The Happiest Place In Shanghai

Shanghai Disneyland opened to the public on June 16 with lavish fanfare. Disney CEO Bob Iger was on hand to welcome a number of top Communist Party leaders to the celebration.  

Photo: AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
opening ceremony June 16. 

The government supports the theme park in order to boost tourism as China’s economy starts to stall. Iger said it was “one of the proudest and most exciting moments in the history of the Walt Disney Company.”

The park’s success is important since Disney’s international theme park business is struggling. Analysts have said that Shanghai Disneyland could become the world’s most visited theme park, with estimates between 15 million and 50 million visitors a year.

Vice Premier Wang Yang spoke at the opening ceremony, describing the park as an example of Sino-U.S. “practical cooperation” and “people to people exchanges.”

The Shanghai region is one of the most economically vibrant in China, and market research firm YouGov has reported that 44 percent of the people it surveyed in China recently said they plan to visit Shanghai Disneyland within the next year.

Thematically, Disney has complemented its world-famous characters and brands with recognizable Chinese elements while downplaying the more stridently American aspects that characterize other Disneylands.