Friday, June 7, 2013

Bob Iger in China Announces that "Shanghai Disneyland will feature a series of unique attractions"

Bob Iger was at the Thursday's Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu last wednesday and announced that "Shanghai Disneyland will feature a series of unique attractions". Below, the full chinese article, and excerpts of a transcript of his talk after it:

"Contrary to the belief in some quarters that the Shanghai park will be like others elsewhere in the world, it will be a "China Disneyland - authentically Disney and distinctively Chinese", Robert Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Co said during a visit to Beijing.
There will be a castle and other attractions that are new or different to attractions elsewhere but which have some similarities, Iger said.

He took office in 2005 and has been personally involved with the Shanghai project since 1998, taking part in negotiations that took 11 years. He said it is important for the Shanghai park to incorporate sufficient elements that people in China not only feel culturally relevant but culturally unique. "There will be entertainment and show elements that will be very Chinese in nature, performed by Chinese, and designed, directed and created by artists from China," he said. 

The Shanghai park is scheduled to open by the end of 2015, a decade after the launch of the Disney resort in Hong Kong. Iger is optimistic about market potential for the two parks in China, the only country in the world outside of the United States to have two Disney parks. "Because of the vastness of China and the size of the population, we believe that for many years China can sustain more than one park," he said.

Iger added that the mobility of Chinese people and the popularity of the country as a destination for visitors from around the world meant there was plenty of scope for two parks.About 40 percent of visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland are from the Chinese mainland.

"By the time it opens, Shanghai will be more ready than ever before," Iger said, adding that in Hong Kong the company has learned a lot and will bring some of this experience to the park in Shanghai.
It has continued to invest in Hong Kong Disneyland, expanding in three new areas. The park reported a net profit of HK$109 million ($14 million) in 2012, the first annual profit since it opened in 2005.

Though Iger did not rule out opening parks elsewhere in China in the future, he said the priority today is to build a "great park" in Shanghai for visitors from all over the world.

In 2012, Disney posted record revenue, net income and earnings per share, thanks to the box-office success of the movie Iron Man 3, parks, cruise ships and new investment in Hong Kong, California and Florida. Localization is the key to the Disney strategy. "When it comes to culture, the world is not flat," Iger said. "Disney cannot take our culture and export it to China." (End of article) also posted a long transcript of Iger talk and here is the part of it related to Shanghaî Disneyland. Iger also talked about Iron Man 3 and movies and you can read the full transcript HERE:

"...It’s very, very important that while we bring Disney to a market we make sure that in that market it feels like, for instance, China’s Disney. It can’t just be the Disney that exists in carbon copy form somewhere else in the world.
Where we’re most in tune with this is the development and the design and the construction of Shanghai Disneyland. We spent 11 years negotiating for the ability to bring Disneyland. Disney has had four parks around the world, two in the United States and California, and in Orlando, one in Paris and one in Tokyo. Tokyo opened 30 years ago. And some time in the ’90s started looking further a field in Asia for other markets. Hong Kong was an obvious one. But, even back in the ’90s China was starting to show signs of emerging. And it’s amazing when you think about what’s happened since then, of course, because it doesn’t look anything like it did then.
And the company made a decision that Hong Kong should come first, that Shanghai, and we looked at other places in China, but it was clear that Shanghai was the number one choice, that Shanghai should come second. So we negotiated a deal to put Disneyland in Hong Kong, started the negotiation in Shanghai, and that lasted 11 years, 11 years. I was involved since 1999, and dealt with multiple entities, all with a desire on the Chinese side to bring Disney here. But, there were some very, very large complications on so many levels, financial and creative and logistical, and you name it.
But, finally we were able to close a deal, break ground in 2011 and the castle is going up as we speak. There will be soon some 14,000 workers living and working on the property, constructing Disneyland Shanghai in Pudong, actually, to open some time late in 2015. Now that can’t be the Disneyland that Walt built in 1955 for all kinds of reasons. But, it can’t be the Disneyland that Walt built in California, because this is China. It has to look, feel, resemble China’s Disneyland. And that has taken a lot of thought, a lot of work. Now, there will be things about it that will look very familiar. It has a castle. And there will be things about it that will not exist, or that don’t exist in any of the parks that we have.
You never know 100 percent [about local sensitivities] until you open it. You listen to a lot of voices and a diversity of opinion about it. And one of the first things that we discovered is that the initial people that we were dealing with were of one generation, had certain ideas, but there were whole other generations, and there were other geographies in China that had different ideas. So we essentially collected a multitude of opinion, and ultimately when you’re creating something you can use all the research in the world that tells you what you’re supposed to make. In the end it comes down to the gut feel of the creator to make what they really felt would they want to make, but what they feel is right, what the audience wants. In the end this will really be our decision, but based on a lot of time spent in the market and a lot of collaboration, a lot of listening, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ve done it right and chances are there will be things about it that won’t be perfect, and we’ll learn and adapt quickly.
By the way, one of the interesting learnings, I don’t mean to belabor this, but one of the things that we discovered in Hong Kong, which is very different than anywhere else in the world, is that the people who visit Hong Kong Disneyland like to spend twice as much time eating than they do in Florida, or California, or even Paris and Tokyo. We couldn’t figure that out. So when people take twice as long to eat you’re turning tables over in a restaurant basically at a much lower speed. And we didn’t have enough. We just didn’t build enough eating capacity. Now, we quickly adjusted, but that’s something all the research in the world I don’t believe would have taught us. By the way we made sure the menu was right. But, we didn’t get it quite right in terms of how long it would take them to eat the food that we were making." 

Knowing what i know about ShanghaI Disneyland attractions i can tell you that Iger is right when he says that "there will be a castle and other attractions that are new or different to attractions elsewhere but which have some similarities". Some rides of SDL will indeed be brand new, others will be new versions of Disney classic attractions ( like the Pirates of Caribbean ride ) but most of the "distinctively Chinese" will be find more in SDL shows than rides. That said, yes, Shanghaî Disneyland will be a new kind of Magic Kingdom and i'm sure that everybody will enjoy it a lot!

Picture: copyright Disney


Anonymous said...

Independence of Hong Kong from PRC please.

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

I hope that they build many exciting new and original shows and attractions in Shangai, as there must be a reason for building a new Resort in China when the first one is underperforming and losing money (I know, it had the first really small profit last year).

And I think that people may take twice the time to eat in HKDL because there isn't much to see at the park, so they have a lot of time to waist there...