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Shanghai in deal for Disney theme park

By Elaine Kurtenbach

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:52 a.m. HST, Nov 05, 2010



SHANGHAI » Just days after Shanghai wrapped up its role as host to the World Expo, China's commercial capital is setting its sights on another big tourism draw, a long-awaited Disney theme park.

Walt Disney Co. and the city government agreed Friday on plans for a joint venture to manage the project, expected to cover 1.5 square miles out of a total 8 square miles for the entire resort, the city government said Friday in a statement.

The cost is reportedly estimated at 25 billion yuan ($3.6 billion).

Plans call for the theme park to be a "strong international tourism resort," with a pleasant, low-carbon environment, the city said. A joint venture between local companies and Disney will be responsible for construction, management and operation of the Disneyland theme park, it said without giving any details about ownership or investment.

Some residents were long ago moved off farmland in Chuansha, a part of Pudong district near the city's main international airport, to make way for the park.

Disney issued a statement confirming its discussions with the Shanghai government.

"We can confirm the statement from the Shanghai government that we have taken another step forward in the approval process," it said.

But the company said it was still awaiting final approval of the joint venture by the central government and completion of necessary procedures.

"We will not have any further comment at this time," it said.

The six-month-long World Expo, which ended Sunday, drew a record 72 million visitors, mostly Chinese tourists. That event was the culmination of a construction frenzy that gave the city of more than 20 million nearly a dozen new subway lines, new highways, airport upgrades and other modern facilities.

With the Disneyland project due to start, the city appears likely to resume its building boom.

The agreement Friday came exactly a year after China's national planning agency approved the plans for the park -- a major step toward getting the project started.

The park will give Shanghai, the mainland's main financial and commercial center, a new showcase. While the city is one of China's most modern and affluent, it has relatively few big historic landmarks compared with ancient capitals like Beijing and Xi'an.

Disney has said the Shanghai resort will include a "Magic Kingdom-style theme park with characteristics tailored to the Shanghai region."

Disney has been expanding its presence in mainland China after opening a theme park in Hong Kong in 2005. That venue, which has suffered from disappointing attendance, is in the midst of an expansion as it maneuvers to compete with the future theme park in Shanghai.






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