Let’s kick this one off with my other favorite event this year: Donald’s Hot Jungle Summer! Summertime in Tokyo is notoriously hot and humid. Like Florida, but somehow worse. Since it gets so hot and sticky every day, Tokyo Disney Resort loves to hold events featuring tons and TONS of water! Throughout the event, two shows at Tokyo Disneyland were dedicated to getting Guests wet and keeping them cool. During the day, you could join Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia to ward off the summer heat with poppy tunes both original and from the film, blasts of water from the castle and stage, and hoses wielded by dancers to make sure every single Guest gets soaked! Judy & Nick’s Jumpin’ Splash wasn’t incredible, but it certainly wasn’t bad either. I thought it was a fun filler in place of a seasonal parade or the former “Natsu Matsuri” celebration. But the real attraction was the nighttime show…
But first, how cute is this Donald sandwich? Filled with meat sauce and vegetables, it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had by any means. But the design sure was cute, and it worked well with the wrapper!
Oh, Summer Banzai! is the single best seasonal show I saw this year. While it was lacking in a real story, the soundtrack and effects were done so well that I can excuse a lack of a real storyline. The idea is that one day Donald Duck is watering his garden when it all turns into a jungle, and he’s the king! Through incredibly catchy songs, projection mapping, fountains, and even a fair amount of fire, we journey through Donald’s celebration in the jungle. Until the Three Magma Brothers show up and try to take over the power of water with fire! Fortunately, Donald and his friends convert them and they have a huge celebration together to the catchiest song of the year, “King of the Jungle”! If you want to watch this incredible show (which I highly suggest you do), you can check it out below:
Unfortunately, likely due to the expected crowds from the Tokyo Olympics, Donald’s Hot Jungle Summer will not be joining us again next year. But based on the massively positive Guest response, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this event return in 2021. Most people I’ve talked to have also named this as either their favorite or second-favorite event of the year.
Disney Pirates Summer (July 9th-August 31st)
Avast! The Pirates of the Caribbean dropped anchor for the third year at Tokyo DisneySea this summer! The main highlight, of course, is Pirates Summer Battle: Get Wet!, the seasonal harbor show. The show foregoes more traditional-looking barges in favor of those that actually look like pirate ships, and features a motley crew of pirates recruiting Guests for a swashbuckling good time! Water would splash from behind the stage, from hoses wielded by the crew, and even buckets randomly thrown on Guests! The culmination of the show is a dueling ship battle in Mediterranean Harbor! If you’re interested in joining, they will be returning one more time next summer!
Soaring: Fantastic Flight! Grand Opening (July 23rd)
No matter where you stand on events, it’s undeniable that one of the biggest events of the year was the grand opening of Soaring: Fantastic Flight! at Tokyo DisneySea. While the attraction features essentially the same video as Soarin’ Around the World with the exception of the two end scenes, the real gem is the queue and all the incredible details within.
Arguably the best part is the rotunda, featuring beautiful frescos depicting scenes loosely associated with the film. There’s so many physical props included to help boost the storyline, from artifacts, to paintings, to the wallpaper ornately detailed with owl faces. It truly is a must-do attraction for the standby queue alone, and goes to show what Imagineering can do when you let them run free.
Of course, the preshow is incredible as well. But I won’t spoil it for you! If you want to get the full experience, check out the article we posted back in July, and the video below for a complete ride experience!
Song of Mirage Opens (July 23rd)
In Part One, I discussed the now-closed Out of Shadowland at the Hangar Stage in Tokyo DisneySea. One of the reasons it had to go was a better idea, and this was it. Song of Mirage is the first show ever at Hangar Stage to feature the Disney friends, following them as they search out the mythical city of dreams, Rio Dorado. Featuring improved projection techniques, lots of singing and dancing, and incredible visual effects, this show sung its way into all of our hearts! It has certainly proved more popular than Out of Shadowland, with lottery seats still nearly impossible to get! Unfortunately, videos or photography of any kind are not allowed during the show, so all we have is the clips in video above.
Disney Halloween (September 9th-October 31st)
Spooky season is no joke at Tokyo Disney Resort. Guests are permitted to dress as Disney characters and they go all-out, either buying or crafting incredible costumes to represent their favorite characters, movies, or even past shows from Tokyo Disney Resort! If you want to see the best from the season, we made a post of our favorites on Halloween.
Of course, the highlight of Halloween at Tokyo Disneyland is the annual Spooky “Boo!” Parade! This de-fright-ful parade takes Guests on a journey through a ghostly parallel version of Tokyo Disneyland! All of the Disney friends represent attractions from the Jungle Cruise to Splash Mountain, and there’s even some Country Bears in there for you Bears fans! It’s some of the most fun I had at Tokyo Disneyland this year, and I can’t wait for this to return next year!
Over at Tokyo DisneySea, a brand new Halloween show was introduced. Festival of Mystique kept with the more adult-leaning Halloween celebrations at DisneySea. The idea was that Mickey and his friends were trying to revive the old Porto Paradiso Halloween festival, when three mysterious women offered their assistance. Once they begin a dance, its revealed that the women are sea witches and the dance is a ritual to trap Mickey and restore an evil sea king! Fortunately, Minnie and Pluto come to his rescue and save Porto Paradiso from the evil witches! It’s a rather… confusing show. Even for people I know that spoke Japanese, it was difficult to pick up on the idea of the show. But it was still well-done, and I love the idea of harbor shows being themed around Porto Paradiso and Mediterranean Harbor!
The park was covered with these darker blues, purples, and blacks. This photo op in American Waterfront is an excellent example of the aesthetic they were going for. I thought the darker theme was excellent, and I look forward to seeing this again next year as well! If you want to watch Festival of Mystique for yourself, we’ve linked to it below!
Typhoon Hagibis Shuts Down Tokyo Disney Resort (October 12th)
For the first time since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, and the second since 365 day operations began in 1999, both parks were closed for a whole day on October 12th. Winds reached nearly 70mph in the Greater Tokyo Area, and the best course of action by OLC was to close the parks for the day.
It’s a little spooky to see such normally vibrant places completely desolate. On a holiday weekend, no less! If you want to see more, I ventured out before the trains stopped to take a look at the nearly-empty resort.
Jamboree Mickey! Begins (October 15th)
Since June 2018, Tokyo Disneyland had been without a dedicated kids program. For thirteen years prior, Super Duper Jumpin’ Time! had been entertaining kids of all ages with a mini-puppet show performed by costumed Disney characters. But now, we have Jamboree Mickey!, a dance party in front of Cinderella Castle for kids ages 6 and under! They can sing and dance to a J-Poppy kids version of the “Mickey Mouse March” with Disney characters and Cast Members! If you want to learn the dance yourself (and get this insanely catchy song stuck in your head), you can watch below:
Disney Christmas (November 9th-December 25th)
Christmas is one of the most all-out seasons at Tokyo Disney Resort! Decorations are absolutely everywhere, both parks get massive 50-foot tall trees, and special merchandise, entertainment, and food abound! We’ll get the negatives out of the way first this time, and then talk about what I loved.
Over at Tokyo Disneyland, Disney ChristmasStories returned for its fifth (and third too-long) year. The cute parade celebrates the stories we share during the holiday season, but really has worn past its welcome. I really do hope next year is its final year, because it feels quite stale. Especially by Tokyo Disney Resort standards.
Now that the negatives are over, we can talk about Christmas at Tokyo DisneySea! This year, the park featured two special entertainment offerings on the harbor. There was It’s Christmas Time! during the day, and The Colors of Christmas at night. In It’s Christmas Time!, the Disney friends join live performers in a spectacular holiday revue featuring everything you’d expect from a Broadway holiday revue in the mid-20th century! It’s really fun, and I think a third year next year isn’t at all a bad prospect. We could certainly be doing worse.
And at night, the waters of Mediterranean Harbor came alive in the tree-lighting ceremony The Colors of Christmas. This was the eighth and final year of this beloved tradition, since it uses the Fantasmic!hat as the tree, and Fantasmic! is retiring in March 2020.While this version of the tree lighting pales in comparison to the former Candlelight Reflectionsshow from 2003-2009, it still was a lovely occasion, and it will be sorely missed next year. We can only hope that in 2021, we see the return of the tree lighting during the Tokyo DisneySea 20th Anniversary.
One Man’s Dream II: The Magic Lives On closes (December 13th)
Despite my assertion that this was by far the worst show at Tokyo Disney Resort, One Man’s Dream II: The Magic Lives On managed to live on for 13 years, longer than any other production ever held at the resort. One Man’s Dream was a journey through fantastic worlds created by the one man himself, Walt Disney. It was originally introduced for the park’s fifth anniversary in 1988 and ran for six years, before being revived in 2004 with a few changes. The show was extremely popular with Guests and many were heartbroken and shocked the day the closure was announced. It was very much a relic of a past time, and while I concede that parts of it were excellent, it felt like it was caught between the ’80s and the early 2000s Disney, and no longer belonged at the parks. On the bright side, this means the “worst show” designation now belongs to Hello, New York! over at Tokyo DisneySea. If you want to take a closer look at the show, we ran a full tribute on its closing day.
CookieAnn Comes to Tokyo DisneySea (December 26th)
Rounding off the year was the introduction of CookieAnn to Tokyo DisneySea. The newest friend of Duffy the Disney Bear was originally introduced last year at Hong Kong Disneyland as a female dog that loves to bake treats! She’s already all over the place at Tokyo DisneySea, and Guests seem to like her now. How she will establish herself against Duffy, Gelatoni, ShellieMay, and StellaLou in the long term is uncertain. There’s a couple of delicious treats and sweets available at Cape Cod Cook-Off and Dockside Diner, and CookieAnn merchandise is available at every Duffy-centric store at the park.
Whew! That was a pretty long journey. So much has happened at Tokyo Disney Resort this year, and I’m so glad I was able to share some of it with you all. Here’s to an excellent 2020 with new expansions, the upcoming Olympics, and so much more! It’s sure to be a year to remember.
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