This photo taken on Nov. 29, 2023 shows the Zootopialand in Shanghai Disney Resort of east China's Shanghai. The world's first Zootopialand, scheduled to open to the public starting from Dec. 20 at Shanghai Disney Resort, has kicked off trial operation, the resort said Wednesday.(Photo: Xinhua)
Shanghai Disney Resort on Wednesday opened the world's first Zootopia-themed land at Shanghai Disneyland, in another major step by the US-based entertainment giant to expand in the Chinese market amid a continuous rise in the nation's consumption power.
The move also represents a model for China-US cultural and commercial cooperation, and demonstrates growing confidence among global businesses in the Chinese market, which has seen a steady recovery over the past year, according to analysts.
Equipped with advanced robotic animation and information modeling technology, the park offers tourists an immersive experience in Zootopia, which is the country's highest-grossing imported animated feature film of all time.
Underscoring the popularity of the new attraction, many fans flocked to the resort as soon as it opened. On Wednesday morning, numerous tourists and Disney fans were dressed up in distinctive outfits and costumes inspired by animal figures of Zootopiaat the opening. Vibrant and colorful designs and the latest leisure facilities drew crowds of people to capture pictures and immerse themselves in a world of color and excitement.
"I took a day off to check out the new Zootopia-themed area. Even though it's really cold outside, it's totally worth it. The animal characters are so adorable. I hope that Disney will continue to bring many more surprises to visitors," Huang Lan, a visitor, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The opening of Zootopialand marked the second major expansion of Shanghai Disney Resort since it started operation in 2016. The land became the Shanghai park's eighth themed land, enriching the travel experience for visitors. With this expansion, the number of themed lands at the Shanghai Disney Resort increases to eight. In addition to the expansion in Shanghai, the Walt Disney Co also opened the first World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland in November.
"Our popular Zootopiafilm continues to delight fans across the globe, especially in China, and we're excited to give guests at Shanghai Disney Resort the chance to interact with the stories and characters they love in innovative new ways when they visit this spectacular new land," Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co, said in a press release the company sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.
Photo: Lu Ting/GT
The latest expansion by the US conglomerate marks a crucial step for the company's growing businesses in the Chinese market, industry analysts said.
"Disney's moves in both Shanghai and Hong Kong reflected not only the company's development needs but also its recognition of China's economy," Jiang Yiyi, a deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Jiang noted that the moves also demonstrate Disney's confidence in China's economic development and consumption potential. "As a global business, Disney clearly counts on continued development in the Chinese market. That's why it continues to increase investment. This is more important, as it sends a very positive signal for the Chinese economy."
Beyond business, Disney's expanding presence in the Chinese market also carries significance for China-US cultural exchanges.
On Tuesday, Shanghai Party chief Chen Jining met with Iger and praised Shanghai Disney Resort as a model for the exchange and integration of Chinese and foreign cultures and one of the landmark projects of China's reform and opening-up, according to the WeChat account of the information office of Shanghai Municipality.
As urbanities' consumption gains pace, people in Shanghai have greater expectations for high-quality cultural experiences. The city welcomes Disney to seize the new opportunities, and increase its investment in Shanghai, Chen said.
Shanghai Disney resort is Walt Disney's largest overseas project, and the company is proud of the success and confident in the development of China. The company's commitment to continue to invest in China is unwavering, Iger said during the meeting.
Highlighting its success in the Chinese market, Shanghai Disney Resort is expected to receive a record-breaking number of visitors this year, as it has already welcomed more than 13 million guests in 2023, Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Experiences, was quoted by media reports as saying.
Jiang said that while full-year data has not been released yet, China's tourism sector has seen a robust recovery in the first three quarters of the year, with surging numbers of tourists and tourism spending.
Shanghai recorded 2.3 million inbound trips in the first three quarters of 2023. The city expects to receive more than 3 million inbound trips by the end of the year, according to the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism.
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