As we prepare for the holidays, we look to traditions for comfort. It’s likely that many of your holiday traditions involve Disney. When does it feel like the Season has begun for you? When you see the giant tree twinkling on Main Street? When you sing along with the Candle Lighting choir? Join us as we share how the Christmas season is celebrated at Tokyo Disneyland.
The theme this year is “Christmas Fantasy 2016.” With a bit of fairy dust, Tokyo Disneyland closed on October 31st after Halloween, then opened on November 1st with some Christmas decorations – and all Christmas merchandise – in place. There wasn’t a hint of Halloween anywhere. (And if you’re looking for discounted Halloween merchandise on November 1st, you’re out of luck!)
Officially, Tokyo Disney’s Christmas season began on November 8, 2016 (the premiere date for the holiday shows and parades). We’ll take you through the festivities at Tokyo Disneyland in this article. In our next post, we will cover Christmas celebrations at Tokyo DisneySea. Last, but not least, we will feature special Christmas merchandise and food offerings from across the Tokyo Disney resort.
Resort Monorail Decorations
Each of the four stations along the Tokyo Disney Resort monorail has unique decorations each season. Tokyo Disneyland’s station featured pink ribbons on this tree and arch. Tucked under the tree are Mickey and Minnie SnoSnow plush, holding a mini-monorail.
The SnoSnows are this year’s “kawaii” (cute) collectible creation at Tokyo Disney resort. Disney Stores domestically had Mickey and Minnie snow plush in 2001, but they had three body segments, and the SnoSnows have only two.
Decorations at the Tokyo Disneyland Entrance
Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto welcome guests in a large storybook display at the entry of Tokyo Disneyland. The book reads “Merry Christmas 2016.”
Garlands and trees decorate the entry arch to the World Bazaar (their covered ‘Main Street’). The sign above reads “Christmas Fantasy 2016.” As you cross under the arch, you meet guests taking pictures of immaculate shop windows showcasing favorite Disney characters.
Mickey-shaped garlands draped across the Bazaar draw you towards the colossal tree that dwarves all its guests. Here is how the tree looked in the daytime, and lit up at night.
Elves (seen in the parade) and nutcrackers are tucked under the tree. These elves seem to be popular holiday characters that we don’t see stateside. We spotted a Mickey Santa nutcracker too.
The message is clear: “Bringing You Christmas Cheer! 2016”
Mickey and Minnie share this window. Mickey makes plans for the Christmas party, pencil in hand. Minnie (known to be an expert seamstress in Tokyo) works on custom handbag gifts as Pluto keeps her company.
Christmas Decorations throughout the Park
Belle and Beast dance on a storybook in the Castle hub (continuing with the storybook theme started by Mickey and Minnie at the entrance).
Pooh dozes off as Owl recounts a story to Piglet on a grassy lawn of the Castle hub.
Dumbo is drooling for the peanut that Timothy holds in front of him. Look out, storybook! Adorably, the book is about Mr. Stork’s special Christmas delivery.
Goofy and Donald exchange book presents by the tree.
Festive garlands drape across the Pirates of the Caribbean balcony. It gets cold in Tokyo, so Disney conveniently sells warm character hats for guests’ convenience.
The Blue Bayou is exactly where it should be, around the corner from Pirates. The décor looks remarkably like Disneyland Anaheim’s New Orleans Square during the holidays. Only, Club 33 is above the World Bazaar, and not above Pirates in Tokyo Disneyland.
Lilo, Stitch, and Hawaiiana are very popular in Japanese culture. Stitch, who has taken over the Tiki Room at Tokyo Disneyland, poses with Santa-hat tikis in Adventureland.
Woody and Jesse are ready for a roundup at their Christmas Corral in Westernland. Big Thunder Railroad is just to the left of this picture.
Even Toontown is decorated for the holidays. Mickey-eared Santa hats top the Toontown lamps, and garland trims Mickey’s house.
Minnie’s house is decorated with a pink and white tree, and wreaths. The line for Minnie’s house is much shorter than Mickey’s… apparently, there is no meet-and-greet with Minnie inside her house.
One of the festive balloons featured Minnie (and Mickey on the reverse side) SnoSnow inside.
Daytime Christmas parade spreads holiday cheer
All the entertainment for Christmas is included in the day ticket price at Tokyo Disneyland. There are no up-charges for Christmas parties or parades. Everyone is invited to share in the holiday cheer.
This year’s daytime parade is called “Disney Christmas Stories.” It is a short, start-and-stop parade with dancing in between stops. The floats also magically create ‘snow.’
The first float features Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey, and Louie with Scrooge McDuck. Donald’s triplet nephews are highlighted in merchandise this year, with matching stockings as seen on this float.
Snow White dances along with the dwarves on her German-inspired float.
Mickey and Minnie wave to adoring fans down the parade route, accompanied by Chip and Dale.
Lilo, Stitch, and Angel wish everyone aloha! Angel is quite a popular character at Tokyo Disneyland, (as are other female counterparts to familiar Disney characters).
Belle and Beast are accompanied by stained-glass-inspired dancers in the parade.
Many characters were familiar, but there are some unique characters in Tokyo. Pluto prances with familiar-looking reindeer. There are only two gingerbread people (one of my favorites) in the parade – and one is female! Of course, there is also a Frozen float with Anna and Elsa.
I love the snowmen and snowwomen in Disneyland Anaheim’s Christmas parade – Tokyo Disneyland has different snowmen, as well as snow-people dancers. Elves (seen under the main Christmas tree, and with Goofy and Donald in the hub) also dance in the parade.
The “Disney Christmas Stories” parade is presented twice daily through the holiday season, along with their regular daytime parade, “Happiness is Here.”
Want to see excerpts from the parade? Here’s our video: https://youtu.be/Ou36QrPXBaI
Tokyo Disneyland also presented a Christmas version of their small stage show “Super-Duper Jumpin’ Time” that we didn’t get to see.
Christmas edition of the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade ‘Dreamlights’
The Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP) is a long-standing Disney tradition. The Christmas parade is a beloved seasonal treat. I’ve never seen a Christmas version of the Electrical Parade.
By presenting a holiday Electrical Parade, Tokyo Disneyland has a daytime and nighttime Christmas parade. The soundtrack is a distinctive blend of original MSEP music, with the Dreamlights theme, mixed with Christmas favorites. Floats and character costumes feature additional festive holiday decorations.
“Dreamlights” presents a highly-advanced, elegantly-animated light show. Some of the most impressive animations were on Captain Hook’s ship. The sails would change between ‘clear’ – to the Jolly Roger (pictured) – to red and white stripes – and starry sky.
Also impressive are Genie’s animation (as colorful as his personality), and the fiber optics in Rapunzel’s hair.
Elliot sits vertically (instead of walking horizontally and swinging his tail). He cuddles Pete in his hands and, of course, blows smoke. For Christmas, Elliot got a lighted wreath lei.
Crush and Nemo both join in the Dreamlights holiday fun.
The last three floats represent It’s a Small World, and play holiday tunes.
Want to see the Holiday Dreamlights parade in action? Here’s our video:
Popular Holiday Attraction Overlays
Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare
See what happens when Jack Skellington decks the halls, in the Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare. In an elegant overlay, Jack (only at Disneyland Anaheim, stateside) takes over the Disney World version of the Haunted Mansion.
Extra features – like the foyer fireplace and conservatory – provide a new chance to delight. Jack and Sally welcome you from the beginning of the ride. Zero trims the tree in the library. Scary Teddy plays a concerto for Sally in the conservatory.
Madame Leota does not float. Lock, Shock, and Barrel feature prominently as a backdrop painting in the séance room. A large multi-tiered cake graces the banquet table in the ballroom scene (in place of the annually-changing gingerbread house). Shadows of Jack and Sally stand in the window beneath the dueling ghosts (instead of a Christmas tree).
Aside from the Japanese narration in the entry foyer and stretching room, the musical score is in English. See more of our Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare review from our Halloween article here.
A Country Bear Christmas
The Country Bears Christmas Special had been a favorite of ours until it closed at Disneyland Anaheim on September 9, 2001. Disney World doesn’t do holiday overlays on their original Country Bears attraction.
We have missed the holiday hootin’ and hollerin’ from Henry, Big Al, Max, Buff, and Melvin over the years. If you’re in the same boat, you’ll want to head over to Tokyo Disneyland during their Christmas season.
The Country Bears are back in Jingle Bell Jamboree Christmas, singing the program in English and Japanese. Just like their Summer Holiday program, Tokyo Disneyland’s Country Bears have a couple of new songs added to the mix.
Gomer rockin’ on the piano
Terrence the polar bear’s penguin friend (originally frozen in an ice block at Disneyland), has a conversational talking part now in Tokyo’s version. Here’s a short clip from the holiday show:
Tokyo Disneyland has two Country Bears theaters. They may keep one with the Christmas show, and one in the Summer Holiday version, just as Disneyland Anaheim once did.
It’s a Small World – no holiday overlay
Tokyo’s Small World does not get a holiday makeover. However, the Electrical Parade: ‘Dreamlights’ has three Small World-inspired floats. During the Christmas parade, the soundtrack is changed to include ‘Jingle Bells’ and other holiday music, much like Small World Holidays at Disneyland Anaheim.
No ‘snow’ or icicle lights on the Castle
Cinderella’s castle at Tokyo Disneyland does not get Christmas lights or ‘snow’ decorations for the holidays. There are many other holiday decorations all over the Park, but somehow, the castle is not included.
It occasionally does really snow in Tokyo, (as it did on November 24th), so perhaps they don’t need the artificial snow?
Dancing lights on Space Mountain
We noticed that the lighting on Space Mountain kept changing. Different colors, different sequences… then we walked through Tomorrowland and understood why. The lights are choreographed to go along with holiday music.
It was so refreshing to see dancing lights on Space Mountain. The music made all of Tomorrowland quite festive for the holidays.
Holiday Celebrations from around the world
What do you think of the Christmas celebrations at Tokyo Disneyland?
Gloria Hasler is a freelance travel writer and photographer. She is a professional travel consultant, owner of Chrysalis Travel, and – together with her husband – co-founder of the Six Castles Club.