The beginning of the Oriental Land Co., Ltd.（1960 to 1974）
Oriental Land Co., Ltd. was established on July 11, 1960. The year before, Mr. Chiharu Kawasaki, then president of Keisei Electric Rail Co., Ltd., and Mr. Hideo Edo, then president of Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd., took the lead in setting up this new company. Their “Oriental Land Establishment Plan” prospectus of 1959 stated, “In this project, we would like to reclaim the sea off Urayasu to develop commercial and residential areas, as well as a large-scale recreational facility, so as to contribute to the nation’s culture, health, and welfare.” This initial concept was the starting point of what is now Tokyo Disney Resort.
The office of the fledgling company was set up in 1960 inside the head office building of Keisei Electric Railway Co., Ltd. (located at the time in Ueno, Tokyo). There were just three desks set up in a corner of the fifth floor for the three employees. The company did not even have its own telephone; the employees had to borrow the telephone of the Equity Division of Keisei Electric Railway and place their calls through the company telephone operator.
The first difficulty the company faced was the negotiations with the two fishermen’s cooperatives in Urayasu-cho over the compensation for their loss of livelihood due to the offshore reclamation. Negotiations with those two fishermen’s cooperatives were undertaken by Mr. Masatomo Takahashi, who later became the president of Oriental Land Co., Ltd. Beginning in 1961, he made persistent efforts to persuade the fishermen through frequent face-to-face talks. As a result, the negotiations that were expected to take several years were concluded in just six months, with the local fishermen agreeing to give up part of their fishing rights in 1962 (the rights were totally relinquished in 1971).
Once Oriental Land reached an agreement with the two fishermen’s cooperatives and the Chiba prefectural government, the outlook for the implementation of the Urayasu offshore reclamation project was assured. Oriental Land concluded the “Agreement on Urayasu District Reclamation and Land Sales” with the Chiba prefectural government in July 1962.
In 1964, Oriental Land began the reclamation work as they were commissioned to do. Despite some difficulties, the project progressed and the reclamation of the current Higashino, Tomioka, Imaigawa, Benten and Tekko-dori areas was completed in 1966. The reclamation of the current Kairaku, Mihama and Irifune areas started nine months later and was completed in 1969. The final section, Maihama where Tokyo Disney Resort now stands, was completed in 1970. Subsequently, residential and commercial areas in the various sections were developed.
While proceeding with the reclamation work, Oriental Land began considering a master plan to build the best recreational facility in Asia to be located in the Maihama area. The company’s plan was unique and completely different from today’s Tokyo Disney Resort. The concept review for the facility began in the mid-1960s and after many revisions, the final proposal—“Oriental Land (Recreational Facility) Basic Plan”—was approved by Chiba Prefecture in 1974. With “Wonderful People and Their World” as its main theme, the basic plan was for an epoch-making recreational facility consisting of a themed play land, an auditorium, a “fashion” square, and hotels.
To bring the “Oriental Land” concept to fruition, the company began studying European and American leisure facilities. In May 1972, a research team was sent to the United States to look into Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Through this process, the dream of bringing Disneyland to Japan began to gain momentum.