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Shanghai Disneyland Poo-pooed... Literally

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More than a month out from Shanghai Disneyland Park opening, guests got their first chance to visit Disneytown (the resort's Downtown Disney equivalent) when a metro station opened last week. In mere hours, photos began to spread of guests urinating and defecting in planters, trampling through flowerbeds, literally stepping on and crushing "please stay on the path" signs, leaving garbage everywhere, vandalizing walls, and carving graffiti into lamp posts.




This, unfortunately, is what many analysts predicted would happen to the Shanghai park, as such behaviors are more-or-less accepted in Chinese culture and a sort of hallmark of Chinese visitors in the US and UK.


Keep in mind that a one-day ticket to Shanghai Disneyland during peak times is 499 yuan, or about $76 US. This is a very inexpensive park to get into. Of course, Disney says that over 300 million people – roughly equivalent the entire population of the US – live within 3 hours of the park and can afford it. So... There you have it.


Disney has already faced a tremendous uphill battle in negotiating with the Chinese government to get this park off the ground. Dangerous levels of smog slowed construction and alleged budget overruns have reportedly forced major executive changes at the Walt Disney Company. Disney has also had to contend with the fact that, due to their very filtered entertainment industry, the Chinese have very little knowledge of "classic" Disney characters. A controversial (and 100% altruistic) program called Disney English set out to teach Chinese children English while also, you know, maybe, accidentally teaching them Disney characters, songs, and stories. Just a few weeks ago, a Chinese crackdown on US media closed DisneyLife, an on-demand streaming site offering the Chinese instant access to Disney movies, TV, and songs. 


Meanwhile, Shanghai Disneyland will have almost no attractions whatsoever in common with existing Disney Parks in Florida, California, Tokyo, Paris, or Hong Kong. All the more reason, in my mind, that this park could've been built outside Chicago or Columbus where it could've charged $110 a day and would've been packed to the gills. I trust that Disney has done its due diligence and that they have data and evaluation that satisfies their belief that the U.S. is saturated with Disney Parks. But something tells me a Midwest Disney resort that had absolutely nothing in common with any existing Disney Park on Earth would be a mega-sized hit.  I know that Disney Parks aficionados would find their way to a Disneyland in Chicago to experience the TRON Lightcycle Power Run, 21st century Pirates of the Caribbean, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, and Roarin' Rapids. Will they make it to Shanghai? I won't... 

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^^ Already implemented.




Front-line cast members limited to 32 hours per week.


Allegedly, US resorts were ordered to cut 20% off their operating budgets. 


Reduction in nightly performances from 2 to 1 for most nighttime spectaculars and parades at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.


Parade going dark at Disney California Adventure for the next month.


Minor attractions (Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Red Car Trolley, etc) closing hours before the park does.


Character meet-and-greets cut and hours reduced for those that remain.


Citizens of Hollywood troupe disbanded at Disney's Hollywood Studios... one of many cuts to the small entertainment offerings that set Disney apart.


Perhaps the worst of all, Disney California Adventure's hours were cut to the levels they were at before its $1.2 billion transformation. That means that on many summer nights, Disneyland Park closes at 11 PM and Disney California Adventure closes at 9. That may sound frustrating, but the worst part is that at 9, guests flood out of California Adventure and fill the Esplanade as they all rush into Disneyland across the plaza. And right about then is when Main Street USA is roped off and PACKED to show the new nighttime parade and fireworks that are THEE attractions for the 60th Anniversary. This led to a scary sight last weekend as Disneyland became entirely gridlocked. People couldn't move into or out of Disneyland due to the crowds from DCA all moving in at once WHILE the nighttime parade packs Main Street.

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Hopefully Universal can learn from Disney's Shanghai problem for their new resort in Beijing, but I just don't know if China is going to be the gold mine that both companies seem to think it will be. I guess they've done their research. Time will tell.

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Will be curious how it turns out. I think they are just viewing it as there being so many people near to the parks that they should be able to get plenty of people, plus Shanghai and Beijing are big business centers with lots of travelers already in addition to people that live near there. But same could be said for Hong Kong and it struggled a bit when it first opened, but luckily has been doing better recently, and this park looks like it will be at a much better starting point line-up wise than Hong Kong Disneyland was so might help to attract people more from the get go.

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