Fun in the city: 5 recommended theme parks in Tokyo
Whenever you travel on a holiday with your family or friends, there'll always be some reason or another to slot an amusement park into your schedule. Be it to give the young ones in your family a chance to have fond childhood memories, to see which one of your friend group has the lowest threshold for roller coasters, or even as a golden opportunity to have some fun with your significant other, theme parks are places that you always end up enjoying far more than you’d expect.
While it is well-known to everyone that Tokyo (東京) is home to one of the biggest and most popular theme parks in the entire world, it might come as a surprise that the metropolis actually has many more theme parks scattered around, waiting to be explored. From deeply immersive franchise experiences to diverse entertainment complexes, here are five theme park recommendations for the next time you get a chance to travel to Tokyo!
1. Tokyo Dome City
Whether you’re there for the spa or for a sporting event, there’s always something exciting to look forward to in this City. (Image credit: photoAC)
While Tokyo Dome City (東京ドームシティ) may be a near and dear household name to the residents of Tokyo, it is still a place that many foreign tourists are unfamiliar with. Tokyo Dome is the premier indoor stadium of Tokyo, where several high-profile sporting events and musical concerts are held every year. Completed in 1988, it forms the massive entertainment complex of Tokyo Dome City along with many other entertainment venues in the vicinity.
(Image credit: IQRemix / CC BY-SA 2.0)
As far as amusement parks go, Tokyo Dome City is as well-balanced as it can get. Thrill-seekers will enjoy the rides of Tokyo Dome City Attractions, a free-to-enter park where you can purchase tickets for individual rides. Shopaholics can browse a selection of over 50 stores spread throughout the City, specialising in a range of goods from clothes to collectibles. And at the end of a long day, kick back and relax at Spa LaQua, one of the largest and most elaborate hot spring spas in Tokyo.
Tokyo Dome City (東京ドームシティ)
Address: 1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0004
Nearest station: Suidōbashi Station (水道橋駅)
Opening hours: 10am–8pm
Admission fee: Free (Tokyo Dome attractions range from ¥450 to ¥1,200 per ride)
2. Sanrio Puroland
You can judge a book by its cover here, as it gets even more colourful and fantastical on the inside. (Image credit: Alvin Leong / CC BY-SA 2.0)
A wonderland for lovers of all things kawaii, Sanrio Puroland (サンリオピューロランド) is an indoor theme park featuring the cute and popular mascots of the Sanrio Company, including Hello Kitty, Gudetama, and Pompompurin. This theme park has a focus on character sets and immersion rather than rides, featuring attractions such as a tour of Hello Kitty’s Mansion or the Sanrio Character Boat Ride.
Cameras and Instagram accounts are a must-have before you visit this place, as you’ll find yourself spoilt for photo-taking opportunities with every step you take. From the large fluffy mascots strolling the premises, the whimsical parade that marches through the villages, and a neverending selection of themed food and shopping, this place is sure to delight the photographer in everyone. With its character-heavy attractions and focus on the kawaii aesthetic, Sanrio Puroland may not appeal to everybody, but it will certainly be a must-visit for anyone who holds these characters close to their hearts.
Sanrio Puroland (サンリオピューロランド)
Address: 1-31 Ochiai, Tama-ku, Tokyo 206-8588
Nearest station: Keio-Tama-Center Station (京王多摩センター駅)
Opening hours: 9:30am–5pm
Admission fee (Weekdays): ¥3,300 (Adults), ¥2,500 (Seniors & Children)
Admission fee (Weekends / Special Holidays): ¥3,900 (Adults), ¥2,800 (Seniors & Children)
Admission fee (Afternoon Passport): ¥2,200 (Adults), ¥2,000 (Seniors & Children)
3. Tokyo Joypolis
Every inch of Joypolis feels like the interior of a futuristic space shuttle. (Image credit: Shutterstock)
Another indoor theme park at the opposite end of the spectrum, Tokyo Joypolis (ジョイポリス) is a facility dedicated to cutting edge technologies in entertainment. Situated in the heart of Odaiba, this three-storey facility on the inside of DECKS Tokyo Beach shopping mall (デックス 東京ビーチ) is a prime offering by SEGA, a video game company which is also famous for its hundreds of arcades spread throughout the country.
Don’t let its location on the inside of a shopping mall fool you—Tokyo Joypolis makes use of every square metre to cram a surprisingly large number of rides and attractions. In addition to boasting several virtual reality theatre coaster rides, they actually have a fully realised indoor rollercoaster snaking through its complex which you can control using a music rhythm game! Every one of its attractions makes full use of state-of-the-art technology, from zombie tag shootouts, horror houses, and even fortune-telling.
Tokyo Joypolis (東京ジョイポリス)
Address: 3F–5F DECKS Tokyo Beach, 1−6−1, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-0091
Nearest station: Tokyo Teleport Station (東京テレポート駅)
Opening hours: 11am–7pm
Admission fee: ¥800 (Adults), ¥500 (Children)
Admission fee (Passport Ticket, inclusive of rides): ¥4,500 (Adults), ¥3,500 (Children)
Admission fee (Night Passport Ticket, after 4pm): ¥3,500 (Adults), ¥2,500 (Children)
4. Harry Potter Studio Tour (2023)
You’ll certainly believe in magic once you experience the fantastic world of movie-making. (Image credit: Sara Castaneda / Unsplash)
This one is still on the way, but anticipation is high for this recently announced upcoming attraction. Scheduled to be built on the former grounds of the recently closed Toshimaen Amusement Park, this will mark the second time a major Harry Potter-related permanent attraction will open in Japan, after the Wizarding World zone in Universal Studios Japan Osaka.
If its London counterpart is anything to go by, this new studio promises to be amazing. (Image credit: Martin Pettitt / CC BY 2.0)
While many details remain scarce for the yet-unnamed Harry Potter attraction, it has been confirmed that it will be very similar or even identical to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. That attraction in particular is a meticulously crafted recreation of the sets and locales as seen in the Harry Potter film franchise, with visitors able to walk through and experience the movie magic of places such as Diagon Alley, the Great Hall of Hogwarts, and Platform 9¾. Potterheads will most certainly have one more thing to look forward to on our next trip to Japan!
*Opening in 2023!*
Address: 3-25-1 Koyama, Nerima-ku, Tokyo 176-0022
Nearest station: Toshimaen Station (豊島園駅)
5. Tokyo Disneyland • Tokyo DisneySea
Who could ever forget the House of Mouse when talking about theme parks? (Image credit: Ester Marie Doysabas & Roméo A. / Unsplash)
We’ll be ending off this list with the most popular theme park in Japan by a long shot. Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド) is a park that needs no introduction, but Tokyo DisneySea (東京ディズニーシー), which sits directly next to it, may cause a bit of confusion for first-time visitors. In essence, the attractions of Tokyo DisneySea have a sort of “water” theme attached to them (think Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Mediterranean Harbour, etc) and are far more unique and well-developed than those at Disneyland. The rides of Disneyland are also a lot more subdued and relaxed as they are aimed towards young children, while the thrill rides of DisneySea may be more appealing to those who want a bit more excitement in their theme parks.
It really does feel like you’re on a holiday in a different country when you stroll the canals of Tokyo DisneySea. (Image credit: Sara Castaneda / Unsplash)
Both parks are equally immersive and nostalgic, with the Venetian and deep-sea kingdom architecture of DisneySea rivalling the classic Disney movie atmosphere of Disneyland. My personal recommendation is to dedicate at least two separate days to visit Disneyland and DisneySea each, but if you really only have the time or budget to fit one into your itinerary, then experiencing DisneySea should be your priority by far.
Tokyo Disney Resort
Address: 1-1 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0031
Nearest station: Maihama Station (舞浜駅)
Opening hours: 10am–7pm (Shortened due to COVID-19 countermeasures.)
Admission fee: Varies by date and season, pre-booking via the Tokyo Disney Resort Online Reservations & Tickets website or official travel partners required.
*For more information about pricing, click here.
Did any of these parks tickle your fancy? It is easy to be astounded by the breadth of the hundreds of theme parks scattered all across Japan, so the fact that so many of them can already be easily accessed from just Tokyo alone is sure to guarantee options for many trips to come. So whether you have a lot of time to kill or have a specific itch for a ride to get your adrenaline going, I hope this list has given you a few ideas as for your next pit stop adventure in Tokyo!
Header image credit: photoAC