Official Disney attendance numbers may not be telling the whole story but long lines and high prices aren't the only thing the company needs to worry about in Shanghai. China will become saturated with more than a dozen new theme parks from competitors in coming years all looking to capture millions of theme park enthusiasts in the world's most populated country.
Walt Disney Co. said that visitors to the company’s new Shanghai park have “exceeded our expectations,” playing down a recent media report that park attendance was below estimates.
“Our financial results during the first 100+ days of operation have exceeded our expectations, and guest feedback has been extremely strong, establishing a solid foundation upon which to grow,” Disney’s parks and resorts division chairman Bob Chapek said in an e-mail.
The South China Morning Post reported that the Disney Shanghai Resort, which opened in June, is generating attendance of 20,000 guests per day or about 7.3 million annually. That’s half of what some analysts had projected. Disney faces intensifying competition in the race to capture China’s $610 billion tourism industry. Billionaire Wang Jianlin, the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group Co., opened last month the second of 15 multi-billion-dollar theme parks that will sprout across the country.
Disney guests complained about high ticket prices and long waits for some rides, according to the newspaper. Chapek said the report is “meritless.”
Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger also reiterated his support for the $5.5 billion park at an event Wednesday at Boston College.
“The park that we opened has been doing extremely well,” he said. “Millions of people have already gone.”
Guest satisfaction was “very high,” Iger said, adding guests were staying two hours longer per visit than Disney anticipated.
“It’s a great moment for the company,” Iger said. “It is already a decent business and it represents incredible potential for our company in the most populous country and its most populous city for many, many years to come.”
This article was written by Christopher Palmeri and Brendan Coffey from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Free Daily Newsletter
Sign up for the most popular Skift daily download of news, happening, and headlines in the travel world
Photo credit: Disney insists park attendance at its Shanghai resort has exceed expectations so far. Pictured is the Shanghai Disneyland Band performing near the entry of Shanghai Disneyland Park. Todd Anderson / Walt Disney World Resorts