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China agrees to let Disney build Shanghai theme park

LOS ANGELES — After a decadelong courtship, the Walt Disney Co. has won approval from the central government of China to build a Disneyland-style theme park in Shanghai, Roger A. Iger, Disney's chief executive, said Tuesday.

The agreement for a Shanghai Disneyland was announced late Tuesday. Analysts estimate the initial park — not including hotels and resort infrastructure — will cost $3.5 billion.

The initial resort — with a mix of shopping areas, hotels and a Magic Kingdom-style theme park — will sprawl across 1,000 acres of the city's Pudong district, with the theme park occupying about 100 of those acres. It would be a little bigger than Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. It is expected to open in five or six years.

Disney's plans are ambitious: If further development of the resort happens as expected over the coming decades — still a big if — it will encompass more than 1,700 acres and have a capacity rivaling Disney World in Florida, which attracts about 45 million annual visitors.

The company's goal is to create an engine that will drive demand among China's 1.3 billion residents for other Disney products, from video games to Broadway-style shows to DVDs.

Iger called the approval "a very significant milestone" in a statement, taking care to praise China as "one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world."

Throwing open its doors to such a uniquely American — and permanent — entertainment experience is a milestone for China, which has aggressively protected its culture from Westernization in general and Hollywood in particular.

China agrees to let Disney build Shanghai theme park 11/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 9:15pm]
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