A Look at Tokyo DisneySea’s $2.3 Billion Fantasy Springs Expansion

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. In this post, we’ll share new concept art and thoughts on this record-setting addition to what’s already the best theme park in the world.

Fantasy Springs will be inspired by “a magical spring leading to a world of Disney fantasy” and will be the overarching theme for the port that brings Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan mini-ports to Tokyo DisneySea. When it was announced last year, we dubbed this area FantaSea Springs; turns out we weren’t too far off.

As we also previously reported in our “New Frozen, Peter Pan & Tangled Areas, In-Park Hotel Coming to Tokyo DisneySea” announcement post, this will be the most expensive addition to any theme park ever. While Walt Disney World and Disneyland haven’t released official numbers for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, estimates peg each of those lands at just under $1 billion.

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:

Before we offer much more commentary, let’s take a look at a video fly-through of the new concept art for Fantasy Springs.

We’ll have images of the concept art later in the post, but we’d recommend watching the video, as it does a great job of showing the day-to-night transitions:

Now for the same thing via concept art:

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.

It’s more difficult to ascertain, but the solid green area (just above the red) in Tokyo Disneyland is the Beauty and the Beast mini-land (and Fantasyland expansion) currently under construction at Tokyo Disneyland at a cost of $750 million.

The solid blue area in the middle-ish area of Tokyo DisneySea is Soaring: Fantastic Flight. This new attraction will debut on July 23, 2019. As you can see from what OLC has released, this will be an incredibly lavish presentation of Soarin.

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. With all of these new additions, that will no longer even be remotely the case starting this summer and continuing every year through 2022!

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.

Your Thoughts

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 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!

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