Work begins on Shanghai Disneyland

Disney has started construction work on its huge Shanghai amusement park, set to be the first Disneyland in mainland China.

The entertainment giant announced the ground breaking April 8, marking the beginning of work on the 3.9 kilometre square resort with several Disney favourites such as Mickey and Goofy, along with a 50-voice Shanghai children's choir and traditional Chinese drummers.

The park is situated in Pudong, the location of the recent World Expo, and will include the Shanghai Disneyland, two themed hotels, a lake and a large retail, dining and entertainment venue.

Disney says that the park will be in the style of Florida's Magic Kingdom, although it will blend classic characters from the brand with new attractions and experiences tailored specifically for China.

One unique feature will be the 46,000 square meter green space at the centre of the park, designed to be a cultural hub and a reminder of "the themes of sustainability and nature that will be integrated throughout the park."

The Shanghai Disney Resort is within a three hour car or train ride of 330 million people and is expected to be complete in around five years, according to officials.

Although it will be the first park on the mainland, it may not be the first taste of Disney for some visitors - according to official statistics, the rapidly-gorwing number of outbound Chinese tourists account for 42 percent of visitors to the Hong Kong Disney park.

Hong Kong Disneyland announced said April 7 it would complete the first phase of new expansion by 2013, a year earlier than originally planned, with Toy Story Land and another two features set to join the park's attractions.

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