Posted Friday, April 15, 2011 12:21 PM | Contributed by Jeff
Tokyo Disneyland opened earlier than its 8 a.m. schedule today as about 10,000 people lined up to visit the amusement park that had been shut for five weeks by the strongest earthquake on record to hit Japan.
Read more from Bloomberg.
It's easy to see both sides of the discussion. (Reminds me somewhat of our post-9/11 conversations). A "return to normalcy" is an important psychological factor when trying to get the people, and the economy, moving in the right direction. At the same time, I also understand the concerns about some people having fun at Disney while others are still risking their lives (sacrificing, really) to try and finally end the nuclear disaster only a few hours away. For obvious public health reasons, the bodies that remain unburied also potentially pose serious consequences for those who live and/or work in nearby areas.
My feeling about the surprisingly robust attendance is that it's probably temporary, and will recede after a couple weeks of pent-up leisure demand is exhausted. Until the country actually finishes repairs to the nuclear facility, and to their electrical generation/distribution system in general, places like amusement parks will probably not see any sustained business.
Why not? I don't think people who are able to conduct their lives with any level of normalcy are going to just sit around and feel bad. What would that accomplish?
I suspect the tendency for some to not feel good about "vacationing" just yet might be counter-balanced by those who just want to get away for a day. Particularly important at TDR, where---apparently---a good chunk of attendance is relatively local/repeat business, much like DLR (but not like WDW).
WSJ had another few interesting attendance tidbits:
In a graying society with one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, adults at this theme park are more plentiful than children: 70.8% of its visitors in the year ended March 2010 were adults over the age of 18. In the same year, females made up 71% of the 25.4 million visitors. The vast majority of its visitors are from Tokyo and nearby cities and the park relies on "repeaters," or visitors who come multiple times a month.
^That's along the lines of what I was thinking - that those "local repeaters" might be more likely to come by and visit to take a break...but might be less inclined to begin visiting regularly again. By NO means am I suggesting that people shouldn't visit, or that they're ignoring the plight of those in serious danger while having a great time at an amusement park...just that "getting back to normal" might take quite a while (hopefully months not years).
Back in 2004, I flew into Orlando a couple of days after Hurricane Frances went through. I was originally schedule to arrive the day the hurricane hit but postponed the trip a couple of days. I went to MGM shortly after the theme parks reopened and it was a ghost town. The morning rush for Tower of Terror fit entirely in one pre-show room. On the weekend, Universal was extremely busy. Way more than an ordinary September weekend. People had spent the week cleaning up and wanted a few hours of down time. I'm sure the same thing is going on in Japan. The locals need a day to escape the realities in the country.
The really crazy thing about power in Japan is that the country has two separate electricity grids that are not compatible.
It dates back to when the country was first electrified; the Germans did one end of the island, and the Americans did the other -- both running their own designs. There's no shortage of power in Japan, but it's the wrong frequency (50Hz vs 60Hz) and there isn't the conversion capacity.
It's the same way with Texas. Their grid is based off of High Voltage DC current and is independent of the rest of the country. The week before the Super Bowl, much of North Texas was experiencing rolling blackouts. Their infrastructure couldn't handle the cold.
You must be logged in to post