During Expo D23 2022, Disney shared new details about the upcoming Fantasy Springs expansion to Tokyo DisneySea. In this article, we’ll take a look at what was shared at the show, including photos of transport vehicles, video of construction progress, and comments on OLC’s leadership.
For those who haven’t followed its development, the main theme of Fantasy Springs is a magical spring leading into a Disney fantasy world – it’s basically a loose concept for a Fantasyland-style port that brings Frozen, Tangledand Peter Pan at Tokyo DisneySea, with separate areas for each connected by magical springs.
The new area will be located in the furthest corner of the park, behind Lost River Delta and Arabian Coast, in the largest unused parcel of Tokyo Disney Resort. Fantasy Springs will be the most expensive expansion of any theme park, anywhere, ever. It will cost triple the amount of Tokyo Disneyland’s large-scale expansion which included a The beauty and the Beast mini-terrain and more, and more than double the cost of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Suffice to say, Fantasy Springs is a hit addition. It is by far the largest expansion project currently underway at a Disney theme park in the world. Although Oriental Land Company (owner and operator of Tokyo Disney Resort) has not released a specific budget for each attraction, we believe it is also home to some of the top 5 most expensive rides currently under construction.
Speaking of which, let’s start by taking a look at the transport vehicles for each attraction, which were featured on the show floor at Expo D23 2022…
The first is the Tangled boat ride.
The Tangled The area will also feature a boat ride where guests board gondolas for a romantic tour of ‘Rapunzel’s Most Beautiful Day’ as she travels with Flynn to the Lantern Festival. This will culminate in countless twinkling lanterns illuminating the attraction’s finale as Rapunzel and Flynn sing an iconic song from the movie. Sounds better than bathrooms. Maybe.
The Frozen area will include another boat ride. This attraction tells the story of Elsa and Anna with iconic songs from the film and surprising thrills.
There’s been a lot of speculation that it’s simply Frozen Ever After, but built from the ground up rather than being a refurbishment. Even assuming that’s true, that leaves a lot of room for improvement. Disney shared a video of Elsa Audio Animatronics during the parks presentation, and she looked stunning.
Then we have a transport vehicle for one of the two Peter Pan attractions. The main attraction of Peter Pan will be a boat ride as guests board boats to hunt Captain Hook and his pirate crew who have captured Wendy’s younger brother; Tinker Bell dusts the boats with pixie dust, guests fly through Never Land on an adventure that features iconic music and dynamic visuals.
This ride-on vehicle is absolutely adorable. It looks like the work of the Lost Boys themselves, with patchwork construction and colors reminiscent of madras shorts.
Based on the description and some semi-informed speculation, we expect the main Peter Pan attraction to use similar technology to Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland.
Notice the high walls on the side of the Peter Pan ride vehicles, which are common for (good) on-screen attractions, as they direct guests’ views into the action and help maintain suspension of disbelief. (It actually looks vaguely like one of Universal’s on-screen driving vehicles.)
Judging by the size of the buildings, this Peter Pan attraction is enormous. We expect this to be the star attraction in Fantasy Springs.
Here’s hoping that, like Battle for the Sunken Treasure, it seamlessly mixes screens and physical sets, incorporating practical props and effects alongside screen-based sets. It will definitely be a disappointment if it’s just the Rat Ride, but with pirates.
The other attraction of Peter Pan will take guests into the oversized world of Pixie Hollow.
We expect it to be cute, but that’s about it. Perhaps he will pleasantly surprise! (In fact, I’m really looking forward to it, I just don’t want to overdo this attraction on what would be the lowest budget.)
Next, we have recently unveiled attraction posters.
I love how these two elements actually incorporate transport vehicles. It’s not something you often see with attraction posters, let alone two for the same country. In this case, I think it makes perfect sense to give the posters some personality and highlight the really cool vehicles!
Can we count the curvature at the bottom of the Frozen displays as his boat? If so, all four transport vehicles are featured in the Fantasy Springs attraction posters. It must be a record.
Personally, I’m most excited for the Tangled attraction. I do not rely on insider information or even educated speculation. I’m just thinking of the lantern festival really lends itself well to a stunning passing scene. Seems like such an obvious candidate for a great boat ride. (And yet, more than a decade after the film, it will be the first Tangled attraction!)
Next, here’s a video showing the progress of Fantasy Springs, which is gearing up to open between April 2023 and March 2024:
Finally, I want to share a bit of a “humblebrag” but something that is also enlightening regarding how Oriental Land Company operates.
We’ve posted a lot from D23 Expo, but most of it came out of the big parks presentation. We also attended half a dozen smaller-scale park panels over the weekend. These covered topics ranging from SEA to the history of Disney Ambassadors. Eclectic story-driven stuff and thematic design, basically.
Someone else was at each of these theme park signs with us, and we finally got the chance to ask for their picture after the last of the weekend:
It’s Disney legend Toshio Kagami, Chairman and CEO of Oriental Land Company. He has worked for the OLC and its predecessor since he was 22 years old and became the OLC’s president in 1995. Kagami-san held this position during the construction of Tokyo DisneySea and has been its CEO since 2005. He is now overseeing Tokyo Disney Resort’s latest large-scale expansion.
He and the large OLC delegation were very active and highly visible throughout the weekend at D23 Expo, taking photos in the booths and enjoying the signs. I’ve never seen a high-level Disney executive in a panel that wasn’t part of the flagship presentations (although I’ve seen a few on the floor).
I don’t know why Kagami-san attended presentations on history, Imagineering, etc. Maybe he was just being respectful to his hosts, but he probably could have done it without sticking to a busy schedule. My guess is that he is genuinely interested in theme parks, or at the very least wants to know about his industry.
I can’t imagine executives at this level of the Walt Disney Company visiting Japan and doing the same. I can’t even imagine them doing that at D23 Expo, which is about their own company and business units. They just don’t seem to care much about theme parks (at best) or think the parks are below them (at worst).
It’s one of the reasons why, to this day, I still love Josh D’Amaro. While I doubt he goes as far as Kagami-san, he has a solid track record as a presence in the parks, even when there’s no photoshoot or PR benefit. I’ve long thought things would be different at Walt Disney World if the executives had to take care of everything a normal vacationer does or even enjoy the parks as normal guests.
Kagami-san and his troupe being all over the Expo underlines for me the difference between OLC and Disney. Things like this exemplify the little ways OLC feels like Disney of a bygone era, and I think it shows in the customer experience. Maybe he had other reasons for attending so many panels and booths at D23 Expo, but I think it nonetheless symbolizes the difference in approach between OLC and modern Disney.
Ultimately, this is one of the main reasons we’re such big fans of Tokyo Disney Resort and (bringing that full circle) so excited about Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea. The Imagineers didn’t suddenly lose their creative spirit or stop having ambitious plans – the problem is that their hands are often tied and budgets are limited at Walt Disney World. (Admittedly, WDI had some big budget mistakes, so they’re not faultless when it comes to some recent National Park releases.)
Fantasy Springs seems to be the defining addition of the decade and is another reason to consider visiting Tokyo Disney Resort. That said, that’s certainly not the only reason. Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland are among the top 3 parks in our World Ranking of Disney Parks for ages thanks to their exceptional themed design, ambitious attractions, spectacular seasonal events, excellent entertainment, incredible Cast Members and much more. If you’re wondering how to recapture the Disney magic, the answer is simple: visit Japan.
Planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea Planning Guide! For more details, our TDR Hotel Rankings & Reviews page covers accommodation. Our restaurant reviews detail where to dine and snack. To save money on tickets or figure out which type to buy, read our Money Saving Tips article. Our What to Pack for Disney article takes a unique look at smart on-the-go items. Venture elsewhere in Japan? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan and Tokyo, Japan City Guide.
What do you think of the Peter Pan, tangled, and Frozen drive vehicles for Fantasy Springs? Excited about this hit addition to Tokyo DisneySea, or not? Would you like National Parks to build land and attractions like this? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Questions? Hearing your feedback, even when you disagree with us, is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!