The Amusement Park Industry In Japan: My Research Paper

Tuesday, January 18, 2005 6:04 PM
Just thought it would be cool if I could post my 10th grade research paper. I know its long, you dont have to read it. But if you do want to read it and peer edit, that would be awesome!

Also, most of my facts should be correct, but some I know arent...my world cultures teacher isnt going to notice some of the facts a fudged, but some of you guys may. I did not however, fudge with any of the numbers or statistics. Most information was taken from Amusement Business Magazine.

The Amusement Park Industry In Japan

The amusement park industry worldwide generates more then $20 billion dollars a year, and leading the pack in the Asian amusement park market is Japan. The amusement park buzz began in the West, the United States being the obvious forerunner. Amusement parks had been around for years, but most parks were little more than picnic areas featuring a carousel, or some other small child rides. (Emmons 8) In the 1970s, amusement ride technology took a giant leap. Rides now featured twisted layouts and offered riders an exhilarating ride, flipping, looping, turning, and spinning riders around in directions they never before even imagined. This increase in ride technology let parks build rides they had never been able to before, and before long large amusement parks and amusement park chains developed. (Koranteng 12) Walt Disney was one of the first people to dream up and put this technology into use in the Disney parks, with overwhelming success. The parks produced huge profits and became some of the top tourist destinations worldwide. With such successes in the U.S., the amusement park buzz began to spread across the seas, next reaching Europe and finally Asia. Japan is one of the new comers into the industry.
Amusement parks in Japan were virtually nonexistent in the 1960s, until land within Tokyo (owned by the Oriental Land Company (OLC)) was ordered by the government of Japan to be used for ‘leisure purposes.’ In the 1960s, the Oriental Land Company approached the Disney Company in the U.S., interested in a licensing contract to build parks in Tokyo. Disney declined the offer, stating they wished to remain focused in developing the parks in the U.S. About 10 years later, the Oriental Land Company returned, again looking for a licensing contract. This time Disney agreed and a contract was drawn up. (Benz 16) The park opened in 1983, setting a precedent for all amusement parks in Japan to follow. Although the park carries the Disney name and features the Disney characters, it is not owned by Disney. The Oriental Land Company actually owns and operates the park; Disney only owns share. (Zoltak 6)
Today Tokyo Disneyland brings more then 14 million people through their gates every year, making it one of the greatest successes in amusement park history. 2001 brought in an all time record number of guests, attracting nearly 18 million people. Sadly, the parks 15 year record attendance streak ended with the addition of Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland’s newer, more technologically advanced sister park. Together, the two parks rake in nearly $3 billion a year (net revenue). (Zoltac 12)
Another one of the largest amusement parks in Japan is Universal Studios Japan. Located in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, the park offered the city a great economic opportunity. The park was to be the first Universal Park outside of the U.S, and Osaka put up a quarter of the $1.4 billion needed to construct the park. Estimated projections set the park to attract nearly 8 million people a year; a projected $654 million in revenue. City officials in Osaka actually predicted nearly $7 billion in revenue for the city, factoring in the tourists stays at hotels, riding cabs, dining out, and shopping. Universal Studios Japan opened in April of 2001, and exceeded all expectations originally set. In the first month alone, the park welcomed nearly 1 million guests, and in the first year nearly 11 million guests walked though the gates. This number far exceeded the original expectations by more than three million guests. (Emmons 32)
Worldwide, the amusement park industry generates $20 billion a year, $9.9 billion coming from the United States alone. Worldwide, the top 50 amusement parks attract close to 248 million people a year, an overwhelming number when compared to 25 years ago. Attendance to amusement parks has had its peaks and valleys, but all parks tend to follow
the same trend. 2000 was one of the most impressive years in the amusement park industry, many parks reaching record attendance. 2001 brought global declines, travel and tourism down due to the attacks on September 11. Weather, major global conflicts (such as the war in Iraq), and the threat of terrorist attacks (SARS outbreak) resulted in record low park attendances worldwide in 2003. In Japan, many parks are not meeting expected attendance due to a slow down in the economy. (Zoltak 25) Many families have less money to spend on leisure activities, hurting the industry as a whole. In the past 5 years, three amusement parks in Japan have been forced to declare bankruptcy and close their doors forever. (Emmons 32)
Although travel and tourism abroad are down, the Japanese amusement parks have managed to attract consumers by offering them a “foreign experience” without leaving the country. One of the main reasons for the reluctance to travel abroad is simply fear. (Benz 15) “Abroad” is covered by the media as a being dangerous and unpredictable, and where harm can easily be done to innocent Japanese. This fear, however, is not entirely unreasonable; an average New Yorker is 446 times more likely to be robbed then an average Tokyo citizen. (Tonka 61)
The amusement park industry in Japan has learned to play off of this fear of travel and incorporate it into their parks and marketing campaigns. Take Tobu World Square for example. Located in Kinugawa, Japan, it offers Japanese the chance to experience the many wonders of the world; only 1/25 their actual size. Tobu World Square has spent more then 6 years and the U.S equivalent of $90 million recreating the modern marvels of the world. The park features 100 exhibits, ranging from downtown Manhattan, complete with the Twin Towers and the Statue of Liberty, situated on the glistening harbor all the way too the Great Wall of China and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Tobu World Square, situated on a 20 acre plot of land, opened in July 1994 with bounding success. The park brings in more then 30,000
visitors in a single weekend; a remarkable number considering the slump the rest of the Japanese amusement park industry is enduring. (O’ Brian 14)
Another popular trend in the amusement park industry of Japan is “hot bath amusement parks.” These public bathing theme parks offer guests the chance to relax in a warm, soothing bath. Many of the large amusement parks in Japan, including LaQua and Toshimaen, simply took advantage of this trend and built large, hot baths amongst their already overwhelming myriad of waterslides, wave pools, and amusement rides. (O’ Brien 12) Public baths have been a long time tradition in Japan; from 1603-1868 private baths were outlawed to encourage fire prevention. In 1868 there were as many as 600 public baths in Tokyo alone! The “hot bath amusement parks” attract an older target audience, who grew up with these public baths; but whether you are 6 or 76, the appeal of a soothing, warm bath never wears off, and throw in the appeal of the high-tech amusement park rides and you’ve got a winning combination on your hands! (Emmons 15)
As ride technology in Japan and abroad increases, the appeal of amusement parks and leisure activities only gets greater. The amusement park industry in Japan was virtually nonexistent in the 1980s, and today it attracts more than 100 million Japanese to the parks annually. (Mooradian 12) In the past 20 years, the industry has faced drastic changes. As ride technology transportation technology, and tourism increase, one can only imagine the changes to come to the industry in the next 20 years!

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005 7:32 PM
Two things:

What style are you using for your parenthetical references; period, parentheses, sentence?

How little effort will your teacher put forth in checking your paper? Your boasting can soon enough be found via a simple google search.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005 7:38 PM
nasai's avatar I do believe that more than 3 parks have closed their doors. What parks are you referring to? There have been lots of ride sell-offs to parks outside of Japan as well.

The Flying Turns makes all the right people wet - Gonch

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