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Mickey Mouse vs Big Big Wolf: Disney's battle for Chinese wallets

(Agencies) Updated: 2016-06-16 07:27

Mickey Mouse vs Big Big Wolf: Disney's battle for Chinese wallets

A local tourist poses for a photo with figures from animation movie Toy Story at Shanghai Disneyland. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

As the $5.5-billion Shanghai Disneyland opens on Thursday, The Walt Disney Co has a challenge. The hold of rival Asian characters such as China's homegrown Boonie Bears or Big Big Wolf means seven-year-olds like Li Yixuan have less time for Mickey Mouse and Friends.

As Li settles on the living room floor for 15 minutes of cartoons before homework and bed, Disney doesn't get a look-in this time, as his favorite animated hero, Ultraman Ace from the hit Japanese series, does battle with space dinosaurs.

And as the number of competing theme parks in China soars, it will become even harder to win the hearts of Chinese children-and open the wallets of their parents-to fuel long-term traffic after the turnstiles start clicking from Thursday.

"When we get kids now to write down their favorite cartoon character, very few put down Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck," said Song Lei, Hong Kong-based director at Animation-Comic-Game Group, the organizer of Asia's biggest annual fair for comics, anime and games.

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