Shanghai Disneyland Hits 11M Admissions in First Year, Exceeding Forecasts

Shanghai Disneyland 4 - H 2016
Walt Disney Co.

The $5.5 billion Chinese theme park celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday.

The Walt Disney Co. announced Friday that its Shanghai Disney Resort had hit 11 million admissions in its first year, surpassing its early forecasts. 

At a series of anniversary events held at the Chinese theme park on Friday, Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and CEO Bob Iger were set to speak. 

"Shanghai Disney Resort’s first anniversary is cause for great celebration for everyone involved in bringing this spectacular dream to life," said Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in an emailed statement. "We’re grateful to the people of China for making this unique destination a tremendous success — more than 11 million guests have already visited, and we look forward to welcoming many more in the years to come."

"The resort exceeded every one of The Walt Disney Company’s expectations, from theme park attendance to guest satisfaction," Disney said in a statement.

The 963-acre Shanghai Disneyland Resort is already in the process of expanding. In November, Disney revealed that it had broken ground on a new Toy Story Land. Based on the hit Pixar franchise featuring the characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the new attraction is expected to open in 2018.

Disney said the attendance figures announced Monday reflected its confidence in the robust demand for theme-park entertainment in China. 

The Chinese theme-park industry is on track to surpass that of the U.S. in the next few years. By 2020, ticket sales at Chinese theme parks will surge to $12 billion from $4.6 billion in 2015, according to a joint report by market research firm Euromonitor International and World Travel Market released late last year. Theme-park revenue in the U.S., meanwhile, is expected to inch upwards to $9 billion in 2020 from $8 billion in 2015, the researchers said.

Shanghai Disneyland currently comprises six themed lands, a Broadway-style theater, live entertainment venues, two hotels, a shopping district with over 50 retailers, a 123-acre recreational park and Disney's “tallest, largest and most interactive castle." The company says the park site still has three square kilometers of empty land available for expansion. 

Guests were entertained Friday by the Mandarin version of "When You Wish Upon a Star" as a montage of photos and videos highlighting events of the first year at Shanghai Disney Resort were projected on the facade of the Enchanted Storybook Castle along with actual guest videos and images.