Dis­ney­land China falls a-fowl of huge de­mand for turkey legs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS -

LOS AN­GE­LES — Over nearly a cen­tury Dis­ney has ex­ported US cul­ture across the globe, but the com­pany was as­ton­ished to find one slice of Amer­i­cana wildly pop­u­lar in China — the turkey leg.

The en­ter­tain­ment gi­ant opened its $5.5 bil­lion theme park in Shang­hai last June, ex­pect­ing to shift mainly Mickey Pork Buns and Min­nie Red Bean Buns to hun­gry cus­tomers.

“If you go to Dis­ney­land or Dis­ney World, we sell gi­gan­tic turkey legs — they’re like the size of my arm,” Bob Iger, chair­man and CEO of the Walt Dis­ney Co, told re­porters on Wed­nes­day.

“And when I heard we were put- ting them on the menu in Shang­hai I thought our group was crazy. Why are we sell­ing turkey legs in China?”

Iger was quickly proved wrong, how­ever. Glazed in a spe­cial Dis­neyrecipe hoisin sauce, thou­sands of the turkey legs be­gan sell­ing ev­ery day.

“We were there a few weeks ago for the an­niver­sary and we sold 4,500 in one day. We couldn’t buy enough of them,” Iger said at a panel for the in­ter­na­tional me­dia in the com­pany’s Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­nia, stu­dio lot.

De­mand for the juicy snack quickly grew to 4,000 units a day in Shang­hai alone — more than Dis­ney’s Pol­ish sup­plier could man­age — and buy­ers were sent to track down more of the poul­try legs in South Amer­ica.

“That sur­prised us, and there were other things about food that sur­prised us — not bad, by the way, just things that we had to ad­just to,” said Iger.

In­cor­rect ru­mors that the turkey legs sold at its theme parks are ac­tu­ally emu meat have cir­cu­lated on­line for years.

In fact, they look big­ger than nor­mal turkey legs sim­ply be­cause they are from the male and not the fe­male that peo­ple in the United States are used to see­ing in their tra­di­tional Thanks­giv­ing meals.

Shang­hai Dis­ney­land — Dis­ney’s sixth theme park and third in Asia — pulled in nearly a mil­lion vis­i­tors within its first month of operation.

From the tra­di­tional pe­ony flower on the cas­tle to mu­rals that re­place the an­i­mals of the Chi­nese zo­diac with Dis­ney char­ac­ters, the com­pany is aim­ing to be cul­tur­ally aware.

Shang­hai re­ceived an early in­tro­duc­tion to Dis­ney when the an­i­mated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs showed in the city’s cinemas in 1938.

In the 1980s, clas­sic Dis­ney car­toons aired on Chi­nese tele­vi­sion, while more re­cently, hit movies like Zootopia have in­tro­duced new char­ac­ters, which Shang­hai Dis­ney­land fea­tures in its pa­rade.

Zootopia, in par­tic­u­lar, is cited as an ex­am­ple of China em­brac­ing Hol­ly­wood after it be­came Dis­ney’s most suc­cess­ful an­i­ma­tion ever in the world’s sec­ond largest box of­fice, scoop­ing $236 mil­lion.

Sean Bai­ley, the pres­i­dent of Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios Mo­tion Pic­ture Pro­duc­tion, said the com­pany was cur­rently scour­ing China to cast ac­tors for Mu­lan, a live-ac­tion ver­sion of its 1998 an­i­mated hit based on the Chi­nese leg­end of Hua Mu­lan.

“Many of us have been spend­ing a great deal of time in China for a num­ber of reasons, in­clud­ing the open­ing of the park in Shang­hai. So Mu­lan is some­thing we’ve been eye­ing for a long time,” he said.

If you go to Dis­ney­land or Dis­ney World, we sell gi­gan­tic turkey legs — they’re like the size of my arm.” Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Dis­ney Co

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