#74 Shanghai Disneyland

News agency Reuters reported on Friday that Disney and Shanghai Shendi Group have signed an agreement on the establishment of a Disneyland theme park in Shanghai. On an area of about four square kilometers, a total investment of approximately $3.75 billion will bring Mickey & Co. to Middle Kingdom.This should have really been big news, but it wasn’t. The media didn’t jump on it, and even the stock markets didn’t seem to notice (yet). Why not? One possible explanation could be that no one is really certain yet what the expansion into Mainland China will do for Disney. Disney’s Hong Kong theme park hasn’t really attracted as many visitors as it has hoped so far, and has reported a loss last year. Then again, it doesn’t seem to be as big a blunder as Eurodisney has been for the longest time. So, nobody really knew if the Shanghai theme park will be a source of revenue or a source of ridicule for Disney.
Another explanation is that the news is really old news. As of now, the plans are to open the Shanghai Theme Park in 2014. Considering that the negotiations have been going on for about a decade, and given that even one year ago there have already been announcements about an agreement, why should anybody bother to look up from their cup of green tea now? Approval from China’s central government is still pending, and it’s almost certain that there will be more hurdles and milestones after that.
Everyone familiar with the story of Disney’s resort in Paris can only hope that this time Disney will look beyond the mere potential of a huge market. If Disney wants to be successful from the outset, it needs to focus on the cultural differences that stand between their business model and Chinese visitors.

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