Shanghai Disney shares 'happy secrets' to inspire China's tourism sector

At the launch event for the 2024 Shanghai Disney Resort Happiness Travel Trend Report in Shanghai, a touching video compiled from random guest interviews was played. In the video, one guest

said, "Going to Disneyland is like returning to my happy hometown," describing how they feel about the place that has been creating happiness and joy since its opening eight years ago.

(From right to left) Murray King, vice president of Public Affairs and Communications at Shanghai Disney Resort, Xiang Yihai, deputy director General of Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism, and Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, celebrate the launch of the 2024 Shanghai Disney Resort Happiness Travel Trend Report in Shanghai, June 13, 2024. Joy from Pixar's "Inside Out" makes a special appearance by their side before the China premiere of "Inside Out 2." [Photo courtesy of Shanghai Disney Resort]

The report delves into consumers' growing desire for emotional fulfillment amid China's ongoing tourism rebound, offering insights into trends and changes within the local tourism industry.

"We are proud to share the best of our practices and experience with the industry through this comprehensive report to further advance the development of the industry," said Joe Schott, president and general manager of Shanghai Disney Resort.

"I don't know the academic definition of 'happiness,' but I know where the sample of 'happiness' is. It's in Shanghai," said Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, also known as the Data Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Through his observations over the years and combined with data from the report, Dai stated his belief that Shanghai Disney Resort creates and spreads happiness for people of all ages.

"More and more of China's local theme parks and enterprises are actively or unconsciously learning from Disney, as Disney leads the way in creating and spreading happiness and value," Dai added. "Take LinaBell, for example. She didn't exist before, but when she was born and materialized by Disney, everyone went crazy for her. That's because she strikes the softest part of our hearts and makes us feel we can find our true selves in Disneyland."

A family poses for a photo while enjoying the immersive experience at Shanghai Disneyland. [Photo courtesy of Shanghai Disney Resort]

The report, the second edition since the first Happiness Travel Trend Report released by the China Tourism Academy in 2021, notes that Shanghai Disney Resort forges strong emotional connections with generations of people worldwide, providing them with joy, mental relaxation, happiness, and fulfillment amid the continuous recovery and rebound of the global tourism industry.

"The ability to continuously create an emotional response for tens of millions of guests from such diverse backgrounds year after year is at the heart of the Disney business model and our success," said Murray King, vice president of Public Affairs and Communications of Shanghai Disney Resort.

According to the report, Shanghai Disneyland welcomed over 13 million guests in 2023, a new record since its opening eight years ago. The report also revealed that the resort's live entertainment was viewed 41 million times by guests, while its signature daytime parade drew over 10 million guests in 2023.

Among other notable highlights, the resort continues to expand, with the opening of the world's first Zootopia land last year. Ninety-seven percent of surveyed guests were aware of Zootopia before their visit, and one-third cited it as the primary reason for their trip. In 2023, 85% of guests expressed a desire to return to the resort.

Older adults have fun at Shanghai Disneyland, indicating a new trend revealed in the 2024 Shanghai Disney Resort Happiness Travel Trend Report. [Photo courtesy of Shanghai Disney Resort]

The report found that while nuclear families remain a significant portion of Shanghai Disney Resort's guests, the proportion of childless visitors is now comparable. Furthermore, the resort's popularity among seniors has grown, with attendance by senior citizens using one-day and two-day tickets increasing by approximately 75% in 2023 compared to 2019.

The report further summarized how Shanghai Disney Resort shapes lifestyles and delivers happiness, positively impacting the local community. The resort attracts tourists from around the world, supporting Shanghai's goal of becoming a world-renowned destination and the first stop in China for inbound travelers, while also contributing to the high-quality development of China's cultural tourism industry. Beyond a tourism and entertainment hub, Shanghai Disney Resort is a crucial platform for international exchange, nurturing cultural, economic and commercial cooperation.

Frances Li, vice president of External Communications at Shanghai Disney Resort, reflected on the changes since the park's opening in 2016. Initially, visitors rushed to their favorite rides and attractions, and few dressed up during the Halloween season. Now, guests are enjoying every aspect of the park, developing their habits and companions, with many dressing up in costumes daily, beyond specific festivals.

"Guests increasingly know how to have fun here, and they have formed deeper emotional bonds with every character and cast member. They now understand what immersive experiences and storytelling are all about. This is the foundation that prompts us to constantly deliver new experiences and surprises," Li said, adding that "Happiness is truly magical."

People flock to the new Zootopia land at Shanghai Disneyland, a standout example of how Disney constantly brings fresh experiences and surprises to its guests. [Photo courtesy of Shanghai Disney Resort]

In a video played at the event, a guest described an emotional moment: "Seeing bubbles coming out from the bubble wands, walking through them, and heading towards the entrance of Zootopia, I felt like the happiest person on earth at that moment."










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