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2026 Japan Park Trip = Any Tips?


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Hello everyone:

Me and my family are looking at maybe doing a trip to Japan, most likely in April or May 2026 but that is not confirmed yet. Any places we should go? We will most likely be going to Osaka and maybe Japan via the Bullet Train, so we are looking at things to do there. We want to go to Universal in Osaka and maybe Tokyo Disney, but we wont just be doing a park trip so we want some suggestions on what else there is to do in Japan. If any previous visitors to Japan could leave some tips here that would be great.

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Went to Japan in December just gone 

April/May is peak season for them with cherry blossoms

their parks are crazy busy so just be prepared

factor in express passes for universal, they are expensive but basically a necessity unless you like spending 90% of your day in queues. We did one day with passes and one without and worked well

We didn’t have time to explore Osaka in our trip so can’t make too many recommendations aside from universal and the aquarium which is quite amazing compared to anything you’ll find in Australia 

 

Tokyo wise - you have Land and Sea. To be done properly you probably need 2 days at each

i’d also recommend Team Labs Planet, Akihabara for all things pop culture, video games and animal cafes. Shibuya for shopping (Pokemon centre, Nintendo store etc). Joypolis is super fun. 
 

no matter how much time you have, it won’t be enough

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Just spoke to one of my family members about it, they want to spend 2 days at Universal as it has Mario, Harry Potter, Jurrasic Park etc. but only wants to spend 1 day combined at Disney. Not sure if that will be enough so I am thinking we might have to cut that out. Also we might go in June/July if it is too busy.

The problem is there would be 11 rides with Express that I would want to use (FOTH, Forbidden Journey, Jurrasic Park, Hollywood Dream, Flying Dinosaur, Space Fantasy, Jaws, Minion Mayhem, Mario Kart, Yoshi and DK) but only 7 slots for the highest express pass. What four would you recommend I cut, or should I buy two express passes.

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Went to Japan a month or so ago and went to Fuji q, nagashima spa land, universal studios and Disneyland. 
fuji q and nagashima weren’t overly busy, but operations weren’t the greatest. I just purchased fast passes to skip the lines on most rides. Cost like 10-15 dollars more to skip the ques was worth it especially if you might only go once in your life. Universal studios and Disneyland were busy asf, I don’t think there are any quiet time for those parks. Mind you we went midweek when it was like 5 degrees and raining and it was still packed. If you’re taller like I am you can use the I’m not sure if I’ll fit on the rides. They then take ya through the back entrance and down to the maintenance bay to see if you fit in a spare cart. From there they take ya to the front. Was worth it, skipped 2 hour plus ques on three different rides. Also just go singles. Did that on flying dinosaur and even though singles was advertised as 120 minutes we got on in about 40. 

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2 hours ago, TBoy said:

 only wants to spend 1 day combined at Disney.

I agree...this is pretty much a waste of time - was in Tokyo in early march and did a day each at Disneyland and DisneySEA - but it was my third visit over the last 15 years...and even then I wish I had time for at least 1 more day at Disneysea. Reports on crowds from Aprils this year are that the first week after Japanese school holidays in April is one to the quietest times of year to go - if you there - April/May check the Calendar to avoid school holidays and golden week and you should be ok. June/July is the wet season  - April/May weather is much more favourable.

 

2 hours ago, TBoy said:

What four would you recommend I cut

Haven't done universal since 2015 - so SML is new...But all those rides on your list have their pros if you haven't been before - but getting in the park at opening to do some big ridea before lines build, then working through your express pass rides could be a viable way to hit most/all of your list. 

Universal is Great - But DisneySEA is a must do IMO.

We also did Teamlab Borderless which was great, Harry Potter Studio Tour was well worthwhile also.

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Imo disneysea over Disney land if you can only do 1. Tokyo tower is amazing, Shinjuku is a nice city, Akiharbara is cool to see, plus we did a heap of tours to, Mt Fuji tour and to see the nuclear bomb museum was an eye opener. We are going again in 2025.

 

 

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We are planning a trip this year and the one thing we have learned is that you need to plan and research a LOT.

I'm hearing you about it not being a park trip, so while it'll be hard for most folk here to not fall back to 'do this park too!' i'll try and balance things out a bit...

First, a couple of things to echo - if you do Disney, DisneySea should be the priority. You should still spend 2 days there minimum, but if you only have one, spend it at Sea. We have 3 weeks, and we've already put down 2 days in each park. But don't not go just because people have said you need more time there. A little time is enough to show you if those people were right, and whether you want to go back again later for a better experience.

Be prepared to be flexible. A lot of things sell out early (including express passes) and in Disney's case - vacation package guests, and then hotel guests, get first dibs on pretty much everything. A lot can be sold out so have alternative options if something isn't available. 

Know the dates things are made available - As an example, Universal passes are dropped around 2 months out. Disney  usually drops hotels & vacation packages 3 months out, but in our case they dropped the packages early due to the opening of fantasy springs. This sort of thing drops at a set time of day, and some of the websites drop from too much traffic \ place you in a queue. (We waited in the queue for 11 hours to secure a Fantasy Springs package, but that's not the average experience). 

Even experiences like Shibuya Sky, some of the Team Lab experiences drop tickets a certain time out, and there is a rush to get all the best spots early. You might still find tickets closer to the day, but they may not be at an ideal time and you'll find yourself compromising things if you haven't planned.

ESPECIALLY because you're planning to go in Sakura season - you should get a good idea of your itinerary NOW and so that you're ready to book accommodations as soon as they're available for your dates (usually 12 months out). You'll also want to be researching all of the attractions you want to do, though with two years before you go there are going to be plenty of changes in that time, so again, be flexible)

Transport. iPhones these days can add an IC card like Suica for general public transport. If you're doing a lot of back and forth between cities, consider whether the JR pass will work, but note that it had a huge price increase last year and you really have to do a lot of long distance shinkansen to make it worthwhile.

We're hitting Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Nara, Nagoya, Hakone and then back to Tokyo, so for us it works - but if you're just hitting the golden triangle, (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto) it generally isn't worth it. Many of our stops don't include parks, so may be closer to the itinerary you're looking for.

Youtube is your best friend. The amount of things we've found, learned and researched by watching youtube is mind blowing. There is so much to learn, and we're still making tweaks to our itinerary based on updated info from the latest videos. 

We've watched a lot of different channels, but the ones that ended up in our subs were:

  • For the bigger parks, TDR Explorer is really informative.
  • For getting around (especially as a family), Kensho Quest has been really good
  • For just seeing what a place \ attraction looks like without much waffle, channels like ITSUKA JAPAN provide walkthroughs
  • Americans documenting their travels (which is great as you learn lessons from them as a result) check out Ordinary Adventures or Tales from our Pocket
  • Hints and tips about everything japan from a local guy starting his own tour guide \ travel company - HARBLIFE
  • Hints and tips about everything japan from a local - TOKYO KENCHAN
  • Hints and tips about everything japan from an american guy who does travel videos everywhere - YELLOW PRODUCTIONS
  • Good japanese advice from a westerner (UK) living and working in japan (but mixed in with silly video collaborations made with friends - Abroad in Japan (he's also written several books under the same name)

 

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Some great advice shared already, outside of Disney/Universal I'd recommend adding at least one or two smaller parks. In Tokyo:

- Yomiuriland has some wonderfully unique attractions (noodle cup rapids is my personal favourite)

- Tokyo Dome City has the excellent Steel Dolphin

- Hanayashiki is peak "weird Japan park"

None of these would necessarily use a full day either.

 

There's also Fuji-Q with its infamously slow operations, I would try to combine this with a visit to Mount Fuji if you're going to bother. A day trip from Tokyo is possible but personally next time I'll be trying to spend at least one night up there.

 

Other random parks to consider:

- Nagashima Spa Land, Japan's answer to Cedar Point

- Greenland, quite big with a healthy dose of oddball, weird and interesting rides

- Parque Espana, takes some getting to but well worth the effort. You may even end up as "King of the Parade" (as happened to my friend, hilarious!)

- Suzuka Circuit, with the famous "scream and it goes faster" coaster

- Nasu Highland, with a spaghetti bowl of coasters straight out of Rollercoaster Tycoon

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