As a Floridian, I’m a stone’s throw away from Walt Disney World, and have made numerous trips there over the last year with my husband.  I decided to do some research into the differences between Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland, and thought I’d share some interesting details with you!

Tokyo Disneyland, as it turns out, is ever so slightly smaller than Disneyland in California… Which means Tokyo Disneyland can fit entirely in the space that is the Magic Kingdom in Orlando’s parking lot.  That’s right, just The Magic Kingdom, not the rest of Disney World.  Like Disneyland in California, it seems that Tokyo Disneyland makes a lot more efficient use of its smaller space, however, and packs a lot more rides and attractions in than the Magic Kingdom.

Floridians are used to an area of the Magic Kingdom known as “Frontierland”, but at Tokyo Disney, it’s called “Westernland”!  Westernland has many of the classic Disney staples, including Tom Sawyer Island, Country Bear Theater, and of course, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad… At least, in Tokyo, it’s just called “Big Thunder Railroad”, but I assure you, it still involves a (smaller) mountain.

Tokyo Disneyland does not boast a “Main Street U.S.A”, which might seem obvious considering its location, until you realize that Paris and Hong Kong have their own versions of Main Street U.S.A!  Instead, Tokyo Disneyland has the World Bazaar.  Instead of being an open air street, the World Bazaar has a gorgeous glass Victorian conservatory style roof.  It primarily hosts shopping and dining, though the entrance to Tokyo’s version of the mysterious Club 33 can also be found here.

If you’ve ever played Kingdom Hearts, particularly Kingdom Hearts II, you may have seen mention of a strange dessert called “Sea Salt Ice Cream”.  As it turns out, Sea Salt Ice Cream is a beloved staple of Tokyo DisneySea, a nautically themed cousin to Tokyo DisneyLand!  Unlike its depiction in the video game, it does not come as light-blue colored ice cream bars on sticks.  Instead, sea salt ice cream is served in a plastic cup, which comes inside a larger collectible clam-shell shaped case.  Also, the ice cream appears to be white, not blue at all!  I’ve never been able to try it myself, but I have made homemade sea salt ice cream before, and it’s really delicious if you enjoy salty-sweet treats.

While many things are different, it feels like even more are the same.  One difference between Tokyo Disneyland and any other property shocked me… It’s not owned by The Walt Disney Company!  Tokyo Disneyland is in fact owned and operated by The Oriental Land Company.  However, their partnership with Disney ensures that The Walt Disney Company maintains creative control over Tokyo Disneyland.

As it turns out, Tokyo DisneySea was originally planned to be an expansion to Disneyland in California, but after Euro Disney fell on financial hardships, the idea was instead offered to The Oriental Land Company.  In much better financial standing, they were able to pump some $4 billion dollars into the project, and it would become the fastest theme park in the world to reach 10 million guests, in less than a year.  That’s success!  By the time everything was said and done, Tokyo DisneySea had been in development by Disney’s Imagineers for over twenty years.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to visit Tokyo Disneyland, but I’d love to have the opportunity some day.  Maybe soon I’ll write an article about the Japan pavilion at Epcot, the next best thing for me!

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