Oriental Land Company, the owner and operator of the Disney Parks in Japan, held the groundbreaking for its 250 billion yen (~$2.3 billion) expansion of Tokyo DisneySea, which it announced will be named Fantasy Springs. This covers everything you need to know: likely opening date, concept art, progress video, photos of ride vehicle testing, and answers to common questions. (Updated September 13, 2022.)
The overarching inspiration for Fantasy Springs is a magical spring leading to a world of Disney fantasy. It’s basically a Fantasyland-style port that brings Frozen, Tangled, and Peter Pan to Tokyo DisneySea, with separate mini-areas for each in a single land that’s tied together via magical springs.
This is no knock on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which itself is no slouch. That rumored $1 billion is a hefty price tag for a single land, and the end results (or at least what’s been shared thus far) look pretty fantastic. It’s difficult to imagine a land being over double the cost of that, Cars Land, or Pandora – World of Avatar (both of which are also stunning), but that’s exactly the case with Fantasy Springs.
Ultimately, the difference between Fantasy Springs and all of the aforementioned additions is that DisneySea’s new port will feature four new attractions, three restaurants, and one gift shop. Three of the new attractions will be boat rides, which is fitting for Tokyo DisneySea. It’s unclear how lavish the rides will be, but we’re expecting at least two of them to be E-Ticket attractions.
The Fantasy Springs name was announced at the joint groundbreaking ceremony and traditional Shinto prayer for safe construction held by Oriental Land Company and the Walt Disney Company held at the planned development site.
OLC COO Keiichiro Kaminishi, OLC President & CEO Kazumi Toshio, and Disney CEO Bob Iger were on hand for the ground-breaking, with the latter two offering remarks:
That was back in mid-2019, before the world went sideways. A little over a year later, Tokyo Disney Resort (and every other Disney theme park in the world) closed. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea have since reopened, but are still operating at a fraction of their normal capacity as of Fall 2022.
We made a couple of visits to Tokyo Disney Resort after construction started. Here’s a look at our last photo of the Fantasy Springs construction site:
After a brief pause, it has been full steam ahead of Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea, with construction moving forward even during the closure of Tokyo Disney Resort and states of emergency in Japan. We haven’t seen this ourselves in over two years, but see regular photos from our friends in Japan. It is now very vertical and coming along nicely for its fiscal 2023 opening.
The luxury hotel now appears topped out, its signature golden dome has been installed, and the green show buildings for each attraction are fully built. The operative word for all of it is massive. It’s also quite impressive that construction has progressed from site prep work to enclosure in the span of ~16 months. Meanwhile, Walt Disney World managed to knock down one side of Innoventions in that same time.
Speaking of that “fiscal 2023” opening timeframe for Fantasy Springs at Tokyo Disney Resort, you might wonder what that means. As the name suggests, this refers to Oriental Land Company’s financial year, and not the normal calendar.
The 2023 fiscal year runs from April 1, 2023 through March 31, 2024. This means Fantasy Springs could open as early as Tokyo Disneyland’s 40th Anniversary on April 15, 2023 or as late as March 2024.
Based on rumors we’ve heard, it is highly unlikely that Fantasy Springs will open by the start of Tokyo Disneyland’s 40th Anniversary. For one thing, that celebration will center around the original 1983 castle park, whereas this is located in the second gate.
For another thing, Tokyo Disney Resort is still in the process of its phased reopening. Even if things are finally back to normal by Spring 2023, it’s likely that OLC would want to wait to open Fantasy Springs until a bit of pent-up demand has burned off. (Similar to what Walt Disney World has done with additions.
Finally, it’s unlikely that Fantasy Springs will be ready to open by Spring 2023. If construction isn’t finished, testing isn’t completed, and Cast Members aren’t trained, the land obviously cannot open. Simple as that.
Our expectation at this point is that Fantasy Springs opens in Summer 2023 at the earliest or during the holiday (Halloween or Christmas) season. Debuting in September 2023 for Tokyo DisneySea’s anniversary could make sense. These are just guesses at this point. (Save for the not opening in April 2023–it’s highly unlikely to be ready by then.)
Now let’s discuss some of the substance of Fantasy Springs.
Let’s start by sharing a scale model fly-through video of the new Tanged area, which will be immediately to the right after entering Fantasy Springs:
This Tangled area will feature a restaurant inspired by the Snuggly Duckling, the tavern inhabited by boisterous ruffians in the film. A version of this already exists as Tanged Tree Tavern, a counter service restaurant at Shanghai Disneyland.
The area will also offer a boat ride where guests board gondolas for a romantic 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. Sounds better than bathrooms. Maybe.
Next up is the Arendelle-inspired area scale model video. Another restaurant will be located here, and set inside Arendelle Castle at the foot of beautiful, snow-capped mountains.
The Frozen mini-port is set after the first film, and will feature a ride telling the story of Elsa and Anna with iconic songs from the film and surprising thrills.
Finally, the Peter Pan area. This 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 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.
Based on the description and some semi-informed speculation, we’re expecting the main Peter Pan attraction to use technology similar to Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland, and be the port’s flagship attraction.
Based upon information from the Tokyo Disney Resort fan community coupled with visible construction progress and the near-certain layout of Fantasy Springs, the Frozen area will be largest of all, thanks to having both a boat ride and a table service restaurant, plus some impressive rock-work to conceal a tall theater behind it in Tokyo Disneyland.
Judging by show building sizes, the main Peter Pan ride and Frozen ride will both be massive. The Tangled boat ride is more modest, but still large. Given the huge size of this plot of land and the lack of retail (only one gift shop in the entire port), those show building sizes are at least credible on their face.
If this is your first exposure to Fantasy Springs, the model fly-through might seem a bit dry and uninspired.
OLC takes a very different approach from Disney when it comes to revealing new information; this is straightforward, letting the substance of the blockbuster expansion speak for itself. It may not be as superficially “exciting” as using fluffy language to manufacture enthusiasm for an ordinary shop for creations, but it gets the job done.
The new hotel will abut Bayside Station, so more or less “across the street” from the Hilton and Sheraton.
The Tangled and Peter Pan areas will roughly be located behind Arabian Coast and Lost River Delta (respectively) in Tokyo DisneySea, and the Frozen area will be behind Toontown and the Beauty and the Beast area in Tokyo Disneyland.
In my commentary to the initial announcement, I expressed some trepidation.
Namely, that this further cartoonifies Tokyo DisneySea, a park that was originally built with a more mature audience in mind. That remains a concern, and one that I think is valid given Japan’s aging population.
Without question, Fantasy Springs will be a great draw in terms of current guest demographics at Tokyo Disney Resort. How it’ll hold up in a decade or two remains to be seen. When it was built, Tokyo DisneySea had the long-term in mind. There has been a slow pivot from that as more immediate returns could be seen from a character-centric approach.
Thematically, I’ve started to come around on Fantasy Springs. Selfishly, I’d love for Tokyo DisneySea to be a treasure trove of original concepts and deeper dives into grittier intellectual property. Part of why I instantly fell in love with Tokyo DisneySea is because it carried forward the torch of EPCOT Center in its own way.
With that said, Tokyo DisneySea has always shoehorned attractions and concepts into the park. Its main sense of thematic integrity and cohesion comes from the various waterways and the themed ports themselves.
On an attraction level, it’s hard to claim that Indiana Jones Adventure, Journey to the Center of the Earth, or Tower of Terror–universally beloved DisneySea rides–have any logical nexus to the sea.
Those attractions, along with others at Tokyo DisneySea, succeed because of the way they are framed in the overarching themes of the park.
They’re not scrutinized because they’ve been there since the earlier era of Tokyo DisneySea, and they just work. (They’re probably also given a pass by fans because they’re exceptional attractions that don’t seek to highlight popular, arguably overused animated films.)
Fantasy Springs has the same potential. It could frame this magical springs feature multiple animated properties in a way that cohesively works with the rest of Tokyo DisneySea.
If anything, these particular movies are better fits for DisneySea than the attractions mentioned above–all of animated films feature water and their rides will utilize boats. Sure, Fantasy Springs might be treading a bit close to Fantasyland, but if the land itself is unique and compelling (and the concept art sure makes that look to be the case), I doubt many people will worry about that.
This is just one of several huge projects to expand Tokyo Disney Resort, which is pictured in the map above. (The blue area is Tokyo DisneySea and the green is Tokyo Disneyland.)
The bottom yellow area is a new Toy Story hotel, the upper left yellow area is a new parking structure, and the red is this Fantasy Springs expansion, which will replace what’s currently a parking lot and will basically abut the Bayside Station monorail stop.
The solid blue area in the middle-ish area of Tokyo DisneySea is Soaring: Fantastic Flight. This new attraction debuted three years ago. As you can see from what OLC has released, this will be an incredibly lavish presentation of Soarin.
This new nighttime spectacular at Tokyo DisneySea is the permanent replacement for Fantasmic, and debuts on November 11, 2022.
Overall, we’re incredibly excited about the future of Tokyo Disney Resort. While we absolutely love the Japan parks, the level of capital invested on new attractions in the last decade had been lagging behind the United States parks.
This plus the aforementioned additions and the forthcoming new Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland fix all of that. If TDR can keep its seasonal entertainment going strong even after these additions, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will easily hold the titles of #1 and #2 Disney theme parks in the world.
We are beyond hyped for Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea, but we’ve also been very closely following its development. While initially apprehensive about Tokyo DisneySea losing its more sophisticated quality, the park admittedly does need more for younger audiences, and the port’s ambition level is just off the charts.
As should be expected with a budget of $2.3 billion for what’s essentially a single land and hotel. We can’t wait to get back to Japan, finally experience the Tokyo Disneyland expansion, and then by able to enjoy yet another large scale expansion in the second half of 2023 or early 2024!
What do you think of the Fantasy Springs expansion at Tokyo DisneySea? Do you think this is a good fit for the park? Do all of these additions to Tokyo Disney Resort between now and 2024 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!