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Despite the Rain, Disney Brings the Magic to New Shanghai Park

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Disney-tinged magic has finally arrived in Shanghai.

On Thursday, The Walt Disney Company's DIS brand new theme park and resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, opened its doors after many years of planning and costs of over $5.5 billion. The resort is supersized, covering 963 acres and more than 11 times the size of its original theme park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California.

(For more information on Disney and everything the company owns, read " Your Complete Guide to All the Things Owned By Disney ").

Made up themed zones, in addition to two hotels and a shopping area, Shanghai Disney Resort is Disney's sixth park, and its fourth overseas. It includes Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, just like at Anaheim and at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as well as Adventure Isle, Gardens of Imagination, and Treasure Cove. However, Frontierland will not be included because the park wishes to avoid any accusations of cultural imperialism.

"We should recognize that we are invited guests in China. It's a privilege for us to be here, so we need to show great respect for the people and the culture," CEO Bob Iger said.

"We wanted to make a strong statement ... whatever we built here had to be significant enough to have real impact," Iger commented, who is currently in Shanghai for the opening. "We didn't just build Disneyland in China, we built China's Disneyland," he continued.

Disney wanted to both avoid anything too American while also including Shanghai's communist government, which has a stake in the park. For instance, instead of naming the park's central avenue "Main Street USA," like it is in most Disney parks, it is called "Mickey Avenue." Other Chinese cultural elements include Mickey and Donald wearing traditional silk jackets, Captain Jack Sparrow, from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, only speaks Putonghua, China's official state language, and throughout the park, there are more benches for families that often have grandparents among them.

Food at Shanghai Disney Resort is perhaps the most reflective of Chinese culture. Overall, 70% of the food offered is Chinese, 20% is other Asian cuisines, and only 10% is Western-influence. There are also Mickey Mouse-shaped steamed buns, and the main restaurant is designed like a traditional tea house, bedecked in red lanterns.

The also park includes the classic Enchanted Castle, which is Disney's largest and tallest at 197 feet. According to the New York Times , in the castle's upstairs area is "an ornate princess-themed restaurant with leaded-glass windows, intricately painted ceilings and chandeliers that look as if they belong at Versailles."

According to The Wall Street Journal , attendance could surpass 60,000 visitors daily after the initial opening, and more than 10 million people are expected to visit the park in the first year. Ticket prices vary between seasons, ranging from $56 for non-peak days to $75 on weekends and holidays (for a single-day adult ticket).

Initial reception to Shanghai Disney Resort has been positive; tickets for the first two weeks sold out months ago. The new park could help Disney boost earnings and revenues in its parks and resorts business segment, as well as turn hesitant investors around, showing them that growth potential abroad is not as limited as they perceive it to be.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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