Almost one million Chinese have flocked to Walt Disney Co.’s latest resort in Shanghai just to visit its public areas, including a commercial strip of shops and a lake, in the past 23 days as the company prepares to officially open the gates to its Magic Kingdom next month.
Since the resort’s subway stop opened on April 26, 960,000 people have visited the non-ticketed areas of Shanghai Disneyland, Liu Zhengyi, deputy director of the administrative commission of the planning zone where the Disney resort is located, said at a briefing on the park Thursday.
About 110,000 people visited over the May 1 holiday weekend alone, she said at the press conference in Shanghai, attended by officials of the city’s public security bureau, transport commission and Disney’s local partner, Shanghai Shendi Group Co.
The $5.5 billion theme park, Disney’s sixth in the world and its first in mainland China, will officially open its gates June 16 but locals have been crowding the grounds to stroll around its artificial lake and visit the stores and restaurants in the public area known as Disneytown. The world’s largest entertainment company is banking on 330 million Chinese living within three hours of the park to visit the $5.5 billion resort.
Conditions in the public area, which includes a subway station, have been stable and safe, said Liu. Emergency measures are in place to manage crowds when the park opens, according to officials.
Shanghai, with 24 million residents, is one of China’s most heavily populated cities and its public spaces can be packed with people particularly during holidays. On New Year’s Eve in 2014, a stampede left 36 dead on the city’s historic Bund waterfront after crowds swelled beyond capacity in a matter of hours. China’s central government ordered a review of crowd-safety procedures in the city following the incident and 11 district-level officials were either sacked or punished.
At the press conference, Shanghai Disney Resort spokesman Murray King said that tickets -- priced at 370 yuan ($57) -- are the lowest of all Disney parks around the world and suitable for Chinese middle class consumers.
Tickets are priced at 499 yuan for peak periods, which include all weekends and the summer months of July and August.
In response to a question about complaints that food and drink prices in the park are too high, King said that Disney has designed the park with a range of restaurant types and that guests are also allowed to bring in their own "commercially packaged" food and drink.