The magic middle kingdom

A BOLD reimagining of the tale of Tarzan is one of the principal attractions at Shanghai Disneyland, a theme park twice the size of California’s original Disneyland, that opened on June 16th. Even more impressive than the acrobatic stunts on display are the gyrations performed behind the scenes by Robert Iger, chairman of the Walt Disney Company, to ensure that his firm’s vast investment in China brings equally huge rewards.

In pursuit of bumper returns Mr Iger boasted this week that the new park is “by far the most creatively ambitious and technically advanced” his firm has ever built. As evidence, he pointed out that it has the world’s tallest Storybook Castle; puts on more live shows than any new Disney park, all in Chinese; and that its heart-stopping “Tron” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides (based on blockbuster films) feature advanced technologies that Disney is launching in China. Disney has certainly had long enough to conjure this up; over 15 years has passed from inception to opening day.

After such a long wait, will it make money? Disney already runs four of...Continue reading