Shanghai Disney finally gets moving
After much talk, Shanghai Disney is back on track. The Walt Disney Company has finally signed -- and chopped -- on the dotted line, closing a deal with a Shanghai company to mark the launch of the much-anticipated Shanghai theme park.
The deal was reached with Shanghai Shendi Group, which was specifically created for the development of the Disneyland project, said an official to Xinhua, a state-run news agency.
Beijing's Ministry of Commerce still needs to approve the plan, which, in theory, could hold up the project for months. That said, Shanghai authorities have already moved thousands of families from the prospective area, clearing now abandoned homes and trees, giving observers the impression that the city expects the project to continue to move forward.
This deal is a long time in the making, with talks extending back almost a decade, and the Shanghai Disney project getting the green light by the city government almost exactly a year ago, last November.
"For quite some time, we have been involved in discussions with the Shanghai government about building a Disney theme park," said a Disney spokeswoman in a statement to the press. "We can confirm the statement from the Shanghai government that we've have taken another step forward in the approval process."
The park is expected to be compact, on only four square kilometers, with an initial cost of RMB 25 billion, making Shanghai Disneyland one of the largest-ever foreign investments in China.
This is Disney’s third attempt in the Asia market, with previous parks in Hong Kong and Tokyo meeting with mixed reviews. The company already has a presence in Shanghai which includes 5,000 licensed retailers, a network of English schools and a hand in filming the China version of the "Amazing Race" TV show called "China Rush."
Disney hopes that building a park near such a large city like Shanghai will create a built-in market for the project, as well as draw on China’s growing middle class from outside the municipality to the park.