Disney has entertained more than 1,000 communist party officials at a special event as it prepares to open its first park in mainland China. The firm's chief executive Bob Iger has described the Shanghai project as the'biggest step' the company has ever taken. But there has been criticism in the Chinese media about the price visitors have to pay.
Kicking off the final 24 hours of previews and trial runs before formally opening the gates of Shanghai Disney Resort, Disney CEO Bob Iger said Wednesday the company is thinking of expanding "sooner rather than later." A 5.5-billion project co-owned by a state-owned investment group, Shanghai Disney is already the largest overseas investment for Burbank-based Disney. But there is a further 7 square kilometers of adjacent land to add more attractions or even separate parks, Iger noted. "We are already thinking of what to do next." More than 500,000 people have visited the theme park since trial operations began in late April, Iger said.
Under dark skies and light showers, Walt Disney Co. officially threw wide the gates of its most expensive international resort to mostly orderly crowds, creating a beachhead for the popular entertainment company in the most populous nation. During a colorful opening ceremony attended by Chinese dignitaries, Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Iger called the opening of the nearly 1,000-acre, 5.5-billion Shanghai Disney Resort "one of the proudest and most exciting moments in the history of the Walt Disney Company." Iger also read a letter from President Obama, who said the park "captures the promise" of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China. To shine some sunlight on the day, senior Chinese official Wang Yang told Iger that the rain is an auspicious sign of dollars and renminbi to come. The first wave of park visitors hurried through the gates, toting umbrellas or wearing rain slickers.
Even before Walt Disney Co. opened Euro Disneyland outside Paris in 1992, French intellectuals called the park a "cultural Chernobyl," workers protested the Disney dress code and neighbors complained that the park's train whistles provoked their dogs to bark and geese to honk. But Paris came to embrace its new neighbor and now the park attracts 10.4 million people a year, more than the number of visitors to the Louvre museum or the Eiffel Tower. On June 16, Disney will open its biggest and most expensive international resort -- a nearly 1,000-acre, 5.5-billion development in Shanghai -- and company executives know the challenges of trying to take the Disney magic abroad. If it proves a hit, Shanghai Disney will add momentum to the Burbank entertainment giant's efforts to turn China's 1.4 billion citizens into more voracious consumers of Mouse House merchandise and films. Shanghai Disneyland won't swing wide its gates to the general public until June 16, but pre-opening visitors to Walt Disney Co.'s first theme park in mainland China already have found something to complain about amid operational tests for a dazzling array of attractions: the prices, particularly... Shanghai Disneyland won't swing wide its gates to the general public until June 16, but pre-opening visitors to Walt Disney Co.'s first theme park in mainland China already have found something to complain about amid operational tests for a dazzling array of attractions: the prices, particularly... Disney's target is the country's upper middle class, which is forecast to double to 100 million by 2020, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
Robert Iger first set foot on the site in China that would become a Walt Disney Co. theme park 17 years ago. Back then the 963-acre site was mostly agricultural land, but now it has been transformed into Shanghai Disney Resort, a 5.5-billion project that has become an important symbol of Disney's ambitions in the world's most populous country. "It's kind of hard to believe we've been involved so long," said Iger at the MoffettNathanson Media and Communications Summit in May. The development, which opens June 16, means a lot to Disney's chief, who became CEO in 2005 and is expected to depart the company when his contract expires in 2018. And the stakes couldn't be higher.