Oriental Land Company announced that the current closure of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea due to coronavirus will be extended, and the opening of the Beauty and the Beast land and other attractions in the resort’s blockbuster expansion will be delayed.
This decision comes after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s request for organizers of sports, cultural events, and other large public gatherings to cancel or postpone activities for at least another 10 days. The goal is to allow health experts more time to gauge the effectiveness of its measures to contain COVID-19.
Tokyo Disney Resort is one of several amusement & theme parks in Japan acquiescing to the request. While not legally binding, Japanese culture is one of respect and rules. To our knowledge, every major event and attraction in Japan has closed in compliance with these requests. In this post, we’ll cover the details and what this means for Tokyo Disneyland’s huge expansion…
Here’s the official announcement from Tokyo Disney Resort: As a precautionary measure in line with prevention efforts taking place across Japan and in response to the recommendations of appropriate authorities, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea will remain closed through early April out of consideration for the health and safety of our guests and cast members.
We remain in close contact with related government agencies about the situation and will provide updates as the situation changes. Please note that the Grand Opening of the new area in Tokyo Disneyland scheduled for April 15, 2020 is postponed to mid-May 2020 or beyond.
Additionally, special events that were previously scheduled to end or permanently close during the temporary closure period will close as planned. These include the Very Very Minnie! (Tokyo Disneyland), Pixar Playtime (Tokyo DisneySea), and Duffy and Friends’ Heartwarming Days (Tokyo DisneySea) events. However, special event merchandise and menu items with souvenirs will be made available after the events have ended.
The same goes for entertainment and shops that were scheduled to close. These closures that will proceed as normal include Fantasmic (Tokyo DisneySea), Lilo’s Luau & Fun (Tokyo Disneyland), Jungle Rhythms (Tokyo Disneyland), Robo Astro (Tokyo Disneyland), and Ariel’s Greeting Grotto (Tokyo DisneySea).
Both Disney Easter and CookieAnn’s Greeting Drive in Tokyo DisneySea were scheduled to begin during the extended closure. It remains to be seen whether these will begin as scheduled (guests staying at Hotel MiraCosta have observed entertainment rehearsals in Tokyo DisneySea from their rooms) or will have their runs extended. Details will be announced after the parks reopen.
The only major surprise here is that Fantasmic will close silently and without fanfare. It’s pretty common for anything that closes in Japan to be announced far in advance (as was the case here) so guests can pay their last respects and celebrate with “Fantasmic Forever!” merchandise. No replacement for Fantasmic has been announced, so it’s slightly surprising that isn’t being pushed off.
There are a variety of park tickets that will be impacted by the extended closure. The most pertinent ones for anyone reading this blog are fixed date tickets with admission from February 29 to May 31, 2020. Refunds will be offered for these dates. Additionally, free changes will be offered without an increase in price to a ticket valid for admission until March 31, 2021.
Expiration date of Annual Passports will also be extended. Information will be posted on the Tokyo Disney Resort Official Website as available. If you have tickets that are impacted, we’ll refer you to that, as there are a ton of details we’re omitting for the sake of brevity. Same goes for anyone with Vacation Packages–there are probably, at most, 4 people reading this that are impacted by those changing since they’re seldom purchased outside of Japan.
In our previous Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea Closed Due to Coronavirus update, we indicated that the closure was likely to be extended so the Japanese government could evaluated the efficacy of its containment measures. This is especially the case as schools remain closed, so it’s no surprise to see the parks remain shuttered at least a couple more weeks.
These extreme measures are being taken primarily for two reasons: the safety of Japan’s elderly population and in an effort to salvage the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Japan has invested billions into venues and infrastructure for the Olympics, and the marketing bump that is expected as a result is instrumental to the country’s tourism sector.
The renewed request for no large public gatherings, event cancellations, and closures comes on the same day that the Japan’s Cabinet approved a bill that would enable Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency, if needed, as Japan scrambles to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Additionally, Japan’s government adopted a ¥1 trillion ($9.6 billion) emergency stimulus package valued for businesses hit hardest by the spread of coronavirus. The measure include ¥500 billion in zero-interest loans for small and midsize companies suffering from sharp falls in sales. The emergency package also includes ¥4,100 per day in subsidies for freelance workers who are forced to give up their assignments so they can take care of their children during the school closure period.
Everything we’ve heard suggests that work on this expansion was all way ahead of schedule. As such, it’s unlikely to be construction delays resulting from the park closure (to the contrary, hotel guests have observed work even during the closure) that are causing the opening to be pushed off.
Our suspicion here is that the postponement of the opening has more to do with timing. As coronavirus, the economy, and fate of the Olympics dominating headlines, media hype about the new Beauty and the Beast attraction and other offerings could get lost in the mix.
Moreover, media and freelancers might be unable to attend the original opening, thus undercutting promotional efforts. It’ll be interesting to see whether the new area soft opens when Tokyo Disneyland resumes operations. Mid-April is a slow time at Tokyo Disneyland, and quietly opening the expansion ahead of schedule could help entice some guests to return to the parks. This could likewise be beneficial during Golden Week.
Ultimately, all of this should be somewhat interesting even if you’re not planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort, as it’s a possible glimpse of what’s to come for Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Timeline-wise, the coronavirus outbreak is a couple weeks further along in Japan than in the United States. Once testing ramps up and the number of confirmed cases increase, we could see similar measures here. Or not. The United States has fundamentally different priorities and a more individualistic culture, so it’s entirely possible the same containment efforts will not be embraced.
What do you think of this news? Are you surprised by the closure extension or Beauty and the Beast land’s opening being postponed due to COVID-19? Do you have a trip planned to Tokyo Disney Resort in the next couple of months that you anticipate being impacted? Will the coronavirus cause you to postpone traveling to Japan or elsewhere in Asia? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!