Four Million People Visit Shanghai Disney Resort in First Four Months

Disney’s $5.5 billion Shanghai park received one million visitors per month during its first four months, and could almost break even next year, Iger says.

Disney’s new Shanghai theme park saw four million visitors pass through its gates in its first four months, and the company’s CEO sees the $5.5 billion project approaching break-even in 2017.

“The second thing [after relaunching the Star Wars franchise] we had to do was to open up the biggest, most ambitious project that we’ve ever embarked on and that was building Disneyland in Shanghai. We opened on June 16. I’m proud to say that after four months of operation, four million people visited the park and they’re loving what they have experienced. The prospects for that park in the most populous country in the world are really bright,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger in an interview with Bloomberg TV, following the company’s fourth quarter and full-year results announcements.

Shanghai Disney Resort will come close to breaking even during 2017, Iger told analysts in a conference call regarding the results.

“[It is] Biggest investment that we’ve made outside the United States. It shows by the way in the product, high quality, very entertaining, very original, and being very well received. First four months four million visitors, that did include the peak summer months. so we said on the call that people could infer that if you factor in those peak months that should result in about 10 million visitors for the first year. We’d be happy with that number but we’re not giving annual guidance there. What we can say is that about 50 percent of the people come from outside of the Shanghai region. That’s a big surprise to us. We thought it was going to be well above 75 percent initially that came from Shanghai, and the fact that it’s so balanced leads us to believe that word of mouth on this and intent to visit from well beyond Shanghai is very, very high,” Iger told Bloomberg TV.

The company is already moving to enlarge the park with new attractions.

“So the combination of [the consumer mix and visitors staying longer] and what we’ve seen from attendance, and basically how the product is behaving in the marketplace, all really positive, which is why our outlook for that business is positive, and why we decided by the way to expand right away. We’re building a new land, Toy Story Land, and the opportunity for expansion beyond that is pretty significant, I think you’ll see a lot more,” he said.

Disney also operates a park in Hong Kong, opened in 2005. The Burbank, California-based company faces competition in China from real estate development and entertainment giant Dalian Wanda‘s theme parks. Wanda CEO Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, has said that Disney will be no match for his company and the “15 or 20” theme parks he plans to open. Disney has accused Wanda of using its characters without proper permission at its parks.

The Mouse House won’t face competition from another American competitor until 2020, when Universal Studios Beijing, which broke ground near the capital earlier this month, is expected to open. The four square kilometer site now has a $7.4 billion price tag attached to it.