Shanghai reveals Disneyland plans
After years of speculation, Shanghai residents finally have their chance to comment on proposals for their very own Disney theme park.
The first detailed plans for the 24.5-billion-yuan (HK$29 billion) park tourism zone have been released for a one-month public consultation, with major construction work expected to begin in May.
The seven-square-kilometre site southeast of the city - already cleared - will feature man-made rivers, an artificial lake and a variety of attractions, connected to the city centre by two subway lines.
The theme park, scheduled to open in 2015, will be contained in an initial 3.9 square kilometre first phase, flanked by three hotel plots, commercial facilities, a huge car park and a public transport hub, according to plans lodged with the municipal Urban Planning, Land and Resources Administration Bureau.
With World Expo 2010 over, eyes have started turning to the theme park as the next headline project.
There has been speculation about the project in local and national media, but both officials and the US-based entertainment giant had been reticent about releasing full details.
Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng broke the official silence on Sunday, announcing the project's budget.
'I hope that work on the Shanghai Disney project can begin as soon as possible,' Han said during a National People's Congress-related meeting.
'I have seen reports in a number of media outlets about the investment into this project, but they were not accurate. I want to clarify carefully that the approved construction budget for the first stage of the Disney project is 24.5 billion yuan.'
Disney has declined to comment at length on the park, aside from a 2009 press release stating that it would include a 'Magic Kingdom-style theme park with characteristics tailored to the Shanghai region'.
A Disney spokeswoman said yesterday via e-mail that the company 'won't have any comment until the regulatory process is final'.
The joint-venture agreement between Disney and its local partner, the Shanghai Shendi Group, was submitted to the State Council for approval in November, a year after Beijing gave the project the green light.
The park is to be Disney's first on the mainland and the third in Asia, after those in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Although initially expected to dwarf the Hong Kong attraction - which has been plagued by financial difficulties since it opened in 2005 - the National Development and Reform Commission allocated an area of only 116 hectares, making Shanghai Disney's smallest park.