SHANGHAI: Work has already started to expand Shanghai Disneyland, says Disney’s CEO Bob Iger, a day ahead of the park’s grand opening.
The resort’s General Manager Philippe Gas also promised to expand capacity so that more visitors can enjoy the attractions without waiting too long in line.
From the tallest Enchanted Story Castle ever built - housing not just one but all the Disney Princesses, because Chinese visitors demand the most tiaras for their buck - to the first-ever Chinese production of The Lion King, Disney aims to please.
(Photo: Valarie Tan)
Nearly a million came to see Mickey and gang during the resort’s six-week test run. One of the park’s biggest draws, and a Disney first, was the futuristic Tron ride. Part rollercoaster, part simulator, the two-minute adrenaline rush comes with a wait of at least one-and-a-half hours.
Queues at popular Disney attractions in other cities are a common sight. But lines in China are just significantly longer. Waiting time reportedly stretched to four hours for a trail ride through a mine featuring the Seven Dwarves.
“Best not to come. Avoid the peak season. Too many people,” says Mr Xu Jing, a computer engineer from Shanghai, who came with his wife and child. “Luckily it’s not so hot today, else it’ll be frustrating.”
Analysts told Channel NewsAsia that Disney did a lot of marketing research and focus groups with Chinese consumers to make sure the new theme park strikes a good balance between the Disney brand and demands of the local market.
“Instead of the classic main street, a main characteristic of the other Disneyland, the USA main street was replaced with a normal street actually, with a lot of shopping.” says Federico Sferrazza, Market Consultant at Shanghai-based Daxue Consulting, when asked what specific features Disney tailor-made for the Chinese market.
(Photo: Valarie Tan)
Rides were also chosen based on movies that did well at China's box office. To cater specifically to the Chinese market, Shanghai Disneyland appears to have gone for the latest in technology and the biggest in size. The park also put in special vantage points for photographs for Chinese consumers who love taking pictures and selfies.
Analysts say China’s rising middle-class will help the resort meet its projected goal of at least 10 million visitors in the first year - a number that’s expected to triple eventually as the park expands.
But to keep the magic alive, the Shanghai kingdom may have to work relatively harder, to maintain its facilities from getting run down by unruly Chinese visitors, who trampled and vandalised the park on the first day of its soft opening, forcing the Chinese government to issue a warning to visitors to behave when they are in Disneyland.
Then there’s the issue of price. At 400 yuan or about US$60, Shanghai’s ticket price is the lowest amongst all Disney properties.
But throw in the meals and merchandise, the total price tag of a day in the Happiest Place on Earth is considered a luxury for a country where the average monthly pay is about 6,700 yuan or US$1,000.
Still, scalpers are cashing in on the hype - opening season tickets in the black market are at least double the original price.