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Tokyo Disney Resort News

Not the Happiest Place on Earth?

March 26, 2005

Disneyland takes the Mickey out of grumpy workers

By Ryann Connell
Mainichi Shimbun staff writer

After having dominated Japan's leisure business for decades, things at Tokyo Disneyland now look to be going a bit, well, goofy, according to Cyzo (April).

Tokyo Disney Resort, the name the powerful Oriental Land Co. gives to the Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea theme parks, has been plagued with problems in recent years and the parent company seems certain to post its first-ever loss this year, the monthly says.

"Behind the popularity, the clouds are starting to appear at that theme park," a leisure business insider tells Cyzo.

Tokyo Disney Resort has been caught up in a couple of unsightly scandals, leaking the intimate details of 140,000 annual passport holders in January for reasons still unknown and being forced to recall over 1,500 boxes of confectionary from the park after it was found to be moldy.

And while Tokyo may not have jubbly juggling Tiggers like there have been at other Disney parks, there are apparently other problems with staff members.

"I'd say motivation among cast members is declining," another leisure business source says.

Nearly 90 percent of Tokyo Disney Resort employees are part-time or contract workers. The part-timers are paid only about 800 yen an hour - less than the average convenience store checkout clerk.

"For a piddling 800 yen an hour, the amount of work you're given is enormous and there are so many different rules," a resort insider tells Cyzo. "That's caused a drop in the morale of employees, which has led to lower standards of service and caused a drop in the number of patrons."

Tokyo Disney Resort is also being affected by vicious rumors that are entirely out of its hands. For years, there have been whispers of a child having been abducted at Tokyo Disneyland. They gained credence in January this year when a police officer giving a speech on security to 150 parents at a Tokyo kindergarten told them another cop's kid had been whisked away while at the Kingdom of Magic and Dreams.

That turned out to be a bit of a dreamy statement in itself, because there is no record of any child having ever been abducted at the park and the cop was merely perpetuating an urban legend prevalent for a decade.

What's not a myth for Tokyo Disney Resort is the growing competition it's facing from neighboring countries. After having had a monopoly on the Mickey magic in Asia since Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, Hong Kong's Disneyland will open later this year, Seoul will get its own version a few years down the track and Shanghai is also reportedly interested in its own park. Hong Kong will offer weekday passports for the equivalent of just 3,920 yen, more than a whopping 1,500 yen cheaper than the 5,500 yen they cost in Tokyo. With that much to save, the monthly says, it will be hard to resist the temptation of going to the popular park and getting a trip overseas to go with it.

"We've already taken loads of customers looking for package tours to Hong Kong that include a trip to Disneyland," a travel agent tells Cyzo. "There's no doubt the new park will eat into visitor numbers at Tokyo Disney Resort."

-- Source: Cyzo Magazine via Mainichi Shimbun

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