Tokyo Disneyland reopens five weeks after quake

Five weeks after Japan's quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis struck, Tokyo Disneyland threw open its doors again Friday, bringing some welcome relief to thousands of disaster-weary families.

Mickey Mouse greeted and hugged many of the 10,000 visitors who had queued up, some of them all night, outside the giant theme park, which had been shut despite suffering only minor damage in the tectonic disaster of March 11.

"I'm delighted that the park is open again," said Hiroko Ichimura, 35, visiting with her husband and daughter. "We made reservations six months ago to celebrate our daughter's birthday here but we had almost given up on the plan."

"We have been waiting impatiently for the park to reopen," said another Disney fan and parent, Kazuhiro Sugiyama, 34. "My little daughter is overjoyed and just keeps saying: 'Mickey, Mickey!'"

Many guest were visibly relieved to revel in Disney's fantasy world amid the grim realities of an ongoing nuclear crisis and scores of recent strong aftershocks from the massive seabed quake that have badly strained nerves.

To celebrate its reopening, the park put on a colourful musical parade of floats featuring Disney characters at the facility located on reclaimed land on the outskirts of Tokyo at Urayasu in Chiba prefecture.

"I was touched and encouraged to see the happy smiles of our guests," said Kyoichiro Uenishi, president of Oriental Land Co., which operates the Tokyo Disney resort under a licence from the Walt Disney group.

He said that while some people thought it was too early to go back to normal, "we were also prompted by many to reopen early, to create an environment to cheer people up".

The company plans to donate 300 yen (about $3.60) per guest through the Japanese Red Cross Society into a relief fund for the quake-hit area.

Despite the lashings of Disney magic, the atmosphere was somewhat subdued as some lights were switched off amid a nationwide electricity saving campaign prompted by damage to atomic plants and the power grid.

The park also stopped some fountains and waterfalls, turned down air conditioning systems, and shortened its opening hours to 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, four hours less than usual at this time of year.

The park had repaired damage to its carpark caused when the quake hit and the tsunami slammed into Japan's northeast coast, flooding areas in Tokyo Bay through a phenomenon called liquefaction, when landfill becomes saturated.

The only major attraction at the park to be closed for now was "Big Thunder Mountain," under repair because of quake damage to its rock surface.

The park resumed operations on the 28th anniversary of its 1983 opening as the first Disneyland outside the United States, which was later followed by Disney theme parks in Paris and Hong Kong.

The adjacent Tokyo DisneySea park remains closed for the time being, but the operator said it hopes to reopen it soon too.

yi-fz/mtp

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory