This year Tokyo Disneyland is celebrating its 35th anniversary of creating magic and memories for its guests. Since it’s opening in 1983 Tokyo Disneyland has been an enigma in the world of Disney theme parks, not being owned or operated by Disney themselves but rather by a third party company, The Oriental Land Company. However this is not a negative thing as this park is a great mix of the best of everything Disney parks have to offer, you can experience old-time favourites that have been removed elsewhere such as the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown, you can ride classics such as Haunted Mansion and can also experience spectacular exclusive rides such as Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Monsters Inc Ride & Go Seek!
The 35th Anniversary is a perfect time to visit this park as it is spectacularly decorated for the event and there is a ton of new entertainment and experiences that have just debuted.
Family Rides – 10/10
Being a Magic Kingdom-style Disney park you would be expecting an amazing array of rides the whole family can enjoy together, and luckily the park does not disappoint. The park really feels as if it has a “Best of” selection of attractions, taking all the favourites you expect to find and adding in their own mix of amazing exclusives. We could be here all day talking about the awesome rides the park has but here are just a few of our favourites: The recently reopened version of It’s A Small World which is absolutely crammed with Disney characters for you to spot, A nice long version of Pirates Of The Caribbean that still contains the classic Redhead scene, the three requisite mountains as well as Monsters Inc Ride and Go Seek a great interactive experience riding through the story of Monsters Inc that sets the DCA Version of the ride to shame.
The parks real stand-out family attraction though has to be Pooh’s Hunny Hunt which is still a masterpiece of modern theme park design even though it is approaching its 20th birthday. This ride truly embodies the above and beyond quality, that the park constantly delivers on, which is made even clearer when you realise that this version of the ride opened before the disappointingly basic versions of Winnie the Pooh rides opened at Disneyland, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Thrill Rides – 7/10
Similar to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World most of the more “thrilling” attractions are relegated to other gates (In this case DisneySea). The park does have the classic hat-trick of Mountains with Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain allowing families the perfect stepping stone towards bigger thrills. The park also features Star Tours (Interestingly featuring the Galaxy’s Edge ending even though this resort has no plans for Star Wars Land at this stage) which adds some more family-friendly thrills to the attraction line-up.
For those interested in more thrilling experiences don’t let this parks lack of mature attractions turn you off. Tokyo DisneySea right next door is only a 10-minute ride on the monorail away and features an amazing lineup of thrilling attractions.
Experiences – 9/10
The park offers some great experiences to break-up your day a little bit including a walk-through of Cinderella castle, telling her story through mixed forms of art. Also don’t miss your chance to canoe through the rivers of America, though be warned that this attraction can be exhausting during the summer months with the heat beating down on you and after you canoe around it make sure you go across and explore Tom Sawyer Island and it’s abundance of experiences that allow you to let your children run free and explore.
In classic Disney style, you can also expect to run into many roaming characters which can be a blast. When ReviewTyme went together in 2017, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were very excited to see two large westerners walking around the park and wanted nothing more than to bounce bellies with us.
Entertainment – 10/10
If there is one thing the Tokyo Disney Resort does better than anywhere else in the world it is their entertainment. This fact is extra true this year with all the spectacular new entertainment added for the 35th Anniversary. “Dreaming Up” is another amazing day parade from a park that is always going bigger and better with their floats, I’m not sure if it’s quite as good as Happiness Is Here especially after only seeing the heat restricted version on this trip but it’s not to be missed. Their Night Parade is also the only version of the Main Street Electrical Parade I can bring myself to watch again after having worked the Disney World version close to 500 times, the addition of new IPs and music really prevents the parade from feeling outdated.
The park also features a number of stage shows including “One Man’s Dream II The Magic Lives On” which is a spectacular if not strange show which is still a great watch but would benefit from some updating to feature newer franchises. There is always some form of entertainment taking place around the park including walk-around performers aplenty you will find bands, dancers, mimes and more!
If you get the chance to make a booking with your hotel reservation I also highly recommended the Mickey and Company dinner theatre show, which is an upcharge dining experience but well worth the money. Make sure you end your day with the brand new Nighttime Spectacular “Celebrate! Tokyo Disneyland” which is an awesome way to wrap up your day sending you back around the park reliving all the best memories you have made.
Staff – 9/10
Everyone expects Disney Cast Members to be great to deal with but the Japanese Cast Members really go above and beyond, especially with them having to fight through a language barrier to speak to you. The parks seem to have an abundance of cast members for every area, way more than required and the extras often will be just seen smiling, waving and high-5’ing guests around the area.
Theming – 8/10
The theming at Tokyo Disneyland can be jarring as a whole, some rides in the park have the best theming of any version of that ride around the world whereas other areas of the park just feature big flat coloured slabs of concrete which can throw you out of the in-depth theming in an area. This abundance of concrete also makes the park feel extra hot during the summer with the blazing hot sun belting off the concrete making inside the park feel hotter than elsewhere on property.
Most of the themed areas are what you would expect but the biggest change from the traditional Magic Kingdom style park theming is Main Street USA being renamed to International Street and featuring a large roof to protect guests from any weather Japan throws at them.
Merchandise – 8/10
The Merchandise at Tokyo Disney Resort is completely different from any other Disney Resort in the world. Japanese guests go crazy for things that would be a struggle to sell anywhere else including the abundance of loud shirts that can be found for many different characters, seasons and events. No matter when you attend Tokyo Disneyland there is bound to be something new in the merchandise selection as there are consistent huge lines of merchandise coming out each season for the next special events.
Tokyo Disney Resort is also willing to try things just to see if they sell, such as the Mickey Shaped Hand Soap dispenser that sold out across the entire resort in just a few days. My favourite Merchandise selection from my last trip has to be the amazing selection of 35th Anniversary Merchandise featuring a louder celebration design and a more reserved selection of merchandise looking back at the parks 35-year history.
Affordability – 9/10
Tokyo Disney Resort may have the best Ticket Price value in the World, with a one day one park ticket only costing around $70 USD which becomes even cheaper as you add more days (Just be aware that all days on a multi-day ticket need to be taken consecutively). This strong value is also seen in the food and beverages in the park with quick service meals like a burger, chips and fries costing under $10, snacks of all different kinds costing under $5 and even a full 3-course meal at the Blue Bayou only costing around $40. Even a bottle of 35th Anniversary branded Coca-Cola is around $2. Merchandise, however, is a little on the expensive side compared to other parks around the world. Limited time merch especially seems to cost extra just due to it being limited with some T-Shirts costing upwards of $45. The quality however on all items in great though and will be packaged for you nicely by the Cast Members, giving you an abundance of extra-bags in case you decide to gift anything you buy.
Atmosphere – 9/10
The great atmosphere in the park really is built by the guests around you, the Japanese culture is quite different to everywhere else and this becomes abundantly clear when you are in a busy theme park. Guests will happily sit on the ground to watch parades and shows, you will often see 5 rows deep purely of sitting guests, giving everyone a great view. Everyone just seems to be having a great time, guests will dress up as their favourite characters, carry around huge plush that they’ve dressed up and always have a giant smile on their face no matter if they happen to be waiting for a show that might not start for another 6 hours (For more info on how to avoid these types of waits though make sure to check out our Tokyo Disney Survival Guide). This positive atmosphere is also driven home by the spectacular Cast Members and their attitude (Even when dealing with fast-speaking Australians)
Out of all of the Magic Kingdom style parks, Tokyo Disneyland is probably the most spacious. There are many sprawling, open areas which just aren’t all too common in other Disney parks. It can be refreshing walking around as you’re not constantly having to battle against crowds and other guests. It provides a sense of freedom in movement that is very welcome.
Services – 8/10
Even though most of the park’s attractions are in Japanese they do have easily accessible maps and times guides all over the park in a variety of languages (Though maybe still grab a Today guide to show you all the new limited time food and merch, even if they are only available in Japanese). Most Cast Members also speak an okay level of English which makes most things easy enough to organise but if you ever get truly stuck just head to Guest Relations where a fluent English speaker will be happy to help you. The biggest problem is that without a Hotel booking it is almost impossible to make dining reservations for when you are in the park, some restaurants may have walk-ups available if you’re lucky but these are rarely available and some locations don’t even offer them. For a breakdown of exactly what is included with a Tokyo Disney Hotel Booking and whether we recommend one, make sure to check out our video.
Just get ready to walk a lot if you are spending a day in this park as it is deceptively large, with the park clearly designed for massive crowds, featuring wide open walkways as well as a massive hub being over 3 times as large as the hub at Disneyland.
Tokyo Disneyland is arguably the best Magic Kingdom-style park in the World. It truly offers a great selection of classic rides, groundbreaking attractions and spectacular Entertainment offerings. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this park to anyone looking for a Disney experience outside that on offer at the Stateside parks.
Tokyo Disneyland gets a final score of 87/100