Shanghai Disney park to open in June


Los Angeles (AFP)

Disney's theme park in Shanghai, its first in mainland China, will open on June 16, the company announced Tuesday.

The park, originally slated to open last year, will feature everything from an Enchanted Storybook Castle -- the tallest in any Disney park -- to a "Toy Story"-themed hotel and a Grand Theater with a Chinese-language production of the Broadway hit "The Lion King."

But Walt Disney Co. also says the park will reflect China's own culture -- something Chinese officials sought to ensure before permitting the icon of US entertainment to enter the country.

"When it opens in June, Shanghai Disney resort will be a one-of-a-kind, world-class destination that is authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese," said Disney chairman and chief executive Robert Iger in a statement.

"The resort reflects Disney's legendary storytelling along with China's rich culture, and showcases some of the most creative and innovative experiences we’ve ever created."

Disney's first mainland China park -- there is already one in Hong Kong, which opened in 2005 -- will open in the skyscraper-dominated Pudong district of Shanghai with a multi-day event.

Disney is a joint shareholder in the park with China's Shanghai Shendi group.

The project was first envisioned in the 2000s when China's President Xi Jinping was a rising official in Shanghai, China's commercial hub.

Last year he told US business executives that he supported the $5.5 billion venture at the time, helping it to get underway when other officials were pushing for a more Chinese culture-based project.

"I voted yes for Disney," he recounted, "because China needs a diverse-culture-based entertainment market."