A tour of Tokyo Disneyland: World Bazaar

December 12, 2011, 9:12 AM · Last Sunday morning, I woke up as Mount Fuji appeared in my window.

Mount Fuji

Two hours later, I'd be on the ground in Tokyo, stepping off a bus just outside the gates of Tokyo Disneyland.

Approaching the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland was the first Disney theme park built outside the United States, opening in 1983. But the park closed for a month earlier this year after the devastating earthquake and tsunami crippled power supplies and transit routes in much of Japan. Today, there's no obvious sign of damage or disruption at Tokyo Disneyland, which remains one of the world's top theme park destinations.

Cinderella's Castle at Tokyo Disneyland

And for good reason. Visiting Tokyo Disneyland is like visiting the best of Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom - at the same time. There's Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, and Disney World's Haunted Mansion. There's the immense Cinderella's Castle, just like at Disney World, but there's an attraction inside it, too, just like at Disneyland.

But Tokyo Disneyland takes it U.S. counterparts one better, preserving elements long gone from the American Magic Kingdoms. Want to see the Country Bear Christmas show? Or visit Fort Sam Clemens on Tom Sawyer Island? Better catch a flight to Tokyo, because this is the only place where those attractions still exist. At 115 acres, Tokyo Disneyland is larger than the Magic Kingdom (107 acres) and Disneyland (85 acres), too.

All this week, we'll explore the lands of Tokyo Disneyland. So let's start with the beginning: Main Street USA.

Whoops, I meant World Bazaar.

The Main Street USA name isn't the only thing missing from Tokyo Disney's entry land. There's no railroad station, either. (Tokyo Disneyland's railroad is called the Western River Railroad, and circles just Adventureland. We'll visit that tomorrow.) With no train station to go around, you simply pass under a short portico, and you're there.

Entering Tokyo Disneyland

But Tokyo Disneyland's World Bazaar trades that train station for... a roof.

Inside World Bazaar

The glass roof that spans World Bazaar provides shelter from Japan's occasionally inclement weather, though the rest of the park remains exposed to the elements. World Bazaar's also unique among Disney entrance plazas in other ways, too.

World Bazaaar at Tokyo Disneyland
The Christmas decor is up in World Bazaar

Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom follow essentially the same layout: Main Street leading to the "Hub" - a circular plaza from which extends "spokes" to the main lands in the park, including Adventureland, Frontierland/Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. An outer wheel connects the land, but it doesn't go all the way around. The only way back to Main Street is via the Hub. Here's a rough sketch:

Hub sketch

Tokyo Disneyland follows a different basic layout. The biggest difference is that the outer "wheel" completes the circuit. It goes all the way around, meeting in the middle of World Bazaar. That means that the land has two streets, the Main Street running north/south, and a complete Center Street running east/west. (In Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, Center Street's just a stub on either side of the middle of Main Street.)

Tokyo hub sketch

World Bazaar also doesn't go all the way to the main hub in the park. Instead, it terminates at the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey, which stands in a "mini-Hub" that precedes the main hub.

Here's the park map:

Part of the Tokyo Disneyland park map

Also, when you walk into Tokyo Disneyland, you are facing south, as opposed to when you walk into either Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom, where you are facing north. (Which makes photographing the park difficult, as I was facing into the low December sun when I faced the castle.)

Partners at Tokyo Disneyland

Another difference? Many of World Bazaar's restaurants and storefronts include public second floors. In the US parks, the second floors are simply facades in front of upper-level office space. And Disney Imagineers use a forced perspective effect on those facades, to make the structures seem larger than they really are.

In Tokyo, there is no forced perspective. The second floors are actual sized, with a roof on top of them. The forced perspective effect used in the United States is missing, making World Bazaar seem a bit... top-heavy to my eye, which is used to the scale of the US Main Streets.

The Emporium at Tokyo Disneyland's World Bazaar

With no railroad of Main Street vehicles, there are no attractions in Tokyo Disneyland's World Bazaar. But there are six (yep, six) restaurants. (Click through for more photos, full descriptions with menu selections, and reader ratings.)

Pasta course at the Eastside Cafe
Most of the restaurants offer plastic displays of their selections, such as this pasta course from the Eastside Cafe.

World Bazaar, from the Hub
Looking back into World Bazaar from the Hub, with Refreshment Corner on the right

World Bazaar at night
World Bazaar at night, with the Christmas tree at the intersection of Main and Center streets

Ready for some rides? Join us tomorrow, when we'll continue our trip around Tokyo Disneyland with a look at Adventureland. Also: Westernland and Critter Country, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.

Replies (9)

December 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM · Great beginning of the tour! I especially like the detail of how the forced perspective makes World Bazaar look top heavy to your eye as it would to most of us in the U.S. parks.

I'm guessing that to many of the repeat visitors of Tokyo Disney, it's what they're used to.

Robert, did you happen to get some input from a local that speaks English to compare and contrast these POV's? I think that could add a nice touch from one Disney Park local to another Disney Park local.

Really excited for this series of updates as I don't see myself going to Tokyo anytime soon! WDW takes priority for me!

December 12, 2011 at 8:05 PM · Great detail, commentary, and pictures. Keep 'em coming. I now have a reason to live, at least for this week!
December 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM · Remember, too, that next week is Universal Studios Singapore and the week after that is Tokyo DisneySea. We'll take care of you all the way up until Christmas!
December 12, 2011 at 3:18 PM · Can't wait for the next update. Not too sure what I make of the roof...
December 12, 2011 at 3:23 PM · Nice detail. Really looking forward to Tokyo DisneySea.
December 12, 2011 at 3:42 PM · Wow. Nice start of the "tour" Robert. Breaking it down into smaller daily increments makes it easier to digest and understand.

I think the roof idea would be appreciated at Disneyworld - MK. The Florida weather can be "inclement" at numerous times (as we experienced last June).

Looking forward to learning more about the Disney parks in Japan.

December 12, 2011 at 8:17 PM · Great report!
December 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM · Is the roof because it is rainy or colder there? I'm not sure what Tokyo weather is like....... but I kinda like the roof. It's okay because it does not go all the way up to the castle..... so it does not conflict with it.
December 13, 2011 at 8:01 AM · Fantastic! I had the opportunity to visit TDL in 2007 but I was so short on time that I didn't get to see all these great details! I somehow managed to visit both parks though. I do hope I get to go there again soon with more time to explore everything!

Looking forward to reading the next articles!

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