Attendance for Tokyo Disneyland's reopening after the Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 11th has come in well below official expectations. On Friday April 15th, the park's reopening day and also its 28th anniversary, Oriental Land Company's estimate was that 45,000 guests would be in attendance. (Such estimates are normally given to certain cast members in order for them to adjust operations accordingly.) The actual attendance was between 16 and 17 thousand. On Saturday the 16th, park attendance was approximately 18,000. Sunday the 17th it was approximately 26,000, a string of improvement that was broken when less than 10,000 guests were in attendance on Monday the 18th. Oriental Land did not issue its customary morning estimates on the 16th, 17th, and 18th.
On the surface, these rather startling numbers would seem to bode poorly for Tokyo Disneyland and the timely opening of Tokyo DisneySea, but, when digging deeper into the situation, the opposite appears to be the case. Feedback from in-park guests and from potential visitors who've decided to delay their return to the Tokyo Disney Resort shows an almost universal disappointment in the fact that Tokyo Disneyland is operating under shortened hours (and without a discounted admission price as compensation for it) and that DisneySea has not reopened. This is a particularly strong sentiment among those delaying their return, who have stated almost invariably that they are waiting for the situaion at the resort to return to "normal," meaning both parks open and operating with standard hours. This sentiment is true of nearby-by guests, as well those who would travel from greater distances. Complicating matters, those who would come from further away have also voiced concerns of being "stranded" far from home by aftershocks that may damage the Shinkansen ("bullet train") system or airports.
Oriental Land Company has substantial dilemmas on its hands. The very same caution it's employing to reopen the parks in a respectful and financially prudent way is a primary reason Tokyo Disneyland's return has gotten off to a stunningly slow start. Guests are waiting for the full return of the resort. Even further compounding the problem is DisneySea's 10th Anniversary celebration. The photo spot at AquaSphere, the commemorative merchandise, and virtually everything else that had been created to commemorate the celebration was covered with representations of waves. Oriental Land is in the process of replacing all of it, delaying the reopening of DisneySea, and hence, the return to normalcy that guests are demanding.