Caixin
Feb 09, 2017 06:14 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Shanghai Disney Passes 7M Visitor Mark, Eyes Break-Even

Tourists take a selfie in Shanghai Disney Resort during the just-concluded Spring Festival holiday. Shanghai Disney Resort reported 7 million visitors in its first seven months after it opened in mid-June. Photo: Visual China
Tourists take a selfie in Shanghai Disney Resort during the just-concluded Spring Festival holiday. Shanghai Disney Resort reported 7 million visitors in its first seven months after it opened in mid-June. Photo: Visual China

(Beijing) — The Walt Disney Co.’s new Shanghai theme park has hosted more than 7 million visitors since opening in June, boosted by strong numbers during the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday last week, the company said in its latest quarterly earnings call.

Shanghai Disney Resort operated at full capacity on nearly every day of the seven-day holiday, which ran this year from Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, according to transcribed comments released on Wednesday based on a Disney teleconference to discuss its latest quarterly results.

An executive with Disney’s local Chinese partner in the project previously said the park hosted 5.6 million visitors through the end of last year, meaning more than 1.4 million visited the park in the first five weeks of 2017 during the colder winter months.

Disney gave the Shanghai updates as it reported that companywide revenue fell 2.6% to $14.8 billion in the last three months of 2016, as net profit dropped nearly 14% to $2.5 billion. But revenue from its parks and resorts division bucked the trend, rising 6% to $4.6 billion.

“Growth at our international operations was due to the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort … and higher results at both Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort,” the company said in a statement.

Disney CEO Robert Iger called June’s opening of the massive $5.5 billion resort, Disney’s sixth worldwide, one of his company’s biggest achievements of 2016.

He said that based on current trends, the park could host more than 10 million visitors by its first anniversary. The strong early figures make Disney confident that the resort could reach break-even in the company’s current fiscal year that runs through the end of September, Iger added, reiterating a similar view given last year.

Shanghai Disney opened to huge fanfare in June, capping a decade of effort by its parent company to build its first theme park on the Chinese mainland. In the month before its opening, the park reportedly attracted nearly 1 million visitors who came just to walk around the area outside and visit some shops.

Disney hasn’t discussed longer-term targets for the park, though it has said that 300 million people with disposable income live within three hours. Analysts have estimated the park could eventually attract about 15 million visitors per year.

Disney is capitalizing on the park’s location in China’s commercial hub and its own strong brand recognition to bring in visitors. But it is also facing competition from domestic and foreign companies that are eyeing the growing ranks of China’s entertainment-hungry middle class. Domestic rival Dalian Wanda Group has openly challenged Disney with its own recent opening of mega-parks, while Universal Studios is planning to open a park in Beijing.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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