Top Ten Scenes at Tokyo DisneySea

Written by Tom Bricker. Posted in Features, Tokyo Disney Resort

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Published on August 08, 2013 at 3:00 am with 32 Comments

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

toy-story-midway-mania-disneysea-woody

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

disneysea-electric-railway-sunset

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

disneysea-venice

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

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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

mount-prometheus-sunset

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

us-steamship-company-disneysea copy

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

arabian-coast-night-corridor copy

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

mermaid-lagoon-sunset-side

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

cape-code-lighthouse-sunset-2

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)

toyko-disneysea-mysterious-island-night

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!

About Tom Bricker

Although Tom lives over a thousand miles away from both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, he is an Annual Passholder on both coasts. Tom is a published photographer of the Disney theme parks. He posts regular updates to his personal site, DisneyTouristBlog.com. You'll also find his new column, Tom's Top Ten, right here on MiceChat. If you see some fool contorted in an awkward position trying to get the "perfect photo angle" in the parks, stop and say hello, as that fool is probably Tom.

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  1. [...] Top Ten Scenes at Tokyo DisneySeaMiceChatTokyo 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 … [...]

  2. Nice photos, thanks for sharing. Glad you like that park so much. Definitely one of the nicer Disney parks.

    • I know it’s probably heresy around these parts, but I think when you get past the nostalgia, it’s superior to the original Disneyland. Once you add nostalgia to the mix and also consider how revolutionary Disneyland was, it’s going to pass TDS for a lot of people.

  3. Great pics and report! My niece is leaving for a year in Japan and she’s a big Disney fan. This park is number one on her list.

  4. Great photos! I wish they’d built the Mermaid playland at the US parks. The Mermaid ride in the American parks is very ho hum. I love the gift shop at Mermaid at TDS – setting is inside Monstro the whale!

    • We didn’t spend a ton of time in Mermaid Lagoon, but for what it is, it’s very nicely done. My favorite part of the WDW Mermaid dark ride is the exterior and queue; it’s too bad the ride that follows isn’t Sindbad quality!

  5. I’ve always been a fan of your photography and when I heard you were heading out to Tokyo Disneyland I knew you’d be coming back with some absolute killer shots.

    These, plus the pictures and trip reports on your website, have not disappointed!

    • Thanks, glad you’re enjoying the report. I’m trying to get the first day of our visit to Tokyo Disneyland done…hopefully tonight!

  6. Beautiful photos! It gets me more excited for my Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disney trip in February. I hope to take some great shots as well.

  7. This is without a doubt the best theme park in the world. The rides, upkeep, themeing and cast member performance are far superior than anything else. If this park is a 10, I’d say the next best is an 8. I too fell in love with the electric railway as not only does it save your legs walking back and forth from the back of the park to American waterfront, but it reminded me of the Disneyland Railroad in its level of authenticity. I have one tip for anyone visiting, besides doing all of the rides, don’t overlook mystic rhythms which is not heavily advertised and we just happened upon it. Its a Cirque during soleil type show and well worth the price of admission alone.

    • Totally agree. There’s also a lot of detail in the American Waterfront that you simply can’t see unless you’re riding the Electric Railway.

      I’d also highly recommend Legend of Mythica, which is unfortunately winding down its run.

      I think there are a lot of “worth the price of admission alone” things at TDS. Such an amazing place. Hard to believe it and DCA 1.0 were being developed at the same time…

  8. I’ve been to DisneySea twice. It’s nice, but overated. The theming is quite good, but the entire park, to me, has a “cold” feeling to it. It doesn’t feel nearly as magical as some of Disney’s others to me.

    And contrary to what the article says, I greatly prefer the original Tower of Terror instead of this dumbed-down one.

    • I’d be curious to hear why you think Tokyo’s Tower is ‘dumbed-down’. I’m a huge fan of the Twilight Zone, and I still think the Tokyo Tower surpasses the WDW Tower (the 2nd best version) in nearly every conceivable way.

      Tokyo’s Tower cost significantly more and it has a richer story, so I’m wondering where it’s lacking…in that the elevator only moves vertically?

      • Cost should never be a factor in determining which ride is better; it should only ever be about the final experience (plus you can’t really directly compare construction costs in different parks in different countries for a multitude of reasons.)

        For one, the ride system uses the same dumbed-down template of DCA’s; it’s, by design, simpler. The 5th dimension sequence not only added to the ride time, but is an important part for the narrative construct of the original, which of course, has been changed completely for Tokyo’s–and not for the better imo. I also found the queue to be vastly inferior, and borderline cheese at parts; the artifact room in particular.

        I don’t dislike the ride; it’s still very good. DCA’s is too. But both are a far cry from the brilliance that is the original. Tokyo’s Tower of Terror, like the park itself, lacks the soul of my favorite parts of Disney. And soul isn’t something you can buy just by throwing money at it.

    • I guess I don’t understand what isn’t “magical” about the most immersive and impressive theme park on earth. Not enough princesses for you?

  9. I wonder how many people from Long Beach California have been to Tokyo Disney Seas and realized they could have had this park in their City near the Queen Mary? I’m sure with a greater budget in Japan it has gone way above what Long Beach might have had. If only PDL had the same financial backing, as it has the quality of TDS and maybe more in some lands. Cheers to PDL and TDR for their Imagineering Excellence.

    • PDL…Disneyland Paris? In terms of beauty, I think Disneyland Paris is the only park that approaches Tokyo DisneySea. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been continuing investment in Disneyland Paris, so it doesn’t quite compare for me.

  10. The current wallpaper on my laptop is of Fortress Explorations/Mount Prometheus. I can’t get enough of looking at photos of TDS. One of these days I WILL visit and see it all in person.

  11. “Mysterious Island Trifecta” is definitely my favorite part of TDS. i could sit by the nautilus and watch the waters bubble for hours.

    “I think Disneyland Paris is the only park that approaches Tokyo DisneySea.” i have found this, personally, to be absolutely true.

  12. Looks beautiful I can’t wait to visit it (one day). However, I don’t care if it’s nostalgic, the giant Woody head thing is CREEEPYYYY!

  13. [...] Tom Bricker at MiceAge has a super top ten pictorial of what I believe is the finest theme park in t… [...]

  14. Well done, Tom Bricker! THANK YOU for creating such an excellent article.

    News I’d like to read: The Oriental Land Company has just purchased Walt Disney World and is planning on investing $10 billion dollars there over the next seven years.

  15. No matter how fancy it is at TDR it will still in my opinion never surpass the original park. Disneyland will always be the best because of Walt’s involment with it.