Theme Park Insider

Trashing Shanghai Disneyland, before the park even opens

May 3, 2016, 11:03 AM · As if Disney fans angry over Shanghai Disneyland needed any more provocation, along comes a slew of photos showing Chinese visitors trashing the Disneytown shopping area outside the yet-to-open park's front gate.

First posted to the Chinese social network Weibo, blogs around the world are republishing the photos, which show trash, graffiti, trampled landscaping, and even a child defecating in a planter.

Shanghai Disneyland trash

Shanghai Disneyland graffiti

Pooping in the planter

Even though Shanghai Disneyland won't open until June 16, the train station that will serve the park recently opened, and thousands of Chinese tourists visited Disneytown over the recent May Day holiday. While most enjoyed the opportunity to see the park for free — at least from the outside — a few others, well, didn't exactly mind their manners on their sight-seeing visit.

China is battling the stereotype of its visitors acting poorly in locations around the world, and these pictures just fuel that perception.

What will happen when Shanghai Disneyland opens next month? Keep in mind that anyone who gets inside the park will have to pay to enter. Will that help ensure a better behaved crowd inside the gates? Will Disney react to this by hiring more security and custodial staff to police the grounds? Whatever happens, with so many visitors armed with cell phones and Weibo accounts, we can be sure that if anyone does something ugly in or around Shanghai Disneyland, the world will get to see it.

Replies (51)

May 3, 2016 at 11:14 AM · Disney management is blind to reality: Chinese manners are vastly different from American and Japanese manners. There's nothing shocking in these photos. All of these behaviors are acceptable in Chinese culture. Good luck getting your money back, Disney shareholders. Shanghai Disney looks like another Euro Disney fiasco in the making. How long until Disney shareholders wise up and fire these clowns?
May 3, 2016 at 12:01 PM · how absolutely sad, i wish they would invest the money and continue adding more and more to the parks in the states instead of overseas
May 3, 2016 at 12:34 PM · So you want Disney to just let a bunch of people trash all over this property they just spent millions of dollars on to make look pretty?

Yeah, just putting this out there, if I dedicate a lot of time and effort into making my house look nice, and someone had the nerve to throw trash around everywhere, first thing I'd do is kick them out.

May 3, 2016 at 1:54 PM · I'm sure this park will likely be more successful than Disneyland Paris, but I'd imagine the upkeep to keep the park looking spectacular, if these pictures are anything to judge by, will be astronomical.
May 3, 2016 at 2:06 PM · The Chinese will need more hand holding with examples like this. Disney will be forced to keep up the maintenance. Luckily, costs will be kept low due to low wages, but this free ride can't last forever.
May 3, 2016 at 2:11 PM · Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney Studios, Hong Kong Disney, and now Shanghai Disney. When will it stop??? I can see this being a major economic flop for WDC, thus meaning that all of WDC's international parks have failed with the exception of Tokyo Disney. This will inevitably lead to more budget cuts at our domestic parks, which will eventually pursue people to stop visiting DLR and WDW. Instead, these people will start visiting USH And USO, who instead of slashing their budgets, are increasing their budgets. Plus, it seems that lately USH has been doing a better job at managing crowds than DLR has. Sadly, As an almost 14 year consecutive DLR AP holder (did not renew in 2013), I can gladly say that I won't be renewing my AP when it expires in a few weeks. Although one AP holder not renewing will make virtually no difference, it's just a matter of time before people wake up and realize that it's just not worth it anymore. Hopefully, this will lead the board to fire Bob Iger and fire Bob Chapek.
May 3, 2016 at 2:13 PM · Anon Mouse costs will be kept low due to low wages? What are you talking about!

Did it ever occur to you that Shanghai Disneyland will be collecting Chinese currency at their gate and the gate prices will be based on the Chinese market. Your argument about savings in wages would only be true of they charged US prices for admission!

Disney is not blind to reality either. They're well aware of Chinese manners and the fact that China is a very different market.

May 3, 2016 at 5:25 PM · Universal will open a Beijing park....

@70: Chinese cost of living is much lower than the US. Relative to the admission cost, comparatively the poor Chinese is less likely to afford an admission ticket than the US. Disney will appeal to the sweet spot of middle income that are increasingly traveling and free spenders. The poor is much poorer.

May 3, 2016 at 2:16 PM · @107.202.212.6 - while I agree that there is a *lot* of truth in the stereotype (I have been pointing out that problem many times, and have been accused of "racism" about as many times, mostly by people who did not even know what the word means...), I do not see a financial problem here. If it´s acceptable or at least not shocking, then there´s no problem, because almost *all* the visitors will be Chinese - revenue from overseas guests play no role in the profit calculations at all.
May 3, 2016 at 2:28 PM · This is going to be a big hurdle for Shanghai Disneyland and it may reduce the appeal to foreign visitors. While I haven't visited the country myself, I have heard from those that have that many things considered perfectly acceptable in China are considered outrageous by many Western countries. That said, I believe the resort was designed specifically to cater to the Chinese, so perhaps Disney has a plan for this once everything is fully operational. Keep in mind that Americans don't necessarily treat the parks with respect either (though they don't go as far as using planters as a restroom).
May 3, 2016 at 2:36 PM · Wow thats just disgusting. I don't want to be racist but if this is what China is like I'm never going.
May 3, 2016 at 2:43 PM · It's interesting how quickly people are saying that SDL is going to fail big time just because of three unpleasing pictures. Except for maybe the last picture, all of these situations could have occurred at other Disney parks. SDL is going to be a success.
May 3, 2016 at 2:54 PM · I have seen every single thing happening in these photos happen at parks I have worked at in the states, including a parent holding a child over a railing so he could take a number two towards the end of a very long wait for a ride. My brother-in-law just retired from a role as an exec over Asian operations from a major US coffee house chain that has locations in China. He can tell some crazy stories, but this park is going to be spectacular. Regardless of the people and the learning curve that is going to need to happen.
May 3, 2016 at 3:14 PM · Having seen how rude they are in the UK and the USA to other people I am not shocked to see they have no respect for there own country, shame as I am sure it's only a small minority of people.
May 3, 2016 at 3:46 PM · Facepalm...
May 3, 2016 at 4:37 PM · #ThanksShanghai, for showing your True Colors.

Is #TrashShanghai just the custodial cast member training program?

May 3, 2016 at 5:05 PM · Agreeing with Rob here. It's not a question of whether people will behave - they won't, either in China or most other places around the world. The issue is, can Disney clean the mess before people post photos to the Internet?
May 3, 2016 at 5:14 PM · To the first guy who posted:

The actions you see in the photos aren't acceptable behaviour in China.

If I were, do you think the people would have taken photos and blog about it?

May 3, 2016 at 5:37 PM · Is it WORTH the uphill battle in Shanghai? Literally, Disney had to start at the basics: who is Tinkerbell? Who is Cinderella? Chinese visitors didn't know! Disney had to introduce Disney English – a series of schools that teach Chinese children how to speak English using Disney stories and characters. Even just a few weeks ago, DisneyLife – the company's on-demand music / movies / books program to get those characters into Chinese households – was shut down by the Chinese government in a crackdown on American products!

This only adds to my disbelief that the Walt Disney Company believes that U.S. is currently saturated with theme parks and resorts. I have confidence that they did their due diligence and have the research, data, and evaluation to back up their refusal to build again in the U.S., but it occurs to me that if this exact park were transplanted to just outside of Chicago or Columbus, they could charge $110 a day and the place would be packed to the gills. Shanghai Disneyland has practically NO attractions in common with Disneyland or Walt Disney World – seems to me that folks from around the country would've flocked to this park if it were in the U.S. Instead, the uphill battle is doomed to continue. Just seems absolutely silly to me.

May 3, 2016 at 5:50 PM · The pretentious rhetoric in this section is appalling, more like elitist insiders. If I gave your children a blank map, they probably couldn't even point out where Shanghai is. They probably don't know the difference between mandarin and cantonese. Can you name one Chinese politician? Your condemning people for living in their culture, for not abiding to your standard of living. I just think we should get to know a country before judging a couple of pictures on the internet.
May 3, 2016 at 6:25 PM · Throwing garbage around and defecating into potted plants are things that shouldn't be tolerated in ANY culture.
May 3, 2016 at 6:43 PM · @Json No matter how different their culture is, public defecation and urination is unsanitary to the extreme. We're talking about potential diseases here. Defacing property is not nearly as bad as that, but the cost that goes into fixing that alone is crazy. These are not people complaining about the restaurant menus over there or anything truly silly and elitist like that. What is going on in these photos is a real concern for both TWDC and the people who visit their parks.
May 3, 2016 at 6:44 PM · This kind of behavior could have been a headache for opening day, but Disney was probably smart in opening Disney Town ahead of time to gauge the response. Perhaps the Chinese government will be shamed into educating the people in proper etiquette. There may be a learning curve for both sides, but it will probably work out in the end.
May 3, 2016 at 6:51 PM · I don't see how this is acting any different than American visitors? I saw all this and worse when I worked at Epcot.
May 3, 2016 at 6:57 PM · How can anyone think that Shanghai Disney will be a success?!?! Just look at how far HKDL got. They're literally losing money everyday. Not just that, but the Chinese economy is drastically slowing down. Not to mention that Disney does not have as big of a nostalgic effect in China as it does in the U.S. Heck many people in China don't care or aren't even aware of who the Disney characters are. Building a multi-billon dollar park in China was the biggest mistake WDC has ever made. Sure, initially it might be crowded and popular for the first year or two, but after the hype sizzles out, SDL will be in deep trouble, which will lead to more budget cuts at home. My prediction is that HKDL will completely fold within the next 10 years, and SDL will become another DLP, where the state of the park is deplorable. The only park that has a bright future ahead of it is TKDL. WDW and DLR will most certainly see a decline in attendance in the next 10 years, as Universal gains ground and people decide to explore other options. Iger and Chapek have literally ruined this company and the board can't even see the storm that's approaching. I would highly reccomend anyone who's invested money into WDC to withdrawal their money while they still can. Things are going to get a lot worse.
May 3, 2016 at 7:25 PM · The impending opening of Shanghai Disneyland was a red flag to me a while ago. Coupled with other troubling news regarding the Chinese economy as well as Asia as a whole, I first reduced, then eliminated my position in DIS in my portfolio. I still have 5 shares, one for each Grandchild, so I watch appropriate sites for information. I also love theme parks, so, there's that.

Once upon a time, I felt pretty smart for buying DIS in the low $40s. I did sell at a gain and manage to double my money for the most part. I just have no faith in the current management team.

May 3, 2016 at 7:33 PM · Outside of the kid pooping in the planter, I saw many of these same actions at Disneyland Paris.

I wonder if theme parks only work well in certain cultures? I was shocked at the way people acted at DLP.

May 3, 2016 at 7:40 PM · Disney can't build parks overseas fast enough, to the detriment of
the original 2 parks in America. Slashed budgets are the norm in the
American Disney parks.What happened to the Fantasyland dark ride upgrades that were planned? They stopped after two, even though five were planned.
What happened to Tomorrowland in Anaheim Disneyland? It looks like
Coney Island...a mid 60's circus...an embarrassment.
But greed rules the day with Disney's management.
There aren't even any plans in the works for re-doing Tomorrowland.
But they can't get into China fast enough.
I used to be the biggest Disneyland fan. But I stopped going
a few years ago. Too many missed opportunities.
By the way, there was an enormous opportunity to do something great with the Little Mermaid ride. Instead, a weak C ticket.
May 3, 2016 at 8:58 PM · Re: Disney Obsession

As long as the majority stake holder in Hk Disneyland is the HK Government (53%) Hk Disneyland will not fold. The HK government will not let that happen. They will just negotiate with Wdc for the addition of new attractions and lands in return for a reduction in their stake to 51 percent.

This would be similar to the agreement reached that lead to mystic manor, grizzly gulch and toy story land being added.

Children in China may not be familiar with all of Disney characters but they know FROZEN!

I do agree that Shanghai Disneyland will have disastrous debut. It's 3 times the size of HK Disneyland but will open with the same number of attractions that hk Disneyland did at 12! That is a recipe for disaster.

Re: Jaiden

Don't judge a book by its cover please. I currently live and work in Hong Kong and have travelled to China numerous times. There are places in China that are as nice if not nicer than anything in North America but of course there are places in China much worst. It is a developing nation after all.

May 3, 2016 at 10:00 PM · I agree with Yowzer. I live in China, and some areas are gorgeous. At the same time, I've seen plenty of kids pee right on the sidewalk, and nobody bats an eye.

Additionally, in my area (and most cities I've visited), there are basically 24-hour groundskeepers. They are constantly sweeping up leaves and trash, putting them in plastic bags and/or piles to haul away. It will be no different at the park.

I've been to HKDL 3 times now, and never ever thought it felt dirty. I guess a clean park doesn't equate to a successful park, but it can't hurt. I just don't believe the Shanghai park will be dirty. Maybe a disaster, but not due to a lack of cleanliness.

May 3, 2016 at 9:55 PM · Disneyobsession, I don't think using Hong Kong Disneyland's performance as a metric for Shanghai Disneyland is a particularly good choice as there is almost nothing similar about the two other than the overall theme. Hong Kong Disneyland was essentially a collection of cloned attractions with very few changes to the Magic Kingdom formula to cater to its intended audience. On the other hand, Shanghai Disneyland was designed from the ground up to cater to the Chinese and includes mostly attractions based on newer Disney material that will likely be more familiar to Chinese audiences, plus it will have nearly twice the number of attractions Hong Kong Disneyland originally had (around half of which are original to Shanghai). While I do not think it will exceed all expectations, I do think it is likely the park will be more successful than Paris or Hong Kong were initially. And I doubt Disney as a whole is going to come crashing down in the next ten years...there may be an attendance plateau or a slight decline, but enough is going on to keep people coming.
May 3, 2016 at 10:29 PM · On the respective Disney web sites, I count 24 attractions in Shanghai vs. 36 currently at Hong Kong. Yes, that's including minor attractions like the canoes, but along with the entertainment offerings, hopefully there will be enough to keep people occupied. On opening day, it will be totally new to them, so hopefully it will be enough to impress.

The pictures I've seen of the park are awesome, so hopefully it will make a good first impression, avoiding a Hong Kong style debacle. I think Disney learned their lesson in Hong Kong, it seems like they didn't skimp on the details this time.

Disney could have saved money by cloning attractions for Shanghai, but they opted to come up with totally new attractions like Tron and Pirates, and they must have done tons of research on what the Chinese audience likes.

Also, they're opening only two hotels, so it seems that they're also avoiding making the same mistake in Paris where they built too many hotels which sat empty.

May 4, 2016 at 2:27 AM · Seriously, fire Bob Chapek. With the news of Tower of Terror and all his plans, I will not be returning to the parks. After being an AP for 17 years, I will not be renewing, and I was proposed to on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I'm so upset that is my reality now. He's ruining my 2nd home, and my favorite childhood memories.
May 4, 2016 at 4:36 AM · Re-Disneyobsession.

First off, with these types of comments, I think you might wanna consider a different profile name.

Second, with all of the new projects WDW has in store, I highly doubt they're gonna see a decline in attendance anytime soon.

Third, (and this goes out to everyone on this thread) if we're gonna criticize Disney for building such an expensive park in China, then what about Universal? Aren't they building their own Chinese theme park as well? And I've heard it's gonna be the most expensive project they've ever worked on. Surely our Lord and Savior Universal couldn't ever dissapoint us, right?

May 4, 2016 at 6:58 AM · If you're a shareholder, where is the upside to owning Disney stock? ESPN? Cable customers are cutting the cord. The $1.5 billion MyMagic+? Lol! Disney's overseas "growth" markets? Disney Paris and Hong Kong Disney are disasters. Why does anyone believe Shanghai will be any different? How is Shanghai Disney ever going to pay back its $6 billion cost? Disney is cutting its own throat, ripping off American customers to pay for boneheaded investment decisions.
May 4, 2016 at 8:13 AM · I am amazed at the number of "experts" that chime in on these comments. I have been going to China for decades. I've been to the SHDR site a few times already. The park is designed for the Chinese market, and doesn't need ANY foreigners to succeed.
The ticket prices will determine what socioeconomic demograph actually gets into the park.
A few FACTS:
1. There are more people who are income appropriate that live within a 3 hour drive from SHDR, than live in the ENTIRE US. It is a much larger audience, with MORE disposable income this our entire country. We have 6 domestic Disney parks to support, they have one.

2. The cost of operations at SHDR will be lower.

3. Disney did NOT foot the entire bill to build the resort.

4. China is the second largest film/media market in the world, and will be number one within five years. Many of those movies, are Disney brands.

5. SHDR is a capital investment, NOT an operating expense. Therefore, it does not affect the Wall Street opinion. #thanksshanghai is ridiculous, as GAAP would not let them show net revenue offsets by cutting operating costs in the US. The lemmings who think that are uninformed about accounting rules. The park is a NRE capital expense, and does NOT affect the bottom line.

6. The vast majority of people making these uniformed racists statements have never been to Shanghai.

Imagine if you saw photos of Detroit, would you judge our entire country on that cesspool?

May 4, 2016 at 8:56 AM · But seriously y'all are looking at the American parks with rose colored glasses. I've seen all of this and a lot worse at WDW and Disneyland. People are gross. Simple as that.
May 4, 2016 at 9:08 AM · @184 - I believe you're wrong. SDL WAS a capital investment, up until its opening day - its ORIGINAL opening day. Since then, it's been an operating expense.
May 4, 2016 at 9:17 AM · My question is who thought it a good idea to take a picture of a child defecating??? I mean yeah, now we know what's going on, but still. You took a PICTURE of the child IN THE PROCESS OF DEFECATING.

I guess what I feel matters about the situation as a whole is not what the chinese culture dictates, but how Disney would like their SDL guests to act on their property, or any guests on any of their properties for that matter.

May 4, 2016 at 9:45 AM · I don't understand what these people are doing there if the park isn't open. Is there no one patrolling the area? It looks like a free for all. I would not want to be anywhere near that.
May 4, 2016 at 9:46 AM · I just had to chime in on the comment "why doesn't Disney build more parks in the US?" It made me think of several years ago when "Disney's America" was looking to build in Virginia. Just a few hour drive for me so I was ecstatic about having a Disney park that close. But the locals spoke up and said no way!!

There's lots of us out there that adore Disney but do we want one in our back yard!? OK...stupid question...yes I would LOVE a Disney park in my back yard because it means more to us than the general public. But it goes without saying, wherever Disney decides to build in the US, people will protest. If it's your neighborhood, it's about to get a little more "hustle and bustle". I'm not sure if it was the main reason the Virginia project fell through but it certainly impacted it.
May 4, 2016 at 9:51 AM · Cost of building Universal Beijing: $3.3 billion.

Cost of building Shanghai Disney: $5.5 billion was budgeted. True cost after going way over budget, who knows?

May 4, 2016 at 10:06 AM · Although this behavior shown in the photos is brutal and inappropriate in any civilized society, in my many years of visiting Disneyworld in Florida I've seen tons of examples of similar behavior from the folk right here at home. I had to stop some teens from carving their initials into the wood framing in the queue to Kali River Rapids, I've seen people come close to trampling small toddlers lining a parade route so they can dart across the street. Dozens and Dozens of visitors not using the designated smoking areas to engage in their dirty, filthy rotten habit, throwing cigarette butts into the carefully cared for shrubs and flowers. This becomes even more of a problem at the resorts. I've seen several families from Great Britain at the Pop Century resort bringing in cases of beer in bottles and taking them with them into the computer pool, blowing their noses in the pool water, smoking in the pool, and leaving all their bottles and mess behind them at the end of the night for cast members to have to clean up after. And BTW I always report any infractions I see to the nearest cast member, as we all should.

I've twice seen young kids at my daughters' school drop their drawers in pure daylight and relieve themselves without a hint of fear or embarrassment.

The truth of the matter is that there are dirty, filthy people all over the world and from all walks of life, and unfortunately some of those people eventually gather enough money together to visit a Disney park.

The GOOD thing is that Disney is THE master of getting the vast majority of people to do the right thing and behave in a civilized manner, so we can only hope that they can help change the culture a bit for the better, at least one day at a time within their park borders.

May 4, 2016 at 12:48 PM · Hey guys, all or most of you are over reacting. This is all quite expected and accepted! Disney hires local people to be management in their various ventures and through focus groups and market testing not only does Disney, as a company, know what's on the horizon but their locally raised managers are keen on helping corporate know what to expect. There are slight differences between Disneyland and WDW! Even people who work in chain stores will tell you their customers (I KNOW Disney doesn't have customer we have guests) act differently from store to store just miles apart.
Give WDC credit; they know what to expect in each of their service "arenas" and diligently prepare for it in their planning stage. In fact, they over plan just in case its worse than expected. And, yes, it does affect the cost of operating a theme park. But refuse management is part of every park operation. People leave trash and garbage everywhere...our beloved Disneyland included. I think if I walked around Disneyland with my camera or phone poised I could take relatively similar photos there or at Universal or Sea World or just about anywhere. One thing for sure; everyone knows the refuse won't stay there long. Someone, corporate or not, will take it away. Why? Because in enormous quantity refuse; plastics, glass and other recyclables, is worth money!
May 4, 2016 at 8:05 PM · How can you think this is any different than the US Parks? Have any of you been to Disneyland parking lot and saw the huge amount of trash left behind by pigs that can't find a trash can to throw away their McDonald bags? And I've seen people changing their baby's diapers on a dining table of one of Disney's fast food restaurant at Disneyland too.. Talk about manners...
May 5, 2016 at 6:24 AM · Unfortunately there are nasty trashy people with no manners or consideration everywhere. I have been in the tourist business since 1990 and have seen a distinct downturn in manners and public actions especially in the last 15 years.

In earlier years, I think people sometimes checked themselves because they were afraid of publicly embarrassing themselves and being called out on their behavior but now? Everything goes and people are afraid of being accused of being politically incorrect not to mention beat up if they dare say anything to people behaving badly.

May 5, 2016 at 9:38 AM · Our family goes to WDW and we remember the lessons of it's a small world and IllumiNations.
I'm always disheartened to see so many park regulars in these comments so unashamedly racist, classist and just plain mean. Shame on them.
May 5, 2016 at 10:09 AM · Lessons? They're attractions with some catchy music, and a watered down message. What lessons are to be learned?
May 5, 2016 at 10:53 AM · Saying that Chinese manners are different from American and Japanese manners is not racist. It is fact. Have you ever been to Japan? It's one of the cleanest countries in the world. Have you ever been to China? It's much dirtier than Japan or America. Just because some people in this country have atrocious manners doesn't mean that's the norm. In China these behaviors are the norm. People who suggest otherwise are the true racists, seeking to impose their cultural bias on the Chinese.
May 6, 2016 at 1:24 PM · Although I agree that Japanese manners and customer service are exceptional, I would caution as to stereotyping an entire people in a negative light. I think positive reinforcement and setting a good example are the best routes taken when poor behavior is noticed. Labeling or putting down an entire group, factual or not, is counter productive. Let's not forget that racial superiority is what drove the devastating wars of the last century.
May 9, 2016 at 5:09 PM · This is why I boycott China - their culture is offensive. Call me a racist, but I'm the farthest from it. When they decided to curb the rabies in the country by sending police out with bats to kill dogs on the street- including those being walked on a leash, plus the annual dog meat festival and the slave like conditions of lower end workers, I cannot buy anything made in china, nor will I ever travel to that horrific place. Why Disney would choose to allow products to be made in china, let alone spend a fortune to build a park there, is beyond me. No thanks!

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