Disney Around the World

When you think Disney, don't limit yourself to Florida or California. There are Disney parks in Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong. Shanghai Disney Resort is scheduled to open in 2016. Photo by Robbert van Bloemendaal.

A trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., is an essential part of the American experience for many families. However, Disney is very much a global enterprise, and you can also visit Disney parks in Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and soon in Shanghai.

Tokyo Disneyland, part of the Tokyo Disney Resort, was the first Disney park built outside the U.S. and opened in 1983. It includes four classic Disney “lands” – Adventureland, Westernland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland – as well as Critter County, Mickey’s Toontown and a World Bazaar.

Tokyo Disneyland’s sister park, Tokyo DisneySea, has a nautical exploration theme with seven distinctive ports of call: Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast and Mysterious Island. Mediterranean Harbor is the entrance to the park, and its canals and gondolas bring Venice to mind. The Hotel Mira Costa is part of the harbor’s scenery, but is also a real Disney hotel that makes it possible to stay inside the park.

Robbert van Bloemendaal, BlueRibbon News special contributor and world traveler

On the other side of the world, in the eastern suburbs of the City of Lights, Disneyland Paris sparkles. Originally opened under the name Euro Disney in 1992, Disneyland Paris includes two theme parks, a dining and entertainment complex and seven hotels. The top five attractions, as determined by Disneyland Paris visitors, are “It’s a Small World,” Disney’s signature musical tour of the world; the thrilling “Space Mountain: Mission 2;” “Big Thunder Mountain,” where visitors ride a runaway mining train through mountain valleys, caves and rivers; the rowdy “Pirates of the Caribbean;” and “Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.” As you would expect so near to Paris, there’s lots of delicious European-style food in the park – but, you can find pizza, hamburgers and Tex-Mex, too.

Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005 on Lantau Island. The design of this park incorporates Chinese traditions, including adherence to the rules of Feng Shui, the art of using aesthetics to maintain positive energy. “Hidden Mickeys,” subtle representations of Mickey Mouse, are incorporated into the design of attractions throughout the park. Hong Kong Disneyland currently has four themed areas – Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. By 2014, the park will expand to include Toy Story Land, based on the popular film series; Grizzly Gulch, an abandoned mining town; and Mystic Point, a dense rainforest where supernatural events occur.

Shanghai Disney Resort, scheduled to open in 2016, will include numerous themed lands. Plans call for a castle at the center of the park that will offer interactive experiences with Disney characters and live performances.

To plan a visit to one or more of the Disney parks around the world, talk with your travel professional.

This travel column written by BlueRibbonNews.com special contributor Robbert van Bloemendaal, an experienced world traveler, native of Australia, an Ambassador with the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce, and president of  Travel Leaders of Rowlett.

If you are interested in contributing a regular column on your topic of expertise, email editor@BlueRibbonNews.com.