Disney is one of the first companies you probably think of when you imagine a corporate giant. With ownership of theme parks, movies, video games, music, and tons of other media, Disney is one of the most widely recognized brands in the entire world. But who actually owns the company? Is it America, or do the Chinese have a large stake?
So, is Disney owned by China? The answer is… well, sort of. While Disney as a whole is owned by the Walt Disney Company, which is an American company based in California, China does have majority ownership of the theme park located in Shanghai.
The rest of this article is going to go into detail about the ownership of Disney, who exactly owns various parts of it, and how China acquired such a large share of their Shanghai theme park.
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Is Disney owned by China?
The answer to this question is a little complicated. Technically, no, China does not own Disney. As a whole, “Disney” as we think of it is owned by the Walt Disney Company. This company is American and is based in California.
However, China does own the majority of its theme park located in Shanghai. So, they do have ownership over some of what the average person considers “Disney,” especially if you are thinking about the theme parks specifically.
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Who owns the Walt Disney Company?
The Walt Disney Company is a publicly held company. It has ownership shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
This means that the company has many, many thousands of people who own parts of it—even you could become a Disney shareholder!
Which shareholders own the majority of the Walt Disney Company?
Although the Walt Disney Company is a publicly held company with many thousands of owners, there are certainly a few people who hold much larger ownership of the company than the average shareholder.
As of 2017, the top five individual shareholders of the Walt Disney Company include:
- Robert Iger, who is the CEO and Chairman of Disney
- Christine McCarthy, who is the Senior Executive Vice President and CFO of Disney
- Alan Braveman, who is another Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of Disney
- Alwyn B. Lewis, who is a member of the Disney Board of Directors
- Robert W. Matschullat, who is also a member of the Disney Board of Directors
In addition to these five individual shareholders, 26.69% of the Walt Disney Company’s shares are owned by mutual funds, and 33.52% are owned by other institutions.
These statistics are valid as of the end of 2017, so they may be slightly updated now in 2022.
Who owns Disneyland Shanghai?
The Walt Disney Company has six Disney theme parks located around the world. Out of these parks, however, only some of them are actually fully owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company.
Disneyland Shanghai is one of these parks. It is owned by a partnership between the government of China and the Walt Disney Company. However, the Walt Disney Company owns 43% of the park, while China owns 57%. So, yes, China is the majority owner of Disneyland Shanghai.
Park operations are still given to a management company that is majority owned by Disney. This is to maintain consistency and brand standards across all of the Disney parks.
So, although Disneyland Shanghai is not majority owned by Disney, they are still in control of the way that the park is representing the brand of the rest of the company.
How does China have majority ownership of the Shanghai park?
China has majority ownership of Disneyland Shanghai due to negotiations with the Walt Disney Company.
Just like the Walt Disney Company is a publicly owned company with many owners, the company itself is open to partnerships with other organizations.
The Chinese government historically does like to maintain control over large attractions based in the country, so it is no surprise that they wanted to negotiate majority ownership over Disneyland Shanghai.
Some other Disney parks, like Disneyland Tokyo, are not owned by Disney at all but are rather licensed.
Does the Walt Disney Company own the rest of its parks?
Although all six of the Disney parks are Disney parks, not all of them are actually owned by the Walt Disney Company.
Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World in Florida, and Disneyland Paris are the only three parks which the Walt Disney Company actually owns 100%.
Just like Disneyland Shanghai, Hong Kong Disneyland is owned by a partnership between the Walt Disney Company and Hong Kong’s government. In this case, the government owns 53% of the park while the Walt Disney Company owns 47%.
Disneyland Tokyo and Tokyo DisneySea are the two Tokyo parks.
They were the first Disney parks to open in Asia, and they are both owned and operated 100% by the Oriental Land Company. Yes, you read that right—the Walt Disney Company has 0% ownership of either of the Tokyo parks!
The resort pays a licensing fee to Disney to be allowed use of the character faces and names.
Although the Tokyo parks are not owned by the Walt Disney Company, Disney still keeps employees on the property to help maintain the brand standards.
Are all of Disney’s stockholders American?
This is a question which is quite hard to answer, but the simple answer is probably not. Lots of shares of the Walt Disney Company are owned by various investment funds, and the ownership of these funds is actually very hard to track.
So, it is very difficult to say how much of the company is actually owned by Americans and how much is owned by foreigners.
However, the Walt Disney Company itself is American based.
So, is Disney owned by China? The answer is: kind of. The Walt Disney Company itself is not owned by China, although it is likely that many of its individual shareholders are Chinese.
However, the park in Shanghai, known as Disneyland Shanghai, is majority owned by the Chinese government.
The Chinese government owns 57% of the park, while the Walt Disney Company owns 43%.
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