Tokyo Disneyland attracted thousands of visitors on Friday, April 15 as it reopened for the first time following the devastating earthquake that hit north-east Japan in March.
Bloomberg reports that around 10,000 people arrived prior to the park's 8am opening time, with Mickey Mouse receiving a rapturous reception from the crowd. The park closed at 6pm rather than the usual 10pm in order to conserve energy, as well as implementing power-saving measures during the day.
There had been concerns that few people would attend Tokyo Disneyland while Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake. However, shares in the resort's operator, the Oriental Land Company, rose 1.5 percent following the promising first day back in operation. The company's CEO and chairman, Toshio Kagami, told Bloomberg: "People want a place where they can feel a sense of comfort. The number of guests today exceeds expectations."
Tokyo Disneyland's sister park, Tokyo DisneySea, remains closed. Reports earlier this week suggested that it could reopen as soon as April 28, but Kagami claims that the resort will continue to monitor the situation before making a decision, saying: "We will decide on our next steps based on the result this weekend of our energy-saving measures".
The Japanese government has asked companies to reduce power consumption by up to 25 percent during the summer, due to the impact of the loss of power facilities such as the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. This is a major challenge for an energy-intensive business such as a theme park, with Kagami stating: "We will fully cooperate with cutting electricity use, but safety comes first.”
Tokyo Disneyland went ahead with plans to reduce lighting in both indoor and outdoor areas, while air conditioning, escalators and water fountains are currently being used in a restricted way. Some electrical equipment, such as hand dryer units, are switched off altogether due to the impact of power shortages in the surrounding Urayasu City area.
The Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster remains out of action, with the Oriental Land Company having confirmed last week that its rocky structure was damaged by the earthquake. Work is ongoing to repair the structure, with the aim of reopening the coaster as soon as possible.
The Tokyo Disney Resort's hotels, The Disney Ambassador Hotel and Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, will reopen on April 15. The Cirque du Soleil Theater Tokyo will also resume shows on April 23. To help it operate a fuller schedule during the peak summer season, the Tokyo Disney Resort is considering installing on-site generators at both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
In recognition of the severity of the earthquake's impact, the Tokyo Disney Resort will donate 300 yen to the Japanese Red Cross Society for every guest admitted to Tokyo Disneyland through May 14. It will also donate 1000 yen per room, per night for visitors staying at its hotels.
The resort has opted to go ahead with planned price increases, with the cost of a one-day adult pass rising from 5,800 yen to 6,200 yen on April 23. It is the first time entrance prices have been increased in four-and-a-half years.
The Oriental Land Company released a document last week confirming that the resort suffered minor damage during the earthquake, but that it was largely contained to its car park. This is due to the presence of 15 meter deep reinforced foundations under the theme parks and hotels, which are not present underneath the car park.
Around 20,000 guests spent the night at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea on March 11 after the earthquake caused massive disruption to public transport systems. No injuries were reported, with staff providing supplies for those who needed to stay overnight. This included food, water, blankets, heaters and even free merchandise to help entertain and calm frightened children.