Development of Tokyo Disneyland(1983 to 2000)

From its very first year, Tokyo Disneyland attracted a large number of visitors, and on April 2, 1984, it welcomed its 10 millionth Guest. The following year, which was marked by the introduction at the Park of the nighttime “Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade,” saw even more attendance growth. The increase in attendance can be attributed to not only the new parade, but also to the synergy effect of the popular Expo ’85 held in Tsukuba. According to the research on the “Ripple Effect of Tokyo Disneyland on the Japanese Economy” issued by a third party in February 1986, the total production inducement figure of Tokyo Disneyland-related expenditure between April 1983 to March 1984 reached over 1.48 trillion yen.

In October 1983, just a few months after the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, we began making plans for new facilities and attractions as stated in our First Plan for New Capital Investment (FY 1983 to FY1987). This became our primary master plan which was used as a basis for our negotiations with The Walt Disney Company and Chiba Prefecture.

The Tokyo Disneyland Official Hotel Program (currently the Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotel Program) was implemented in 1986 with the first hotel, the Sunroute Plaza Tokyo, opening on July 20 of the same year. Over the next four years, more Official Hotels opened one after the other. In addition to the Official Hotels, Disney Hotels, owned and operated by our company, were opened starting in 2000. Today, there are three Disney Hotels and six Official Hotels within Tokyo Disney Resort.

As Tokyo Disneyland matured, the company’s balance began to show profit in 1986, and the accumulated loss was cleared in just four years from the Park’s opening.

When we successfully began to turn profit in March 1987, the Second Plan for New Capital Investment (FY1988 to FY1992) was developed. The timeframe covered in this plan was positioned as a “growth period” for the Park to further enhance attendance, and major attractions were scheduled to be newly introduced. The large-scale attraction included in the First Plan was Big Thunder Mountain (opened 1987), and the attractions listed in the Second Plan included Star Tours (opened 1989) and Splash Mountain (opened 1992), all of which remain popular to this day.

During the Second Plan period, annual Park attendance continued to increase, thanks in part to the economic boom in Japan. With that in mind, we expanded what was supposed to be a single attraction into an entire new themed land—Splash Mountain was turned into the focal attraction of Critter Country.

Tokyo Disneyland celebrated its 5th anniversary in 1988, and to commemorate this milestone, the Park expanded its entertainment programs. Among them was the debut of a new daytime parade. In addition, as part of a campaign conducted outside of Tokyo Disneyland, a Mickey Mouse-shaped hot-air balloon visited 16 cities throughout Japan in a program called “Flying Mickey Friendship Tour,” which attracted great interest nationwide.

As a result of these efforts, the 5th anniversary year’s attendance reached a record high of 13.38 million guests, greatly surpassing the previous best record. And at the press conference held on April 15th to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland, we announced our project for a second themed park. The story behind the development and the opening of Tokyo DisneySea Park will be related in the Chapter 5.

 

During this period, there was a major change in the area surrounding the Park. In December 1988, JR Keiyo Line train service opened its Maihama station, located within easy walking distance of the Park’s main entrance. Previously, mass transit access to the Park was dependent on bus service from Urayasu station on the Tokyo Metro’s Tozai Line, about 20 minutes away. The opening of this new Keiyo Line station greatly enhanced the accessibility to the Park.

On the opening day of Maihama station, a grand ceremony was held with Mickey Mouse. At the time, the JR Keiyo Line was running provisionally between the Soga and Shin-Kiba stations. In March 1990, the line was extended to JR Tokyo Station.

In 1989, to our great joy, Tokyo Disneyland received an extremely distinguished honor. On November 3, the autumn recipients of the Medals of Honor were announced and our chairman at the time, Masatomo Takahashi, received the Blue Ribbon Medal for “his great contribution to the public as a member of the private sector; and with the development of Tokyo Disneyland, which achieved an attendance figure of more than 10 million people from the first year of its opening, created a model case for large-scale leisure development by becoming a major source of domestic leisure expenditure as well as a major destination for international tourism, thereby greatly influencing the Japanese leisure industry.”

Even after the 5th anniversary year of 1988, the attendance count for Tokyo Disneyland continued to rise, thanks in part to the introduction of new attractions. And finally, in fiscal year 1991, the Park welcomed its 100 millionth Guest. The annual attendance for this year surpassed 16 million guests. Tokyo Disneyland continued its development and expansion, introducing a new nighttime parade “Disney’s FANTILLUSION!” in 1995 and opening a seventh themed land, Toontown, in 1996. By the 15th anniversary year in 1998, Tokyo Disneyland achieved a record high annual attendance figure of 17.46 million.

Just as Tokyo Disneyland was about to reach its maximum capacity, our second themed park, Tokyo DisneySea, celebrated its grand opening. In the next chapter, we’ll look back at the 14 years leading up to the opening of this new Park.