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Disney temporarily suspends operations in Tokyo

March 17, 2011 |  4:49 pm

Tokyo Disney
Nearly a week after closing its two theme parks in Tokyo in the wake of Japan's catastrophic earthquake, the Walt Disney Co. said it has temporarily suspended administrative and store operations in the city.

"Our top priority is the wellbeing of our employees and their families during this challenging time and we will continue to closely monitor the situation as it develops," Disney said in a statement.

The development comes amid growing concerns about Japan's nuclear crisis. The U.S. State Department announced late Wednesday that it had approved the departure of its personnel in certain regions of the country and was making charter flights available to evacuate them.

The Burbank media company did not immediately respond to requests for information about how many Disney employees in Tokyo are affected and whether it plans to help relocate workers and their families. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Friday earthquake, thousands of people took refuge inside Tokyo Disney Resort. Park employees evacuated visitors to safe areas and provided blankets, shelter, food and beverages in the aftermath of the disaster.

Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea were closed Saturday to assess the damage from Friday's devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan. The theme parks have yet to reopen.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: People inspect the parking lot of Tokyo Disneyland on Saturday following Friday's powerful earthquake in Urayasu, east of Tokyo. Credit: Associated Press /Kyodo News, Susumu Yasuda of Tokyo Denki University