TOKYO -- Apparently nobody goes to Tokyo Disney Resort anymore -- because it's too crowded.
Oriental Land, the operator of twin theme parks Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea at the site, will set a goal of around 29.5 million visitors for fiscal 2017. The figure would represent a third consecutive annual decline, and the first attendance total below 30 million in five years.
A spike in foreign tourists has slowed the resort's crowd reduction efforts, and the long wait times have dissuaded some regular customers from their return trips -- creating a paradox that quotable baseball legend Yogi Berra could have appreciated.
Oriental Land in April 2014 projected that attendance would hit 30 million regularly starting in fiscal 2023, but the resort has topped that number every year since fiscal 2013. Foreign visitors to the park have contributed, doubling since fiscal 2010 to 1.81 million in fiscal 2015.
An area at Tokyo Disneyland will be redeveloped with new attractions added in order to spread out visitors, but completion is slated for spring 2020. Tokyo DisneySea held events during fiscal 2016 to honor its 15th anniversary, and expects a drop in guests for the current year.
Oriental Land will announce earnings for the year ended in March on Thursday, as well as a four-year business plan expected to include soft improvements such as repairs to facilities and bathrooms.
Several other industry players gained visitors in fiscal 2016. Six of Japan's 12 main amusement and theme parks surpassed fiscal 2015 attendance levels -- excluding Huis Ten Bosch, which does not release such statistics, according to analysis by The Nikkei.
Foreign guests helped Universal Studios Japan, the second-most-attended park, raise attendance 5% to 14.6 million for a third straight increase. Attendance at Sanrio Puroland grew 14% from the previous year to 1.8 million in fiscal 2016, as more families and young women visit the park thanks to a new area called Sanrio Town that opened in 2013. New attractions at Yomiuriland contributed as attendance there climbed 11% to 1.93 million.
Japan's amusement and theme park market has expanded 0.4%in 2016 to 658.1 billion yen ($5.89 billion), making for five consecutive years of growth, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry says.