Disneyland celebrated 15 years on Japanese shores Wednesday, demonstrating its unflagging appeal in a country where most fads fizzle out in a matter of months.
The anniversary was marked in bronze with the unveiling of a statue of Mickey Mouse hand-in-hand with Walt Disney. Thousands of visitors hunkered down on Tokyo Disneyland's main boulevard in a drizzling rain for a four-hour wait before the anniversary parade."I really love Disneyland," said Tomomi Kimura, who came with her infant daughter. "This is my 17th time."
About 55,000 visitors were expected by the end of the day, 10,000 more than on an average day.
Annual attendance at Tokyo Disneyland has steadily risen from 10 million people in 1995 to about 17.3 million - all despite Japan's five-year economic slump. More than 200 million guests have streamed through the park's gates since they first opened.
The venture has been such a success that Walt Disney Co. announced last year it would enter a licensing agreement with Tokyo Disneyland's owner, Oriental Land, for a $2.6 billion ocean theme park called DisneySea.
The new park will be built on landfill, and Disney predicts it will attract more than 10 million visitors a year.
Per-capita expenditure among visitors to Tokyo Disneyland is higher than any other Disney park. In 1997, the average visitor spent $74, said Kiyohito Omori, a Tokyo Disneyland spokesman.
Disney's draw often turns the roads from Tokyo to Urayasu, the park's home just east of the capital, into one long bottleneck.