I’ve made no bones about it, Tokyo Disney Resort is home to two of the very best Disney Parks in the world. Tokyo Disneyland plays its role as a greatest hits castle park, taking the best from Disneyland and Magic Kingdom as well as adding it’s own amazing attractions and quirks to make one glorious iteration. Tokyo DisneySea, the other theme park at TDR, is the best theme park in the world and I know that’s subjective but I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument on why it might not be. Suffice to say, Tokyo Disney Resort (and Japan) holds a special place in my heart.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Tokyo post, due to obvious travel reasons, but it seemed like a good time to head back over in a continuation of a previous post. Last year, I went through ten reasons why everyone should visit Tokyo Disney Resort. It was a broad post, covering the experience as a whole. Today I thought I’d get into more specifics with ten underappreciated things about TDR.
Now, to be clear, these might not all be underappreciated by the locals of the theme park or even by frequent overseas visitors. Instead I hope this post points out a few lands, attractions, shows, etc. that those who have never been probably don’t know about. Without further ado, let’s get to the list!
The thesis of Tokyo DisneySea can be summed up in the castle grounds that rest at the foot of Mount Prometheus. Fortress Explorations, along with the park’s excellent restaurant, Magellan’s, all reside in some beautiful buildings that are meant to explore. With an exploding volcano overhead, this walkthrough attraction offers a little bit of Tom Sawyer Island and a little bit of science museum. It’s absolutely gorgeous and full of fun little exhibits that any age would enjoy.
With a host of great attractions and shows, Fortress Explorations might be tempting to skip over or not give diligent time. Instead, it is worth at least an hour of your day. In a park built on the basis of adventure and connection, this attraction shows how we’re connected and does it in a beautiful, unexpected way.
There’s a chance that even those who haven’t traveled to Japan have heard about the service and kindness extended to guests. While it’s a serious culture in some aspects, the service we experienced at hotels was unlike anything I’ve had stateside. We were shown to our room by a hostess who walked us from the lobby and every detail was perfect. All of the shampoo, toothbrushes, slippers and anything else you can think of was replenished in full daily, no matter how much we used. That is just one example of the service we experienced.
On top of the exceptional service, we encountered so many kind people along the way in our travels. Cast Members were all above and beyond what I’ve ever experienced before. People went out of their way to make sure we felt welcomed and to let us know that they were excited we were there. That is rare and was an amazing feeling.
Splash Mountain Mini Land
If you’re one of those people who thinks Splash Mountain shouldn’t be constrained by the confines of one (umm….) mountain, then welcome to the club. Tokyo Disneyland agrees and that’s why there’s more to Splash than just the ride and queue.
Along with the famed attraction, this little area tucked inside of Westernland includes a counter-service restaurant, Grandma Sara’s Kitchen, a snack stand, and a few paths to explore. The restaurant especially is a wonderful addition in terms of atmosphere, paying ode to Splash while also standing on its own. This area isn’t a reason to travel to Tokyo Disneyland but it is a reason why you’ll remember it.
Tokyo DisneySea is made up of different lands, called Ports of Call. Arabian Coast is one of those ports and is simply breath taking. For the stateside Disney fans, think of the Morocco Pavilion’s meandering paths in Epcot. Arabian Coast has similar paths but is much larger and opens up to breathtaking courtyards.
The colors in the area are vibrant and the details are countless. The land also possesses Disney’s best dark ride, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage as well as a few other attractions. Arabian Coast would easily be the best land in 90% of Disney Parks around the world. Instead there’s a decent case that it might be third or fourth best at DisneySea.
More Room to Explore
This is one of those things that is hard to explain but you know it when you’re there. Maybe that’s not a good thing for a blogger to admit. Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea feel as if there aren’t as many walls or fences up to block their paths. That might be due to guests having more respect for where they should or shouldn’t go? Either way, this leads to these parks feeling more explorative. There’s been several times where I’ve wondered if the path I was following was actually allowed. Turns out it is and it usually led to a wonderful endpoint.
Tokyo Disney Resort also had slightly larger paths to accommodate crowds. This was a bit of a bizarre feeling at first but I did end up enjoying it.
This is a thing that few people care about but those that do really care. Tokyo Disney Resort’s theme parks have remarkable sight lines. These parks are so detailed that guests will only see what Imagineers want them to see. Outside of an amazing city view from Tokyo Disneyland’s Swiss Family Treehouse, there isn’t a view of another land or show building that seems out of place.
This is especially true in DisneySea, where the park seems to go on for miles and miles thanks to the Pacific being across a wall. The water connects everything in that park but the sightlines are what makes it seem so effortlessly beautiful.
I mean, look at that. It doesn’t look very good, right? This is the best snack I’ve ever had at a Disney Park. This pizza covered in seafood and marinara sauce was fantastic and only about five dollars. We had it on our last day there or else I would have been tempted to have it multiple times a day. There are random moments in my life where I just start to crave this pizza. It’s a problem.
The American Waterfront Theming
DisneySea’s American Waterfront probably isn’t underappreciated. It’s home to several amazing attractions and the best Disney stage show out there. What you may not know is just how well the area is themed. The majority of the land is reminiscent of New York in the industrial age, showcasing the city as it turns into a modern marvel. There’s a sense of freedom and adventure but it’s counterbalanced by undertones of greed, a critique that is hard to pull off in a theme park. It’s done perfectly here.
The land does extend beyond the New York idea, moving on to Cape Cod albeit in a less serious take on the source material. There is so much to explore here, with incredible detail in the lounges, posters and architecture. American Waterfront is a peak in themed areas.
The Full Country Bear Show
Yeah, okay, I realize this one appeals to a small faction of guests and readers. But if you’re like me, you long for the Country Bear Jamboree full show. Everyone should obviously be like me. Unfortunately, you have to go all the way to Tokyo to see it. Tokyo Disneyland’s version is sang in roughly equal Japanese and English and it might add to the overall experience honestly. TDL also does both holiday versions of the show when it’s not running the original. This is the all the motive you need to visit Tokyo Disney Resort.
Tokyo Disneyland, and Japan in general, is home to wonderful transportation. The country has an amazing train system that will get you nearly anywhere you want to go. Inside of Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland features a train loop that is different than a normal castle park but no less beautiful. Likewise, the boat ride and canoes offer some beautiful views.
Over at DisneySea, there are boats aplenty to ride including a beautiful gondola attraction. There’s also the Electric Railway that takes guests high above the park’s walkways to where you can see the outstretched ocean or get a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Harbor. And don’t even get me started on the resort’s monorails with Mickey Mouse windows and handles! The transportation is an integral part of Tokyo Disney Resort and Japan as a whole.