This year, the Tokyo Disney Resort observed its 30th anniversary. Since its opening on April 15, 1983, millions upon millions have streamed through the gates of Tokyo Disneyland and its sister park, Tokyo DisneySea, which opened in 2001. Today, the two parks are known as paragons of Disney quality, maintained to the highest standard and offering an array of entertainment, merchandise, and even food items unmatched by the other Disney resorts.
Ironically, Tokyo Disneyland is the one outpost of the Disney empire not owned, at least in part, by the Walt Disney Company itself. It is instead operated by the Oriental Land Co., formed in 1960 by a collaboration of Japanese corporations to enhance recreational opportunities in the Tokyo area. When Disney was approached in the 1970s to bring an “Oriental Disneyland” to Tokyo, they were deep into the expansion of Walt Disney World and the creation of Epcot Center, and opted not to build the Tokyo park themselves. Instead they licensed the Disney name and characters to OLC, all the while maintaining strict control over the quality and operation of the park. While Disney does not own the park, they have a say in what happens there, and all new attractions and shows are created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
In 2008 the park celebrated its 25th anniversary in gala style – then again, Tokyo Disneyland celebrates everything in gala style. A hallmark of the Tokyo parks is that they release a constant stream of new music releases, DVDs, books, and magazines for fans; the 25th anniversary was no exception. Here is a video that Tokyo Disneyland produced giving a year-by-year look at the resort’s new attractions. You’ll see the parks’ heavy focus on spectacular live shows and parades, with a seemingly constant rotation of new festivals and celebrations, and all produced at the highest degree of quality.
Oddly, this video leaves out some major attractions added over the years, but it gives you a fairly good idea of how the resort evolved between 1983 and 2008.