Spires of the Kingdom

When it comes to comparing differences between Japan and America, I like to sometimes reference Tokyo Disney Sea vs Disney California Adventure.  Both parks opened in 2001 as second gates of their respective resorts.  Both featured departures from the traditional Magic Kingdom layout and traditional properties.  Both were promoted as a different evolution of Disney.  

And yet, the differences between them could not be more stark in the execution.  Though both were relatively light on attractions compared to their more established neighbors on opening day, Tokyo Disney Sea was and remains a supreme rendering of immaculate detail, place-making, and ambiance.  Disney California Adventure, on the other hand... a little bit cheap, with less immersive environments and far less escapist allure (especially since it was themed to the state in which it was located--couldn't locals just visit the real sites that inspired various parts of the park?).  

Perhaps the most striking difference came in their "children's areas."  DCA added A Bug's Land the following year in a clear recognition that the park just didn't really have much to offer for kids.  Although it conveyed the experience of experiencing life as a small insect, with oversized sets and giant foliage and magnified versions of everyday objects discarded and repurposed by the bugs, it still felt somehow hollow--a cartoon of the rich Disney experience.  Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo Disney Sea, however, crafted space and ambiance and in-depth theming to create a whole new world under the sea, and even though it utilized many of the same attraction types, the decorations and theming were much more meticulous.

Again, one of a multitude of reasons this is the Sea of Dreams.

The glowing, colorful spires of Triton's Kingdom form a lovely nighttime skyline at Mermaid Lagoon.


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