Disney's $5.5 billion park in Shanghai, China, its largest overseas investment, opened its doors Thursday.
Speeches by Communist party leaders alongside songs by a Chinese children's choir and greetings from Sleeping Beauty and other Disney characters graced the opening of the first Disney theme park in mainland China.
Disney will face fierce competition from less expensive domestic theme parks featuring well-loved cartoon characters in China, but analysts believe there is room for both in the Chinese market.
“Both of them benefit from the under-investment the country has made in these entertainment venues," said Richard Huang, who analyzes China’s entertainment industry for Nomura investment bank. "Because even in major cities like Shanghai there are no international standards or world class standard parks.”
China’s boom in domestic tourism, with a 13 percent rise in revenue last year, should help draw visitors to the new theme parks. Disney expects 15 to 30 million visitors a year to its Shanghai park. Domestic competitor Wanda plans to open a total of 15 theme parks and complexes during the next four years.
Disney simultaneously celebrates in Shanghai and mourns in Orlando, one day after the body of a two-year-old snatched by an alligator from the shore of a manmade lake at Disney World in Florida was found. The Florida Disney World is the world's most visited theme park.