The Magic Kingdom Meets The Middle Kingdom: Shanghai Disney Is Officially On

Shanghai To Become Disney’s Sixth Location In The World And Third In Asia, Following Tokyo And Hong Kong

Shanghai Disney will be the world's sixth Disney theme park, and the third in Asia

Shanghai Disney will be the world's sixth Disney theme park, and the third in Asia

After nearly a decade of negotiations that at times threatened to become a textbook example of the difficulties faced by even the largest foreign multinationals doing business in China, today the Chinese government gave Disney its stamp of approval to move ahead with the construction of Shanghai Disney in the city’s Pudong area. Pudong, until 1990 a sleepy marshland, has quickly become China’s financial hub following two decades of rapid development and commercialization. With one of the country’s most recognizable skylines — comprised of landmarks like the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Building, and Shanghai Tower, Pudong is one of China’s most bustling international centers. With the coming addition of a Disney theme park, the area should gain a much-needed reputation for entertainment as well as finance.

According to Xinhua, upon completion of the final agreement, the project’s initial phase would include a Magic Kingdom-style theme park tailored to the Shanghai region, along with other areas that fit the global Disney mold, presumably Main Street USA, Adventureland, and Space Mountain (features that Disney also extended to their Hong Kong theme park). The London Times, in a feature on this story, perceptively noted that Shanghai Disney — rather than just being another tourist trap in mainland China’s most international city — has the potential to bring some sorely needed culture to Shanghai’s notoriously all-business-all-the-time Pudong district. Even if that culture isdesigned mainly to appeal to children, it could do a lot to bring more culturally focused companies, art museums and shopping centers to the staid business area in coming years and complement Disney’s existing operations in Hong Kong:

Pudong is the new, business heart of Shanghai where dozens of skyscrapers have sprouted in the last decade along with countless apartment blocks. A Disney park could boost this somewhat soulless sea of offices and shopping malls and even revive the fortunes of a city facing tough competition from China’s many other resurgent urban centres.

The Shanghai park, expected to be built on land whose farmers were moved out years ago, would be Disney’s sixth. In Asia, it already has parks in Tokyo and in Hong Kong. The newest Magic Kingdom could draw away visitors from Hong Kong, many of whose customers are mainland Chinese on visits to the territory. But analysts said that the two parks would not necessarily eat into each other’s customer base.

Paul Tang, chief economist of Bank of East Asia, said: “Visitors from Guangdong and southern China will find Hong Kong more convenient, while Shanghai will attract visitors from northern and eastern China.”

Disney was unsurprisingly upbeat about the size of the market for a park in one of the most prosperous regions of China. A spokeswoman said: “From our point of view the Hong Kong and Shanghai parks are not competitors, they’re complementary. We really believe that the greater China market is big enough to support multiple parks.”


Market Analysis