MAIHAMA, JAPAN - THE Japanese are having fewer children and Disneylands abroad face problems, but the magic has not dimmed in Japan where Mickey and friends are marking 25 years with fans as loyal as ever.
As Japan's birth rate sinks to one of the world's lowest, Tokyo Disneyland has already set its sights on the generation who grew up admiring Disney cartoons on television and took their children to the park at the opening.
'The moment I arrive at Maihama Station, my heart starts singing with its legs doing dance steps,' said Ms Toshiko Sugano. 'I turn 58 next month, so I'll have to come back to celebrate.'
She was spending the day at Disneyland with her 31-year-old daughter and 54-year-old sister, all still enchanted since they first visited a quarter of a century ago.
Her daughter, Izumi, a Disney fan, has visited the park more than 100 times.
Oriental Land Co Ltd, the Japanese company that runs the park under a license contract with the Walt Disney group, has launched a discount pass for visitors aged 60 or older.
Ms Sugano is determined to get one, saying: 'It's two more years to go. Knowing that I'll be able to get it, it's quite nice getting old.'
Tokyo Disneyland opened in the suburbs of the Japanese capital on April 15, 1983, as the company's first theme park outside the United States. Built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay dubbed 'Maihama' - a Japanese take on Miami Beach near Florida's Disney World - the resort has sprawled out to include hotels, a shopping mall, an aqua park and soon a permanent Cirque du Soleil.
The number of visitors to Disneyland and DisneySea - the water park which opened in 2001 - has stood at record levels of around 25 million in recent years, up from 9.9 million people in Disneyland's first year.
Since 1983 a total of 436 million people have visited the two parks that sit next to the megalopolis.Oriental Land puts annual revenue from the theme parks at 285 billion yen (S$3.8 billion) - far beyond the performances of other overseas Disneylands.
In Hong Kong, government figures showed in December that visitor numbers at Hong Kong Disneyland fell up to 23 per cent in its second year of operation.
Visitors to the 15-year-old Euro Disney hit a record of 14.5 million in 2007, but the operation was still in the red for a sixth straight year.
Tokyo Disneyland benefits from being in a nation that widely embraces US pop culture and commonly accepts grown-ups, particularly women, pursuing the same passions as children.
Sociology professor Hideki Nakagawa, of Nihon University, said going to Disneyland has turned into a 'fashion in itself' in Japan.
'You feel superior if you go there many times, while it makes others feel they must go as well,' he said.