Disney to receive an extra US$800 million investment for Shanghai theme park

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 4:42am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 6:15pm

The Shanghai Disney amusement park, slated to open next year, has received a fresh injection of investment after its two partners decided to add attractions to the resort amid a bullish estimate of tourist arrivals.

The news again raises the prospect that Shanghai may outshine Hong Kong as a tourism destination.

The Walt Disney Company, which owns 43 per cent of the four-square-kilometre resort, announced yesterday that it had reached an agreement with Shanghai Shendi Group to boost total investment in the park to US$5.44 billion, up US$800 million from the previous plan.

The added investment was the result of an optimistic projection of 10 million tourists a year visiting the Shanghai resort once it opened, Xinhua reported.

The increased capacity would help the Shanghai park dwarf its Hong Kong rival, which received 7.4 million visitors in the fiscal year ending in September, 2013.

"Since we first broke ground in Shanghai we've been very impressed with the growth of China's economy, especially the rapid expansion of the middle class and a significant increase in travel and tourism," Disney chief executive officer Robert Iger said.

Citing PhoCusWright, a research firm, Disney said China's travel market was expected to grow at an annualised rate of 34 per cent between 2012 and 2015.

The world's largest theme-park operator also said most attractions would be ready on opening day.

The increased capacity at the Shanghai theme park wouldn't necessarily lead to an enlarged geographic size, but local officials and analysts predicted that expansions would be inevitable if the first phase of the project was successful.

A Pudong government official said the district had set aside ample land reserves for the park's expansion.

Hong Kong Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng was not worried about Shanghai Disneyland posing competition to Hong Kong.

"We are targeting different parts of the country," he said. "The Shanghai park focuses on north China, while the HK park focuses on the southern region."