Business / Economy

Japan’s first outdoor Legoland park opens in Nagoya

Kyodo

Japan’s first outdoor Legoland park opened in Nagoya on Saturday, raising hopes that more tourists will visit the area and deliver an economic boom to the nation’s third-largest business region.

With children’s tickets priced higher than those at Tokyo Disneyland, Legoland Japan offers various rides inspired by the Danish construction toy and serves meals including whimsical block-shaped fried potatoes on its seaside premises.

“We want children from all over the world to come to Nagoya and make unforgettable memories,” Torben Jensen, president of Legoland Japan Ltd., said at the opening ceremony.

Visitors can stroll down a miniature town called Miniland, which has models of Japanese landmarks including Tokyo Station, Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto and a 2-meter-high version of Nagoya Castle.

Some 10 million plastic Lego blocks were used to complete Miniland, the park’s operator said.

Children can drive go-karts, ride a roller coaster and take a “submarine” tour through a real fish tank in the 9.3-hectare park, located in the Kinjo Wharf area.

Jensen told reporters recently that the park’s operator plans to expand the size of the premises, open a Legoland hotel and build new attractions to increase the number of repeat guests.

Legoland Japan will also expand ties with foreign travel agencies who are contemplating selling package tours that include the admission fee, Jensen said.

A local think tank says the new theme park could provide an economic boost worth ¥96.8 billion to Aichi Prefecture and nearby areas in fiscal 2017, which began on Saturday.

Ryoichi Namba, economist at the Chubu Region Institute for Social and Economic Research, said the park, which is only 17 minutes by train from the Nagoya bullet train station, will attract a lot of foreign tourists because it’s only the second Legoland in Asia after the one in Malaysia.

It urged the firm to make efforts to encourage return guests by rolling out new projects and raising investment to keep the business on track in fiscal 2018 and later.

Namba said “it is premature” to forecast how successful the new Legoland business will be in the long run, but there is a concern that the ¥5,300 ticket price for visitors between the ages of 3 and 12 could discourage repeat guests. Visitors 13 or older pay ¥6,900.

Tokyo Disneyland charges ¥4,800 for visitors 4 to 11. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, the second-largest business area, charges ¥4,723 for the same ages.

Japan has Legolands in Tokyo and Osaka, but these are indoor theme parks in shopping malls. The Nagoya park, the first full-scale outdoor theme park of its kind in Japan, follows in the footsteps of seven similar parks abroad.