“Believe! Sea of Dreams” is the brand-new nighttime entertainment spectacular debuting in 2021 to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Tokyo DisneySea. In this post, we’ll share details of the announcement, plus what this and other recent news from OLC could mean for Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
Not many details accompanied the official announcement. Essentially, just that the new entertainment spectacular will be presented nightly on the waters of Mediterranean Harbor in Tokyo DisneySea and sponsored by NTT Docomo. Per Tokyo Disney Resort, “this grand, breath-taking performance will remind guests of the importance of having a dream and always believing in it.”
Additionally, “Believe! Sea of Dreams” will be 20 minutes in duration, which is roughly the runtime of its predecessors, Fantasmic and BraviSEAmo. The show will debut in fiscal year 2021, which runs from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. If past precedent from Tokyo DisneySea’s 15th Anniversary “Year of Wishes” event is any indication, this will debut on April 15, 2021. That’s the anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland, and is when celebrations typically start.
The vast majority of you reading this are Walt Disney World or Disneyland fans, who have zero interest whatsoever in Tokyo Disney Resort. However, there are a couple of reasons why you should care. The first is the potential implications or “preview” of what’s to come for the US parks.
Throughout the closure and reopening, we suggested that what happened at the Asia parks was likely a sneak peek at what was on the horizon for Walt Disney World. As it turned out, this was almost entirely accurate–the policies implemented in Hong Kong Disneyland, for example, are basically identical to those at Walt Disney World.
Now, we expect what’s happening at Tokyo Disney Resort with special events and new attractions to be a preview of what’s to come for Walt Disney World…
Then the closure happened and this date was pushed off. However, unlike in the US parks, construction at Tokyo Disney Resort continued during the closure. This new Beauty and the Beast area appears to be totally finished and just sitting there, waiting to open. Despite this, Tokyo Disney Resort has indefinitely postponed the debut of this expansion.
Earlier this month, Tokyo Disney Resort also cancelled all seasonal events for the remainder of this year and through early 2021. That means Disney Easter, Cookie Ann’s Greeting Drive, Duffy’s Sunny Fun, Pirates Summer, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s have been cancelled. One event, Happy Fair with Baymax, has been postponed.
This includes the new Duffy & Friends event at Tokyo DisneySea and Beauty and the Beast program scheduled for Tokyo Disneyland, which would’ve been held in early 2021. Now there’s nothing on the calendar through March 2021.
Suffice to say, OLC is basically writing off the rest of this calendar and fiscal year and looking towards next year. This is despite the health situation in Japan fairly well under control (comparatively speaking) and demand for park tickets and reservations being very strong (again, comparatively speaking).
If anything, it would make more sense for Tokyo Disney Resort to attempt resuming normalcy sooner than Walt Disney World and Disneyland, all things considered…
However, from a business perspective that is not the case. With capacity significantly limited and physical distancing measures in place at Tokyo Disney Resort, it’s not viable or practical to offer entertainment or debut new attractions.
While Walt Disney World has its own operational wrinkles and guest demographics, the same is largely true for the Florida parks.
For Walt Disney World, the operative questions are whether new offerings right now will entice tourists to book trips, whether it’s even feasible to run seasonal entertainment in light of physical distancing guidelines, and if it’s practical to debut anything new given the costs versus immediate returns.
There are a couple of upcoming Walt Disney World projects–that would’ve been open by now under normal conditions–where this is especially relevant.
The first is Epcot’s highly-anticipated new outer space themed restaurant. In our Space 220 Opening & Info post, we speculate is unlikely to debut before November 2020.
However, does it make sense to open Space 220 Restaurant this year with significantly reduced capacity? Would it even be profitable right now? That doesn’t even take into account hiring and start-up costs, plus the lack of–or potentially even undesirable–PR and fanfare that would normally accompany such an opening.
The calculus for that is fairly similar. Is a 2020 opening date going to prompt enough visitors to book trips to offset the operational costs of the new attraction? Would debuting what’s undoubtedly going to be a popular ride in a time of physical distancing more hassle than it’s worth? Or, does it make more sense to push this into 2021?
Ultimately, the more we think about each of those questions, the more we’re inclined to believe Walt Disney World will cancel more events and delay major openings. Not only does this comport with the precedent set by other Disney parks around the world, but it also follows Disney’s film slate.
While that’s certainly not directly analogous, the idea and underlying questions are the same. Given that film production has shut down, there’s going to be a content lull at some point, so delaying there makes sense. Same goes for Walt Disney World, especially considering that the major additions previously scheduled to debut in 2021–Tron Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind–are probably now looking at 2022 openings due to the pauses on their construction. Time will tell, but we’re starting to think the announcements for Tokyo Disney Resort are a harbinger of what’s to come, and Walt Disney World will similarly view the rest of this year as a lost cause and start looking towards Spring 2021.
What do you think of this news? Excited for a new nighttime spectacular at Tokyo DisneySea, or do you not care? Think this could be a preview of what’s to come for Walt Disney World, or think the US parks will still proceed with 2020 events and debuts? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? 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.