Before it opened, Shanghai Disneyland was a dominating force in the news. After a longer-than-expected construction period and an unfortunately well-publicized pre-opening instance of bad guest behavior at Disneytown (Shanghai Disney Resort's version of Downtown Disney), many wondered how this resort could possibly succeed with the odds seemingly stacked against it.
However, after a massive grand opening ceremony and a first day that went off without a hitch, news out of Disney’s most recent park seemingly dried up. However, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening at this resort, as there are a number of surprising developments that have come out of this resort since it opened earlier this year...
1. Attendance isn’t what Disney thought it would be…maybe?
The South China Morning Post reported earlier this month that Shanghai Disneyland was generating attendance of 20,000 guests per day (7.3 million per year) which sounds like a pretty impressive figure at first. However, this number is actually about half of what many were projecting for attendance at this park in its first year. Among the reasons cited for the lower-than-expected attendance estimations are high prices both for tickets and food (which is something locals complained about before the park even opened) as well as reports of long queue lines and even growing competition from other theme parks owned by the Wanda Group in the region (which you can learn more about here).
Even though this slow attendance projection sounds initially like very bad news for the nascent Shanghai Disney Resort, Disney’s parks and resorts division chairman Bob Chapek recently refuted these underwhelming figures recently, saying in a statement to Bloomberg that guest levels at the park have actually “exceeded expectations”. Chapek continued to praise the early performance of the park, saying “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”.
These positive statements back up comments made earlier by Disney CEO Bob Iger who said recently that Shanghai Disneyland reached one million guests faster than any other Disney theme park, and that guests are staying longer than expected as well. Of course, neither of these statements really include any hard figures, and Disney may not be revealing the full story just yet about what is going on with this park in an effort to keep the news surrounding Shanghai Disneyland's first year positive for as long as possible.
However, if these statements are indeed a little rose-tinted we'll definitely know more about what is going on at this resort in a few weeks when Disney releases its quarterly and year-end financial results. And then, sometime next year, we should get "unofficial" park attendance numbers when the annual TEA/AECOM report is released, which will give us the most accurate picture possible of attendance during Shanghai Disneyland's first year.
However, while it looks like we're going to have to wait for more information on the attendance situation at Shanghai Disney Resort, there have been some more immediate changes happening in recent weeks here as well...