Disney's new heights

Updated: 2013-10-07 00:41

(China Daily)

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Disney's new heights

Simulated image of enchanted storybook castles in Shanghai Disney Resort.provided to China Daily

A boost to Disney travel

Staggs has high hopes financially for the resort in Shanghai.

'We invest a tremendous amount to make our parks ready. It will take some time for it to reach profitability. But we expect the park to be there for decades, and therefore, a certain amount of patience in terms of early return is both warranted and should be expected,' he said.

The chairman added that Disney's park and resort businesses tend to be sensitive to economic fluctuations, as was the case during the global downturn between 2008 and 2010.

'The businesses dropped a bit more,' Staggs said. 'But we had significant growth since then, and we have since achieved record level profit. The growth has been good.'

Revenue for its parks and resorts last quarter increased year-on-year by 7 percent to $3.7 billion and operating income increased 9 percent to $689 million.

While some have worried that the geographical proximity between Hong Kong Disneyland and the Shanghai Disney Resort may offset the number of potential visitors, Staggs said the size of the potential audience is large enough that business will be maximized at both sites.

'The best thing to do for Hong Kong is to make Shanghai successful and vice versa,' he said. 'The more Hong Kong is successful, the better it is for Shanghai.'

The two Disney properties in Hong Kong and Shanghai will not affect the volume of visitors to the Tokyo resort, Staggs said, because more than 90 percent of visitors to the Japanese site are domestic travelers.

Staggs said they will continue to develop Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The company has many new attractions that were recently launched or are in the works, including New Fantasyland in Florida, which opened last year; a new attraction in Paris that will open next summer and is based on the Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille; three new theme lands to Hong Kong Disneyland; and the anticipated debut of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at Tokyo Disneyland, which is a 3-D attraction inspired by the Star Wars movies.

Staggs said the company's biggest news will be the opening of the Shanghai resort. He said Disney will continue to expand their properties in Hong Kong and in Shanghai after its opening at the end of 2015.

In recent years, China has seen a cluster of theme parks and resorts, with many brands developed into chains scattered across major cities, such as the Happy Valley amusement parks developed by the Overseas Chinese Town Enterprises Co. Yang Yansong, from the Chinese Tourism Academy, said Disney's resorts will create a bit of competition for domestic brands, but that the impact would mostly be visible in Shanghai.