Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Still the Happiest Place on Earth

An article from the Los Angeles Times reveals one of the few industries in Japan that is still thriving in spite of the economic crash. Tokyo Disneyland. This really shows how much the Japanese love Disneyland. While the Disney parks in the States are facing serious economic pressures and laying off staff, Tokyo Disney keeps on cruising.

I think it makes sense though. As the article states, many Japanese may be trading expensive international vacations with a less expensive "mini-vacation" to Disneyland. I also personally love spending a day at Disneyland here in California because it creates a brief time where your thoughts of everyday life stresses are forgotten. And this is even more important in the current state of the world economy.

And Disneyland is just fun.


From the Los Angeles Times


Tokyo Disneyland still a happy place despite the economy

Attendance and revenue are up as many Japanese forgo overseas trips and visit the park instead.
By Yuriko Nagano

April 13, 2009

Reporting from Tokyo — As the Japanese economy continues its roller-coaster ride, many cash-strapped citizens have decided it's a small world, after all.

They're skipping the expensive overseas vacations and going to Disneyland -- Japanese style.

Gliding down the waterways of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, Reika Monden and Haruka Akiyama, both 22, shrieked when they spotted a mannequin of Johnny Depp wearing a red headband, flanked by two headless women.

"Look, there he is!" Monden said. "He's soooo cute!"

The two recent college graduates were visiting Tokyo Disneyland on a day trip from Fuji City. By 1 p.m., the women had spent about $400 apiece on their four-hour round-trip bullet train tickets, park admission and merchandise.

"Oh, we would have loved to have flown to Hawaii, but this trip was what our parents agreed to," Monden said. "As far as a graduation celebration goes, this is it."

At a time when most Japanese corporations have been bleeding red ink from a strong yen and ever-weakening consumer spending, gleaming news has been coming out of the "Happiest Place on Earth."

Oriental Land Co., the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and sister property DisneySea, announced record-breaking net sales of $3 billion for the last nine months of 2008, up 12.6% from the year-earlier period.

Park attendance for the fiscal year that ended in March was the highest ever: 27.2 million visitors, a 7.1% increase from the previous year.

Most of the visitors flocking to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea -- a short train ride from Tokyo -- are domestic. Company data say 95.8% of park-goers were Japanese.

A day at Japan's Disneyland is different from any at the sister park in Anaheim.

For one, there are more lines for everything here. How about a 30-minute wait for popcorn and a 50-minute one for a smoked turkey leg?

Guests begin queuing at dawn, hours before the park opens, often because many visitors arrive by overnight express bus and are unloaded at the gates in the wee hours, said Keiko Namikoshi, a spokeswoman for Oriental Land.

When the gates open, a flood of guests makes a mad dash for the rides. Many use Fastpass tickets, which assign a time to visit an attraction, allowing purchasers to skip regular lines.

But unlike most days in Anaheim, here even a Fastpass doesn't mean you can escape a line: One recent morning the wait with a pass was 30 minutes long.

Despite the aggravating wait for just about everything, guests still seem to agree it's a good bang for the buck.

Yuri Yoneda, a 42-year-old in a Minnie Mouse hat, said she had just been laid off.

"It's a good change of pace from my daily life," Yoneda said. "This is something I'm treating myself to."

Nagano is a special correspondent.


  1. Interesting article. Thanks for posting. When I grew up, the local amusement park was small and you only had to pay for the rides you rode on. The longest line you had to wait for was the roller coaster, about 1/2 an hour. As the park grew in size, they made you pay a general admission fee and the lines got longer (and the park got bigger). Oh how I long for those cool summer evenings in a park long ago in a time that will never be again.

  2. I don't go to Disneyland on the Weekends. I always take a day off and go mid-week to avoid the lines. But Disneyland can still be crowded mid-week, especially in the Summer. But much better then the weekends.

  3. I've never been to Disneyland in LA but I did stay at a Disney hotel there. Horrible hotel. Musky and dirty. I did go to Orlando's Disneyworld three times back in the 80's and 90's. First 2 times I was staying off campus. Last time we stayed at a hotel at Disneyworld. Again, not the cleanest place I've been at. I got my first glimpse of Florida's cockroaches at the hotel at Disneyworld. They are huge!

  4. Although I have not stayed at a Disney hotel, I know they have really turned the resort and the hotels into a really destination resort and the hotels have been remodeled and new ones built. It used to be that Disneyland in LA was more of just a one day trip and mostly for locals. Now it has been expanded with another park, a downtown Disney and new hotels so it is more like Florida's Disney, a multi-day destination resort.

    I would love to stay at one of the hotels even though I live in LA but they're not cheap.

  5. I could never really see the allure of disney land. I went there once on a date, but I am hoping I never have to go back again. I guess it is because I am an action junkie and there are no good rides or anything to really do there.... Fujikyu is the happiest place on Earth for me :)

  6. The three times I've been to Tokyo Disneyland, the place was always full of people. Luckily, Japanese people are one polite bunch (the ones I met, at least) and seemed to enjoy queuing countless of time. Happy time indeed. :D

  7. Prometheus, I used to love the fast hard rides but now they give me a headache. What is Fujikyu?

    Lina, I don't like the long lines so I went mid week to Tokyo Disney. I stood in long lines.

  8. Fujikyu Highlands is an amusement park with some of the scarieest rides around. It is near mount fuji


  9. Cool looking park. There is a coaster park here in Los Angeles also that has many fast coaster rides as well called Magic Mountain.