I had the privilege to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort a few weeks ago and I have to share some of the most surprising things I found.
Tokyo Disneyland is mostly trapped in the past!
For a theme park next to the most incredibly-themed park, that being Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland still feels like it's trapped in its first few years. Now, for those of you that don't know the history of this park, in the late 1970s, the Oriental Land Company approached The Walt Disney Company about building a Disney Park in Japan. Disney said "no," but chose to license the theme to them while maintaining creative control. Now, I am one all for nostalgia, but some areas of this park seem to be kept in a time bubble where as others are the newest most state of the art attraction like Pooh's Hunny Hunt. Walking through, I felt like I was jumping from one decade to another in the matter of foot steps.
The Haunted Mansion is one of the biggest examples of this park not moving forward, with original "follow eye portraits", non-floating Leota, and the "ghosts that follow you home" being the same basic movement as opening day this attraction is what guests would have experienced in 1971 Magic Kingdom. In the past 15 years or so, the Haunted Mansion of MK has gotten some of the most advanced upgrades between the sound system, the endless staircase room, and as of late the ghosts interacting with the MagicBand+ you get off that attraction and are wowed. But in Tokyo Disneyland, I got off and felt like I was transported back to 1980 and my first ride on Haunted Mansion in MK with every bit being as it was down to the old pop-up heads and attic scene.
Fantasyland is another prime example of holding onto the past. This land is an amalgamation of Magic Kingdom of 1971 and Disneyland's New Fantasyland of 1983, with some facades being a life of Magic Kingdom due to the castle courtyard being the almost exact same but attractions being done the old tent style that is still prominent in MK for Peter Pan and it's a small world. The attractions of this area have not been touched, just as talked about with the Haunted Mansion. This includes Peter Pan's Flight and Snow White's Adventure being copies of MK and Pinocchio's Daring Journey being a copy of the Disneyland attraction. it's a small world, while closed, still had the same facade of Disneyland of the 80s with the bright pastels and the spinner attractions have not been changed since the day they were installed.
For me, one of the most jarring time capsules had to be Space Mountain. During construction of Tokyo Disneyland, Space Mountain had just been opened in Disneyland with an updated track and smaller footprint than the original one in the Magic Kingdom, so it was a perfect fit there.Fast-forward to 40 years later and the Disneyland's Space having added a fulling synchronized soundtrack and the ability to change themes with very minimal downtime the younger brother in Tokyo Disneyland has none of that! It is clear that the load area had gone through a pretty extensive update in recent years, but that was it. The cars have not been touched since opening day with no onboard sound system or any changes inside the mountain.
But as much as it Tokyo Disneyland is trapped in the past, when they move forward boy do they move forward. See what I mean on the next page.