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Japan-Update

Tokyo Disney operator's profit seen warming in winter

Popular events during off-season drew customers, raised spending

Events celebrating Tokyo DisneySea's 15th anniversary helped raise profit for Oriental Land.

TOKYO -- Tokyo Disney Resort owner Oriental Land's group operating profit likely climbed 3% for the year ended in March thanks to a particularly brisk winter season and higher per-visitor spending.

The operator of the Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea theme parks apparently logged around 110 billion yen ($998 million) in black ink, beating its forecast of 109.1 billion yen. Sales also likely increased 3% to just under 480 billion yen, roughly in line with the projected 479.9 billion yen.

Oriental Land benefited from the strong January-March quarter, after profit remained flat on the year for the nine months ended in December. Business typically dips during these cold winter months. But a series of popular events kept customers coming this year, topping visitor numbers from a year earlier. These events included stage shows celebrating Tokyo DisneySea's 15 years in business and nighttime screenings of scenes from the popular film "Frozen" on the castle that is Disneyland's centerpiece.

Full-year visitor numbers missed Oriental Land's target of 30.4 million, landing at just over 30 million, but higher per-customer revenue mitigated the shortfall. Entry fees were raised for the third year running in April 2016, putting the cost of an adult day pass to one of the parks at 7,400 yen. Hot-selling merchandise such as goods linked to seasonal celebrations and the DisneySea anniversary boosted visitor spending further.

Sales and profit are expected to decline this fiscal year amid a likely dip in visitors and weak per-customer spending. Though annual visitors have surpassed 30 million for four years running, the rising number of particularly crowded days at the parks hurts customer satisfaction. Disneyland also will close more park facilities this fiscal year than last for renovations, including the creation of a "Beauty and the Beast"-themed section.

Fiscal 2016 earnings are to be announced Thursday.

(Nikkei)

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