A SHINING EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW
The reception for Shanghai Disneyland has been nothing short of phenomenal and experts believe the company is the first of many similar facilities that will open in China's booming theme park industry
expects the number of family travelers to rise during the summer.
Ma Xu and his family of eight visited the Shanghai Disneyland on its opening day on June 16. The 75-year-old said the theme park was a great place for his large family to spend quality time together, adding that there was a lack of such facilities in Shanghai in the past.
His daughter, who had been to the other five Disneyland parks around the world, said that one of the main reasons why they had to visit the Shanghai theme park was because her parents are too old to travel long distances.
However, group travel to the theme park has not fared well. The report said that this travel choice only made up 25 percent of the total.
“Tickets and hotel stays are selling very well. Group products, on the other hand, aren’t doing as well,” said Wang Ying, who works for a travel agency in Fujian province.
The Ctrip report added that Shanghai Disneyland could beat the Palace Museum in Beijing as the most-visited tourist site in the country. The latter received 15 million travelers last year while Disney is expected to do the same, creating revenues of up to 33 billion yuan within a year.
Based on Ctrip’s booking statistics, the average spending of tourists at the Shanghai Disney Resort is about 2,219 yuan ($333.75). In contrast, tourists spend between 7,000 and 8,000 yuan at Tokyo Disneyland.
Travelers from Chengdu, the capital of Southeast China’s Sichuan province, were the biggest spenders with an average of 3,128 yuan. In contrast, those who spent the lowest were from Shanghai (1,125 yuan).
The report also revealed that comfort, rather than price, is the top priority for people traveling to Shanghai Disneyland — 61 percent of consumers chose to stay in five star hotels, 30.9 percent stayed in four star hotels while only 9 percent picked economic hotels.
Meanwhile, Shanghai residents have shown the strongest interest in touring the park and resort in the summer, and they make up 4 percent of the travelers who have booked trips to the theme park between June and September. This is followed by travelers from Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin, Wuhan and Guangzhou.
While most of the 300 theme parks in China are unprofitable, industry experts believe that Disney will lead the incoming wave of mega parks developed by both local and foreign operators in a tourism industry that is set to double in size by 2020.
According to Bloomberg, about 60 more parks will open in China by 2020, including Dalian Wanda Group’s chain of 15 Wanda Cities. Another major theme park that opened this year in Shanghai was the Legoland Discovery Center. Over in Beijing, the Universal Park is on track for its opening in 2019.
In Zhuhai, the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom received 7.5 million visitors last year, a 36 percent growth from 2014. The theme park has also added two more hotels to the complex, taking its room total to more than 4,000. The Songcheng Group, which has theme parks in cities such as Hangzhou, Lijiang and Sanya, also posted a 53 percent increase in attendance last year.
“China is big enough for theme parks of all sizes and styles. I don’t think it is a question of competition — it is about the diversity of offerings,” said Kelly Ryner, president of Thinkwell Asia, a US-based theme park design company.
This sentiment was echoed in a TEA/AECOM report, which also stated that China’s theme park industry still has room for growth and is already offering better quality for consumers. The report also forecast that the Asian theme park market will overtake its North American counterpart by 2020.
“This boom in the theme park market will likely continue for another five years and we can expect to see great successes and failures. There will always be projects that don’t succeed because of poor concept, poor location or underfunding,” said the report.