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.
Will the opening of Shanghai Disney suck the wind out of the sails of Hong Kong Disneyland or push more mainland Chinese to visit the new resort? That's the multimillion-dollar question facing Hong Kong government officials and Disney executives as the theme park giant prepares to open its Shanghai resort on June 16. Attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland dropped sharply in the 12 months ending September 2015, the park has said, falling to 6.8 million from a record high of 7.5 million in 2014. Hotel occupancy declined to 80% from 93%. The facility -- which is 52% owned by Hong Kong's government and 48% by Disney -- reported a loss of about 20 million.
Visitors in face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as the theme park reopened Monday in a high-profile step toward reviving tourism that was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. The House of Mouse's experience in Shanghai, the first of its parks to reopen, foreshadows hurdles global entertainment industries might face. Disney is limiting visitor numbers, requiring masks and checking for the virus's telltale fever. China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first country to reopen factories and other businesses after declaring the disease under control in March even as infections rise and controls are tightened in some other countries. "We hope that today's reopening serves as a beacon of light across the globe, providing hope and inspiration to everyone," the president of Shanghai Disney Resort, Joe Schott, told reporters.
Opening its 5.5-billion resort in mainland China this week, Walt Disney Co. has been eager to share all manner of details about its Shanghai theme park -- down to how many bok choy it expects to serve in the first year of operation (12 million, if you're wondering). But one thing Disney reps have not been keen to discuss is whether the resort has a Club 33, the members-only establishment for well-heeled and well-connected fans of the Mouse House. Design documents for the theme park posted online three years ago revealed that significant elements of Chinese culture were being incorporated. The documents also posited a less-than-egalitarian Club 33 would be located in the Shanghai resort, which is operated by a joint venture in which Disney holds a 43% stake and the state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group owns the rest. Rain doesn't dampen the mood of opening day at Shanghai Disney » Still, evidence was scant until this week, when the park formally opened its doors to the public on Thursday.