World’s biggest Disney theme park opens in Shanghai

Celebrations take place to mark the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort
Celebrations take place to mark the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort

The new Shanghai Disney Resort opens today, becoming the first Disney theme park in mainland China and the company’s largest global resort.

A three-day grand opening celebration has been taking place this week, culminating with Thursday’s official opening to the public.  The park represents one of the largest foreign investment projects in China’s history and Disney’s biggest ever investment outside the US.

The first phase of the resort is spread across 390 hectares of land in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, and additional land is available to accommodate future expansion.

“The grand opening of Shanghai Disney Resort is one of the proudest moments in the history of the Walt Disney Company,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s chairman & CEO. “We… look forward to officially opening the gates and sharing this extraordinary authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese destination with the world.”

The three-day celebration began on Tuesday with the staging of the first ever Mandarin production of The Lion King at the 1,200-seat Walt Disney Grand Theatre. A concert and party were then held in the park on Wednesday, ahead of the official grand opening on Thursday.

The first Mandarin production of The Lion King took place earlier this week
The first Mandarin production of The Lion King took place earlier this week

Disney says the Shanghai park will offer the “very best of Disney in a way that is distinctly Chinese and tailor-made for the people of China”. It will feature six themed lands – Adventure Isle, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, Treasure Cove and Fantasyland – which will be set around the Enchanted Storybook Castle, the largest such castle at any Disney park.

The resort also features live entertainment spaces, two hotels (the 420-room Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the 800-room Toy Story Hotel), a shopping, dining and entertainment district called Disneytown, and the 40-hectare Wishing Star Park.

Shanghai Disney Resort broke ground in 2011 and was initially scheduled to open in 2015. But the scope of the project was later expanded, pushing the opening date into 2016. It becomes the third Disney theme park in Asia, following Tokyo Disneyland, which opened in 1983, and Hong Kong Disneyland which launched in 2005.

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