Celebrating 100 Years in Castles: Exploring Castle Parks with Author of 100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime — Tokyo Disney Resort

There are twelve Disney parks worldwide; six of those are Castle Parks. Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park led the way, followed by Cinderella representing Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney Resorts. Next came Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant at Disneyland Paris.  Hong Kong’s Disneyland’s original castle (opened in 2005) was transformed into Castle of Magical Dreams in 2020 to represent all of Disney’s princesses and queens. Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort is the latest (and the greatest in terms of sheer size and scale).  

I’m a lifelong lover of all things Disneyland, an avowed Disney geek, and now, a Disney author of 100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime, Eat Like Walt, and Walt’s Disneyland. In this six-part series, I’ll highlight some of my favorite adventures and magical experiences around the Disney world. Let’s go castle hopping together! We’ll visit each park; in just the way that Castle-hopping is one of the adventures I highlight in my book, I invite you to virtually visit each park with me!

On April 15, 1983, Japan debuted the first Disney park outside of America: Tokyo Disney Resort.

From the outside, Cinderella Castle at Tokyo Disneyland is nearly identical to the one in the Magic Kingdom. But step inside and you’ll see that Cinder¬ella’s Fairy Tale Hall sets them apart. In the walk-through attraction, Cinderella and Prince Charming invite their guests to explore the castle’s artworks and dioramas.

Another Disney dynamic duo – Belle and Beast – have their own Tokyo attraction. The A-listers welcome you to Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. Bobbling along in magical, dancing cups, you’re treated to a dazzling display in the banquet hall, a stroll through the wintery forest, the tense drama of Gaston’s rampage, Beast’s stunning life-size transformation, and the ballroom finale, of course, where everything is coming up roses. The comprehensive storytelling is epic and a fitting tribute to Walt Disney Animation Studios’ classic film Beauty and the Beast (1991).

For me, food is as much a part of the adventures I highlight in the book as the attractions. Magellan's honors Ferdinand, the explorer credited with the first circumnavigation around the world, and also a serious seeker of spices. The restaurant is themed to the Golden Age of Exploration, with artifacts that tell the story of Magellan’s discoveries; the eclectic cuisine is inspired by his globetrotting travels. For those seeking something more casual, head on over to The Big Pop in Tomorrowland. Walt enjoyed popcorn (his with extra butter) and was fascinated with space travel. This specialty shop combines both with an outer space theme plus a plethora of popcorn options.  You can enjoy a variety of flavors – and for those that covet park exclusives – strawberry millefeuille, salty caramel, and cheddar cheese can only be found here.

At the Tokyo Disney Resort Toy Story Hotel, guests feel like they’ve been shrunk to the size of a toy. The lobby sports a jigsaw puzzle–inspired floor, and the ceiling is designed to look like a board game. Accommodations are inspired by Andy’s room from the first film. The familiar blue sky and white clouds set the tone, with details such as an Etch-A-Sketch television and a large Mickey Mouse wall clock Whether you are a Cowboy, Space Ranger, Potato Head, or mere mortal, you’ll have a friend at the Tokyo Disney Resort Toy Story Hotel.

I vividly recall my first visit to Aulani: The architecture, authentic cultural storytelling, myriad of historical Hawaiian details, sweeping ocean views – and Duffy! The stuffed bear was virtually unknown to me in America, but with some research I learned that before Duffy became Duffy, he was called The Disney Bear at Walt Disney World. He was then introduced to Tokyo DisneySea with a brand-new story by Disney Imagineers and came to life as Duffy the Disney Bear. The rest is history: Duffy became the most popular teddy bear ever in Japan. Why such a craze? The story of Minnie making a stuffed bear to keep sea captain Mickey company on his lonely voyages resonated with the Japanese sensibility of caring for one another. Let’s face it: He is cute and fluffy and has the most innocent and caring personality. It’s impossible not to smile when you hold him – or his six friends – ShellieMay, Gelatoni, StellaLou, CookieAnn, ‘Olu Mel, and LinaBell.

Join me next time to celebrate Disneyland Paris as we continue to highlight the Castle Parks for D100! For more adventures, please check out 100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime.

Marcy Carriker Smothers
Marcy Carriker Smothers is the author of the fan favorite Eat Like Walt: The Wonderful World of Disney Food, a New York Times New & Noteworthy selection. A noted radio personality, she hosted several programs, including The Food Guy and Marcy Show with the Food Network’s Guy Fieri. In celebration of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, she co-authored Delicious Disney: Walt Disney World. Her love of all things Disney―especially Disneyland―inspired her to write Walt’s Disneyland: A Walk in the Park with Walt Disney. Her latest release is National Geographic’s 100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime: Magical Experiences From Around the World. When not strolling on Main Street, U.S.A., Marcy can be found exploring food and planning her next adventure.