If you're a fan of Disney theme parks like I am, your biggest
curiosity about Tokyo Disneyland Park is probably how it compares with the
American Disney parks. The answer is: it's very similar, and it's very
The biggest difference is probably the most obvious: Tokyo
Disneyland Park is located in Japan. Most of the dialog in the rides and
attractions is in Japanese. All signs, restaurant menus, etc., are printed
in Japanese (although they all include English translation in small
print). Almost all of the employees are Japanese. In keeping with Japanese
tradition the employees (or "cast members" as they are called) have their last names engraved on their name tags, although someone unfamiliar
with Japanese names will likely be oblivious to this fact. And unlike the
American parks which see many visitors from all over the world, almost all
of the guests you'll see in Tokyo Disneyland Park are Japanese.
feature of Tokyo Disneyland Park is that it's big—about 114 acres. Compare
that with Disneyland Park, which is 74.2 acres, and the Magic Kingdom in
Florida which is 106.3 acres. Despite its larger size, Tokyo Disneyland
has fewer rides and attractions—I counted 45 rides and attractions at
Tokyo Disneyland, versus 58 at Disneyland in California. Much of the park
is open space, seemingly designed to hold as many visitors as possible.
During the busy summer months it's not uncommon for the park
to open its doors in the morning, then have to stop admitting visitors
around noon because it is filled to capacity (about 85,000 guests). The
doors reopen again around 5:00 PM. The park can see over 100,000 visitors
For the most part, the layout of Tokyo Disneyland Park mirrors its American counterparts:
You walk through a main entrance and up Main Street to a central hub which
branches out to the various lands of the park. As you would expect, the
centerpiece of the park is a castle; in this case, Cinderella Castle.
Despite the familiar layout, there are some obvious differences. Main
Street (called "World Bazaar") is covered by a Plexiglas canopy. There is
no steam train running around the perimeter of the Park; instead it runs
around Adventureland. Frontierland is not called Frontierland, it's called Westernland. There's no New Orleans Square, although there is an area that
looks like New Orleans Square but it is technically Adventureland. Fantasyland looks like Disneyland's Fantasyland did in the late 1970s. Tomorrowland is Spartan and sadly not very futuristic.
of the wonderful things about Tokyo Disneyland Park is that it is
meticulously maintained. The Park is over 20 years old now but you'd never
be able to tell, even on close inspection. The landscaping is groomed to
perfection. Rides and attractions are all as close to perfect as can be,
both cosmetically and functionally. Walkways, benches, and eating areas
are always spotless.
Part of the reason that the Park is always so clean is that the staff does
a great job of keeping it that way. I feel however—and this is just a
personal observation—that the other reason is that Japanese people, by and
large, are pretty neat and tidy themselves. Part of this is cultural, but
the other part has to be simple necessity: if you lived in a country as
densely populated as Japan* you'd have to be organized just to survive.
One example of how the Japanese people help keep their park clean is that
in Japan it's poor etiquette to walk and eat at the same time; this helps
keep walkways free from popcorn and ice cream spills. (This is one
Japanese tradition I occasionally break, as strolling around Disneyland
while eating a box of popcorn is a small pleasure I have enjoyed all my
Despite its similarities, Tokyo Disneyland Park is different enough that
regardless of how many times you've visited Disneyland Park in California
or Florida's Magic Kingdom, visiting Tokyo Disneyland Park for the first
time will be fresh and exciting and wonderful. It was for me.
* Imagine taking half the population of the United States and cramming
them into California—that's roughly the population density of Japan.