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Shanghai Disneyland raises the bar

News, 15 June 2016
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SHANGHAI: Most Chinese consumers know that Shanghai Disneyland is opening tomorrow and many anticipate visiting at some point despite the steep costs involved.

For a one-day visit, according to the South China Morning Post, a typical family – two adults, one child – will pay 42% more than the average monthly disposable income on the mainland last year.

But tickets for the first day were snapped up within five minutes when they went on sale in March and the first two weeks are sold out.

Trial operations before opening have seen visitors complaining about the food prices and the length of queues for the most popular rides, but recent YouGov research found that 44% of respondents in a 1,000-strong online survey were likely to visit in the coming 12 months.

The evident popularity of the Disney experience – and the company's expertise in delivering that – means Chinese brands in the entertainment and travel space will have to raise their game, observers have suggested.

Jerry Clode of digital agency Resonance China, for example, has spoken of the "contagion effect" caused by Disney's arrival and said that "unless brands develop a strategic response to the Disney effect, they face the possibility of being considered a 'compromise' by local families".

Leading businessman Wang Jianlin has placed his bet on numbers, with his Dalian Wanda Group planning 15 theme parks and entertainment projects across the country.

"One tiger is no match for a pack of wolves," he remarked last month shortly before he opened the first Wanda City in Nanchang, where ticket prices are around half those at Shanghai Disneyland, a seven-hour drive away.

There may well be room for both in what Walt Disney chief executive Robert Iger observed was a huge and still developing market.

"You also have a market where time spent on entertainment is growing," he told the Wall Street Journal. "There's the desire to transition the economy from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. And then you have growth in tourism within China.

"When you add all of that up, then you overlay the fact that our IP is entering this market much more effectively because of our movies, you get a combination of factors that are a tremendous opportunity."

Data sourced from South China Morning Post, Campaign Asia-Pacific, Marketing Interactive, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff

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