Yes, Tokyo Disney really does have a lot of attraction sponsors

Edited: March 27, 2017, 10:47 AM

Oriental Land Co., the owner of the Tokyo Disney Resort, issued a press release this morning announcing another attraction sponsorship at the resort.

Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd., a residential real estate developer, will sponsor Stitch Encounter Tokyo Disneyland and Caravan Carousel at Tokyo DisneySea [PDF], starting Dec. 1. But here's the line that got me:

"With the participation of Daiwa House Industry, there will be 26 companies sponsoring facilities at Tokyo Disneyland and 25 companies sponsoring Tokyo DisneySea."

Wow. When I visited the Tokyo Disney Resort, it seemed as though almost every attraction had a discrete sponsorship sign on it somewhere. This release pretty much confirms that, demonstrating that the majority of attractions at the two parks have paying corporate sponsors attached.

No wonder that Tokyo Disney seems to have the money to not only indulge Imagineering's every request but also to employ full crews of cast members to staff its attractions, including the multiple greeter positions you rarely see at the US parks anymore. I have joked that you could drop a popcorn kernel at Tokyo Disneyland and a cast member would grab it before it could hit the ground. But I don't think that's really too much a stretch.

Corporate sponsorship used to be a much bigger thing at Disney's parks in the United States, but sponsors have dropped off without replacement at many of the attractions that used to have them. I don't know if that means anything in the big picture but I thought this an interesting contrast in business cultures to point out for discussion.

Replies (4)

March 27, 2017, 10:59 AM

I noticed the same thing when I was in Japan. I'm all for sponsorship because if brings cash into the parks, but there are limits and I think the Six Flags parks are WAY over the line. When I worked at SFOG in the mid 80's the then named Monster Plantation had a very large three-dimensional Cheerios box that rotated on a base in front of the mansion. It was a bit of a visual intrusion, but that's NOTHING compared to how that chain wraps most of their ride vehicles with product endorsements. They also hang banners and place signs in flower beds and along walkways where at one time landscaping enhanced the view. Sorry - I guess I got on a bit of a rant there. I also think the upkeep and innovations in technology at Epcot have gone to the wayside due to the lack of corporate sponsorship. I say bring it on, but do it in a way that blends in to the theme and supports the story.

March 27, 2017, 11:56 AM

The Japanese Disney parks are highly overrated.

Edited: March 27, 2017, 1:54 PM

I wonder if Disney mistreats their corporate sponsors in the US parks. They use their sponsorship deals to improve their attractions, but should that be the point of the sponsorship? The attractions cost millions to maintain and upgrade, but Disney ultimately profits from admissions tickets and merchandise sales. The corporations just get their name on the door, but the ultimate name on the park is Disney. The Honda sponsorship of Autopia at Disneyland seems to make sense. The cars get upgraded engines and paint jobs. The ride gets a scene makeover.

On the other hand, the lost Norway sponsorship at Epcot appears to be due to lack of government interest in promoting the culture and tourism to the country. The attraction was painfully not maintained and it was just terrible from the beginning. Disney should have kept up its maintenance and accepted blame for why it was such a bad ride. Never mind that it's Akershus restaurant still turned into a Disney princess character meal despite the sponsorship deal. At what point should the Norway government ask for relief? Possibly after taking another $15 million as was rumored, but Norway has reason to be skeptical.

The sponsorship model is broken in the US. Count the number of ruined attractions at Epcot. Imagination and Energy were horribly mismanaged. The sponsorships should be treated as a partnership. Seems to be a profit center.

BTW: Disney decided to cut short it's 10 year sponsorship agreement with TCM for the Great Movie Ride. That's a disappointment.

March 27, 2017, 6:11 PM

The rumor is the Great Movie Ride will close and be replaced with the Great Mickey Ride, or something like that. Which would make no sense. Why not just build the Mickey Ride somewhere else? When Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land are done, Disney's Park whose name keeps changing will have massive crowds. They will need as many attractions as possible to satisfy them after they wait in line for five hours just to ride the Battle Escape, or the Toy Story Dumbo ride once. Removing The Great Movie Ride to replace it for a ride they can build somewhere else that had a ten year sponsorship deal is a bad idea.

Besides the Magic Kingdom, every park at Disney World has about as much to do as DCA 1.0 did, without the space constraints of being in a former parking lot surrounded by other roads, hotels and another theme park. Bring back sponsorships, and use the money to help expand the parks, instead of just tearing down and rebuilding them. Disney bought all that land for a reason, and it wasn't so Disney World could have less attractions than Disneyland, but have 60 times the amount of land.

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