Disney Plans Aquatic Park in Tokyo : Leisure: Japanese partner will assume most of risk for company’s third park outside U.S., tentatively called Tokyo DisneySea. A similar plan for Long Beach was abandoned in 1991.


The Walt Disney Co. said it is making plans to build an aquatic theme park in Tokyo, four years after the company scuttled elaborate plans for an oceanfront park in Long Beach.

Disney officials said the park, tentatively called Tokyo DisneySea, will be built in Tokyo Bay, and will be owned and operated by Oriental Land Co., the Japanese development company that operates Tokyo Disneyland.

Mirroring the terms of an existing agreement between these two companies, Oriental Land will manage the new park but will pay Burbank-based Disney licensing fees and royalties, Disney officials said.


The design for DisneySea won’t be completed until next spring, officials said, and the park probably won’t open until 2000 or 2001. But a press release distributed in Japan said the park “will feature exotic ports and daring voyages, offering a rich world of thrilling rides, themed dining and unique shopping.”

The design is expected to include re-creations of picturesque coastlines, including a Mediterranean harbor and an American waterfront, the release said.

Plans for the park, which will be built adjacent to the 12-year-old Tokyo Disneyland, were unveiled at a Tuesday morning news conference in Tokyo attended by top Disney executives Michael D. Eisner and Michael S. Ovitz.

Tokyo DisneySea would be Disney’s first aquatic theme park, and the company’s third park outside the United States, along with Euro Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland. None of these overseas parks is owned by Disney. The company also has a cluster of four parks in Orlando, Fla., and, of course, the original Disneyland in Anaheim.

Disney officials said plans for DisneySea are unrelated to a short-lived proposal to build a $3-billion aquatic theme park in Long Beach. That project was scrapped in 1991, partly because of opposition from area residents, but primarily because Disney executives could not get legislative approval to add 250 acres of landfill to Long Beach harbor waters.

Since its retreat from the Long Beach project, Disney has scrapped or scaled back plans for other new parks and expansions in the United States.

Last year, Disney abandoned a proposal to build a history-themed amusement park in Virginia after the company encountered opposition from a coalition of local property owners and historians.

Earlier this year, Disney vastly scaled down plans to build a $3-billion resort next to Disneyland, a proposal that had emerged after the Long Beach project was canceled. The company is expected to unveil a more modest proposal for a new park in Anaheim at the beginning of next year.

Despite the company’s setbacks in the United States, the new Tokyo park makes sense because Disney does not have to spend its own money to build the park, and therefore shoulders little risk, analysts said.

“The [U.S.] parks were projects for which Disney was completely responsible,” said Mark Manson, an industry analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in New York City.

Theme parks accounted for about 34% of the $10.1 billion in revenue Disney reported in 1994, company spokesman Ken Green said. Disney’s stock price was unchanged Tuesday, closing at $58 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.


The Disney Amusement Parks


Park Location Date opened Disneyland Anaheim July 17, 1955 Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Orlando Oct. 1, 1971 Epcot Center Orlando Oct. 1, 1982 Tokyo Disneyland Tokyo April 15, 1983 Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Orlando May 1, 1989 Euro Disneyland (now Disneyland Paris) Paris April 12, 1992


Source: Walt Disney Co.; Researched by GREG MILLER / Los Angeles Times