I visited Tokyo DisneySea a few weeks ago. It is one of the best Disney theme parks in the world, mainly because of the level of detail and invested money. Disney in general is omnipresent in Japan. They have successfully responded to the compulsive attraction that Japanese people have for cuteness. While I was in line to enter the park, I noticed that people were already wearing Disney merchandise. This is probably why the park is at such a high level of execution – Japanese people seem to spend more money than everyone else on Disney products. Shopping is truly part of the magical experience here.
The main reason why everyone comes to DisneySea is for the “Mysterious Island” with its two blockbuster rides – the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Journey to the Centre of the Earth, both extremely well-themed. However, do not expect huge thrills at DisneySea – the Japanese taste for adventure and exoticism seems to be limited to experiences that still feel very safe. Like for the new Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal Studios Orlando, theme park imagineers need to resolve the consumer’s dilemma stretched between a desire for both adventure and comfort.
The little Mermaid section is also very well-designed, with one of the best themed shops in the park. As Seth Godin puts it, “The product is nothing but a souvenir of your trip to the store, and a reminder of the way you felt when you bought it.”
Characters appear in the afternoon and are always situated near shops.
This is how the goodness of the sea and Japanese food inspired Disney: sweet dumplings with a processed shrimp filling.
There is a kind of European renaissance section too in DisneySea, an unusual theme for Disney.
As well as sections dedicated to American mythology/history.
Read my analysis of the heterotopia of Disney World.