June 17, 2017 1:46 am JST

Shanghai Disneyland may face sophomore slump after solid start

Theme park's 11m visitors in first year beat its goal

DAISUKE HARASHIMA, Nikkei staff writer

© Getty Images

SHANGHAI -- Shanghai Disneyland's 11 million visitors in its initial year surpassed its target by 10% and answered doubts that high ticket prices would keep people away.

The real test for the amusement park, however, will be how it performs in its second year as the novelty wears off and competitors begin to take aim. Shanghai Disneyland marked a year in business on Friday.

Visitors wait to enter the theme park on its one-year anniversary.

Among the big crowds waiting for the gates to open at 9:00 a.m. was a 30-something Shanghai woman and her son. "I definitely wanted to come today because it's the one-year anniversary," said the woman, a season pass holder who as visited the park a number of times.

Discounts and seasonal passes helped the park lift slumping attendance after October while keeping weekend admission fees at 499 yuan ($73). Pass holders get unlimited access to the park for about three months, so they can get their money's worth after two or three visits.

It also helped that the park loosened rules on bringing in outside food and drinks as complaints about high prices mounted. "Food sold inside the park is expensive," says a college student from Suzhou.

Chinese consumers are spending more money on leisure and services. While the popularity of theme parks is strong, competition is growing. Just this month, Chinese real estate giant Dalian Wanda Group launched amusement parks in Heilongjiang Province and the autonomous region of Guangxi. U.S. media conglomerate Comcast is building a Universal Studios park in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Disneyland is set to expand, with a section dedicated to the "Toy Story" movies to open next year. 

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