Monday Top 10: The Top Reasons to Visit Tokyo Disney Resort

November 3, 2014, 12:09 PM · Millions of fans from around the world have fallen in love with theme parks thanks to visits to the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts. But especially well-traveled theme park fans know that there's an even better Disney theme park experience to be had — the Tokyo Disney Resort.

Imagine a Magic Kingdom that combines the best of Disney World's and Disneyland's. Then partner it with the world's best theme park, a multi-billion dollar testament to what Disney's Imagineers can create when they are not limited by risk-averse corporate oversight that values synergy over creativity.

Yes, visiting Japan is expensive. But we've done it, and written about how it can be done. With airfares from the United States routinely topping $1,000 round-trip, this isn't likely a visit you will make with the family. But as a solo traveler, or a couple? If you watch airfares and schedule your trip for the right time of year, a Tokyo Disney visit can be a once-in-a-lifetime reward either before or after you've got kids at home.

Here are our top 10 reasons to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort. And we're not yet counting the upcoming US$4.5 billion expansion that will start next year. Or the world-class customer service that you will receive throughout the resort, as well as throughout all of Japan. So count those as reasons 11 and 12 to start thinking now about someday visiting the Tokyo Disney Resort.

10. Country Bear Theater

With the Christmas season getting underway at theme parks around the world, do you wish you could see the Country Bear Christmas Special again? Or maybe see the full Country Bear Jamboree or Vacation Hoedown shows? You can. but you need to make a trip to Tokyo. All three Country Bear shows continue to play at various times during the year in Tokyo Disneyland's Country Bear Theater.

9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

The submarine ride based on Jules Verne's classic is long gone from Florida's Magic Kingdom, but you can enjoy an even better version in Tokyo DisneySea. A dark ride themed to the journey to the bottom of the sea, this 20K offers some spectacular effects.

8. Sindbad's Storybook Voyage

No one does musical boat rides better than Disney, and this might be Disney's most charming theme park attraction. Enlivened by Alan Mencken's wonderful theme song, this Sindbad will have you smiling for the rest of your stay at Tokyo DisneySea.

7. Tom Sawyer Island

Tom Sawyer Island

Simply the best TSI anywhere, Tokyo Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island is, along with the rest of the resort, impeccably maintained. And it's great fun to watch hundreds of Japanese guests embracing this archetypically American adventure.

6. Flavored Popcorn

Flavored Popcorn

"Buttered or not?" is soooo boring. You'll be craving Tokyo Disney's many flavored versions long after you return home: Chocolate, strawberry, honey, milk tea, apple cinnamon, corn potage, black pepper, soy sauce, and — our favorite, the delightfully addictive curry.

5. The Shiriki Utundu and the Tower Of Terror Preshow

Harrison Hightower and the Shiriki Utundu

Tokyo DisneySea's Tower of Terror skips the Twilight Zone theme in favor of telling the story of Harrison Hightower, a pompous explorer who met his, er, downfall, by swiping the Shiriki Utundu idol. You'll hear their story in the most visually amazing preshow at any attraction, anywhere.

4. The S.S. Columbia

Dining in the S.S. Columbia

Enjoy one of the best meals of your life on board the full-sized S.S. Columbia, moored on the shores of the American Waterfront in Tokyo DisneySea. And if you're not in the mood for a full meal (too much popcorn during the day?), stop in the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge for a drink.

3. Fortress Explorations

Fortress Explorations

The home of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers at Tokyo DisneySea offers one of the most beautiful and engaging walk-through attractions in the world, a Renaissance citadel devoted to the emergence of science and exploration. In its heart, enter Magellan's and indulge in one of the multi-course, fixed-price gourmet menus that will change forever your expectation of how wonderful a "theme park meal" can be.

2. Pooh's Hunny Hunt

Disney's first "trackless" dark ride continues to delight visitors with its charming adventure through the Hundred Acre Wood and other moments from Winnie-the-Pooh. Forget what you might have experienced at the Magic Kingdom and at Disneyland — this is what a Pooh ride ought to be.

1. Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth

We've written extensively about our love for Tokyo DisneySea's centerpiece, and Theme Park Insider readers have endorsed this as the world's best dark ride. One trip on this attraction, and not only will be you grateful that you found a way to visit Tokyo Disney, you'll start thinking about how you can someday visit again.

Replies (12)

November 3, 2014 at 12:40 PM · Excellent list of my favorite place on earth. Hard not to fit their superior Indy jones on there. Its hard to imagine that this is the best theme park resort in the world, and yet they are investing and additional 4.5 billion?! Looks like it'll stay that way for a very long time.
November 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM ·

Perhaps a Top Ten list can be made by combining Paris and Hong Kong. And that list will still pale in comparison to Tokyo.

November 3, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Looks great, but is there any time of year to visit without dealing with insane crowds? I keep hearing that the mobs at TDR make the DLR and WDW crowds look light by comparison.
November 3, 2014 at 4:11 PM · Someday...some way...some how....
November 3, 2014 at 6:00 PM · Sylvain, the crowds are big, but I think the resort operates so efficiently that it handles them well. Deft use of Fastpass (the traditional kind!) is helpful, and arriving at least 60 minutes before opening to queue at the turnstiles is a must. Two days is a rush to see it all, but three or four days would be plenty of time. Them take the bullet train down to Osaka for Universal and it's a dream week for any theme park fan!
November 3, 2014 at 6:36 PM · If I owned the keys to the company 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' would be built in the space that is currently occupied by the weak-ass go-cart ride that's in WDW's Tomorrowland.
November 3, 2014 at 8:46 PM · ^As the fires of Hell cease their burning and freeze over, James Rao points at TH Creative's slightly vulgar post and reluctantly mutters, "Hear, hear."
November 3, 2014 at 9:20 PM · Maybe the videos aren't doing it justice, but I'm not sure I see all the love for Center of the Earth. Yeah, it looks fun and I would certainly welcome it over here, but the ride length clocks in at about only 3 minutes and the outdoor section looks so short that you don't appreciate it until it's over.
November 3, 2014 at 11:21 PM · The videos don't even come close to doing that ride justice. Journey provides the most brilliant manipulation of your point of view to set up its big moment, and camera work just doesn't capture that the way you experience it in person.
November 4, 2014 at 9:12 AM · I'm surprised Disney has not brought flavored Popcorn to the U.S. parks...seems like a high profit margin. I wish Journey to the Center of the Earth was somewhere in Animal Kingdom. AK needs a good E-ticket.
November 5, 2014 at 6:34 AM · "Perhaps a Top Ten list can be made by combining Paris and Hong Kong" -that´s unfair. While maintenance at DLP is very poor, the park used to be the most wonderful park ever build, the level of detail is breathtaking, and the attractions are amazing - there simply is no better PotC, no better Peter Pan, no better HM, no better SM and so on. DSP is an entirely different matter,of course...
November 5, 2014 at 11:35 AM · I went to Tokyo Disney 11 years ago and even then it offered a more advanced experience than WDW or DL does now. Disney's US theme parks lagging in the last 10 years really does amaze me. Journey to the centre of the earth is truly an amazing ride - the best of all the best - and am really surprised this has never made it to WDW. It seems a perfect fit in AK or even MK. The downside of Tokyo is the crowds, I went in early March 2003 and it was comparible with WDW at Christmas

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