Shanghai Disneyland. (Photo provided to Chinanews.com)
A social media storm hit Shanghai Disneyland following a Legal Daily article on Sunday that has elicited public criticism alleging unfair practices at the theme park.
The article discusses a limited-time VIP service offered at the amusement park that allows people to purchase expensive group tours, giving them access to the best spots at shows and on rides without waiting in line.
In addition to an admission ticket, one package charges 2,700 yuan (about 426 U.S. dollars) per person for a three-hour tour, with group sizes between 3 and 8 people. For those who desire a longer tour of six hours, they can pay 3,000 yuan (about 473 U.S. dollars) to join a group of 6 to 8 people.
The service also offers other advantages, including free parking, meal coupons and discount on souvenirs.
Almost ten times as pricey as a regular fast pass ticket, VIP group members can visit more attractions by saving time and get access to a guide who can customize the tour.
The service has been a new source of profit for Shanghai Disneyland but enrages many regular visitors, who call the VIP group a "queue-jumping group." One of them is Mr. Chen, who filed a complaint to Legal Daily, believing the practice encroaches on other visitors' lawful rights and violates service contracts.
"The VIP groups have increased the agony of waiting for other customers, which I believe violates our rights," said Mr. Zhang from Beijing, who bought a two-day ticket but only experienced four attractions.
"The special service is caused by the overwhelming number of visitors, which should focus on resolving the issue instead of gaining profit from customers," Mr. Guo, a tourist from Shenzhen complained to Legal Daily.
However, users on social media shared different opinions. "It's just like the first-class or business-class sections on a plane," user @Pangxiaocai22 commented on the Twitter-like Weibo.
"Time is money. If you pay more, you are supposed to have more privileges," another user @Haoxinshimin wrote.
On Monday, a journalist from CNR contacted an authority at the theme park, who noted that such services are not exclusive to Shanghai Disneyland. "We have offered the VIP group service since the opening of the park," he said.
Shanghai Disneyland has defended its position, noting on its official website that Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando offers a private VIP tour for a group of up to 10 guests for between 425 to 600 dollars per hour, depending on the season. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Disneyland also provides a special 3-hour tour for a group of up to 6 customers.
According to a report released by research firm Themed Entertainment Association, by the end of last October, the Shanghai Disneyland Park had attracted 27 million visitors in the 18 months following its opening in 2016. However, some of those visitors may not be amused by the long wait times at this amusement park.