>> As the home of Mickie and Minnie in Shanghai reaches a milestone, Disney is pushing further into China. The $5.5 billion theme park celebrating a one-year anniversary on Friday in China's financial harbor. And after a much hyped opening in 2016 the park has stayed popular with Chinese visitors.
I'm Reuter's Anita Li at the Shanghai Disneyland, where everyone from the company's iconic characters to its CEO have been celebrating. The park opened its doors last June and earlier this week, it welcomed its 11th million guest. It's been a good year for Disney in China, launching at the strategically important market.
And it's not just about the park. The company has also been building its brand and its profits here releasing ten films compared to just four in 2014 and taking in a billion dollars at the box office. Retail is also seeing a boom, and the company is even making a push into education as Chinese school kids learn English with the help of their favorite characters.
At Friday's celebration ceremony, Chairman and CEO Bob Eiger thanked the Chinese government for it's support. The Shanghai local media has always been raving about Disneyland. A reporter from a local TV station told me that they sent out at least eight crews to cover this event. The Shanghai mayor also said ahead of the anniversary that the city will continue to support the park.
It hasn't all been plain sailing, caps on important films, bans on foreign cartoons and long-running domestic theme park have also presented challenges. Not to mention the more local cartoon heroes that most Chinese kids have grown up with. Overall though, Disney's China push appears to be paying off. Occupancy levels at the Shanghai park are above average.
And with more people spending time here than expected, the chances of a fairy tale all come from the company's largest ever foreign investment could be a lot more than just a fantasy.