PHOTOS: 35 Photo Highlights from Tokyo Disney Resort’s 35th Anniversary Year

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Have you been to Tokyo Disney Resort in the last year? The resort’s year-long 35th-anniversary celebration ends on March 25, 2019. Here, we’ll look back at 35 photo highlights, pulled from six trips to the resort spread out over the last twelve months.

Because it was the main celebration hub, four of our trips during the anniversary period were to Tokyo Disneyland. The other two were to Tokyo DisneySea. This was one of the only years that I’ve visited the former park more than the latter. As a result, this yearbook of highlights is weighted more toward Tokyo Disneyland.

Come see what you might have missed at the resort this last year in-between your own trips, or vicarious visits online. (Not to worry, some sections in this article feature more than one photo, so you don’t have to plow through a paragraph for every pic.)

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“Dreaming Up!” Parade

Last April, the gods smiled upon us when we won the ticket lottery for Tokyo Disneyland’s special parade viewing area. We were able to sit in the park’s central plaza and watch its new 35th-anniversary parade, “Dreaming Up!”, from the front row.

The parade had just premiered a week and a half before we were there. Getting to watch it from the front row so early into its run was maybe the biggest highlight for us of the 35th-anniversary period.

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It’s a Small World Revamped

You can see some of the same characters from the parade in the new It’s a Small World. As part of the 35th-anniversary event, the ride reopened with a brighter color scheme and newly integrated Disney characters.

Personally, my wife and I weren’t fans of the revamped loading area, which has a babyish look. She’s looking forward to riding the classic version of the attraction at the Magic Kingdom this coming May.

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Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall

We seem to be on an Alice in Wonderland kick with these first few pictures, so maybe now’s as good a time as any to share some visual highlights from the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. This popular, elaborately themed counter-service restaurant is one that’s unique to Tokyo Disneyland. It’s right around the corner from It’s a Small World.

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After riding the new version of It’s a Small World for the first time, the next stop for my wife and I, last April, was Queen of Hearts.

We had brunch there right after it opened at 10 a.m. The buffeteria line was empty, so we could sail right through it.

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Star Wars Mochi Snack

The Green Alien Mochi, a cream-filled dumpling snack themed to Toy Story, was gone for a while from Tokyo Disneyland. It migrated over to DisneySea and what we got in its place was Star Wars Mochi. Cue “The Imperial March” by John Williams.

What started out as three Stormtroopers in a single order eventually became two Stormtroopers and one chocolate Darth Vader. During the first half of 2018, this Instagram-ready snack helped keep up the promotional push for Solo: A Star Wars Story. May the Mochi be with you?

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Splash Mountain Ride Photos

I always wanted to get a picture of Splash Mountain’s colorful Doo-Dah Landing—the room that comes after the final outdoor drop when you’re riding through the attraction in your log flume. That shot there above of the Zip-A-Dee Lady showboat under the bright red leaves was the white whale of ride photos for me. I was also happy to snag the other shot of Br’er Rabbit chilling outside his briar patch home.

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Nightfall Glow Rain Parade

After getting wet in Splash Mountain on our trip last April, we were disappointed to find it raining outside because this meant the nighttime Electrical Parade would be canceled. The nice thing is, they don’t just leave you standing out in the rain at Tokyo Disneyland.

April showers bring Nightfall Glow. This short substitute parade runs in place of the Electrical Parade when it’s raining. It’s something of a rare treat that guests can take consolation in as they huddle curbside under umbrellas.

As you watch Nightfall Glow roll by, you might catch yourself seeing double. The umbrella-decorated floats mirror themselves in the wet street with beautiful upside-down reflections.

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Beating the Summer Rush

The sky conditions were better for outdoor photos when we visited Tokyo Disneyland in early July 2018. We were there a couple of days before the park’s Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival) event started. School wasn’t out yet for Japanese kids and the great influx of mid-to-late summer crowds hadn’t yet begun.

We caught the quarter-hour clock figure parade outside It’s a Small World. Above, you can see what the new ride building looks like in the summer sun.

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Cinderella’s Castle at Sunset

As the sun was going down that day, we happened to be walking through the park’s central plaza and caught a golden-hour view of Cinderella’s Castle (which speaks for itself).

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Changes at Ikspiari

The Ikspiari shopping and dining complex is the Tokyo Disney Resort equivalent of Disney Springs or Downtown Disney. Last July, when we walked over there, we were surprised to see that Outback Steakhouse had taken over the globe that once occupied the Disney Vacation Club.

Another Ikspiari highlight for us came on a separate trip to the Rainforest Cafe when they sat us at the table right under the big animatronic elephant.

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Big Thunder Mountain Standby Line

If we do Big Thunder Mountain, it’s always with a Fastpass. I had never actually been through the standby line before. The ride shut down when we were there one day and when it opened back up, they were only letting in Fastpass ticket holders at first.

They were routing everyone through the standby line at Fastpass speed. From the wooden windows in that part of the queue, I could see a view of the Thunder Mountain track from a vantage point I had never seen before. I snapped a quick pic of it and we were on our way.

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Tokyo Disneyland Character Greetings

We’ve noticed over the last year at Tokyo Disneyland that there always seems to be some character action going on back in Critter Country (where Splash Mountain is located). We’ve seen the classic, unclothed versions of Chip ’n’ Dale there as well as Thumper and his lesser-known girlfriend Miss Bunny from Bambi. Yet all of those characters also appear sometimes up at the front of the park in World Bazaar.

The rabbits have been known to pop up in Cape Cod over at DisneySea, too. You can read more about that in our DisneySea Complete Character Greeting GuideThe only time we’ve ever seen Pocahontas and her raccoon friend Meeko, however, has been in Critter Country.

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Confession: I didn’t know Meeko’s name and had to Google it, so I guess that makes the character more obscure? The funny thing is, on our most recent trip to Tokyo Disneyland in March 2019, we saw the Pocahontas from my 2018 photo doing greetings in World Bazaar … only this time she was dressed as Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Another character highlight over the last year was catching Goofy in World Bazaar. He was the only one of the main lineup of classic characters that I hadn’t seen in his original costume. We also stumbled across him, Uncle Scrooge, and some other characters in their Toontown costumes this year.

DisneySea "Hello, New York!"

“Hello, New York!” Debut

On July 10, 2018, Tokyo DisneySea debuted a new show on the open-air Dockside Stage in American Waterfront. “Hello, New York!” took the place of the StellaLou-centric show, “Steps to Shine.” That show was a short-term replacement for the food-themed show “A Table Is Waiting,” which was a favorite of yours truly, but which closed two years ago.

We didn’t get around to seeing “Hello, New York!” until September of last year. I always try to grab a spot in the first standing row for show pictures, that way I’m not shooting over people’s heads. This time, I was still testing out my new iPhone X, but I realized that the zoom on my other camera works better.

Long story short, I hope to get some better close-up pics of show scenes from “Hello, New York!” at a later date. For now, you can see in the picture above what the show’s grand finale looked like during the 35th-anniversary period.

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DisneySea Villains World Halloween Snacks

In 2018, Tokyo DisneySea’s Halloween event returned with a “Villains World” theme for the fourth and final year. We watched the harbor show one last time but the real highlight was these colorful snacks, both of which were new to our mouths.

The popular Gyoza Sausage Bun at Nautilus Galley in Mysterious Island got a red-and-black Queen of Hearts makeover for Halloween. Likewise, the Ukiwah Bun at Seaside Snacks in Port Discovery (which normally features Donald Duck in a lifesaver buoy) got a purple-and-black Ursula makeover.

2019 will bring an all-new theme to DisneySea’s Halloween event, so be on the lookout for a new harbor show and possibly new snacks when September rolls around.

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S.S. Columbia Dining Room

Speaking of food at DisneySea, late last year, I also had a very enjoyable meal at the S.S. Columbia Dining Room in American Waterfront. It’s a more upscale restaurant and I had been there before, but something was different this time.

The service was excellent and the Roast Beef and Baked Lobster Tail was delicious. The little chocolate 35th-anniversary decoration on the dessert was also a nice touch. It may be time to update that old list of five favorite DisneySea restaurants.

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Curtain Call for “Out of Shadowland”

It seems like only yesterday that the new show, “Out of Shadowland,” was debuting on the Hangar Stage in Lost River Delta at Tokyo DisneySea. The show lasted less than three years. It opened on July 9, 2016, and will close permanently on March 31, 2019.

For foreign park guests, it isn’t likely to be a big loss. While it did feature moments of spectacle like a fight with a Kagedori, or bird of darkness, “Out of Shadowland” centered largely on human performers, running around in scout uniforms, speaking and singing in Japanese.

Unless you speak the language, this show probably would have been a one-and-done. Its replacement on the Hangar Stage is a show called “Song of Mirage,” which will feature Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy. That show opens on July 23, 2019.

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New Details in Old Ride Queues

DisneySea is a park that I’ve explored exhaustively over the last five years. It’s a general rule of park-going, however, that there are always missed details to be found, even with rides that are already quite familiar.

In Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, the outer wall of the temple caught my eye last year. I usually breeze right past it while I’m walking through the queue, but on my Christmas trip to the park, I found myself noticing how painstakingly detailed it is.

I had the same experience with Captain Nemo’s Bio-Lab in the long, cavernous queue for Journey to the Center of the Earth. As I was approaching it, I stopped and found myself framing a new view of it in my camera.

Christmas at Tokyo Disney Resort

Now we’re getting into territory that’s already been covered in some of my previous photo reports for WDW News Today. In lieu of doing a descriptive setup for the pictures in this last batch, I’ll just link to the photo reports.

If you want to see more, click on any of the links. And if you liked this article, please give it a signal boost and share it with others.

Here’s to another great, action-packed year at Tokyo Disney Resort!

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PHOTO REPORT: Christmas at Tokyo DisneySea 2018 (New Harbor Show, Decorations and Characters, ‘Soaring’ Construction, Mickey Soap, ETC.)

PHOTO REPORT: Tokyo Disneyland 2018 Christmas Highlights (Front-Row Parade Pics, Holiday Country Bears, Jack Skellington Sandwich, and More)

PHOTO REPORT: Tokyo Disneyland 35th Anniversary Grand Finale (Green Alien Mochi, Horseshoe Round-Up Lunch Show, Zootopia Characters, ETC.)

About the author

Joshua Meyer

Josh is a Floridian turned Tokyoite who also contributes to /Film and GaijinPot. Growing up, all his family vacations were to Walt Disney World. His parents and sister are still WDW Annual Passholders, but now he finds himself reporting from the far-flung outpost of Tokyo Disney Resort. Previously, he wrote for TDR Explorer as "The Gaijin Ghost" (the name of his TDR-heavy photoblog). Give him incentive to tweet by following him on Twitter @TheGaijinGhost.

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