The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd

Disney Special

Shanghai Disney: The Best Yet?

With billions of dollars of investment and a billion-strong audience, Shanghai Disneyland is set to be the most innovative and original park the Walt Disney Company has ever built


‘‘Authentically Disney but distinctly Chinese.” That’s been the Disney line since the company announced plans to build a park and resort complex just outside the world’s third most populated city.

“We’re being careful to make the right statements in terms of not only being welcomed in China but also being correct culturally, instead of the opposite,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger, who’s overseen the development of the $5.5bn (£3.7bn, €4.9bn) destination.

Situated in Pudong in a specially designated tourism zone, Shanghai Disney Resort has five themed lands, two hotels, a retail and entertainment district and a metro station capable of delivering 20,000 people per hour to its door.

Iger has been involved in the project since the late 1990s, when then-chief Michael Eisner sent him looking for a site for the resort. Shanghai’s government earmarked the Pudong location, but did not officially approve the project until 2009. Shanghai Disney Resort – a collaboration between the state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group, with 57 per cent ownership, and the Walt Disney Company (43 per cent) – has been a long time coming.

Now, Iger is looking at an income qualified audience within a three-and-a-half hour travel radius – be that by metro, bus, high-speed rail or car – of more than 300 million people.

“It would be as though the whole population of the United States could afford a ticket to Orlando and could get there within three-and-a-half hours,” said Iger.

The potential audience, coupled with the scale of the destination – not to mention the combination of established and newly created IPs, tried-and-tested and brand new park experiences, Chinese and global culture – makes the opening of the Shanghai resort a watershed moment for Disney, for China and for the global attractions industry.

“After 17 years of working on this project, I’m still awed by it. The scale, the detail, the sheer artistry; it’s all breathtaking,” Iger said. “Even though it has all of the Disney details, it’s unlike any other destination we’ve ever created. We set out to build something truly extraordinary and we’ve succeeded in a way that far exceeds our most ambitious expectations.”

Fast Facts

• 330 million income-qualified people within a 3.5hr travel radius

• Attendance predictions of up to 12 million in the first year

• Future attendance predictions of over 30 million

• The most expensive theme park resort ever, costing $5.5bn

• Phase one of Shanghai Disney Resort is 3.9sq km (960 acres)

• Once completed, the destination is estimated to measure 7sq km (1,730 acres) and cost $15bn

• A peak-time adult ticket costs $75

• The park will employ 10,000 staff

Disney works with the local community

Disney VoluntEARS have embarked on a number of initiatives in Pudong and Shanghai, helping at children’s hospitals and schools. One project involved teaching children about the environment as part of last year’s Earth Day celebrations.

Disney works with the local community
Disney works with the local community
Disney VoluntEARS have embarked on a number of initiatives
Disney VoluntEARS have embarked on a number of initiatives
Disney works with the local community
Disney works with the local community

What is Shanghai Shendi Group?

Shanghai Shendi Group is a state-owned company approved by Shanghai Municipal Government. It’s responsible for collaborating with the Walt Disney Company on the investment, development and operation of Shanghai Disney Resort through three joint venture companies (Shanghai Lujiazui, Shanghai Radio, Film and Television Development and Jinjiang International Group).

Shanghai Shendi Group is also responsible for the development of the Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone. It has a 57 per cent share in Shanghai Disney Resort and Disney has a 43 per cent share. There’s a separate management company where Disney has a 70 per cent share and Shanghai Shendi Group has 30 per cent.

“Shanghai Disneyland is the 4sq km core area at the centre of the Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone, but Shanghai Shendi Group is responsible for the entire 20sq km destination,” says Christian Aaen of Entertainment + Culture Advisors (ECA). “That’s important because that’s what justifies the huge investment in the theme park. Shanghai Shendi Group will be developing supporting commercial, residential, retail and tourism real estate around it.”

“Shanghai Shendi Group is about the larger economic impact: the construction jobs and the thousands of workers in the Disney parks and other businesses in that zone,” he says. “That’s how Shanghai Shendi Group and the Shanghai government are looking to monetise their investment over time. If tourists come to Shanghai because of Shanghai Disney and extend their stay by one or two days, that will have a significant impact on the hotels, restaurants and service industry. It’s really part of this 15 to 20-year vision. It’s a long-term investment.”

What is Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone?

Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone is in the Pudong New Area in Shanghai. It has a total area of 25sq km (9.7 sq mi), and a core area of 7sq km (2.7sq mi), including 4sq km (1.5sq mi) for Phase One of Shanghai Disney Resort.

Shanghai Disneyland at a glance

A brief guide to the first phase opening, Shanghai Disneyland

Fantasyland
Fantasyland is the largest of the five zones and home to the Enchanted Storybook Castle. The magical area is inspired by Disney’s animated fairy tales, old and new. Running through Fantasyland, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is an enchanted boat ride that leads to the castle and an AV water fountain display.

Look out for: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Alice in Wonderland Maze, Frozen: A Singalong Celebration

Disney’s fairy tales inspire Fantasyland
Disney’s fairy tales inspire Fantasyland

Adventure Isle

Adventure Isle, a new and original world from Disney
Adventure Isle, a new and original world from Disney
Unique to Shanghai Disneyland, Adventure Isle is an ancient lost world of jungles, rumbling mountains and strange animals. The theming is based on a story of a group of adventurous explorers who discover a mysterious island civilisation, with brand new original characters and storytelling.

Look out for: Roaring Mountain, Tarzan: Camp Discovery, Call of the Jungle, Soaring Over the Horizon

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland transports guests to a sci-fi future
Tomorrowland transports guests to a sci-fi future
The all-new Tomorrowland, like the original Disneyland, is inspired by the future. Technology and science are central to presenting a bright vision for the planet. As well as cutting-edge attractions, the Star Wars Launch Bay will immerse guests in the world of Disney’s Lucasfilm IP.

Look out for: TRON Lightcycle Power Run, Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, Stitch Encounter, Jet Packs

Treasure Cove

Pirates are everywhere in Treasure Cove
Pirates are everywhere in Treasure Cove
Disney’s first ever pirate-themed land has been created especially for Shanghai Disneyland. The designers have worked to convey the rowdy world of the high seas with humour and mischief. Wild and noisy, Treasure Cove features colourful characters, giant ships and an acrobatic stunt show.

Look out for: Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular

Gardens of Imagination

Gardens of Imagination: Chinese Zodiac meets Disney
Gardens of Imagination: Chinese Zodiac meets Disney
At the centre of the resort’s themed lands, seven landscaped gardens make up the Gardens of Imagination, a place of whimsy and fantasy. Inspired by the Chinese garden with a network of bridges and trails, guests can find Zodiac-inspired characters in the Garden of the Twelve Friends, musical delights in the Melody Garden and photo opportunities with their favourite characters.

Look out for: Fantasia Carousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mickey’s Storybook Express

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