Japan's Disney and Universal Studios theme parks have enjoyed banner years despite a long recession which has plunged several local sites into receivership.

Visitors to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea totalled 22.05 million, for a year-on gain of 27%, according to recently released figures. Although the newly opened DisneySea park accounted for more of the increase, seasonal events and promotions kept visitors flowing to the older park.

Meanwhile, Osaka-based Universal Studios Japan recorded its 10 millionth visitor only 338 days after opening on March 31, 2001 - a new theme park record. The park, sited on reclaimed land in the Osaka waterfront area, got off to a faster start than Tokyo Disneyland did after opening in 1984, during Japan's economic boom.

Nevertheless, high development costs for the new sites mean profits are elusive. Akira Sakata, president of Universal Studios Japan, predicted an operating profit by 2003, a year earlier than initially forecast. Costs at DisneySea - $2.56 billion (Y338 billion) - impacted net profits at Disney, which dropped 85% to $5.3 million.