Tokyo DisneySea is the greatest Disney theme park in the world not just because of its impressive attraction lineup, but because of its amazing landscape that transports you from a theme park to numerous distant settings (in some cases, back to the United States!). While there are areas of Disneyland and Walt Disney World that do this, nowhere else does this on a park-wide basis like Tokyo DisneySea.
Largely because of the glimpses of Tokyo DisneySea we have seen and the tales told of this majestic park by the fans who have visited, DisneySea is viewed as a mecca for Disney park fans. It occupied the top slot on my own Disney bucket list for a while before I finally got the chance to visit this spring (unfortunately, that visit didn’t ‘quench my thirst’ for Tokyo Disney Resort…it only made me thirstier!).
With the idea that almost everywhere you look at DisneySea is a meticulously crafted and blemish-free landscape just waiting to be photographed, here are a look at my favorite “scenes” from DisneySea.
10. Toyville Trolley Park
Presumably modeled after the Luna Park in Melbourne, Australia, Toyville Trolley Park doesn’t exactly have the same organic feel that the rest of Tokyo DisneySea has. It feels shoehorned into the American Waterfront, even if many people do associate the look of this area with Coney Island in New York. Still, it’s absolutely gorgeous at night, and even the creepy Woody head has its own special charm…sorta.
9. DisneySea Electric Railway Station
Find a monorail track in a Disney theme park at sunset, and chances are, someone will be pointing a DSLR at it, waiting for a monorail. Photographically speaking, the Electric Railway is Tokyo DisneySea’s monorail, and it also makes a great photo subject at sunset. In terms of the attraction itself, it’s like Tokyo’s cross between the Peoplemover and the monorail; the DisneySea Electric Railway is a nice leisurely ride.
8. Mediterranean Harbor Gondolas
The decision to build Hotel MiraCosta in Tokyo DisneySea was a brilliant one, and the hotel’s rear facade gives a true “lived in” feeling to Mediterranean Harbor. This is especially true over by the Gondola loading area, where the park could pass for a quiet part of Venice.
7. Tower of Terror
Tokyo DisneySea’s Tower of Terror doesn’t have anything to do with the Twilight Zone, but its story involving the rich plunderer, Harrison Hightower, and the subsequent tours offered by the New York City Preservation Society (it’s located in the American Waterfront area of the park, after all) is just as brilliant. It’s by far the most beautiful of the Tower of Terror attractions, with plenty of areas to explore both outside and inside the hotel. Its overflow queue is an incredibly gorgeous area that was not being used during our visit.
6. Fortress Explorations and Mount Prometheus
A fort built in the side of a volcano? Add some dinosaurs to the mix and you basically have every 7 year old’s dream environment. Unfortunately, the Oriental Land Company cheaped out when they built this area, and only included a lavishly detailed fortress that both kids and adults will want to spend hours exploring, and a volcano so authentic in appearance that you might swear it’s real when it erupts. Shame on them for not spending the money to research a viable method of cloning dinosaurs, and then stocking the park with those dinosaurs. Even without the dinosaurs, I guess this is really a sight to behold.
5. S.S. Columbia
Home to perhaps the greatest theme park tribute to a U.S. President in the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge (its only real competition is Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln), the S.S. Columbia looks like a real steam liner docked at the edge of the ocean (just don’t look in its direction when you’re riding the monorail!). The S.S. Columbia is especially beautiful at night, but at any time of day, it’s a pretty amazing scene to look one direction and see a volcano and then turn around and see a 20th century steam liner, all in the same theme park.
4. Arabian Coast Arches
I think Morocco is arguably the most beautiful area of Epcot’s World Showcase, so it’s probably no surprise that I love the Arabian Coast. Its corridors feel like they’re straight out of a Middle-Eastern bazaar and the lighting furthers this mood. The textures and colors back here are gorgeous, but it’s the numerous archways that I think give Arabian Coast its charm. The quiet walk at night from Mysterious Island, passing under these archways, to Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage is about as picturesque of an experience as you can possibly imagine.
3. King Triton’s Castle
If the ‘kiddie ride’ areas in the U.S. parks were this well done, I doubt anyone would complain about them. On the inside, King Triton’s Castle is a brilliant “under sea” environment holding a variety of attractions. On the outside, King Triton’s Castle is one of the most beautiful spots in the park. Rising in an oddly organic way from the ground, the Castle is comprised of a variety of materials, and looks like what you might expect Triton’s actual underwater castle to look like. Tokyo DisneySea isn’t typically considered a “Castle Park,” and with so many other beautiful areas of the park commanding attention it’s understandable why it’s not, but I think King Triton’s Castle is one of the most underrated aspects of Tokyo DisneySea, and a beautiful castle in its own right.
2. Cape Cod Lighthouse
When I sat down to write this article, I ‘formally’ ranked these for the first time, and I was a bit surprised that this scene landed in the #2 slot. When you think about it, though, it makes some sense. No less than 45% of the quintessential American landscape photos and paintings are sunset scenes of New England lighthouses (rough math there). That this scene of tranquility is captured outside of one of Japan’s largest cities with road and a monorail to the left of the frame and highway in every other direction is a testament to the work the Imagineers did with DisneySea.
1. Mysterious Island Trifecta (Prometheus, Nautilus, Excavator)
I don’t think there’s any explanation necessary for why the iconic scene from Tokyo DisneySea–recognizable to just about any Disney fan–is in the top slot, and that’s a good thing, because no words could possibly do this scene justice. I’d run out of superlatives just trying. More than the attractions, dining, or anything else, this single scene is the top reason Disney fans should visit Tokyo Disney Resort. I love sitting out back at Flo’s V8 Cafe and watching the cars race through Ornament Valley at night, but an open air table at Vulcania at night completely puts the former scene to shame. If ever there were an apt use of the phrase “Disney Magic,” this scene is it.
Unfortunately, there are about 847 beautiful landscape scenes (conservative number) in Tokyo DisneySea, and this list only had room for 10, so some really beautiful views got left off the list.
If you’re interested in seeing more of Tokyo DisneySea, and Tokyo Disney Resort in general, check out my ongoing Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
What do you think of Tokyo DisneySea? Have you visited? Would you like to someday visit? Share in the comments!