Exploring the International Disney Parks

hong kong disneyland

Disney World and Disneyland aren’t exactly the same, so why should the other Disney parks abroad be similar?  If you ever get the chance to travel to an international Disney park, perhaps to Tokyo Disneyland for the new D23 convention this fall, you might notice a few differences from the domestic ones.  BBC Travel did a report on some of the unique things that set the international parks apart.

One of the most obvious differences is the food.  While you can get some international food at Disney Parks, especially at Epcot at Disney World, it’s still not standard.  Obviously, that’s the same at Disney Parks abroad – only in reverse.  Tokyo Disneyland, for example, loves to put American spins on Japanese food, or vice versa.

Popcorn is a common snack at Tokyo Disneyland.  It comes in butter flavor, but it also comes in milk tea and soy sauce flavors.  Donburi is a very common Japanese dish.  It consists of teriyaki meats topped with cabbage and an egg.  At Tokyo Disneyland, in addition to traditional Japanese donburis, you can find the cabbage and eggs atop taco meat (spicy pork), shrimp patties, or creole chicken.  A treat that’s unique to Tokyo Disneyland, or at least the Disneylands in Asia, is a steamed bun.  To make it special, the steamed buns in Tokyo Disneyland come in the familiar mouse-eared shape.

Tokyo Disneyland isn’t the only international park to offer food in the shape of Disney characters.  Hong Kong is famous for its dim sum – a Chinese specialty consisting of dumplings in different shapes and with different fillings.  The Crystal Lotus restaurant in Hong Kong Disneyland is renowned for its dim sum shaped like Disney characters.  There, you can find dumplings and steam buns in the form of Mickey Mouse, the green aliens from Toy Story, and Duffy the Disney Bear (an exclusive character to Disney park merchandise).  At the Crystal Lotus, expect your shrimp and vegetables, red bean pudding, or seafood pancakes to look like Mickey Mouse.

The food is still different in Disneyland Paris, of course, but it’s a bit more similar to what we’re used to at the domestic parks.  What really sets it apart, however, is the wine.  You can find that at any restaurant anywhere in the parks, in keeping with local custom.

Food isn’t the only thing unique to the international parks.  Hong Kong Disneyland, for example, was designed with feng shui in mind.  It’s home to the largest fountain at any of the Disney parks, and full of other water features, in keeping with the idea that water is associated fortune and wealth.  The main ballroom at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel is 888 square meters, because 888 is a powerful number of wealth, and the entrance to the park takes a sharp bend, in order to prevent good energy from flowing into the sea.

At Disneyland Paris, many common sights at the domestic Disney parks have been replaced for ones more familiar to French eyes.  For example, there is no Tom Sawyer’s Island, because the character isn’t well known outside of America.  Instead, there are sections devoted to more famous European luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne.  Remy, from the Paris-set film “Ratatouille,” will get his own ride and accompanying restaurant in 2014.

The international Disney parks aren’t just carbon copies of the parks here in America.  They feature unique attractions, enough so that they’re great destinations for any hardcore Disney fans.


*(The above image by AsianFC is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)