Already there have been over One Million guests and counting. There is also no shortage of people in China which is good for Disney. This is the sixth resort for the company. The project took over 5 years to complete and at a cost of $ 5.5 billion dollars. They call their Castle the Enchanted Storybook Castle and is the largest Castle the tallest and biggest of all Disney castles. Everything is large and wide in China. This place is spread out in over a thousand acres of land and 12 thousand trees have been planted. This massive project is finally complete after a decade of stalled negotiations with the Chinese government. Disney was finally able to break ground in 2011.
Disney only owns 43% of the park. The rest is controlled by a Chinese group that is government controlled. After all China is still a communist country. So, Disney does not have outright editorial control. This place is still the largest and most expensive International Resort for the Disney brand. The location is within 3 hours by plane or car of 330 million people in a country with a booming middle class with more and more disposal income. If they get even just a fraction of those 300 million people to visit Disney, it has the potential to really boost Disney’s park/resort revenue. The amount of money, planning, construction, and imagination is a huge gamble in hoping the Chinese will actually like the place and support it.
What they did different to even lure you the regular Disney Park customer was to make the place more hands on than line friendly. There is a maze of ropes and ladders and adventure to go through. Camp Discovery as it is called is a place where you can create your own treacherous trail to get through the place. Adventure at its safest. There are three different levels; easy, intermediate and advanced therefore something for everyone. There is a man- made waterfall over a 100 feet tall mountain. The Pirates of the Caribbean exhibit that most are familiar with that is hugely popular is different in China in that it is more of a story explaining much about pirate life and historical facts in general.
The robotic caricatures are more real like than ever that it is easy to forget that you have just been entertained all day by not a single human. The gift shops are now selling more and more copies of the Disney film than before. Are we making China more American? Educating the Chinese will be the most difficult. Not that they are not smart but will they even care who Mickey or Minnie is? They did not grow up with those icons; Americans did. Chang Xu is the Cultural Analyst for Disney and it is her job to keep track of China’s questions about the vast amount of Disney stories and characters that we all fell in love with. To make the Chinese people feel comfortable with the place familiar things have been planted in the resort you cannot find in other places.
There is the Wandering Moon Tea House that celebrates the diverse landscapes of China while enjoying soothing healing exotic teas. Now that sounds more enticing than swirling tea cup rides for no reason but I guess I am old now. We just hope this will be a fairy tale ending for Disney’s investment.