Shanghai applies for Disneyland

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BEIJING -- Shanghai has applied to the Chinese central government to build its own Disneyland, Mayor Han Zheng said on Thursday, ending long-standing speculation on whether it would opt for such a park.

Plans for a Shanghai Disneyland emerged in 2005 but were suspended when the city's Communist Party boss, Chen Liangyu, was implicated in a corruption investigation in 2006. Recent state media reports had said that while Shanghai still planned to build a major theme park by 2020, it had yet to decide on any specific project.

"We have applied to the National Development and Reform Commission (the economic planning agency), but so far we have not received any notice of approval," Han told reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of parliament.

"Any big-scale project of this kind has to receive central government approval, and Shanghai will of course abide by the central government's decision," he said, adding that the location of the proposed park was not yet fixed.

Walt Disney Co signed a statement of intent to build a Disneyland on the mainland in 2002, and then set up a venture with Shanghai's Lujiazui Group to develop the site, which would be about 4.7 times the size of Hong Kong's Disneyland.

The mainland plan was soon suspended, partly because of concerns that the Hong Kong park, which opened in 2005, would suffer, state-owned newspapers have reported.

Hong Kong's Disneyland, the second magic kingdom in Asia after Japan, has struggled since opening in 2005, falling well short of attendance targets.

The park had around 4 million visitors in its second year of operation, a drop of more than 20 percent from its first year.
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