New Frozen, Peter Pan & Tangled Areas, In-Park Hotel Coming to Tokyo DisneySea
Disney announced today that a new themed port inspired by “a magical spring leading to a world of Disney fantasy” will add Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan mini-lands to Tokyo DisneySea with an adjacent in-park luxury hotel. This new FantaSEA Springs (as we’ll call it) port will open in 2022, and will be the largest expansion to Tokyo DisneySea ever. In this post, we’ll share basic details about the expansion announcement, and offer some commentary about what this means for Tokyo Disney Resort.
Disney FantaSEA Springs will feature four attractions, three restaurants, and (thankfully) only one gift shop. Three of the new attractions will be boat rides, which is both fitting for Tokyo DisneySea and also delightful for nerds like us who like leisurely attractions. (You can read more about the basics of the news in this OLC press release.)
This will also be the most expensive addition to any Disney park ever. The total investment in the Disney FantaSEA Springs port will be approximately 250 billion yen, or $2.27 billion US. That’s an astronomical sum for a single port, even one that’s essentially three ports in one. (Previously, there were “rumors” that this plot of land would be used for a $2.7 billion third gate at Tokyo Disney Resort; as we’ve said before, a 3rd gate is highly unlikely.)
To put this into perspective, the Beauty and the Beast land currently under construction at Tokyo Disneyland (and opening in time for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics) will cost $750 million. At the time that was announced, we marveled at how that should be enough to break the record for the most expensive dark ride of all time. Well, I guess that “record” will only last a couple of years.
The key difference here is that it sounds like there will be at least 3 E-Ticket attractions in the expansion, whereas there’s only one major ride in the Beauty and the Beast expansion. Even if “only” $250 million is spent on each attraction (that’s probably a low estimate) and the rest is spent on the restaurants, hotel, and mountainous environment, that’s 4 attractions that are each more costly than Radiator Springs Racers.
In terms of the substance of those attractions, we know the Tangled boat ride will feature gondolas for a romantic boat tour of Rapunzel’s “best day ever” as she journeys with Flynn to the lantern festival. This will culminate in countless flickering lanterns that illuminate the attraction’s finale while Rapunzel and Flynn sing an iconic song from the film. (Meaning one of my ‘Disney animated movies that should have rides’ dreams will come true soon!)
The Frozen area will feature a ride telling the story of Elsa and Anna with iconic songs from the film and surprising thrills. Also located in this area will be a restaurant set inside Arendelle Castle at the foot of beautiful, snow-capped mountains.
The Peter Pan area will be home to two attractions and a restaurant, and showcase the fantastical world of Never Land. The landscape will include mountains, Captain Hook’s pirate ship, and Skull Rock. One attraction immerses guests in the oversized world of Pixie Hollow. Never Land’s restaurant will be inspired by the Lost Boys and their hideout, affording lovely views of Never Land that Guests can enjoy while they dine.
The main Peter Pan attraction will be a boat ride (that also flies?) as guests board boats to chase Captain Hook and his crew of pirates who have captured Wendy’s younger brother; Tinker Bell sprinkles the boats with pixie dust, Guests fly through Never Land on an adventure that features iconic music and dynamic 3D imagery.
If the concept art and budget are any indications, this new port will be stunning. Oriental Land Company is once again giving Imagineering a blank check to create something awe-inspiring and lavish, and we fully expect the results to be incredible. These new attractions should be far more ambitious than the Frozen attractions being built in Hong Kong and Paris.
Getting past the initial excitement of the prospect of something ‘shiny and new’ at Tokyo DisneySea–especially a project that’s so expensive and will likely deliver amazing new attractions–I have some trepidation. The major concern is pretty obvious, and something we’ve raised with the last several additions to Tokyo DisneySea. This further cartoonifies Tokyo DisneySea, a park that was originally built with a more mature audience in mind.
Personally, I was hoping for the previously-announced Frozen expansion (which was shelved a couple years ago), as that could’ve been a Glacier Bay or Scandinavian port that felt like real world places but housed attractions with Frozen characters. To some degree, that’s what Arabian Coast does, and even with its heavy influences from Aladdin, it still feels very much like a distinct, real world place.
The new port looks incredible, and would be lauded without any hesitation…as an expansion to Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland. The FantaSEA Springs port feels very much like Fantasyland, right down to the way that it blends multiple disparate films. In Fantasyland, this blending is accomplished successfully via architectural commonalities.
In this new addition to Tokyo DisneySea, it appears that the blending will be accomplished via waterways and rock-work that offer transitions and boundaries between the areas. I really have no issue with how these three films are blended with one another, as the design looks fairly smooth in the concept art.
The issue is how these areas work within the larger framework of Tokyo DisneySea. The strength of Tokyo DisneySea has always been its transportive nature, suspending disbelief and convincingly putting guests in another time and place. It’s difficult to look at a port that combines three films each with very different settings and see how they work together to create a transportive sense of place. Perhaps the finished product will work within the larger context of DisneySea, but it sure feels like this is Fantasyland 3.0.
It could be argued that this ship has already sailed with recent changes to the park and a steady injection of characters. It could also argued that with Mermaid Lagoon, Tokyo DisneySea has always had a character element.
To me, Mermaid Lagoon felt like a concession to provide an area for families with small children, and it’s self-contained nature isolated it from the rest of Tokyo DisneySea. This is the park’s largest expansion ever, and will fundamentally alter DisneySea. This will be the park’s main draw, and is effectively New New Fantasyland.
In fact, this new port is actually closer in proximity to New Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland than it is most of Tokyo DisneySea. This raises interesting questions about whether the new port will bridge the gap between the two parks and have its own entrance. Presumably, the hotel will have an entrance into the new land (as does Hotel MiraCosta), but will the hotel also have an entrance into Tokyo Disneyland?
We’re also wondering whether there will be a general public entrance into Disney FantaSEA Springs, or a way to park hop between the Beauty and the Beast mini-land and this port in Tokyo DisneySea. Logistically and in terms of crowd control, we don’t know to what extent this is possible–or even desired–but it has certainly worked well (and been a lucrative way to upsell guests into park-to-park tickets) for Universal Orlando.
Moreover, getting to this new port from Tokyo DisneySea’s existing park entrance will be a serious hike. There’s a reason Indiana Jones Adventure is a walk-on for the first hour of operation–it’s over one mile into the park! If there’s no separate entrance for FantaSEA Springs, the rope drop dash might need to be renamed as the ‘rope drop 5k. (Scratch that, then runDisney will want to turn it into a virtual event and charge us a fee). Running to these new attractions will be something of an endurance test first thing in the morning.
The other vague concern we have is that this could spell the end of Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, our favorite Disney dark ride in the world. The concept art makes it very difficult to gain a sense of orientation, but it does seem like the hotel could be extending back into this section of Arabian Coast.
Given that, Sindbad’s lack of popularity, and the potential of harvesting the many Audio Animatronics from it for these new attractions, we’re concerned that it may be a casualty of this expansion. We hope not, and there’s no reason to believe that it is (we’re not trying to fear/rumor-monger), but we’ve long been concerned that the days are numbered for Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage given its reception among guests.
Ultimately, the announcement prompts a bit of a mixed response from me. The design of the port and its attractions will be nothing short of amazing–I have no doubt about that. That aspect of the news, and the sheer amount of money OLC is throwing at Tokyo DisneySea is cause for excitement. This also makes me hopeful that this will blunt the spread of IP into other ports at Tokyo DisneySea, as this provides a concentrated IP injection. On the other hand, I don’t think this is coherent with Tokyo DisneySea’s overarching theme and atmosphere, and I worry about how this will alter the vibe of the crown jewel of Disney parks.
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.
What do you think of this Tokyo DisneySea expansion announcement? Am I being overly pessimistic about the biggest theme park expansion of all-time, or are these valid concerns for TDS and its overarching sensibilities? Do all of these additions to Tokyo Disney Resort between 2020 and 2022 make you want to plan a trip there? Any questions? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Thanks for writing this article Tom.
I am glad that someone else shares the same concerns with the Disneysea expansion as I do.
Like you, I am interested about how this expansion will pan out, though hold grave concerns about the future look, aesthetic, atmosphere, and demographic of this park. What I love most about this park is that it is unlike any other Disney Park, in that it limits stereotypical Disney IP’s, and goes for something more unique and mature.
I hope with this expansion, that its the last of mainstream/children IP’s that we see in the park for some time.
I also hope that with this expansion, that it allows in the future for Mermaid Lagoon to be removed and with that space (along with the operations buildings just west of the parks entrance) to be used for attractions which more align to the current DIsneysea.
Sorry I meant east not west
Revisiting this old post to wonder: will Frozen 2 have any impact on the design of the land? I don’t know much about construction plans and how often designs fluctuate, but Frozen 2 has heavier sea themes than the original that could be beautiful incorporated into DisneySea! Any additional insight?
I can’t imagine they’d touch Sinbad — there’s absolutely no need to considering the large size of the land available and the expansion’s astronomical budget. Let’s not even speculate that and give DisneySea fans a heart attack, please
Having been to Tokyo Disney and DisneySea several times, my thought is that regardless of whether these 3 new “mini-land” experiences belong in DisneySea or not, it is an incredible step out by OLC to bring these 3 iconic fantasy worlds to life! This will not only put a stamp on Tokyo Disney/DisneySea as the best stop on a tour of Disney parks…it is now pulling away from the rest! I think the idea of calling the overall area a “Port to Fantasy” as you alluded to works just fine in the overall context of DisneySea being a place you can visit all kinds of “ports of call” with no barriers. I am so pumped that they are bringing ride volume and less shop volume! I will be going again in 2020 to see the new Beauty and the Beat area and will now go again after they finish the new area of DisneySea in 2022. And for anyone wondering how will the handle the crowds at DisneySea? If you haven’t been, trust me – it is a HUGE park….
Lastly – I agree with several others here in that placement of the new are is very interesting relative to where the new Beauty and the Beast area is in Tokyo Disneyland. My guess is that one of the selling points of the planned hotel will be the ability to move between the parks via a new set of entrances. But time will tell…..
I certainly trust that the attractions will be better done than if they were built in the U.S., it just feels wrong to me to have so much tooniness added. Are they as flagrantly out of theme as Guardians in Epcot? No. But it feels to me like they are playing down to their audience, and that saddens me. I think they are sacrificing long-term growth and cohesion of the park and resort for immediate returns.
We had originally planned to visit Japan in 2019, but then pushed it back to 2021 to catch the new Tokyo Disneyland expansion. Now it looks like we’ll be pushing it back to 2023 in order to see the new DisneySea port! This may be the only time we visit Japan and I’m really hoping that the expansions will be worth all the extra waiting (I’m sure they will be if they even come close to measuring up to what Tom and others have to say about the quality of the Tokyo Disney parks).
While I share your concerns about IP showing up EVERYWHERE in the parks, and even at TDR, this looks like it will at least be done well, and it’s more or less thematically consistent with the rest of the park. So, that said, I’m super excited for this! However… If It results in the closing of Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, this new port will be dead to me.
That Sindbad possibility made me a little nauseated. I’m right on the border of cautious optimism and heavy skepticism otherwise, but boy, do I hope that speculation is just that.
I would love to see the pirates tech from shanghai used in one of these rides.. thats all
Hmmm…Guardians of the Galaxy, anyone?
Ugh. Every new Disney endeavor across all parks and resorts is all to push IP – and some of it doesn’t make sense. There is nothing that makes me want to experience these kinds of attractions more than once. Sure it will feel epic to be immersed in the movie but that’s all it is. They are telling the same story that I probably watched on the couch with my kids last week. The thing I’ve always loved about Disney Parks is that it truly gives you a sense of being in another world for a week that maybe you wouldn’t have access to unless you were there or watching actual film of the location. I think this wave of additions could take away from some of that since we’ve all seen and heard the same characters in the same story over and over again from home. Give us something original, creative, cultural, and cohesive. Or if IP MUST be used, least show us the characters in a new story, change the narrative up a bit for the attractions to make it feel exclusive, and for God’s sake place them in areas where they contribute and fit in to the story of the park they are added to.
I agree with you tremendously when you say, “There is nothing that makes me want to experience these kinds of attractions more than once.” It’s kind of how I feel about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s absolutely impressive, but I don’t have any real need to go back ever. The promise of “experience in 3D what you already experienced in 2D” just isn’t super compelling to me. The relentless push of familiarity, recognition, and nostalgia just doesn’t do much for me at this point in my life.
Unfortunately, I don’t think you can just say “Take an artistic risk!” to executives that don’t have a passion for their parks and resorts. The reason people take artistic risks is because their creative drive pushes them to do so – they have an artistic goal, a prize to work for – making a connection of some kind with guests. If you take a risk just to take a risk, or as a response to guest complaints, it’s liable to backfire and reinforce risk-aversion. You gotta have somebody in power with a creative vision worth taking risks for, but that’s remarkably hard to achieve for some reason.
Is there a map of where these additions will go in the park?
I too am hopeful for a possible connection between Fantasyland and Disney Fantasy Springs. It seems too good of an opportunity to pass up given the location of the expansion, as it would literally connect with the back of Fantasyland.
The hotel having distinct entrances to both Fantasyland and Disney Fantasy Springs would seem to be a good compromise, even if park hopping is not a desired option (as I know it is only possible on the later days of the multi-day tickets).
Could you imagine how much that would be worth to some guests? To be able to go from Beauty and the Beast, to Tangled, to Frozen, etc.
It would be hard to add to any of the great analysis. It sounds exciting. Another reason to go back.
I’m glad Disney doesn’t own TDR. All of the great theming right down to the smallest food
item is what sets TDR apart. So much Kawaii.
Everytime we go to WDW something else seems to have been taken away or it’s for those that can or chose to pay more, it’s a drip, drip effect. Everything at TDR has a light and airy feeling. At WDW it feels more weighted down, if that makes sense.
But, we are going to WDW in October so we can do Pandora again. So what does that say?
So as long as we keep showing up Disney will keep pushing to see how much they can get away with before rebellion hits.
The Oriental Land Company seems to have a different view of it’s customers and it’s profits show it.
I wish WDW had the feel of the Asian parks. I’m tired of seeing them getting all the really cool stuff. Great for those who go there, but not for those of us who will never go.
I hate Star Wars and would much rather see these lands at WDW than SW.
I also share your hesitations but this was inevitable, especially when competing with all the trendy commodities at USJ, and similar to what you’re saying about one blunt injection, better one port with three areas than three big IP ports slowly being unveiled over the next decade. And once the revenue/attendance is massively upped by this expansion, they can afford to add more theme-driven original rides/ports. Right?? Wishful thinking? I for one am glad it’s not a pirate port or a Pixar pier kinda deal, which is what I feared based on the recent special events.
Perhaps this is also wishful thinking, but I actually think this may be good news for Sindbad. If anything, they’d tear down Jasmine’s Flying Eyesores to make room for the expansion and keep Sindbad open to help temper the crowds and give families another option while they waited for their FP return time to one of the 4 new rides. (Speaking of — wonder how this expansion may require an upgrade to their FP system.) I have always believed that Sindabd would be less empty if there was more foot traffic around there. I wouldn’t be too worried about it unless it’s still maintaining a 5min wait in 2024.
I am a little more worried about the timing and what that will do to the quality — 3 E-ticket attractions in 4 years sounds insane, esp. with the BatB ride in progress alongside it. I guess that’s part of why it’s so expensive, but that means we’ll get a bunch of rides pulling from the same level of technology at once and probably not another big one for maybe a while. I’m hoping Frozen’s is not just a better version of Frozen Forever but rather something new entirely and that Tangled’s isn’t just a 2min boat ride alongside screens with a cool ending a la Na’vi. I don’t want anything less than Hunny-Hunt level of full wow experience.
Having said that — still trying to maintain excitement!! The idea of a connecting bridge between the two “Fantasylands” is an interesting one and cause for a 1 or 2-Day park-hopper would be a blessing. I’m very much looking forward to the new restaurants (don’t think TDS has added one since opening?) and for the inevitable niche easter eggs a la Camp Woodchuck. The fact that all the character greetings were competing for longest wait times at TDS (after TSM obvi) on an average day was a sorta sad reflection on the state of the park’s attraction roster so this gonna be positive regardless.
Am I crazy or did I hear a rumor that It’s A Small World in Disney World will be changing to a Tangled ride?
Why oh why is Disney spending money outside the country ? It will only mean huge price increases for all of us down the line..
Disney isn’t spending anything on this, Tokyo Disney Resort is owned and operated by Oriental Land Company.
Although, that’s really unfortunate for Disney, as the parks in Japan are among the highest attended and most profitable. Continuing that success is why OLC spends so much money on its parks.
I was told the same thing by a Disney employee. Disney does not own the oversea’s parks. It is sort of like a franchise. I was a little shocked at that but not completely. A trip to Disneyland Tokyo is on my bucket list. So looking forward to taking a trip there. !!!!
The Walt Disney Company does not own the Tokyo Disney Resort. The Oriental Land Company must pay the WDC royalties for use of all characters and pays Walt Disney Imagineering for all rides. We should thank OLC for keeping the spirit of Walt Disney in all of its decisions – much more than the WDC has done in the domestic parks (ahem: Marvel, Star Wars) – because if they are paying for the research and development, some of those concepts will benefit the parks WDC does own (Anaheim, Orlando, and Paris). All that while keeping ticket prices lower for their guests (though the parks can be much more crowded than the domestic parks, if one can imagine that).
The WDC is spending an incredible amount of money on the expansions in Orlando (Disney Springs, Toy Story Land, Star Wars Land, Epcot: Ratatouille, Guardians) and Anaheim (Pixar Pier, Star Wars Land, New Hotel, New Parking Garage). We may not like the decisions, but the money is being spent.
Prices will still go up – and now that Comcast is challenging Disney by investing in Universal Parks and making a rival bid for Fox, the WDC has to compete, increase it’s bid for Fox, buy more, build more, get bigger… or one day get bought by someone bigger.
Saying the don’t own the “overseas parks” is not entirely accurate.
WDC does own the Disneyland Paris resort outright and has large stakes in the Hong Kong & Shanhai. Too bad OLC doesn’t own all the overseas parks.
We have decided on a trip to Tokyo and Kyoto (and hopefully Hong Kong if time permits) for November of 2019. After hearing all this news I told my husband we might have to plan a return trip for the mid 2020’s, I want to ride that Tangled boat ride!!!! Any word on when the Beauty and the Beast mini-land will be finished or is before the 2020 Olympics all we know???
Spring 2020 is all we know. They are moving at a really fast pace on the project, but I wouldn’t want to speculate beyond that.
I share your hesitation. A Peter Pan themed area brings back memories of some of my favorite elements of DLP. And the concept art for all of it does look stunning. But non-IP Disney Parks experiences appear to be a thing of the past and it breaks my heart.
My hope is that this at least satisfies the ‘thirst’ for more characters in Tokyo DisneySea, and we don’t continue to see characters added in places around the park where they make zero sense.
But it was also announce recently that Out of Shadowlands, which is itself a poor replacement for Mystic Rhythms, is being replaced by a Mickey and Donald show.
OMG OMG OMG I WANT TO SEE THE TANGLED LANTERNS SCENE!!!!!!! I know all caps is “shouting” but I am that excited.
Looks like you can even see Elsa’s castle in the background of Arendelle. That is going to be stunning.
I didn’t think we’d ever make it Japan with airfare for a family of five, but this has got me dreaming….
I actually don’t think this land will be entirely out of character in the park. The way I see it, this will be the Northern European equivalent of Arabian Coast; that is, a land depicting a particular part of the world (the Middle East, Northern Europe) and combining multiple stories from said region (Aladdin & Sindbad, Rapunzel & Peter Pan & The Snow Queen).
My only concern is that the three areas of Fantasy Springs will feel like three separate lands, which will somewhat muddle the overarching thematic structure of the park. Then again, there is already precedent for that as well: American Waterfront is split into two distinct mini lands (New York and Cape Cod), as is Mediterranean Harbor (Porto Paradiso, Venice, and the S.E.A. Fortress). These lands are split into distinct “neighborhoods,” and yet the overall theme doesn’t really suffer for it.
I could see this if it were just Tangled and Frozen, but once you throw in Never Land, I don’t think it really resembles Northern Europe. If anything, it seems like the fantastical aspects of both Peter Pan and Tangled are being played up.
The number of boat rides and amount of water within the port will be its saving grace, I think. There are other attractions (Indiana Jones Adventure being the prime example) that have almost nothing to do with the sea, yet people accept them. At least this expansion will have a number of water-based attractions and numerous water features.