Later this year, Disney will open its sixth and largest global resort in Shanghai’s wealthy Pudong district. The project is rich in potential: A population of 330 million live within a three-hour drive of the theme park — compared to 19.6 million near Florida’s Walt Disney World, the company’s most profitable park. Not only that, when Disney opened a store in another district of Shanghai, it was met with a mile-long line out its door. On the other hand, the park’s opening has been delayed, the cost of completing it has risen and the Chinese economy is in a slump.
Key to making the park profitable — and achieving profitability quicker than Disney’s other locations outside the United States — will be balancing the unique Disney experience with one customized for an audience of mostly Chinese patrons. In an effort to adapt to local culture, Disney is including features such as the Garden of the 12 Friends, in which Disney characters appear as the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, and painting lucky cloud patterns on the Enchanted Storybook Castle.
Learn more about Disney’s efforts to create a magical experience in Shanghai in Darden Professor Elliott N. Weiss, Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen and Case Writer Steve Maiden’s article “Can Mickey Make It Big in Shanghai?” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.