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Stress-free travel with kids from your hotel to Tokyo Disney and back again
We are going to let you in on a secret: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea may be the world’s best Disney theme parks. As a popular family destination, Japan’s two Disney parks aren’t only convenient for visitors in Asia. They’re removed from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. They bring a touch of the familiar with a distinct Japanese character to global Disney fans. And, these Tokyo Disney hotels with free shuttles make it easy to go between your hotel and the parks.
Our family of four visited Tokyo Disney Resort (TDR) and DisneySea in 2023, but we didn’t stay in one of the branded Disney hotels. Disney hotels are a wonderful way to anchor your Tokyo Disney experience. However, we found that staying in a non-Disney hotel was better for our family budget.
Plus, we could still take advantage of free shuttles to the train station. That made it easy to travel between our hotel, the parks, and back again. Along with where we stayed, here’s our guide to 5 other non-Disney hotels with free Tokyo Disney shuttles.
Benefits of staying at Non-Disney hotels
For starters, a bit of technicality. The 6 hotels we’re discussing are official Tokyo Disney Resort® hotels. There are lots of other official Tokyo Disney Resort® hotels too. They’re not Disney branded or owned and operated by Disney. Instead, this affiliation gives guests access to different amenities and conveniences. Here are a few of those perks:
- Free shuttle to/from Maihama Station, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and partner hotels
- Guests can purchase park tickets at the hotel
- Sometimes Disney guarantees park ticket availability for hotel guests. This perk has been in flux due to post-pandemic attendance restrictions at the Disney parks. In time, it may become more consistent again.
Disney’s own hotels offer amazing amenities and can turn your stay itself into a side attraction to your time at Disney. However, staying at a non-Disney hotel offers some perks and benefits, too.
TDR and DisneySea are in the Maihama area, east of Tokyo and near the northern end of Tokyo Bay. However, a short train ride from Tokyo Station is all it takes to get here. Once you’ve arrived at Maihama Station, a loop monorail connects you to Disney properties and accommodation.
We also enjoyed how this area feels both connected to Tokyo yet removed. Many hotels also connect to broad sidewalks, offering easy strolls around the area, with views of Tokyo Bay and the city beyond.
Non-Disney hotels are in the same overall area as the Disney hotels too. Since they’re only a few minutes from each park, this convenient location makes them a great place to stay with your kids.
Non-Disney hotels are more affordable for our family budget. When we go to a Disney park, we aren’t there for the hotel. Our family goes to the park from open to close—or “from rope drop to kick out,” as Anthony likes to put it. Where we stay is primarily for us to sleep, bathe, and have breakfast.
We prioritize saving on our accommodation, while also staying somewhat close to the park. That gives us a balance of good value for money along with ease of access. We not only gain more time at the park. We can dedicate more of our family travel budget to park days instead of our accommodation.
Varied accommodation options
Brands such as Hilton and Marriott operate hotels in the Tokyo Disney area, as do a range of other quality hotel brands. If you’re trying to maximize travel rewards, for example, staying with one of these types of properties might be better for your rewards.
Amenities and services
Some properties have pools. Others have breakfast buffets, or perhaps a conbini (convenience store) in the lobby. Here’s how we typically approach figuring out what amenities are useful for us:
If we’re planning a down day or non-park half-day in between our park days, a pool comes in handy. However, if you plan to use pretty much every moment you can to be at Disney’s parks, a pool isn’t necessary.
As much as Anthony enjoys using a hotel fitness center for yoga in the morning, our park days are intense. We often put in over 20,000 steps (about 9 miles, or 15 km), so our planning doesn’t prioritize a fitness center. The park is our gym!
Breakfast buffet or restaurant
If it’s easier to start your day with the hotel restaurant or buffet, this can be useful. Check rates, though, as per-person costs of approximately US$20–30 can stack up quickly for a family.
We preferred keeping simple breakfast items in our room, such as yogurt and fruit, followed up by a mid-morning snack at the park. Otherwise we dine at the park, with a quick snack in the room at night.
Conbini (convenience store; katakana, コンビニ)
Japan’s conbinis are a source not only for convenience foods, but fruit, veggies, and balanced prepared meals. While we gladly dine at the park, for in-room snacks and breakfasts, we stock up at conbinis.
Hint: The Lawson’s inside the Hilton ground floor was our go-to conbini, and it was walking distance from our nearby hotel. In the evening, the line can be long with people stocking up for a late dinner or tomorrow’s breakfast. Don’t freak out when you see a line outside the door. It advances faster than you might think.
Free shuttle to monorail station
A car isn’t necessary to get to or around the Tokyo Disneyland area. Hotels in the Maihama area for Disneyland and DisneySea typically offer access to a free shuttle that heads to the nearest monorail station. An affordable monorail, known officially as the Disney Resort Line, runs on a regular loop between four stops:
- Tokyo Disneyland Station: Stop here for Disneyland itself, as well as the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel
- Resort Gateway Station: This is the hub for Ikspiari (a shopping center a little like Downtown Disney in Anaheim). It also connects you to the Maihama JR Station, your hub for trains back to Tokyo or other parts of Japan’s rail network).
- Tokyo DisneySea Station: Main stop for the entrance to Tokyo DisneySea
- Bayside Station: Hub for Tokyo Disneyland Official Hotels, such as the Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel, Hilton Tokyo Bay, Tokyo Bay Hotel Tokyu, Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay, and the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel
From right outside our hotel, we ride the shuttle a couple of minutes to Bayside Station, and then we are on our way. (We’ll talk more about trains in a bit as well.)
Most hotels offer some sort of store with Disney-themed merchandise. They may also have some basic food, snacks, and beverages.
Different hotels offer different amenities, such as spas or family rooms. We found it useful to understand what we wanted out of our time in the Tokyo Disneyland area. Our focus was on the parks themselves. For example, when it turned out our hotel’s spa was closed for remodeling, that wasn’t a big deal for us. However, we found it convenient that our room was ready for a family of four, especially since each kid could each have their own bed.
Use trains to get to Tokyo Disneyland hotels
The train is where it’s at for traveling around the Tokyo area. Whether you fly into Haneda or are already in Tokyo, odds are you’ll make your way to Tokyo Station. From there, it’s about 15–20 minutes by train to reach Maihama Station, your gateway to the hotels, monorail, and parks themselves.
The Disney area is in between Tokyo and Narita Airport, however. Flying into Narita and going straight to the Disney area? Trains run along Narita Sky Access Line from Narita Airport to Higashi-Matsudo Station. At Higashi-Matsudo, a transfer to the JR Musashino Line will take you right to Maihama Station.
When in Japan, your smartphone is your travel assistant. Mapping apps such as Google Maps also include schedules and routes for Japan’s train system. Anytime we were taking trains, Jodie had Google Maps up on her phone. At a glance, we could check train times and know our route when transferring to different trains or lines.
Getting around the train system is much easier with a prepaid Suica or Pasmo card. You can load these with cash from machines at pretty much any Japanese train station. From there, simply tap as you enter or exit a train area. Plus, you can use these cards like debit cards at vending machines, shops, and more.
6 Tokyo Disney hotels with free shuttles to the monorail
We researched many Tokyo Disney hotels with free shuttles located around Maihama. Various Disney, partner, and non-affiliated accommodations are available throughout the Maihama area. We’re going to focus on the 6 hotels near Bayside Station, on the southwest side of Maihama. These properties are official Disney hotels, near both TDL and DisneySea. Each offers a free shuttle that gets you to and from Maihama Station, or from your front door to the monorail for your park days. We’ll give a short and sweet breakdown of each one, along with where we stayed and why:
- Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel First Resort
- Grand Nikko Tokyo Bay Maihama
- Hilton Tokyo Bay
- Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay
- Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel
- Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel
Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel First Resort
In Japanese: 東京ベイ舞浜ホテル ファーストリゾート
For themed rooms, the Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel First Resort is pretty tough to beat. With themes evoking castles, the American Wild West, and a cruise ship, your room can be a sort of background mirth and joy. It’ll probably also inspire some make-believe play in the kids and adults!
Three restaurants center on sushi, California-style dishes, and French-focused fine dining.
If we were staying here, we might try to land a themed room. We enjoy the calm of our room to help us recharge for our next Disney day. But the idea of a theme brings Disney joy back with us and gives it a place to play.
Grand Nikko Tokyo Bay Maihama
In Japanese: グランドニッコー東京ベイ 舞浜
Views of Tokyo Bay, a wonderland covered courtyard, and expansive buildings that echo the wonder of nearby Disney parks?
We almost stayed at the Grand Nikko Tokyo Bay Maihama.
The hotel’s Le Jardin restaurant appealed, with its diverse breakfast buffet and a la carte dinner menu. During a non-parks down day, we could imagine sitting in the atrium by calm water. The Grand Nikko also delights with a range of room designs, and we loved the colors and layouts.
For a scenic stay right across from TDL, we’d look hard at staying here on our next visit.
Hilton Tokyo Bay
In Japanese: ヒルトン東京ベイ
The Hilton Tokyo Bay combines Disney elements with the trademark Hilton class. Along with offering a free shuttle, the Hilton is right across the street from the monorail’s Bayside Station. Plus, if you have or are building loyalty with the Hilton Honors rewards program, a stay here can be useful for accruing or using points.
An indoor pool and fitness center are on site. We would have kept those in mind for a non-park day, such as poolside family time by the pool. Themed rooms with whimsical colors and art are also available.
While we didn’t stay at this Hilton, we visited daily. The ground-floor level contains a Lawson convenience store. At night, after our Disney adventures, Anthony would wander down with his backpack. From fresh fruit to prepared meals, he could quickly and affordably pick up food for the following morning’s breakfast. Four restaurants offer Chinese-style cuisine, to-go dishes, a dessert buffet, breakfast buffet, Italian-style dining, and a bar.
Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay
In Japanese: ホテルオークラ東京ベイ
From the marble bathrooms to the southern European-style courtyard, elegance defines the Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay. Standard rooms and suites are spacious, with varying levels of formal decor depending on your room choice. We loved the idea of staying in Japanese-style rooms, but they weren’t available. Next time, we will try again.
The Okura is also across from Bayside Station. Its multiple restaurants offer Chinese, Japanese, and European-style menus. As parents, we appreciated that there was an in-house pharmacy, should we need basic medical supplies.
Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel
In Japanese: シェラトン・グランデ・トーキョーベイ・ホテル
Part of the Marriott brand, we’d consider the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel especially for using or cashing in some of our Marriott Bonvoy points. The 3-bed rooms help us better fit the entire family. Besides the indoor pool, there’s a Japanese-style bath, and that sounds perfect after an intense Disney day.
Kid activity zones and an on-site laundry give more options for things to do (and resetting the family wardrobe). However, the Sheraton doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi.
Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel (we stayed here!)
In Japanese: 東京ベイ舞浜ホテル
And for the grand finale… the hotel where we stayed! The Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel won us over as a sweet spot of budget and location. The view of TDL from our ninth-floor window didn’t hurt either. Looking down on the cylindrical atrium wowed us, especially when the light was just right in the morning and evening.
We ate in the hotel restaurant once for dinner and for the breakfast buffet. Our udon bowls were delicate yet filling, with a trace of sweet onion in the broth. Breakfast offerings had us alternating between Japanese and Western foods. We headed to our first day at Tokyo Disneyland with full, happy bellies.
From just outside the lobby, we could catch the free shuttle to the nearest monorail stop. The monorail took us to Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea, depending on our day’s agenda. The calm area around the hotel also made for a peaceful walk, with views of Tokyo Bay.
Instead of using the Maihama’s inside shop, however, we preferred the Lawson in the Hilton for its more expansive options. When we were out and about, the cylindrical-style building was easy to spot.
You can’t go wrong with these Tokyo Disney hotels with free shuttles
All the Tokyo Disney hotels with free shuttles offer great amenities such as in-house shops, comfortable rooms, and airy atriums. You could have a lovely stay at any of these properties. The right choice for your Tokyo Disney trip comes down to the sweet spot of amenities, price, and availability that works for you and your family.
We enjoyed our stay at the Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel. We know we could stay there again, or at any other Tokyo Disney properties, with total confidence. Whichever hotel you choose, you’ll have a comfortable, family friendly stay with your kids.
Above all, the free shuttle easily gets you to and from the monorail. Then you and your family can focus on what you brought here. You can make memories at two of the world’s most amazing Disney parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.