Walt Disney Co. opened on Thursday its newest theme park and the first on mainland China in Shanghai.
The $5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort features six themed lands that incorporate cultural concepts tailored for Chinese visitors, such as the Garden of the Twelve Friends, with Disney characters representing the dozen signs of the Chinese zodiac amid cherry trees.
Media reports on the opening related that rain fell as the first visitors entered the park with fireworks bursting above the Enchanted Storybook Castle. Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as calling the opening of the Shanghai resort “one of the proudest and most exciting moments in the history of the Walt Disney Company.”
Disney received approval from the Chinese government for the park in 2009 and construction started in 2011. It was originally projected to be finished four years later at a cost of about $4.4 billion. During construction, Disney and its Chinese partners opted to spend an additional $800 million to add more attractions, entertainment and other offerings.
Disney owns 43 percent of the venture and Shanghai Shendi Group Co., a state-owned consortium of three businesses, owns the rest. The Burbank entertainment and media giant’s first foray into China was Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in 2005 at a cost of $3 billion and underwent a $500 million expansion two years ago.
In addition to the theme park, Disney has other ventures in mainland China including a partnership with Shanghai Media Group for television production, movie co-production, distribution and marketing and the world’s largest Disney Store in Shanghai’s Lujiazui district.
Shares closed up 11 cents, or less than a percent, to $98.38 on the New York Stock Exchange.