Disney awaiting China OK for Shanghai park

Walt Disney Co. is awaiting approval from China's central government to build a theme park in Shanghai, the China Daily reported on Saturday.

Shanghai's mayor in March said the city was eager to host Disney, after the $1.8 billion Disneyland Hong Kong opened in 2005, while China's capital city Beijing also wants one.

Disney has been in discussions with Shanghai officials for a long time, group chairman George Mitchell told the China Daily, and talks are now under way between the Shanghai municipal government and the State Council, which has the final say.

"Our discussions have been with Shanghai officials, and now they are engaging with the national officials," the paper cited Mitchell as saying.

"We have an interest in proceeding and we hope that satisfactory terms can be worked out and we can proceed."

He did not give a time-frame for a final deal or opening.

"We try to proceed as quickly as possible after the execution of the contract, but until we execute a contract we don't get into when we are going to start," the paper cited Mitchell as saying.

Disney and Shanghai are believed to want to open the park in time for Shanghai's World Expo in 2010. City government preparations for the Expo rival in scale and enthusiasm Beijing's preparations for the 2008 Olympics.

A Disney park in Shanghai would be able to draw visitors from the populous and prosperous cities of the Yangtze Delta, while Beijing has few wealthy cities in its immediate vicinity.

Shanghai's park could be located in the Chuansha area, the China Daily said — midway between the city's international airport and the financial district in Pudong.

Disney had been coy about its mainland plans in the run-up to its opening in Hong Kong in September. But Mitchell said there was a market for both attractions, and that a new park in Shanghai would not undermine the Hong Kong site, the China Daily said.

"There has been very careful analysis from us and Chinese government officials," Mitchell said.

"There are a very large number of people in the Shanghai area and we don't think that this (a new park) will have any more of a negative effect on Hong Kong than, say, having a park both in California and Orlando, Florida."


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