TOKYO: Tokyo Disneyland will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Saturday, as the popular amusement park in the city of Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, is enjoying a sharp business recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, supported by repeat visitors spanning three generations.
The pandemic has prompted Oriental Land Co., the operator of Tokyo Disneyland, to shift its strategy from seeking more visitors to improving visitor satisfaction and increasing sales per visitor, in order to enhance its “land of dreams” appeal.
Since its opening in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland has attracted many visitors with its characters, including Mickey Mouse, its unique world-building and the hospitality of its staff known as “cast” members.
Its sister park, Tokyo DisneySea, and hotels have been built nearby. To date, a total of more than 800 million people have visited the two Tokyo Disney Resort parks.
In fiscal 2018, when Tokyo Disneyland marked its 35th anniversary, the number of visitors to the two parks reached a record high of 32.55 million.
But the coronavirus pandemic changed things dramatically in fiscal 2020, when Oriental Land was forced to close the parks and later drastically reduce admissions, resulting in its first net loss since going public. “We were unable to see ahead,” a company official said of the situation at the time.
However, a drop in the number of visitors provided Oriental Land with a clue to its long-standing challenge of dealing with overcrowding inside the parks.
The operator found that fewer visitors reduced wait times for attractions and created more time for dining and shopping, leading to a dramatic increase in visitor spending and satisfaction.
Sales per visitor in fiscal 2022 are estimated to reach 15,759 yen, about 2.2 times higher than when Tokyo Disneyland first opened.
Oriental Land plans to continue curbing the number of park visitors even after the pandemic subsides. In order to ease overcrowding, it has introduced different prices for admission tickets for weekdays and for weekends and holidays.
The maximum ticket price for adults is now 9,400 yen. But a company official expressed confidence, saying, “We can provide an experience that is worth the price.”
On Monday, Oriental Land unveiled to the press a new noontime parade to be shown from Saturday, called “Disney Harmony in Color.”
“My daughter and I grew up with Disney,” said a woman in her 50s from the central prefecture of Aichi, who was visiting the park with her daughter and grandchild. “I’m happy to be able to bring my grandchild for the first time in this commemorative year.”