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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Casual Visitor Experience Assistants

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To work within the Visitor Experience Departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created