The Walt Disney Company is seeking 10,000 Chinese workers to make some magic at its latest resort, opening in Shanghai later this year.
Shanghai Disney Resort will be the company’s sixth park worldwide and the first Disney park in mainland China, approximately three times the size of Hong Kong Disneyland. First approved by the Chinese government in 2009, construction began on the 963-acre resort on April 8, 2011. The “happiest place on earth” is scheduled to open its doors on June 16, 2016.
The Shanghai resort is set to be built in multiple phases. Disney’s latest project reportedly cost 24.5 billion Chinese yuan (US $3.7 billion) for the theme park and 4.5 billion yuan (US $0.7 billion) for other aspects of the resort, costing a total of 34 billion yuan (US $5.5 billion). The park’s headquarters will be located in the Pudong district of Shanghai.
Forty-three percent of the resort is owned by the Walt Disney Company and the remaining 57 percent by the state-owned joint venture investment company Shanghai Shendi Group. It is said to be the cheapest of all the resorts, and the 196-foot-tall castle, dedicated to all the Disney princesses, is the largest out of any of Disney’s parks.
Chief Executive Robert Iger “called it the company’s greatest business opportunity since founder Walt Disney bought land in central Florida in the 1960s,” according to Bloomberg.
Shanghai Disney Resort indeed presents an enormous business opportunity for the multinational mass media conglomerate, but Bloomberg also noted it presents a serious challenge operating in the Chinese economy, with high turnover and cultural differences when it comes to customer service.
“The focus on customer service is very important for Disney, but there is still a huge gap between their standard and normal Chinese standards,” said Sara Wong, Hong Kong director of recruitment process outsourcing for Kelly Services, a staffing agency. “They are not hiring 10 people, they are hiring 10,000.”
Attractions will include six themed park lands with retail shopping, dining, entertainment, and two themes hotels: the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel, with 420 rooms and 800 rooms, respectively. The resort will host performances of the Lion King musical, which will be performed in Mandarin for the first time.
The Mirror reported more on the coming attractions.
“The magical theme park has six sections, including Tomorrowland, which will include Star Wars and Tron rides, and Fantasyland. Another land will have the Chinese-themed Gardens of Imaginations, while Treasure Cove, which will be the first ever land dedicated to the Pirate of the Caribbean films. The resort also features the Toy Story Hotel and the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, both fully booked for the first two weeks.”
Disney has reportedly screened seven applicants for every job opening, which means Shanghai has already received around 70,000 applications for open positions. The media corporation recruited heavily from Chinese retail, food service, and hospitality industries in order to train new workers to run the park’s attractions, restaurants, retail outlets, musicals, and performance art.
“Shanghai Disney Resort will be a one-of-a-kind, world-class destination that is authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese,” Disney chief Robert Iger said to the Mirror.
Of course, Disney is not the only company opening a theme park opening in Shanghai. Although Disney stands to make enormous profits, Bloomberg noted they may be in for some stiff competition on the Chinese mainland.
“Industry consultancy Aecom estimated that 59 new theme parks will open by 2020, serving an estimated 220 million park-goers. That’s roughly the size of the entire U.S. market right now. The Shanghai region looks set to become the Orlando of China, with five mega-projects to open there, Aecom said. DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc has a $2.4 billion DreamCenter scheduled for 2017; Haichang Ocean Park Holdings will open China’s largest marine park that year; and Six Flags Entertainment Corp. will open its first park outside North America in 2019.”
Tickets for Shanghai Disney’s opening day sold out within hours of being listed on the official Disney website.
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