You know and love the American Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando but what do you know about the other global Disney parks? For starters, they are as beautiful, well-designed, classic, and all-around wonderful as the other two originals. Even if you don't currently have the means to travel to any of these parks, they are a bit far from home, it's fun to look and dreamlike window shopping. So put on your Mickey's ears and let's dive right into the international world of Walt Disney.
Tokyo Disneyland was the first Disney park built outside the U.S., constructed in 1983 by Walt Disney Imagineering but owned and operated, under license by Disney, by The Oriental Land Company. Held to Walt Disney's high standards, Tokyo Disneyland is massively successful with two major theme parks: Disneyland Park and DisneySea, a land that is not technically sanctioned by Disney but holds its classic charm and imagination. First of all, Disneyland Park has six districts that mostly resemble Disneyland Anaheim and Disney World's Magic Kingdom with Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, etc. There are few differences in style and theme such as the Tokyo version of Main Street, U.S.A. is known as the World Bazaar and where the U.S. has Frontierland, Tokyo has Westernland. Most of your favorite rides have kept their classic charm from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Peter Pan's Flight.
DisneySea, on the other hand, is a fascinating new park originally fashioned after Port Disney, a Southern California Disney experiment that was eventually scrapped. DisneySea, picture this, is like a nautical themed, Disney-fied version of Epcot's World Showcase with major international districts themed after Disney classic movies/characters or parts of the world. You can visit the romantic canals of Venice in the Mediterranean Harbor, Jules Verne's imagination in the caverns of Mount Prometheus in the Mysterious Island, visit an ancient Aztec pyramid in the Lost River Delta, or tour the Mermaid Lagoon, among others. DisneySea was intended to be a more adult styled park with a higher concentration of thrill rides, mature attractions, and such. And as always, the Disney theme pervades with indomitable grace, making it a vastly charming park to visit.
Originally named Euro Disney, Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 with high hopes. Unfortunately, the name didn't garner any European praise and it was eventually changed to Disneyland Paris in 2002. The theme park is the most visited amusement park in all of Europe, located roughly 20 miles outside the center of Paris. The park, though resembling the American versions, has several differences that set it apart. Disneyland Paris is home to two major parks: Disneyland Park which resembles the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Anaheim, and Walt Disney Studios Park which resembles Hollywood Studios. Disneyland Park is home to all of your favorite districts except Tomorrowland which underwent a stylistic change under the name Discoveryland, themed after famous European thinkers and explorers including Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells to name a few. At Disneyland Paris you can find new, European-original attractions like the Phantom Manor, a frontier themed Haunted Mansion with its own unique storyline, as well as the Pocahontas Indian Village, Aladdin's Enchanted Passage, Orbitron - Machines Volantes, and Toy Soldier Parachute Drop, among others.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Entering Hong Kong Disneyland, you first catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful princess castles that ever graced a theme park. Sleeping Beauty's castle rises above the park in glimmering graces of pink and blue, leading you into your newest adventure. Like the other parks, Hong Kong Disneyland is home to the major park districts like Fantasyland and Adventureland but with added sectors like Mystic Point and Toy Story Land. Mystic Pointe is a new concept set in 1909 in an adventurer's rain forest outpost filled with supernatural spirits while Toy Story Land, though it is not an entirely new concept, is billed as "Asia exclusive" and is home to giant reproductions of Woody, Rex, and other characters. Though Hong Kong has earned a lot of controversy since its opening in 2005 for the crowds and long wait times, it still brought in over 7.6 million visitors in 2014, making it the ninth most visited Disney park in the world.
This Disney beauty isn't even opened yet, set to be unveiled in spring 2016. As the first Disney park in mainland China, Shanghai Disney has a lot of hype to live up to and being Disney, they are sure to exceed expectations. While the other parks were generally the same, if a little stylized, like the American versions, Shanghai Disney is said to have more attractions created especially for Chinese guests. There are to be six major themed lands: Adventure Isle, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, Treasure Cove, and Fantasyland, with the Enchanted Storybook Castle. These new lands offer up new opportunities for Disney Imagineering to create dreams, making figments of imagination come to life. Though not much is known about the park's attractions, we do know that there's to be added Chinese influences throughout as well as new additions to the classic Disney attractions repertoire, all themed for storybook tales and Disney classic icons and movies. Get your tickets now, book your flights, and visit Shanghai Disney as soon as it opens next year. It's sure to be a brilliant addition to the Disney park family.