Tokyo Disney Resort sees first attendance increase in three years

Tokyo Disney Resort has seen its first rise in attendance in three years after receiving 30.1 million visitors in the 2017 fiscal year.

The figure amounts to a 0.3% increase, or 96,000 people, on the previous year. The 30.1 million figure is the total combined visitors to both Tokyo Disney Resort parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.

The final figures for the year are a slight decline from the first half, April-September, which saw a 3% increase in attendance, with 445,000 more visitors than the same period the previous year.

Tokyo Disney Resort saw its attendance peak in 2014, when 31.3 million people visited its parks. It has since seen consecutive years of decline with a little under 30.2 million visiting in 2015 and around 30 million people attending in 2016.

The attendance drop in 2016 was attributed to an increase in ticket prices, however the entry cost remained the same for 2017.

Oriental Land Company, which operates the resort, put the rise in visitors down to the Nemo & Friends SeaRider attraction which opened at Tokyo DisneySea last May.

Nemo & Friends SeaRider includes characters from both the Finding Nemo and Finding Dory movies, including the beloved whale shark, Destiny, and Hank the octopus. The ¥5bn ($47m) attraction can accommodate up to 122 guests at a time for the five-minute experience.

The attraction was also a key factor, alongside popular seasonal events, in a reported 10% increase in operating profit for Oriental Land in the April-June quarter of 2017.

Despite fluctuating attendance figures, overcrowding at Tokyo Disney Resort has been a problem for some time.

In a survey by the Japan Productivity Center, the resort fell from second place in 2014 to 11th in 2015 and 27th in 2016 in customer satisfaction rankings.

To tackle the issue, Oriental Land has been in discussions with Disney regarding expanding. One of the possibilities for the expansion would be to create a new park with a “sky” theme.

Oriental Land is also investing ¥12bn ($111m) by 2020 to remodel the Tokyo Disneyland entrance as well as install automatic ticket machines and facial recognition systems for holders of annual passes.