Published: November 12, 2009 at 4:53 PM
I think it is very reasonable to suggest that Shanghai Disneyland will certainly be affected by this change in management. As for whether or not it is a change for the better or worse remains to be seen. You are correct in that the international parks are not solely financed by Disney. (Or in Tokyo's case financed by Disney at all). But my reasoning for this, is that from what I've heard, the budgets for the announced expansions state side are set in stone. I believe that from what I've read there is a lump sum of cash for both the Fantasyland Expansion and the DCA revamp. A certain amount of cash has been allocated for both, and while that sum remains the same, it continues to be divided between projects included in those respective expansions. For example, we have seen some budget cuts in the Paradise Pier refurb (No wrap-around boardwalk for Fun Wheel, No rethemed Carousel) because that money is instead financing the other projects like Cars Land or The Little Mermaid that might be seen as more valuable than the little things being done throughout the park.
The situation in Shanghai is quite different from my understanding however. While the agreement was made with the Shanghai government last week giving approval to the park, the actual contents of the park may still be in flux. In Disney's own press release, they state that this agreement simply allows them to negotiate towards "A final agreement to build and operate the park and begin preliminary development work." This could very well mean that their are significant strides to be taken in the planning process that the Chairman of Parks and Resorts would certainly be involved in. A final budget has yet to be approved for the project (To Our Knowledge) and while Imagineering certainly has many plans laid out, there are still choices to be made for both the WDC and Shanghai, and Staggs will certainly have his say. I said that he will have full input, which I believe he will. That does not mean however, that Staggs' word is law in our Magical Kingdom. This project is certainly one of great interest to Mr. Bob Iger, and he isn't going to let Staggs make any decisions that he disagrees with. Also, as you point out, there is the will of the Chinese Government that comes into play in the creation of this park. But just look at how some of Disney's parks have changed from announcement to opening. Beastly Kingdom cut from Animal Kingdom, Frontier Land stripped from HKDL, and let's not even get started on the mess that Disney Studios Paris is said to be. So in response TH, perhaps "without question" may come off as strong, and your rebuttal is certainly not without justification. But from my outlook on the current situation, Shanghai is the project that is in the most susceptible state. The projects that have been approved stateside for the next three years have budgets that are essentially set in stone. Whether he chooses to interfere with said projects remains to be seen, but I think most of what will happen within the next 3 years will be WDI prioritizing and working within the budgets they have to put out the best overall project possible.
Sorry for the novel, but I'm just sort of typing as I think. This is all speculation mind you, but I hope I gave you a reasonable response to your inquiry Mr. Creative, and hope that we might be able to see eye to eye.