Why You Should Visit International Disney Parks!

If you couldn't already tell, Disney is one of my favorite things to talk about. I have been going to Disney World every year since I was 3, and I always dreamed about going to the other Disney parks. My family has visited Disneyland in California, aka the original park a few times, and I love it just as much but for different reasons. In 2015, I dreamed up the idea of going to one of the International Disney Parks for my 17th birthday, and since then, I have visited all of them except Hong Kong Disney. I first went to Tokyo Disney and instantly fell in love with not only the park but also the people and culture. It's a totally surreal experience to be somewhere that feels so much like home (Magic Kingdom) and yet you are surrounded by no one who is speaking your language. After my first trip, I was hooked and officially obsessed with traveling to all the Disneys. The next one I went to was Disneyland Paris when I visited Paris during my Spring Break in 2016. Again, it was so cool to see Disney from another cultural perspective and how Europeans appreciated it in their own way. My most recent trip was my senior trip, where I went to Shanghai Disney and Tokyo Disney. Shanghai Disney opened in the summer of 2015, so it is brand new. It was seriously such an amazing experience to see a new Disney park and be there for the 1st anniversary. The technology and newness were astounding, and I am truly obsessed with their castle. This year, I'm hoping to finish my international Disney journey and go to Hong Kong Disney this summer.

Now, for my top 5 reasons for why you need to visit the International Disney Parks:

1. Magical Merch
The overseas Disney parks specifically the ones in Asia are definitely known for their amazing and unique merchandise. Tokyo Disney is the center of this mania as the park is not actually owned by Disney and is owned by the Oriental Land Company which has a licencing deal with The Walt Disney Company. This is unlike all the other Disney parks where Disney has full or partial ownership. This allows them to create unique products with different manufactures. Some well known items on social media from Tokyo Disney are the large Mickey Shaped Hamburger bags, anything Duffy the bear related, themed merchandise for obscure Disney characters, and the infamous themed popcorn buckets.

Me wearing Tokyo Disney exclusive ShellieMay bag and Minnie ears

2. Experiencing Disney from different cultures

Getting to experience Disney parks from so many different cultural perspectives has broadened my appreciation for the intentional design differences and choices Disney has made in creating each park. Shanghai Disney was marketed as being Authentically Disney and Distinctly Chinese. After visiting the park I definitely see what changes they made to make the "basic" magic kingdom layout "distinctly Chinese" like creating a unique castle with nods to Chinese culture and making extra wide walkways. One of my favorite cultural differences was in Tokyo Disney because the Japanese people were so excited and enthusiastic about all things Disney. During my first visit to Tokyo Disney, I saw so many groups of teen girls in all matching Disney outfits.

Matching teens in Tokyo Disney Sea

3. Unique and Awesome Attractions and Rides
After traveling to most all the Disney parks in the world, I've realized that wdw needs to step up their ride game. Every other Disney park other than Disney World in Florida has a trackless ride which btw is like the coolest thing ever. Disney must have got the memo because they announced this year at D23 that the trackless Ratatouille ride that is in Disneyland Paris is coming to EPCOT at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. My all time favorite trackless ride has to be The Pirates of The Caribbean ride in Shanghai Disneyland. My jaw literally dropped when I was on that ride so I tried to ride it as many times as I could while I was there. Another unique ride again in Shanghai Disney is the Tron Lightcycle Rollercoaster which is actually coming to Magic Kingdom in Disney World by 2021. The rides alone are enough of a reason to venture out to the International Parks and I am planning on making it back to Shanghai Disney to ride its amazing rides in the future.

Tron Lightcycle Power Run in Shanghai Disneyland

4. Exploring the World
Travel is such an influential and impactful part of life and I try to encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zones to experience another place and culture. Going to an International Disney Park gives you the opportunity to explore a new country or city in addition to just the Disney Park. I recommend that if you plan a overseas Disney trip to spend at least a few days exploring the cities. I have been able to fall in love with Japan and Tokyo after visiting it on these trips. I loved seeing Harajuku and all the girls dressed in super Kawaii (cute) outfits.

My sister, Lillie, wearing a kimono in Tokyo, Japan

5. Mickey shaped Food Galore
Most any Disney Enthusiast would agree that food that is Mickey shaped tastes better (haha). But seriously though, the Mickey Waffles that are served in Tokyo Disneyland are my favorite waffles ever. You just can't go wrong with waffles and ice cream. But on a more serious note, most all of the International parks (except Disneyland Paris) have great food and sweets. Some well known treats are the Toy Story "Alien" mochi in Tokyo Disney, the giant Mickey shaped donuts in Shanghai Disney, the Mickey shaped pizzas in both Shanghai Disney and Disneyland Paris, and the Ariel's shells ice cream bars in Tokyo Disney Sea.

Mickey Waffles and Ice Cream from Tokyo Disneyland

If you couldn't already tell, I 100% recommend visiting the International Disney Parks if you ever get the opportunity. Feel free to share any questions you have on the topic because I love talking about it!

Thanks so much for reading!

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