Work has started on a major renovation of Tokyo Disneyland, as the park bids to expand its range of attractions and address declining visitor numbers.
Jiji News reports that the JPY75 billion (US$684 million) upgrade project will mark the largest single investment since the park opened in 1983. Scheduled to be completed in 2020, the project will include the launch of two new attractions based on the Disney films “Beauty and the Beast” and “Big Hero 6”.
Located in the Fantasyland area of the park, the Beauty and the Beast area will include the Beast’s castle and the village where Belle lives, plus a themed shop and restaurant. The Big Hero 6 ride will form part of Tomorrowland.
Other planned developments will include a new theatre in Fantasyland and a “Disney character greeting facility” in Toontown.
Having achieved a record 31.4 million visitors in the 2014 financial year, boosted by the success of the Disney film “Frozen”, the theme park suffered declining visitor numbers in the next two years. In the 2016 financial year, which ended in March, the number fell to 30 million. This is still significantly higher however, than the 14.6m visitors welcomed by Universal Studios Japan, Tokyo Disneyland’s main rival. But the Osaka attraction is experiencing sustained growth, with 2016 marking its third straight year of record arrivals.
The park’s owner, Oriental Land, was reported by Jiji saying that it hopes the expanded park will help reduce waiting times for some rides and attractions, although it has not been decided whether ticket prices will be increased to cover the cost of development.