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Tokyo Disney Resort News

Are Sponsors Abandoning Tokyo Disney Resort?

November 23rd, 2006

Tokyo Disney Resort Faces a Whole New World -- without Sponsors

With thousands of middle-aged women getting around in Mickey Mouse T-shirts, you know there's a strong affinity for Disney here, but Japan's long affinity with Walt's Magical Kingdom appears to be going a bit, well, goofy, according to Cyzo (December).

Tokyo Disney Resort -- home to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea -- is going through a Minnie, er, mini-crisis.

As the leader of the theme park gang, Tokyo Disney Resort has built up something of a dale in the corporate world, but now chips are being cut into those ties.

Just recently, the resort lost a daisy chain of lucrative contracts with Nissan Motor Co., Takara-Tomy, Morinaga, Nihon Suisan, Nihon Hills and Colgate when agreements it had with these top firms all reached their end at the same time.

"Becoming an official sponsor with Tokyo Disney Resort means an outlay of anywhere from several hundred million yen to several billion yen every year, depending on the type of attraction involved. It seems like a lot of money, but as there's a policy of only allowing one company per industry to become a sponsor, it's actually quite cost effective advertising for the sponsoring company and wouldn't be considered expensive at all," a business news reporter for a national daily tells Cyzo. "Although the official reason for what's happened with the six big companies that have recently ended their sponsorship agreements with Disney, I think the real reason may have something to do with falling attendances at the resort parks for the past two years."

Tokyo Disney Resort marked a peak in visitor numbers in 2003, the 20th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland, with 25.47 million paying to get into the park. The following year, visitor numbers were down slightly to 25.02 million, but by 2005 the figure had dropped to 24.76 million. The 2005 decline was the biggest in the resort's history and also marked the first time ever that visitor numbers had dropped two years in a row.

What's more, sponsors for two of Disneyland's most popular attractions -- Splash Mountain and the Western River Railroad -- still haven't been found. Even estimates by experts as parsimonious as Uncle Scrooge say that the missing sponsors could be costing Tokyo Disney Resort as much as 2 billion yen in revenue a year!

Oriental Land Co., operator of the Tokyo Disney Resort, is hardly getting mousy over the situation.

"We see the current situation as nothing more than a coincidence that all the contracts ended at around the same time," an Oriental Land spokesman tells Cyzo. "Visitor numbers for the first half of this year were 3.3 percent up on the same period for the previous year, so we think things are now moving in the right direction."

-- Sources: Cyzo Magazine (translated by Ryann Connell for Mainichi Daily News Waiwai section)

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