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P. 44: SoReal Virtual Reality experience coming to DisneyTown

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I think there might have been a little misunderstanding about the size compared to other parks. At 1.16 square kilometers, the park will cover 287 acres which would make it the largest Magic Kingdom. So hopefully Disney learned the mistakes from Hong Kong, where the park is just 55 acres, and will build a great park. It'll be interesting to see if a best of Disney is built like Tokyo Disney (although Disney doesn't own that park), a similar park with custom rides like what's going to the Hong Kong park, or a totally new concept of a Disney park like Disneyland Paris.

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http://www.china.org.cn/business/2010-04/15/content_19820001.htm

 

Land approved for Shanghai Disney will be transferred over to the project in July, with 97 percent of residents already relocated, said local authorities Wednesday.

 

Shanghai Disney's first phase project, including a theme park and supporting facilities, will span four square km with the theme park covering one square km, said Jiang Liang, head of Pudong New District where Shanghai Disney will be sited. The project would take five to six years to finish, Huang said.

 

Over 2,000 households and 297 companies have to be relocated to make way for the first phase of construction.

 

"The planed investment is 25 billion yuan (3.66 billion U.S. dollars), but the project is expected to draw hundreds of billions in related investment," said Huang.

 

The project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission on Nov. 23, 2009.

 

Disney opened a theme park in Hong Kong in 2005 and now has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

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http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/292719

 

Disneyland is coming to the booming Chinese city of Shanghai. The central government gave its approval in November, since when preparations have been gathering pace.

 

Disneyland Shanghai will be in the Pudong area of the city, and the Shanghai Daily reports the Pudong New Area government has almost completed the relocation of residents from the 3.9 square kilometre area, a month ahead of schedule. Construction of apartments to receive them has begun, and they are expected to be ready for occupancy by August 2012. More than 2,000 households and 297 enterprises will be relocated in total. The new residential site is in Pudong’s Chuansha Town, and will have more than 6,500 apartments.

 

The land for the theme park is due to be handed over at the end of June when construction will begin.

 

The first phase of the theme-park project has been estimated to cost about 25 billion yuan (US$3.66 billion). The Chinese have made a habit in recent years of building large infrastructure projects at breakneck speed, but Pudong New Area

 

Director Jiang Liang told the Shanghai Daily it may take five or six years for the park to be opened to the public.

 

There is already a Disneyland theme park in Hong Kong, and there has been speculation about the effect a park in Shanghai would have on the park in Hong Kong. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Rita Lau told Chinese news agency Xinhua that the two parks should complement each other. The Chinese market was growing fast, and should be big enough to accommodate two theme parks.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/18/AR2010061805277.html

 

It took years and all of the family's life savings, but in 2008, retiree Wang Quanlin finally completed his dream home. It was spacious, two stories with an attic, and had new furnishings inside.

 

Then last fall came an unexpected notice from the Shanghai city government. The entire area had been slated for a new development project -- a Disneyland theme park. The Wang family would have to move, and their house would be demolished.

 

The Wangs' uphill legal battle to stay in their home, or to get what they consider fair compensation, is about to end. The government is set to turn over the land in July for the $3.5 billion Disney project, and the family -- having exhausted its protests and appeals -- will be relocated to two much smaller apartments.

 

"We support Disneyland, but we hate these forced demolitions," said Wang's son, Wang Yuchen, 30, who took a leave of absence from his job as an engineer to fight the eviction. "The whole process is unfair. It's unequal."

 

It's a story being repeated all over China, as the country's breakneck economic growth has created a property boom and developers, often working hand in hand with local officials, rush to cash in. Often that means the government seizing land for projects deemed in the "public interest," and ordinary Chinese who lack high-level connections being forced out of their longtime homes and neighborhoods with meager compensation.

 

Hundreds of thousands of Beijing residents were displaced and thousands of houses destroyed for the construction of 2008 Olympics venues. In Shanghai, thousands were displaced to make way for the world expo this spring. And about 2,000 households in four townships on the east side of the Yellow River are being moved to make way for Disney; the Wang family is among the last dozen or so holdouts.

 

"It is happening everywhere, and to a great magnitude," said Yang Jianli, a longtime dissident and a fellow at Harvard University who works with a group called the Sparrow Initiative, which highlights forced evictions and demolitions.

 

"Forced demolitions, forced evictions are so ubiquitous in China," Yang said. "And they do it without regard to people's rights."

 

Residents push back

 

But there is evidence that people are growing more aware of their rights and are fighting back.

 

In Wuhan, west of Shanghai in Hubei province, a farmer named Yang Youde became a local media sensation when he built a cannon, stuffed it with fireworks and fired it at a team sent to evict him from the farmland he leased. Last year, several people were reported to have set themselves on fire when eviction teams arrived to remove them. And this year, homeowners have clashed with demolition squads, which often resort to tactics such as cutting off water and electricity to holdouts' homes.

 

"Nowadays, people's awareness is enhanced," said Zhang Shutai, a member of a Shanghai demolition crew waiting outside the Wang house for the final order to bulldoze the property.

 

Zhang said he was also involved in demolitions to make way for the world expo and has seen an increase in protests by homeowners. "We understand. But there's no other solution," Zhang said. "Ordinary households believe these kind of forced demolitions are not allowed. But this is an urgent project."

 

The cleared land is scheduled to be handed over in July, and the theme park is due to open in 2014.

 

But the race to remove residents comes amid questions about whether China even needs a new Disneyland. The country is awash in theme parks -- historical parks, garden parks, cultural parks, ethnic minority parks, even a theme park populated by little people. Few turn a profit.

 

Figures released this year show that the Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in 2005, posted a $170 million loss last year, on top of $200 million in losses in 2008. The Hong Kong park's 4.6 million visitors last year were also below the 5.6 million annual visitors originally projected.

 

Shanghai authorities, apparently mindful of the figures from Hong Kong, have scaled back the size of the Shanghai project; it will be the smallest of the Disneyland parks worldwide. A Disney spokeswoman in Hong Kong said there is room for both parks. "We believe the greater China market is large enough to support multiple parks," she said. "The U.S., with one-fourth of the population of China, supports two Disney-branded resort destinations."

 

'A shadow cast over it'

 

Wang Yuchen said he has nothing against the Disney project; he just wants a fair deal for his family. "It's a good thing for American companies to come invest in China," he said. "But I wish they would take into account Chinese people's feelings. If this project is built on the sorrow of ordinary Chinese, I believe there will be a shadow cast over it."

 

He took his case to the local courts several times, most recently last month. He was armed with a May 15 edict from China's State Council, the equivalent of the cabinet, which said people forcibly removed from their homes should get "reasonable" compensation and which held local authorities responsible for not "oppressing" people facing eviction.

 

The demolition crew responded by first bulldozing all the houses around the Wangs' home and piling the debris in front. Then they cut the water and the phone lines and hung banners with slogans warning that holdouts "may encounter accidents."

 

Wang, in turn, hung two huge Chinese flags on his family's house and plastered copies of the May State Council edict over the demolition company's banners.

 

The Shanghai government referred all questions to the local planning authority. An official there, Dai Shuo, said most of the households had been removed from the project area, with 5 percent holding out.

 

Dai said the villages affected were classified as "rural," and owners will receive only what it would cost to rebuild. If the land were classified as "urban," compensation would be based on the market value, which in Shanghai probably would be high.

 

"For Wang's villa, you should know that it cannot be traded and has no market value," Dai said. "If he insists on making demands beyond the reasonable scope, we won't give in."

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Oriental Land, the same company which runs Tokyo Disneyland, is in talks with Disney about the Shanghai park.

 

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Oriental Land Co., operator of the Tokyo Disney Resort, said it may cooperate with Walt Disney Co. on a planned Shanghai theme park.

 

“There’s a possibility we may work together with Disney on Shanghai,” Akiyoshi Yokota, executive director, said in an interview at company headquarters in Chiba prefecture, a Tokyo suburb. No details on cooperation were decided, he said.

 

Oriental Land has been talking about the planned theme park and exchanging information with Disney, Yokota said, without elaborating. Disney last year won Chinese government approval for a park in Shanghai that may be completed by 2014.

 

The Japanese theme park operator is looking to expand overseas while trying to attract tourists from China and other countries, as domestic customers spend less amid falling wages. The theme park in Shanghai, the mainland China’s richest city, will be Disney’s fourth outside the U.S.

 

“It would open up a new growth path for Oriental Land,” Takashi Oka, an analyst at Toward the Infinite World Inc., who has a “neutral” rating on Oriental Land shares. “Oriental Land has know-how to operate a theme park and develop attractions that fit locally.”

 

Phone messages left at Disney Japan’s Tokyo office were not immediately returned.

 

Oriental Land gained 0.1 percent to 7,370 yen at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo trading. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average sank 1.9 percent.

 

The company pays royalties to Burbank, California-based Disney to operate its Disneyland and DisneySea theme parks. Oriental Land’s Disney Resort also includes the Disney Ambassador Hotel and Ikspiari shopping mall.

 

The Shanghai project will include a Magic Kingdom-style theme park with characteristics tailored to the region, Disney said last year.

 

Oriental Land in May said net income will probably rise 1.6 percent to 25.8 billion yen ($285 million) for the year ending March 31. Sales may decline 4 percent to 356.6 billion yen.

 

--Editors: Fergus Maguire, Dave McCombs

 

Naoko Fujimura in Tokyo at +81-3-3201-7551 or nfujimura@bloomberg.net; Shunichi Ozasa in Tokyo at +81-3-3201-3624 or sozasa@bloomberg.net.

 

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Longid at flongid@bloomberg.net

 

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http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hfw2b5hnomJzxE35SHlXp91ErOaQ

 

Disney could start building its planned theme park in Shanghai as early as November, a year after Chinese authorities gave the green light for the project, a report said Tuesday.

 

"Talks on the Disney project are in the final stages and the construction is expected to start as early as November," the China Business News reported, citing an unnamed source.

 

The park would be Disney's fourth outside the United States and its third in Asia, after Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong -- the last to open in 2005.

 

All major construction in Shanghai has been suspended until after the World Expo ends on October 31 as part of efforts to improve the city's air quality during the six-month event.

 

The Shanghai government announced its long-awaited approval for the project in November last year after authorities in Beijing approved Disney's application.

 

Neither side disclosed any figures or gave a timeframe for the project, but previous reports have said the US entertainment giant will invest 3.6 billion dollars in the 10-square-kilometre (four-square-mile) park.

 

When asked about the report, Disney said it looked forward to being able to announce a final deal and a timeline for opening in the future.

 

"Final discussions between Disney and the Shanghai government are not yet complete, and detailed negotiations to produce a final deal will continue for a number of months," a Hong Kong-based Disney spokeswoman told AFP in an email.

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An update on Shanghai Disney...

 

"WALT Disney Co. signed a formal agreement today with a company backed by the Shanghai municipal government to build a long-planned theme park in the financial hub of China, the two sides said in separate statements, MarketWatch reported.

 

Shanghai Disneyland will cost $3.59 billion, making it one of the largest-ever foreign investments in China. The signing of the agreement comes amid broad concerns about the health of the global economy and as Disney continues to struggle with its five-year-old Hong Kong theme park.

 

The Shanghai government said Disney signed the agreement with Shanghai Shendi Group Co., a company set up today to oversee the development of the theme park.

 

"We can confirm the statement from the Shanghai government that we've taken another step forward in the approval process," Disney said in a statement.

 

The Shanghai theme park will be Disney's fourth outside the US, after those in Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

 

Xinhua previously reported that Shanghai Disneyland will occupy 116 hectares and have both Chinese and US companies as investors. China's cabinet approved the project in November 2009, and it is expected to be completed by 2014."

 

http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/disney-signs-deal-to-build-shanghai-park/story-e6frfku0-1225948480235

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Construction starts tomorrow on Shanghai Disneyland.

 

LOS ANGELES: As Walt Disney Co. prepares to break ground Friday on its first theme park in mainland China, the significance for the company reaches well beyond the opportunity to sell legions of Mickey Mouse-ear hats.

 

Although much smaller than Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., the Shanghai park holds outsize importance for the company, because it would provide entree to a market of 1.3 billion people, 30 million of whom enter the middle class each year. When it opens in five years, the $3.7 billion tourist attraction would serve as a launching pad for Disney's broader ambitions in the region.

 

The Shanghai park culminates a decade-long effort to bring Disney's distinct brand of themed attractions - built around Mickey, Minnie and the panoply of animated characters - to the world's most populous country. Disney Chief Executive Robert A. Iger plans to attend the ceremonial groundbreaking, underscoring the project's importance.

 

"We view it as a real cornerstone of our growth initiative in that market," Iger said in remarks made at a recent investor conference in Anaheim.

 

The 963-acre park would bring the Magic Kingdom to the Middle Kingdom. Plans include a castle that would be bordered by themed areas, two hotels and a shopping district near a lake, with additional land set aside for future development. The Disney Resort would anchor a broader International Tourism Resort, roughly 12 miles southwest of Pudong International Airport.

 

"In about five years, we'll have a park that is distinctly Disney, yet authentically Chinese," said Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Thomas O. Staggs in remarks to investors in February. "Taken as a whole, we believe China is the most exciting opportunity we've had since Walt first bought land in Florida in 1964."

 

China so far has proved a frustrating market for U.S. entertainment companies. The communist government tightly controls distribution of foreign movies and television programs, which in turn has fueled rampant piracy of Hollywood content. Prime-time television slots are reserved for domestic fare such as the wildly popular animated series "Pleasant Sheep and the Big Bad Wolf," while imports including Mickey Mouse (known in China as Mi Lao Shu) struggle for airtime.

 

Disney would share ownership in the new theme park with Shanghai Shendi Group, a government-controlled entity that would own a 57 percent stake in the joint venture, according to reports in Chinese media.

 

Investors hope Disney's strategy of partnering with the government will give the Burbank, Calif., firm the leverage it needs to negotiate a 24-hour cable network in China or to win wider distribution for its films. As the majority owner of the park, China would benefit from prospective visitors' greater exposure to the Disney brand, media analyst Alan Gould of Evercore Partners said.

 

But even Iger has acknowledged there are no guarantees.

 

"There isn't a specific promise to launch a Disney Channel in China," Iger said at Disney's February investor conference. "But obviously, it's something that we would love to be able to do at some point."

 

For now, Disney has developed innovative end runs around the limitations on traditional media.

 

The entertainment giant partnered with China's two dominant online video sites, Tudou.com and Youku.com, to stream Disney's ABC prime-time shows including "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" directly to adult viewers.

 

And to reach Disney's core family audience, the company operates a few English-language schools in China for children ages 2 to 12. These Disney English centers use learning materials filled with images of Winnie the Pooh, Donald Duck and other characters.

 

"Disney, in our view, has the strongest China strategy of any of the studios," Evercore Partners' Gould wrote in a recent analyst note.

 

Gould estimates that Disney stands to collect fees of $65 million to $70 million in the first year of the park's operation, growing to potentially $200 million in 10 years. The Shanghai park also will serve as a powerful brand ambassador.

 

"Disney sees the theme park as a way to establish themselves in the Chinese market," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors, a consulting firm in Richmond, Va. "That will drive people to the movies, establish the characters, which will drive merchandise sales."

 

Success is far from assured, however.

 

The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, which opened to great fanfare in 2005, has been criticized as too small and offering too few rides to live up to Disney's giant aspirations. That's why the company is pumping millions into the park to add scores of attractions and themed areas including Toy Story Land, which opens in the fall.

 

And there will be plenty of regional competition. By the time the Shanghai park opens, Disney rivals will include Universal Studios Singapore, a renovated Ocean Park in Hong Kong and perhaps even Asia's first Legoland, set to open in Malaysia in 2012.

 

Enterprising local operators could prove formidable as well. At least two Beijing theme parks have borrowed liberally from Disney's repertoire - including costumed Plutos, Minnies and a castle that looks eerily similar to the one in Orlando. Knockoff Disney clothing, toys and DVDs are widely available in China.

 

"The key to Disney's success has been migrating products to different platforms and cross-selling them. The challenge to doing that in China is piracy," said Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management in Beijing.

 

"The downside is you don't get paid for all that content," he said. "The upside is everyone knows the characters. So the question is: How do you monetize it?"

 

Article source: Bellingham Herald

Edited by larrygator
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http://en.shanghaidisneyresort.com.cn/en/

 

The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group, its joint venture partner in China, have broken ground on the Shanghai Disney Resort following approval from the Chinese central government in Beijing. Both companies marked the start of construction on the first Disney resort in mainland China at a groundbreaking ceremony held earlier today.

 

"Today marks a significant milestone in the history of The Walt Disney Company," said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "Our Shanghai resort will be a world-class family vacation destination that combines classic Disney characters and storytelling with the uniqueness and beauty of China. Working with our Chinese partners, the Shanghai Disney Resort will be both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese."

 

"We're incredibly excited to build a Disney resort in Shanghai, one of the world's most vibrant cities," said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are hard at work designing Shanghai Disneyland, which when complete will be a special place where guests of all ages will discover a world of imagination, creativity, adventure and thrills."

 

Today's groundbreaking ceremony paid homage to the culture and people of China. Traditional Chinese drum music, a female soloist singing in Mandarin, a 50-voice Shanghai children's choir and Mickey Mouse dressed in a traditional Chinese costume were on hand to mark this special occasion. Following the entertainment and remarks, Iger and Staggs were joined by Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng to officially break ground on the project.

 

The new Shanghai Disney Resort is slated to open in approximately five years.

 

The Shanghai Disney Resort will be home to Shanghai Disneyland, a Magic Kingdom-style park that will blend classic Disney storytelling and characters with all-new attractions and experiences tailored specifically for the people of China. The park will feature several themed lands complete with exciting, iconic Disney attractions and experiences. At the heart of the park will be an interactive Disney castle that is truly an attraction unto itself with entertainment, dining and performance experiences that will be unique to Shanghai Disneyland. The park will also contain other large-scale entertainment venues, indoor and out, that can be used for various purposes throughout the year.

 

A beautiful, 11 acre (46,130 square meter) green space at the center of the theme park will differentiate Shanghai Disneyland and reinforce the themes of sustainability and nature that will be integrated throughout the park. The space will also be a place where friends and family can enjoy local cultural celebrations and customs together.

 

On Opening Day, the Shanghai Disney Resort will be located on a 963 acre (3.9 square kilometer) site in Pudong, Shanghai, with additional room to expand in the future. At opening, the resort will include Shanghai Disneyland, two themed hotels, a large retail, dining and entertainment venue, recreational facilities, a lake and associated parking and transportation hubs.

 

There will be an initial investment in the project of approximately 24.5 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion) to build the theme park and an additional 4.5 billion yuan (US$0.7 billion) to build the other aspects of the resort, including the hotels and the retail, dining and entertainment area. The investment amounts will be split between Disney and the Shanghai Shendi Group with Disney holding 43% of the shares of the owner companies and the Shanghai Shendi Group holding the remaining 57%. Financing will be proportional to ownership. In addition, a joint venture management company will be formed with Disney having a 70% stake and Shanghai Shendi Group having a 30% stake. The management company will be responsible for creating, developing and operating the resort.

 

http://en.shanghaidisneyresort.com.cn/en/about/hotels/

 

Around the world, Disney hotels are known for their attention to detail and outstanding Guest service. At Shanghai Disney Resort this tradition will continue with the construction of two themed hotels. Each hotel will have its own distinct theme, a unique selection of shopping and dining opportunities, and a variety of recreation options.

 

The hotels will be located in close proximity to Shanghai Disneyland and to the resort's shopping, dining and recreation area, making it very easy to turn a visit to Shanghai Disney Resort into a true getaway.

 

http://en.shanghaidisneyresort.com.cn/en/about/resort_amenities/

 

Shanghai Disney Resort will provide recreation areas where friends and families can explore their creativity, connect with nature and enjoy memorable moments together. Guests will find a sparkling lake and green spaces for walking and enjoying nature.

 

http://en.shanghaidisneyresort.com.cn/en/about/shopping_dining_entertainment/

 

Just outside of the park, Guests will find a lively shopping, dining and entertainment area. From enjoying meals with friends and family to finding unique souvenirs and seeing world-class entertainment, this area will provide fun and excitement for Guests of all ages.

 

Guests can plan to spend a few hours during the day visiting and enjoying a variety of fun-filled activities in the area. This venue will also be the perfect place to end a day after a visit to Shanghai Disneyland.

 

With something for everyone, this festive venue will be a "must-visit" for anyone living in or traveling to Shanghai.

 

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2011/04/shanghai-disneyland-resort-groundbreaking-ceremony-marks-historic-day/

 

Last night, we made history at The Walt Disney Company when we officially broke ground on the Shanghai Disney Resort and we couldn’t be more excited. Did you see the new castle art? Today, we’re continuing the celebration with a first look at the groundbreaking ceremony that was authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese – just as the park promises to be.

 

The ceremony featured Mickey Mouse dressed in a traditional Chinese costume, a 50-voice Shanghai children’s choir, a female soloist singing in Mandarin and traditional Chinese drum music.

 

After the entertainment, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger and Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs were joined by Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng to officially break ground on the project.

 

The resort will include a Magic Kingdom-style park called Shanghai Disneyland, two themed hotels, a large dining and entertainment venue, recreational facilities and more.

 

There will be all-new attractions and experiences tailored specifically for the people of China at the park. And yes, expect to see several themed lands with iconic Disney attractions.

 

The new Shanghai Disney Resort is slated to open in approximately five years. Check back here on the Disney Parks Blog for more updates in upcoming months.

 

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Edited by jedimaster1227
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Interesting art work, I wonder if the finished resort will look like this? Also it will be interesting to see what new attactions will open with this park. Lets hope they top Tokyo Disney Sea ( highly unlikely )

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Interesting art work, I wonder if the finished resort will look like this? Also it will be interesting to see what new attactions will open with this park. Lets hope they top Tokyo Disney Sea ( highly unlikely )

 

Very interesting, as there doesn't seem to be a Main Street in front of the Castle. Will probably be completely different by the time it opens.

 

Roll on 2016

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Honestly, I'm still not too sure about Shanghai Disneyland. Although I do think the art work looks neat and I am curious as to what unique ideas they have for the park, something just tells me that this park seems unnecessary.

 

I don't know. Maybe it's early to say...

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Doncha think they should worry more about adding more rides to their park already in Hong Kong and worry less about building a park that people probably don't need?

 

My two cents

 

What's a "doncha"?

 

FYI - Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland are only minority owned by Disney. Disney is just trying to expand their name further into Shanghai which is a much larger market than Hong Kong.

Edited by larrygator
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I am intrigued by the concept art and the general description of the park. I would expect, or really even hope, that they take the lessons learned from Hong Kong and are able to tailor get closer in general to what would appealing to the market. Of the rides revealed, a dumbo spinner and a carousel, leaves much to be desired. The nature walk has to be misdirection. I can't imagine people paying top dollar to walk around an artificial lake. However, maybe because they don't want their competition in China to completely clone any form of unique ride being developed by Disney and have it opened years before the DL opens their doors. So I am giving Disney the benefit of the doubt, and expect the park to be quite nice when it opens.

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The blurry, fuzzy concept art of a Shanghai Disneyland, filled with fireworks, spotlights and a great big castle, paints a picture short on details and vague on specifics about the planned project in China.

 

So why all the secrecy on Disney's part? Three reasons:

 

* To prevent knockoff rides by rival Asian theme parks, which happened before Hong Kong Disneyland's 2005 opening.

 

* To preserve creative flexibility for Disney's Imagineers during the ongoing "Blue Sky" development phase, when rides, shows and even entire lands appear or disappear.

 

* To tread lightly with the Chinese government during the upcoming five-year engagement, which follows a delicate two-decade courtship.

 

Photos: Concept art of Shanghai Disneyland theme park

 

The basics are clear enough: The $4.4 billion Shanghai Disney resort is expected to open in late 2015 or early 2016 with a $3.7 billion Magic Kingdom-style theme park, two hotels and a Downtown Disney shopping center.

 

Beyond that, the particulars quickly become hazy.

 

So let's go over what we know, review what we've seen and ponder the many unknowns:

 

The Known

The Chinese government wants Shanghai Disneyland to be sharply different from the other five Magic Kingdom theme parks around the globe, with several all-new attractions related to Chinese culture and myth woven into and around classic Disney attractions.

 

The park's Storybook Castle, the largest and tallest of all Disney's turreted icons, will offer interactive elements, along with spaces for entertainment, dining and performances.

 

The newest Magic Kingdom will do away with the traditional Main Street USA entrance in favor of an 11-acre park suitable for parades, cultural celebrations and character meet-and-greets.

 

The theme park will be approached by boats navigating a 100-acre lake that plays up the importance of water to the Chinese and emphasizes the themes of sustainability and nature.

 

The first phase of the project, which the Chinese government estimates will eventually cost $15 billion upon completion, will occupy just over half of the 1,730-acre property. Shanghai officials say the new resort will one day contain three theme parks. (View photos of the undeveloped Shanghai Disney property.)

 

Shanghai Disney would be smaller than its Florida counterpart, bigger than Disney's properties in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Anaheim and on par size-wise with the Paris resort.

 

Upon opening, government officials expect Shanghai Disneyland to attract 7.3 million visitors annually. Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger says the new park may offer half-day and evening-only tickets.

 

The Seen

Over the last two decades, Disney has released several visual representations of the proposed park. As with any evolving project, plans change over time and will no doubt continue to do so during the upcoming development phase.

 

The newest concept art shows an extra-large castle with a domed cupola, several steeply pitched roofs with widow walks and about a dozen spires, including a bulbous one that recalls Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl television tower. At night, the illuminated castle takes on an ominous look and feel that recalls the Haunted Mansion.

 

The pagoda-dotted entry park features a cherry-blossom-lined parade route with a Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride on one side and a Fantasyland carousel on the other.

 

A wider view of the park shows a smudgy, blurry mountain that may remind some of Expedition Everest, Matterhorn Bobsleds or a re-envisioned Pirates of the Caribbean ride dubbed "Splash Pirates."

 

Concept art, released at a Disney investors' conference in February, shows Mickey Mouse's face in the middle of a hub-like entrance plaza with a skyrocketing fountain nearby. A walkway lined with giant mushrooms or flowers glows along the waterfront.

 

A Shanghai Disneyland map that emerged in March shows a 200-foot-wide moat surrounding the perimeter of the park, recalling the layout of the Forbidden City.

The map also indicates locations for four hotels, including one with a view of the park, although Disney has announced plans for two hotels – one deluxe and one "value."

 

In July 2010, the Walt Disney Family Museum posted concept art on Twitter showing Shanghai Disneyland with a more traditional Magic Kingdom-style layout: Adventureland and Frontierland on the left, Tomorrowland on the right, Fantasyland behind the castle and a train track surrounding the perimeter of the park. A version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, sitting on an island in the middle of a lake, stands out as a key departure from the typical park design.

 

Back in 2006, Disney's annual report included an illustration for a "concept for a new Disney theme park" that many interpreted as a representation of Shanghai Disneyland. The image showed a central lake surrounded by a mermaid lagoon, an "Indiana Jones"-style temple, a roller coaster and a European village beneath a fairytale castle on a hill, according to Progress City.

 

The Unknown

For the last several years, insiders with insight into Disney's creative plans have reported on elements reportedly included in the Shanghai park:

 

* Versions of Disney's well-known Space Mountain and It's a Small World rides, as well as a Tomorrowland-themed land, would be included in the Shanghai park, according to the New York Times.

 

* The extravagantly designed Adventureland and Frontierland areas of the park will have a lush Tokyo DisneySea look while the rest of the Shanghai park will have an international EPCOT-style feel, according to Blue Sky Disney.

 

* Characters from newer Disney and Pixar films will populate the park, according to Jim Hill Media: "Woody, Jessie and Bullseye will ride herd on Frontierland while Shanghai Disneyland's Autopia will serve as the centerpiece of a brand-new 'Cars'-themed part of this park. I'm told that Captain Jack Sparrow will stagger around a Pirates-centric version of Adventureland while Rapunzel & her tower will ... well, tower over Fantasyland."

 

But as anybody who has followed Disney knows, the "Blue Sky" creative phase is an ever changing process filled with varied and vested interests. As a result, curious bystanders are often left asking the same questions as the knowledgeable decision-makers:

 

* Will Shanghai Disneyland include classic attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain?

 

* Will any long-rumored but perpetually-shelved E-Ticket attractions surface in Shanghai?

 

* Will Marvel characters finally make their Disney theme park debut in Shanghai?

 

* Will Disney introduce any Chinese mythological stories besides its roster of European fairy tales?

 

* Will princesses, pixies, pirates and Pixar properties push older Disney characters to the sidelines?

 

Source: LA Times

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