Disneyland—Walt Disney’s first theme park—opened on July 17, 1955 in Anaheim, California, built on over 160 acres that used to be orange groves. Because of its huge profits, the company expanded to form Disney Parks, founded in 1971. Its second location was the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort just outside of Orlando, Florida. Since then, many more Disney Parks have been built, but those two are the only ones in the United States. The rest of the parks are outside of the U.S., with new and old features borrowed from its American predecessors.
Tokyo Disneyland, part of Tokyo Disney Resort, opened in 1983 and was the first Disney Park built outside of the U.S. Like the Magic Kingdom in Florida, it has seven themed lands plus plenty of additional decorations and parades that are part of the park seasonally.
Its seven lands begin with World Bazaar right at the main entrance and is the shopping area of Tokyo Disneyland. Next is Tomorrowland with outer space and futuristic themes. Then there is Toontown, where you will encounter your favorite Disney characters and their homes plus a roller coaster for kids, and Fantasyland, built to represent animated films of Disney. Another of the themed lands is Critter County, alongside Westernland, themed like the American Old West. Finally, there is Adventureland, providing lots of themes from Disney adventure classics, with the Swiss Family Treehouse, the Western River Railroad, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
The other part of Tokyo Disney Resort is Tokyo DisneySea, a fantasy theme park with inspiration from sea legends and myth spanning seven themed “ports of call.” It is an all-ages park but is marketed more toward adults, with a diverse selection of food and table-service restaurants. Tokyo DisneySea first opened on September 4, 2001.
Its seven themed areas begin with Mediterranean Harbor, which looks like an Italian port town on a waterfront and includes canals and gondolas like in Venice. Next is Mysterious Island, which is set inside a volcano in the middle of the park. The other ports of call include Mermaid Lagoon, themed after the undersea world of The Little Mermaid, and the Arabian Coast, inspired by Aladdin. Lost River Delta is themed after the ancient ruins of a temple pyramid in Central America, a la Indiana Jones. Port Discovery is a futuristic marina, home to Finding Nemo-style rides. Last is American Waterfront, which looks like 20th-century harbor towns in New York and the U.S. northeast.
Despite its lack of sun and its intellectual culture, Paris was chosen as the home of the world’s first (and only) European Disney Park location. Disneyland Paris opened on April 12, 1992. It turns out that it was a good choice, as it is still alive and thriving, with around 15 million visitors annually in recent years, half of them being French.
Disneyland Paris has five themed lands. The first is Main Street USA, which is what you encounter when you enter the park. There is a City Hall information center and the Main Street Station where you can board the Disneyland train, which will take you all over the park. Frontierland has a "cowboys and Indians" theme, like the U.S. Old West. Next is Adventureland with two themes, pirate and jungle. Fantasyland is a great place for younger children, where they can meet all their favorite characters. Last is the park’s science-themed area called Discovery Land, full of innovation and exploration.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland opened on September 12, 2005, as Disney’s first theme park in China. Hong Kong Disneyland has seven themed lands, four of them similar to those with the same name in Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland: Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland. There is also Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch (modeled after an abandoned mining town), and Mystic Point, with an uncharted, mystical rainforest theme.
Shanghai Disneyland is the newest Disney Park, opening its doors on June 16, 2016. One of its greatest claims to fame is that it holds the tallest themed castle, the Enchanted Storybook Castle, with a pirate-themed garden and plenty of Chinese elements, like Zodiac murals. In Shanghai Disneyland, there are also seven themed lands. Three are modeled after other Disney Parks: Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Toy Story Land.
The first of the other themed lands in Shanghai Disneyland is Mickeyland, where you enter the park. Next is the Gardens of Imagination, where a garden-themed giant castle is located. Adventure Isle has the theme of a newly discovered ancient tribe. The last themed area of Shanghai Disneyland is Treasure Cove, full of all things pirate.
The diversity and assortment of these parks will appeal to even the most discerning Disney enthusiast. As a vacation destination, these parks offer unique cultural elements and learning opportunities from the various countries in which they are located.