Disney, Partner to Build New Tokyo Theme Park

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Building on the success of Tokyo Disneyland, Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday that it has entered into a licensing agreement for a new ocean-theme park on Tokyo Bay.

The $2.6-billion Tokyo DisneySea--to be built on 167 acres of bay landfill adjacent to Tokyo Disneyland--is expected to open in 2001 and draw more than 10 million people a year, Disney said.

The park will be built, fully owned and operated by Oriental Land Co., the owner and operator of Tokyo Disneyland. Disney will license its names and characters and act as a consultant in the park’s construction and operation, said Jim Cora, president of Disneyland International.


“This has always been our strategy with the Japanese market, and we have a long relationship with the Oriental Land Co.,” he said. “We have expanded Tokyo Disneyland almost to its limit. It just became apparent that we had to expand the whole resort area.”

Tokyo Disneyland typically is the company’s best-attended park, attracting more than 17 million visitors last year, Cora said. It also has the highest per-capita expenditures by visitors of any Disney park, said Steve Balgrosky, a theme park industry analyst with Economics Research Associates.

The announcement was the latest in a series of expansions planned by Disney. The company is scheduled next year to open the 500-acre Disney Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. The company is also launching DisneyQuest, high-tech game centers that eventually will be in 20 or more U.S. cities, and the ESPN Grill, themed restaurants and game centers based on the ESPN sports network. Disney acquired ESPN when it bought Capital Cities/ABC last year.

It isn’t the only park operator interested in Japan. MCA Inc. plans to open a Universal Studios theme park in Osaka in 2001 that will feature rides based on hit movies such as “Back to the Future” and “Jurassic Park.”

DisneySea will include seven areas, including one, dubbed Mysterious Island, based on the stories of Jules Verne and a Mermaid Lagoon based on the animated movie “The Little Mermaid.” The American Waterfront section will include reproductions of the New York City waterfront at the beginning of the 20th century.