Earlier this month the top executives from Oriental Land Company, including their President and CEO, made a rare multi-day visit to Anaheim and Glendale. They spent hours touring Cars Land before going on to a private dinner at the Carthay Circle restaurant. They also spent a full day in Glendale where WDI gave presentations and showed models of how a nearly identical version of Anaheim’s Cars Land could fit perfectly in the space currently used for their version of… Frontierland.
To get Cars Land into Tokyo Disneyland, much of Tokyo’s “Westernland” would need to be repurposed and the Rivers of America section would be removed entirely. Thunder Mountain, the Country Bear Jamboree and the original frontier town buildings would remain at the front of the land, with the Western River Railroad continuing to circle the property. But towards the back of Westernland the entire Rivers of America would be leveled and turned into Cars Land.
This plan has gained fast traction with the OLC team, as the current real estate used for the Rivers of America takes up a huge amount of space but delivers very little in the way of attraction capacity for that crowded park. Tokyo’s three Rivers of America attractions combined; the Mark Twain Riverboat, Tom Sawyer Island Rafts and Davy Crockett Canoes, only manage about 1,500 riders per hour on even the busiest afternoons. And at dusk the Island and the Canoes shut down, leaving half an operating day with just a few hundred riders per hour taking an evening cruise on the Mark Twain. The Rivers of America is simply a huge waste of space with very little payoff in Tokyo.
Comparatively, the three Cars Land attractions combined in Anaheim are now returning well over 3,000 riders per hour up to 16 hours per day; 1,600 per hour at Racers, 900 per hour at Mater’s, and 800 per hour at Luigi’s (now that the beach balls are gone and loading is faster). That additional capacity is a huge selling point for the Japanese executives, with the wild popularity of Cars Land with Japanese tourists in Anaheim a good indicator of future popularity if it were to be cloned for Tokyo Disneyland. Replacing the Rivers of America with Cars Land in Tokyo would buy the OLC triple the daily rider capacity in a splashy expansion that could fuel Tokyo resort attendance for years, and the Japanese are now contemplating jumping in and fast-tracking the project while the Orlando executives continue to dawdle and downsize.