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February 4, 2015

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Shanghai Disneyland set to open next year

THE opening of Shanghai Disneyland, which was set to debut this year, has been put back until the first half of next year, foreign media reported yesterday.

Walt Disney Co claimed the delay was due to an expansion of its plans for the theme park, Reuters quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying.

The results of consumer studies and weather concerns had also played a part in the decision, the person said.

Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said earlier that the company was planing to open the park in late 2015, according to Bloomberg News.

Iger, who is also Disney chairman, was scheduled to update investors on the progress of the 34 billion yuan (US$5.4 billion) park during an earnings conference call scheduled for late yesterday or early this morning, a source said on condition of anonymity as the information had not yet been made public.

Iger said in an October 10 interview on Bloomberg Television that the Shanghai park hoped to avoid the debt troubles that have plagued the company’s resort in Paris, and should benefit from a larger local population base and stronger economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported that while the delay was potentially risky for Disney, a flawed, premature opening would be worse.

To maximize the park’s impact, Disney is more likely to open it in the spring than during the winter, or close to China’s Lunar New Year holiday in early February, the report said.

Though Disney had never announced a specific opening date for its sixth park, Iger said last April that it would be in 2015.

At the same time, the project’s investors said they had agreed to boost spending by US$800 million to pay for more attractions, Reuters reported.

Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong said last Thursday that basic construction work should be completed this year.

“As for the exact opening date, I guess we still need to do more preparatory work and have further discussions with the Walt Disney Co as well as other Chinese partners,” Yang told a press conference at the conclusion of the annual session of the Shanghai People’s Congress.

“Plans will be made to ensure we are fully prepared. We will refer to our successful experience gained during the World Expo to handle the issue properly,” he said.

Shanghai Disney Resort, of which the theme park will be a part, is a joint venture between the state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group — a consortium of property, tourism and media companies run by the city government — which holds 57 percent, and Disney, with 43 percent.

Shendi Group was unavailable for comment yesterday.

“Shanghai Disneyland represents our best international growth initiative in a long time,” Iger said during a conference call in November.

The executive plans to retire in 2018 and the Shanghai theme park, which has been in the pipeline for more than a decade, is expected to be one of his legacies, according to the Wall Street Journal.


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