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Tokyo area theme parks remodel themselves while waiting out pandemic

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Since last year, several of the major amusement and theme parks in the greater Tokyo area have successively been undergoing major renovations. J-Cast News (Jan 11) considers the factors affecting leisure business.

The preponderant motivation has been the aging and weathering of the facilities. But their corporate management has also implementing new business strategies.

The prolonged coronavirus pandemic has certainly had a serious impact, particularly in that more people feel inclined to avoid long trips, sticking closer to their homes when seeking recreation.

First is Yomiuriland. Located in Inagi City in the Tama Hills area west Tokyo, the park has constructed a new baseball stadium for the Yomiuri Giants B team (second string squad) and the accompanying commercial concessions have been placed under joint management.

Before undergoing a takeover bid, Yomiuriland Corporation had been listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Since the takeover, it assumed the status of a subsidiary, with the parent Yomiuri Shimbun owing 34% of shares in the newly reorganized company.

Along with revenues from admission tickets to baseball games, the corporation will engage in sales of food and beverage sales and baseball merchandise.

Toshikazu Yamaguchi, president of Yomiuri Shimbun, tells J-Cast news that considering the inevitable downsizing of the newspaper market, the company's new strategy will be "to position Yomiuriland as a core business for sports, culture and entertainment."

The Seibu Railway Company, meanwhile, has been proceeding with renewal activities of its 70-year-old Seibu-en amusement park in Tokorozawa City, Saitama, which it temporarily closed last November. The company plans to complete construction and repairs by this spring.

Among the new features will be an emphasis on Showa-era nostalgia, boasting a town in the style of the 1960s, along with new attractions tailored to the same theme. Visitors will be greeted by an old-style streetcar (tram) at the entrance and rows of shops will offer examples of Showa-era commerce, complete with live performances.

Some 10 billion yen will have been invested in renovations. Director Takashi Yamazaki, well known for his award-winning "ALWAYS Sanchome no Yuhi" film series, and theme part expert Tsuyoshi Morioka, who oversaw the renovation of Universal Studios Japan, were consulted on the project.

Last August, the Seibu Group shut down Toshima-en, its other theme park located in Tokyo's Nerima Ward. A portion of the property will be used for new facilities based on the Harry Potter film series in collaboration with the Warner Bros film studio, with opening planned in the first half of 2023.

Visitors to the park will be able to experience some of the famous scenes appearing in Harry Potter films. The new park will be the second of its kind to be operated by Warner Bros, following the one in the UK that opened in March 2012.

Most of the remainder of Toshima-en will be sold to metropolitan Tokyo, which plans to develop it as a park for evacuation in the event of a natural disaster. The sale of this valuable land situated within one of Tokyo's 23 wards is expected to considerably enhance Seibu's bottom line. While occupying a smaller area than does Toshima-en, the new Harry Potter facility is expected to become a lucrative new attraction for its operators.

Japan's Numero Uno in the theme park realm, Tokyo Disney Resort, has adopted a business model into which huge amounts of capital have been invested. While its gate is currently reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, merely by virtue of its being located on the periphery of a huge metropolitan area TDR is banking on current renovations and additions, such as the LEGO Hotel scheduled to open later this year, in expectation these will ultimately contribute to future success.

© RikiWeb

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The Seibu Railway Company, meanwhile, has been proceeding with renewal activities of its 70-year-old Seibu-en amusement park in Tokorozawa City, Saitama, which it temporarily closed last November. The company plans to complete construction and repairs by this spring.

Among the new features will be an emphasis on Showa-era nostalgia, boasting a town in the style of the 1960s, along with new attractions tailored to the same theme. Visitors will be greeted by an old-style streetcar (tram) at the entrance and rows of shops will offer examples of Showa-era commerce, complete with live performances.

Haha, sounds like they aren't actually changing much there then!

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