July 21, 2024

How to Enter Fantasy Springs & Get On Rides: Good, Bad & Ugly Access Options

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Think Walt Disney World has the most Byzantine set of policies and protocol for accessing attractions? Think again. That set of park reservations, virtual queues, Genie+ and Lightning Lane rules have nothing on difficulties of




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Think Walt Disney World has the most Byzantine set of policies and protocol for accessing attractions? Think again. That set of park reservations, virtual queues, Genie+ and Lightning Lane rules have nothing on difficulties of getting into Fantasy Springs, the new $2 billion port-of-call featuring Frozen, Peter Pan, and Tangled at Tokyo DisneySea.

The goals of this post are two-fold. First, to help those of you who already have plans get on as many rides as possible–hopefully all in a single day. Second, to steer you away from the “ugly” way of accessing Fantasy Springs with cautionary tales about our own days at DisneySea that were “suboptimal” thanks to obsessing over Fantasy Springs.

We’ve been singing the praises of Tokyo DisneySea for over a decade, imploring anyone who will listen to recapture the Disney magic by visiting Japan. And all of that’s still true. Perhaps not as much as it was in 2019, but Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are still Disney’s two best parks in the world. It’s also true that Tokyo Disney Resort has a learning curve, and one that has nothing to do with the language barrier. While some of the skills Walt Disney World and Disneyland diehards have learned will translate, other issues are unique to TDR.

To that point, it’s also worth noting that there are other moving parts on top of simply getting into Fantasy Springs and on attractions. For example, although Tokyo Disney Resort doesn’t have park reservations, they do currently only sell single day tickets–and those sell out in advance from time to time. As such, we recommend buying at least a few weeks in advance. (See Tokyo Disneyland Discount Ticket Tips.)

Just like Walt Disney World and Disneyland, FastPass is also dead at Tokyo Disney Resort. However, unlike those, there is still a free line-skipping option–along with a paid one like Lightning Lanes. (See our Guide to (Free) Priority Pass & (Paid) Premier Access at Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea.)

Finally, although there are no virtual queues in so many words, Tokyo Disney Resort does use lotteries (officially known as “Entry Request” in the app) for select character meet & greets and stage shows in both parks. You’ll also need to use the app on certain occasions to enter shops (usually on/around release day for seasonal merchandise or Duffy stuff).

All of this is nothing new. Fantasy Springs just dials it up to 11, and, in tandem with everything else, there are a lot of moving pieces to plan around. In any case, let’s start with a simple explanation of accessing the new port-of-call via a chart from Tokyo Disney Resort:

To enter Fantasy Springs and enjoy the new attractions, a Standby Pass (free of charge entry) or Disney Premier Access (paid entry) for eligible attractions in Fantasy Springs will be required, in addition to a valid Park ticket for Tokyo DisneySea.

Standby Pass is available on the Tokyo Disney Resort App, and guests can obtain a Standby Pass free of charge after entering Tokyo DisneySea. Guests are able to experience any of the four attractions at Fantasy Springs with a Standby Pass. Once guests obtain a Standby Pass, they will be able to enter Fantasy Springs to explore the new area and experience the selected attraction at a designated time.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to score free Standby Passes or paying for Premier Access, we’d recommend prioritizing as follows:

  1. Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Journey
  2. Peter Pan’s Never Land Adventure
  3. Rapunzel’s Lantern Festival
  4. Fairy Tinker Bell’s Busy Buggies

Disney Premier Access is available for a fee, and guests can purchase Disney Premier Access using the Tokyo Disney Resort App after entering Tokyo DisneySea. Guests are able to experience three attractions at Fantasy Springs with Disney Premier Access. Prices are as follows:

  • Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Journey: 2,000 yen
  • Rapunzel’s Lantern Festival: 2,000 yen
  • Peter Pan’s Never Land Adventure: 2,000 yen

With Disney Premier Access for an attraction at Fantasy Springs, guests are able to enter Fantasy Springs at a specified time to explore the new area and experience the selected attraction with a reduced wait time.

In other words, Disney Premier Access is Tokyo Disney Resort’s version of a Lightning Lane and Standby Pass is their version of a virtual queue. There are unique wrinkles to it, but this isn’t all that much different from riding TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom. The biggest difference is that you need one of the two things just to access Fantasy Springs at all. It’d be like not being able to enter Tomorrowland without showing a virtual queue boarding group or individual Lightning Lane.

As noted, Standby Pass or Disney Premier Access are available after entering Tokyo DisneySea. This means a couple of things. First, the already early-arriving crowd now arrives even earlier and camps out waiting to enter Tokyo DisneySea. If you’re wondering what time guests start to arrive, sorry, we cannot answer that. We have never–not once–in our decade-plus history of visiting Tokyo Disney Resort been among the first guests at the turnstiles. And in all likelihood, neither will you.

We’ve rope dropped Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea over 100 times at this point, and never have we been at the front of the pack. Nearish it, sure, but never at it. Based on Japanese social media posts, the line starts forming around 5 a.m. on normal days and even earlier on special ones (merchandise releases, start of seasonal events, etc.), but that’s secondhand. I’ll never find out firsthand.

The good (goodish?) news is that you don’t need to totally forgo sleep on your vacation to Japan and can instead arrive around 6:30 a.m. Probably even 7 a.m., or maybe 7:30 a.m. if you’re a gambler. However, if it were me and I only had 1-2 days at Tokyo DisneySea and planned on buying Premier Access or scoring a Standby Pass, I’d line up to enter the park no later than 6:30 a.m. Sorry, but that’s simply the best option.

The other good news is that Tokyo DisneySea typically opens earlier than the published opening time of 9 a.m. The time varies from day to day and is driven by demand. This is actually the case at all Disney and Universal theme parks, and is a matter of crowd control and safety. They don’t want congestion outside the gates to get too bad, so early openings happen as a ‘release valve’ on crowds. That’s also why the time is seemingly random. It could be 8:09 a.m. one day and 8:27 a.m. the next.

Before regular park opening, there’s also Happy 15 Entry for guests of Hotel MiraCosta and Fantasy Springs Hotel, which provides guests of these two on-site hotels (and now only these two on-site hotels) 15 minutes of early access to Tokyo DisneySea. It may seem like a minor thing, but it’s a huge advantage–especially given lines to enter the park.

All of this is why we borrow a phrase from my military-man father when it comes to rope dropping TDR: “If you’re technically early to park opening at Tokyo Disney Resort, you’re late.” Very much applies here.

The end result of Tokyo DisneySea opening before its officially published time and the early-arriving crowd of TDR fans and locals is that both free Standby Passes and paid Premier Access is sold out before 9 a.m.

Accordingly, you need to arrive early and make your ride reservations the second you scan into the park. There’s a reason everyone stops in their tracks in Aquasphere Plaza to book the free Standby Pass or buy Premier Access–it is imperative that you do this before heading to your first attraction of the day. Don’t make the mistake of trying to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ by racing to a ride and booking while in line. That’s an okay approach for Tokyo Disneyland, but not Fantasy Springs.

Here’s a look at when each Fantasy Springs attraction sold out from one of the Tokyo Disney Resort data-tracking accounts:

For those of you who are planning a visit to Tokyo Disney Resort several months to a year down the road, I’d highly recommend following the both the Fantasy Springs and Disney Colors accounts to see how these times change. While it’s true that Fantasy Springs still has the ‘new port-of-call smell’ right now and that this will die down, don’t overestimate the extent to which that’ll happen.

TDR fans are the most zealous Disney fans on the planet, and the Japanese seemingly have a far greater tolerance for waiting in lines than Americans. Other compounding factors are that pent-up demand is still a thing in Japan, Fantasy Springs is fantastic, right now isn’t even the busy season at TDR, and Annual Passes/multi-day tickets are both still suspended.

Suffice to say, we fully expect Fantasy Springs to be a challenging land to experience 5 years from now. (Yes, really.) The best comparison I can offer is to Universal Studios Japan, where timed entry is still in use for Super Nintendo World and probably will be for a while. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter still used timed entry for over 5 years after it opened. It wasn’t a daily occurrence, but it did happen.

The same will probably be true to some extent for Fantasy Springs in 2027 and maybe beyond. To be sure, it won’t be as bad as it is this year or on peak travel dates in 2025, but demand will still be high for the new port and its attractions for years to come. They’re very good and feature fan-favorite character, and that’s what happens with very good attractions with fan-favorite characters at TDR.

In its official materials, OLC already notes that “depending on the crowd, you may be able to enter [Fantasy Springs] without using the standby or Disney Premier Access.” This could mean that, going forward, Standby Pass for entering the land won’t be turned on until Fantasy Springs hits capacity. This is also how USJ uses timed entry for Super Nintendo World. If you arrive early enough, you can head right into the land.

If you’re not an early bird, all hope is not lost! Just like Lightning Lanes, there are ride reservation refills throughout the day for the Fantasy Springs attractions. In our experience, this occurs on some of the half-hours. We’ve found that it’s very hit or miss. For example, one day, every single attraction had a huge refill at 11:30 a.m. with near-immediate returns. On another, several half-hours were (seemingly) skipped entirely. I assume there’s a formula used that takes into account ride breakdowns, efficiency, etc.

However, like everything else, this is very much subject to change. One big reason for these unannounced drops is to not completely disadvantage guests who don’t arrive early–and not further encourage that behavior leading to a ‘spiral’ in which fans show up earlier and earlier in order to not miss out. As such, it behooves Tokyo Disney Resort to switch up the drop times so that the power users don’t scoop up all of them.

I would implore you not to rely too heavily on these ride reservation refills, especially if your time at Tokyo DisneySea is limited. While we have several success stories with this, I want to instead share a cautionary tale. One of the days we did Tokyo DisneySea, we arrived too late for the morning distribution of Standby Passes and Premier Access. So instead, we played the refresh game, having success with the 11:30 a.m. drop for a noon return.

We entered Fantasy Springs immediately, having only done 4 attractions in Tokyo DisneySea prior to then, in part because we’d been playing the refresh game even before 11:30 am. After we did the ride we had booked, we wandered around Fantasy Springs, enjoying the land in between additional cracks at the refresh game for additional ride reservation refills.

On at least 5 different occasions, I saw something but was unable to grab it before someone else. At the time, part of me blamed T-Mobile (a natural inclination when anything bad happens) for our internet connection being too slow. Then I started looking around on the half-hour, and noticed that we very much were not alone.

Plenty of presumably high-knowledge Japanese guests with (also presumably) capable internet connections were also failing. (On a different day, we noticed that the outdoor seating area for Snuggly Duckling was full of guests doing exactly this. We made two separate visits to the restaurant for drinks that were almost two hours apart, and some of the same guests were still sitting there, fixated on their phones.)

This continued until around sunset when we finally decided to cut our losses and do other things in Tokyo DisneySea. (Note that you can re-enter Fantasy Springs if you score another Standby Pass or Premier Access. The reasons we didn’t leave were wanting to photograph the sunset and not wanting to walk all the way out and back in.)

Point being, we spent about half the day in Fantasy Springs and only had one ride to show for it. I don’t want to say that time was all wasted–as we did walk around the land and had fun, but we definitely spent way too much time fixated on the app when we could’ve just been enjoying the park.

For us, this wasn’t the end of the world. We’ve spent a ton of time in Tokyo DisneySea–including 9 days in the last two months–and “researching” Fantasy Springs was our primary focus at this point. For you, the opportunity cost is potentially far higher. I can say with complete certainty that, no matter how much you love Fantasy Springs, doing something in the other ports-of-call beats refreshing the app in Fantasy Springs. Just something to consider before you spend your limited time glued to your phone.

For those with more money than time, far and away the best option for accessing the land and its attractions is the 1-Day Passport: Fantasy Springs Magic. This special Tokyo DisneySea ticket allows unfettered access to Fantasy Springs without getting a Standby Pass or purchasing Disney Premier Access.

The new 1-Day Passport: Fantasy Springs Magic can be purchased ONLY by Fantasy Springs Hotel guests or those using eligible plans for the Tokyo Disney Resort Vacation Package. This means if you book a resort-only reservation for Toy Story Hotel or the MiraCosta, you cannot purchase the 1-Day Passport: Fantasy Springs Magic. It’s only for Fantasy Springs Hotel or vacation package guests of the other hotels.

The big selling point of the Fantasy Springs Magic Ticket is that it offers open access to Fantasy Springs and is basically an unlimited FastPass for the attractions. We wrote about our excellent experience using this ‘Golden Ticket’ in We Did 20+ Rides in One Day at Fantasy Springs via ‘Unlimited FastPass.’ The title pretty much says it all, but that’s worth reading if you’re on the fence about this ticket.

The Fantasy Springs Magic Ticket is more than double the cost of a normal Tokyo DisneySea ticket, but it offers tremendous peace of mind. It allowed us to enter the new port-of-call in the first place without worry. It enabled us to sleep in, instead of getting up at the crack of dawn and being zombies all day. It allowed us to have a carefree day, rather than being glued to our phones.

I’m not sure what the value of the Fantasy Springs Magic Passport is to us, but definitely much more than we paid for the Vacation Package. We went from never doing the package to, at this point, never not doing it (at least until the initial excitement of Fantasy Springs dies down…so like for the next decade?).

Another advantage of the Vacation Package is that it allows you to enter the restaurants (for free drinks) without making a Mobile Order. This is hugely advantageous–and a perk that’s flying under the radar. In our estimation, the food at Fantasy Springs is only okay…but the themed design is exquisite. So exploring the restaurants without committing to a full meal, and instead eating elsewhere, is the way to go. And you can only do that with a Vacation Package.

If you’re traveling internationally to experience Tokyo DisneySea (presumably anyone reading this), making the splurge for the Vacation Package with a Fantasy Springs Magic Ticket is highly recommended. Honestly, I don’t know how you even read to this point of the post and conclude otherwise.

All of the methods before this should sound stressful…because they are. They absolutely can be done–we did them, multiple times! But again, if you only have a day or two at Tokyo DisneySea and you’re flying from the United States or wherever…do you really want to risk it?

The whole reason we booked the Vacation Package in the first place was because we feared it would take 2-3 days to fully experience Fantasy Springs without it. While we ended up not needing the safety net, we didn’t know that going in. If we had to do it all over again, we would again overpay for the Vacation Package. Without any hesitation whatsoever. It’s not even a remotely close call for international tourists.

One final recommendation I’d make, and this is bound to be a controversial one, is booking Hotel MiraCosta over Fantasy Springs Hotel. In part, this is a subjective one. We think Hotel MiraCosta is much nicer and better themed than Fantasy Springs Hotel. But this is not simply based on our personal tastes.

It’s also worth noting that the Fantasy Springs Hotel entrance closes promptly at 9 pm. This is another thing that’s subject to change–and we hope/assume it will change very soon with negative guest feedback. If not, that means guests of the hotel who plan on staying until the end of the night will need to exit out the front and take the monorail all the way around to get back to their hotel.

Strategically, it also makes more sense to book Hotel MiraCosta. Since you already have unlimited access to Fantasy Springs and its attractions, you don’t need proximity to the land. Having the in-hotel entrance to Fantasy Springs offers absolutely no advantage. Moreover, that unlimited access also means you should resist the temptation of doing Fantasy Springs first.

Hotel MiraCosta is closer to all of the other high-demand attractions in Tokyo DisneySea. Meaning that if you’re going to take advantage of Happy 15, you’re coming out ahead with the proximity offered via Hotel MiraCosta. Your best bets are going to be focusing on Soaring Fantastic Flight, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, or Journey to the Center of the Earth (in that order). Every single one of those rides is closer to Hotel MiraCosta.

Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, but Hotel MiraCosta is nicer. Maybe you’ve seen some pretty photos or effusive praise for Fantasy Springs Hotel–which is also more difficult to book right now, but that’s due to FOMO and the ‘new hotel smell.’ (Also, there’s a good chance the praise you’ve seen is from Westerners who have never stayed at Hotel MiraCosta–they don’t know what they’re missing.)

Ultimately, there are a few options for accessing Fantasy Springs and getting on the attractions, all of which have their own upsides and downsides. In the end, I wouldn’t consider any of these good, bad or ugly–they are all a mix of all three, depending upon your perspective and how things play out during your trip.

As is probably clear from our enthusiasm, we think the Vacation Package is the best option…but even that has the ugliness of creating an inequitable system that significantly advantages those spending the big bucks and disadvantaging regular park guests. We used it with a “don’t hate the player, hate the game” mentality, but still hope Tokyo Disney Resort makes efforts to close the gap on these options and make access easier and without such a steep learning curve.

Planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea Trip Planning Guide! For more specifics, our TDR Hotel Rankings & Reviews page covers accommodations. Our Restaurant Reviews detail where to dine & snack. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money post. Our What to Pack for Disney post takes a unique look at clever items to take. Venturing elsewhere in Japan? Consult our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan and City Guide to Tokyo, Japan.

YOUR THOUGHTS

How will you attempt to access Fantasy Springs and ride the rides? Will you be doing the Tokyo Disney Resort Vacation Package to efficiently experience the new port-of-call? Or will you stick with free Standby Pass or paid Premier Access? Thoughts on rope dropping Tokyo DisneySea, Fantasy Springs Hotel vs. Hotel MiraCosta, or anything else covered here? Wondering how any aspects of visiting work? Curious about crowds or anything else? What do you think of the Peter Pan’s Never Land, Rapunzel’s Forest, and Frozen Kingdom? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!




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