Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyoko Kato and her daughter would visit Tokyo Disney Resort and its twin venues around three times a week — making the most of the hefty sum spent on annual all-you-can-use passes at one of the world’s most popular theme parks.

“It’s just a bus ride away from our home,” says the freelance writer and mother of two living in the capital’s neighboring Chiba Prefecture, where the Disney venues are located. “We used to frequent the facilities like we do public parks, but it was obviously much more entertaining and the children loved it.”

However, COVID-19 and the various restrictions associated with the health crisis forced most amusement parks to curtail operations and services to varying degrees, keeping both casual visitors and die-hard theme park fans such as Kato at bay. But with life gradually returning to normal and with new attractions and theme parks opening — including the much-anticipated Ghibli Park in Aichi Prefecture on Nov. 1 — the industry looks set to roar back to life.