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  1. #1
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    Default Tokyo Disneyland Celebrates 25th Anniversary

    Families and fans celebrate a quarter-century since the opening of Tokyo Disneyland


    By Paul Newell
    Stars and Stripes

    June 1, 2008

    To highlight Tokyo Disneyland's 25th anniversary, making an already-special atmosphere even grander demanded some serious magic from Disney organizers.

    Yet, it's the sort of thing the world has come to expect from the company that has worked to make our dreams come true for more than 80 years.

    Though not related to Donald or Pluto, Mother Nature did her best, providing a gorgeous spring day for the April 15 festivities.

    Otherwise, parades with towering floats, fireworks, and special 25th anniversary memorabilia accompanied Tokyo Disney's standard amusement rides, famously costumed hug-givers and cheerful ambiance that have always helped offset big crowds, long lines, and what normally would be cartoonish food prices.

    But hey, it's Tokyo Disneyland. Tolerating 45-minute waits is part of the rite of passage for a destination that ranks high on many people's things-to-do-before-I-die list. And for Pacific-based military members — especially those with kids — this is a doable pilgrimage.

    One servicemember unaware of the day's significance, at least until he arrived, was Maj. Jason Wratchford, a JAG officer at Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul. Wratchford said though his family had been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., they still chose to dedicate a good chunk of their Japan visit to Tokyo Disney Resorts.

    "We're going to spend three days here," said Wratchford, who along with wife, Michiyo, came with their two children, 4-year-old John, and Sabrina, 6. "This is a great place for the family, and the kids love it."

    "And it's nice to be able to speak Japanese again," added Michiyo, a native of Japan. "Even at Disneyland."

    Some park guests were very cognizant of the day's significance. Kendra Trahan, president of the Florida-based National Fantasy Fan Club (a Disney enthusiast guild that for proprietary reasons is known today simply as NFFC) and author of "Disneyland Detective," made the trip from the States with more than 70 other NFFC members to be part of the celebration.

    "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Trahan, a 40-year-old Lake Buena Vista, Fla., native. "We are not only here to enjoy the special events but to also honor ... the memory of Takahashi-san, who is a Disney legend."

    It was, after all, Masamota Takahashi, a former interpreter for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, who in the 1970s boldly approached Walt Disney Productions about building a Disney theme park in Japan. Takahashi, then president of the Oriental Land Company, knew his company had enough land in the Tokyo area to build an American-style theme park he felt the Japanese would embrace.

    Under drizzly skies on April 15, 1983, nearly five years and $1.4 billion later, Takahashi helped cut the ribbon that made Tokyo Disneyland the first overseas address for the world's most famous rodent and his fur-covered buds. Their international home in Chiba, Japan, just outside Tokyo, has since drawn more than 480 million visitors, according to an AP news release, and since its opening has enjoyed a considerable annual attendance increase. In 1983, the park had nine million guests. Since 2003, it has netted roughly 25 million per.

    While the park continues to flourish, there is some concern Japan's rising median age will eventually spell an end to those peak numbers. In Japan, however, such science could be misleading.

    Many Japanese visitors are more than the "one and done" guests more likely found in the States, where many without children steer clear of amusement parks. In a nation where cute is fashionable for the 5-year-old and 30-somethings alike, Tokyo Disneyland seems to have a niche Far East audience.

    For instance, long after 36-year-old Atsushi Morie's wife stopped dancing as a Tokyo Disney cast member, he continues to visit the theme park on a very regular basis. Adorned with his Mickey Mouse jean jacket on TDL's silver anniversary, Morie said he began coming to Tokyo Disneyland 12 to 13 years ago and now makes the trip as many as eight times a month. Today, he says, he's hooked on the shows, parades and music.

    One 45-year-old Japanese mother said she began taking her 21-year-old daughter when she was a baby, and now the two visit the park between 50 and 60 times a year, a weekly routine the mother said has become "a necessity."

    Americans may not have the same affinity for all things Disney, but many are captured by its aura.

    During the grand opening 25 years ago, Bradley Card was a 26-year-old SOFA-status employee working on systems integration with the Japanese Self Defense Force in Yokosuka. Now 51, he still recalls the joys he felt as the park was getting ready to open.

    "As a kid, I grew up in L.A., so I was always a pretty big Disney fan," said Card, an NFFC member who was then working for the company known today as Unisys. "I remember the disappointment of getting shipped home right before the park opened. Fortunately, one of the jobs we were working on went wrong so they flew me back to Japan shortly after the opening. I still got to see it in its inaugural year. Disneyland hasn't changed too much; it's still the greatest place on earth … for kids, it's obviously fantastic."

    Stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Staff Sgt. Tim Farris, 27, and his father-in-law, Jim Zubern, were nearly as excited as Farris's brothers-in-law, Christian, 10, and Jamie, 11, as they walked the plank onto The Pirates of the Caribbean water ride.

    "This is a great place for family to come, and it's easily accessible from Yokota," said Farris, who finished a six-month tour in Oman not long ago. "Plus, it's a little taste of home."

    That sentiment was shared resoundingly by servicemembers visiting the park on its silver anniversary.

    Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jake Larsen and his wife, Samantha, said traveling from Misawa Air Base to get some Disney time in with their two children was worth the 450-mile trip south.

    "Up in Misawa, there's a limit to the amount of things you can do every day," said Larsen, who knows that an upcoming deployment to the Middle East is more than likely. "So this is a great place for the family to come and enjoy."

    While Misawa and other Pacific bases have plenty of great outdoor activities and other recreational activities, they are probably just a little light in the supernatural pixie department, which is exactly the reason why military members and their families, as well as the rest of the world, continue the mass mecca toward Cinderella Castle. Just ask the experts.

    "You want to know what my favorite part was?" asked the Larsen's 6-year-old Emma as she recalled the parade that had just passed through Disney's streets. "I got to see Tinkerbell."
    Figment! aka Jason ºoº
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    ~It’s what us storytellers do; we restore order with imagination, we instill hope again and again~

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  3. #2
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    Arrow Tokyo Disneyland Celebrates 25th Anniversary

    Here's the press release detailing the events of the celebration (still in progress) that the above article references, but does not detail:

    Tokyo Disney Resort 25th Anniversary Celebration
    Tuesday, April 15, 2008 through Tuesday, April 14, 2009


    Tokyo Disney Resort Press Release


    URAYASU, CHIBA—Tokyo Disney Resort will kick off its 25th Anniversary on April
    15, 2008. Starting on this day, the entire Resort will come together as one to host the
    Tokyo Disney Resort 25th Anniversary special event, a yearlong extravaganza under the
    slogan of “Unlock Your Dreams.” Through a variety of programs and entertainment
    now under development for this very special year, Tokyo Disney Resort will provide
    guests with the keys to “unlocking, ” or realizing, the dreams that they’ve always had in
    their hearts.

    Tokyo Disney Resort, which today features two theme parks, was launched a quarter
    of a century ago in April 1983 with the opening of the first “theme park” in Japan, Tokyo
    Disneyland Park. Thus, fittingly, Tokyo Disney Resort 25th Anniversary will open with
    a new daytime parade at Tokyo Disne yland, the place where it all began. In this
    spectacular new parade, the much- loved Disney characters will welcome guests as a part
    of the family, and invite everyone to embark on a heartfelt journey to share their dreams
    and rediscover the magic of the beloved place they call “home.”

    During this milestone year, Tokyo Disney Resort will also open two new facilities
    that will further enhance the appeal of the Resort. The third Disney Hotel in Japan, the
    new Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, will have its grand opening in July. The new hotel will
    provide a memorable, dream- like experience for guests who wish to enjoy Tokyo
    Disneyland Park and continue to be immersed in the world of Disney during their entire
    stay at the Resort. Also during the same year, a new theater built exclusively for Cirque
    du Soleil will open in autumn. This will be the first permanent Cirque du Soleil theater
    to be built outside of North America. Guests to the new theater will encounter more
    wonder and dreams at the Resort through the performances by Cirque du Soleil, a group
    renowned for combining the elements of a circus with an artistic presentation.
    Furthermore, various existing facilities at Tokyo Disney Resort will host an array of
    yearlong programs to celebrate the 25th Anniversary, in addition to the popular seasonal
    Halloween and Christmas programs. The yearlong celebration will have its grand finale
    at Tokyo Disneyland Park, where it all started 25 years ago.

    Tokyo Disney Resort is also planning deliver its “dreams” to various areas
    throughout Japan by hosting 25th Anniversary programs outside of the Resort.
    Since the opening of Tokyo Disneyland Park on April 15, 1983, Tokyo Disney
    Resort has opened diverse facilities filled with entertainment in the Maihama area.
    These include the Disney Hotels and other various hotels; a shopping complex abounding
    with stories and entertainment; Tokyo DisneySea Park, which opened on September 4,
    2001 and is a Disney theme park that can only be experienced in Japan; and the Disney
    Resort Line connecting these facilities with its fun designs.

    Over the past 25 years, the Resort has been making “dreams come true ” for all of
    the guests it welcomes, with total attendance for the two parks reaching 410million. The
    “dreams” of Tokyo Disney Resort spanning 25 years of history will be in full swing during
    this Anniversary year. Tokyo Disney Resort will continue to provide a place for people
    to come experience a world of dreams for many more years to come.
    Figment! aka Jason ºoº
    INTERCOT STAFF
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    ~It’s what us storytellers do; we restore order with imagination, we instill hope again and again~

    ~We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things~

  4. #3
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    Domo Arrigato! (Thanks very much for posting this article). Sorry I missed the celebration - but I hope to finally see Tokyo Disneyland by this year's end. :-)

  5. #4
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    1) I love Tokyo Disney.
    2) OLC surely did a magnificent job with the park.
    3) I wish Disney could have learned for MGM-AK-DLP-DSP-HK-CA.
    Average Banjo Picker. Pretty-Good Sailing Master. Newly Ordained.

  6. #5
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    That first article was in our base newspaper last weekend.

    Can't wait to go (hopefully twice) during the celebration!

  7. #6
    CaptainJessicaSparrow Guest

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    I'd give anything to be able to visit TDL.

    I'd love to work there! They have some of the cutest merchandise and pins, the best parades and shows, better characters, and Japanese people are just so cute!

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainJessicaSparrow View Post
    They have some of the cutest merchandise and pins
    My opinion, merchandise is lacking, at least what I'm interested in. I was very disappointed. And very, very few pins to be found.

    Otherwise, I agree with your assessments.

  9. #8
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    僕は東京ディズニーランドが好です。誕生日おめでとうに二十五さい!

    Romajii Translation:
    Boku wa Tokyo Disuniirando ga suki desu. Otanjoubi omedeto ni nijugo sai!

    English Translation:
    I love Tokyo Disneyland! Congratulations on 25 years!

    My Japanese is still a little rusty but I think I said that right...
    Visits: Too many to count!

    College Programs: 3

    What's next? We'll see...

  10. #9
    CaptainJessicaSparrow Guest

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    Mine too but I think it was correct.

  11. #10
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    TDL is why I may make my Sept WDW trip the last for awhile. Id love to go to Tokyo. the people....the women sake,sushi.
    I really want to visit TDL. Disneyseas is supposed to be great
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  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyFanaticDargon View Post
    Romajii Translation:
    Boku wa Tokyo Disuniirando ga suki desu. Otanjoubi omedeto ni nijugo sai!

    English Translation:
    I love Tokyo Disneyland! Congratulations on 25 years!
    They do say 'Disneyland' when speaking, at least in all the official announcements, etc.

    In fact, I love how they say DisneySea - Tokyo DisneySHE. It's so cute.

  13. #12
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    a destination that ranks high on many people's things-to-do-before-I-die list.
    So true -- and I'm finally going in February. Woot! I cannot wait!
    ¨¨*:•

    "Here You Leave Today and Enter the World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy!"



  14. #13
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    I have to say, I really had no idea that the Tokyo Disney resort was older than I am!!!! I (along with many other Intercotees, I'm sure) really want to go there after reading all of Mel's awesome trip reports. It just looks fantastic.
    ~M.~

    All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
    11 Trips to WDW
    1 Trip to Disneyland
    Many more to come
    Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me.

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