New Tokyo Disney Attractions–Implications for American Parks

New Tokyo Disney Attractions–Implications for American Parks

Last week we spoke about new announcements at Disneyland Paris and their implications for American Parks. This last week news and video has been coming out about the new Fantasy Springs that is beginning to open at Tokyo Disney Sea. Plus news of Disneyland Forward being approved by the Anaheim City Council means that work can commence on a future Disneyland that has many more possibilities than ever before. Add new attractions coming to Walt Disney World “Beyond Big Thunder” and elsewhere, and we have one amazing podcast. We’ll talk about Tokyo attractions based Frozen, Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Beauty & the Beast, Space Mountain, Toy Story, Wreck-It-Ralph and more, and how they may impact attractions coming to you based on Cars, Moana, Zootopia, Encanto, Coco, Indiana Jones, Pandora, Marvel, Star Wars and more. This is a big podcast, so join us as we look at how new Tokyo Disney attractions just may have implications for the American Parks!

The substance of this topic can be found on our podcast. You can find this podcast on iTunesSpotifyPodbean, and ListenNotes. Please subscribe to the podcast and to this website so you can be notified of upcoming posts and podcast.

Be sure to subscribe to this podcast and give us a rating, review, or referral to others. Also check out Disney Insights where we offer key points, photos, videos, links and more. While there, please subscribe to Disney Insights where you can be notified of upcoming podcasts. Also check out our Facebook page, Disney Insights and our YouTube page of the same name.

What is Tokyo Disney Springs?

Fantasy Springs
Image by Disney

What has put Tokyo Disney on the map this last week or so is the opening of Tokyo Disney Springs. If you haven’t seen the beauty of Tokyo Disney Sea’s Fantasy Springs I suggest Chris Explorer’s thorough video. In essence Fantasy Springs is an off shoot land whose entrance is located between the Arabian Coast and Lost River Delta in Tokyo DisneySea. This eighth port is themed to a magical spring leading to a world of fantasy. It consists of three areas: Frozen Kingdom, Rapunzel’s Forest, Peter Pan’s Never Land, inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios films “Frozen,” “Tangled” and “Peter Pan.” The biggest land expansion yet at Tokyo Disney Resort, it’s home to four new attractions, three quick service dining locations, merchandise shops and importantly, a new deluxe hotel.

The attractions include:

Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Journey

Anna and Elsa's Frozen Journey
Image by Disney

Unlike the Epcot version this is the original Frozen story, and it is much bigger. Bigger in detail, special effects, and length. And it has animatronics that are real and do not have projected heads. You should see Elsa freeze the fountains of Arendale and watch Anna unthaw at the end. It’s amazing.

Rapunzel’s Lantern Festival

Image by Disney

A second boat ride, but is both outdoors and indoors. It begins passing the actual tower with the actual Rapunzel in it. from there you are transported to where the glowing lanterns gleam on Rapunzel’s Lantern Festival over in Rapunzel’s Forest. This romantic gondola journey retells highlights of Disney Animation’s “Tangled,”.

Peter Pan’s Never Land Adventure

Image by Disney

Neverland comes to life in this all-new adventure, this 3D escapade where you join Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the Lost Kids as they rescue John from Captain Hook and his band of pirates. This too is in a boat, but it’s not on water. But who cares if you think you are flying?

Fairy Tinker Bell’s Busy Buggies

Image by Disney

Shrink down to the size of a fairy and board a busy buggie to help Tinker Bell deliver packages throughout the changing seasons of Pixie Hollow. This attraction is largely outdoors and is full of details. It’s a perfect ride for families who love Tink. It’s an extravagant experience not too unlike the old Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train in that its intimate, outdoors and everything is oversized.

There are also eateries to include the Royal Banquet Hall of Arendelle, a table service experience, plus two counter service locations, the Snuggly Duckling and the Lookout Cookout themed after the Lost Boys of Neverland. And of course, merchandise.

Image by Disney

At the borders of all this is Disney’s Fantasy Springs Resort Hotel, a deluxe experience in and of itself, and one that gets you into Disney Springs first thing in the morning. This is one of two resorts bordering Tokyo DisneySea, the other being the Mira Costa, which is at the official entrance to the park.

Fantasy Springs Gifts
Image by Disney

Fantasy Springs is simply Tokyo DisneySea’s version of Fantasyland in the same way that Tokyo Disney Sea is to Tokyo Disneyland. But instead of a medieval fair setting like in most Fantasylands, you would have a sort of garden/forest/springs experience. In some ways Fantasyland Forest at Magic Kingdom was a forerunner to this, but this level of detail goes so much further.

This is a theme of this podcast. Many things in the domestic Disney Parks have been forerunners of what you see in Tokyo Disney and elsewhere internationally. But there are things happening at Tokyo Disney that may very well be a forerunner to parks at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Let’s look at the ways this could be.

Not a Land–But a Land of Districts

More than a land, Tokyo Disney Sea’s Fantasy Springs incorporates three smaller lands based on Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan. The difference in from Tokyo Disney Springs to Tokyo Disneyland is that it’s not one off rides, restaurants and shops. It’s much more of small clusters of a ride or two, plus a restaurant or two, and a gift shop. Parks such as Disneyland have experimented over the years in zoning in a way that made that happen.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

The earliest of this was Pinocchio’s Daring Voyage and Pinocchio’s Village Haus plus a Gepetto’s Art’s & Crafts Shop and even a Stromboli’s Wagon at the new Fantasyland in Disneyland. Or Alice in Wonderland, Mad Tea Party, and a Mad Hatter shop on the other side. But these are different than what has happened at Fantasy Springs, because Fantasyland at Disneyland offers many other attractions based on a variety of Disney films, from Snow White to Peter Pan to Casey jr. Circus Train.

This Land of Districts concept , however, has evolved over time and is the best description of Fantasyland Forest at Magic Kingdom. It’s not a perfect blend. You have a German cottage, a French castle, and a Spanish/Portuguese style castle all coming together. But you also have water and rocks and especially landscaping putting it together. It’s not a very big area, but it does have rides, gift shops and eateries. Moreover, you still have the rest of Fantasyland, which is a different design and utilization of intellectual properties.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Still, it’s a very different option than an entire Toy Story Land, or a Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, or even a Zootopia. Speaking of Zootopia, that intellectual property is coming as a replacement of “It’s Tough to be a Bug” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But the land itself is high on the list of possible replacements that could fill neatly the area that currently accompanies Animation Courtyard to behind Sunset Ranch Market all the way to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster”. Again, this is more of a completed land than a land of themed districts. Could this area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios become a land of districts? Probably not. it will probably have one land like Toy Story Land and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Maybe it’s Zootopia. Maybe it’s Monsters Inc. Maybe it’s Incredibles. But it probably won’t be all three together, because they really are different settings that don’t have a connecting thread.

5 Unique Things You Can Only Do in Zootopia at Shanghai Disney Resort photo of Mane Street and downtown Zootopia
Image by Disney

Still a better example of a land with districts is the Tropical Americas possibility for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Indiana Jones, Encanto, and Coco are close enough that they can be tied together–in this case with landscaping. Here we see three possible attractions, one for each of the themes. We see Chester and Hester’s being rebuilt into a gift shop, and we see Restaurantasourus carrying a Coco Mexican food theme. It’s not perfect, but it has huge potential.

So look for experimenting more with not just a land but 2-3 districts of intellectual property within a land.

Animal Kingdom Expansion: Encanto & Indiana Jones Land; Zootopia Attraction  - Disney Tourist Blog
Image by Disney

Beyond the Berm

The next consideration from Tokyo Disney Springs is about going beyond the berm. To make all of this happen at Tokyo Disney Sea, one had to go out of the berm so to speak. The lands of Tokyo Disney Sea such as Mediterranean Harbor, Port Discovery and Arabian Coast The Fantasy Springs location and its accompanying hotel moves into a former parking lot. It suggests that parks don’t have to follow symmetrical designs. Corners and dead ends are okay.

Beyond the Berm Possibilities at Disneyland Resort

Disney's $1.9B DisneylandForward Plan Gets Final Approval From Anaheim City  Council; Major Changes Set For Walt's Original Park - IMDb
Image by Disney

This has huge implications to the Disneyland Forward project which suggested that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure could be pushed out past Disney Way, which Disney would be given control of. Like the Tokyo DisneySea Fantasy Springs Hotel, hotel can be premium when attached to a park. This has implications to venerable hotels like the Disneyland Hotel and the newly remodeled Pixar Place Hotel.

Could you have direct access into a park extension of Disneyland that comes right up to the Disneyland or Pixar Place Hotel? Could the Pixar Place Hotel be a better value if Pixar Pier continued its theme across the street right up to the hotel?

Beyond the Berm Possibilities at Magic Kingdom

Beyond Big Thunder Mountain is a Beyond the Berm possibility that has been blue skied for some time now. And the rumors keep coming. With Coco and Encanto having representation in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, could other themes becoming to this region of the park. We already have a Toy Story Land, but one rumor is centered around a Sheriff Woody theme. This plays on a particular section that was originally to be part of Toy Story Land but ended up becoming the Roundup Rodeo BBQ. Was the western clapboard section of this idea really just a different facade for Roundup Rodeo BBQ? Not sure.

Toy Story Land Coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios | Blog
Image by Disney

Another more interesting concept would be one that centers around Radiator Springs Racers. That rumor comes with or without Radiator Springs itself–something I would not like because I think the charm of that attraction at Disney California Adventure is the community of Radiator Springs. Still, it could have a canyon desert look comparable to Big Thunder.

What is probably the most definite is a Villains land that would emerge around Haunted Mansion. That has all sorts of possibilities and can be evolve from one end to another. I would think this might be a land with three districts like we talked about. It would start out Victorian style in keeping with the Haunted Mansion, and potentially move to a frontier or desert style by the time you get to Big Thunder. Okay, we’re short on I’d be okay with this if it didn’t involve carnival style rides like Toy Story Land.

Image by Disney

Any of these possibilities could involve shortening the Rivers of America, which has always been longer than the original Disneyland Rivers of America. So shortening could easily occur. It worked when Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge was placed beyond the Rivers of America, and the re-theming of this region of the river has made the Mark Twain/Columbia/Davy Crockett Canoes and Disneyland Railroad experiences so much better.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

We talked last week about a possible new theme to Tom Sawyer’s Island. And know that the year-long upcoming closure of Big Thunder Mountain–probably intended for rail replacement–could easily involve creating new paths for what would eventually become Beyond Big Thunder.

Let’s talk about one more rumor that technically would be out of the berm as well. There is one new rumor is that the Moana Boat ride once suggested for Disney’s Animal Kingdom could be coming to the backside of Adventureland. Add to the fact that the boat could be an omnimover boat similar to Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure. To have a big Adventureland attraction like this would be better in many ways than a Beyond Big Thunder–though again the Villains concept works. Moana has been playing well on Disney+, and it is receiving an animated sequel and a live action version over the next couple of years. This really needs to have possibility.

Could Mona Ride Actually Be Coming To Disney's Animal Kingdom?
Image by Disney

Heading back over to Disneyland Resort, it’s thought that this same omnimover boat could be utilized for the river ride planned for Pandora World of Avatar? This could also end up being more of a “Beyond the Berm” concept.

Disneyland surprise reveals concept art for new 'Avatar' land
Image by Disney

Time To Refresh and Renew

There are other happenings at Tokyo Disney Resort that are quite interesting, and might give us a suggestion of things to come.

Imagine that the hotels of Hotel Plaza near Disney Springs were around Seven Seas Lagoon and were connected by monorail? That’s essentially what exists at Tokyo Disney Resort. Some are well known like Hilton and Sheraton. Others are lesser known names. One of those was taken over by the OLC and made into a Toy Story Hotel.

Tokyo Disney Resort Toy Story Hotel is Now Open! | Disney Parks Blog
Image by Disney

We have a hotel that was close to a theme park that didn’t seem to work out. The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser is no more, but the land and building is still there. Is it possible that these rooms could be redone with a Toy Story theme? There very small rooms comparably. But they’re unique, and the location could have some sort of fun access to Toy Story Land that is fairly nearby. It will be interesting to see what happens with this space.

In Tomorrowland Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is going away. It’s being replaced by a new Wreck-It-Ralph attraction that will also be an interactive dark ride, this time set within the world of the candy-themed racing game Sugar Rush. “Sugar Bugs” created by King Candy are on the attack, and riders will work with Ralph and Vanellope to transform the Sugar Bugs back to their original “kawaii” form, as confectionery such as cookies and cakes.

Wreck-It Ralph at Tokyo Disneyland
Image by Disney

I don’t think that our Buzz Lightyear attractions at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom are going away. But a Wreck It Ralph style attraction would be great–and while our Tomorrowland is still looking for a replacement to the old Stitch Encounter, what is really needed is a new anchor to the old Wonders of Life building. World Discovery needs something attached to the internet, though taking some of the new technologies for walking in place with Holo Tiles and adding an Apple Vision Pro component would be great as well. Know that AppleVision is going to feature the Marvel “What If” series on Apple Vision Pro. In short, sponsored by Apple or Wreck-It-Ralph, it would be great to have something go there.

Image by Disney

Tokyo Disneyland is also doing something in Tomorrowland that has really not quite been done before. It is replacing Space Mountain–not with new rails or a thematic approach, but with a whole new building. My guess is they are using ride technology more like Guardians of the Galaxy. In essence, it’s not too unlike how it’s choosing to re-approach Neverland at Fantasy Springs. Not that it’s removing its venerable Peter Pan’s Flight, but it has certainly created a Neverland unlike anything in the states.

A New Space Mountain Coming to Tokyo Disneyland in 2027 | Disney Parks Blog
Image by Disney

Space Mountain asks us the question: Which of our most venerable attractions could be completely redone?

What About a Frozen, Neverland or Tangled Land Like Disney Springs Coming to the U.S.?

Maybe. I wouldn’t write this out. But not the way you think. Let’s consider Disneyland first.

Frozen is already represented in Norway at Epcot. But it’s a leading possibility at Disneyland. People think it could take over the Fantasyland Theater, and/or take over the region formerly known as the Motor Boat ride. This is a complicated area given that monorails pass through and no one knows what to do with the old PeopleMover track. Also the Autopia has to be re-routed. But never say never here.

If the park were to continue across Disneyland Way to the area by the Pixar parking lot structure, there would be enough space to possibly do three of these districts. If they continued across the way.

At the Magic Kingdom Tangled and Peter Pan share the same space. A Tangled Restroom stands somewhat across the queue of Peter Pan’s Flight. Both have limitations, and seem very unimpressive compared to what is going on at Fantasy Springs in Tokyo Disney Sea.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

More interesting would be to take the Tomorrowland Speedway and do something there. This is what happened with Tokyo Disneyland. They took nearly the same course and they put in a land for Beauty and the Beast with food/beverage, gift shops, a big theater, and an amazing attraction.

Official]Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast|Tokyo Disneyland|Tokyo  Disney Resort
Image by Disney

Beauty and the Beast already has a presence in three places across The Walt Disney World parks, but could something Tangled go here, or something Peter Pan like? Absolutely. A ride, retail, F&B and perhaps even a theater, which might have a Peter Pan or Tangled look on one side and a Tomorrowland look on another. If it were Tangled, I would take the Tangled restrooms and re-do them into something more Peter Pan like, which might be an opportunity to mesh in a new and different way with the Columbia Harbor House. If Peter Pan took up the Speedway, I would consider redoing the Peter Pan ride with a very modest Tangled attraction.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

By the way, if you get a chance to really look at the Peter Pan vehicle–not the tinker bell vehicle–but the one used to go find John in this new Fantasy Springs attraction, you should know that this same vehicle may be the answer to the King Thanos dark ride. It is comparable in many ways to the Spiderman vehicle at Islands of Adventure.

Concept art of a world-jumping ride vehicle for a Marvel multiverse E-Ticket attraction planned for Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. (Disney)
Image by Disney

Going back to Peter Pan–I’ve often remarked that Disneyland Paris brilliantly paired next to each other utilizing two different lands Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland and Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland. Moreover, parts of Pinocchio’s Village Haus in front of Peter Pan’s has a nautical theme to it, and across from Pirates we have Adventure Isle which includes Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship along with Treasure Island references and the Swiss Family Treehouse. It’s the ultimate celebration of Pirates! This is somewhat a similar concept here.

Why Don’t We Get Nice Things?

I would call this Tokyo Perfect. It’s easy to go to the Tokyo resort and see some amazing things like Winnie the Pooh’s Honey Hunt or Mysterious Island. Even their Country Bears perform smoother and their Soarin’ queue is better. When we see this, it’s easy to think that everything is Tokyo Perfect.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Still, we have some amazing place. Pandora: World of Avatar, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Spaceship Earth, Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and more are all examples of this. Walt Disney World has many more resorts than any Disney park around the world, plus water parks, golf, and so much more.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Disneyland is the original with a Matterhorn, Radiator Springs, Avengers Campus, Finding Nemo Submarines and time-proven smaller attractions like Mr. Toad and Alice in Wonderland–which will probably never be replicated anywhere else.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

People walk through Tokyo Sea’s Fantasy Springs and see amazing rock work themed to Disney characters. But that wouldn’t be there if someone hadn’t set an incredible precedent of carving real animals into the side of a Tree of Life. In truth, we inspire things that come to Tokyo. And I hope that things at Tokyo serves as inspiration for things that need to come here.

New Details and Images from Fantasy Springs Revealed 100 Days Ahead of  Opening at Tokyo DisneySea -
Photo by Disney.

What we do get in the immediate future is an impressive E-ticket ride called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. This is an interesting attraction. I was worried that they would go cheap on audio animatronics. But they have replaced the very old animatronics–many of which were from America Sings, and added brand new ones. And they look amazing! That precedent was probably put in place when Beast and Belle came to life in their Beauty & the Beast dark ride. And now it seems to be coming to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Plus there seems to be a lot of work at lighting it up at night in the same way Pandora utilizes projection lighting at night. Plus special effects, music and more.

Photo by Disney.

Tiana‘s Bayou adventure has to be Tokyo perfect, so as to prove that Disney can put that quality into their American parks and that there will be a return in customer loyalty. That will change the financial models for more things that are Tokyo Perfect.

It’s interesting because there was a time Disney never talked about what was going on at Tokyo Disney Resort. They have been very open about this addition, and others like Shanghai’s Zootopia and Hong Kong’s Frozen. I think the animatronics will sooner than later be replaced at Epcot by better animatronics once we see the ones at Tiana’s.

A Century of Powerful Disney Insights Book

You can order my newest book, “A Century of Powerful Disney Insights” on Amazon. It’s a great way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company. In over 100 years, The Walt Disney Company has emerged as one of the most successful entertainment entities across the globe. In this, the first of two volumes, we study the first 50 years of Disney, beginning with Walt and Roy. We look at major milestones and not only see the evolution of an organization begun in a garage, but how it truly became so beloved to millions around the world. From Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse through Snow White and Cinderella, from the Mouseketeers to Mary Poppins, and from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, we share stories and insights from 1923 to 1973. We hope you’ll be inspired with ideas and how you can apply these stories to your own life and work. 

Order your copy today!

Join the Wayfinder Group

The Wayfinder Society is our Patreon group. Here we bring the best details of Disney both in terms of the magic of the parks as well as the business behind the magic. It’s part of what you get when you help support the Wayfinder Society. For as little as a dollar a month, this Patreon group not only helps to support this podcast and attending websites, but also gives you access to one of our Disney at Play Interactive Guides. 

Check out the Wayfinder’s Society to see these Sneak Peeks!

NOTE! with any Wayfinder membership, you will also get exclusive podcasts looking that checks out other Disney podcasts, social media finds, shows, books and more.

Want to Create Excellence in Your Organization?

This podcast and post is provided by J. Jeff Kober and Performance Journeys, which celebrates more than 20 years as a training and development group bringing best in business ideas through books, keynotes, workshops, seminars and online tools to help you take your organization to the next level.

Want a Keynote Speaker? More than just nice stories, I offer proven insight and solutions having worked in the trench.

Need Consulting? I’ve worked for decades across the public, private and non-profit arena. 

Need Support? We offer so many classroom, online, and other resources to help you improve your customer service delivery, leadership development and employee engagement.

Contact us today, and let us help you on your Performance Journey!

J. Jeff Kober

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *