Earlier today, the Oriental Land Co. sent out a press release to layout the plans for new attractions coming to the parks in the next few years.
Both Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are going to get a fairly major overhaul in the coming years. To start with, Grand Circuit Raceway, StarJets, and some food facilities and shops will close permanently in Tomorrowland to clear room for the new expansions.
The only addition to Tomorrowland itself will be a small ride themed to Big Hero 6, the first of such attractions in any Disney park. The attraction, described as “an exciting musical ‘whip ride’ that swings [guests] unpredictably round and round” sounds very similar to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at Disney’s California Adventure. As a huge fan of Big Hero 6, I am excited to see Disney using the IP in tangible ways within the parks and just hope this spills over to other parks in the future.
Fantasyland’s change will be much more dramatic than Tomorrowland’s seeing as the park is creating an entire are themed to Beauty and the Beast. This new area, sitting on top of the former Grand Circuit Raceway, will immerse guests into the world of the movie and offer new shops, restaurants, a theater for live entertainment, and a large E-Ticket dark ride attraction. This new ride will have guests boarding “enchanted serving dishes that dance in rhythm to the film’s well-known music and follow Belle on a romantic musical adventure inside the enchanted Castle”. The whole of the Enchanted Castle will be built in the land and will house the queue and ride system in its entirety. The Beauty and the Beast land isn’t expected to open until at least Spring 2020.
Tokyo Disneyland will also introduce a new character meet and greet area on the side of Toontown so guests can meet more of their favorite characters.
Tokyo DisneySea, on the other hand, will receive a relatively modest expansion in the form of a new Soarin’ attraction. After becoming such a hit at the American parks, and being installed at the new Shanghai park, Soarin’ is finally making its way to Japan in 2019. This new attraction will take the spot formerly proposed for the new Port themed after Frozen, and will feature highly themed ride vehicles and exterior decorations (from what the concept art shows). Chances are, the ride will feature the same “Soarin’ Around The World” film that is opening worldwide later this year, but that still has not been announced.
I think these proposed updates are good and help add some much needed life to Tokyo Disneyland (which has been sorely lacking in the upgrade department in the last few decades), but they do come at a cost. These plans are vastly scaled back from what had been announced before and also come at the cost of a few classic attractions. The entire Frozen-themed Port of Call in DisneySea is no more, at least for the foreseeable future, and the park is only getting one new attraction; an attraction that will more or less be a clone of three other rides of the same name/function.
It is also sad that so many things will have to close in Tokyo Disneyland, especially in Tomorrowland, because that area of the park is already fairly small and under-represented from what I’ve seen. The Big Hero 6 ride concept is great, but definitely not the E-Ticket attraction that Tomorrowland deserves. I am, however, thankful that the Grand Circuit Raceway is on the way out because hopefully this opens the door for other Disney parks to remove their versions of the ride to free up large tracts of land for expansion in America.