Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland is the park’s new nighttime spectacular for its 35th Anniversary. The show pays tribute to the lands and attractions of Tokyo Disneyland, and is expected to run at least through the end of the Happiest Celebration, and possibly into 2020. In this post, we’ll review Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland, sharing photos and short video along the way.
Our main reason for traveling during the hot and humid summer season was for the new entertainment for the 35th Anniversary, and seasonal entertainment of Pirates Summer. (Read our Tokyo Disneyland Summer 2018 Trip Recap here.) The highlight of the 35th Anniversary entertainment was Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland, the new nighttime spectacular.
Even before the trip, I was really hyped on this. The original press release made me think it might be like PhilharMagic meets Remember Dreams Come True, and my expectations soared at that moment. With each new piece of concept art, including an image of the Country Bears, my anticipation built. I kept telling myself to cool it, as I was going off bad concept art and Google Translate’s poorly-translated description of what the show would entail.
After waiting nearly two hours to see the preview night of Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland (which was totally unnecessary–we waited on subsequent nights for ~30 minutes in better spots), we finally saw the new show. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
Before heaping praise on Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland, I’ll start by hedging this review a bit. Other people are definitely going to prefer different Disney nighttime spectaculars, especially those who go to the parks to experience stories from their favorite animated movies.
As a theme parks fan first, Remember Dreams Come True at Disneyland has been my favorite nighttime spectacular up until now. I love Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, but its subject matter is Disney films, and I’m far less interested in those than the theme parks. That’s obviously a matter of personal preference, and while I favor RDCT, I enjoy Happily Ever After and find it to be objectively good.
Those who favor fireworks shows and care less about the other bells and whistles are also bound to be disappointed with Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland. It has more pyro than the park’s previous nighttime spectaculars, but still far less than any other castle park.
Due to its location in a densely urban area and incredibly small fireworks launch site, Tokyo Disneyland will never have a large-scale fireworks show. Even the nightly fireworks show that Tokyo Disney Resort does have is mostly an afterthought. It’s around 5 minutes in duration, occurs between the two parks, and is cancelled in even the slightest wind (it was cancelled every single night of this trip–which isn’t even remotely uncommon).
Then there are the fountains, which add very little to the show from most viewing locations. As with the fireworks, Tokyo is working with what it has here–a small moat that entertainment tried to retrofit with fountains. The result certainly is not on par with World of Color, or even with the fountains at Disneyland Paris.
Going in, I knew the pyro would be minimal. I also suspected that the fountains would likely be used to give the show a bit more depth, rather than as screens for show scenes a la World of Color. Given my expectations and personal preferences, I wasn’t disappointed.
The substance of Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland is another matter. Remember Dreams Come True is a huge hit for Southern California locals because of its powerful nostalgia. It hits all of the high notes, from Julie Andrews to Walt Disney to popular extinct attractions. Walt Disney’s opening day speech, in particular, is a powerful way to start the show.
I was relieved that Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland did not include Walt Disney. Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but I cringe at how much Walt Disney World leans on Walt–a man who never stepped foot in a single Florida park–for unearned nostalgia. To me, it feels cheap and disingenuous; a manipulative emotional ploy.
For Tokyo Disneyland, having a real Mickey Mouse character in Cinderella Castle’s balcony to conduct Tokyo Disneyland is Your Land against an opening montage of park attractions is an equally powerful way to start the show, and more fitting way to start things in Japan. The coolest moment of that preview night was the collective gasp when the audience realized Mickey Mouse was not a projection. A little touch, but one that has a big impact.
From there, Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland hits the ground running. The show starts in Adventureland with a strong scene from the Tiki Room (that even Stitch’s arrival can’t slow down) before continuing to Jungle Cruise and building in intensity to Pirates of the Caribbean.
Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland then moves on to Westernland, and it’s there that my personal favorite scene of the show occurs. It’s almost like someone created this just for me, as it features a goat (from Big Thunder) and the Country Bears, riding around in a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad train helmed by Mickey Mouse. The animation here is really strong, as you travel on the runaway mine train with Mickey and the bears.
This scene literally gave me chills. If you’re a Country Bear diehard, you get this. If not, you might think I’m crazy. (You’re not wrong.) Here’s Sarah’s video of this portion of the show:
Other favorite scenes of mine include the Mark Twain Riverboat, plus all of Toontown and Tomorrowland.
As with Remember Dreams Come True, Tomorrowland is epic and cleverly uses Star Tours as a conduit for fast-paced Star Wars fun. Toontown has great lighting effects and solid pyro, and a lot of the soundtrack here is very similar to RDCT.
In fact, several scenes in Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland borrow notes from Remember Dreams Come True (the projections are always wholly unique) and usually the music has been expanded upon in some way. The Haunted Mansion scene is another good example of this, as the music is re-arranged and the scenery is focused differently.
This is also one instance of RDCT’s superiority, as the stretching room pyro is a show-stopper in the Disneyland version, and it’s too bad that couldn’t have been incorporated here.
What I appreciate most about Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland is how it weaves together the park’s lands and attractions with Mickey Mouse and the animated classics. It’s all so smooth and seamless that during the show you never really think of how fundamentally different properties are being combined.
This is done in logical ways–such as weaving together Jungle Cruise and Jungle Book or even Rivers of America and “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas–and works in a way to give Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland broader appeal. Despite this, each scene flows wonderfully (except, perhaps, Haunted Mansion to Splash Mountain) with Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland never feeling like a choppy montage show.
Then there are the effects used to compensate for the relative lack of fireworks. Tokyo Disneyland’s projection shows have always featured an embarrassment of riches in the searchlight department, but this takes that to the next level. They’re everywhere, and there must be close to 100 of them.
Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland also features several lasers, flamethrowers, synchronized popcorn lighting in the Central Plaza, and lighting projected onto the trees around Cinderella Castle.
The culmination of this is a show with so much emotional punch and visual wizardry that you really don’t notice the lack of fireworks. At least, I didn’t the first time I saw it. It took my second viewing, from an off-angle with no view of the front projections, to realize that the show was light on pyro.
Again, different viewers with different expectations as to what a nighttime spectacular includes might feel differently. (However, that won’t be the case with the local audience, since they’ve never had a pyro-heavy show.)
Ultimately, it’s impossible for me to say this is the best Disney nighttime spectacular of all time. Different shows resonate with different people in different ways. With Remember Dreams Come True, Happily Ever After, and Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland, I think we are in a “golden age” of castle park fireworks shows, and a strong case can be made for each being the best depending upon ones personal preferences.
What I can say is that Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland is my favorite castle park nighttime spectacular of all-time (a careful distinction/cop out so I don’t have to compare it to IllumiNations). Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland is a brilliant love letter to the park and its attractions with visuals that wow, making it my ideal nighttime spectacular. Tokyo Disney Resort entertainment doesn’t have a long shelf life, so I’m already thinking of ways to see this again–I’ll definitely miss Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland when it’s gone.
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.
Have you seen Celebrate Tokyo Disneyland? What did you think of the show? Does the lack of pyro disappoint, or were you impressed with the other effects? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!