Disneyland in China has been the talk of the town and while the park’s arrival was anxiously anticipated by literally millions of people, now that the park has been open for over a month, the complaints are starting to roll in.
Despite Disney having put about USD5.5 billion into the new theme park and CEO Bob Iger revealing over a million people have visited and hotels have been booked at 95% occupancy, not everything has been ‘magical’.
Accoring to the BBC, on July 10 five rides were suddenly closed without warning. Disney says that was due to ‘unpredictable conditions’ related to ‘maintenance and operational requirements’, but many speculate safety reasons were at the core of the closures.
Instead of refunding disgruntled park-goers, Disney offered passes that would be valid for 12 months. Unfortunately that solution was useless for many, such as one woman surnamed Liu who reported to the South China Morning Post that she had arrived from Gansu with her child and would be unable to make the same trip anytime soon.
Issues of fake tickets are also piling onto the controversy. Shanghai paper Xinmin News reported that an online search of ‘Shanghai Disneyland tickets’ resulted in nearly 1,000 items and that real and fake tickets are nearly impossible to tell apart.
Outside the park, things are looking even darker. Accused of infringing upon labor rights, according to a report by US-based China Labour Watch, called ‘The Dark World of Disney’, working conditions at Disney’s factory in Guangdong are ‘terrible’ and ‘horrifying’. The report reveals that employees work 66 hours a week for an hourly wage between USD1.30-1.50.
But with the Olympics hype, local media have managed to push Disney downfalls to the side. Web portal Sina reports the ‘film and theme park business’ has been ‘good’ for Disney, with revenue from the park growing 6% to USD4.38 billion.
Still, the doubts of Disney’s success aren’t completely buried. The Global Times reports a ‘drop in enthusiasm’ and that the ‘level of service’ isn’t meeting expectations. Hopefully the big Mouse can turn things around for his new Magic Kingdom!