Shanghai Disneyland to finally open in June, three times bigger than Hong Kong version - and may be cheaper to boot

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 9:39am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 5:56pm

The Disneyland theme park and resort in Shanghai is due to open on June 16, Walt Disney Company and its Chinese partner announced on Wednesday.

Construction has been completed and the US$5.5 billion project, located in Chuansha township in the Pudong district of China’s commercial capital, has started recruitment and training of staff, the companies said.

Ticket prices and other operating plans will be announced later, they said.

There has been speculation that entrance prices will be between 300 yuan (HK$354) and 400 yuan, compared with HK$539 at Disneyland in Hong Kong.

Walt Disney has recently started working on a ticketing system and has enlisted the help of China’s top internet firms to ensure an effective distribution of tickets that can cope with what is likely to be strong demand.

A source said Tencent was involved in creating the online ticketing system.

“It needs a lot of work to set up a ticketing system for Shanghai Disney,” said the source. “We are meticulously making plans as we factor in all elements ranging from payment, delivery, affordability and availability to safety.”

READ MORE: Disney fans get peek at Shanghai park

Shanghai Disneyland is expected to draw 10 million visitors a year, putting pressure on local authorities to enforce efficient crowd control.

Shanghai authorities came in for criticism for poor crowd management after a deadly stampede on the Bund on New Year’s Eve in 2014 that killed 36 people.

A joint venture between Disney and state-backed consortium Shanghai Shendi Group, the Shanghai version of Disneyland will feature characters with new stories tailored for Chinese people, with attractions such as the Gardens of Imagination, Tomorrowland, Treasure Cove and Fantasyland, according to previous statements.

One section of the theme park will feature a Disneytown with shopping, dining and entertainment areas, two hotels, plus a 40-hectare “Wishing Star Park” with natural scenery.

A garden mosaic will depict the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac using Disney characters, Disney said.

The Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai will be the tallest and largest the company has built, according to the company.

The resort’s general manager Philippe Gas said the opening date was the result of thorough assessment from both sides.

Mainland media had previously speculated that the attraction would open during the Lunar New Year holiday next month or during the May Day holiday.

Tens of thousands of engineers and constructions workers from China and the US have worked on the project since building began nearly five years ago, said Shendi’s board chairman Fan Xiping.

“In the coming months we’re facing a great amount of work and various types of new challenges, but with efforts from the two sides and support from the public, I believe we will prepare well for an excellent opening,” he said.

There are concerns that the opening of the new park may drive away tourist traffic in Hong Kong, which used to be the top option for mainlanders who wanted to visit a Disneyland.

More than 20 per cent of Chinese tourists who visited Hong Kong included a visit to Disneyland in 2014, according to the data from Hong Kong’s tourism board.

The Shanghai attraction is about three times bigger than the Disneyland in Hong Kong and middle class and affluent mainlanders are already aware of the site’s imminent opening, according to one survey.

A study conducted by the Swiss Bank UBS last year showed that among 2,924 people polled in tier one big cities and next level tier-two cities, 92 per cent said they were already aware of the park one year ahead of the official opening.

READ MORE: Shanghai Disney theme park to include Star Wars, Ironman rides, pirate-themed land and Chinese heritage

About 93 per cent said they would definitely or probably visit the park.

Hayman Chiu, associate director at the financial company Cinda International, said: “Hong Kong will lose tourists to Shanghai Disneyland in the short term, especially those from the northern part of China.”

Additional reporting by Nikki Sun