Trouble at Tokyo Disneyland after quake

March 29th, 2011By Category: Arts & Entertainment

Although the visitor parking area at Tokyo Disneyland suffered considerable liquefaction damage due to the March 11 earthquake, the rides and facilities in the park itself appear to have stood up to the temblor without major problems.

J-Cast News (March 24) reports that the huge theme park has in many ways fared better than the surrounding community in Urayasu City, where nearly half the homes in the neighborhood were without running water. Many are also without gas for cooking and heating.

The theme park’s owner, Oriental Land Corp, completed a safety inspection on March 18, and determined that the resort was in condition to “permit reopening.”

Its inability to secure a steady supply of electricity, however, remains a major stumbling block, and is the key reason why a reopening date has yet to be set. (The park’s website says the reopening date had not been decided as of noon on Monday, March 28.)

The power needed to operate Disneyland’s attractions, lighting and other facilities comes to approximately 570,000 kilowatts per day, a figure equivalent to roughly 10 times that utilized by the Tokyo Dome stadium in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, or by 50,000 households.

The rolling blackouts scheduled by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) are likely to continue through summer, and this appears likely to impact future park operations. Unlike 21 of Tokyo’s 23 central wards that have so far been exempted from the blackouts, Urayasu City is located in the blackout area designated Group 5.

Another problem for TDL involves park access. The JR Keiyo Line that serves Maihama, the station closest to the park, has reduced the number of trains as a power-saving measure, and the prospect of severe congestion is also likely to impact any plans for reopening the park.

“Since Tokyo Disneyland consumes a large amount of electric power, it may be affected by any power-saving measures,” an official at Urayasu City’s disaster response center told J-Cast. “Presently illumination has been turned off on the Cinderella Castle—the park’s symbol. Our hands are full dealing with recovery tasks right now, but we will be holding discussions with Disneyland’s people to discuss how to get through the Golden Week and the summer holidays.”

Meanwhile, the Mainichi Shimbun (March 26) reported that other leisure facilities around the nation have also been hit hard by the disaster. Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo has been closed since March 17, mainly due to concerns over the power shortages, and postponed the debut of two pandas recently arrived from China that had been scheduled for March 22. The Nikko Edomura theme park in Tochigi has been closed since March 11. It had planned to reopen one week later, but this has been delayed indefinitely.

Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama reopened from March 22, but several attractions remained closed due to possible quake damage. Yomiuri Land in the Tokyo suburb of Inagi City has shut down many of its 30 attractions due to their high power consumption. “During the three-day Vernal Equinox holiday weekend (March 19-21), the gate was about one-fourth of what we usually get,” a spokesperson said.

Leisure facilities as far away as Kyushu have also been affected; the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo City reported some 11,000 hotel cancellations, mostly from South Korea and other neighboring Asian countries.

A spokesperson for the Fujikyu Highland amusement park in Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture was quoted as saying “Due to gasoline shortages, the general sentiment has been to refrain from going places, and this mood been spreading.”

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