The years pass quickly, and Tokyo Disneyland is now 20 years old. And it has grown — the new Tokyo Disney Sea offers new attractions for visitors to enjoy. Disney prefers to call us their guests.
The park opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1983. It was the first Disney recreation park to be located outside of the United States. It actually began life much earlier, as a reclamation project undertaken by Oriental Land Company, a Japanese developer, in 1964. The Walt Disney Company became a partner, when in 1977, the park got its name as Tokyo Disneyland. Disneyland staff, known as “Cast Members”, were recruited a full year before opening day.
The original part of Tokyo Disneyland today holds 7 attraction areas. Staring right after the entrance, and going in a clockwise direction, they are the World Bazaar, Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown and Tomorrowland. The World Bazaar starts off appropriately as the entrance to the park. Featured attractions are the Gallery, which displays archives of Disney artwork through the years, and the Penny Arcade where nostalgic arcade games of the past come to live again.
Adventureland is home to the wilder attractions of the park, featuring the Pirates of the Caribbean light and sound show, the Jungle Cruise through a tropical forest full of mystery and hidden dangers, and a ride on an authentic steam-engine train known as the Western River Railroad. You can see the mythical Swiss Robinson Family’s treehouse, built during their years as shipwrecks on a deserted island. The Enchanted Tiki Room features animatronic birds trying to awaken sleeping the Tiki Gods who have fallen asleep.
Head on to WesternLand, where the legendary wild west comes back to life. The Japanese edition of Big Thunder Mountain features as the main event here, rolling in and out of the dry desert mesa that is the centerpiece for “the West”. For the more placid guests, the Mark Twain Riverboat ride gives you a chance to take in a riverside view of the West from a paddlewheel boat. For a more “close to water” experience, take the Tom Sawyer Island Rafts consisting of log rafts evoking the story of Mark Twain’s famous runaway youth. Regular performances appear at the Diamond Horseshoe theater restaurant, where the “proprietor”, Slue Foot Sue runs the show.
Prepare to get wet at Critter Country, when you take to the flume. Brer Rabbit and his friends entertain as you move along the waterway. Move along to the golden age of Disney, when you set foot in Fantasyland. You pass the gates of the enchanted Cinderella’s castle into a world where Disney’s classic characters — Peter Pan, Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Winny the Pooh – hold court. Icons of the original Disneyland, recreated here, include Alice’s Tea Party — the swirling giant teacups which you can spin with a control in the middle, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant — the elevating carousel with Dumbo-shaped cars. For a sterner experience, you may want to brave the Haunted Mansion, where 999 ghouls reside, ready to spook you.
In search of a romantic American past, and a nod to the future
From here, you move on to Toontown — inspired by Roger Rabbit’s fantasy world where real life and cartoons collide. A motion and movie ride called Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin puts you inside a live yellow cab as it races through the streets of toontown to escape the baddie weasels. Your Host and Hostess, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, no less, have their houses in Toontown too. The irascible Donald Duck’s boat, the Daisy (named after his longtime girlfriend) is open for visits here.
Visions of the future, so commonly associated with the Japanese people, appropriately have a place in the Magic Kingdom, and it is called Tomorrowland. Test the latest in arcade games at Starcade, find yourself cut down to size in the presence of giant dogs in MicroAdventure!, or drive a race car on the Grand Circuit Raceway. The latest ride, Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters opens in April this year. Guests get to join in Buzz’s fight against the tyrannical Emperor Zurg.
And then, after all that, make a call at the Ports of DisneySea, though perhaps on another day. This new park, opened in 2001, welcomes you with the AquaSphere —a fountain with a globe as its centerpiece. The first themed Port is the Mediterranean Harbor, with a recreation of Venice and its waterways. The DisneySea Symphony is a spectacular light, fountain and fireworks show for you at night. The volcano at the center of the park features as the backdrop for the show.
Head on to the American Waterfront, which is a recreation of a busy Harbor at the beginning of the 20th Century. Here, you will see vintage buses, board a transit steamer of the kind used to transport people and goods to the ocean liners, and even board an ocean liner in the harbor, the SS Columbia (though it does not actually go anywhere). From the placid waters, you then steam up to Port Discovery, where you get to go into the eye of a storm in a virtual display, or a spin in a boat through mazes and whirlpools in Aquatopia.
From the untamed wild waters and forces of nature, we move on to an ancient civilization at the Lost River Delta. Search for the lost Fountain of Youth in the Central American jungle on the Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull ride. Sail on to the next port: the Arabian Coast. The stories from the 1001 nights leap out, with Sinbad’s Seven Voyages and the Magic Lamp Theater featuring Aladdin’s wisecracking genie, released from the lamp.
On to the gentler shores of Mermaid Lagoon, the world of Ariel the Mermaid is brought to the surface (or rather, imagine that you have been brought beneath the sea), with her friend Flounder. Move on to Mysterious Island to meet the reclusive Captain Nemo, and follow him on his voyage of discovery beneath the seas.
And there you have it — a whirlwind tour of Disney’s Resorts in Tokyo. Make a date with the park real soon, for an unforgettable family experience.