January 1, 2014 1:37 am JST

Japan theme parks saw dreams come true in 2013

Tokyo Disneyland visitors still can't get enough Mickey after 30 years.

TOKYO -- Combined sales at major Japanese amusement parks are expected to set a new record of roughly 550 billion yen ($5.16 billion) in 2013 on the back of strong admissions numbers and improved merchandise sales.

     The parks raked in 454.1 billion yen from January through October, up 12% on the year, government data shows. Fun-seekers continued flocking to them through the last two months of the year, putting them on track to break the 500.3 billion yen full-year record set in 2012.

     Tokyo Disney Resort, which marked its 30th anniversary, drew more patrons with commemorative events and attractions. Park operator Oriental Land raised its initial admissions forecast for fiscal 2013 by 3 million people to 30.7 million, surpassing 30 million for the first time. Thanks to brisk merchandise sales, average spending per customer in the April-September half rose 5% on the year to 10,920 yen.

     Universal Studios Japan in Osaka welcomed more than 1 million visitors a month in the five months through December. In fiscal 2013, the park may break the 10 million mark for the first time since reaching that level in its inaugural year of fiscal 2001.

     Tokyo's Sanrio Puroland, home to Hello Kitty and friends, is expected to see admissions climb roughly 10% in fiscal 2013 thanks to some major revamping.

     The parks plan to add new attractions and renovate old ones to keep admissions from backsliding in 2014. Tokyo Disneyland is slated to launch a show with fireworks and video projections at Cinderella Castle in May, while USJ will unveil a Harry Potter-themed area in the latter half of the year.