After a delay of over 5 months, we finally have an opening date for Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, Happy Ride with Baymax, Minnie’s Style Studio, and the shops & restaurants in the New Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Toontown “large-scale development of Tokyo Disneyland.” Oriental Land Company just announced that the park’s largest expansion ever will officially debut on September 28, 2020. In this post, we’ll share concept art, offer info & details and provide some commentary.
This large-scale expansion is part of an unprecedented $3 billion expansion of Tokyo Disney Resort that has continued to plow forward in the last few months (even during the closure) without delay or budget cuts. The additions to Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea will bring Beauty and the Beast, Big Hero 6, Frozen, Tangled, and Peter Pan attractions to the parks, plus two new hotels to the resort complex.
The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is the marquee addition to the Tokyo Disneyland expansion, which will be Disney’s latest in a string of mega E-Ticket attractions. While specific line item budgets haven’t been released by OLC or Disney, this is expected to be among the most expensive attractions Imagineering has ever created, potentially on par with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in ambitiousness. (Here’s hoping it’s more reliable!)
Most of this expansion is New Fantasyland, and most of that is a Beauty and the Beast mini-land. This area stretches from Belle’s Village to the secluded forest home to Beast’s Castle. In this area, La Taverne de Gaston restaurant and Village Shoppes line the street. This trio of shops consists of La Belle Librairie, Little Town Traders and Bonjour Gifts.
Leaving the village behind, guests enter the forest and approach Beauty and the Beast’s Castle, which is home to the aforementioned E-Ticket. The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is a trackless dark ride featuring magical cups that dance in rhythm to the animated film’s music as they take guests through scenes depicting the story of Belle and the Beast.
Deep in Fantasyland lies Fantasyland Forest Theatre, the first indoor theater at Tokyo Disneyland. This will be the future home to “Mickey’s Magical Music World” show, which will open at a date to be announced later. Other indoor stage shows, including the comparable Big Band Beat and Song of Mirage, are not operating during Tokyo Disney Resort’s phased reopening.
In Tomorrowland, the Happy Ride with Baymax is basically Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree but with Big Hero 6. It looks cute and will have fun music and lighting effects, but it’s a flat ride–hardly a blockbuster addition. Nearby is The Big Pop, a cosmic-themed shop specializing in popcorn.
Moving to Toontown, where Minnie’s Style Studio will open. World-renowned fashion designer Minnie Mouse will greet guests while wearing her latest design, which will change each season. Decked out with a big, polka-dot bow, Minnie’s Style Studio is where she designs, creates and photographs her new fashions.
To avoid congestion, some of the new experiences have been modified operations and entry will be limited on a temporary basis. A new entry request system via the Tokyo Disney Resort App will be used for assigned time reservations at the new attractions and greeting experience. In addition, entry to the new restaurants and shops will be limited to guests who have made advance reservations.
Last year when Soaring: Fantastic Flight debuted, FastPasses were gone within minutes of park opening for the first several months. That was with the attraction operating at normal capacity. With reduced capacity, this is going to be more akin to the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding pass dash, which is essentially a lottery.
This is on top of the current limitations on entering Tokyo Disneyland. For all of the complaints among Walt Disney World Annual Passholders about the Park Pass system, Tokyo Disney Resort APs arguably have it worse. There, an Annual Pass lottery is held for the chance to visit Tokyo DisneySea and/or Disneyland once in a given month. We know some locals who have not won the lottery at all since the parks reopened!
The recourse in that case has been waiting until the following month, or purchasing 1-day or partial day tickets 30 days in advance. In fairness, the clock has not started ticking on Tokyo Disney Resort expiration dates (meaning they continue to be extended) and single day tickets are only $78, so it’s not quite as bad as it sounds.
As a quick aside, we’ll be curious to see whether Disneyland Resort in California follows the Tokyo or Florida “model” for Annual Passholder entry. From a demographics perspective, the Tokyo approach makes more sense. From a domestic parks infrastructure and continuity perspective, the Florida approach makes more sense. Both are going to cause a ton of outrage among Disneyland APs, as there is way more demand than there is park capacity, but I digress…
It’s not bombshell news that Tokyo Disneyland has announced an official opening date for this large scale expansion, as Cast Member previews have quietly been held for the last week. Given that, it seemed like that the new land and attractions would debut sooner rather than later. However, we’re nonetheless a bit surprised that this is the direction OLC has chosen to go with the blockbuster additions to Tokyo Disneyland.
Our expectation has been that Oriental Land Company would just sit on the large scale expansion until it could have a splashy, full-capacity opening. We were really thinking it wouldn’t open until Spring 2021. It’s been finished for months, so they’ve already been sitting on it for a while. However, with OLC’s recent financial woes and issuance of bonds, perhaps the thinking is it’s better to get the expansion open and guests spending money on tickets and merchandise.
Ultimately, this is bittersweet news. It’s exciting for those who get to experience it, but a bit anticlimactic–and will likely be a frustrating process even for those able to score park tickets. This expansion is a really big deal, and deserves a truly grand opening. Also, we are (admittedly) jealous. Perhaps part of that “belief” the Tokyo Disneyland expansion wouldn’t open until Spring 2021 was wishful thinking on our part. We were scheduled to be there for the original opening day back in April, and have been closely watching Japan’s reopening process for the last few months.
During that time, it’s been increasingly clear that travel to Japan in the next few months is out of the question. At this point, even Spring 2021 feels overly optimistic. Suffice to say, if you have a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort planned for 2021, you might want to read our post When Will Japan Reopen & Allow Foreign Tourists?That covers a timeline of Japan’s reopening progress, and when we can realistically expect to resume leisure travel to Japan.
What do you think of this news? Are you surprised by the announcement of an opening date for the Beauty and the Beast land’s and other components of the large scale expansion? Do you have a trip planned to Tokyo Disney Resort in the next six months or so that you anticipate being impacted? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!