Tokyo Disneyland Planning $2.7 Billion Expansion

Tokyo Disneyland GETTY H 2016
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Asia-Pacific’s busiest theme park is set to become nearly a third bigger, the largest expansion in 20 years, to deal with growing visitor numbers.

Oriental Land, the operator of Tokyo Disneyland is planning to spend 300 billion yen ($2.7 billion) to expand the size of the park by 30 percent to help deal with rising visitor numbers, including an influx of overseas tourists, according to Japanese business daily the Nikkei.

Tokyo Disneyland and the adjacent DisneySea attracted a combined total of more than 30 million people last year, making it the busiest theme park in the Asia-Pacific region. Lines for rides at the resort have always been notoriously long, exacerbated by the recent growth in visitors.

Overseas visitors made up just 1.3 percent of customers in 2011, but that jumped to 8.5 percent, more than 2.5 million visitors, last year as Japan experienced an inbound tourist boom.

The expanded area, which will include new attractions, is set to open in 2023 and be the biggest expansion since DisneySea opened in 2001. Oriental Land is reported to be in discussions with Walt Disney in the U.S., from which it licenses the rights to run the park, about the expansion. An attraction based on Frozen, which took in around $250 million at the local box office, is one idea being proposed.

Part of the plan to free up space is building a multilevel parking garage that would hold 4,000 vehicles to replace a large parking lot next to the Tokyo Disneyland site, located just northeast of the Japanese capital.

The resort faces increasing competition, both domestically from the popular Universal Studios Japan in Osaka and regionally from Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in June 2016.

On Thursday, Shinnosuke Takeuchi, an analyst at Jeffries in Hong Kong, issued an upgrade on Oriental Land from "buy" to "hold," raising its target price from 8,000 yen to 11,000 yen ($98.22), as part of a bullish report on the Japanese leisure sector. The report cited growing leisure spending among young consumers and noted visitor growth, higher ticket prices and the Tokyo Disney resort maintaining its 40 percent share of the domestic theme park market.

Oriental Land shares were up 3 percent at 9,932 yen ($88.70) in morning trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.