Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Happy 20th Birthday to Tokyo DisneySea

September 2, 2021, 7:25 PM · This weekend, one of the world's best theme parks celebrates its 20th birthday.

Tokyo DisneySea opened September 4, 2001. Over its two decades, the Tokyo Disney Resort's second gate has won six Theme Park Insider Awards as the world's best theme park. (I am jumping the gun on the actual anniversary because we are planning so much coverage of Halloween events at Universal Orlando and Disneyland in California tomorrow and Saturday, and I did not want this birthday post to get lost among those.)

If you were granted the opportunity to travel to any park in the world that you hadn't visited before, make it Tokyo DisneySea. (And if you have visited Tokyo DisneySea before, good for you!) I visited the park 10 years ago, and you can read my trip report start here: A tour of Tokyo DisneySea: History, layout and Mediterranean Harbor.

My report concluded with what remain two of my favorite dining reviews here on Theme Park Insider: Lunch at the S.S. Columbia Dining Room and Dinner at Magellan's.

Tokyo DisneySea

The "Time to Shine!" 20th anniversary celebration in Tokyo begins Saturday and continues for the next 12 months. Mickey Mouse and friends will wear anniversary costumes and greet fans from the waters of the Mediterranean Harbor, and the park will offer special anniversary-themed food and merchandise during the year, as well. Bigger gifts to fans await after the celebration concludes, when Tokyo DisneySea is scheduled to open its new Fantasy Springs expansion, which will bring attractions themed to Peter Pan, Frozen and Tangled to the park's eighth themed port when it opens sometime between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024.

If you have visited Tokyo DisneySea, please share some of your memories with us, in the comments.

Update: Here's the "happy birthday" video from the park.

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Replies (8)

September 2, 2021 at 10:23 PM

I have been lucky enough to travel to Tokyo on 10 separate occasions since 2015 and I visited TDS on every trip. And reading Mr Niles review of TDS all those years ago was the initial reason I booked my first trip, so thank you!
Having been to all 12 Disney parks, I can honestly say this is by far not only my favorite Disney park but my favorite theme park in the world. Attention to detail, magical theming, customer service, and the unique atmosphere are some of my reasons.
If you have not been I highly recommend it for a bucket list trip.
Thanks again Mr Niles.

September 3, 2021 at 2:04 AM

With award winning rides, entertainment, food and so much more. The Oriental Land Company has always spared no expense. Making Tokyo Disney and it's amazing theme parks the gold standard.

A standard we wish the American Disney Parks would at least try and shoot for.

September 3, 2021 at 9:51 AM

One day I will go there. It’s on my bucket list.

September 3, 2021 at 10:06 AM

I visited Tokyo Disney Sea back in 2016 for two days. It's fantastic and deserving of its accolades. I'm currently saving up and planning to visit next year. Hopefully, Japan opens up to foreign visitors for that time. In terms of restaurants there was a counter-service restaurant by Aquatopia that served up a delicious piece of sirloin for a more than fair price. I will not repeat what the first poster, Brandon, said in his piece but he is absolutely right. I remember running into a top ranking Disney executive while at the park and I was wearing a Disney World shirt. The guy gave me kudos for being a world wide Disney park traveler. A nice little exchange there.

September 3, 2021 at 11:20 AM

It's one park I always wanted to visit, love seeing videos of it.

September 4, 2021 at 1:41 AM

I visited Tokyo Disneysea in 2018 and it was everyting and more I could have hoped for.
The first time walking in gave me chills even though it was a blazing hot day.

The park really is mind blowing and I could walk around for days there just soaking up all the details and amazing atmosphere without doing rides at all.

When we got around to the rides, those too were just top notch, everything in the park is just perfect, we didn't see anything broken or in need of repair, all rides, animatronics, special effects, every little thing was perfect and worked as designed.

It shows the amazing craft that went into the park and the continues effort in maintenance.
But we thought it's also because of the Japanese culture of following the rules. Everyone is so respectful of the park (except during rope drop.. then you'll see the craziest run in any park you've seen)

Three of my favourite memories ;
- Sinbad's Storybook voyage - to me the best darkride in the world with the most beautiful animatronics and a musical score that brought me to tears. We rode it over and over and over.. there was so much to take in.

- Dinner at Magellan's - omg - awesome food and what a gorgeous restaurant

- The view of an insane crowd on the docks near the lake dancing and screaming in perfect sync on the Pirates of the Caribbean music during the summer event where huge boats come out filled with Pirates, blasting insane amounts of water on the crowd .. you have to see it to believe it..

What a park, I can't wait to get back there and see the new additions to this already perfect park!

Dominique, Rotterdam, Netherlands

September 4, 2021 at 4:08 AM

I was fortunate enough to visit Tokyo Disney Sea on opening day. It was an amazing experience walking into the park and directly in front of us was the aquasphere where we took at photo as Australia appeared. As were were waking underneath the Miracosta we heard the opening ceremony taking place on Mediterranean Harbor. Is was amazing that they held the opening ceremony on the Harbor for all opening days guests to see. We have also attended opening days at Hong Hong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland where we ceremonies has already taken place before guests had entered the park.
We managed to ride a number of attractions on opening day and the theming , details of this park are amazing. We spent time in their version of the Emporium and it was body to body you could not move as fans were buying the opening day merchandise.
It is a Disney park where you can walk around not go on one attraction or see one show and still get your monies worth. I particularly remember the first time we entered Mermaid Lagoon we spent 3 hours inside with all the hidden areas and the Little Mermaid show. Of course walking through the lava tube inside the volcano and going on Journey to the centre of the Earth and the lave creature was amazing.

September 4, 2021 at 6:54 AM

Maybe Disney should acquire SeaWorld and make an Orlando version !

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