Report: Work on Disney park will start on Friday

09:21, April 06, 2011      

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The construction of Walt Disney Co's new theme park and resort in Shanghai will start on Friday, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

A salesperson displays a Mickey Mouse toy at a Disney-themed store at Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai. (Photo: China Daily)

Walt Disney Co and its local partners have issued invitations to "a special event in Shanghai" on April 8, the paper said on April 1, quoting an anonymous source.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger is expected to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, the business newspaper said, without quoting anyone.

On Sunday morning, China Daily was invited to a news briefing set for Friday through a fax signed jointly by the Walt Disney Co, an affiliate of the Shanghai government and a local business partner of Disney. The invitation didn't specify what will be announced.

In a telephone interview with China Daily, a public relations official with Walt Disney Co (Shanghai) Ltd refused to divulge the subject of the briefing.

"We have not disclosed any further information to any outside parties about the upcoming event," said the official, who cited corporate policy in asking to be referred to anonymously. "Nothing will be disclosed until Friday, so current media reports are based on speculation."

Jenny Shen, an official with Apco Worldwide, the public affairs and strategic communication firm organizing the event, also said nothing has been disclosed about the subject of the announcement on Friday.

The two parties besides Walt Disney Co that signed the invitation were the Administrative Commission of the Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone and the Shanghai Shendi Group Co Ltd.

The Shanghai Shendi Group, a government-owned entity, was specifically created last year by the Shanghai government in preparation for the project.

An official start date for the construction of the long-expected theme park, if announced, would mark a milestone in the project, over which negotiations started in the late 1990s.

On Nov 5, 2010, a decade of talk about the theme park ended when an agreement was signed between Shanghai Shendi Group and Walt Disney.

Han Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai, said last month that the cost of the first phase of the Disneyland project will be 24.5 billion yuan ($3.75 billion). The total cost, though, is still unclear.

The first phase, containing the theme park, hotels, car parks, service centers and a lake, will occupy 3.9 square kilometers in the city's Pudong New Area, the municipal government said last month. The total area designated for the project encompasses 7 sq km.

The Shanghai Disneyland would be the Walt Disney Co's third theme park in Asia, following the construction of parks in Tokyo and Hong Kong. The company also has two theme parks in the United States and one in Paris.

In the Chinese mainland, Walt Disney Co employs more than 600 people and sells its products in at least 25 cities. In January, the company announced plans to open by mid-2012 its first store selling its products directly to Chinese customers, reversing a strategy in which had sold products through authorized dealers.

AFP contributed to this story.

Source: China Daily
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