Shanghai to Build Disneyland

Updated: March 8, 2006 | Clicks: 3934

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng tells reporters in Beijing yesterday that the city has the right conditions to build a Disney theme park and is making preparations for the project.

Shanghai is moving ahead with plans to welcome the Magic Kingdom, Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday, marking the first government acknowledgement that Walt Disney Co may follow its Hong Kong theme park with one on the Chinese mainland.

"Shanghai has been hoping to build a Disneyland for a long time," Han told reporters in Beijing, where he was attending the annual meeting of the National People's Congress.

"Shanghai has the conditions for a Disneyland," he said. "Preliminary preparations are ongoing, but the final decision will be made by the State Council."

Han didn't provide any other details, but insiders said the government has already set aside land for the park in Pudong's Chuansha area.

The site, which is 6 kilometers from Pudong International Airport, covers about 1,000 hectares, compared with Hong Kong Disneyland's 126 hectares, according to Chuansha's land-use planning blueprint.

Disney, the second-biggest US media company, said it is involved in a continuing dialogue with China on a variety of initiatives, including theme parks, but has not reached an agreement with Shanghai to build a second Disney resort in China.

"There is nothing new to report on the progress of Shanghai discussions," the company said in a statement e-mailed to Shanghai Daily yesterday. "If we were to reach an agreement for a second park in China, it would not open before 2010."

Disney set up a theme park operations unit in Shanghai last July to accelerate negotiations with city government.

Leslie A. Goodman, Disney's senior vice president of strategic communications, said yesterday that theme parks are just part of Disney's overall development strategy. In addition to theme parks, Disney will continue to carry out negotiations with China regarding TVs, cartoons and consumer commodities.

Only with widespread content distribution via films, television and the Internet can Disney be assured of a profit at a mainland theme park, media experts said.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government formed a joint venture with Walt Disney to build a US$3.5 billion theme park that opened on September 12.

Hong Kong Disneyland attracted more than 1 million visitors in its first 100 days of operation, putting it on course to achieve 5.6 million visitors in its first year, the company forecasted.

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