Shanghai prepares for Disney as Asia's theme park market expands

Asia's theme park market is gearing up to welcome its newest member and although Shanghai's Disneyland won't actually be finished until 2015, its presence on the horizon has already resulted in a flurry of upgrades among its rivals.

The Shanghai municipal government has released the first draft blueprint for the city's Disney theme park in an effort, they say, to seek public opinion.

Construction of the first stage of the complex - which alone is set to cost an estimated 24.5 billion yuan (2.7 billion euros) - will begin shortly and, when finished, will cover 3.9 square kilometers and will include a theme park, hotels and commuter stations, a lake and car park, according to the blueprint.

Shanghai has designated a seven square kilometer area as an "international tourist destination" which will include the Disney park, which was finalized last November.

The park will be Disney's first on mainland China and its third in Asia - after Tokyo ( http://www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/en) and Hong Kong ( http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com). And it will enter a market made more competitive in recent years thanks to the development of that Hong Kong park, first, and more recently the successful Universal Studio theme park on Sentosa Island in Singapore (http://www.rwsentosa.com/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore).

Hong Kong Disneyland is wheeling out developments of its own over the next few years, racking up US$3.5 billion (2.5 billion euros) in construction bills to develop a Toy Story Land - scheduled to open later this year - and two new attractions called Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch, set to open by 2014.

According to the operators of the park, the developments will offer "30 new experiences, boosting the number of rides and attractions by almost half to more than 100."

Hong Kong's other main theme park - Ocean Park ( http://www.oceanpark.com.hk) - is currently undergoing US$5.5 billion (four billion euros) in renovations, the first stage of which, named Aqua City, opened in January.

All eyes are also on Singapore where the Universal facility has played its part in a record year for tourism, with almost 12 million visitors arriving in 2010.

Malaysia is also getting in on the act, with the region of Iskandar - just across the water from Singapore - preparing to host Asia's first Legoland, which is set to open next year at a cost of 720 million ringgit (170 million euros).

MS

 

 

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