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A new policy released by Shanghai Disney Resort has raised heated public discussions in China. According to news reports, Disney visitors may no longer bring in any outside food, alcoholic beverages or soft drinks (larger than 600 milliliters). Previously, unopened snacks and drinks were allowed. Many recent visitors to the resort who were unaware of the new rule were seen by media sitting outside Disney's front gates eating the picnic lunches they had brought with them just so that they could be let inside; some simply tossed their food into the trash.

Tourists queue to buy a 55-yuan turkey leg at Shanghai Disney Resort. Photos: VCG and Chen Xia/GT

Compulsory consumption

The Global Times recently interviewed some random Chinese and foreigners in Shanghai about their opinions toward Shanghai Disney Resort's restrictive new regulation against outside food and drinks.

Sam from the Philippines said he prefers to buy everything he wants to eat and drink inside a resort and doesn't see anything wrong with the new rule. "Actually, it's not a new rule, it is an old one, because ever since Disney opened, it has been there," he said.

He added that if visitors to the park were still allowed to bring in any food and beverages they want, there would be too many bags for security guards to check. "It is for the safety of the place and the people themselves," Sam said.

Chinese male Li Ming (pseudonym) said all Disney resorts worldwide already have this rule, so there is no reason for China to be an exception. Li added that many Chinese tourists tend to litter inside Shanghai Disney Resort, which causes a huge workload for the park's sanitary workers.

However, a majority of our interviewees argued that it is unreasonable and rude for a foreign resort operating in China, which has a long tradition of allowing people to carry in their own food, to forbid locals from eating and drinking what they want.

Karin from Europe said many Europeans also tend to bring their own food to tourist resorts and amusement parks, but agreed that alcoholic drinks should be prohibited at Disney, as it is a place for children.

"Usually, parks like Disney have very high prices for their food and beverages," she said, adding that if Disney prohibits people from bringing in outside food, they should at least charge "normal prices" for food and beverages.

Tourists dine at a Shanghai Disney Resort restaurant.

Super expensive

Twenty-something Chinese Liu Yuxin (pseudonym), who is currently studying in the US, pointed out that the measure is a form of compulsory consumption. "Visitors must buy food, water and beverages inside Shanghai Disney Resort," she said. "I think the resort should at least allow visitors to bring in a bottle of water and a small snack."

British national Alesandro said he can see why Shanghai Disney Resort launched the new rule. "It is just to make money, right? So people spend more cash inside the park. But I think it is unfair, because it is super expensive in there," he told the Global Times.

Liu agrees that the purpose of Disney's new rule is simply to force Chinese visitors to spend money on Disney's own "overpriced" meals and beverages.

Meanwhile, most Chinese-owned parks and venues, both commercial and private, have an open-door policy when it comes to letting visitors bring in their own drinks and foods. From amusement parks to movie theaters, museums to night clubs, China's long tradition of letting customers carry in outside snacks and beverages is quite contrary to similar places in Western countries.

"Most places in America don't allow visitors to bring in any outside food. So even if I bring a snack or beverage, they are very likely to be thrown away by security guards," Liu told the Global Times.

Menus and prices of food and drinks at Shanghai Disney Resort


Menus and prices of food and drinks at Shanghai Disney Resort


Menus and prices of food and drinks at Shanghai Disney Resort

Profit margins

Alesandro said that, in the UK, movie theaters don't want people bringing in outside food, as it cuts into their own concession stand's profit margin.

"I try to maybe sneak a snack in my backpack, but they will search it," he said. "So a lot of my female friends like to put a drink or a candy in their purse, which guards don't search," he said.

Likewise, Sam said that, in the Philippines, many tourist resorts and amusement parks also don't allow people to bring in any outside food and drinks.

"The Philippines have Enchanted Kingdom, which is a small version of Disney. You are not allowed to bring food or drinks there. You have to buy it all inside," he told the Global Times.

Karin said that, in Europe, alcoholic drinks tend to be prohibited in attraction parks, but normal food like sandwiches are allowed.

Follow the rules

Many of our interviewees agreed that parks like Disney that don't allow paying visitors to bring in their own food tend to have an oppressive atmosphere.

Alesandro said he understands why such places set such rules in terms of profit. "But I think maybe they will attract more Chinese visitors if they allow them to bring their own food," he added.

"People tend to spend a whole day at an amusement park, so they must have water to drink and food to eat. People's eating habits are different, however, so amusement parks shouldn't expect visitors to enjoy the stuff they provide," Chinese national Liu said.

However, Sam feels that there is nothing wrong about Disney's strict food policies. "It is just their rule, and you have to follow the rules," he told the Global Times.



Liu Yuxin


Li Ming (right)