Tokyo Disneyland: The Bizarro Magic Kingdom


I love Tokyo Disneyland. That much is probably a given considering how much I gush over Tokyo Disney Resort. However, having visited Walt Disney World all of my life, there are some times when I almost stop in my tracks and do a double-take as I walk around Tokyo Disneyland, since parts of it feel like a “Bizarro Magic Kingdom,” borrowing from common elements of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and to a lesser extent, Disneyland. Certain parts of the park mirror present day Magic Kingdom, other parts (like Tomorrowland) look like the Magic Kingdom of years past, other areas feel like out of place versions of the Magic Kingdom, and other parts still incorporate a dash of Disneyland.

Then, of course, there are the entirely original areas of Tokyo Disneyland, which tend to be the most interesting of all. These original areas are pretty much everything of consequence that has been added to Tokyo Disneyland since the mid-1980s, and what really make Tokyo Disneyland a world-class theme park and not just “the Magic Kingdom, but in Japan.” This post focuses primarily on the similarities that make some areas of Tokyo Disneyland feel eerily familiar, so don’t underestimate Tokyo Disneyland based on the cloned or near-cloned parts of the park covered here. You don’t get to be the best Disney castle park, as Tokyo Disneyland is in my opinion, by being nothing but clones!

If all of this doesn’t make sense via text, don’t worry. The photos tell the story a lot better. I thought for today’s post on the 31st Anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland, it would be fun to take a look at the areas of the park that look like they’re Twilight Zone versions of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland! (more…)

Downtown Disney Tips (+Hotel Stay Giveaway!)

Downtown Disney is the shopping and dining district at Walt Disney World, which is currently being transformed into Disney Springs. This post covers some of our tips for visiting Downtown Disney. More importantly, for those of you who like free stuff, it introduces our new giveaway courtesy of the Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels. We’ll be running a giveaway for 3-night stays at each of the 7 Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels from one hotel per month, now through October. More details on the giveaway at the bottom of the post.

Our reason for combining this tips post with the giveaway is simple: Downtown Disney is a bit of a knowledge-gap for us, so what better way to do this giveaway than by having you help crowd-source some tips for us! ;) While we’ve been to Downtown Disney many, many times, most of our visits came in the Pleasure Island days. In fact, before this year, our last Downtown Disney visit was to the Adventurers Club. So yeah, it’s been a while…

With that said, we do have a handful of tips of our own regarding Downtown Disney, but our tips are far from comprehensive. (more…)

Boma Review

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Boma – Flavors of Africa is a buffet in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World. This review features photos and thoughts about dinner at Boma. The menu at Boma features a wide variety of American and African cuisine, and features both adventurous cuisine and more conventional options, making it one of the most diverse buffets at Walt Disney World. Arguably the best buffet at Walt Disney World, participates in the Disney Dining Plan, and accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount. While it’s not a great use of a Disney Dining Plan table service credit if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan, it isn’t a bad option either.

We’ve dined at Boma for dinner on a few different occasions, and each time have been really full. It’s certainly not the cheapest buffet on property, but we think it’s the best due to its huge range of high quality options, especially the soups, meats, and desserts (especially those delicious zebra domes pictured above). It’s not a character buffet, so if that matters to you but you still want the kids of foods found at Boma, we recommend lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom (the park) instead. In terms of cuisine, it’s like Boma-lite.

Boma is located on the lower level of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, adjacent to Jiko – The Cooking Place (one of our favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World) and The Mara (one of the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World). With this hard-hitting trio plus the often-overlooked Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village, Animal Kingdom Lodge has arguably the best dining of any resort hotel at Walt Disney World. Only the Grand Floridian really gives it a run for its money. (more…)

Mystic Manor Photo Tour & Review

Mystic Manor is the newest attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, and one of Disney’s best-ever attractions anywhere in the world. This post takes a look inside Lord Henry Mystic’s manor, with photos, descriptions, and commentary along the way. As Mystic Manor itself is a Magneto-Electric Carriage tour of Lord Henry’s manor, consider this post the tour of the tour.

Since Mystic Manor is still less than a year old and probably hasn’t been experienced by many guests, a warning seems appropriate… WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PHOTO AND PLOTLINE SPOILERS OF MYSTIC MANOR. If you have not yet experienced Mystic Manor, but plan to in the near future, we highly recommend clicking here to exit now. These photos and details cannot possibly do justice to the actual attraction experience, anyway.

If you only want to read the portion of this post that contains the photo-free and mostly spoiler-free review, click here.

With that said, let’s start the tour. Spoilers start below the jump… (more…)

S.S. Columbia Dining Room Review

The S.S. Columbia Dining Room is located onboard the eponymous ocean-liner in the American Waterfront port of call at Tokyo DisneySea. It’s considered one of the flagship (that’s awful pun #2,573 on this blog, for those keeping score at home!) restaurants at Tokyo DisneySea, along with Magellan’s. Certainly, they’re the two most expensive restaurants in the park. Prior to our first trip to Tokyo Disney Resort, we decided to do a few table service meals at restaurants that were highly regarded, and the S.S. Columbia Dining Room fit the bill.

In terms of theme, the S.S. Columbia Dining Room is styled with an elegant Art Nouveau look. It definitely has strong elements of Art Nouveau, but overall it felt to me less like a luxury ocean-liner (like the Disney Dream cruise ship) and more of a cross between the Grand Floridian and Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom due to the color palette used throughout. (more…)

Top 10 Disneyland Rides at Night

Some attractions at Disneyland are better at night. Actually, just about all of the ones that take place at least partially outdoors are better at night. That’s probably because Disneyland, overall, is better at night. During the evening, Disneyland comes alive with vibrant color from the show lighting, fireworks, and other nighttime entertainment that just seems to give the park a jolt of energy.

Not only that, and maybe it’s just me, but it seems like aspects of the Disneyland experience are “heightened.” The background music is louder, the scents are more fragrant, and Disneyland simultaneously feels more tranquil yet somehow more alive. In short, Disneyland is just flat out better at night.

While I can’t entirely put my finger on why the whole experience is just better at night, there are some specific attractions I can point to as being better at night, along with reasons why they are better at night. Here’s the list of the top 10 Disneyland attractions that are better at night… (more…)

My Top 10 Disney Experiences (So Far)

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Someone recently asked me what my all-time favorite Disney moments had been. Having been going to the Disney theme parks all of my life and having numerous major life milestones occur there, that’s a difficult question to answer. Not only that, but favorite is somewhat of a moving target. Moments that seem significant today may fade with time, while other, seemingly less-memorable experiences can grow over time. Still, I thought it would be a fun topic to take on, and while these are all personal enough to just me that they really won’t help you plan your trips in any way, I thought it would be fun to share my top 10 moments.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to visit the Disney theme parks often (that’s my mom and me next to Minnie Mouse in that above photo, by the way!), and have had some great experiences and made some great memories along the way. There are a lot of experiences that were really amazing that didn’t make it on the list. Things like our first visit to Hong Kong Disneyland (for those who have asked–this trip report is still coming soon!), dining at Club 33, touring the Cinderella Castle Suite, and photographing the sunrises in almost every Disney theme park in the world, among other experiences, all are incredibly fond memories of mine, but all miss the list.

Here’s what did make the top 10… (more…)

Hungry Bear Restaurant Review

Hungry Bear Restaurant is a counter service dining location in Tokyo Disneyland’s Westernland. Despite sharing them sharing a name, this restaurant bears no resemblance to Disneyland’s Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country. Besides maybe the fact that both contain some stray Country Bear Jamboree references (Hungry Bear Restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland is right next to Country Bear Theater; Hungry Bear Restaurant in Disneyland used to be right next to Counter Bear Playhouse).

This version of Hungry Bear Restaurant specializes in curry. And by specializes, I mean that’s the only thing on the menu. There are a couple of curry restaurants in Tokyo Disney Resort, including our beloved Casbah Food Court, and if these restaurants are any indication, curry is relatively popular in Japan. In fact, Hungry Bear Restaurant is so popular that it hungered for an expansion a couple of years ago and consumed Mile Long Bar in the process.

Terrible puns aside, Hungry Bear Restaurant is absolutely huge, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. Each room in the restaurant looks and feels different, and is very well detailed. It can be very busy in Hungry Bear Restaurant during the prime dining hours, but it never feels like a loud mess hall due to how the restaurant is divided up. Some booths are even located in jail cells! (more…)