TOKYO?Five weeks after Japan's quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis struck, Tokyo Disneyland threw open its doors again Friday, bringing some welcome relief to thousands of disaster-weary families.
Mickey Mouse greeted and hugged many of the 10,000 visitors who had queued up, some of them all night, outside the giant theme park, which had been shut despite suffering only minor damage in the tectonic disaster of March 11.
"I'm delighted that the park is open again," said Hiroko Ichimura, 35, visiting with her husband and daughter. "We made reservations six months ago to celebrate our daughter's birthday here but we had almost given up on the plan."
"We have been waiting impatiently for the park to reopen," said another Disney fan and parent, Kazuhiro Sugiyama, 34. "My little daughter is overjoyed and just keeps saying: 'Mickey, Mickey!'"
Many guests were visibly relieved to revel in Disney's fantasy world amid the grim realities of an on-going nuclear crisis and scores of strong aftershocks from the massive seabed quake that have badly strained nerves.
To celebrate it?s reopening the park put on a colourful musical parade of floats featuring Disney characters at the facility located on reclaimed land on the outskirts of Tokyo at Urayasu in Chiba prefecture.
"I was touched and encouraged to see the happy smiles of our guests," said Kyoichiro Uenishi, president of Oriental Land Co., which operates the Tokyo Disney resort under a licence from the Walt Disney group.
He said while some people thought it was too early to go back to normal, "we were also prompted by many to reopen early, to create an environment to cheer people up".