Tokyo Disney announces five new attractions

April 27, 2016, 8:26 AM · The Tokyo Disney Resort has announced plans to add several new attractions at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, including a new version of Soarin', a Big Hero 6 spinner ride, and a Mystic Manor-style ride through the Beast's castle from Beauty and the Beast.

The plans, which also include a 1,500-seat theater for live performances and a Minnie Mouse meet and greet facility, will cost an estimated US$675 million. Tokyo Disneyland's Grand Circuit Raceway and StarJets will close to make room for some of the new attractions. The raceway will close in January and the Star Jets will close in "autumn-winter 2017."

In its press release announcing the new development, the Oriental Land Company (which owns and operates the Tokyo Disney Resort under license from Disney) made no mention of the Frozen-themed Nordic Port of Arendelle for Tokyo DisneySea that it announced last year. Nor did it mention the Alice in Wonderland mini-land for Tokyo Disneyland that it included in that announcement. A Beauty and the Beast-themed mini-land also was part of that announcement... but that appears to have grown, under the newly announced plans.

Beauty and the Beast Area

Beauty and the Beast Area
All concept art courtesy Oriental Land Company

This new area will take over much of the space now occupied by Grand Circuit Raceway and StarJets, effectively expanding Fantasyland into Tomorrowland's current footprint. It will include a shop, a restaurant and a new ride. Oriental Land's concept art suggests that the new restaurant will be a Gaston's Tavern rather than a Be Our Guest. Which makes sense, given that Tokyo Disney appears to have different plans for the Beast's castle.

Gaston's Tavern

That will be the setting for the area's new ride, which appears to use trackless vehicles crafted to look like spinning serving dishes. From the park's press release:

Guests board 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 where she dances her way into the heart of the Beast, just in time to break the fateful spell.

Beauty and the Beast ride

This would give Tokyo Disneyland's Fantasyland two next-gen trackless dark rides, following the original Pooh's Hunny Hunt. The new ride, which is yet to be named, is scheduled to open in Spring 2020, along with the rest of the newly announced Tokyo Disneyland attractions.

Live Entertainment Theater

Tokyo Disneyland Theater

Behind the new Beauty and the Beast area, Tokyo Disneyland will build a 1,500-seat indoor theater for live performances. "Signature Disney entertainment unique to Tokyo Disneyland and featuring the Disney Friends will be presented in this storybook theater environment," according to the Oriental Land Co. press release.

Minnie Meet and Greet

Minnie Meet and Greet

Back in Toontown, Minnie Mouse will be getting her own design studio, where she will greet guests. The queue for the meet will wind through Minnie's studio and include interactive elements.

Big Hero 6 Ride

Big Hero 6 Ride

This new attraction, hosted by Baymax, will be built between Space Mountain and the new Beauty and the Beast area. It will be a musical whip ride, similar to Mater's Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure.


Soarin' site

Over in Tokyo DisneySea, Soarin' will come to Mediterranean Harbor. It is scheduled to open sometime in 2019, but the concept art shows much more fanciful ride vehicles than the hang gliders found on the other versions of Soarin' around the world.

On board Tokyo DisneySea's Soarin' show

The omission of the Alice in Wonderland maze and Frozen land suggests that those developments won't go forward after all, but we are awaiting official confirmation of that from Oriental Land Co.

Replies (42)

April 27, 2016 at 8:40 AM · Based on track record, it will all be amazing.
April 27, 2016 at 9:05 AM · Lol...... Why oh why was Disney World stuck with a stupid Little Mermaid Ride instead of just expanding the Beauty and Beast land to include the trackless dark ride. ??????
April 27, 2016 at 9:13 AM · A Steampunk version of Soarin'. Interesting.

Look like a more elaborate addition of Fantasyland than Disney World's New Fantasyland. A full sized Beast castle. That's amazing.

I suggested in another thread that the Beast castle should replace the Sleeping Beauty castle in Hong Kong and a Beauty and Beast ride. Well, this certainly fits the bill. It will never go to Hong Kong now so maybe they should go with The Little Mermaid castle and ride.

Reducing the size of Tomorrowland should have some implications at other Disneylands especially in Anaheim. Maybe Autopia should be removed for a big new Fantasyland addition.

April 27, 2016 at 9:11 AM · I have been fighting Mystic Manor's lure to get me into an airplane for quite some time...NOW it's gonna join forces with Beauty and the Beast!??! I am quickly developing a serious jealousy for the foreign parks!
April 27, 2016 at 9:22 AM · Tokyo Disneyland needs to buy Disney's American theme parks. The Japanese would treat American fans better than Bob Iger has. #FireBobIger
April 27, 2016 at 9:52 AM · Removing Autopia at DL for a Beauty and Beast mini-land with an amazing dark ride, I only wish...
April 27, 2016 at 9:59 AM · So do we still thank Shanghai?
April 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM · Oh please, Bob Iger is not an issue! He's been a fantastic leader and there has been amazing additions and plenty of welcome changes at the Disney's US theme parks under his leadership. The Oriental Land Company is in an entirely different situation for an operator, but the US parks by no means have been cheated out of great attractions because of the differences.
April 27, 2016 at 10:05 AM · If only we could get an actually beauty and the beast ride in the us parks
April 27, 2016 at 10:30 AM · These are budget basement attractions - bar Soarin. The fact they aren't doing the Frozen land also is pretty pathetic after announcing it last year.
April 27, 2016 at 10:37 AM · As far as I know, TDS still has a new land on the back-burner, as they are waiting to see what happens with Epcot's ride. Should plans go forward, that will be open around 2021. Soarin' was earmarked for this spot since the park opened (and also tossed around in the New York and Cape Cod areas), so that shouldn't really affect much with the expansion land at the back of the park. StarWars is also a strong contender against Frozen, but we will see.
April 27, 2016 at 10:48 AM ·
Can someone explain to me why the most visited theme park in the world (WDW) is getting treated like an afterthought when it comes to ride investments? They talk about funding being cut and details being pulled back to get things produced faster...doesn't seem like that the same issue applies in Asia. Frustrating
April 27, 2016 at 11:13 AM · But there is already a Beast castle in WDW. Sure is't a tiny miniature (that some people try to sell as forced perspective) with a restaurant under it but the WDW company earns more from a restaurant than a ride.
April 27, 2016 at 12:47 PM · I remember predicting if Tokyo Disney built a New Fantasyland they would put an E ticket ride before putting a restaurant. Guess I was right!

I also get the feeling someone in OLCo. saw the plans for Star Wars land and decided that would be a much better long term investment than Frozen. The plot in Disney Sea is the only place it would fit (wothout demolishing current lands). Thematically it would transition very well also. To the left is Port Discover which is Sci Fi themed and to the right is Lost River Delta which is jungle themed. According to what I've seen Star Wars land had both of those elements.

April 27, 2016 at 1:47 PM · Whew! A lot of Kool-Aid drinking and fact spinning going on in this thread! states:

"Oh please, Bob Iger is not an issue! He's been a fantastic leader and there has (sic) been amazing additions and plenty of welcome changes at the Disney's US theme parks under his leadership. The Oriental Land Company is in an entirely different situation for an operator, but the US parks by no means have been cheated out of great attractions because of the differences."

Great leadership does not allow the best Disney resort to be built outside of the United States! Disney does incredible things with other people's money overseas while at the same time slow-rolling mediocre improvements to their domestic parks. Can they be any more disrespectful to their domestic fans whose patronage helped build them into the premier entertainment company in the world? adds to the nonsense by saying:

"These are budget basement attractions - bar Soarin. The fact they aren't doing the Frozen land also is pretty pathetic after announcing it last year."

Yep. That Mystic manor style ride is a piece of junk. Why Six Flags would be embarrassed to put something like it in one of their parks. And there's absolutely nothing pathetic about the TDR. After Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, those are easily the best two Disney parks in the world.

Face it folks. Disney has been and continues to be relatively cheap when it comes to investment in their domestic parks and majority-owned, foreign parks. Comments like these just enable them to keep being cheap.

April 27, 2016 at 2:10 PM · These all look like very solid attractions. While I do question whether putting Beauty and the Beast right next to Pooh's Hunny Hunt is a smart decision, I guess that is the best place for it to fit and the general public probably isn't going to care that the ride systems themselves are so similar (Disneyland's Fantasyland has never had a problem with it's four thematically different but mechanically identical dark rides). I'm assuming Soarin' will be the same film as the others, just with a lot more theming of the attraction itself. I also find it very interesting that the Frozen land is on hold as that film was insanely popular in Japan, but perhaps Disney is starting to realize that it is not guaranteed to maintain its popularity long term (I'm certainly very curious how the US Frozen attractions opening this year end up performing). Would these additions be enough for me to plan a trip to Tokyo Disney had I already visited? Probably not, but I definitely look forward to trying these out when I do get a chance to visit.

As for the US vs. International debate, it is false to claim that Disney has done nothing for the domestic parks as they have opened a fair number of new attractions since Tokyo Disney debuted. However, it is true that Disney has done less capital investment at the domestic parks for the past couple decades, particularly at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom as those parks have been fully functional since opening. With six parks that have needed serious help after opening (DHS, DLP, DAK, DCA, WDS, HKDL), Disney has been forced to focus their major investment in that direction at the expense of the more complete parks. Additionally, up until 2010 Disney had very little serious competition in the United States so there wasn't much incentive to add major attractions to the functional parks as revenue and attendance wouldn't increase much. Now, however, serious competition does exist and we're seeing a lot more large-scale projects at the domestic parks. Regardless, however, it is unfair to compare Tokyo Disney to any other Disney park when it comes to capital investment due to the difference in how the park is financed.

April 27, 2016 at 3:44 PM · Well done AJ, spot on!
April 27, 2016 at 4:55 PM · It's not unfair to compare how the two resorts are financed at all. One just has to to note they are financed differently.
April 27, 2016 at 6:46 PM · Not a fan of Soarin or the Big Hero 6 ride, but I do like the Beauty and the Beast ride and the New entertainment theater. If only WDC ran their U.S. parks like OLC runs TDR.
April 27, 2016 at 6:53 PM · @80 "budget basement"?

Clearly you haven't ridden Poohs Hunny Hunt

April 27, 2016 at 7:00 PM · Amazing Beauty and the Beast ride. It's the truly essence/heart of Disney (unfortunately it is not in Disney's "native country"). Notwithstanding, I am so excited. I wish that I could be able to ride every day!
April 27, 2016 at 10:16 PM · To answer "Why is this not in WDW" things, the Oriental Land Company has been wanting stuff that's unique to Tokyo (and Hong Kong and Shanghai) to give them "bragging rights" over the U.S. parks.
April 28, 2016 at 1:17 AM · On my gosh I am pumped! I can't wait to see how the use the trackless technology with beauty and the beast.

Part of me can't help to wonder how cool it will be to have your vehicle dance, spin and glide around with belle and the beast with "Tale as Old as Time" playing... It's a chance to feel really involved in the story

April 28, 2016 at 1:30 AM · Oh man. I read this entire post pouting at the injustice of how AMAZING this will be.
Need. To. Go.
April 28, 2016 at 3:22 AM · In WDI, great ideas never die...
April 28, 2016 at 3:59 AM · "Whew! A lot of Kool-Aid drinking and fact spinning going on in this thread!"

Right, because no one ever does that for Universal....

April 28, 2016 at 4:10 AM · Demolishing the speedway is something every Disney park should consider. If you want to ride GoKarts, just go to FunZone, for crying out loud. WDW could learn a lesson from Tokyo. Disneyland, Paris, and Hong Kong could as well.

I moved to China. Maybe I should have gone to Japan instead? SMH.

No, I only kid. But seeing how Oriental Land Company runs their park compared to all the others in the world really makes me jealous, a little bit upset, and very disappointed.

Though yes, I am excited for AvatarLand, Star Wars Land, the completed Disney Springs, Iron Man Experience, etc etc. I can never say they aren't investing in the non-Japanese parks, but it simply underwhelms in comparison.

April 28, 2016 at 7:17 AM · I just had an educated thought... Maybe a clone of the DCA Frozen show will go to the new theater if Frozen is still real popular. That would make more sense overall. That plot of land that was scheduled to be used for Frozen is the last real big plot of land that DisneySea has to add a new land with, so they probably want to be picky and make sure it's a good one. It looks like more funding will go to Fantasyland with these set of plans. Which is good because that Fantasyland out there does need a little TLC. Let's remember, DisneySea seems to be dedicated to the best of the best attractions out there. Soarin has been a long proven family favorite. Just add a little more detail to bring it to DisneySea standards and there you go. An easy hold over until they figure out what to do with that large plot of land. I think when the numbers come in for Star Wars Land here in the states, DisneySea will almost have no choice but to build it because guest are really going to want a copy over there, but time will only tell that take. Until then, I can't wait to ride in some plates in a few years. To be honest though, as of now, all my focus is starting to switch to Avatar. That are is looking very beautiful.
April 28, 2016 at 7:36 AM · If they decided to skip Frozen because Star Wars land would be a much better investment and both would use the same space, that is good news.

If they decided to skip Frozen land because they saw the plans for the ride in Epcot and find that disapointing, that is bad news.

April 28, 2016 at 8:36 AM · @AJ

"it is unfair to compare Tokyo Disney to any other Disney park when it comes to capital investment due to the difference in how the park is financed"

I'm pretty sure they are all financed with money and profits from their parent Companies, of which the domestic Parks' is many times larger. Shanghai and Hong Kong even have direct financial support from their local governments. So what exactly is unfair about the comparison? If anything Tokyo Disney should be getting less investment than the other parks.

April 28, 2016 at 10:17 AM · The Tokyo parks are overcrowded, so they add new attractions. The U.S. parks are overcrowded, so they raise prices and try to milk more money with hare-brained schemes like My Magic Plus.

The U.S. parks are finally investing in response to competition from Universal, but the Tokyo parks don't have competition, they just know what will grow their business, good quality and good customer service. Comcast is starting to know that too, Disney is lagging behind.

Disney needs to put full investment in making all their parks up to par. The parks are Disney's interface with the customer, if the customer has a great experience in the parks, it fuels demand for all other products.

Magic Kingdom - put a Beauty and the Beast ride in back of the Be Our Guest restaurant. Take out Small World and put a Tangled ride there.

Epcot - Put Small World in between Future World and World Showcase. Put the Carousel of Progress in Future World. Add a Swiss pavilion with the Matterhorn.

Hollywood Studios - Add an Indiana Jones area with Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

Animal Kingdom - Fix the Yeti

Disneyland - Add Frozen ride in the Motor Boat Cruise area, bring back the People Mover, no matter what it takes - rebuild the track, make it so kids can't climb out, whatever it takes to make it safe and ADI compliant, doing just this much will go far to fix Tomorrowland.

California Adventure - Add Mystic Manor in Paradise Pier.

This is the minimum to bring all the parks up to par. The parks are what creates rabid fans, IMO, even more than just the movies or anything else, because they allow the fans to experience Disney, not just watch a movie.

April 29, 2016 at 7:09 PM · The Beauty and the Beast ride looks like it will be impressive. The other ones don't look that great. And I wonder why it took so long for them to add a version of Soarin'.

That said, Tokyo Disney is definitely on my bucket list.

April 28, 2016 at 9:29 PM · Daniel, unless I'm mistaken the Walt Disney Company does not hold any ownership stake in the Tokyo Disney Resort. Instead, they have licensed the Disney brand to the Oriental Land Company for use at the resort, and while Disney does contract Imagineering work and has final approval for the resort's additions they do not finance it. As a result of this arrangement, most of the profits from Tokyo Disney can be directly reinvested into that property.

The other parks are all owned and operated primarily by the Walt Disney Company, so all of them are tied together. This means that the profits from all the parks and resorts (and the other divisions of Disney as well) are shared, so even if a particular property is doing well they will not benefit as much since a portion of their profit is being used to help the struggling parks. As I mentioned before, Disney has opened six parks that needed significant assistance after opening in order to survive. Both the Paris and Hong Kong resorts are still struggling (Hong Kong more than Paris), so while both domestic resorts are going strong they are somewhat propping up the international resorts (and any other Disney divisions that are struggling). If every Disney resort was independent in the way Tokyo Disney is, I've got a feeling the Disneyland Resort would rival Tokyo for quality and Walt Disney World would be the undisputed best theme park resort in the world, but unfortunately that is not the case.

April 29, 2016 at 1:25 PM · AJ you are correct about the ownership of the parks and yes Oriental Land company does wholly own Tokyo Disney Resort. I agree with you that that is definitely an advantage over the other theme parks. But I don't feel that it is unfair to compare the parks. Walt Disney Co. is huge compared to the Oriental land company, indeed one of the largest in the world. They chose to invest in foreign parks nobody forced them to. If it hasn't gone well that is Disney's fault not the OLCos. Oriental land company can, and actually will, do the same as they are currently looking to build something in Okinawa. If Oriental land has done a beter job with their resort than Disney itself I think they should be commended. I just don't feel it's an unfair comparison. It's like saying it's unfair to compare honda and GM cars because one is bigger than the other yet their products compete on a global scale and so do theme parks.
April 29, 2016 at 6:20 PM · AJ, stop making excuses for greedy Bob Iger. Disney's American parks wouldn't be hurting for cash, if greedy Bob Iger hadn't spent billions of dollars on stock buybacks, foreign misadventures and the MyMagic+ fiasco. The $1.5 billion that Iger wasted on MyMagic+ alone could have paid for 15 E-ticket attractions. Tokyo Disney cares about their customers. Bob Iger does not.
April 29, 2016 at 11:19 PM · Yeah, they really cut down on many of the other attractions. I'm confused about Frozen. I wonder if maybe they're thinking about a potential Star Wars Land for Disney Sea in Frozen's place ;) However, I actually like how they changed their plans for Beauty and the Beast.
April 30, 2016 at 9:55 PM · Daniel, I get what you're saying, but I think the difference is that Oriental Land Company is solely a leisure and tourism company while the Walt Disney Company is a mass media and entertainment conglomerate that encompasses a much wider range of consumer products. If, say, the entire parks and resorts division was performing at 125% above expectations but the media networks division is 50% below, you'd see a lot of money diverted to help that division instead of being reinvested in parks and resorts. This is not a problem Tokyo Disney has to deal with, so it makes comparisons difficult when it comes to theme park investment and operations. If the parks and resorts division was entirely independent, it would be a lot easier to compare them. You can't think of it like comparing two car companies, you'd have to think of it as comparing a company that only does road vehicles to a company with large scale operations in every part of the transportation sector.

And no, I am not trying to say "Disney is doing perfectly fine" or "Iger is amazing," because I do not think he has done a particularly great job with the company. That said, I think Eisner did way more damage than Iger has, with some of the issues being more due to what Iger inherited and some of them being simply the problems with a publicly traded company that covers so many different fields (though things like Shanghai Disneyland and MyMagic+ can definitely be attributed to Iger). I'm just trying to make a point that Tokyo Disney is different from the rest of the Disney parks and that expecting the same level of investment throughout the chain is a bit optimistic from a business perspective. When it comes to theme parks, what is good for business is usually disappointing for hardcore fans, but the goal is to get as many members of the general public to spend money there and not to ensure that <0.1% of visitors are 100% satisfied 100% of the time.

Oh, and, I think you'd be lucky to get 8 E-tickets for that $1.5 billion (and you'd likely end up with 6-7). Disney attractions aren't cheap...Cars Land alone cost almost as much as the entirety of DCA back in 2001, and that whole park was pretty cheap by Disney standards.

May 1, 2016 at 5:53 AM · AJ, Thank you for your posts. You always contribute good insight to the discussion.

Before you defend Bob Iger, you should take another look at his capital allocation decisions. In the last 5 years, Iger has spent $30 billion on share buybacks, the foreign parks and MyMagic+. How much capital has Iger invested in American attractions during that period?

Iger is buying back Disney shares at a time when cable customers are cutting the cord. ESPN is locked in a downward spiral with no recovery in sight. Buying back shares gives Disney's stock a boost in the short-term, but how is Iger's stock buyback strategy sustainable when ESPN's profits are projected to decline? Is buying back shares at a stock's peak smart, or is it stupid?

May 1, 2016 at 4:59 PM · "In the last 5 years, Iger has spent $30 billion on share buybacks, the foreigh parks and MyMagic+. How much capital has Iger invested in American attractions during that period?"

Hmm, interesting question. I don't know of a monetary value, but I can list what was added. Let's start from the new for 2011 attractions and include everything up to what is scheduled for 2016.

-60th Diamond Celebration (you may not count this but it is still a significant investment)
-Alice in Wonderland upgrade
-Big Thunder Mountain (major overhaul)
-Disneyland Forever
-Fantasy Faire
-Indiana Jones upgrade
-Haunted Mansion upgrade
-Matterhorn upgrade (including new trains)
-Mickey's Soundsational
-Paint the Night
-Peter Pan's Flight upgrade
-Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
-Star Wars Additions

Disney California Adventure:
-Cars Land
-Disney Junior: Live on Stage (two versions of show)
-Frozen: Live at the Hyperion
-Goofy's Sky School (Mulholland Madness retheme)
-Grizzly Peak Airfield (Condor Flats retheme)
-Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters
-Soarin' Around the World
-The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure
-World of Color: Celebrate

Magic Kingdom:
-A Pirate's Adventure
-Enchanted Tiki Room (new show)
-Haunted Mansion upgrade
-New Fantasyland
-Princess Fairytale Hall
-Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
-Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
-Storybook Circus
-Miscellaneous other park improvement projects

-Agent P's World Showcase Adventure
-Frozen Ever After
-Soarin' Around the World
-Test Track (major overhaul)
-Miscellaneous other park improvement projects

Disney's Hollywood Studios:
-Disney Junior: Live on Stage (two versions of show)
-New Star Wars Entertainment
-Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
-Toy Story Mania Expansion

Disney's Animal Kingdom:
-Kilimanjaro Safaris After Dark
-New Festival of the Lion King Theater
-Pandora: The World of Avatar (ignore this if desired since it is for 2017)
-Rivers of Light
-The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic
-The Tree of Life Awakens
-Miscellaneous other park improvement projects

Walt Disney World (non-park):
-Art of Disney Animation Resort
-Disney Springs
-Wilderness Lodge Resort Water Cabins (not 100% sure of the status on this project)

I may have missed some other smaller projects, particularly at Walt Disney World. No, there is not a whole lot of E-ticket attractions or brand new things, but a TON of money is still being spent on the parks. Based on some known costs, I'd guess that all the Disneyland Resort stuff totals around $3 billion dollars, and the WDW projects likely total more than that ($4-5 billion? Especially if Avatar is included). No matter how you look at it, that is a lot of investment.

As fans, we always want something big, something new, something shiny, but sometimes the fancy E-ticket attraction cooked up on a fan site is not the best option at the moment. There are many, many facets to a theme park and if you focus too much on one it leads to deterioration in others. No, I am not saying I'm completely happy with Disney's current course, and I think there have definitely been blunders made by Disney recently under Iger's administration (I'll refrain from commenting much on stocks since I don't know exactly how those tend to work, but buying at the peak does seem like a risky move), but there has yet to be a significant decline in attendance at the parks. If the numbers keep going up and when everything is working, why change?

May 1, 2016 at 6:27 PM · AJ, how did you arrive at those estimates of $3 billion for Disneyland and $4-5 billion for WDW?

Iger deserves credit for fixing California Adventure, but did it really cost $1.1 billion? Hollywood has a long history of creative accounting.

May 1, 2016 at 10:28 PM · Robert,
AJ just made a good start on a great new section for your site. A list of major investments in the parks over the years. New rides and resort improvements with notes and reader input by upgrade. Where published by the company or reports, include the investment price tag. Who builds what when and the details is a common debate point. Write the history. Essentially a straight up extension of the attraction database you already have. Your the expert, understand the marketing, and you have access to the crowd sourced knowledge like no other site.
May 2, 2016 at 8:41 AM · Bob Iger has destroyed the US parks especially WDW. New Fantasyland is not even a 40% of what it was originally going to be. We always get budget cuts when they finally decide to do refurbs and the trend continues to be on getting cheaper and inferior products into these parks while squeezing more money out of our Guest. This is not the same company we used to be under Eisner. The Disney way is no longer in practice at TA nor TO. :( Bob needs to leave ASAP!!!

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive