Disney breaks ground on Shanghai Disneyland

April 8, 2011, 7:14 AM · The Walt Disney Company today broke ground and began construction on Shanghai Disneyland, a joint venture with the Chinese government.

Concept art, from Disney

Disney Parks chairman Tom Staggs said, "Scheduled to open in about five years, our new resort in Shanghai will include things that you know and love about a Disney theme park such as Disney characters, attractions and storytelling… but it will also feature all-new experiences and stories that were inspired by and created for the people of China."

And that's about as much detail as Disney's publicly given. A look at the concept art doesn't reveal much: Disney will build the Florida/Tokyo version of its castle, rather than the Anaheim/Hong Kong version. It looks like there will be a carousel and a Dumbo-style ride, as well.

A wider view concept art reveals the largest known detail about the new Magic Kingdom park:

More concept art, from Disney

It appears that there will not be a traditional Main Street USA, but rather a larger entry plaza to the park, featuring water elements and, presumably, some of the nods to Chinese culture to which Staggs referred.

Remember, this will be the Walt Disney Company's second theme park in China. Andrew Kam, Managing Director of the Hong Kong park, issued a statement today about the Shanghai project, through Hong Kong Disneyland's Facebook page:

"Asia, including China, is a growing market with a population of several billion, large enough to have more than one Disney resort. As we prepare to expand with 3 new themed areas, we look forward to growing together with Shanghai and capturing the significant growth of the Asian Leisure Travel market in the years to come."

Of course, the role of Tokyo in that market is an issue, too.

There will be much more to come in the next few years as this project moves into construction, designs are leaked and details revealed.

Replies (9)

April 8, 2011 at 9:27 AM · Good for China, but aren't we losing tourists by building Disneyland parks everywhere?
April 8, 2011 at 9:30 AM · Last week I actually had to serve Mr. Stagg food items off of the new Paradise Pier menu. That was pretty nerve-wracking.
April 8, 2011 at 9:34 AM · I don't think that these parks are aiming for "world travelers". They are aiming for the local market. Plus by making them different enough (which Shanghai DL looks) they provide a reason to visit different parks.
April 8, 2011 at 12:50 PM · The Hong Kong government which has not seen a penny profit from the park so far sure feels different about the new parc. For Disney things look different. They get their exorbitant franchise fees on a revenue basis and free adverticing for Disney products without notable capital expenditure.
April 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM · I think this is great! China, being the giant market it is, will bring loads of new guests to the resort. Most of these guests, in my opinion, would be people who probably wouldn't be able to visit a Disney park outside of China in their lifetime!

I have been to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, in addition to several visits to Disneyland and WDW, and I have to say that the experiences were completely different! Even if you compare the "Magic Kingdom-style parks" only. Each one is very distinct!

One thought I always had was that Disney could do really well by building something in Australia and South America too. It is a market with a huge potential! And just like China, countries like Brazil and Argentina have a lot of people who really can't afford traveling overseas to visit WDW, for example... So, lots of money to be made!!!

This year I'm going back to WDW (after 2 trips last year!) and plan on visiting Disneyland Paris in 2012... Hopefully one day I will be able to hit Hong Kong and then Shanghai!

April 9, 2011 at 2:44 PM · Ugh....do we really need a 3rd Cinderella's Castle? Something original please?
April 9, 2011 at 9:39 PM · Instead of overexpanding all over the world, Disney should be reinvesting more into their existing parks. WDW could easily use another billion for new attractions, refurbs (FIX THE YETI) and replacing crap like Stich.
Incidentally, if I ever visit Asia, I would go to Tokyo Disney (although who knows when it will reopen). If you're going to go that far, why not visit the (reputedly) best resort?
April 11, 2011 at 1:34 PM · Sylvain -

Unfortunately, Disney is first and foremost a corporation. They are doing the profitable thing. Fixing the Yeti and refurbishing other American parks with new concepts and ideas isn't going to bring in millions of new guests; building a new park with existing attraction designs in China, however, will.

David Kirby -

I agree. Even the American embassies have different designs from country to country.

April 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM · Disney investment in China does not compete in with investment Disney investment in America:
(1) The visitor market hardly overlaps
(2) The money for the Shanhai project, just like the one for the Hong Kong Project is largely non Disney money.
(3) Disney is doing alright, they can easily finance both however they want if they consider a major American investment profitable. What the new parc does however is decourage investment in a big non Magic Kingdom clone built by someone else.

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