Bob Iger Unveils $2 Billion Tokyo Disney Resort Expansion

By Chanak Maduranga

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Bob Iger Unveils $2 Billion Tokyo Disney Resort Expansion
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After $2 billion spent and a lengthy construction process complicated by the pandemic, the Walt Disney Co. threw open the doors Thursday to its sprawling Fantasy Springs addition to the Tokyo Disney Resort. Spanning 1.5 million square feet and comprising new areas inspired by the Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan franchises, the expansion is a pillar project under Disney’s 10-year, $60 billion investment plan for its global theme parks. It’s also the largest addition in Japan since the Tokyo resort opened over 40 years ago as Disney’s first major international destination. 

Signaling the significance of the unveiling, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Experiences, were both on hand to celebrate the moment alongside executives from Oriental Land, Disney’s Japanese partner and the park’s operator. 

“I am so proud of the richly immersive experiences we’ve created together, and I look forward to the bright future ahead of us here at Tokyo Disney Resort,” Iger said. “We’ve worked alongside Oriental Land Company for more than 40 years, and this new land exemplifies our companies’ shared commitment to excellence in everything we do.”

It’s been an open secret for years among globe-trotting Disney super fans that the Japanese resort’s twin theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, offer the most pleasant visitor experience of Disney’s global portfolio (reasons commonly cited include the courteousness of the Japanese guests and the exceedingly high level of maintenance, operations and cleanliness sustained by Oriental Land). Disney clearly expects Fantasy Springs’ new offering to give the Tokyo resort an even greater boost. Oriental Land forecasts the expansion to lift the Tokyo park’s visitor total to 29 million this year, up from 27.5 million in 2023. 

The new “Peter Pan’s Never Land” area at Tokyo DisneySea.

Courtesy of Disney

Disney’s president of international theme parks, Jill Estoroino, said at a press preview of the Tokyo expansion in May that Disney insiders have described the Fantasy Springs addition as “one of the most ambitious projects we’ve ever undertaken in the world.” 

Each of the Fantasy Springs areas includes themed attractions, restaurants and merchandise shops. The much anticipated Frozen Kingdom, for example, adds a snow-capped mountain from the kingdom of Arendelle to the DisneySea skyline. Guests can relive the story and songs of the Frozen films by boarding a boat to ride the “Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Journey” attraction. Later, they can dine at the “Royal Banquet of Arendelle” restaurant, or stop by the more casual eatery, “Oaken’s OK Foods.”

An interior shot from the “Anna and Elsa’s Frozen Journey” boat ride attraction.

Courtesy of Disney

The new Frozen Kingdom area at Tokyo DisneySea.

Courtesy of Disney

Disney’s expansion in Japan is well-timed to benefit from various tourism industry tailwinds. A weak yen against the dollar and surging international interest in Japanese culture have helped attract a record number of inbound visitors to the country. In March, 3.08 million travelers visited Japan, an all-time monthly high, and up 11.6 percent from the same period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Spending by overseas travelers for the first quarter of 2024 hit a record $11.3 billion (1.75 trillion yen), with average spending per visitor jumping 42 percent from Q1 2019. 

The Tokyo Disney Resort’s guest capacity also got a significant upgrade this week with the simultaneous opening of the Fantasy Springs Hotel, which overlooks the new area and features a private entrance to the theme park. The hotel comprises two buildings: Fantasy Chateau, a deluxe-type accommodation with 419 rooms that are in line with the resort’s preexisting high-end rooms; and Grand Chateau, a luxury hotel of 56 resort-facing units that set a new upscale standard for the Japanese park. Starting at about $2,200 per night, the Grand Chateau rooms are the Tokyo Resort’s most expensive offering.

“Based on some research we had done and some discussions with our partners, we found there’s new demand for luxury rooms here at the Tokyo resort,” said George Gross, senior vp and managing director of Walt Disney Attractions Japan.

Disney and Oriental Lands are already outlining further enhancements for Japan. In April, the companies said they would open the world’s first attraction based on the Wreck-It Ralph animated franchise at the Tokyo Disney Resort by 2026. 

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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