On Friday, China moved closer to building its long-planned Disney theme park in Shanghai, as the Walt Disney Co. signed an agreement with a company owned by the Chinese government.
It a statement released Friday, the Shanghai government said Disney signed an agreement with Shanghai Shendi Group Co. Ltd., a joint-venture company registered in August to oversee the theme park’s development.
Shanghai Disneyland, as the project is being referred to, is located in the Pundong New District. The theme park will cover 4 out of 20 total square kilometers designated for the entire resort. According to Xinhua News Agency, the project may cost 25 billion yuan ($3.75 billion).
In describing the Shanghai Disneyland theme park, the city referred to its plans for a “strong international tourism resort” as central to the city’s development plans over the next five years. The cited also noted, as in keeping with a joint venture, that Disney and several Chinese state-owned businesses will be responsible for construction, management and operation.
The L.A. Times reports Disney would take a 43% equity stake in Shanghai Disneyland while the joint-venture company would own the remaining 57%.
Shanghai International Tourism Resort Administrative Committee, a new government agency, was also set up Friday to manage the project.
Disney issued its own statement that confirmed Shanghai’s concerning the discussions, but noted:
We are still awaiting final approval from the central government on the incorporation of the related joint venture companies and the completion of the necessary regulatory processes.
Disney offered no further comment about Friday’s agreement.
The announcement about the Shanghai Disneyland theme park comes less than a week after the Shanghai’s duties as host for the World Expo ended. Preparation for that event, which drew more than 73 million visitors to the city of about 20 million, included upgrades and expansions to city transportation and other infrastructure.
The Shanghai theme park project is part of Disney’s efforts to establish a stronger presence in China. It has been lengthy process, starting 15 years ago when Disney and China first opened discussions about a possible theme park. One year ago, China’s national planning agency approved plans for a Disney theme park in Shanghai. Since that time, some residents have also been relocated from farmland in the Pudong district to accommodate the resort.
Ongoing discussions between Disney and China have not resulted in much information being released to the public. Last November, Disney indicated the resort would offer a “Magic Kingdom-style theme park with characteristics tailored to the Shanghai region.”
Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in 2005, has experienced lower-than-anticipated attendance and been criticized for being too small. That park has launched an expansion to attract more guests.
Shanghai Disneyland will be the fourth Disney theme park to be built outside the U.S. The park is expected to be completed in 2014.
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