I would like to begin by clarifying a few misconceptions you might have about this theme park based solely on its name:
1) Tokyo Disneyland is not actually located in Tokyo. The entire Tokyo Disney Resort is actually located in the city of Urayasu, which is in Chiba Prefecture. Maihama Station, the JR East (East Japan Railway) station that serves the resort, is about a fifteen-minute train ride from Tokyo Station and only one stop outside of Edogawa (the easternmost of Tokyo’s special wards), but still. Not Tokyo. :)
One awesome fact that I just learned – Urayasu’s city sister is Orlando, Florida! That is seriously too perfect.
2) Tokyo Disneyland is not actually owned by Disney. It was begun and is still owned by the Oriental Land Company, although Disney does receive a certain amount of royalties. I hope to be able to tell you more about this relationship in the future, when perhaps I may be so lucky as to actually retain some of the relevant economic information …
3) Tokyo Disneyland is not actually based on Disneyland. According to what I have read, it is based on Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Having never been to the Magic Kingdom (one day!!!) I’m not sure how much I can expand on this, except to note that Tokyo Disneyland has Cinderella Castle (like the Magic Kingdom, and unlike Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle), and it recently added a statue of Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse (like the Magic Kingdom, but absent at Disneyland). Some areas of the park seem to blend together features that are different in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom – for example, Tokyo Disneyland’s It’s a Small World (sorry, I can’t convince myself to do the lowercase title thing) has the clock display outside like at Disneyland, but most of the queue and all of the ride is inside like in the Magic Kingdom. And of course there are original touches. I really enjoy seeing all of the different elements blend together to make Tokyo Disneyland what it is.
Now for the introduction proper. Tokyo Disneyland opened on April 15, 1983, the fourth Disney park (Epcot had only opened six months before) and the first to open outside of the U.S. At 115 acres (according to the infallible Wikipedia), it is the second largest of the castle parks, and consistently ranks as the third-most visited theme park in the world (the first two being the American castle parks). The lands within Tokyo Disneyland are:
World Bazaar: Many of you will probably know this land better by the name of Main Street, U.S.A. It’s where you’ll find the park’s Disney Gallery.
Adventureland: Much larger than Disneyland’s, although I don’t know how it compares to the Magic Kingdom’s. Tokyo Disneyland doesn’t have an area officially known as New Orleans Square, but the area of Adventureland where you’ll find Pirates of the Caribbean bears a very strong resemblance to Disneyland’s!
Westernland: Many of you will probably know this land better by the name of Frontierland.
Critter Country: Featuring two attractions: Splash Mountain and the Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, like the Magic Kingdom’s, can be found in Fantasyland, where it is one of the park’s most popular rides.
Fantasyland: Where you’ll find Tokyo Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. I’m not sure I’ll ever get completely used to seeing the Haunted Mansion sitting directly across from Dumbo the Flying Elephant, it’s just an odd combination.
Toontown: The entrance to Toontown is pretty much in Tomorrowland, another juxtaposition that seems odd to me. Instead of being at the back of the park as it is in Disneyland, Tokyo’s Toontown is kind of along the right side.
Tomorrowland: The elevated Rocket Jets at Disneyland are no more, but in Tokyo you can still ride a StarJet high above Tomorrowland.
I wanted to end this entry with a paragraph of ~my impressions~ of Tokyo Disneyland, but at the moment I can’t think of anything to say that’s deeper than “I love it!” Over the course of this blog, I hope to share with you all the reasons why. :)
Photos taken by me, September 2011.