Shanghai Disneyland Draws 11 Million Visitors in First Year

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On the first anniversary of Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE: DIS) Shanghai Disneyland, company CEO Robert Iger said that the theme park had attracted more than 11 million visitors since its opening. Iger noted that attendance far exceeded the company’s expectations.

That’s good news for the Mouse House, which saw attendance at all its parks rise by just 2.5 million last year. Without Shanghai Disneyland, attendance would have dropped by more than 2.5 million, according to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Report for 2016.

The TEA/AECOM index logged 5.6 million visitors to Shanghai Disneyland last year, ranking it 21st in worldwide attendance in a little over six months of operation. If the park attracts around 11 million visitors in 2017, it will rank just above Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in seventh place.

One sign of the Shanghai park’s popularity is a 10.3% decline in attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland, which attracted 6.1 million visitors last year. The Chinese government’s restrictions on travel to Hong Kong were mostly responsible, and as China’s largest city with 34 million residents, Shanghai was ideally placed to make up the slack.

Iger said that Disney expected about two-thirds of the new park’s visitors to come from the Shanghai region and was surprised to discover that, in fact, about half came from outside the region. He made no projections about future attendance, but commented that the number of visitors from outside the region is a “positive sign.”

The company’s goal in building the park was to create a launching pad for Disney’s characters and movies to Chinese consumers. According to a report at CNBC, in 2016 Disney was the top foreign movie studio measured by box office receipts, with four films, including “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” earning 1 billion yuan ($146 million).

Disney stock closed at$105.98 on Thursday, down about 0.2%, in a 52-week range of $90.32 to $116.10. Shares were up in Friday’s premarket session to $106.00. The consensus 12-month price target is $119.14, according to MarketWatch.