Disney’s Iger Says Shanghai Resort Close to Breaking Even

Walt Disney Co.’s ambitious $5.5 billion Shanghai theme park is close to breaking even after its first full year of operations — a mark none of its resorts have been able to hit in the last 30 years, said Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger.

“That’s an extraordinary achievement. I’m not sure we’ve ever done that,” said Iger in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Tom Mackenzie on Friday as the Shanghai Disney Resort celebrated its first anniversary. “After the first year, I’m pleased to say that prospects are really strong for continued success and continued growth.”

The park logged more than 11 million visitors earlier this week, Iger said. The Shanghai development, Disney’s first in mainland China and its largest foreign investment, throws the Burbank, California-based giant into the race to dominate the country’s $204 billion media and entertainment industry.

In China, there’s potential for Disney to build a second park in the long run, Iger said, adding it would focus on the Shanghai resort first. A Toy Story themed land opening is planned for next year.

“Before we really look to the horizon geographically, we will focus on expanding this park,” Iger said. “Might we build in another city over time? Yes. There’s a great likelihood that we will. But it’s way too early.”

Disney’s shares rose 0.3 percent to $106.34 as of 9:30 in New York trading.

Half the resort’s visitors are from Shanghai and adjacent areas, with the remainder coming from other Chinese cities, Iger said. Park attendance is higher than expected, with “extremely high” occupancy rates at its hotel. The food and beverage business, as well as merchandising, has faced some challenges, he said.

The resort’s attendance for the 12 months after its opening puts it in the top seven of theme parks worldwide, ahead of Disney’s Hong Kong and Paris parks but behind its most popular parks in Florida, California and Japan.

From Bloomberg

Shanghai Disneyland Welcomes 10 Million Guests in Its First Eleven Months

As part of its celebration of China’s National Tourism Day, Shanghai Disney Resort has announced that Shanghai Disneyland recently welcomed its 10 millionth guest – and in just 11 months! That makes Shanghai Disneyland the most popular theme park opening ever in China.

“We’re thrilled to see millions of people from across China embrace Shanghai Disney Resort,” said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “Their reaction has been everything we’d hoped for and, thanks to their enthusiasm, this incredible resort is exceeding our expectations across the board. It’s a fantastic success that gives us even more reason to be excited about the future of Disney in China.”

It’s hard to believe Shanghai Disney Resort is already about to celebrate its first anniversary, but today the resort also announced plans for a special month-long celebration leading up to an unforgettable magical moment at Enchanted Storybook Castle on June 16.

 

Shanghai Disney Sees Nearly 6 Million Guests in 7 Months

Shanghai Disneyland received close to 6 million visitors in the first seven months of it opening in mid-June, Fan Xiping, chairman of Shanghai Shendi Group, Disney’s Chinese partner, said Monday.

Fan, who is also a member of the standing committee of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said 5.6 million people had visited Shanghai Disneyland by Dec. 31, 2016.

Eighty percent of the visitors said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their visits, according to a third party survey.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Toy Story Hotel reported up to 90 percent occupancy. The first-ever Mandarin production of “The Lion King” was staged over 220 times, making it the most-run Broadway musical in the Chinese mainland.

“Both sides from China and the US are satisfied with the park’s performance,” Fan said. “We’ll work together to improve our operational and service standards, to deliver exceptional service to visitors from all over the world.”

Previously, Walt Disney, in its 2016 fiscal year report, said that Shanghai Disneyland received 4 million visitors in its first four months of operation.

Shanghai Disneyland Breaks Ground on Toy Story Land

Just four months after its launch, Shanghai Disneyland has already broken ground on an expansion. Construction of Toy Story Land, the park’s seventh themed area, is now underway, the Walt Disney Co. said in a statement Thursday.

Based on the hit Pixar franchise featuring the characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the new attraction is expected to open in 2018. Neither Disney nor its Chinese partner, the Shanghai Shendi Group, which holds majority control, shared how much would be invested in the expansion.

But Disney offered that the addition should be taken as a sign of the company’s confidence in the growing demand for themed entertainment in China.

Earlier this week, a new study projected that the Chinese theme-park industry was on track to surpass that of the U.S. in the next few years. By 2020, ticket sales at Chinese theme parks will surge to $12 billion from $4.6 billion last year, according to a joint report by market research firm Euromonitor International and World Travel Market.

Theme park revenue in the U.S., meanwhile, is expected to inch upwards to $9 billion in 2020 from $8 billion in 2015, the researchers said.

Shanghai Disney Resort Nears 1 Million Visitors

Disney chief executive Robert Iger said nearly a million people have visited the entertainment giant’s theme park opened less than a month ago in mainland China.

“It would be safe to assume almost a million people have experienced the park,” Iger said during an on-stage chat at a Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Visitors to the park are staying longer than expected each day and showing fondness for Chinese barbecued pork with rice, cheeseburgers and turkey legs, according to Iger.

“We are introducing turkey legs to China,” Iger quipped. “Which I thought was a mistake, but we are selling 3,000 a day.”

Each turkey leg, sourced from Poland, costs more than $8 US.

Disney set the entrance fee at 499 yuan ($76) during peak periods and 370 yuan ($56) for other times, in a country where the average monthly disposable income is just $278.

Disney opened the massive Shanghai theme park to the public in mid-June, hoping to win over communist-ruled China’s growing middle class with the ultimate American cultural export.

The Shanghai resort is the US company’s sixth in the world and the first in mainland China — there is already one in Hong Kong.

Disney tailored park attractions for China and left out some American trademark features, such as Main Street USA.

“I very much wanted to avoid being called a cultural imperialist,” Iger said of work that went into tuning the Disney park for Shanghai.

Disney said its philosophy is to integrate local elements throughout, from the Chinse food on the menu to the attractions — even the Disney castle is topped with a traditional peony flower.

Iger referred to the Shanghai project as a lesson in patience and perseverance, saying nearly 18 years elapsed from when he first stepped on the site for a survey to the day of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The park is the most technologically advanced ever constructed by Disney, Iger said.

Workers broke ground on the project in 2011 and the Shanghai Disney Resort now sprawls over 3.9 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) on the city’s outskirts, with a fairy-tale castle soaring over the horizon.

But the launch of the $5.5 billion resort, representing one of the biggest foreign investments ever in China, comes as growth in the world’s second largest economy slumps to its lowest level in a quarter century.

Still, Disney deemed the world’s most populous country too big to ignore.

There is competition for tourist cash as China builds more theme parks than any other country in the world.

Shanghai Releases Etiquette Guide for Disneyland Visitors

Shanghai’s municipal government has released an etiquette guide for visitors to the city’s new Shanghai Disneyland attraction, which opens to the public on June 16.

According to South China Herald, the etiquette guide encourages revellers to queue in an orderly fashion and respect the plants and trees on site – it also warns against some specific anti-social behaviours such as defacing public facilities and, rather strangely, lying down on the ground.

The issuing of these noticeably specific guidelines comes after the uncouth behaviour of park visitors during its soft launch in April and May.

Social media users posted pictures of visitors ‘trashing’ the area outside the park gates when the nearby metro station opened in April.

More than a million visitors visited Disney’s newest theme park during its soft launch, and it is already fully booked for the first two weeks after its official opening.

Construction began in 2011 for the ambitious attraction, which covers 963 acres.

The park will be split up into six themed areas: Adventure Isle, Treasure Cove, Fantasyland, Mickey Avenue, the Gardens of Imagination and Tomorrowland, which will feature Tron lightcycles.

There will also be a Toy Story-themed hotel on site, as well as a general Disney-themed hotel.

 

Tomb Warriors Exhibit at Epcot’s China Pavilion Closing for Refurb in May

The Tomb Warriors exhibit at Epcot’s China Pavilion will be closing for a refurbishment in about a month.

The closure will begin on May 2nd and continue through June 16th, with the area reopening to guests on June 17th.

No word yet on if it will be a refurb on the existing exhibit or somethings new in its place.

Disney Prices Shanghai Park Tickets Cheaper Than Hong Kong’s

Shanghai Disneyland

Tickets for Walt Disney Co.’s $5.5 billion Shanghai park will be priced at about 20 percent cheaper than for Hong Kong, as the company aims to draw families across income levels to its first theme park in mainland China.

Daily regular tickets go on sale from March 28 and will be priced at 370 yuan ($56), compared with HK$539 ($69) for a one-day adult ticket to Hong Kong Disneyland, while those for children and the elderly will cost 280 yuan. It’ll also charge higher prices during peak periods such as weekends and public holidays, Disney said in a statement.

“Shanghai Disneyland’s two-tiered pricing and date-specific tickets will allow the park to manage the extraordinary anticipated demand,” Disney said Wednesday. The park, scheduled to open June 16, will limit the maximum number of guests and adhere to local capacity regulations, it said, without specifying the allowed numbers.

Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger has called the China resort Disney’s greatest opportunity since Walt Disney himself bought land in Central Florida in the 1960s. The company is counting on a pool of 330 million Chinese who live within a three-hour train or car trip of Shanghai to buy tickets.

Grand Opening

Tickets will be priced at 499 yuan during the park’s two-week grand opening from June 16 to June 30. Following that, the same price will apply to adult tickets during high-demand periods such as designated Chinese holidays and during summer holidays in July and August, said Disney. Hong Kong doesn’t charge peak period prices.

Similar to practices at its two other parks in Asia, Shanghai Disney’s discount for visitors aged 65 and older is a nod to ageing populations and extended family structures, which could see two sets of grandparents accompanying each child in the world’s most populous nation. Seniors, and children with height above 1 meter and up to 1.4 meter, will also get discounted peak period tickets.

The Shanghai park, Disney’s sixth worldwide, is estimated to attract 25 million visitors annually, less than about 31 million who visit Tokyo Disney Resort annually because of the lack of the “novelty premium” as the park is the third one in Asia, Deutsche Bank AG analysts Tallan Zhou and Karen Tang wrote in a Feb. 1 report.

Still Spending

At 963 acres, the Shanghai resort is three times the size of Hong Kong Disneyland and the company has been allotted enough land in the Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone to expand up to 2.5 times in the future.

It will open at a time when the world’s second-biggest economy is slowing, but Disney’s Iger said he’s still confident about betting on the Chinese consumer.

“We’re very bullish on China,” Iger said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in December. “We actually believe that the Chinese consumer is still spending. And the Chinese consumer represents, as far as we’re concerned, a great market for our company.”

 

Disney Sets Opening Date for Shanghai Disney Resort

Shanghai Disneyland

Just about five months from now on June 16, Shanghai Disney Resort will host a grand opening celebration and welcome its first official guests.

“When it opens in June, Shanghai Disney resort will be a one-of-a-kind, world-class destination that is authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company. “The resort reflects Disney’s legendary storytelling along with China’s rich culture, and showcases some of the most creative and innovative experiences we’ve ever created. We’re looking forward to showing it to the world and sharing it with the people of China for generations to come.”

You might remember that previously Disney announced an accelerated expansion plan, which will allow Shanghai Disney Resort to offer even more magic, more attractions and more entertainment. The resort will include two richly themed hotels; an expansive recreation area; a unique retail, dining and entertainment district; and an incredible new Disney theme park with six themed lands and never-before-seen attractions designed specifically for the people of China.

From Treasure Cove, the first pirate-themed land in a Disney park, to Tomorrowland, with its massive, color-shifting canopy at the TRON Lightcycle Power Run, not to mention the largest Disney castle ever, there’s so much to look forward to.

Disney Strikes Deal with Alibaba to Boost Chinese Sales

China

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Walt Disney Co. are launching a so-called over-the-top content system in China to rev up sales of movie-related toys, books and trips to Disneyland.

The two companies announced Tuesday that they struck a multiyear licensing agreement and will begin pre-sales of the system, called DisneyLife, immediately through Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall. Devices ship from Dec. 28, a Disney spokeswoman said.

The Mickey Mouse-shaped device, priced at $125, will connect users to Disney content, such as films, cartoon series and games. The move comes as Disney aims to attract visitors to its Shanghai theme park, which has been in planning for more than a decade and has faced a number of setbacks in China. Disney is also looking to build its revenue in China beyond the box office, where films have a short window to make money.

As for Alibaba, it is trying to expand its own entertainment services in China, the world’s second-largest movie market by revenue, behind the U.S.