Top “Sleeper” Attractions in Disney’s Global Parks
Some of the greatest gems in Disney’s theme parks are not so easily seen or known. A term given to these treasures is “sleeper” attractions. We talk about what this term means, share an example from Epcot’s Cranium Command, and then set sail across the globe to see examples of great “sleeper” attractions in Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disney, and Tokyo Disney Resort. You may have never heard about these attractions before, but once you become familiar with them, you may never want to visit these parks without checking them out.
What is a Sleeper Attraction?
First and foremost, it’s an attraction. But it’s not one of the top attractions. It’s listed, but not generally noticed nor visited. It’s a sleeper because if you weren’t paying attention to it you would have walked by it and never seen it. It doesn’t stand out like Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain. It isn’t widely known like Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion. It’s usually a more modestly budgeted experience. But it’s still an attraction, and those who find it, generally want to come back and experience it again.
My first experience with a Sleeper Attraction was probably Cranium Command at Epcot.
This was so often missed in the shadows of Body Wars that they rebuilt the theater entrance to really stand out. Still, many walked by and never partook of this theme park treasure.
Our podcast covers the following “sleeper” attractions in Disney parks globally.
Les Mystères du Nautilus
Based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this is not a ride, but a walk-through attraction in the center of Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris. On the surface, it may not look like something you can see, but when you board the famed Nautilus, you enter the world of Captain Nemo, explore an amazing setting, and even come eye to eye with a giant squid.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Fairy Tale Forest
This is like Disneyland’s Storybook Land (via canal boats or train) meets hedge maze meets the Emporium Windows. It includes tributes to
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Little Mermaid
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Plus there is a Tinkerbell meet ‘n’ greet experience.
“Once Upon a Time” Adventure
Inside Enchanted Storybook castle, this walk through, yet interactive attraction shares the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This film was introduced to Chinese audiences in 1937 when it originally premiered. Shortly afterwards, markets were cut off, and it was decades later before audiences in China saw another Disney animated film.
One of the great benefits of this attraction is you get to go not just inside but outside the upper tiers of the castle. Very cool.
You can see a snippet of this walk through attraction below:
To know more about Enchanted Storybook Castle and how it compares to the other Disney Castles across the globe, visit here.
Both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea offer not one but two “sleeper” attractions you must visit. At Tokyo Disneyland the two we have listed we’ll undoubtedly be familiar to you if you’ve spent any time at Disneyland or Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
Country Bear Theater
At the Magic Kingdom the Country Bear Jamboree’s popularity would never permit this attraction to be considered a “sleeper”. And yet in Tokyo Disneyland where amazing attractions like Pooh’s Honey Pots, Monster’s Inc. Ride and Go Seek as well as the new Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Best vie for your attention along with familiar classics like Splash Mountain, Star Tours, “it’s a small world”, Pirates of the Caribbean and more.
You can see the show below:
You can also visit our review of the theater, which is found here.
Tom Sawyer Island
Again, another attraction many guests are familiar with at Magic Kingdom. But because of it’s location behind Big Thunder Mountain as well as its remote position within a theme park located on the bay in Japan, this seems like a far away place unlike any other.
Check out our comparisons of Tom Sawyer Island to see more.
Tokyo Disney Sea
Two choices again, but of two attractions you may never have heard of.
Not only does Tokyo Disney do theme parks better than its Disney counterparts, it probably does Venetian gondola experiences probably better than what you’ll find in Venice.
You can see a video of the experience below.
Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage
This one’s closest to my heart, and yet in a location furthest away from the guests. It’s on the exact opposite side of the park from Venetian Gondolas, though soon it will be close to Fantasy Springs when it opens at Tokyo DisneySea.
We have not one but two posts along with a podcast dedicated to this attraction. That can be found here. The song in this attraction is not only the best song of any Alan Menken has ever written, it is perhaps the best theme song in any Disney themed attraction.
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