Tokyo Disney Resort Projects 11% Drop in Attendance Despite $2 Billion Expansion

In a surprising revelation from the operator of Tokyo Disney Resort, attendance at the two parks is anticipated to fall by 11% in 2024, even though a grand $2.1 billion expansion called Fantasy Springs is slated to open next month. Fantasy Springs, nestled within DisneySea, will boast a 475-room deluxe hotel, a gift shop, and four new attractions spotlighting Disney favorites: Frozen, Peter Pan, and Tangled. Despite the sheer scale of this largest expansion since the park’s inception in 2001, it seems the magic may not be enough to draw record crowds.

Although Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea registered a significant 24.5% surge in visitors to 27.5 million from April 2023 to March 2024, the projections for the next financial year are more reserved. The Oriental Land Company (OLC), which owns and operates the resort, forecasts attendance plateauing at around 29 million visitors. Despite Japan’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic, this figure falls short of the high mark set in 2019 with 32.6 million visitors. OLC is optimistic that sales will rise by $424.3 million to $4.4 billion by March 2025, predominantly boosted by park revenue.

Interestingly, OLC isn’t directly linked to The Walt Disney Company (TWDC). Instead, it contracts Disney’s Imagineering division for design and pays royalties on revenues, usually between 5% and 10%. These royalties hint at the mutual benefit and continued relationship between OLC and TWDC. Even with Fantasy Springs’ grand opening, the focus remains on recapturing the pre-pandemic visitor numbers.

Adding a new dimension, Tokyo Disneyland will introduce a new nighttime fireworks show this September. Featuring Marvel characters like Spider-Man and Iron Man, this is a first for the resort thanks to the expiry of Universal Studios Japan’s rights to Marvel characters earlier this year. This change marks a significant step forward in enhancing guest experiences.

Despite these efforts, a decline in merchandise sales per guest by 3.4% to $31.90 is expected, counterbalanced by an 8.7% rise in spending on tickets, food, and beverages. Moreover, the classic Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters will be replaced by a Wreck-It Ralph-themed attraction by 2026, and Space Mountain will see a substantial $360 million upgrade, set to reopen in 2027.

Tokyo Disney’s president Kenji Yoshida and CEO Yumiko Takano face the formidable challenge of steering attendance back to pre-pandemic peaks. As investors like Palliser Capital and Elliott Management voice their concerns, whether Fantasy Springs will cast the anticipated spell over visitors remains to be seen.

What are your thoughts on Tokyo Disney Resort’s upcoming challenges and new attractions? Share your insights in the comments below and don’t forget to share this story with fellow Disney fans!

For more details, see the original report on Forbes. []