Ever since my very first visit to Tokyo Disney Sea, I’ve been captivated by that addicting Disney atmosphere and magic. Maybe at some point, I was doused with some fairy dust because honestly, I can’t keep myself away from the parks for too long. Although I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a Disney fanatic, I definitely can say I know the parks like the back of my hand. In this article, I will cover the 5 most important things you should know before planning your next trip to Disney.

1. Easy Access to Park Tickets & Early Park Entry with Hotel Visit

Visiting Tokyo Disney is an adventure, but if you’re wanting to get the most out of your Disney experience, a hotel stay might do the trick. Not only is a Disney hotel visit in itself a truly magical event, but certain perks only come with staying at a Disney hotel.

One of the biggest perks is that park tickets are guaranteed with a hotel stay. This is a simple way to secure tickets for the parks without going through the hassle and stress of waiting to purchase tickets online. This is especially useful during crowded times of the year, most notably during holiday times when tickets on the website sell out quickly.

Another advantage to staying in Disney hotels is something called “Happy Entry.” With Happy Entry, hotel guests can enter parks 15 minutes earlier than general ticket holders. In some cases, parks are ready and rides are completely running before opening, and in other cases, your Happy Entry will just get you a head start into the park and on the app.

Don’t worry if a hotel is off the table at this time, even without Happy Entry, on my last trip to Disney I was able to get into both parks up to 30 minutes early just by lining up at the entry gates an hour before the parks opened.

2. Outside Food & Beverages Allowed

Dietary concerns? Going non-dairy for the next couple of months? Don’t worry! Disney parks allow outside food and non-alcoholic beverages without any hassle. If you’ve got strict dietary restrictions, or if you just want to have a backup snack packed away for those just-in-case hangry moments, this is great news!

On my last visit to the parks, I realized I was faced with a bit of a challenge since I’ve been trying my best to adhere to a non-dairy diet. Suffice it to say, I’ve been in denial of my lactose intolerance for far too long. I was also accompanied by a companion that keeps kosher and soon both of us realized that finding something to eat would be a challenge. Luckily, we ended up bringing our snacks into the park without facing any issues and our day at Disney went smoothly without any growling stomachs.

3. Allergen Information & Special Dietary Meals Provided at Parks

I get it, bringing in your own food, especially if you are traveling long distances, can be a bit of a hassle. If bringing food doesn’t align with your schedule or if you just don’t want to carry all that extra weight, there are still options for you!

If you’re like me and enjoy researching all of the delicious food options Disney has to offer, then the park’s Allergen Information Site is the perfect place to start. After agreeing to the terms and conditions, press the allergen information tab; here you can specify your search by park, restaurant, or allergen of concern. Another important resource is the Guests with Dietary Limitationstab. This portion of the website will give you the scoop on which restaurants serve vegetarian meals, special dietary meals, and even which spots will reheat your pre-prepared meals.

On my last visit to Tokyo Disney Sea, my friend tried to ask for her meal without a specific sauce that contained shellfish, even though this request was not due to an allergy, the kitchen wouldn’t allow such substitutions or omissions. Please keep this in mind in preparation for your next park visit!

4. Entry Request, Standby Pass, & Disney Premier Access Explained

From phasing out fast passes to the required use of the Disney Resort App at parks, Disney tends to make changes more often than not. Entry Requests, Standby Passes and Disney Premier Access are the most important tools for utilizing park perks, and for those who have yet to use the app, it’s an ever-changing point of confusion that needs some breaking down.

First, make sure you download the Disney Resort App in preparation for your park visit and make an account if you haven’t already on the “Reservations and Tickets” tab of the site (if you’ve booked tickets or hotels online, you’ll use the same log-in for the app as you would on the website). The app will let you scan your tickets upon park entry, show ride wait times, allow bookings for restaurants, and allow you to use Entry Request, Standby Pass, and Disney Premier Access. Basically, the app is your window to everything Disney park related.

Entry Request is now only used for character greetings and shows. Classic standby or waiting in line the old-fashioned way has returned except during peak hours and holidays in which you may need to get a Standby Pass to enter some shops and rides. With the standby pass, you’ll still be waiting in line, but you’ll have exclusive access to seasonal rides and experiences!

If you want to reserve a spot on a coveted ride and skip a big portion of the line you’ll need to get Disney Premier Access…for a fee. There’s been a bit of an uproar among the Disney fan community with this recent change, but in my opinion, this was inevitable. For more information on which rides provide Disney Premier Access and how much it’ll cost you, refer to Disney’s site here.

5. Issues with Foreign Credit Cards when Purchasing Tickets Online

For those with plans of reserving hotels and park tickets online using their foreign credit card, get ready for some hurdles. There have been many recorded issues of the website rejecting foreign credit cards due to either credit cards being flagged for unusual activity or 3D Secure Authentication not being prepared ahead of time on your card.

To avoid these issues, many have found it especially useful to call their bank before purchasing tickets and reserving hotels. First, let your bank know you’ll be purchasing tickets in Japan so that a purchasing window can be put in place. Then if you haven’t already, make sure you have set up a 3D Secure Authentication with the credit card you’ll be using for the parks.

At the point of purchasing tickets or hotels, after inputting your credit card information, a generated page from your bank will appear and you’ll need to enter a code that will only be supplied if you have 3D Secure Authentication setup on your card.  Make sure to ask your bank how this code will be supplied. Please note that 3D Secure Authentication is also used with Japanese cards on the Disney tickets and reservations website!

For those unable to purchase tickets online, there are a few other options for purchasing tickets such as at convenience stores, Disney stores, and travel agencies.