The Shanghai Disney Resort has opened Pixar Toy Story Land, the first addition to the complex since it opened in June 2016. This despite Chinese government warning local developers that they are taking on too many risks.
Earlier this month, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said theme park developers should “prevent the formation of local debt risks, social risks and financial risks. In the development of theme park construction we’ve seen unclear concepts, blind construction, imitations and plagiarism, low-standard duplication and other issues.”
Theme parks are in flux in China. While Dalian Wanda sold 13 theme parks last July because of debt struggles, counterpart China Evergrande Group announced plans to expand its tourism portfolio to include 15 “Children’s World” theme parks across the country over the next two to five years, adding to an existing project in the city of Changsha.
All of that has not impeded Disney. The Shanghai Disney Resort theme park is a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group, a state-owned enterprise set up by the Shanghai municipal government. Shanghai Shendi holds a 57 percent stake, with Disney controlling the remaining 43 percent.
“The new Disney·Pixar Toy Story Land further elevates the guest experience,” said Fan Xiping, chairman of Shanghai Shendi Group in a statement. “Shanghai Disney Resort has quickly become a premier tourism landmark in this city, for both Chinese and foreign visitors. We look forward to continuing the close collaboration with The Walt Disney Company as we further position Shanghai as a world-renowned tourism city, introducing exciting new experiences to guests and delivering a top-tier level of service.”
Disney also applauded the opening. “We’re grateful to the people of China for wholeheartedly embracing Shanghai Disney Resort, for truly making it their own and also making it one of the most successful theme parks we’ve ever opened,” said Bob Iger, chairman of The Walt Disney Company.
The Shanghai park had more than 11 million visitors in its first year of operation, according to Disney. That makes it the best-performing theme park in its first year, besting the starts of France, Japan and Hong Kong.