Shanghai Disney trial run attracts 30,000 funseekers
05/09/2016|10:33:06 PM|Bloomberg

Still a month away from its official opening, Shanghai Disneyland is already a popular destination attracting thousands of Chinese.

Since the metro station for the Disney grounds opened two weeks ago in Shanghai’s Pudong district, the area has become a popular destination ahead of the resort’s June 16 debut. The world’s largest entertainment company is banking on 330 million Chinese living within three hours of the site to pay for visits to the $5.5 billion resort, famous for its iconic castle and themed rides. China’s government, in turn, is relying on increased consumer spending to boost an economy growing at the slowest pace in 25 years.

The theme park is expected to attract 15 million visitors annually in the short-term and raise demand for travel in Shanghai, China International Capital Corp. analysts led by Xin Yang wrote in a note dated May 8.

An estimated 30,000 visitors were at the Chinese resort on Sunday, while 10,000 employees, their relatives and other invited guests were allowed into the theme park for its trial run on Saturday, the state-owned Shanghai Daily reported Monday, without citing any sources.

Among the crowds, some held tickets to enter the 963-acre park and try out rides as part of Shanghai Disneyland’s six-week trial run, which kicked off on Saturday. Participants were limited to the resort’s employees, partners and stakeholders.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger has called the Shanghai project the company’s greatest opportunity since Walt Disney bought land in Florida in the 1960s used to build the theme park there. The Shanghai resort boasts two hotels and the largest Disney castle.

Consumption among upper-middle-class and affluent households in China is increasing at 17 percent per year and will account for $1.5 trillion in incremental spending by 2020, according to Boston Consulting Group Inc. The country’s growing middle class and young Chinese will be a driving force for consumption growth, according to the researcher.

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