Disney says Shanghai park attendance above expectations, refutes report about unhappy guests

A visitor wearing gold Mickey Mouse ears takes photographs with his smartphone during the opening day of Walt Disney Co.'s Shanghai Disney Resort.
A visitor wearing gold Mickey Mouse ears takes photographs with his smartphone during the opening day of Walt Disney Co.'s Shanghai Disney Resort. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) - 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 US$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 US$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."