Disney plans Tokyo Bay park

Building on the success of Tokyo Disneyland, the Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday it has entered into a licensing agreement for a new ocean theme park on Tokyo Bay.

The $2.6 billion Tokyo DisneySea, to be built on 167 acres of bay landfill, is expected to draw more than 10 million people per year, Disney said.

The park will be built, fully owned and operated by Oriental Land Co., the owner and operator of Tokyo Disneyland. Disney will license its names and characters and act as a consultant in the park’s construction and operation, said Jim Cora, president of Disneyland Intl.

“We have expanded Tokyo Disneyland almost to its limit,” Cora Said. “It just became apparent that we had to expand the whole resort area.”

Tokyo Disneyland is the company’s best-attended park, attracting more than 17 million visitors last year, Cora said. It also has the highest per-capita spending by visitors of any Disney park, said Steve Balgrosky, a theme park industry analyst with Economics Research Associates in L.A..

The announcement was the latest in a series of planned expansions. Disney is scheduled next year to open the 500-acre Disney Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. The company also is launching DisneyQuest, high-tech game centers that eventually will be in 20 or more U.S. cities, and the ESPN Grill, themed restaurants and game centers based on the ESPN sports network. Disney acquired ESPN when it bought Capital Cities/ABC last year.

It isn’t the only theme-park operator interested in Japan. MCA Inc. plans to build a Universal Studios theme park in Osaka that also will open in 2001.

DisneySea will include seven areas, including one dubbed Mysterious Island, based on the stories of Jules Verne, and a Mermaid Lagoon based on the animated movie “The Little Mermaid.” The American Waterfront section will include reproductions of the New York City waterfront at the beginning of the 20th century.

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