks, staying a mid-range hotel, for two people you’d be looking at around $2400 at Tokyo Disney vs $4500 for Walt DisneyWorld. Add in flights based on my estimates from some googling, and all in you’re at about ~$5000 for two people to go to Tokyo Disney vs ~$5500 to go to WDW for a week trip.
Of course, if you find cheaper flights, or different hotel rates, or do a shorter trip this will all change. And for a family of 3 or 4 it starts to lean a little bit more in favor of Disney World. But either way, it’s not TOO different in cost between the two.
My main point here isn’t that you shouldn’t go to Disney World, you absolutely should if you want to. But, if you’re a big theme park fan and you go to WDW a lot but you’ve never been to Tokyo Disney because you’ve always thought it was too expensive or too hard, you should double check. It might not be too different cost-wise than a Disneyland or Disney World trip, and might even be cheaper. I still think Tokyo DisneySea is my favorite theme park in the world, and I wish every park fan could visit it. And a whole new land is opening up this year! Plus, Tokyo is an amazing city, so you get to have a little fun beyond Disney too.