I have just come back from a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort. We try to go to the parks in Tokyo once a year because we just love them. We love Tokyo itself (yes it’s busy, but so are most cities), and we love both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. In conversations between Disney fans about which Disney Park is “the best,” Tokyo DisneySea is either in the conversation or IS the conversation for some people. Thus, DisneySea is often heralded as the best Disney Park in the world. To back this up, when my fiancé visited Tokyo DisneySea for the first time, she was completely enamored by it, so much that it became her favorite Disney Park.
For the people that refer to Tokyo DisneySea as Disney’s “best” park, they have just cause to do so, but with every opinion, there are also arguments against Tokyo DisneySea (or for other Disney Parks), so today’s article will outline whether I consider Tokyo DisneySea Disney’s best park and whether you should visit (you definitely, definitely should).
Before we get into that, it’s probably worth me briefly describing Tokyo DisneySea. DisneySea is the second park to be built at Tokyo Disney Resort, and it opened September 4, 2001. The clue is in the title with DisneySea, as the whole park has an aquatic theme with water guiding and crafting the landscape that is Disney Sea.
Guests enter underneath the Hotel MiraCosta which is the resort built inside DisneySea and sets the tone for the whole park. Bold and elegant, the MiraCosta is a sight to behold and is a really special experience for Guests. Once past the MiraCosta, DisneySea opens up and Guests are welcomed into the Mediterranean Harbor which acts as the hub for the park. The Harbor is home to shops similar to what you would find on the Main Street in any castle park. The Harbor is also home to a great lake which hosts several shows throughout the day depending on what time of year you go, including the great Fantasmic that plays out in its waters. Past the Harbor you can see Mount Prometheus in the background which acts as the giant ‘weenie’ for the whole park (more on that later).
To the left of the Harbor you have the American Waterfront themed to look like the Northeastern seaboard of America. The American Waterfront is home to Toy Story Midway Mania, the Hotel HighTower, Turtle Talk with Crush and Big Band Beat an immensely popular swing show, where guests queue up literally hours before for just a chance to see the spectacle. Another part of the American Waterfront is the Cape Cod area which is the home of Duffy and his friends. There is not much in terms of attractions in Cape Cod, but it’s still a scenic area and home to one of the entrances to the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line.
Past Cape Cod, you will find the Port Discovery section of the park. Port Discovery is an area of experimental play and has an almost futuristic theme to it. It’s the home of Aquatopia a water version of the classic Disneyland Autopia (you will get wet) and the Nemo and Friends SeaRider, a Finding Nemo themed overlay of the old StormRider where guests shrink down to the size of a fish and interact with Nemo, Dory and Co. This is also a cool area to meet characters as throughout the day Goofy, Max and Chip and Dale, dressed as scientists, roam the area.
After Port Discovery, guests will find themselves in one of the coolest areas of the park: The Lost River Delta. Filled with overgrown Aztec pyramids, The Lost River Delta is an area reminiscent of the Central Americas in the 1930s. It is here you will find the other port of the Steamer Line, Indiana Jones Temple of the Crystal Skull, a high speed rollercoaster in Raging Spirits and an innovative yet bizarre show titled Out of Shadowland.
Next, we have the Arabian Coast themed to look similar to the streets of Agrabah. The Arabian Coast is the home to Aladdin, Jasmine and friends and hosts a Genie themed stage show in The Magic Lamp Theatre. Here, you can also find the stunning Caravan Carousel where the carousel horses are designed to look like Genie, camels and other Arabian animals. The Arabian Coast is also the home of one of my favorite attractions, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, a dark ride where Guests board boats and are transported through a journey of Sinbad’s most epic adventures.
Past the Arabian Coast, guests will find Mermaid Lagoon. On first appearance Mermaid Lagoon, doesn’t look like much from the outside, that is until you see the palace of King Triton looming in the distance. Once you enter the palace, Mermaid Lagoon really opens up and Guests are treated to a colorful indoor playground, not too dissimilar from something you would find at a carnival. Aimed toward younger Guests, there is still plenty to do and see for older Guests with this being the home of King Triton’s Concert, a nice indoor show featuring Ariel and the gang.
Once exiting Mermaid Lagoon, Guests will find themselves in a secluded area a lot closer to Mount Prometheus. This is the Mysterious Island and is inspired by several Jules Verne novels. Here you will see 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Journey to the Centre of the Earth, two of DisneySea’s pinnacle attractions. Once exiting the Mysterious Island, Guests are then on the other side of the Mediterranean Harbor and close to Fortress Explorations and Magellan’s Restaurant and Lounge, one of the homes of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (SEA).
I hope I have done the park justice, but, I’m fully aware that I may not have. This is due to the fact that DisneySea is a place of exploration and that is one of its biggest strengths. You are not only invited to explore DisneySea, but you are rewarded for doing so. I almost implore Guests to wander around the park without a guide map to really feel the park. Around every corner there is a new adventure waiting to be explored, and this really enhances and adds to the story and immersive-ness of the park…more so than any other Disney Park in the world.
Another reason DisneySea could be considered Disney’s “best” park is how beautiful it is. I would say that DisneySea is probably Disney’s most aesthetically pleasing park with each Port of Call incredibly themed and lush with details. DisneySea is honestly a park that I could just walk around and enjoy without going on any of the attractions. I’d ride the transport and be in awe of my surroundings.
That being said, this might bring us to one of the few points of contention regarding Tokyo DisneySea. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of attractions to enjoy and experience. But for me, there isn’t a staple “5 star” attraction in this park. Indiana Jones comes close, but it is very similar to Disneyland’s version. Sinbad also comes close, but to me still doesn’t hold a candle to other parks staple attractions such as Mystic Manor, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Shrunken Treasure or Avatar Flight of Passage.
To add to this, I also think that the park needs a couple more attractions. A problem that will soon be eradicated with future updates, yet on my latest excursion to Tokyo DisneySea, both Toy Story Mania and Journey to the Centre of the Earth were closed for refurbishment. With these two staple attractions closed, the park did feel a little bare in parts.
Now the important question: Do I believe Tokyo DisneySea is Disney’s “best” park? That’s a hard one. I think there are definitely reasons that fall in its favor. It is definitely the most immersive park, and I would say it is probably the most beautiful. But is it the ‘best’ park? Possibly. It’s certainly up there and is rightfully considered so by many. But to me, that’s the great thing about Disney Parks, each one could be considered the “best” for certain criteria or due to how each individual experiences the Disney Parks. What I am sure of though is that Tokyo DisneySea is a must for any Disney fan that has the opportunity. It truly is a special place that should be experienced.
What do you think? Would you like to visit Tokyo DisneySea? What park do you consider to be Disney’s best?
(All photos are from the personal collection of Daniel Morris.)
To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.