Beauty and the Beast Land Construction Update
In this construction update, we’ll share progress photos from the Beauty and the Beast mini-land being added to Fantasyland, the Big Hero Six attraction in Tomorrowland, and Minnie’s design studio in Toontown at Tokyo Disneyland. Since StarJets closed earlier this fall, construction walls have swallowed more of the park, and work has progressed noticeably since our last visit, as this huge expansion races to meet its Spring 2020 opening date.
While there has been a lot of talk recently about the prospects of a 3rd gate at Tokyo Disney Resort as part of a $2.7 billion expansion project, we are much more excited about this near-term project. In fact, this is the most exciting project for us in all of the Disney Parks universe right now. (Sorry, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.)
Part of this is because Beauty and the Beast appeals more to us personally as children who grew up during the Disney Animation renaissance. Part of it is because of the budget for this new land, which is a bit under $750 million. That’s not an estimate, that’s the actual number released by Oriental Land Co., the group that owns Tokyo Disney Resort. To put that into perspective, Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland cost a reported $450 million…
We think this is noteworthy because Treasure Cove contains the most-ambitious Disney attraction to date, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, and because the two projects otherwise seem similar in scope. Treasure Cove also featured a stage show, restaurant, lavish thematic work, and a couple of well-done play areas. This expansion to Tokyo Disneyland entails a stage show, the Baymax whip ride, Minnie’s Design Studio, a meet & greet, Belle’s Village…and the unnamed ‘Be Our Guest’ mega E-Ticket.
In both scenarios, a single ride probably accounts for 65-75% of the expansion budget. Even if this Beauty and the Beast attraction “only” accounts for $450 million of that budget (it’s hard to fathom the rest of this project costing more than $100 million, let alone $200+ million), that will make it the most expensive Disney attraction ever.
It’s possible one of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions will rival that amount in terms of cost, but we doubt it. Given the budget for this Beauty and the Beast attraction, it’s a bit surprising that there isn’t more buzz about it. Obviously, U.S. fans are going to be more excited about the attractions opening nearer to them, but this ride doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar. That seems a bit odd since it’ll probably be a game-changing dark ride featuring one of Disney’s most beloved animated classics.
Keeping in mind that construction is more expensive in Japan than it is China (due to stringent earthquake code and with rising costs due to demand in the lead-up to the Olympics) and also that variances in the yen’s strength could put the actual value under $700 million for the entire project, this is still a mind-boggling amount of money for a single attraction. I personally cannot fathom a ride that is even more epic in scope and scale than Shanghai’s Pirates, but it seems that’s bound to be the case with Tokyo’s Beauty and the Beast ride.
Okay, that’s enough for the Beauty and the Beast mini-land hype train. Before we share current construction progress photos, let’s provide a bit of context. For reference, here are a couple views of the expansion area via Google Maps from before construction began:
Basically, this New Fantasyland area (with the Big Hero 6 whip ride as a buffer) will consume the former plot of Grand Circuit Raceway, StarJets, and part of the old parking lot. The backstage show building for the Beauty and the Beast attraction will extend behind Toontown.
Here’s video we took while riding the Tokyo Disney Resort Liner (monorail) heading from Tokyo Disneyland Station towards Bayside Station:
The frame you see emphasized in the video is the show-building for the Be Our Guest dark ride. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from this video, but the building is massive, as is the construction site. (As you can see in the photo below, walls engulf the area from Toontown all the way down to Space Mountain.)
It’s visible from various areas of Tokyo Disneyland, and will require some creative Imagineering to hide this thing from other lands. (We have confidence–Imagineers did a great job hiding the colossal Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure building.)
I’m excited for this project for so many reasons. Obviously, the Beauty and the Beast mega E-Ticket sounds like it’ll be a grand slam. At the same time, I also realize what a huge draw it’ll be. To this day, the rope drop race for Toy Story Mania FastPasses at Tokyo DisneySea is chaotic, and it’s several years after that mediocre attraction opened.
I cannot wrap my head around what the scene will be like for this attraction given that these are popular characters and the ride is likely to actually be good. I envision a scenario with 6+ hour waits the first year it’s open, and 5-hour waits thereafter. That might seem asinine, but the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey wait times at Universal Studios Japan still consistently top 300 minutes. Given that, it’s pretty unlikely this is going to be an attraction we do more than once per trip.
It’s also worth noting that Beauty and the Beast is insanely popular in Japan. Anecdotally, we noticed more Princess Belle dresses during the Halloween season than all other princesses combined (while still popular, Frozen fever has definitely died down in Japan considerably). Even though the live action version of the film came out this year, the animated classic has tremendous staying power in Japan.
What I’m looking forward to almost as much is how this New Fantasyland/Tomorrowland project should help elevate that half of the park to be on par with the Westernland/Critter Country/Adventureland half of the park on a thematic level. Right now, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland have large swaths of pavement, and are lacking the level of immersion of the other half of the park.
Hopefully, some place-making projects are announced for 2018 and 2019 that help achieve that. It’s safe to say that the OLC wants Tokyo Disneyland looking as good as possible for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics (hence already announcing a Spring 2020 opening date for this).
The world spotlight will be on all of Japan then, and it’s a good chance for Tokyo Disney Resort to generate global buzz. It’s fair to surmise that OLC will do everything they can to make as great of an impression as possible to foreign guests and the media during the Olympics. It should be an exciting few years for Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea fans!
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
Are you looking forward to this expansion at Tokyo Disneyland? Do you have high expectations for the Be Our Guest dark ride? Think it’ll rival Battle for the Sunken Treasure or Mystic Manor? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I still cant wrap my head around this budget. But, now that I’ve seen the Japan parks it makes sense!
Although it IS exciting to see expansion at Tokyo DL, the statement from LocoBoy “that all Disney fans in the US to do like what I did and save up all the money that you would have originally spent on Disneyland and Walt Disney World trips and put it towards a Tokyo Disneyland trip instead” isn’t that realistic. I can fly to MCO for under $200/pp & SNA for under $100/pp, so Tokyo is definitely not in MY financial wheelhouse! Its simply not comparing apples to apples for most US citizens.
Depending on where you live in the U.S., it may be prohibitively expensive (airfare) to visit Tokyo Disney. However, the hotels next to the Tokyo parks are not Disney Hotels (e.g. Hilton and Sheraton) but have convenient Monorail stops and are very reasonably priced. They are much cheaper than Florida and, I’m guessing, Anaheim. They are SO convenient to the parks! The entrance tickets are also less expensive than Anaheim and Florida. The hospitality in Japan is unsurpassed!
It’s not out of reach… here’s how we make it happen: we changed credit card! We got the best CC for flight rewards and have never paid for flights since. Any spending that we would usually pay debit, we put on credit and pay off each month. It adds up quickly.
Thanks for the update. I was just at Tokyo Disneyland last week (12-9-17 through 12-14-17) and I saw all of the construction up close and in person. No doubt about it, this will be a massive expansion and, like you, after seeing it in person I’m a lot more excited about it than any of the Star Wars projects here in the US. When Tokyo Disneyland does anything, they do it right – the first time. They don’t mess around over there.
I encourage all Disney fans in the US to do like what I did and save up all the money that you would have originally spent on Disneyland and Walt Disney World trips and put it towards a Tokyo Disneyland trip instead. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Show your support of quality parks and operational procedures by voting with your hard earned money. Here are the quantities of my Disney theme park vacations over the last two years.
Disneyland – 1
Walt Disney World – 0
Tokyo Disneyland – 2
I don’t regret avoiding the US Disney parks one bit. Oriental Land Company knows how to do it and do it right.
I TOTALLY WOULD, if it wasn’t 10 grand just to fly there…. I spent a little over half that on 10 days at WDW, flight, hotel, food, tickets. So, yah…
I don’t know how many people you’re traveling with, but it definitely doesn’t have to cost nearly that much to fly to Japan. My husband and I are flying out there this week and we paid a total of $860 for two round-trip direct-flight tickets out of LAX to Narita. Granted, we had to track prices for months before the price dropped that low but we planned and tracked prices and we got it. It’s totally possible. Even if you’re flying from somewhere else in the country, it could still be relatively cheap to fly into LAX first and then out to Japan from there. The point is don’t immediately dismiss it as impossible to afford. We do not make a lot of money at all but through extensive planning and strict budgets we’ve been able to make it happen.
The expansion underway at Disney Sea, is that just Soarin’ ?
Dean from Oz
Between this and Super Nintendo World, I am ridiculously excited for another trip to Japan, though I’d probably need to wait for the crowds to die down first! So probably two trips should be in the calendar! 😉
Thanks for this great update!
Aw man! I was all set to start planning a 2019 first time trip to TKDL but now I’m thinking I’d better push it back a year. Beauty and the Beast has always been and will forever be my favorite Disney animated movie. Belle is my favorite princess. Gaston is one of my fave in-parks characters. You get it… I mean this is exciting though!
I’m in the same boat – not sure what to do! We will probably only visit Japan once in our lifetimes. No matter what, we’ll be going in June as soon as school is out (teacher here). Tom, what do you think? 2019 or 2020? I am concerned about crowds and the price of an overall trip to Japan, but I sure love Beauty and the Beast and Big Hero 6…
I’m not really sure what travel trends are like *before* the Olympics (I plan on researching that since there are 3 upcoming Olympics in “Disney cities”), but I’d be somewhat weary about that in 2020.
Beyond that, how do you handle crowds? My big concern with Beauty and the Beast is that it will be a HUGE draw in Japan, drawing unprecedented crowds. I fully expect 5-6 hour waits for the ride, timed entry for the land, and 60 minute waits for FastPass at rope drop. If you don’t handle crowds well, that may not be a good way for your first and only Japan trip.
I still remember waiting 45 mins for the fastpass there for TSMM 4 years ago, I can’t imagine
How is this a trick? It says “Tokyo Disneyland” in the first sentence and this area was announced on the official Disney Parks Blog for Japan last year. I don’t feel “tricked” when a Coronado Springs construction update doesn’t say Walt Disney World in the title.
Did people wake up this morning expecting a surprise that Walt Disney World was a year into an unannounced Beauty and the Beast ride construction?
I honestly don’t know why people that are interested enough in Disney to read this blog are not interested in the ‘international’ parks and do not know about their expansions. I have been to every park except the US ones and I still know and care about those parks and their respective projects.
I also wish that the opening of international park areas got more hype from fans. For instance, I still cannot find much on the Nemo and Friends Sea Rider attraction that opened this year in DisneySea. I love Disney, so I will always be excited for new attractions, even if I will not be experiencing them soon. I don’t understand how people could not be interested just because they are not in their ‘home’ park.
Same here! You tricked us. No sneaky teaser tag lines! You’re better than that. I thought it was WDW too.
This was announced a while ago for Tokyo and Walt Disney World already got its BatB addition several years ago; I figured readers would know where this is being built. Sorry!
I think they can turn transform the castle that has a be our guest restaurant at WDW into a Beauty and the Beast ride
Bonnie, how did he trick you? The title of the article is accurate.
I got all excited until you said Tokyo. I was hoping it was WDW. Yes, I know they are already spending a fortune on Toy Story land and SW (yuck).