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Are Disney's Chinese theme parks headed for political & financial trouble?

WDWTank

Well-Known Member
I'm putting this here in the Politics section because I don't know where else it could go. But I've been thinking...

China is currently not doing well politically or financially. The Chinese economy is slowing down very fast by even official estimates. Chinese car sales just crashed 15% in May after a year of smaller monthly declines, for example, and that's the official government figure. Privately many Chinese economists and observers say that the economy is much weaker than the government is admitting.

It is also increasingly politically incorrect for Chinese firms and consumers to do business with American firms, and that trend could get much more aggressive from the Chinese after the G20 summit later this month. The Chinese Communist Party is already going after prominent American companies doing business in China, like the recent government investigations and fines levied against FedEx and Ford Motor Company.

In Hong Kong, just over 1 million people flooded the streets this past Sunday to peacefully protest a Beijing backed law that they fear will allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to China for political or thought crimes.


Today the mass protests in Hong Kong turned violent and the police used rubber bullets and water cannons on protesters armed with umbrellas.


In short, the Disney park in mainland China at Shanghai is a glaring example of American culture in a country where it's suddenly politically incorrect to use or purchase American culture. And the other Disney park in Hong Kong, already suffering from years of low attendance, is in a city that is becoming a battleground for the future of Chinese expansion and oppression.

Neither of these two Chinese trends, both political and financial, bode well for the future of Shanghai Disneyland Resort or Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. The impact may be short-term and only last a year or two, or it could be something that lasts a decade or more.

I wonder how long Disney's two theme park properties in China can survive without coming under the scrutiny of the Communist Politburo in Beijing? The prospects for either park don't seem very bright right now. What happens if the Communists turn on Mickey Mouse and make an example of China's Disneylands? How would Iger and the Walt Disney Company respond I wonder?
I think Hong Kong Disneyland might succeed.
 

TP2000

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I think Hong Kong Disneyland might succeed.
This was inevitable, but it's surprising how quickly things turned for Hong Kong Disneyland.




Here's the story in today's Wall Street Journal with some really surprising photos of an empty Hong Kong Disneyland, backed up with the fact that tourism visits have plunged 50% in October. And October was even before some of the most violent protests erupted in November. https://www.wsj.com/articles/protests-have-turned-hong-kong-disneyland-into-a-ghost-town-11575196203

I don't believe that story is behind a paywall for those who aren't Journal subscribers, but here's a few choice quotes and some more photos from the story...

Weekday visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland have fallen by about 90% since protests began, according to rough estimates from a staff employee. He said tourists from mainland China now make up only an estimated 5% of the weekday crowd, versus at least half prior to the protests.

On an earnings call in early November, Christine McCarthy, chief financial officer at Walt Disney Co. , said Hong Kong Disneyland’s operating income dropped $55 million in its most recent quarter. She forecast a $275 million drop in operating income in the current fiscal year through September 2020 if trends continue, saying circumstances in Hong Kong have led to a significant drop in tourism from mainland China and other parts of Asia.

Alex Wong, a 31-year-old Hong Kong resident, was taking a family photo in front of a Christmas tree with his wife and 1 1/2-year-old child. Standing in the middle of a quiet cobblestone street with waltz music blasting from hidden speakers, he was surprised by how empty the park was.

“Now you look around you can hardly see any people,” said Mr. Wong, a former designer at Disney who currently runs a toy company. “I think it’s better for me and my family, but I don’t think this is a good future for Hong Kong.”






 

brb1006

Well-Known Member
This was inevitable, but it's surprising how quickly things turned for Hong Kong Disneyland.




Here's the story in today's Wall Street Journal with some really surprising photos of an empty Hong Kong Disneyland, backed up with the fact that tourism visits have plunged 50% in October. And October was even before some of the most violent protests erupted in November. https://www.wsj.com/articles/protests-have-turned-hong-kong-disneyland-into-a-ghost-town-11575196203

I don't believe that story is behind a paywall for those who aren't Journal subscribers, but here's a few choice quotes and some more photos from the story...

Weekday visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland have fallen by about 90% since protests began, according to rough estimates from a staff employee. He said tourists from mainland China now make up only an estimated 5% of the weekday crowd, versus at least half prior to the protests.

On an earnings call in early November, Christine McCarthy, chief financial officer at Walt Disney Co. , said Hong Kong Disneyland’s operating income dropped $55 million in its most recent quarter. She forecast a $275 million drop in operating income in the current fiscal year through September 2020 if trends continue, saying circumstances in Hong Kong have led to a significant drop in tourism from mainland China and other parts of Asia.

Alex Wong, a 31-year-old Hong Kong resident, was taking a family photo in front of a Christmas tree with his wife and 1 1/2-year-old child. Standing in the middle of a quiet cobblestone street with waltz music blasting from hidden speakers, he was surprised by how empty the park was.

“Now you look around you can hardly see any people,” said Mr. Wong, a former designer at Disney who currently runs a toy company. “I think it’s better for me and my family, but I don’t think this is a good future for Hong Kong.”






No wonder Hong Kong Disneyland skipped their "Nightmare Experiment"/"Nightmare Before Christmas" indoor section this year.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
This was inevitable, but it's surprising how quickly things turned for Hong Kong Disneyland.




Here's the story in today's Wall Street Journal with some really surprising photos of an empty Hong Kong Disneyland, backed up with the fact that tourism visits have plunged 50% in October. And October was even before some of the most violent protests erupted in November. https://www.wsj.com/articles/protests-have-turned-hong-kong-disneyland-into-a-ghost-town-11575196203

I don't believe that story is behind a paywall for those who aren't Journal subscribers, but here's a few choice quotes and some more photos from the story...

Weekday visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland have fallen by about 90% since protests began, according to rough estimates from a staff employee. He said tourists from mainland China now make up only an estimated 5% of the weekday crowd, versus at least half prior to the protests.

On an earnings call in early November, Christine McCarthy, chief financial officer at Walt Disney Co. , said Hong Kong Disneyland’s operating income dropped $55 million in its most recent quarter. She forecast a $275 million drop in operating income in the current fiscal year through September 2020 if trends continue, saying circumstances in Hong Kong have led to a significant drop in tourism from mainland China and other parts of Asia.

Alex Wong, a 31-year-old Hong Kong resident, was taking a family photo in front of a Christmas tree with his wife and 1 1/2-year-old child. Standing in the middle of a quiet cobblestone street with waltz music blasting from hidden speakers, he was surprised by how empty the park was.

“Now you look around you can hardly see any people,” said Mr. Wong, a former designer at Disney who currently runs a toy company. “I think it’s better for me and my family, but I don’t think this is a good future for Hong Kong.”






Can you imagine if WDW weekday guest traffic fell 90%? That would be a disaster.
 

Princess Leia

Well-Known Member
I have a friend getting married in China next year (original plan was to have their first wedding ceremony in the states when his fiancee's K1 was approved, but that's taking longer than they expected). The bff and I were looking into going to China for the wedding, then travelling and visiting Shanghai Disneyland for a couple of days. I've received several flight deals to Beijing and Shanghai that would have put our round trip travel between $380-$590 dollars (which is quite the steal). Between the unrest in Hong Kong and the treatments of the Uyghurs in the Xinxiang region, however, I morally cannot take the trip. I would love to visit China and HK, but now just isn't the time.
 

TP2000

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Between the unrest in Hong Kong and the treatments of the Uyghurs in the Xinxiang region, however, I morally cannot take the trip. I would love to visit China and HK, but now just isn't the time.
Good for you for standing up for morals!

I am plotting a Singapore/Thailand excursion for next fall (bucket list!), and I would have normally slotted two days in for Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland. But I erased Hong Kong completely, and am not even looking at Cathay Pacific flights. It's just too risky. Singapore Airlines gets my exclusive business for this one.

So many folks nowadays justify their travel and buying habits that feed immoral dictatorships like Communist China by just virtue signaling with a photo overlay on Facebook or a hashtag on Twitter, which does absolutely nothing. You have to stop giving Communist China your money.

I'm old so I remember well the mid 1980's when we were all supposed to be morally outraged at Coca-Cola for still selling soda pop in apartheid South Africa, which was a truly horrible social system. But it was easy for all the college kids to just switch to Pepsi instead, so "Boycotting Coca-Cola!" was an easy thing to do. We didn't have the phrase "virtue signaling" in the 80's, but that's what it was. And then in the early 90's the cool kids all put "Free Tibet" bumper stickers on their VW's and Subarus. The cool kids forgot about Tibet, which China still oppresses.

Fast forward to the late 2010's and I am forever fascinated by the almost complete silence of college kids and do-gooder political types towards the sweeping human rights horrors of Communist China; the huge Muslim concentration camps, Hong Kong, massive social/political oppression, horrific conditions in state owned factories and mines, etc., etc. :mad:
 
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TP2000

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Can you imagine if WDW weekday guest traffic fell 90%? That would be a disaster.
No kidding. Disneyland attendance dropped just a few percentage points after Star Wars Land opened and everyone freaked out.

I can only imagine the current level of panic and alarm in Burbank over this. They are investing heavily in Hong Kong Disneyland right now, but the entire business model and reason for the park to be there seems to be imploding.

Even if this situation only lasts a year or two, the Communist Politburo backs off in 2020 and things cool down, and the tourists eventually return in 2021, this is going to leave a mark.
 

Princess Leia

Well-Known Member
Good for you for standing up for morals!

I am plotting a Singapore/Thailand excursion for next fall (bucket list!), and I would have normally slotted two days in for Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland. But I erased Hong Kong completely, and am not even looking at Cathay Pacific flights. It's just too risky. Singapore Airlines gets my exclusive business for this one.

So many folks nowadays justify their travel and buying habits that feed immoral dictatorships like Communist China by just virtue signaling with a photo overlay on Facebook or a hashtag on Twitter, which does absolutely nothing. You have to stop giving Communist China your money.

I'm old so I remember well the mid 1980's when we were all supposed to be morally outraged at Coca-Cola for still selling soda pop in apartheid South Africa, which was a truly horrible social system. But it was easy for all the college kids to just switch to Pepsi instead, so "Boycotting Coca-Cola!" was an easy thing to do. We didn't have the phrase "virtue signaling" in the 80's, but that's what it was. And then in the early 90's the cool kids all put "Free Tibet" bumper stickers on their VW's and Subarus. The cool kids forgot about Tibet, which China still oppresses.

Fast forward to the late 2010's and I am forever fascinated by the almost complete silence of college kids and do-gooder political types towards the sweeping human rights horrors of Communist China; the huge Muslim concentration camps, Hong Kong, massive social/political oppression, horrific conditions in state owned factories and mines, etc., etc. :mad:
Believe me, I want to say hell to the morals and have a great vacation and support my friend... but I really can’t do it. Religious minorities are being stamped out over there. The government is censoring everyone. Hong Kong is practically in shambles. Women’s rights continue to be awful there (for those who aren’t opposed to swearing, John Oliver tackled the effects of the one-child policy in a recent episode, and there were some parts that were emotionally hard to watch). Actually, the rights of people are practically nonexistent.

China is on my bucket list, but for now, I’m just going to save money and try to purchase less items manufactured there. It’s not a huge impact but it’s the one thing I feel like I can do.

Thailand is also on my bucket list (I just ordered Thai food for dinner tonight), have a great trip!
 

TP2000

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The concentration camps are horrible, and it is outrageous that they haven't made a bigger impact in news cycles, or governments calling them out.
There's also inconvenient truths like mass incarceration of politically active citizens or political opponents, and then the forced organ harvesting of those Chinese citizens when they are in the prison system. Plus a short laundry list of other human rights horrors. The concentration camps are just one item on that list.

The problem is that both political parties in the USA have not only benefited greatly ($$$) from feeding the China beast for the last 25 years, they are both complicit in pushing and passing legislation that allowed China to do it. It's a series of failed policies and projections going back decades, like granting China favored trading nation status, that allowed China's Communist Party to gain access to huge amounts of wealth.

And the college industrial complex has no desire to provoke China because they make huge profits off the Chinese nationals they admit into their colleges each fall at elevated tuitions. The colleges, especially state schools like the UC system here in California, would rather have 500 high profit Chinese nationals on each campus paying higher tuition rates, than admit 500 California native children of middle class parents from Fresno and Riverside who pay much less tuition than the Chinese "exchange students".

The whole thing is a disaster decades in the making and absolutely no one wants to touch it. It's a minor miracle that President Trump has pushed back on China as much as he has, because previously no President did a darn thing about it.

The only thing I can do until Election Day 2020 is turn an item over at the store and when it says "Made In China" try and find another product to buy somewhere else. In October I bought a new washer/dryer set at a Home Depot in Orange, CA, and I told the salesman clearly that I wanted something made in the USA. He kindly nodded in agreement, steered past the rows of LG and Samsungs made in Korea of Chinese components, and I found a great Whirlpool set made entirely in Ohio. They work wonderfully!
 

Princess Leia

Well-Known Member
There's also inconvenient truths like mass incarceration of politically active citizens or political opponents, and then the forced organ harvesting of those Chinese citizens when they are in the prison system. Plus a short laundry list of other human rights horrors. The concentration camps are just one item on that list.

The problem is that both political parties in the USA have not only benefited greatly ($$$) from feeding the China beast for the last 25 years, they are both complicit in pushing and passing legislation that allowed China to do it. It's a series of failed policies and projections going back decades, like granting China favored trading nation status, that allowed China's Communist Party to gain access to huge amounts of wealth.

And the college industrial complex has no desire to provoke China because they make huge profits off the Chinese nationals they admit into their colleges each fall at elevated tuitions. The colleges, especially state schools like the UC system here in California, would rather have 500 high profit Chinese nationals on each campus paying higher tuition rates, than admit 500 California native children of middle class parents from Fresno and Riverside who pay much less tuition than the Chinese "exchange students".

The whole thing is a disaster decades in the making and absolutely no one wants to touch it. It's a minor miracle that President Trump has pushed back on China as much as he has, because previously no President did a darn thing about it.

The only thing I can do until Election Day 2020 is turn an item over at the store and when it says "Made In China" try and find another product to buy somewhere else. In October I bought a new washer/dryer set at a Home Depot in Orange, CA, and I told the salesman clearly that I wanted something made in the USA. He kindly nodded in agreement, steered past the rows of LG and Samsungs made in Korea of Chinese components, and I found a great Whirlpool set made entirely in Ohio. They work wonderfully!
Whirpool has a plant 30 minutes south of my town, thanks for supporting local!

Also, do you have any links to the organ harvesting? This is the first time I've heard about it.
 

The Mom

Moderator
Premium Member
Whirpool has a plant 30 minutes south of my town, thanks for supporting local!

Also, do you have any links to the organ harvesting? This is the first time I've heard about it.

It has been going on for decades.
 
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