Tokyo Disney Resort has been busy lately, with one massive expansion opening at Tokyo Disneyland in 2020 and another set to open in 2023 at Tokyo DisneySea. Along with that, a Toy Story Hotel just opened near the park. With those projects almost completed, it’s time to look ahead to what’s next. This week, the resort announced that Space Mountain will be re-imagined with an all new story, track and facade, along with a new plaza to enhance Tomorrowland. In this post, we’ll share details on the news and give a few thoughts.
Let’s start with the news, via the Disney Parks Blog:
Tokyo Disney Resort announced that the classic Space Mountain attraction, a guest favorite since Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, will be closing for a major renovation of Tomorrowland starting in 2024. By 2027 the new area will see a newly rebuilt Space Mountain attraction, keeping the original concept as a thrilling indoor coaster that takes guests on a high-speed journey through space, but will include enhanced performance and immersive special effects. These will give guests even more thrills throughout their journey and will provide a greater connection between Earth and the universe.
According to Walt Disney Imagineering Producer Kathleen Davis, “I’m thrilled to introduce this attraction to guests. It’s not only a whole new ride experience, but the story also has so much emotion. Through the queue and then on the ride, we see our connection to our planet and gain a new perspective for how special it is in all the universe. It’s a roller coaster with both thrill and heart.”
In addition to the attraction, an all-new plaza in Tomorrowland will represent a future where humans are in harmony with nature. It will also give guests areas to rest and relax, while enjoying various icons and design elements that will create a sense of hope for the future. In the evenings, guests can enjoy lighting and sound effects that will further enhance their experience in this new area.
“With the overarching story of appreciating our home (Planet Earth), we are making this change to spread awareness of caring for our Earth and what she’s gifted us throughout time as we know it,” said Owen Yoshino, Senior Creative Director for Walt Disney Imagineering.
Look for more details as Imagineers create this exciting new attraction, while keeping true to the spirit of the original that guests love.
In other words, Tokyo Disneyland is taking out the original Space Mountain so that a brand new Space Mountain will come in? Perhaps. The concept art leads me to believe the shell of the old Space Mountain Building will be left there without a complete teardown, and then they’ll build on top of that facade while the inside will be gutted with an entirely new track. Some of that’s conjecture and we’ll have to wait and see. The elongated timeline could mean there’s more of a teardown than I’m expecting.
The project is expected to cost roughly $500 million dollars, which is nothing to sneeze at. If all goes according to plan, that would mean that the OLC (Oriental Land Company, the group that runs Tokyo Disney Resort) would have invested in a 2.5 billion dollar expansion in DisneySea and a nearly 700 million dollar expansion in Tokyo Disneyland’s Fantasyland. That’s along with a new hotel and general upkeep of the resort. Pouring in more than 4 billion dollars into a 2 park resort in less than a decade is phenomenal for us as fans and something we can only dream of stateside.
As for what I actually think of this specific project, I’m excited for it. I do like Tokyo Disneyland’s current Tomorrowland, especially the blue lighting, spires and the way Space Mountain is framed in the design. The further you get into the land, the more issues pop up, both in terms of design and backstory. Tom, of Disney Tourist Blog, does a great job of breaking those down in his post on this subject. I’m eager to see if this new Space Mountain will look to eliminate some of those issues.
Tomorrowland is a much harder target to shoot at than any other castle park land. While Adventure, Frontier and Fantasy all stay stagnant in theme and story, tomorrow is constantly changing. With that, we’ve seen Disneyland and Magic Kingdom recalibrate their own Tomorrowland’s several times with varying degrees of success.
Ultimately, there’s some agreement amongst the parks that a sort of retro future style, with curved lines and eclectic lighting is the typical design. Even then, all of the parks are different. Going by the new concept art, which is a dangerous thing to do, there’s still some of that mixed in but with a far more natural beauty than what we’ve seen. While I find Tomorrowland endlessly interesting as a theme park idea, I’ve never considered it to be pretty. This plaza area that is proposed looks gorgeous and would add some much needed seating to a very busy park.
All that aside, what I’m most interested in is a new story for Space Mountain. Tokyo Disneyland’s current iteration of the ride is the same layout as Disneyland’s, albeit with slightly different effects. Adding in an entirely different story and track is really exciting and should bring even more originality to a resort that’s bursting at the seams with it.
As usual, the news release talks a fairly big game about the coaster being faithful to the original while showing heart. I’m not doubting that but showing heart in what is generally a dark roller coaster seems like a difficult task. A fresh take on the ride is very exciting though and I’m really eager to see what they come up with.
Ultimately, pouring money into new projects while pushing the classics into a new era is what I hope all of the parks strive for and what is happening here. Tokyo Disneyland has a little more leeway in that their Space Mountain isn’t the original attraction. If Disneyland announced this, my feelings may differ. Instead, I’m eager to see a Tomorrowland that may stretch the theme outside of ‘the past’s look into the future’. Yes, it’s risky and could be dated within a few years of debuting but I’m hopeful that this risk will pay off in a big way.
What are your thoughts on a new Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide! You can read more about our travels in Japan by clicking here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. Links to all of those are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!